Saturday, September 27, 2014

Makeover Week!

Whether it's America's Next Top Model or The Biggest Loser, I love makeover week.  As you can probably tell from Pinocchio's booty tooch, this makeover has more of a sassy ANTM vibe (although no one had to rock a newly shaved head) than a teary TBL vibe.  Can't you see the new materials smizing at you?  Werk it Montessori, Werk it...

Sorry Denzel, we bypassed the beard weave.  Instead we directed our funds toward some flashy printed materials from ETC Montessori (As usual, I am getting NO LOVE from ETC Montessori).  I bought three different sets:  grammar box filling material, command cards, and logical analysis material.

Check out all of those grammar boxes (Kid Advance)!  I decided at the last minute that I wanted to use the traditional color scheme rather than the "new scheme" that matches the grammar symbols.  The fastest way I could get cut and laminated filler materials for those boxes from ETC.  I was in no mood to buy, make, or store 40 color-coded boxes to store the filler material so I resorted to my long-time favorite hardware drawers (on top of the bookshelf):

The clothespin progress markers on our fraction cabinet have been a huge hit with the boys.  This time we used Power Ranger and Transformer stickers.   In case you have forgotten, the fraction cabinet features their very OWN heads.

Because the first several drawers are word sorts from advanced section of the traditional Montessori noun sequence, we haven't actually filled a grammar box yet.  However, Kal-El is burning through singular/plural and masculine/feminine nouns.


He reads the instructions, sorts the cards, and then records any "rules" he discovers on paper and stores it in his language binder.

To the right of the hardware cabinet you will find our new Grammar Command material

I wasn't sure how to organize them.  I ultimately decided to group the command cards by fours with their accompanying word cards and put them in my favorite 6x9" manila envelopes.  Maria Montessori states in TAMM regarding the storage of the adjective commands that, "The commands are printed on little slips of paper which are folded and all held together by an elastic band with a series of brown cards containing the adjectives." [61-62] She provides the command cards throughout the book in groups that would be kept together.  There is only ONE image I could find online anywhere that shows the storage of grammar commands on a real shelf in a real Montessori classroom and it doesn't really clear things up:

The ETC material is beautiful as always, however this is the only thing I've ever bought from ETC that I've been disappointed in.  These are not the same sentences from The Advanced Montessori Method Volume 2.  ETC invented their own and they are much less advanced.  I think these would be excellent for a student in a third or fourth year of primary or first year elementary.  They are too basic for older elementary students.  That said, Kal-El LOVES them.  Love.  Love. Love.  So, I'm happy to have them.  He is working through them very rapidly. Because they make him so happy, I'll let him go through them and then replace them with the proper cards.  They are included for free as part the Keys of the Universe program.  If you are not a member of the course, you can buy a file to download that includes all of the grammar box filling material and the command cards through the Garden of Francis site.

At any rate, check out how happy these cards make Kal-El:

There are also simple experiment cards that had him measuring the temperature of water, filling bowls with sand, and sorting objects with a magnet.  However, they were pretty primary compared to the experiments suggested in T.A.M.M.

I also bought the Sentence Analysis Level 6-9 cards.  These are very thorough and align nicely with the Montessori R&D albums that I have always used for grammar.  The set includes four categories of work that combine to make the child approach sentence analysis from different directions.  You can view images of the different types of cards through the link.  The "Reading Analysis" cards as you would expect, provide the child with a sentence to analyze with traditional sentence analysis circles and arrows.  The "Sentence Construction cards" provide several images and a picture of sentence analysis circles and arrows.  The child is to create a sentence for each picture that follows the pattern of circles and arrows.  The "Oral Games" cards are simply a collection of beautiful photographs to use as inspiration for the child to write, and then analyze, their own sentences.  Finally, the "Logical Analysis" cards require the child to read a fable (provided on separate cards), find a sentence that meets certain criteria, then analyze and record the sentence.

I stole the box from our double sandpaper letters and it holds the cards perfectly.  Here on Kal-El's chowki, you can see the box of work.  He can choose from any section he wishes.  Also on the table is a copy of the first of two forms provided for recording the sentences.  The form mirrors the forms suggested in most AMS and AMI albums I've seen.  Also on this table is the piece of paper I mentioned earlier on which Kal-El is recording any "rules" he discovers as he works.  I guess he though he should have it handy.  The boys made several sets of bookmarks by themselves to keep their place among the many sets of cards in this box.  

Here is an example of some of the work Me Too is doing in this box.  This is the first "Oral Games" card he chose.  He picked it because the woman in the photo looks EXACTLY LIKE ME.  My family will be somewhat freaked out by this because the resemblance is uncanny. I even have the same swimsuit.  He wrote the sentence on a blank grammar slip (I keep them stocked), cut it, and placed the sentence on the sentence analysis symbols.

