The boys really kept me on my toes this week. In the above photo above I am alternating dictating spelling phrases for Kal-El to write down (All About Spelling) and calling out what lowercase letter for Me Too to transform from a "magic c" (Handwriting Without Tears...transformed "c" into "a," "o," "d," "g," or "q.").
All of these steps are important preliminary skills that children, particularly boys, need before they can just "write something." The most common reaction to a child who is having trouble writing these days seems to be to have them "write more." Writing a story or report means that the child is able to remember what they heard or read, form that memory into a complete sentence, and successfully copy the sentence they see or is in their mind. Multitasking at its finest. Kids who don't want to write or are having trouble doing so are probably having trouble with one or more of the smaller steps which can be addressed specifically. As I always tell the boys, "You can do anything if you just make the steps small enough."
All of these things are habits that you have to practice in order to organically incorporate it into the "curriculum." I wasn't doing a very good job with that so I am using the book to direct this...for now. I hope that I will improve my skills as "guide" and not need the book eventually. It would be so easy to do this as we work "off the shelves." I'm just not doing a good job training them to do it. In the meantime, the book works like a personal Reading Rainbow for us. Our family has gone on to read the complete work of all the excerpts thus far...except for Pinnochio (I want to wait a year or two due to the maturity level). We alternate spelling/handwriting days with narration/dictation/copywork days (Writing with Ease) so that that they don't have to do too much teacher-controlled writing on one day.
We are still using The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading to direct our word studies. I have posted about that many times in the past (just put "word study" in the search box), but basically I borrow the idea of what to cover as well as any word lists, sentences or stories and then put them together for the boys using traditional Montessori activities. I wrote a post about how I use the OPG and some of the kinds of activities I generate from it. You can find that post here. Kal-El is only 20 lessons from the end of the book (it has taken us about three years to go through it). When we finish, we will review many of the later concepts with traditional word study lessons from our elementary Montessori language album. I just finished making/organizing all of the traditional elementary word charts and can't wait to get those into action. In the photo above Kal-El has just learned the rule "change the 'y' to 'i' and add 'es'." He followed this up the same day with "change the 'f' to 'v" and add 'es'."
I like the OPG for the same reasons I like WWE. There are things that the guide is supposed to make sure is "covered" but that an inexperienced guide (like myself) might need help thinking of in the first place, much less organizing and implementing. In addition to the plural rules above (which I would have remembered to cover) Kal-El covered a few other reading tidbits this week (which I would not have remembered to cover):
- "d" and "di" as /j/ (educate, gradual, etc.,)
- "our" as /ur/ (as in journey, courage, etc., Sorry, I don't know how to put the "^" on top of the "u" in "ur."), "ci" and "si" as /sh/ (special, tension, etc.,),
- and "s" as /zh/ (measure, treasure, etc.,).
We also covered a bunch of things that would and will be covered by the traditional Montessori word studies: possessive words, contractions, etc., The end of the OPG is mostly about compound words, endings, suffixes, and prefiexes which dovetails nicely for us. I will use that as motivation to transition out of OPG and quickly through the traditional Montessori word studies in my albums.
Me Too is about 100 lessons into the OPG. We are basically reviewing Dwyer reading folders right now (I like to start elementary year one that way). He recently reviewed the common spellings for the long-A (ai, a-e, ay, ea, ei, ey), long-E (ee, e-e, ea, ie) and long-I (i-e, ie, ye, i,). We spend some time on sounds found in more than one category. When does "ea" say "ee"? When does it say "ai"? It is fun to redo the exercise with the Dwyer folders in which you mix up all the sound cards and have the child sort them to the proper folders.
Kal-El has been interested in his Research Skills book again.
He is also showing evidence of being super-ready for the Story of Language with his interest in other alphabets. This week he was very interested in braille. He created his own project by looking up the braille alphabet in our encyclopedias (love them!) and then using the pin-punching set to write me notes in braille. I was impressed that he was able mirror the letter in his punching so that it comes out with the correct orientation when you flip the paper over. I was able to read all of his messages. I explained that real braille doesn't puncture the paper like our pin punching set does. Kal-El declared his version "close enough" and said, "we don't need to buy special equipment Mom, I understand the difference." Strangely logical that one.