Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Common Multiples

This is the second exercise in the KotU album for common multiples.  Kal-El is laying out the multiples of two, three, and four horizontally with their products vertically below them.

It is really easy for the child to see which products each series has in common.  There is a nice script in the album for explaining what a common multiple is.

Next, the child identifies the common multiples.  We used the number tiles for the common multiple. Each equation and its product are set out in a row and enclosed in parentheses.

I snapped this photo when he was nearly finished.  I think he still had the number 18 to find.

Next week we'll work on finding the common multiples  of two-digit numbers (such as 12 and 16).

Monday, January 26, 2015

Success! Rainmaking

Last week we wrapped up the section of the KotU album titled "The Protection of the Atmosphere and rains."  You may recall that my presentation on radiant heat was a bit of a flop.  There was nothing wrong with the album, I gave a bad presentation.  When I gave the following presentation on "The Rains" I once again failed to follow the instructions to the letter but got away with it this time.  The presentation was a huge success.

Montessori, evaporation, warm air holds moisture

First I demonstrated that hot air can hold a lot of moisture.  I sprinkled some water in a cake pan and Me Too manned the hair dryer.  We observed that the water quickly evaporated or was carried away by the hot air.  Then we looked at the ETC chart for evaporation.

warm air rises evaporation

Montessori, condensation and precipitation, cold air cannot hold as much moisture

Next I needed to show them that as the hot air cools as it rises. This cool air will drop its moisture because it can't hold as much moisture as the hot air can.

I was such a dummy when I was preparing for this part of the presentation.  I was all frazzled because the instructions said to put a clear glass bowl with a lip on top (probably Pyrex) of a saucepan holding about a half an inch of boiling water.  The circumference of the lip is supposed to be slightly larger than that of the saucepan.  I quickly realized that ALL of my glass bowls are Anchor Hocking and don't have a lip (You can see on on the counter by Kal-El's elbow).  I spent several minutes being irritated that I needed to go buy a glass bowl before it occurred to me that ALL of my saucepans have GLASS LIDS.  I don't know what is wrong with me sometimes.  So, just in case any of your are equally too distracted to think of this substitution right away, I am mentioning it here.

Anyway, we were able to watch the hot air rise, condense against the lid of the saucepan, and eventually see water begin to drip from the lid and trickle down the sides of the pan.

Then we examined the ETC chart for "Condensation."

condensation Montessori

This is a good example of how the ETC charts do not match the KotU albums perfectly, but are entirely usable.  The KotU chart for this lesson looks like this:

It's purpose is not to show evaporation and condensation per se, but rather to show how air  travels over a mountain and the temperature changes involved.

The ETC charts that are more similar in purpose might be the "How the Rains form" charts. The ETC charts that are more similar in purpose might be the "How the Rains form" charts.

Montessori, how the rains form

Finally we looked at a biome map of one of the continents to show that one side of a mountain can be quite dry and the other side very green and lush.  We used the control map from our Waseca South America stencil.

The KotU album states that typical extensions of this work that the child might discover include types of precipitation, types of Clouds, meteorology, and the layers of the atmosphere.  These are all works that we've done, so we'll be moving on to "The Winds" which is something Kal-El has been starting to wonder about lately. 

This might also be a good time to repeat the "Cloud in a Jar" experiment.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I Won HSBA 10th Annual Homeschool Blog Awards!

The Homeschool Post

Woohoo!  Thank you to everyone who voted for What DID We Do All Day? this year in the 10th annual Homeschool Blog Awards.  We won in the "Best Homeschool Methods" category.  

The main reason I continue to blog even though life has gotten busier and busier each year is to stay connected with all of you wonderful readers who support us, share experiences, offer suggestions, and keep us motivated and in good spirits.  The fact that so many of you were willing to take time to vote for us tells me that you enjoy this little online homeschool and/or Montessori community as much as we do.  Thank you!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

School Days

Me Too asked me to take this picture and told me beforehand that he was going to practice "smiling nicely."  You know, so he won't look disturbing.  Clearly we'll have to keep working on it.  I don't know why my kids think they have to touch their top teeth to their bottom lip in order to smile nicely.  Sigh.  

The Cub Scouts are discontinuing their belt loop and pin program at the end of this school year.  Me Too is trying to earn as many as he can while he still can.  So, for his "kid's choice" works he is rifling through the Academics and Sports Program binder and choosing work.  As part of his Astronomy belt loop he was required to draw a model of the solar system.

