Over the summer we focused on reading, biking, swimming, gardening, and the violin. Sometime in early July I recall feeling super frustrated because I felt like we were not making steady progress. I had an "idea" of where they would be at the end of the summer and we weren't where I thought we should be if that "work" were divided into equal chunks and measured out week by week. I forced myself to take a deep breath and relax, remembering that the boys tend to learn in intense spurts. I left well enough alone and by the end of August I was shocked. They far surpassed my preconceived "ideas" of what they could accomplish this summer. And, the best part is that it was completely painless.
Today is the first day that we switched from our "summer rhythm" to our "fall rhythm." Basically that means that we are adding three work periods in the school room to our week and resuming our fall activities.
I wanted to have a lot of new activities up on the shelves for the start of the season but only prepared a third of what I had hoped. That turned out to be just fine because the first presentation I gave led to work that lasted the whole three-hour work period.
Last week I skimmed through all of my practical life albums and comprehensive lists for inspiration. Of all the areas in our classroom, the practical life area was in the most dire need of freshening. I keep very few practical life items in the "school room." The boys work alongside me throughout our days so I don't need to stage a lot of "experiences" specifically for the school room. I do feel it is important to have a few things available in the classroom to fulfill any need the boys might have for that type of work during the three-hour work periods. Practical life works are very frequently the first thing chosen to ease into their day or something they chose to wind down after work in other areas.
I made a list of things we hadn't done and things that would be fun to do again as I skimmed through my resources. I was really surprised at how short the list was in the end. I haven't referred to those lists and manuals for at least a year and we burned through nearly everything in them while just living our every day life.
One thing I realized we hadn't gotten to was pencil sharpening. This was mostly due to the fact that we didn't own a pencil sharpener that could handle the super-chunky, triangular, colored pencils we love.
Every time I see them use these I can't help but think "Who is John Galt?" (see...they say GALT on them?)
I finally found one that works at the grocery store of all places. This lack of a proper pencil sharpener also meant that ALL of our colored pencils were sorely in need of sharpening. The boys spent about an hour sharpening our two sets of 12 pencils.
Kal-El literally jumped and shouted with joy and pride due to the tip he achieved on this particular red pencil and asked that he be photographed with it.
Of course after sharpening all of those pencils they had to be put to use. This led us to the next item on my little list...bookmaking. Both boys needed a review of some of the shapes (curvilinear triangle, quatrefoil) and a lot more practice with the insets. I told them that if they used their new sharp pencils to do the insets I would help them staple them into a book when they had collected them all.
Well, now that kept them busy for the next two hours.
Kal-el completed all ten of the insets. Me Too lost interest after two, left us to do a life-cycle of the chicken puzzle, then returned to do two more. He plans to do the rest another time.
Kal-El stapled his book together, wrote a title on the front (all those sandpaper letters and his S's are STILL backwards), and decorated it with hand-drawn shapes.
Another day I will show them bookmaking with the hole punch and yarn rather than with the stapler. I also have a nice stack of Montessori paper that is blank on the top half for drawing a picture and has lines below for writing a sentence. I think you'll be seeing a lot of bookmaking this year.
Kal-El reads me a book every morning snuggled up on the couch. I will write a post soon about what he has been reading. The boys usually follow that up with their violin practice. We have the most room for the bow in the school room so we probably will segue from violin right into our work period most days.
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