Monday, September 23, 2013

New DIY Hundred Board And A New Reader!

My latest DIY:

Our solution to the Hundred Board:

I had a free printable hundred chart from Livable Learning on our shelves last year, that we only used briefly because the interest in it was very little. Miss Priss used it some in the end of the year with glass gems to work hand-in-hand with the tens boards, but never was extremely interested in either, to be honest with you.

This year, though, she asked about the hundred chart on her own about the second week in, and I spent a few days trying to think of a fun way to re-create it to be more like the Montessori Hundred Board. So far, this is the best I've come up with, but I think it just may work! 

I had already laminated the hundred chart, so I cut each number square out, making 100 tiles. Then, using velcro (I found a pack at Walmart that has 80 small rectangular pieces, and then cut them in half again to be the right size to go behind my chart. (Note - the printable that I used from Livable Learning was the one sized for scrabble tiles there is also a larger, 1 inch printable hundred chart). Then, I just stuck the other side of the velcro to a piece of cardstock - it was easiest to do this by only taking off one side of the adhesive paper and first sticking it to the number tile. I know that sounds simple, but if you aren't careful and place the velcro *exactly* the same way on both the tile and paper, it just won't work right. 

After getting all the numbers on, I cut the blue piece out and used hot glue to attach it to a white piece of plain printer paper. This was un-laminated - I know it probably would have looked better had it been laminated, but I just didn't have the time or the will power to drag the laminator out while working on this. After that, I spent a minute thinking before pulling out an old picture frame. I used hot glue once again to glue the back of the computer paper to the glass of the picture frame. Then I put it back in the frame, but instead of on the glass on the top, the paper itself comes through the opening of the frame. 

And there you have it - our hundred board. I actually really do like the Montessori Hundred Board, and wouldn't mind investing the money in one, but I am going to watch a see if this one does the trick, or if it was just TOO easy of a DIY. However, I am sure there is someone out there that could probably take one look at this and find a way that it could have worked just a bit better, and I am definitely open to suggestions!

Before I go, I just have to celebrate with everyone - Miss Priss is now officially a READER!!!!

We began the school year using Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons, a decision that was made after the book was highly recommended from a friend who has used it for all of her children. After the fifth lesson, I learned again that what works for some does NOT always work for others! We got stuck somewhere in the middle of the sixth lesson and Miss Priss became VERY discouraged! The book itself is a very good book, and I am sure after looking at the lessons that it can easily be a great way to teach reading -if the child is absorbing the method the right way. She just wasn't, and it was quickly causing her to lose the desire to read that was there in the beginning of the year. So I decided to try something that I used with Hoss while he was learning to read - I pulled out our A Beka 'A Handbook For Reading' book. This book is what caused Hoss to go from just barely getting it, to reading full time, and I don't know why I didn't think to use it instead - I had almost forgotten about it being stashed away. We went through the first page and it was like the light went on - it was exactly what she needed! Almost immediately she caught on to the different, much more simple way they teach you to read. I admit - I haven't read everything there is to know about teaching reading Montessori style, but I do know from what I have seen, it appears to start with c-v-c words, and grow from there, which is NOT how 'Teach your child to read' started, but IS how our A Beka book starts. Whatever it is that caught on with her, I'm just glad it did! She is so excited about reading, and tells me daily she wants to do 5 lessons a day (a 'lesson' constitutes 1-2 pages in the book). By the end of the week, she was reading a c-v blend for the possible beginning of a word, and adding her own ending, and then spelling it to me! For example, by following the book, she would first sound out 'm', then 'm-a', and then she would make her own ending (this was her idea) and sound out 'm-a-t' and then she would spell it for me. 