Montessori Division Racks and Tubes

I am doing something a little different with Me Too and the division racks and tubes.  Our AMI KotU elementary albums start directly with two-digit divisors.  Me Too was working on division with one-digit divisors on the stamp game but was no longer interested in the stamps and bogged down by the stamps.  Our AMS math albums actually have a section on simply building dividends with the racks and tubes and a section on one-digit divisors with the racks and tubes (as an advanced child might do in primary).  Also, the Nienhuis equation cards I bought to go with this material had sections for both of those tasks. So I moved Me Too off of the stamp game (he hoped "forever" but really until he does group division someday) and am having him work through those sections of our equation box instead.
 Montessori, long division activity set

Here is a closer look at our little equation box.  These are very nice cards.  I know I've mentioned it before, but I seriously dislike generating equations.  I bought the boxes for the checkerboard, racks and tubes, and the flat bead frame.  I also plan to buy the second set for fractions (unlike divisors).  The child can generate his own equations, and my boys also do that.  However, in our homeschool I find that the existence of a set amount of equations illustrates the eventual "end" of that apparatus and sparks and interest in "what's next."  Little things like that can be helpful when you don't have a classroom of 25 students doing exciting work to motivate them.  The little number dividers feed right into my boys' interest in "getting to the next level."  I have to  pay attention to their mood.  Whenever they seem reluctant or uninterested in the box of equations I suggest they invent their own.  The extra control of their work is always refreshing.  

Montessori, prefix chart

Kal-El has been finishing up copying the prefix chart.  He sits at the table when he does this and the chart stays on the wall so there is some distance (providing memory work).  However, he likes to store his copies over by the chart so he can find them whenever he continues his work.

Me Too is still very interested in drawing.  Both boys have been asking me to look up Star Wars drawing tutorials to copy during their "kid's choice" moments often during schooltime.  Above is Me Too's rendition of an Ewok.  As I overheard Kal-El say to Me Too the other day, "I used to be interested in spies and Power Rangers.  Now I am interested in Star Wars and Star Wars."  Me Too is interested in "art" any way he can get it.  I tried the Drawing With Children approach but I found that book very hard to use.  I would have to spend hours and hours "figuring out how to do it" much like I once "figured out how to do Montessori."  There's a limit to how much time I have to spend squeezing information out of sources like water from a rock (Which is what homeschooling using the Montessori method was like seven years ago when I started all this.) I need something that is open and go.  Last night I finally bit the bullet and ordered the I Can Do All Things curriculum from How Great Thou Art.  It is a three year curriculum geared for ages 6-10.  They have a program for kids 10 and older as well, Feed My Sheep.  I also thought that Art and The Bible for Children looked like a really fun devotional option for families like mine who like to have an activity at the end.

Do you need to buy a separate art curriculum to supplement Montessori homeschooling?  Certainly not.  Focus on the keys.  KotU includes an art album as part of the program.  We are buying this to fulfill a specific interest in our home.  I feel bad for Me Too.  Kal-El's special interests were much easier to fulfill within the typical Montessori scope because he just loves science.  Even then, I supplement a little with Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding.  Me Too's interest has been harder for me to support.

Kal-El worked on memorizing the mountains, deserts, and islands of North America some this week.

I don't think I've mentioned how much we enjoy this L'Escapadou cursive app on our iPad.  Kal-El just started asking for my stylus when he uses it.  He says it's "more official."  We use the New American Cursive books. They have worked beautifully.  Kal-El has learned cursive quickly and easily with no fuss and very little assistance from me.  I haven't noticed any font-compatibility issues between that and the app.

One feature I love about the app is that you can add your own word lists and record your own audio.  I plugged in all of the boys All About Spelling word lists in order to sneak in some extra sneaky spelling practice.  I recorded the audio for each word.  I did this while supervising in the school room and sometimes the boys help.  They like it when their own voices come up saying a word.  Sometimes we say certain words with a lot of emotion which cracks them up.  Me Too has told me that if I die he wants the iPad so that he can "always remember my voice."  Oh dear, that kid says the oddest things.  Although, the other day when Kal-El alerted us to a beautiful sunset while the boys were eating breakfast I overheard Me Too say, "Mommy is prettier."

We reviewed the classification of triangles this week.  

