Tuesday, March 31, 2015

School Day

I am having trouble with our camera.  I think it's the external flash.  I haven't been photographing our work lately which makes me less likely to blog.  So, this week I picked ONE day, Monday, and took pictures of most of our work.  This way you can see what things are looking like around here, or at least how they looked on Monday.  I took all of these photos with my iPad so the quality is not great.

Copywork from  Writing with Ease.  

Circling multiples of different numbers on a printed hundred board.  This is part of the traditional Montessori elementary sequence for multiples.  You can read a great post about the multiples with good pictures over at Lycee International Montessori.

We pulled out the Leprechan's Luck multiplication facts game for St. Patrick's day and the boys have been playing it daily ever since.

The Leprechan's Luck game reminded them of the division race game (division facts) so we've been playing this daily too.  You can read more about these games in this post.  I suspect they choose them every day because the winner gets three M&M's, second place two, and third one.  If Mom get's second place (Me Too ALWAYS gets first place) she gives one of her M&M's to the second place winner.   They were already good with their multiplication and division facts, but now they are getting FAST.

Me Too seems to finally understand long multiplication on the large bead frame well enough that I don't have to sit right next to him.  Here he is perusing our form drawing idea book to find a fresh way to decorate between his equations.

Kal-el is working a long division equation from our racks and tubes set without the racks and tubes.  Just old-fashioned long division.

He is slowly working his way through the grammar boxes.  I haven't been pushing these so it will take a while.  No worries.

He made a Waseca stencil map of Europe.  All of his The Story of the World work has brought new meaning to the rivers on these maps and he likes to trace them and label them.

I gave the presentations introducing the measurement of angles.  The boys really liked this and were tripping over each other to put different fraction pieces (pies AND squares) onto the protractor.  

Then Kal-El wanted some obtuse angles to measure and brought out triangles from the geometric cabinet.

Me Too likes to fill out the fraction tickets.  If I made these again I think I would leave off the line that is supposed to go under the answer.  Me Too insists on using it as his fraction bar.  He also refuses to write "zero" instead of "zero sevenths" because he says the latter is "more interesting."

Sunday, March 15, 2015

School Days

Me Too working with the sticks after a presentation on consecutive and adjacent line segments. 

We are having a wonderful school year.  I am so happy that we have the freedom to homeschool and live in a state where we can do so without having to waste our time on standardized tests or submitting "work" to a "certified teacher" for a stamp of approval.  We are busy learning!

I have been soaking up the days and living in the moment.  My hands have been busy helping move beads on the racks and tubes boards for not one but two students, participating in the "Bank Game," reading history books and playing "Simón dice" with two boys who need to learn the names of their body parts in Spanish.  I have been drawing right alongside them while we work through our new drawing tutorials.  My hands have been too busy to hold a camera lately.  Today's post will have fewer photos than usual and only of some of our newer works.

Me Too finding the value of the bead tower (KotU Squaring and Cubing, Game Two)

Kal-El building the rectangles for the third squaring and cubing game.

Here he has separated the square of each number at the top and replaced it with a bead square.  The child notes that as the squares increase in size the remaining rectangles decrease in size.  Then you do some computing that involves adding the values of the squares and rectangles and then for some mysterious reason subtract to find the differences between adjacent rectangles.  Then you subtract the differences of adjacent differences.  All of the differences eventually come to "two."  Kal-El pointed out that if you keep going they all come to zero.  You are supposed to stop when you reach the twos.  I don't understand the point of this, but I was educated using traditional math not Montessori math and perhaps don't have the skills to understand why.  Determined that my kids shall not have that problem we did the exercise as in the album.  They didn't seem to be bothered by it.  At any rate, they didn't say "so?" at the end like I did in my head.  Maybe I'll figure out why it's important as we go through the rest of the sequence.  I have been reading through my album and feeling perplexed.  Thankfully Abbie's son is a few lessons ahead of us.  Her pictures and the links to videos she provided have cleared everything up for me.

