Wednesday, November 18, 2015

School Days

Do you still recognize us? 

Kal-El has been choosing sentence analysis every day. This sentence was, "The robber boldly told the police a lie."  We use these cards from ETC Montessori.  He is just about finished with the set.  Me Too finished ALL of the grammar boxes.  Side note:  You can see in the above picture that Kal-El has switched to writing in cursive as his first choice.  New American Cursive last year did the trick.

Both boys have been receiving the presentations on divisibility.  They are a little further along on this chart than pictured.  We've also done 4's and 8's.  We still have to do 3's, 9's and 7's.  Then will have completed the numeration section of the KotU album.

The boys grab a new folder of art cards to sort once a week.

Me Too is the last section of the Nienhuis cards for test tube division.  This is only his first past through.  He is doing equations with four-digit divisors but only recording the equation and final quotient.  He will do the last section two more times, first adding the recording of partial remainders, and finally recording everything.

Me Too has also nearly finished his final pass through the last section of the Nienhuis cards for the checkerboard.  He is recording the equation and partial products.  In a few days he will move on to the flat bead frame.  In the picture above I either said something funny or he had just discovered an error.

Kal-El finished all the Nienhuis cards for the flat bead frame in maybe early October.  He has just finished redoing the last section on paper for extra practice with abstract long multiplication.   He has also finished three of five sections in the second set of Nienhuis cards for fractions.  They don't tell you what these cards practice on the website.  The first section practices converting irreducible fractions to reducible fractions.  The second practices turning improper fractions into mixed numbers and the third practices turning mixed numbers into improper fractions.  The fourth section will practice addition of mixed numbers with and without conversion.  The fifth will practice subtraction of mixed numbers with and without conversion.

Kal-El does a drawer from this ETC Montessori word study set every day.  It only takes a few minutes.   It is his favorite work.  I'm going crazy because I know I took a picture of several of the very cool "skyscraper drawers" in the compound word section but I can't find any of them.  They were actually very difficult puzzles because there was only one solution but several root words could be used in more than one combination.  I'll have to take pictures again when Me Too gets to them (soon).  Me Too only chooses one of these drawers about once a week so is moving through them more slowly.

Kal-El has since moved on to contractions.  

Both boys work on pin maps every day.  Kal-El is trying to finish up the last seven countries or so in Europe that he has never mastered.

Me Too has been working hard on being the first of us to memorize all of the countries in Africa.  The pins on the pink pad are the ones he knows and the ones on the green pad are the ones he doesn't.  He came up with this two pad system.  He stores the pins overnight on the two pads.  Any day that he is able place all the pins from the pink pad without error he adds one to three more pins from the green pad to the map and from that day forward they are now part of the pink pad.  As you can see he only has 12 countries left.  That sounds like a lot, but I think that map has 54 pins.

Truman has been trained to walk around all works and work rugs.  However, he does like to snuggle during racks and tubes and will occasionally roll over onto the boards for a belly rub accidentally.

I put "vocabulary/spelling" on the boys work plans as daily this year.  That means they must choose either vocabulary or spelling work each day.  Both boys seem to have chosen vocabulary every day so far this year.  They have explained to me that when they run out of work in the vocabulary book they will switch to spelling.

We have been working on Spanish daily this year.  We still don't move fast enough for my taste, but are making good progress.  Our Spanish program, Viva el Espanol, uses Montessori-inspired methods.  They learn using a lot of three-period lessons, following Total Physical Response commands (like the verb command boxes in primary reading), listening to taped conversations of native speakers (speaking slowly), games, storybooks, and songs.  I speak almost entirely in Spanish during our Spanish time.  Unknown verbs and sentence structures are taught by demonstrating either by myself or using a puppet (so that I have someone to converse with that can also speak Spanish).  Actually our dog Truman has nearly entirely replaced the puppet.  He is much more fun and speaks excellent Spanish (wink).

In the picture above the boys are practicing the vocabulary for clothing using paper dolls.  I introduced all the vocabulary at one point with three-part lessons using large flash cards. Here they are practicing by following commands like "Pon la falda armadilla en la muchacha." (Put the yellow skirt on the girl.)  The boys have gotten good at these so now they do a third period version of this in which one brother gives the commands to the other.  The hardest part for this is article/noun agreement and adjective/noun agreement.  They learn the article right along with the noun during the three-period lessons with the flashcards but the adjective agreement can be tricky for them. They are getting pretty good.

Above are miniature flashcards of the months of the year that the boys can use with TPR commands as well.  The fireworks are July, the kite is April, etc.,  We use commands for these that also review other vocabulary they have learned in the past.  For example to practice body parts I can say "Pon Julio en la nariz."  (Put July on your nose.)  Or, to practice classroom objects "Corre al globo y pon Febrero en la mesa."  (Run to the globe and put February on the table."

You will often see our large flashcards in the background of other pictures in the school room.  For example this picture from a previous post on the Roman Arch:

Some of our weather and months of the year flashcards are hanging across the fronts of the white bookcases behind the boys.  

I bought the Dignitet curtain wire from Ikea...

...and strung it across the fronts of that row of our bookcases.  

Important note: I also added eye hooks to the the fronts of the bookcases every few feet so that the wire could be not only attached to the end brackets but also strung through the eye hooks along the way.  I did this so that the wire is kept close to the bookcases in such a way that no one can put their heads behind the wire and strangle themselves.  

I use the curtain hooks with clips that came with mine (bought on Ebay) to hang flashcards or other visual aids up temporarily when using them.  When I taught school I used to prop things like this up across the chalk tray under the chalkboard in the front of the room.  Until I added the Dignitet I always had bit of an issue finding a place to display many of these at one time in a usable way.

I plan to use the same system on the longest wall in our basement (the longest uninterrupted wall in our house) to create a timeline for the kids to build along with their Story of the World work.  I wouldn't have enough curtain clips for that work, but did buy a bag of a couple hundred very tiny (1 cm?) clothespins that will serve the purpose well.   If you want to see what I mean, look at the sequence of "index cards timelines" on this post, which is my very favorite post ever on different methods that can be used for child-made timelines in a homeschool:

We have been doing lots of other work.  I've made a note of what I didn't have pictures of and will try to cover those things in my next post.


  1. Siempre es un placer leer sus publicaciones!! Me encantan como siempre!! Los niños están haciendo un trabajo ESPECTACULAR!! Le admiro mucho!! Sólo he escrito en español para que siga practicando!! sé que le va muy bien con nuestro idioma!! Excelente dia y excelente trabajo!! Un Abrazo!

  2. Wow!! A ton of work!! Looks like you all are hunkering down for a cold winter in your nice warm and cozy classroom! I just finished my second-semester planning and boy do we have a lot to "catch-up" on. I guess that is what happens when you get distracted. Buen trabajo!

  3. So glad to see an update! And boy, they have grown!

  4. How inspiring! Would you be able to share what your work plans for the boys look like this year? I'm trying to develop something that provides a good balance yet opportunities for exploration and am struggling.