Tuesday, January 20, 2015

School Days

Me Too asked me to take this picture and told me beforehand that he was going to practice "smiling nicely."  You know, so he won't look disturbing.  Clearly we'll have to keep working on it.  I don't know why my kids think they have to touch their top teeth to their bottom lip in order to smile nicely.  Sigh.  

The Cub Scouts are discontinuing their belt loop and pin program at the end of this school year.  Me Too is trying to earn as many as he can while he still can.  So, for his "kid's choice" works he is rifling through the Academics and Sports Program binder and choosing work.  As part of his Astronomy belt loop he was required to draw a model of the solar system.

Montessori Division Racks and Tubes

I am doing something a little different with Me Too and the division racks and tubes.  Our AMI KotU elementary albums start directly with two-digit divisors.  Me Too was working on division with one-digit divisors on the stamp game but was no longer interested in the stamps and bogged down by the stamps.  Our AMS math albums actually have a section on simply building dividends with the racks and tubes and a section on one-digit divisors with the racks and tubes (as an advanced child might do in primary).  Also, the Nienhuis equation cards I bought to go with this material had sections for both of those tasks. So I moved Me Too off of the stamp game (he hoped "forever" but really until he does group division someday) and am having him work through those sections of our equation box instead.
 Montessori, long division activity set

Here is a closer look at our little equation box.  These are very nice cards.  I know I've mentioned it before, but I seriously dislike generating equations.  I bought the boxes for the checkerboard, racks and tubes, and the flat bead frame.  I also plan to buy the second set for fractions (unlike divisors).  The child can generate his own equations, and my boys also do that.  However, in our homeschool I find that the existence of a set amount of equations illustrates the eventual "end" of that apparatus and sparks and interest in "what's next."  Little things like that can be helpful when you don't have a classroom of 25 students doing exciting work to motivate them.  The little number dividers feed right into my boys' interest in "getting to the next level."  I have to  pay attention to their mood.  Whenever they seem reluctant or uninterested in the box of equations I suggest they invent their own.  The extra control of their work is always refreshing.  

Montessori, prefix chart

Kal-El has been finishing up copying the prefix chart.  He sits at the table when he does this and the chart stays on the wall so there is some distance (providing memory work).  However, he likes to store his copies over by the chart so he can find them whenever he continues his work.

Me Too is still very interested in drawing.  Both boys have been asking me to look up Star Wars drawing tutorials to copy during their "kid's choice" moments often during schooltime.  Above is Me Too's rendition of an Ewok.  As I overheard Kal-El say to Me Too the other day, "I used to be interested in spies and Power Rangers.  Now I am interested in Star Wars and Star Wars."  Me Too is interested in "art" any way he can get it.  I tried the Drawing With Children approach but I found that book very hard to use.  I would have to spend hours and hours "figuring out how to do it" much like I once "figured out how to do Montessori."  There's a limit to how much time I have to spend squeezing information out of sources like water from a rock (Which is what homeschooling using the Montessori method was like seven years ago when I started all this.) I need something that is open and go.  Last night I finally bit the bullet and ordered the I Can Do All Things curriculum from How Great Thou Art.  It is a three year curriculum geared for ages 6-10.  They have a program for kids 10 and older as well, Feed My Sheep.  I also thought that Art and The Bible for Children looked like a really fun devotional option for families like mine who like to have an activity at the end.

Do you need to buy a separate art curriculum to supplement Montessori homeschooling?  Certainly not.  Focus on the keys.  KotU includes an art album as part of the program.  We are buying this to fulfill a specific interest in our home.  I feel bad for Me Too.  Kal-El's special interests were much easier to fulfill within the typical Montessori scope because he just loves science.  Even then, I supplement a little with Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding.  Me Too's interest has been harder for me to support.

Kal-El worked on memorizing the mountains, deserts, and islands of North America some this week.

I don't think I've mentioned how much we enjoy this L'Escapadou cursive app on our iPad.  Kal-El just started asking for my stylus when he uses it.  He says it's "more official."  We use the New American Cursive books. They have worked beautifully.  Kal-El has learned cursive quickly and easily with no fuss and very little assistance from me.  I haven't noticed any font-compatibility issues between that and the app.

One feature I love about the app is that you can add your own word lists and record your own audio.  I plugged in all of the boys All About Spelling word lists in order to sneak in some extra sneaky spelling practice.  I recorded the audio for each word.  I did this while supervising in the school room and sometimes the boys help.  They like it when their own voices come up saying a word.  Sometimes we say certain words with a lot of emotion which cracks them up.  Me Too has told me that if I die he wants the iPad so that he can "always remember my voice."  Oh dear, that kid says the oddest things.  Although, the other day when Kal-El alerted us to a beautiful sunset while the boys were eating breakfast I overheard Me Too say, "Mommy is prettier."

We reviewed the classification of triangles this week.  

Me Too said, "I am very very angry about my word problems today."  He was having trouble finding all the cards for the week he wanted.

Kal-El working with the grammar boxes.

Here Kal-El is working on one of the exercises from the Squaring and Cubing section of the KotU math album.  He had to make a pyramid out of the bead squares and then find the sum of all of the squares.  He notated each square and listed its sum.  Then, he added the sums to reach his final answer.  This will be less fun when he does it with the cubes (Since he doesn't have the products of each cube memorized like he does the squares.).  It has been REALLY enjoyable working on math with two kids who now know all of their math facts.