Me Too said, "I am very very angry about my word problems today."  He was having trouble finding all the cards for the week he wanted.

Kal-El working with the grammar boxes.

Here Kal-El is working on one of the exercises from the Squaring and Cubing section of the KotU math album.  He had to make a pyramid out of the bead squares and then find the sum of all of the squares.  He notated each square and listed its sum.  Then, he added the sums to reach his final answer.  This will be less fun when he does it with the cubes (Since he doesn't have the products of each cube memorized like he does the squares.).  It has been REALLY enjoyable working on math with two kids who now know all of their math facts.

Phew!  I forgot how LONG it takes to do the division bead board AMI-style.  We followed the presentation in the Montessori by Hand primary album. Me Too completed EVERY equation, with and without remainders, with quotients from 1 to 81.  As he went he checked all of his answers with no remainder against the multiplication control board. Then, he would underline any equation that had no remainder in red.  Finally, when he had completed his whole book of equations (read more on this and get a free download to make the booklet here) he copied all of the equations without remainders, those underlined in red,  onto graph paper.  He finished today. He started in October.  It took 2.5 months if you allow for not really having school due to illness in December.  Now we can move on to the finger boards.  This should go quickly because he really doesn't see a difference between the division equations without remainders and the multiplication equations he already has memorized.

Me Too wanted something fresh to do after finishing all of that old division work.  He dug around in our "specimen" drawers for a bit and came up with dinosaur skeletons and dinosaur cards.

Getting a fresh perspective.

He invented some kind of work for himself that involved assigning each skeleton a "category type" and sorting the cards below as belonging to that "category."  Then he took it upon himself to record each "family" of dinosaurs on paper.  About this time, Kal-El came along and asked him about his work.  Kal-El determined that not ALL of the dinosaurs in each category were a perfect match for the skeleton at the top.  Me Too explained that they were all "similar" and then the two of them, as a TEAM (I was very quiet and tried to make myself invisible while they had this rare moment of GETTING ALONG.), discussed what features they should compare to decide which dinosaur in the category was actually a perfect match for the skeleton at the top.  This is a good example of how easily the boys go "off work plan" and of how the work plan does not act like a checklist or limit their freedom or creativity.

As always, there is a lot of work not pictured.  The boys go through a lot of fraction equations as if they are flashcards.  Kal-El is avoiding the checkerboard and racks and tubes.  He is instead asking to do pages in his Evan Moor Basic Math Skills book that we have kicking around the house just for fun.  We changed all the paperclips on his work plan so that none are "daily" at the beginning of the month.  It was a good observation assist for me.  We are getting through a much wider variety of work.  However, after a few weeks of this it is obvious to me which things need to be put back to daily.

Both boys are performing at Federation music festival soon on their violins. They are also both taking a the music theory test there.  So, we've had to spend a little time familiarizing them with a couple of concepts they haven't gotten to elsewhere (such as labelling intervals by size) and how to take a test.  This will be the first test either of them has ever taken.

There has also been an uptick in requests to listen to The Story of the World audio book and a lot of projects that have spun off from that.  Speaking of spinning off, we still work on copywork from Writing with Ease and the boys ALWAYS want to read the whole book that has been excerpted.  This week I started The Happy Hollisters as a read-aloud, but Kal-El was so interested he took over and finished on his own.  We have to get our library to round up some more of the series for us.

Kal-El's favorite book right now is Star Wars: Jedi Academy.  The boy in the book keeps a diary and draws cartoons.  Kal-El mentioned that he wished HE could keep a diary.  So, I leapt to pull a fun journal out of my basement stash that I had been saving (for four years) for just this moment.  Now Kal-El spends a lot of time each day writing in his diary.  He writes stories, records his day, and draws cartoons.  It is not a secret diary so I'll have to have him choose some pages to share with you all soon.

Also to be shared soon will be some fun work on multiples Kal-El did this week.  I had several pictures of it so will give it its own  post.

Note:  This post has a record number of Amazon Affiliate links I think so it bears mentioning that if you buy something after clicking through one of those links, even if it isn't what I linked to, there is no extra cost to you but I do receive a small percentage in return from Amazon.  Any money earned is funneled right back into educating the boys here and writing about it on this blog.  I don't usually mention it, but that information is always available in the disclosures at the bottom of the blog.

Monday, January 19, 2015

How NOT to give a Montessori presentation on radiant heat...