Watching your child learn to read and really understand and enjoy it has been one of my favorite things in homeschooling my children - something I love. I know even a parent of a public school child can appreciate seeing their child start to love reading, but to actually be there, seeing the moment that 'light bulb' comes on and watching them make that last big jump towards reading, is such a blessing and I wouldn't trade days like that for the world!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Weekly Re-Cap

I am going to attempt to do a weekly re-cap once a week of what we have been doing. By attempt, I mean - it probably won't be once a week, or possibly even on the same day of the week, but an effort at sharing atleast every other week in order to keep myself accountable! We are always working on something, but not always  at the same time that I have my camera handy!

We have been quite busy this past week!

We dove head first into grammar a couple weeks ago, and have tried to keep it going at a good pace! Last year I spent a great deal of time trying to learn how grammar was taught in Montessori, so the materials themselves didn't come out until this year.

Just last week I made our grammar control chart for the symbol/part of speech and a quickly made noun family to hang at eye level near our grammar farm. (Don't laugh - I know my noun family drawings probably look a bit weak - I am NOT an artist! You can see how stick figures go with me.... :) This just manages to get the point across!)

This is what they look like in relation to where our grammar farm is. If you saw my school room tour, this is in one corner of the shelf-less wall :) I would like to find a table to put the farm on, so I can store some of our other grammar materials underneath it as well.

Before I go in to why someone so old is using the farm still, I will tell you a little about my farm. A friend that works in our local Montessori school gave this set to me. Most of the animals came with the set, along with the barn, farmer, truck, and fencing.

Everything else was handmade by yours truly. Felt became my close friend - from the grass, to the pond, even down to most of the tiny vegetables!

(since this picture was taken, I have changed the vegetable labels to a singular word form, so they can use the word(s) a and an to practice the rule of using an article with a plural object.)

Everyone except Buddy Boy is currently getting their hands on the farm. As a note here - from what I have seen and read, this is generally a primary material. I have been inside our local Montessori school, and this work is only found in the primary classroom, which makes sense when you take in to account all the grammar materials that are in the elementary classroom. However, I knew that after my children have seen this farm just sitting, waiting for me to finish all the little things (like miniature tomatoes!), they would all want to get their hands on it - even the big kids. Also, although the older two have had some grammar work in the past through workbooks, I just really wanted them to get a good grasp on it through the visuals. 

As of right now, we have used it for lessons in the noun and the article and I just finished the adjective labels today, so if we make it through the weekend without someone wanting to use them, they will come out on Monday. I am trying to quickly push Little Mama and Hoss through the farm work, so they can enjoy using it and get a reminder of what they actually already know. I am working on making my own grammar boxes. Well, let me re-state that - I am working on making all the fillers for the grammar boxes. What I will actually store them in, though, is still up in the air. I am definitely open to suggestions (!) because there is no wood working going on in this house!!! Hopefully I will be able to finish those soon, so that the two oldest can use them after the lessons in the adjective. I don't know if I will go any farther than the adjective as far as the grammar farm work goes - that depends on if I get a table to put the farm on and have plenty of space for the labels, which probably could be smaller. Maybe I will re-make them in the future.... who knows :)

Although I do not have pictures yet to show this wonderful piece of news, Miss Priss is now officially a READER! I was going to talk about that in this post, but it's just too much - it will have to wait a few days. 

One of the more fun language games that we have played in the last few days is using Scrabble letters with 'I Spy' pages (found for free at Montessori Print Shop). Bug has enjoyed putting the correct letter to match the beginning sound.

This one was a bit enlightening to me - my girl is an out-of-the-box thinker, apparently. Instead of using the 'M' to label the muffin right away, she insisted that the yellow circle was indeed a moon! I guess she's seen her share of full moons.... :)

Little Mama has been learning about a number of different types of charts/graphs/diagrams. We went over bar graphs and line graphs this past week. A bar graph is nothing new to her, but we touched on it anyway, and she learned how to use a line graph as well. We used our colored fraction circles to make a very simple bar graph, and then used a work scenario (mowing yards) to track the amount of hours worked on a line graph. 