I tweaked both boys' work plans.  I made myself a work plan, on pink paper, complete with pink paperclips.  Kal-El has started using a work journal.  We are doing a lot of spelling, vocabulary, writing, long division, long multiplication, fractions, Bible study, history, art, geography, and Spanish.   Me Too is barreling through reading presentations as fast as I can present them.  We have done many, many read-alouds.  We recently finished Pollyanna.  Kal-El in particular seems to have found that book to be life-changing.  It was Me Too that I was hoping it would rub off on.   A favorite Me Too quote often repeated by his uncle is, "I don't like fun."  A recent task card asked him to recount a time when he was glad and he said, "I've never been glad."  If anyone could benefit from playing the "glad game" it's THAT KID.  We are listening to A Christmas Carol in the car.  "Bah Humbug" suits Me Too's sensibilities just fine.   We are also in the middle of Little House.  Me Too says he doesn't like it.  Kal-El says they are living his dream life (off the grid). I tried reading that to them a few years ago but had to stop because Kal-El became too upset whenever it told of the children misbehaving.  The boys love the "supplemental literature" suggested for each Story of the World chapter so we have been reading a lot of old fables and fairy tales from India, China, and the Middle East.  This week it will be ancient Africa. We made the recipes provided in SotW for that chapter and they were VERY good.

We have been learning about Mozart and singing "Eine Kliene Nachtmusik." It is "performance" season around here.  The boys have been busy playing recitals and music festivals.  Every time I try to record them for the blog we have some kind of musical disaster.  I guess their talents are meant to remain private for now.  In the meantime, I'll keep trying.  In addition to the violin Kal-El has been experimenting with the trumpet and played taps at the end of the cub scout Blue and Gold dinner in February.  The boys have been busy with their dad building their cars for the Pinewood derby.    Kal-El scored his first basket in a basketball game in the last game of the season.

I'll end with a little clip from the "boy who doesn't like fun" and "has never been glad."  Wink.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Antonym Key Experience

Just a picture of the antonym key experience today.   A photo that I am now noticing looked a lot better on the camera than on the blog.  Yuck.  Sorry.  This presentation is from the Cultivating Dharma language album which you can access for free through the link.  The Keys of the Universe albums are my go-to albums but there doesn't happen to be a presentation for antonyms.  Frankly, kids will have learned about "opposites" long before lower elementary without having had a formal lesson on it.  I mainly did this presentation to teach the word "antonym."

I think we've finished all of the word study work in the albums now.  I just bought the ETC Word Study set (Abbie, over 2300 cards.  You BET I bought it laminated.) to use as light review work into the future.  I don't necessarily want to go through that section of the album again, but without 20 other classmates at different age levels the boys won't get the indirect review that they would in a traditional Montessori school.  This is one of the ways I adapt for that.

It is also about time for Kal-El to start the "verb conjugation" section of the language album.  KotU will eventually have printables available for that, but not quite yet. I am adverse to making materials right now so I also bought the verb conjugation sets from ETC (6-9, 9-12, overview).  I don't expect they'll match the albums very closely, but I'll let you know how it looks.  I'm expecting a box any day now.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Second Work Table

As much as I dislike giving up the floor space I added a second work table to the school room.  The boys spend a very good percentage of their day fighting.  Even with our floor table (chowki) on hand there were still too many times when we run out of space at the big table.  Since we started our art curriculum Me Too has been doing a lot of complaining that Kal-El shakes the table too much when he shades (He does.  It's like an earthquake.)  I don't like the kids working specifically on art or handwriting on a chowki.

Divine intervention helped.  I bought this table for Me Too's room but had never taken it out of the box.  Shortly after I bought it I bought Kal-El a desk for his room.  Once I saw how much Kal-El enjoyed his desk drawers I thought that Me Too should have a desk rather than a table.  I tried to sell this on Craigslist but no one bought it.  I think it was because it was still in the box.  Since it has been discontinued I couldn't find a picture to use and people don't buy things like this without a picture.  I've been thinking about it sitting in the garage and thought I'd give it a try.  I figured if it were at least assembled I could now sell it if I didn't like it.  One day in and I know it is going to stay.