Last week we began the section of the KotU geography album titled "The Protection of the Atmosphere and the Rains."  The first presentation is about the blankets of the atmosphere and radiant heat.

The presentation starts with a demonstration of radiant heat.  This didn't go very well.  You are supposed to compare the direct heat given off by a long kitchen match to that of a spoon heated on a hot plate.  I'm lazy so we compared the direct heat given off by our gas burner to the radiant heat given off by a spoon heated by the same gas burner.  I don't know if something is wrong with our spoons or what, but there wasn't a whole lot of radiant heat given off.  All three of us burned ourselves on that spoon while trying to get close enough to feel it.  We need do heat something else.  Like a brick.  I don't particularly want to heat a brick.  I'm open to suggestions.  

Also, this is why you are supposed to practice your presentations before giving them to the kids.  So lazy.  Also, this is why experienced teachers are worth more money than newbies.  Just saying...

I used two different styles of impressionistic charts:  ETC Montessori and "Albanesi-style" charts from the Mid-America album.  The "Albanesi-style" charts also come with the KotU albums but I had printed and colored all of the Mid-America charts before I owned the KotU albums.

As always, the ETC charts are prettier, but don't illustrate the concepts as clearly.

I like that it is nighttime in the second Albanesi-style chart.

None of my resources explain what the little circles are on the charts.  I assume they are particles of gas in the atmosphere.  If that is the case, I wish the Albanesi-style charts had done a better job of thinning them out a little in the middle layers and I wish that the ETC charts hadn't made such a clean straight line of them at the bottom.

Anyway, once the child understands that heat not only comes directly from the sun but is also radiated from the Earth and that this radiated heat is often trapped by the particles of gases in the atmosphere (apparently it's like some cities in the U.S., getting in is just fine but getting out can be a nightmare) we move on to the "blanket" charts.  The baby at the top of the mountain not only has less/no blankets but also cannot feel the radiant heat from the Earth at the bottom of the mountain.  My kids were mostly concerned that a baby was up that high on a mountain and wondered how it got there.

The second baby has more blankets of the atmosphere and is also benefitting from radiant heat at ground level.  The boys felt this baby was safer, but worried about predators.

This ground-level radiant heat is represented by an Ewok-style roasting of the person in the Albanesi-style chart.  Maybe this is why they chose NOT to use a baby in these charts.

That looks more like direct heat than radiant heat to me...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Fiesta de los animales

While the mom's away, the pets will play?

One day last week I told the boys to bring their stuffed animals to the classroom when they started schoolwork because we needed extra "students" for that day's Spanish lesson.  The boys did more than that.  I took pictures of what I found when they told me they were ready to begin.

I have a couple of posts scheduled for later this week.  There will be more on the layers of the atmosphere, radiant heat, and a school days wrap up.  Hopefully more.  Our very real pet has been messing with my schedule.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Layers of the Atmosphere

layers of the atomosphere, Waseca biome curriculum

One of the many things we've worked on this week was a scale model of the layers of the atmosphere.  This is a presentation from the Waseca biome curriculum.  You can access the curriculum for free and read the presentation on the Waseca site.

This is something the boys and I made together.  Each centimeter represents a kilometer.  The boys helped me measure and cut the papers.  The cut out the mountainous surface of the Earth from brown paper and they cut clouds out of paper for the Troposphere.  We surfed the web together to choose images for the model (airplane, weather balloon, meteors, space shuttle, satellite, Aurora Borealis).  They helped print, cut and laminate the images.

layers of the atmosphere, Waseca biomes curriculum

I, of course, couldn't resist changing the product in a few ways.  The Thermosphere should have been 500 cm long with an arrow at the top to indicate that it can expand to up to 1000 km depending on the Sun.  If we had done that the model would not fit in our classroom (it would be about the size of the 1000 chain).  We can't stretch across the front of the house with the puppy gates up so we limited the Thermosphere to 300 cm with an arrow.  

Also, rather than glue the images to the model, we laminated ours and are keeping them in an envelope so that the boys can "rebuild" the model when they wish.

We also added removable labels for each layer (Surface, Troposphere, Stratosphere, Mesosphere, Thermosphere) and for the depths of each layer.  Having the boys do the measuring was an important part of the process.  They really can't remember the names of the layers, but they both can recite the depth and purpose of each layer like they are giving a recital.