Friday, February 14, 2014

School Days

In this photo Kal-El is working on a set of "Animal Story" cards.  Ours are from ETC Montessori and I'm very happy with them.  The pictures are beautiful and they have a really nice feel.  I don't know why Kal-El is sitting on the rug and putting his work on the floor instead of the other way around.  When I asked him he seemed surprised by what had happened.

Here's a closer look at the cards.

Kal-El finally finished using the division bead board to find the quotient with or without remainder for every equation with a dividend of 82 or less and quotient and divisors under 10.  As he did that work he had to underline any equations without remainders and red and check them against the multiplication control chart.  In the photo above he is working on the next exercise which was to record only the equations that were underlined in red on his own graph paper.

The next exercise reinforces the inverse relationship between multiplication and division, the commutative property of multiplication, and whatever you call that relationship between division equations that have the same dividend but reverse the divisor and quotient.  He really really dislikes this work.  This week we also did the first commutative property of multiplication exercise from the elementary math album that is preparation/review leading up to the distributive property.  Kal-El is not a fan.  After two to three days of uncharacteristic disgruntledness, he suggested just writing out all of the related facts in groups.  One of the things that made this particular division work extra frustrating is that you only need to do the equations without remainders and if you don't know all of your facts yet there is a lot of trial and error.  He was pretty tired of the division beads and thinks its silly to use graph paper or bead bars for multiplication when he already knows the facts.  So, his proposed solution was perfect and I helped with the trial-and error part by providing just the first division equation for each group.  

He had to find the partnered division equation, and the two multiplication equations.  I left the right number of rows under each starter equation as the control of error before decorating an empty row and giving the next starter equations.  This took up three pages of graph paper, double-sided, with two columns of work on each side.  He did half of the work in one day.  So much better.  He was half-heartedly doing one group a day the other way.

A flurry of inset design was brought on by the new inset design book I made.  The book has three or four pages of line drawing ideas for between math problems on graph paper.  Another ten pages or more are advanced inset design ideas.  I've photographed parts of the book and will post more on that another day.

Me Too likes to have the line drawing suggestions on hand when he works on the fraction drawers so he can try out new ideas for decorating between equations.

The colorforms have been making an appearance when Kal-El needs to recover from a tough work.

Me Too made a map of his neighborhood to share with his Tiger den.  I ran that den meeting so the kids all got to do the magnetism lessons from Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding, the primitive map lessons and compass lessons from KHT Montessori Primary geography album.  All the kids made their own compass like the ones my boys made in this classic post.

Me Too loves working through the drawers of stamp game equations...except he doesn't use the stamps.  So far so good!  He notates his borrowing and carrying like a champ!  He chooses this work every day.

Another thing he has been choosing every day are story problems.  He is working through some sets from KHT Montessori before he digs into the word problems basket Kal-El has been using.

In this particular envelope, the sum is given in the story but neither of the addends are.  For each problem he is generating every possible equation that satisfies the sum.  He notates the given information with a regular pencil and the other numbers in red.

We started sentence analysis this week and, for Kal-El, it is LOVE at first sentence.  That is new work for us and the boys have been very prolific so it will get its own post on Monday.

Me Too has been growing and maturing and, surprise surprise, his handwriting is suddenly getting better.  Guess who just needed TIME?  It's the same kid breaking one of our cardinal rules, "ALWAYS sit in a good chair, properly, at the table when working in a handwriting workbook."  He had gotten crowded out by Kal-El's fraction work.

Kal-El is working through equations in which fractions are multiplied by whole numbers.  He doesn't need the fraction circles to do the work, but does like them on hand to reduce his product to lowest terms.

He sometimes records his work in a squared paper notebook especially for his fractions, but prefers to write the answers directly on the card with a dry erase marker.

Here's another geometry lesson you won't find in your albums.  This week we wanted to learn, "What makes something a prism?"  We gathered and labeled all of our solids.  THEN I brought out a couple new shapes from our elementary geometric solids (hexagonal-based prism, etc.,). There was much rejoicing.  We learned that there are two rules that qualify a 3-D shape as a "prism."  

1. Must be a polyhedron (no curves)
2.  It must have the same size and shape cross-sections all across is length.

Of course I had to shape some sugar cookie dough into a rectangular prism.  The boys cut cross-sections all across its length and we backed them...and ate them.

We wanted to explore the cross-sections of other solid shapes so we learned how to make them out of modeling dough.  Then, we cut cross-sections with a cheese slicer.  I was happy to get the deadly knife from the first photo out of their hands.  We did not eat these.

The Dwyer reading folders still make appearances for review when appropriate.  This week Me Too was reviewing spellings for the long-oo sound.  (That's kombucha brewing in the background by the bead cabinet in case you've been wondering.  In this cold weather it takes too long to brew anywhere else in the house.  The school room is the warmest room.)

I love the sight of both boys independently hard at work on two different subjects side-by-side.


