Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Because our house is for sale and our school room dismantled I have been using the buffet next to our kitchen table as a place to put out works that I want to give a presentation on.

Today I presented the double sandpaper letter "sh" to Kal-El. As often as possible I try to arrange the work so that I can give most of the presentation to both boys. To that end, today we started just with the box in the middle that held objects whose names begin with "sh" and talked first about the sound without reference to the written symbol.

We had a sheep, shamrock, shot, shell, shepard, shrimp, shoe, and shot. I get inspiration very often from the catalog for Montessori-n-Such. They have very detailed pictures of their activities that they sell and I get a lot of ideas for what objects to put in a collection or sort from their catalog.

Because some of these objects (shrimp, shepard, and shamrock to be exact) were potential new words for the boys I took charge of the box at first and named each object that was in it and gave a three-period lesson where needed. This is important because often times we use the objects in other ways on other days. The boys need to know whether we are calling something a "shell" or a "conch", a "shark" or a "hammerhead shark", etc.,

The boys were sitting in their chairs at opposite ends of our kitchen table. As I went through the objects I alternately set them down in front of one child or the other. They fight a lot right now. If I had done this on the floor with them sharing a rug they would have started grabbing, pulling, and arguing.

When I was about halfway through the objects, Kal-El who's no Montessori rookie, said "what does the 'sh' sound look like?" Perfect. Me Too was busy, occupied with the collection of objects he had accumulated at this point, so I was able to work alone with Kal-El and present the sandpaper letter. Afterward, we finished going through the objects. Then they traded piles. While Me Too was distracted with his new stash Kal-El and I retraced the sandpaper letters and I gave him the sand tray.

As he wrote in the sand, Kal-El spontaneously began naming other words he could think of that had the "sh" sound in them. It's always great to hear this because that skill is the final level of the sound games.

After it was clear to me that they were going to be successful taking turns with the sand tray and object box, I left them alone to go take a shower.

Kal-El joined me shortly to use the toilet and I asked him a couple questions through the glass such as "If Mommy says 'don't splash!' where is the 'sh' sound?" He said, "at the end." Then he stayed to ask me several questions of his own. I was impressed when he asked "Mommy, where is the 'sh' sound in the word 'washcloth'." Me Too joined us as well. He sat on the bathmat and repeated every answer Kal-El gave. See? Homeschooling happens everywhere.

Today is another good example of some of the tricks I use to homeschool them together while differentiating for their different learning goals.

The "sh" materials will stay out on the buffet for a couple days so they can use them by choice. Tomorrow I think I will add a bin of words that end with "sh." The next day I might dump the two bins into one and put out a mat for Kal-El split into columns with a train engine at the top of one and a train caboose at the top of the other. We have been using train imagery from the beginning to denote beginning, middle, and ending sounds for the boys at the pre-reading stages.

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  1. That's a great description of how you make things work.

  2. I love this post because it shows me a little bit of how you actually work with the kids.
    I need to hear how others do it with different levels and fighting!

    I also love the detail information on this particular presentation.

    Thank you for all of your detail posts.

  3. I really appreciated this detailed posts. I am realization that I need to go back and do more aural preparation with Bear, especially in the phonograms. I have a question about the objects. When you have the SP ee for example, can you include objects/pictures for the sound ee spelled differently (like ea, or e-e)?

  4. The Girl who painted trees,

    When you are just talking about purely aural prep, it doesn't matter how it spelled because you are only asking if they can hear a certain sound...can you hear the "ee" sound in pea? can you hear it in tree?

    If you are using the the written symbol at all, you are supposed to make sure they match. (Both per Dwyer)

    In my opinion, if did a lesson like I did in this post for "ee" everything would have to match AND as we did further aural work throughout the day it would have to match too. Whenever I do a presentation Kal-El thinks about it all day. So, if I did a presentation on "ee" and a couple hours later I asked him if he could hear the "ee" sound in "pea" or played "I spy a vegetable with the 'ee' sound in it" and there was a bowl of peas on the table, he is absolutely going to think of the "ee" letters sitting right next to us on the kitchen buffet and assume that's how it's spelled.

    The different spellings are worked out when they do two later activities: phonogram booklets, and phonogram dictionary.

    I should have my actual post on aural prep done tomorrow :)

  5. What is that square thing a table top water table? Am curious!

  6. Christine,

    It is an unfinished, 12X12 "shadow box." I bought it at a craft store, painted the bottom blue and filled it with originally salt, then yellow sand.

  7. I love your 'Sh' objects!

    Yes, very detailed post. Thanks for sharing! <3