Tuesday, January 12, 2010

School Day

Here is a little glimpse of some of the things we have been doing in school.

Kal-El and I played "go fetch" with the number rods and tiles (in the round tin) yesterday. Kal-El placed the rods in order on his mat, I sat across the room and asked him to bring me a particular number. He was good up until four. He made frequent errors with numbers higher than four because he refuses to distinctly touch each segment. On the longer rods he gets impatient and runs his finger quickly across them and loses his one-to-one correspondence.

After we were done with the rods, he put the number tiles on the mat in random order. Then, he left them in random order and counted from 1-10 finding each numeral and touching it as he went. Then, I asked him to bring me particular numbers. This was very easy for him.

We spent some time working with some snowman letter activities from Pre-Kinders. This one asks the child to find all the lower and uppercase "A's." Both Kal-El and Me Too can do this activity.

I provided candy cane buttons to use as markers. Control of error is that there are always six matching letters on each sheet so the child will need to use all of the buttons. When I took this picture I discovered one of our candy canes has gone astray.

This activity was only for Kal-El. It requires that he mark the objects that start with the letter sound on the top of the page. This time I provided gingerbread boy buttons. Each sheet requires five markers. However, I put away the vowel sheets because they mix the vowel sounds.

Kal-El has been working on some of the double sandpaper letters. I rotate one board in the box as appropriate and the bucket contains objects that have that sound somewhere in their name.

All we do at this point is feel the board, review the sound it makes, name the objects, place them on the board, and ask if we can hear the "ee" sound in their name.

Edited to add: The wreath, key, and monkey shouldn't be in this photo. They are the wrong spelling and shouldn't be presented along with the "ee" sandpaper letter. Oops.

Me Too was very interested in this yesterday. He likes to "ooh and ahh" as he takes them out and name the objects. Yesterday after I asked him each time "can you hear the 'ee' sound in 'tree'?" he would say the same sentence right back "can you hear the 'ee' sound in 'tree'?" He is very interested in "echoing" right now.

This is one of our seasonal practical life activities. I put a set of Christmas erasers in a snowman tub on a snowflake tray with a Christmas tree ice cube tray (yikes!).

The boys transfer the erasers to the ice cube tray, making pairs as they go, with either tongs (Kal-El) or simply with their fingers (Me Too).

I accomplished several hours of work in the language area of the school room yesterday. I made a pile of new materials and am excited to get the boys back in there later this week and show you all the changes. We probably won't get back in there until Thursday. This morning Kal-El has his first dentist appointment. I have one too, so Me Too is going to go play with Me Three at my brother's house. Tomorrow we have playgroup.

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  1. Oh - interesting! I'm a complete Montessori novice. I can see that you are putting out objects that have the ee sound, but ones that aren't necessarily spelt with a ee. How do you rectify the association once the children start to spell?

    Awesome blog :)

  2. I had the same frustration with the vowel pages for the snowmen. So many materials mix the vowels, it makes it very confusing for kids in the beginning. In our school we use Animated Literacy by Jim Stone, a program with a character for each sound, not just each letter. It has been very helpful with our students, whose first language is not English. He also has characters for sh and ch etc. It is not a Montessori approach, but it is something that has worked for us, as we are not a Montessori school. I think you are right about choosing an album or approach and sticking with it, yet reserving the right to change if you find something better. As long as we are reflecting on our choices and our children, we can trust our judgement.

  3. Mrs. Melva and Leptir:
    Thanks for always leaving such nice comments, I really appreciate having someone "talk back."

    Mrs. Melva:

    I want to add your blog to my blogroll, but I have no idea what category to put it in. Maybe I need to add one....Regular schools being run as Montessori schools because the teacher is so great? Maybe you have a title suggestion, or an idea of what existing category(s) you would like to be added to?

  4. Hi. I just found your blog and am finding it an invaluable resource for starting to do Montessori in the home. I have a question about the red rods (long stair) and the number rods. I noticed that your red ones are the full size while the number rods are minis. Do you think it would be appropriate to make both in the minature size to save on space? I don't know much about the red rods (as in extensions) past the first presentation, so I didn't know if there was a reason they should be made from 10cm to 1m instead of smaller.


  5. Pam,

    I'm glad to help :)

    Unless I was REALLY pinched for space I would make the red rods full size. I think storing them upright in a stand (purchased or improvised) would be a better compromise than having them small.

    The whole point of the red rods is for them to really "feel" the concept of length. They are supposed to carry them to the rug one at a time holding them with a hand on each end. When you see your three yo walking across the room with the shortest then the longest you can really see why they are the size they are.

    The number rods are supposed to be the same size and then you are supposed to switch to the smaller size (as you already know). This of course makes the transition really smooth. Some Montessorians are against going straight to the small number rods. This is generally not because it makes the transition bumpier (Kal-El saw the connection between the small number rods and large red rods the instant he saw them on the shelf) but rather because they feel it is harder for kids to count the segments in the smaller size. They are probably right about that, Kal-El is having trouble keeping his finger on the segments as he counts and I can see how this would be easier if they were bigger. However, I'm sure he'll get over it.

    I have heard of people making the large rods not "quite so large." (half sized). Here is a link to some at Chasing Cheerios.


  6. Pam,

    I meant to add that there are two ways that storing them in a stand is a compromise.

    1. They can't see how the "finished product" is supposed to look.

    2. Storing them in a stand tends to encourage them picking them up in one hand and carrying them like a walking stick rather than with two hands and really "feeling" the length. I think it's clever how the length of the longest rod is designed to be the typical "maximum reach" of the average three yo.