Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Montessori Grammar: Preposition, Key Experience

As I am writing this, my boys are actually playing outside.  It is so nice to have temperatures in the 30's instead of windchills of 30 below zero.  We had to run an errand about an hour ago.  The boys got their shoes and coats on and went outside.  I did the same, took an extra few seconds to grab my purse, and met them outside.  There I discovered Kal-El running in circles and flapping his arms chanting, "I'ts spring!  It's spring!  The sun is shining.  It's warm.  I can hear the birds chirping.  It's spring!  I looooove it!"  Who said homeschoolers are odd?

Speaking of odd, this week I formally introduced the preposition.  Informally the boys and I have already talked about them.  For this presentation I read the key experiences from KotU, CD, MRD, MA, and MBH and then did what I felt like.  That's pretty typical for me.  At any rate, my presentation is inspired by all of the above.  It is probably most similar to KotU and CD but with different props.  Why use flowers and vases when you have landspeeders and droids?  The mat started with the landspeeder and the droids spread out on the rug.  I wrote the sentence on the strip and asked Me Too to "make it true."  (After a brief discussion about how the droids don't ride in the seats but usually stand on the back because they have little holes in their feet that fit on some pegs.  Sigh.  The landspeeder and droids are my husband's originals from when he was a child if you are the type who cares about such things.)

I cut out the preposition and replaced it, one at a time, with several other prepositions.  It had occurred to me that we could experience many more prepositions if we didn't limit ourselves to droids and landspeeders.

So, I was prepared with a miniature Millennium Falcon and our classroom Solar System.  We did the same activity with the sentence, "The Millennium Falcon flies into the solar system."  (around, through, beneath the solar system, etc.,)

The boys were having fun discovering new prepositions in this way, so we kept going.  The next scenario involves several characters standing in line for the bathroom on the Death Star (I had the bathroom rap from Parappa going through my head the whole time we did this).  They had lots of fun changing the prepositions and noun families around for this, "Vader stands in front of Chewbacca", or "The Tusken Raider stands next to Han Solo", etc.,

They were very excited and joyful to receive a new grammar symbol.  The MRD albums have a great story to go along with the symbol.  It's all about the first bridges as vines across a river and the evolution from hanging bridges to Roman bridges, etc.,  The boys have been noticing and commenting on bridge construction around town ever since. 

Next, the boys practiced with phrases on strips and wooden grammar symbols.  In our logical/sentence analysis work we are starting to treat noun families as a unit rather than as individual words.  Some Montessori albums suggest a little trick of stacking the article, adjective, and noun triangles to encourage that kind of thinking.  Kal-El suggested that he act out the steps for you all in photos.

His phrase was "the sneaky Jawas around the hot desert."  One of the best things about the stacked noun families is that it emphasizes the preposition as a bridge between the two.

The boys had already been working on memorizing a poem that I memorized as a child (second or third grade I think) that I still remembered as an adult.  I typed it up on the computer and I slipped this in our morning basket a few weeks ago. The boys are pretty close to knowing it by heart and are finding it very useful when they put the symbols on their sentences.  I am sharing the link here in case you would like to print one for yourself  Link to the short (thirty-eight) preposition poem I used to recite as a child.  I Googled a line from the poem and it seems that that it can also be sung to the tune of "Yankee Doodle."

The Classical Conversations chant for prepositions is very popular as a YouTube video with actions.  Maybe I'm setting the bar too low, but I feel like memorizing all 100 prepositions is a little bit of overkill.  As they say on Schoolhouse Rock, "nine or ten of them do most all of the work." Can you tell the boys watched this video about nine or ten times this week:

If you are actually going to memorize the longer list, I actually prefer the version below, set to Jingle Bells, that is in my opinion, catchier than the Classical Conversations chant (once she gets going).

Of course, the goal is for the child to recognize the pronoun by the job it does, not by it's membership on a particular list of words.  The Shurley English Jingles has several jingles for each part of speech.  Some are just the list, but others feature the function of the word.

Link to the famous Shurley English Jingles for many of the parts of speech.

We have since completed some of the "transposition" work for the preposition.  We did NOT use Star Wars for that lesson.  It is dangerous to be thinking about Yoda while trying to learn which position is the correct position for the preposition in a phrase or sentence.  After a while, "The blue flower in the vase is on" starts to sound normal.


  1. And whoever thought that Star Wars would teach us grammar? ;)

  2. I wanted you to know that since I was a major Star Trek fan growing up, I don't know that much about Star Wars. (Even after seeing a bunch - if - not all of the movies.) Your boys and their comments about the droids and the space craft, TOO funny, and very educational for me.

    Maybe it is spring-grammar fever that has hit our homes. My kids were out yesterday in 60+ degree weather. I don't know if it was 30+ if they'd be saying it was spring and flying around like birds.

    I did not know that there were grammar songs. I'll have to check this out, and maybe, just maybe I'll be able to get T to sing these instead of that silly song from the Lego movie.

  3. This is random... Are you going to do a more detailed review at some point on the Waseca curriculum that you bought? I was wondering how worth it you thought it was. I know you said that it bogged down a bit.

    1. I wasn't planning on reviewing the basic elementary biome curriculum itself because that is a free download that anyone can read for themselves to make a decision. This page has the file for the elementary album AND the masters for ALL the cards:

      So, what I bought is just preprinted, colored, laminated cards which I will show as we use them. I will likely review the North America album when I get it. We haven't used our cards for NA yet, so I haven't pictured or talked about them but will when I do.

      We got bogged down in the curriculum because I hadn't made a material and I'm such a perfectionist I couldn't move forward until I did. I also mentioned that it got a little "light" around the rotation of the Earth. There are about 10 presentations in this part of the sequence in a Montessori geography album but only one in the Waseca biome album. That is because those other presentations aren't necessary to explain *biomes*. I figure that since the biome album bumped us onto that thread, we should take the side road and cover those geography presentations and then jump back into the biomes when we are done.