Monday, November 7, 2011

School Day


Well, it was a good day until Kal-El vomited all over me, himself, his bed, his bedskirt, a book, some toys, and his bedroom carpeting. After the first time, he knew what it felt like so he ran to the bathroom the second time (about five seconds later) with the remnants of the first time dripping off of him onto the carpeting all along the way like breadcrumbs. This morning I washed Kal-El's bedding and dressed his bed fresh. He vomited all over it about two hours later. I think I'm on something like my eighth load of laundry today. Me Too had his turn vomiting Saturday night around midnight. He, fortunately, managed to deposit everything in a neat pile right in the middle of his bed and didn't even get any on his pajamas. Perhaps an overshare, but I'm like that at times.


Such as dismembered insects...

I know when it's time to start "school" because the boys will have wandered off while I clean up the breakfast dishes and started something interesting all on their own. Our breakfast dishes often sit undone until after lunch because the boys will get into something and need my assistance. One thing naturally leads to another, and the next thing you know it is lunch time and you've spent all morning in the school room. Today Kal-El pulled out the microscope and was looking at things like a butterfly proboscis, dragonfly wings, and honey bee legs. I was called away from the breakfast dishes to identify a wasp antennae. He asked me how I "knew it was a wasp antennae" and I pointed out the labels on the slides (he had apparently never noticed). Kal-El read the next one (bee abdomen) all on his own. This very proud boy proceeded to go through all of our slides as "Me Too's teacher." He loaded the microscope, focused, and read each label for him before he forced Me Too to look through the scope (sometimes by guiding his head there by force with his hand laced through the back of his hair). Me Too thought it was funny so I let it go.

Me Too worked with a letter "p" sound bin today. As always, it was filled with the sandpaper letter, photographs of things that begin with "p", a little book of pictures of things that begin with "p", and a collection of objects. During a recent flurry of material making around here I made a new material for his sound bins.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a long time will remember that I had something similar in the past. I haven't been using them lately for several reasons, the first being that they are snowman-themed and it has been super out-of-season. The second reason is that the activity I had previously mixed upper and lowercase. At the time Kal-El used them he knew both cases. Me Too has learned only lowercase. I finally hunkered down and made a new set that uses only lowercase and is neutrally-themed so that they can be used any time of year.

Basically, the bin contains a little bag or container of fun markers (in this case "pumpkins") and the letter search sheet. Me Too had to find all of the occurrences of the letter "p" and put a pumpkin on top. The control of error is the number of pumpkins. If he has some left, he hasn't found all the "p's". If he finds another "p" after his markers are gone he knows he has misidentified a letter. The latter actually happened today. He told me he needed another pumpkin because he had found another letter "p." We discovered that he had put a pumpkin on one of the lowercase "d's" instead.

In language arena Kal-El has been continuing his work with soft "c" and "g" and has also learned about when "s" makes the "zzz" sound. He previously memorized "is, his, as, has" as a group. These past few days he has been learning about "se" at the end of the words. This is trickier because the silent "e" has two jobs: to make the "s" buzz like a bee, and to make the previous vowel say its name. For example: nose. Later this week he will be reviewing the formation of plurals.

We have been working with the geometric cabinet several times a week in an effort to improve the boys' retention of the names of the shapes so that we can do some more advanced work with the constructive triangles. Kal-El worked with the triangular box today and was identifying the shapes made such as the "trapezoid", "rhombus", and "hexagon." Try as I might, they both still refuse to remember the specific names of the triangles. I don't know what age children typically are able to do that in a regular Montessori classroom. (In case you are wondering, Kal-El chose one of our violin rugs for this work. The green tape boxes are for Me Too's feet when he practices.)

In the meantime, Me Too was working on the concepts of "greater than" and "less than" with the number rods. It was slow going at first. We started with the "five rod" and I asked him to bring me the rod "two bigger." It was like talking to a rock. We backed up and did the activity where you have say they "ten rod" out (for example), put the two rod beneath, and ask them to find the rod that we can add to the two rod to make it the same size as the ten rod. After a few like this Me Too took it and ran with it. He spent about an hour making different combinations of rods match other ones.

Kal-El overheard our trouble with the original activity we tried. It drove him INSANE! I could hear him whispering next to us, first repeating the question and then the answer...sometimes trying to give Me Too a hint. "Pssst! Me Too! Two! Two rod! Pssst! Two rod!" Finally, he couldn't take it anymore and abandoned his constructive triangle to take out the tabletop rods and shadow Me Too's work on the floor next to us. This was time well spent toward memorizing his addition facts.

