Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What DID We Do All Weekend?

What DID these boys do all weekend?  The photo above is the end result!  This post will be a pretty good example of how the boys pursue their own interests in their own time and how blurry the line between "work" and "play" really is around here.  My husband and I woke up uncharacteristically late to an unusually quiet house on Saturday morning.  We came downstairs with trepidation.  Boys that quiet who haven't begged for breakfast by eight a.m. are usually blaring warning signs of TROUBLE.    

We were surprised by what we found downstairs.  Me Too was set up on the window seat in the school room diligently coloring maps that Kal-El had made by tracing the pieces of the puzzle map.  I think when we found them they had already done Australia and South America and Kal-El was just about to blow up in frustration because the North America map he was in the middle of tracing was twisting too far east as he traced the pieces.

I showed him how to use painter's tape to tape first the control map and then the blank paper to trace the lines rather than trace around the puzzle pieces on the more complex maps.

The boys explained that they were inspired by the Jack Stalwart books that Kal-El has been reading.  Jack has a special wooden map of the world on the wall in his bedroom.  Each night at 7:30 p.m. Whizzy, the spinning globe gadget, whirrs and then spits out a wooden puzzle piece of a particular country that Jack can fit into the world map.  When Jack fits the wooden puzzle piece into the map he is instantly transported to whatever country that piece represented.  The book then centers around that particular country as Jack completes a mission there. 

The boys had the idea that our Montessori continents globe could be "Whizzy."  They knew that they couldn't mount all of the wooden puzzle maps to the wall without all of the pieces falling out.  They decided instead that they could trace all of the pieces to make a paper map of the world that included all of the countries.  Then, they could choose wooden pieces from the Montessori puzzles, have Whizzy spit them out, and pretend to place them in the proper position on the paper map.

In the end, Kal-El traced all of the maps and Me Too colored Australia, South America, Europe, and part of Asia.  Kal-El pitched in to color North America, Africa, and part of Asia.  It was a pretty good division of labor considering Me Too is MUCH better at coloring than Kal-El.  Kal-El is too impatient and just scribbles each section "mostly" full.  You can see the difference in the close up of their handiwork.  

At the same time, Me Too still has trouble tracing around things and would not have been capable of tracing around the puzzle pieces and fitting it all together as they were doing it when they began.  I love that they came up with an arrangement on their own that played to their strengths.

Kal-El loved tracing from paper to paper.  He said it was much faster and more accurate than tracing the puzzle pieces.  I explained that some kids pin-punch all of the countries from the proper color of construction paper and glue the maps together.  He looked at me like I was bonkers and said "that's craazy!"

There was only one casualty.  See the map on the floor behind Kal-El in the picture above?  That map rotated according to what Kal-El was coloring.  The kitchen floor was the best place for the two of them to spread out with such large maps, papers, and still share the crayons.  My husband was stepping over the map behind Kal-El to get into the family room and tripped.  It was when the Asia map was sitting their and Indonesia was the casualty. The boys were HORRIFIED.  They have been taking such good care of these maps for FOUR YEARS.  They have only broken a piece ONE TIME and it was North America in the map of the world when Me Too was THREE and accidentally knelt on it while working on his rug. We can't figure out how a man who can unicycle can't successfully step carefully over a map.  Oh well.

Kal-El had so much fun doing this that he started a second set of maps in his room.  He wanted to do one of the 50 states as well.

It was tricky placing the maps on the wall.  I put them up in our guest room/exercise room/home research library.  I put them up for the boys with painter's tape.  The problem is that the Africa, Asia, and Europe maps are designed to best maximize the space available on the standard-sized wooden map.  So, they are NOT to the SAME scale.  Therefore, the part of Russia that is included on the Europe map does not fit together with the part of Russia that is included on the Asia map.  Also, the only map with a puzzle piece(s) for Antarctica is the world map.  So, Australia is on that small, square piece of white paper at the bottom.  This gave the boys and I an opportunity to discuss the "scale" of a map once again.  We have discussed this in the past (when Kal-El tried to fit together the two "Russias.")  so they caught on quickly this time.

You will see a lot more Geography work in our weekly wrap up this week.  Kal-El is obsessed with Geography right now like he is usually obsessed with science.  He spent a lot of time memorizing the North America and South America maps recently.  In his free time he is asking for the iPad a lot to practice the maps on the Montessori apps I have for him there.  (I promise a post on which apps I let them use and when in the near future.  Just know that he is only using the map apps after FOUR YEARS sensorial practice on the real thing and they have been great extra practice.  Oh, and he doesn't use the iPad when we are in the school room, it is something he can choose at other times.)  The continent boxes have been out A LOT.  The boys took turn giving us "geography shows" with them over the weekend.  Super fun!  I also took the boys on their first trip to the local museum last week.  They LOVED it.  They ask to go back every day.  They were so interested in the things at that museum we never made it off the first floor.  We will be going back again this week and they want to visit the section that features the different continents.  Kal-El has also been studying atlases lately. Boy!  I have a lot of things to blog about!  I will try to do so.  A lot of what makes Kal-El's life look like "elementary Montessori" doesn't get photographed and what doesn't get photographed is harder to blog about.

Have you had a chance to enter the Montessori Print Shop giveaway yet?  If you haven't, skedaddle on over to the giveaway post.  If you have, don't forget there are opportunities to enter daily!


  1. Looooovvvveeee it!!! Sorry only way I know how to express my enthusiasm in letters. That has to make you feel good about how they are learning! So cool!

  2. OMG!!! Ka-EL and Me-Too!!! BEAUTIFUL!!! What a lovely and artistc way to spend weekend!! I LOVE IT!! LOVE YOUR BEAUTIFUL WORK!!! AWESOME!!

  3. Love it! I really am lost for words. Beautiful. Awesome.

    A great example of how the Montessori Method can still be correctly done in the home.

    Thank you for sharing.

  4. That is SO COOL!

    (no other words - that's it - SO COOL!)


  5. Wow Wow Wow! What great work! I love it when an intrest become a living work! Tell the boys great work!

  6. This is really great! It encourages me that one day my two guys might be similarly motivated. And might also be horrified when things get damaged...

  7. That is simply amazing!! : )