I paid $40 for this at Target when they must have been clearancing them out (Elliot Kids "Grow With Me" table).  The table top is 24"x33".  It is a shame that it was discontinued because it's pretty neat.  The legs are each in two pieces with a hinge between the two.  If I ever want to make the table taller I lift up the top, straighten the legs at the hinge, and put the top back on.  It is kitchen table height when the legs are extended.  It also has a dowel to hold a roll of easel paper and a guide to direct it across the table top.  I didn't take pictures today in all of its "configurations" because none of you can buy it anyway.  Perhaps you'll see those features in action sometime in the future.  The closest thing you can buy at this time would be the Carolina "Grow With You" table at Pottery Barn.  It doesn't have hinged legs but rather comes with two sets of legs so you can change them.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Living Math Book

Last week we happened across a great "living math" book because it was recommended supplemental reading in the The Story of the World history program.  In the story, One Grain Of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale, a young girl is suggests as a reward that she receive one grain of rice.  When this is declared inadequate she suggests that receive rice for thirty days and that each day the quantity she receives shall be double the quantity of the day before.  She receives one grain the first day, two the second, four the third, eight the fourth, and so on.  After reading this.  The boys suggest that we see if the book as accurate as well as determine the how much rice she received on the last day and in total.  (I had abstained from reading them the last page that had a chart with all of that information.)

I played the role of administrative assistant.  The boys took turns creating and solving the equations while I did the writing.   A child who is a more persistent writer than either of mine could do this completely on their own.

It was difficult to add the longer categories, such as the units, at the end.  The dot board would have been good here if it were set up for numbers bigger than 99,999.  We penciled in intermediate sums along the edge of the paper.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Work of Air: Prelude to the Winds, Demonstration Three

work of air, prelude to the winds

I got this demonstration to work and on the first try!  Unfortunately the video I took was one of the worst videos in the history of videos so I'll just share the picture.  This is demonstration 3 in the section of the AMI geography album (KotU) titled "The Work of Air:  Prelude to the Winds." 

Note to self: If you are going to keep posting pictures of science experiments on a cookie sheet, use one of the shiny cookie sheets.  

In this presentation we want to show that when hot air rises a void is created and other air will be drawn in to fill that void.  We review that hot air rises with the visual of the smoke from a stick of incense.  We used lavender.  I held the incense like a sparkler and demonstrated that the smoke rises straight up from the stick no matter what position I hold it in.  In hindsight, you may not want to train your child to wave burning incense sticks around like a sparkler. Next we need a sturdy tube with a door.  I made mine from a manila file folder and some tape.  A teal light candle at the bottom of the tube will heat the air so that it rises.   When the incense is placed near enough to the door the smoke suddenly stops traveling vertically and makes a very impressive horizontal jump toward the open door and smoke starts coming out of the top.  We definitely walked over to our fireplace immediately after this and made the connection between this experiment and how our fireplace and chimney work.

The script for this demonstration in the KotU album worked beautifully.  I appreciated having simple sentences provided to model.  I would have gotten wrapped up in my own tongue trying to explain this one.  The directions call for clay for holding the incense stick. I didn't need it until I needed my hands free to take a picture.  Perhaps the child would place the stick into the clay in several different positions rather than treat the incense like a sparkler.

On a side note, I have attempted Demonstration One another ten different times with the addition of things like duct tape with no luck.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Division Paper

This paper shows the progression of Kal-El's long division skills the past few weeks.  The equation in color at the top left of the page is the very last equation he ever completed with the racks and tubes while only recording the quotient.  It became clear that he could go, and needed to go, much more quickly through the racks and tubes work than he had been.  So directly below that equation you will two more which he completed with the racks and tubes recording both the quotient and the intermediate remainders.    

