Tuesday, March 22, 2011

School Day

School Day!

I was doing some housework upstairs early this morning (7 a.m. yuck.) and had to run down the steps quickly when I heard Me Too screaming hysterically. Apparently Kal-El decided to start his day with a little "practical life" work. He absconded with a helium balloon that Me Too brought home from a birthday party we attended yesterday. He then proceeded to try to nail it to the foam block in the school room using a hammer and a golf tee. POP! Me Too was distraught, sobbing, and wanted me to "fix it." I tried to give him Kal-El's party balloon but it had apparently suffered the same fate shortly before Me Too's.

I put a little extra effort into our school room preparations this week. Both boys are wanting to do challenging work right now. They are both working on several activities that are meant to be done with another person or directly with the teacher. Both need one-on-one time with some of the language and math materials. Me Too has been getting very jealous when I work one-on-one with Kal-El lately. Kal-El has been working on some very challenging work and has no tolerance for interruptions. I recently realized that part of the problem was that Me Too didn't have enough works available that he could do independently. There were too many sensorial items out that he was "done" with and our practical life shelves had never quite recovered from the move and were too bare.

Kal-El was suffering from the same problem in a different way. There were plenty of things on the shelves that were "too easy" and "too familiar" and plenty that were "very challenging" but not enough works that were just challenging enough and could be completed independently. When he would finish a challenging work he would start wandering the classroom aimlessly looking for a relaxing work but not finding anything appealing.

I had a couple of "big works" that I planned on presenting to Kal-El today. I realized I better pull things together a little bit better so that the boys didn't drive each other crazy.

I brought Me Too into the school room 15 minutes ahead of Kal-El in order to have a chance to give him a presentation on a couple of the new works. When he was prepared, afterwards I invited Kal-El in to join us. He wanted to have his "reading time" right away today so we started with the sandpaper letters, chalkboard, and sand tray. We moved on from there to some single word lists, sentences, and a book. We finished with some phrases written on slips of paper that he could act out (Pop a bag. Put the bug on the rug. Quick! Run! etc.,).

Meanwhile Me Too was working hard on the practical life shelves:

Pouring using a funnel:

Reviewing the use of tongs:

Next it was Me Too's turn for some one-on-one. We played "I Spy." We also practiced identifying and feeling the sandpaper numbers then writing them in the sand tray:

After all of that intense concentration during "reading time" Kal-El relaxed with some easier works:

An initial sounds match-up that is tricky only because he can't tell what some of the pictures are until he has nearly completed all the matches (he tried the "yak" out as a "bull" and then a "cow" before he figured out what it was supposed to be at the end):

Matching words to pictures with some Easter-themed eggs:

The eggs were something that Kal-El was able to complete a year ago. I found them in our "spring themed" materials box and put them out because I thought he would enjoy them. This is a good example of how a child will often revisit an old work right after they have completed something particularly challenging.

Likewise, he can never resist a fresh practical life work even if he has done it many times in the past:

Afterwards it was Kal-El's turn to spend some time with me again. Today I presented the limited bead materials to him. He learned the terminology for "units," "tens," "hundreds," and "thousand."

He is just itching to get his hands on some more bead materials because he wants to "show me" how he can build a tens bar from ten units, the hundred square from ten bars, and the thousand cube from ten hundreds. He was sad that he only had nine of everything. However, he did enjoy playing "go fetch" (Fetch me three hundreds. Fetch me five units. etc.,) with the beads.

It was tempting to get him more beads right away. However, it is important to wait because there are several reasons that the bead materials are limited at first. Limiting the child to ONE thousand cube at first suggest "that the set of a point, line, square, and cube completes one whole cycle of the decimal hierarchy, the cube being the 'point' in the next higher cycle of the hierarchy" (Gettman, 169). We will be introducing the number cards next. The limitation of the bead materials allows the child to learn to use the number cards correctly without having to carry right from the start. Later there will be some presentations that show that to go beyond nine of any category one must go to the next higher category for both the beads and the cards. The limited materials make those exercises a lot clearer.

While we were busy with the beads Me Too was busy with some sensorial materials. He built the binomial cube outside its box and pulled it apart several ways to match the faces to the diagram on the lid. It is time to bring out the trinomial cube.

He also worked on matching the geometric solids with their two-dimensional representations.

Our nuts and bolts board made its return to the shelves today.

Me Too worked on this for a long time. I made a mistake by putting the whole work on the shelves as is thinking that he could handle it. I really should have put the nuts and bolts out separately in a basket for the first few days. It is easy for him to match the nut to the bolt and match the bolt to the holes in the board. He has a very difficult time putting the nut on the bolt however. It is nearly impossible for him to do so when the bolt is threaded through the board. I told him I set it out incorrectly and that next time he can practice without the boards. Today this was his pattern:
  • choose a hole
  • find the matching bolt
  • thread the bolt
  • find the matching nut
  • spend five minutes unsuccessfully trying to get the nut started on the bolts threads
  • ask for Mom to help
  • Mom get the nut through its first turn or two
  • Mom starts to thread another bolt
  • Me Too screams "I do it myself!"
  • Repeat.
Our time in the school room was peppered by many visits to the bird feeders outside the school room window. The birds don't mind eating while we are working. They DO mind when excited little boys jump up on the window seat to wave "hello."


  1. Love this! Thanks for sharing. I'll remember the nuts & bolts for my lil guy. and that bird is cute!

  2. It is always such a challenge to have enough works for all children at home.

    Regarding beads. In the classroom the children get to see all levels of presentations. Bella watches me give Sweet boys presentations and sometimes she actually gets it and sometimes not! I think it is great that he is already making the connections and wants to explore more beads and make those connections in his head.