  1. I love looking through the pictures and reading about their activities. I trained in teaching Montessori to children 2.5 to 6, but have always been interested in 6-9 and 9-12 materials and curriculum and this post reminded how much I wanted to train for those levels as well. Thank you.


    1. Hey there! Thanks for commenting! I don't know if you noticed that you've been over on the blog list in the left-hand sidebar (Montessori classrooms 3-6) for quite some time. I don't read very many primary blogs daily any more, but I have stopped in at yours from time to time to catch up. LOVE the writings on dealing with the kids in a proactive way.

    2. I did see my site there on the blog list--thank you so much for that! :)

      I'm going to be a mom soon and I plan to homeschool as well (though that us not something practiced largely in our country) and while elementary is still a few years away, your site will definitely be one of my resources, part of my daily reading for sure. :)

  2. Just wanted to say that I admire your dedication to educating your kids. I tried Montessori home-schooling, but, it wasn't successful. I just could not juggle all the prep-work, housework, etc. Too much stress. In the end, I decided to just send the kids off to a Montessori School. It was the best decision. In saying all that, I can see how much time & love you've put into educating your boys. It seems that your boys are learning way more than our Montessori School. I take my hat off to you! Well done, mum! You should be proud of yourself and you boys will thank you one day.

    1. Well, that was a nice surprise Valentine's gift! Thank you!

  3. I just wanted to stop and remind you how much your blog is a blessing to me! :) Due to starting at different ages and levels, and having to do some back-tracking (and a great deal of learning on my part), there are so many times where I just KNOW your boys are seemingly miles ahead of my kiddos in what we have done, but it is so encouraging to see how you work it all in, and it helps to see things I haven't before and know if there is something I should consider having a stronger focus on! :)

    1. I think part of homeschooling is always feeling like you're behind. I know I always feel that way.

  4. Hi! First of all, great post! I love seeing you guys are doing. (And of course reading your in depth posts about anything and everything.) :)

    Those bug cards are a little bit realistic no? I bet S would really like them.

    And I really like your kneeling table. Very cool. S would like that too because it is pink. Where did you get that?

    CONGRATULATIONS to Kal-El for finishing the division booklets! T got totally bored with those and told me we needed to move onto something else, like racks and tubes!

    I was a little confused with your division/multiplication explanation, but the picture of his work/and your work, really helped. I thought it was funny that you decorated between the problems with a little cursive. :)
    I was trying to get T to do the backward multiplication/division thing when we were doing the racks and tubes. I try to introduce "arithmetic hacks" he can do in his head, like making tens, finding the multiplication problem that mirrors the division problem, but all suggestions land on deaf ears. I figure I'll keep suggesting and he'll eventually find his own "hack" method.

    I've been looking at some of your posts from 2010 and around there, and Me Too has CHANGED so much! Both boys look really really tall!

    Can Me Too come to our house and inspire S to work on the stamp game with a little more enthusiasm?

    I can't wait to see your sentence analysis post on Monday. I was thinking that we might wait on this work until T has some more confidence writing. He'd probably pick up on the concept pretty quick, (I'll be the one running to re-learn everything) but he wouldn't be able to generate any original prose. And is that the word "wookies" that I see? :)

    Rejoicing about prisms, LOVE IT!

    Okay, off to pin myself, I mean, pin maps.

  5. Great post! So glad you guys like homemade kombucha! You don't hear many people mention that! I haven't ventured there yet but have other fermenty things on my kitchen counter :).

    I wanted to ask you where you got that little table (chowki?). I am looking for some space saving table solutions for our room. Do the legs fold up?


    1. I love my booch :) I HAD to brew my own because I couldn't spend $4/day on the bottled stuff from the store. I'm using a continuous brew method and so far it's been super easy. I have sauerkraut fermenting on the counter right now. Kindred spirits!

    2. Hey, I have one of those sauerkraut fermenting thingies, inherited from my parent's move. I am going to have to try this too, now that you have me interested. We Koreans have plenty of fermenty things in our diet, but a drink, that would be cool.

  6. I am wondering about the table too. Does it fold up? You should show your readers a close up of your kombutcha and give everyone a heart attack. ;) I used to faithfully make some but I just got to lazy. My new love is water kefir. :) Wondering when you are going to open up your school to "observing". Ha! I know only in my dreams. I will have to just observe thru the computer.

    1. Gigi, I TOTALLY already took pictures close up but decided to save them for another day because this post already had 22 pictures. Just wait :) Plus mine is continuous brew so I have three giant scobies floating in there.

  7. The table is a folding floor table from "The Company Store." They no longer carry them, but here is the link to the original listing:

    The pictures have been removed from their site.

    I bought mine on ebay. I could only find pink :( I plan to spray paint it this summer.

    I think this is the same table available from meijer. However, they seem to have an error in their dimensions (the width is unlikely to be 112"):

    Mine is quite heavy and the legs are industrial so it's quite strong. From the pictures you might wonder if it was wobbly.