This is the only thing that perplexes me about this area of work.  Maybe a reader can help me out.  The child is supposed to be using the sentence analysis symbols with slips of paper.  They also are apparently supposed to be recording work on that chart.  The most basic chart requires them to do the following:

  • Write down the sentence.
  • Write down the given questions and their answers (such as "What is the action?" and "Who is it that does the action?")
  • Draw a  picture of the sentence analysis symbols for the sentence.

My problem is this:  It seems redundant to do both.  I think one should either write the sentence on the slip of paper and use the wooden symbols or they should skip the wooden symbols altogether and use the form.  If you skip the wood symbols altogether and use the form it is no longer "hands-on grammar."  I am guessing that I am supposed to use the wooden symbols as long as the child will tolerate it and switching to the form is for the older elementary child who is abstracting and now finds it tedious to manipulate all of the pieces.  But I'm not sure.  Edited to add:  Below is a picture of one of the "reading analysis" cards and the form together.

Both Me Too and Kal-El are doing all of these types of work: grammar boxes, command cards, and logical analysis.  I mention Kal-El more frequently because he currently has grammar as an every day line item on his work plan.  Me Too has grammar on the cyclical section of his work plan at this time (with three paper clips).  That means Kal-El is simply getting to this work faster, hence more pictures.
Kal-El's work plan simply says "grammar."  That means he can choose the grammar box cabinet, the command cards, or any of the types of work in the logical analysis box that he wishes.

Here is that close-up of the actual shelves again (it will get bigger if you click on it).

Top shelf:  Logical Analysis cards, sentence analysis boxes, solid grammar symbols.  Also, a basket containing blank slips for sentences, a scissors, and a stencil for coloring grammar symbols.

Second shelf from top:  box of flat wooden grammar symbols, grammar boxes 2 and 3.

The next two shelves hold grammar boxes 4-9.  A homeschooling family that needs to save room would probably only have one box out at a time.

Bottom Shelf:  Sentence Analysis definitions chart.  Sentence Analysis forms for recording.


  1. Wow! Great job re-vamping grammar, and it looks like so much fun just waiting for the boys! :) I have to admit, I'd be a little weirded out (I know, here we are talking about grammar and that's not even a word lol) if I saw a picture come out that looked just like me. However, I bet the boys that it was hilarious! :)

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  3. In the photo from the school, it looks like the commands are on those white cards in the colored boxes behind each grammar box.

    I was surprised at the number of boxes - I have honestly never counted it up ;) I put ours in envelopes - paper envelopes at that. I did finally purchase the grammar boxes (then online tutorials on was to make them came out!), but I would NOT use/create all the filler boxes in my own home anyway - pouches are nice; drawers too. I love your ideas!

    I have not seen that form you mention before though. Interested in hearing more about it.

    In the paragraph where you ask for reader input, which chart are you referring to?


  4. Yes, the commands are the white cards in the colored boxes behind each grammar box. What I can't figure out is how they are grouped within the box and how the small word cards are grouped with the command cards. I *THINK* they have clear plastic envelopes and a set of commands and appropriate word cards are grouped in each clear envelope. I know I saw those envelopes for sale in a Montessori catalog somewhere but can't remember where.

    I noticed the day after I wrote this that I was wrong about the form being in all my AMI and AMS albums. I own four grammar albums and the form is in all of them except your album. The form I mentioned in the reader input paragraph is the form I described earlier in the post.

    I just added a picture to that section that shows the form and an analysis card together.

  5. How many exercises within each category are there in that ETC set of sentence analysis cards? I find their products intriguing but there doesn't seem to be all that much detailed information about them on their website. I also can't figure out the pricing. There are options for laminating and cutting or printed on plastic and cutting. Is that in addition to the price listed above those options? If I don't pick one of those options am I just getting regular old paper here? Would be nice to know from someone who has purchased. I Live abroad so these are burning questions for me when returns/exchanges are usually not possible and shipping is expensive....too bad they don't have a download option. Really like your site by the way, I find it so helpful. I find answers to most of my questions on here. Thanks! -Leandra

  6. That is correct. The price listed is the basic price which is the materials printed on card stock and then you do your own laminating and cutting. The price listed for laminated and cut or printed on plastic is in addition to the base price. Worth every penny. I had to deal with another vendor who charged extra for laminating only to find out, after I received my materials that there was an additional charge for cutting. It works out that ETC is less expensive. I love their materials and my kids can't get enough of them.