The next day she learned that you can use a bar graph and a line graph to compare two or more different types of information. For this one, we put a fun twist on it and pulled up The Old Farmers Almanac to do a study on the weather. Not this years' weather, though. We pulled up the weather from nine years ago, to the day Little Mama was born. The fun didn't stop there, though. You see, Little Mama was born in another state - my husband was stationed at an AFB in Florida when the first three of our children were born. So we made two tables - one was the weather each year on her birthday, starting at her birth year (2004), in the city she was born in. The other was the weather from the same dates, using the location of where we live now, in my husband and I's original home state and city. We used this information to make both a bar graph and line graph, comparing the differences in weather over the years in the two locations.

I didn't get a shot of the finished work :( but it was very interesting to see which years were very similar, which were very different, and also to see the differences from year to year in the same locations and how it changed from one year to the next. She was able to easily see that graphs and charts can compare information. We will be doing pie charts this next week, and then moving on to the goal of this whole project - Venn Diagrams. I will share about that later, too.

More Math:

Hoss has been steadily doing some initial reminder lessons on fractions and equivalence.

Out of all the children so far, Miss Priss has by far been most driven in the Math area. She has done the first work in addition with our homemade-style bead bars. She balked a little at this when I first showed her, but by the end of her first page, was excited to do more. I think in about four or five days total, she had worked through all addition problems, using starting numbers 1-10. Today alone, she did numbers 6-10, completely self-motivated - that's 50 problems!!! By today I could easily see she had already caught on to the pattern - add 1 to the second addend, add 1 to the sum. She only used the bead bars today for the 10+___ problems, because she said she thought they might be hard... :) 

I also introduced the addition board to her - we have free printable addition/subtraction/multiplication/division boards from here at Livable Learning. I like that they were free, but after laminating them, it does make them hard to keep the bars from sliding around. I may re-print on heavy cardstock and try to fore-go the laminating to see if it helps any. She was actually not too interested in the board - I think it was just too easy.

We have printable more than/less than cards that I believe I got from The Pinay Homeschooler that I planned on having her use with them. I am not sure if we will come back to these - I am going to watch and see if she seems interested in them at all. If not, I think we could skip the addition board. The subtraction board will probably be used more, since that's a slightly more difficult process. She actually had a pretty good grasp of addition that she picked up on her own over the summer, which may add to why she's not interested in as much of the easier work of addition. Bug, however, has decided that she really wants to learn to add now, as well, so she may get more use out of these! I know that means we are 'cutting corners', and I say that because I just read a WONDERFUL post about doing just that over at Discovery Moments - read Steph's post here about Cutting Montessori Corners! Not only was it encouraging to me, but reminded me that it does make sense sometimes to NOT stress over having every material or catching EVERY little lesson if it's not necessary. As much as I believe in following your child's cues, it is still easy to second guess yourself when you start trying to decide if something is or isn't totally necessary!

There's still so much we have done this week that I will just have to share the highlights from later - like Miss Priss and reading and our new DIY SUPER easy 100 board. 

Do take time to leave a comment if you have a suggestion or any type of constructive input - I really enjoy getting good advice on how to keep going and encouragement is always welcome for any homeschool mama!!!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Tot School - Week 3 - Blue Week!!!

Linking up to:
Tot School Gathering Place
Living Montessori Now - Montessori Monday

Week 3 of Tot School - BLUE WEEK!!! 