Kal-El's math presentation today was on the vocabulary "ten, twenty, thirty...ninety" using ten bars from the golden beads. He was really excited about this and apparently picked up the concept quickly because made me listen to him count from one to eighty-nine shortly afterward (he was "too tired" to continue). I didn't push because I didn't ask him to count in the first place! Tomorrow I will pull out the seguin boards for "tens." That means later this week he will be ready for the 100 chain and 100 board which I think he is going to simply adore.

Later in the day (post vomit) Kal-El was in the tub. I was scrubbing the carpet and toting loads of icky laundry down the stairs. Me Too knows that when something of this magnitude happens the best plan of action is to STAY OUT OF MOM'S WAY. I noticed him busy working on the fraction circles on one of my trips to the dryer.

These are very tricky for him. Despite all of his experience with the pink tower, brown stair, and knobbed cylinders he has trouble distinguishing the sizes among some of the pies. Therefore, he often gets a sixth mixed in with this fifths and cannot complete the circle. I took some time out from the chaos to show him how to check the sizes. He said I smelled "stinky."

Montessori Monday


  1. You know, if you were a true Montessorian you would have made the boys demonstrate their practical life skills and independence by cleaning up their own vomit...kidding!!! ;)

    Looks like you guys are doing some great work. Thanks for linking up to Montessori Monday! :)

  2. I love how your boys just choose to go to the school room and get to work with no prompting! I feel like I need someone to get ME in there sometimes :) How long have you allowed them to go in and out freely?

  3. Wonderful works! I can't for the life of me get the kids here to use the sound bins anymore. I think I have been setting it up very similar to you, or maybe it is because of a group setting they need everything to be on its' own tray. Possibly it is my presentation, any tips? Also I noticed your fraction metal insets were not on the stand, did you buy them that way, or was that another one of your innovative ways to make it more accessible for your kids. I like it exactly how your using it. By the way congratulations on your nomination in the homeschool awards. Your family rocks!! Thank you for sharing.

  4. Nicole,

    LOL! After my husband returned home we noticed the odor was really ramping up in Kal-El's room. I sprinkled it with baking soda and ran to the store for some carpet spray. Me Too was really into helping :) He carried the spray upstairs while I carried the vacuum. He sprayed the cleaner on the carpet and brought me the towels for the blotting. I guess it wasn't a total loss.

  5. Mel,

    They have been going in and out freely for a year (since Kal-El was almost five and Me Too 3.5). The school room became accessible when we finally moved in November of 2010. It's hard to say whether I would have done it sooner or not because our previous home was for sale for the nine months prior and that time was really difficult. I don't know if Me Too could have handled the responsibility or not.

    Kal-El gets up an hour ahead of the rest of the family and I usually find evidence in the school room that he has been busy in there.

  6. Discovering Montessori,

    It's definitely you. JUST KIDDING! I have no idea really :) Me Too loves to mess around with the object in them and it draws him like a moth to a flame. Think about what your kids can't resist. Even so, he often doesn't choose one if there are a lot of other interesting things. If it has been a few days I suggest it and so far he has always said "yes." He knows it is something we can do "together," particularly with a new basket, and he really values one-on-one time with me.

  7. Discovering Montessori (again),

    Thanks! I didn't even know about the award nomination! Also, fractions are my planned post for tomorrow, stay tuned!

  8. I hope everyone's feeling better at your house! I love reading about your interest-led homeschooling - and congrats on the HBA nomination! I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page:

  9. Poor guy! I'm in love with your school room, the organization is to die for :)

    Wishing you health!

  10. I love your learning space. Hope everyone is feeling better! I was wondering if you would be willing to share your letter find boards.

    Thank you!

  11. Anon,

    Sadly, I cannot share the letter find boards. I just opened up a grid in a spreadsheet program and typed in the letters. The program wouldn't let me create multiple pages in that format without messing it up from page to page. As a result, I had to create them one page at a time. I filled in the grid randomly, then replaced five letters with the target letter. I printed the page and then just clicked "undo" to revert back to the original grid of random letters in between. I changed the picture at the top as I went as well.

    So sorry I can't share :(

  12. I used word to make a set using pictures my son helped pick out. Thank you for the inspiration.

  13. Hi, I made some Letter Find sheets and thought I'd share them! Mind if I link them up here?