Tuesday, May 18, 2010

School Day

We had absolutely a marathon session in the school room yesterday (five hours). We began at 9 a.m. and I invited them to eat lunch at noon, and again at one, and finally at 2 p.m. I put my foot down and made them come out and eat their lunch.

You will see a lot of pre-sensorial works and toddler practical life today. I flip-flopped "Me Too's" shelves and the math shelves today. We will soon be needing more room for math and I noticed that there is less and less on Me Too's shelves as he transitions to the "official" 3-6 sequence (he will be three in June).

"How did he do that?"

I realized with the final sensorial works about to hit the shelves and many math materials on the way we may have finally reached a point where I can no longer just add to the shelves....something has to go. So, I dug into the closet and brought out all of our toddler materials. I usually rotate these off and onto the shelves, but I thought I would put most of them out and get a better idea of what will still have uses for the next couple of years and what can find a new home. Both boys worked with EVERYTHING. It seems that some things are classics and it doesn't matter if you are 2, 4, or 24.

Doesn't everyone have C-3PO and Luke Skywalker on their Matroyshka dolls? (That's yogurt on his sleeve.)

For some reason the stacker pegs just scream out "work together" to these boys. Kal-El played the part of project manager and directed the two of them in creating many planned patterns.

I have wanted to put out a paper punching work for ages but could never find my single-hole punch. I finally bought a new one and paired it with some interesting scraps of craft paper. I had sparkly kinds, textured kinds, 3-dimensional...

I found a set of lace and trace shapes they hadn't seen in ages. They have primarily been working with the lace and trace pets set.

Working with both the lace and trace and the hole punch in the same day inspired Kal-El to create his own lace and trace. I had no idea what he was up to. He asked for crayons, paper and the hole punch. He drew a picture, punched holes around the edge, and then threaded the laces through the holes. He said it was a "kite" with a "no kites allowed picture" on it (a picture of a kite covered with the red circle with a line through it symbol...is there a name for that thing?). I don't know if he understands the irony of what he made.

As you can see, working with the pegboard further inspired a complicated creation involving the paper, lace and trace, hole punch, pegs, and the handles on the family room cabinets.

When I returned from taking pictures in the family room I discovered Me Too to be working on the binomial cube. He has not had a presentation on the binomial cube but he did watch Kal-El receive a presentation on it a few weeks ago. You know, the presentation where Kal-El declared that the binomial cube was too hard for him? Me Too worked on this for about 30-45 minutes and repeated it many times.

Sometimes it went well...

Sometimes it didn't.

This led to a flurry of activity at the sensorial shelves.

"Why go to the effort to carry this to my rug when I can do it right here?
These things are heavy!"

Today Me Too decided the knobbed cylinders were "people" who were "getting in and out of their beds. He would cry out "everyone wake up!" and take them all out of the block. Later he would announce "time to go night night!" and put them all away.

When he would make a mistake and put a cylinder in a hole that was a little too big for it. This resulted in a cylinder that wouldn't fit into any of the remaining openings. At this point he started chanting a la the Three Little Pigs "Who is sleeping in my bed?"

While this was going on, Kal-El was sitting on a stool dismantling a botany puzzle while calling out things like "Oh no! The wind blew away the tree's roots" and would remove the roots. This was followed by "Oh no! The wind is blowing away the tree's trunk!" You get the idea.

I apologize for the quality of my pictures. Apparently the boys were rotating the "mode" knob every time I left the room. It was only after I took this picture and check the knob that I realized that it was the third time that I had moved the knob from portrait to auto.

After working with the tree puzzle Kal-El took out the sand tray and drew a diagram of the parts of the tree in the sand.

So you can orientate yourself, he drew it sideways. The roots are to his right, the trunk is horizontal in the middle, and the branches and leaves are on his left. At the time I took this picture he said he was "adding a treehouse." It must have been shortly after this that he retrieved the straws for the sand dunes.

Me Too graduated from the beginner pattern blocks to the Intermediate yesterday.

These are very slippery on the wood pattern and a challenge even for me. I think he completed the snail, puppy, and rabbit. I noticed he was finding the larger shapes that could be made from smaller shapes and would often use a yellow hexagon in place of two red trapezoids.

After all of that serious concentration, it was time for some very loud hammering.

I was outside the school room frequently during their session yesterday and am sure I missed some things. I know I walked back in as Kal-El was wrapping up a pouring activity. Who knows what else went on in there...


  1. Wow, looking at all of that activity makes me tired! I'm often guilty of forgetting to eat when I'm busy too. Stashed granola bars are great!

  2. What a productive day. I have never thought to use a single hole punch with different textured papers. Sounds like an activity my little girl would enjoy.

  3. My kids LOVE the single hole punch. And the stapler. And tape. The children make all sorts of "inventions" (their word for their creations.)

    However, this post really does illustrate the downside to running a homebased preschool out of my home. I can do many of the things that are available in a preschool, and I can do certain things that even a preschool can't because it is at a home and the class size is small, but for most of the children, I just have them for 3 hours, including lunch. If a child really gets into art one day, that is usually all that they are able to do during work time.

  4. They look absolutely ADORABLE, and so engaged. Thanks for sharing! My rascals would love your Star Wars nesting dolls. Where did you get these?
    Hugs from PR

  5. I'm SO impressed with their cycle of work! I have a few questions about your school room "rules":

    *Do you let them get out multiple activities at once?
    *Do you always let them intermingle pieces from different activities?
    *Do you allow them to take activities out of the school room?

    Thanks! You and your kids are inspiring me!

  6. 2 Pequenos Traviesos,

    My in-laws brought them from Russia for us. I see them around sometimes, usually in tourist souvenir places. Try just searching on the internet, Amazon sometimes has them.

  7. My Thoughts Exactly,

    Many real Montessori materials have relationships to one another and are meant to be used together. For example, the pink tower and table of Pythagoras. Also, the child is meant to discover their relationships on their own, without being prompted. So, it is important to not have a hard and fast rule against using materials together or it will never occur to the child that they could be used together.

    For that reason they are allowed to have more than one material out at a time. However, our rule in the school room is the same as it is in our house in general. They are allowed to have multiple things out at once if they are using them in conjunction with one another. Otherwise if they are done with one toy it must be put away before they can take out another.

    I don't have a "rule" about taking materials out of the classroom because it has rarely every come up. When it has, it has always been a logical request. Some things we have in the school room are there to spark their interest but must be used outside the school room. For example, the landforms are in the school room but must be used at the kitchen table.

    Kal-El's creation in the family room I wouldn't consider "school time." I think that happened because they were in there for five hours and it was more of a "break." That's why I allowed that one. If he had taken off down the hallway with the red rods I would have stopped him to see if he had a good reason.

  8. Wow! 5 hours - how amazing! It's so nice to see them so involved and loving their Montessori work. :)

  9. wow, I am missing those long work days :o)
    I'll be linking too!