A little lower on the page and centered you'll find a few more equations he completed.  In addition to a couple of random multiplication equations there are a couple of division equations.  These were done without the racks and tubes, just on paper.  Here again he was recording the quotient and intermediate remainders.  

These equations were going so well that I decided he could move on to recording the quotient, the "number of beads used" (Does anyone know the name of this step?  Intermediate products?),  and the intermediate remainders.  We did a couple on the racks and tubes but Kal-El immediately wanted OFF the racks and tubes.  This was possible because his multiplication is so solid.  Therefore, he doesn't need to to count beads to find the products.  In fact, he really dislikes the carrying that you have to do to record the products with the bead.  What is recorded  on the bottom right-hand corner of the paper is his first equation purely on paper. 

This is a close-up of the equation itself, but scattered around the larger piece of paper you'll find the multiplication equations he used to find the answer.  This paper isn't organized in a way that could be used to turn in work at a school, but was fine for us at home because it's his work.  It's not being turned in for assessment.  However, when he started to add ANOTHER division equation to this paper I couldn't take it anymore and stepped in.  I made him use another piece of paper.  I'm all for conserving resources, but this was getting ridiculous.  

In order to train him to record his work in a more teacher-friendly manner (in case I'm abducted by aliens and my husband sends him to school) I "invented" a new specialty paper for him to use for long division.  I am attracted to specialty papers like raccoons to shiny objects.  Now, I don't really think I "invented" this.  I'm sure I've seen it somewhere at some point in my life.  But, the fact stands that I don't know where or when and have no idea what to call it or how to find it.  

He has been using 1/4 cm graph paper for most of his math, but at his developmental level the squares were fine for recording simple numbers but too small for recording regroupings.  I bumped him up to the 1 cm squares.  I have to figure out what I'm going to do for the really big equations with four-digit divisors and seven-digit dividends, but this will do for now.  I was really happy to see that he had written "yay" (in cursive no less) after his quotient came out to match the back of his equation card.

Me Too has started the racks and tubes as well, but has been choosing to hold off work on them until he's finished the bingo board.  I though he would be done last week but I forgot that we do all the extensions listed in the MRD math album for these.  I had scanned the Montessori by Hand album to refresh my memory and she only lists one activity for this.  Me Too remembered.

This reminds me that I made some much needed room on my iPad last week by DELETING all of my digital primary albums.  I still have them on my desktop but no longer need them on my mobile device.  That really felt like a landmark.

I have a couple of "big" posts in the works.  Those of you who have been reading me for years probably guessed that already due to the slower rate of posting lately.  That always happens to me when I'm putting together big ones.  I have given the science area of our classroom a much needed makeover.  I am working on putting together a post on our science equipment storage, chemical storage, and science experiment resources.  I also have been slowly working on the posts that readers have requested regarding art and Spanish.  I don't know how long it will take, but they are in the works.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Yet Another Failed Experiment

I am really on a roll when it comes to failing at the traditional Montessori geography demonstrations.

This is the first experiment in the "Work of Air" section of the geography album.  It is  supposed to show that air takes up space.  When you pour the water quickly from the tumbler into the funnel that is sealed to a bottle with plasticine most of the water should remain in the funnel.  I tried this at least fifty times.  Fifty shades of failure.  I tried several different bottles.  I also tried a different funnel. The directions said that the funnel end should be a straight-across end rather than angled.  I didn't fail any harder with the angled funnel than I did with the straight funnel.  I also tried several types of clay. I occasionally got the water to go in a little more slowly and bubble a bit, but never stay in the funnel.  

You can read more about this experiment over at Frugal Fun for Boys.  Sarah is apparently a little handier than I am.

I couldn't find any videos of this working.  My suspicious mind says, "That is because no one can get it to work."