Buddy Boy is 32 months old

*warning - huge photo dump ahead!*

I decided to wait until the end of the week to do out tot school post, to give myself more time to take pictures. The following is what happens when I do that:

Our BLUE trays are:

My First Crayola Markers (in blue) with dot sheets basket

Lacing Basket

One to One/Fine Motor Skills - tongs

Our BLUE Sensory Basket

BLUE Unifix cubes 
BLUE stretchy key chain (very stretched out at this point, since Buddy Boy decided to see how far he could make it go)
BLUE plastic seahorse (from a fishing set that someone got at the dollar tree - the fishing set has long been broken - imagine that! :) )
BLUE dinosaur
BLUE magnetic numbers (not the exact ones, but close enough!)
BLUE shoe - from our miniatures collection

BLUE puzzle erasers - found at our local Walgreens marked down - they do really fit together! :)

BLUE oval and diamond blocks from a shapes puzzle
BLUE spiky balls, found at both Walmart and Target
BLUE plastic ball (who knows where I found it!)
BLUE ribbon
BLUE berries and cubes (freezable ice cubes from Dollar Tree and Target Dollar Spot)
BLUE foam stars/hands fond at Target's Dollar Spot

Last, but not least - our BLUE book from ABC Teach. The interesting thing I found when we have looked at our book (which I got a little busy and haven't been able to ribbon-bound yet) is that he connects the blue plastic ball with the picture of the Earth  he will put it on top of the picture every time he sees it. It is very neat to see the shape recognition come on it's own.

Another sensory work - blue gems, marbles, pom-pom balls - soft and prickly, and small blue erasers in a - YES - and BLUE pencil box. I have found these from various places - Walmart, Dollar Tree, Target Dollar Spot etc. I also included three blue eggs from my Easter stash -they are actually in the shape of a bunny, and when you look close you can see the face and front paws etched in.

The last tray is a scooping/transferring work. Great for left to right and preparation for scissors! The eggs were also from my easter supply of materials, and the scoop - bought at a local grocery store in an egg-dye kit.

I have to admit, I was very glad to NOT have to say the word RED every few seconds for a few days. Now for the action shots!

Instead of making small dots as I did with our red week, I made small circles for him to use the dot marker with. It made for an easier target with the marker, and much easier to accomplish - although he did still do plenty of scribbling, marking on himself. and the floor. He is, after all, still your average two year old boy!

He did not do the lacing card very much, but when he did choose it, I was surprised at how well he did.

There was a day when we didn't get a chance to do his blue trays until the afternoon, so we pulled them down in the school room. Of course, Bug just had to work with them as well, so Buddy shared :)

Of course, his favorite work so far is still the sensory basket! 

It never does take long to get dumped out all over the floor, his mat - everywhere!

Still a little on the mouthy side, he figured out pretty quickly that the blue ball, on of his favorites from the bin, could be held between his teeth. He also figured out that I thought it was somewhat funny and was willing to make me laugh as much as I wanted :) .

Something I didn't plan to come from the sensory play is what we now refer to as 'blue bowling'! He asked me about halfway through the week if he could go bowling with the blue ball, which took me by surprise. So we set up some makeshift 'pins' out of blocks, and that's how 'blue bowling' was born!

Of course, when he reset the pins, they were in his own trademark style.

He really likes to line objects up, and does this A LOT - both during school time and in free time elsewhere.

One of my favorite faces, when he figured out for the first time that he could keep the egg in the scoop and walk around with it.

Then he realized that if he could squeeze it hard enough, it would separate into the two halves.

Which made for an extension of the work, because he had to figure out how to get the correct halves together again. This proved to be a little hard for him, so I ended up helping find the right pieces, and then he would fit them together and replace them in the bowl.

That pretty  much wraps up our blue trays. We will continue to work through these for one more week - not only do I think he needs the two weeks, but it works out very well because some days we don't get a chance to work one-on-one. The only thing that may change is that next week I may bring out some red and let him compare the two colors, because if I give him the choice of red or blue, he will tell me the correct answer to the color of an object. However, if I just ask him "What color is this?", he still answers 'red' too often, and I think he needs to see the two together some.

I will post anything new that we do with the color blue next week. I hope you have enjoyed seeing my Buddy Boy at play and would love for you to leave a link in the comments if you are a fellow tot-school mama. I LOVE looking at other tot school posts, and usually end up borrowing ideas!

To see what we did for RED week, check here for week 1, and here for week 2!

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