Phew!  I forgot how LONG it takes to do the division bead board AMI-style.  We followed the presentation in the Montessori by Hand primary album. Me Too completed EVERY equation, with and without remainders, with quotients from 1 to 81.  As he went he checked all of his answers with no remainder against the multiplication control board. Then, he would underline any equation that had no remainder in red.  Finally, when he had completed his whole book of equations (read more on this and get a free download to make the booklet here) he copied all of the equations without remainders, those underlined in red,  onto graph paper.  He finished today. He started in October.  It took 2.5 months if you allow for not really having school due to illness in December.  Now we can move on to the finger boards.  This should go quickly because he really doesn't see a difference between the division equations without remainders and the multiplication equations he already has memorized.

Me Too wanted something fresh to do after finishing all of that old division work.  He dug around in our "specimen" drawers for a bit and came up with dinosaur skeletons and dinosaur cards.

Getting a fresh perspective.

He invented some kind of work for himself that involved assigning each skeleton a "category type" and sorting the cards below as belonging to that "category."  Then he took it upon himself to record each "family" of dinosaurs on paper.  About this time, Kal-El came along and asked him about his work.  Kal-El determined that not ALL of the dinosaurs in each category were a perfect match for the skeleton at the top.  Me Too explained that they were all "similar" and then the two of them, as a TEAM (I was very quiet and tried to make myself invisible while they had this rare moment of GETTING ALONG.), discussed what features they should compare to decide which dinosaur in the category was actually a perfect match for the skeleton at the top.  This is a good example of how easily the boys go "off work plan" and of how the work plan does not act like a checklist or limit their freedom or creativity.

As always, there is a lot of work not pictured.  The boys go through a lot of fraction equations as if they are flashcards.  Kal-El is avoiding the checkerboard and racks and tubes.  He is instead asking to do pages in his Evan Moor Basic Math Skills book that we have kicking around the house just for fun.  We changed all the paperclips on his work plan so that none are "daily" at the beginning of the month.  It was a good observation assist for me.  We are getting through a much wider variety of work.  However, after a few weeks of this it is obvious to me which things need to be put back to daily.

Both boys are performing at Federation music festival soon on their violins. They are also both taking a the music theory test there.  So, we've had to spend a little time familiarizing them with a couple of concepts they haven't gotten to elsewhere (such as labelling intervals by size) and how to take a test.  This will be the first test either of them has ever taken.

There has also been an uptick in requests to listen to The Story of the World audio book and a lot of projects that have spun off from that.  Speaking of spinning off, we still work on copywork from Writing with Ease and the boys ALWAYS want to read the whole book that has been excerpted.  This week I started The Happy Hollisters as a read-aloud, but Kal-El was so interested he took over and finished on his own.  We have to get our library to round up some more of the series for us.

Kal-El's favorite book right now is Star Wars: Jedi Academy.  The boy in the book keeps a diary and draws cartoons.  Kal-El mentioned that he wished HE could keep a diary.  So, I leapt to pull a fun journal out of my basement stash that I had been saving (for four years) for just this moment.  Now Kal-El spends a lot of time each day writing in his diary.  He writes stories, records his day, and draws cartoons.  It is not a secret diary so I'll have to have him choose some pages to share with you all soon.

Also to be shared soon will be some fun work on multiples Kal-El did this week.  I had several pictures of it so will give it its own  post.

Note:  This post has a record number of Amazon Affiliate links I think so it bears mentioning that if you buy something after clicking through one of those links, even if it isn't what I linked to, there is no extra cost to you but I do receive a small percentage in return from Amazon.  Any money earned is funneled right back into educating the boys here and writing about it on this blog.  I don't usually mention it, but that information is always available in the disclosures at the bottom of the blog.


  1. So good to see what you all have been up to! As always, such inspiration. I like that cursive program. I wonder if S would like that. T knows all his forms already, but just chooses to write in print. I think I'll nudge him a bit.

    That is quite a division sequence. I don't know if I'd have the patience for that myself! Wow, hats off to Me-Too for getting through it all. (And Kal-El because he did it too right?)

    Now you are making me jealous with your Neinhuis problem sets!

    And I see that you already put Oh, No Pancakes, Jenn's blog up on your blog list.

    Do all boys sit like that? One knee up, one knee down? I cant' sit like that because it is uncomfy and because my foot falls asleep. T does this ALL the time. He wears holes in his pant legs...in the left leg only. And his chin gets all red from resting it on his knee. How funny.

    1. Yes, they both did that marathon sequence. If we are anything over here we are thorough. Painfully thorough.

      I'm making myself jealous with the Nienhuis sets. I keep thinking about the ones I don't have.

      I put her up right away. So excited.

      I worked out with a trainer on Tuesday and couldn't do stairs again until Sunday I was so sore. I also couldn't get up from the floor without a crane. I WISH I could sit like that!

    2. hum. I wonder if D would be willing to do the marathon sequence since he will be starting everything way earlier than T and S did and might get to it at a time that repetition matters for him. (D just started number rods. A bit earlier than average maybe, but he is very interested.) Right now it is 8:30 and he is still passed out asleep. Growth spurt?

      A trainer...goodness, that does not sound fun.

  2. Did you guys, I mean Kal-El, do the bank game yet? I remember you mentioning it, but don't remember seeing it on the blog...count this as a post request, and a photo-shoot request I guess too. No worries if Kal-El wants to keep his "bank-game"work a secret! :)

    1. No. I saw your post about yours and felt totally guilty. All that time laminating it, put it on the shelf, and haven't started it. Laminated it right before getting sick. Although, now we've been back to work two weeks but I totally forgot about it. Thanks for the reminder. Tomorrow? Monday?

  3. Are these sequences something defined in AMS style albums? For my AMI albums, it just seems to be up to the teacher or student to figure out what work follows presentation and I'm having a hard time figuring it out myself.

    1. I'm getting all of my information from my AMI KOTU albums.