Oh.  And one of the boys took a drink out of the glass before I took my pictures.  So, now there is a dirty lip print on the drinking glass.  Even the photo is a "fail."

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

School Days

It may have taken three months to do the division bead board, but Me Too finished the division finger board in three days.  He took a break most of last week, but will likely start and finish the division bingo board this week.

One of our Spanish lessons was about flags.  This got Me Too interested in flags and continent boxes again.  He colored many flag pages.  You can print them at Enchanted Learning or, as we did, from Crayola.

The boys enjoyed some new items in their Central American souvenir collection.  A friend recently sent us some very neat things from Mexico such as this Aztec calendar stone.

A little bobble-headed turtle....

We're not so sure what this is.  My gut says Chichen Itza, but it has be reshaped into something of a boat.  Maybe it's a Chichen Itza pencil holder?  The boys have been laying their pencils across the back so they stop rolling off the table while we work. Our house is not very level.

This all prompted more digging in the North America box.  We have a separate box for the U.S.A., so this box holds our items from other North American countries.

All that digging around in the North American box prompted him to dig around in the Antarctica box as well.  He reread a lot about McMurdo station.  He is very enamored with this set of real scientist's dog tags.  I think he's been wearing this on his wrist for a week.

He was so absorbed in exploring these slides that he was super surprised when the preliminary flash went off on the camera.

Kal-El was inspired by his Story of the World listening.  We've been reading about the Mesopotamians.  Here Kal-El has made "mud bricks" our of modeling clay.

And then, he stacked them into a structure.

We've been doing a lot of Story of the World inspired reading.  It is finding our way into our other work.  One of Kal-El's sentence constructions with the grammar arrows this week was "Hammurabi rides his bike."  Kal-El takes pictures of all of his grammar sentences with our little point and shoot, but he decided to take a video of that sentence.  Videos are a lot of work to post, so no go.

Kal-El is still plugging along through our sentence analysis materials.  Here is a sentence he did take a picture of.

Kal-El has started a new stage of checkerboard work.  He is now recording his partial products.  He can do this work abstractly on paper.  He works on long multiplication once or twice a week.  For every equation he does on a "material" he is allowed to do one just on paper.  He needs a little more practice before I feel comfortable that he has internalized the process.  He understands works like these instantly and it would be easy to not make him repeat. However, I find that he memorizes algorithms extremely quickly but it takes many repetitions with the concrete manipulatives to internalize the real process. I want  to make sure he understands the process and not just the algorithm so a minimal amount of work on the materials is still a requirement here.

We used to go to the library to take advantage of "Reading to Rover."  Now we have our own private Read to Truman program at home.  Truman will not be homeschooled.  He starts puppy classes on Thursday.

Me Too has moved on from scowling at division on the stamp game to beaming at division on the racks and tubes.  We are getting to this nice and early so hopefully he will enjoy it for a long time.

Kal-El is moving through the work on this same material rapidly.  He is a little old for it and doesn't like moving all the beads.  I sit next to him while he works and help him clear the boards to speed things up for him.  He demonstrated that he could do equations with four-digit divisors and remainders so I let him skip most of the equations in the box on his first pass through.  The top equation on the paper below is one of his last equations on that first pass.  The first level requires only recording the final answer.

It looks like we will be skipping most of the equations on the second level as well.  The second level requires that you record your remainders at each step and bring down the next place value on your paper.  What you are not yet doing at that stage is recording the number of beads used and subtracting to find the remainder.  However, the second equation on the paper above was one that Kal-El completed his second day of this while I was in a meeting with another Mom at the kitchen table.  He doesn't like the racks and tubes so he did it in his head. This means he was able, in his head, to picture the beads on the board, multiply the width and height of the bead rectangle or square produced, subtract that from what he had in his head and write down only the remainder.  Once we've tackled a few with larger divisors we'll go ahead and move onto the level that allows you to record that step.  Then he won't have to do that in his head, although apparently that poses no problem for him.  He has done many equations like this on paper this week.