Monday, April 29, 2013

April Showers Bring May Flowers..... and a Weather unit!

Wow. It feels like it's been forever since I have sat down to write a post, although in reality it's only been a couple of weeks. 

I set aside the first two weeks in April to begin a weather theme, also known as our April Showers bring May flowers time of the year :) Instead of the two weeks that I hoped to be able to cover everything in, we are still working on learning about the weather, here at the end of April. What happened? :LIFE: That's what. Sometimes, I find our lives getting busy, and less time to devote to being in the school room. I don't like when that happens, and find myself always looking for ways to be better organized in some area here or there, so that we can have a little more of a steady routine, regardless of time of year or circumstance. Sometimes, though you just can't help it.

My husband spent a week working nights, which really throws our day off - in a good way, of course, because I try not to push a work period too much when he is able to be at home. I think the time they can spend with him whenever possible is of absolute importance, and that is how we began our month of April. Add to that, baseball season .........

Hoss has played T-Ball for the past two years, and this is his first year to play machine pitch :) He is loving it, and has secured the position of catcher for the year, much to his delight! 
Our future player :) I have never had a child love any kind of sport the same way that Buddy Boy does! In this picture, he was watching our team up to bat, and trying to imitate them as the hit the ball :) 
                      ...and things tend to get really busy, really fast!

However, we HAVE managed to get in some great, and really fun, weather work. 

Before starting anything focused specifically on the weather, I wanted to explain the difference in solids, liquids, and gases. 

Over breakfast one morning, I filled an ice cube tray with water, showed them the liquid state of it, and stuck it in the freezer. We went on to eat, get ready for the day, and do our Monday morning cleaning, which usually takes about an hour. After we sat back down at the table, I retrieved the ice cube tray and brought it back in to show everyone that the liquid that was in there before had since turned into a solid, and explained in simple terms that the molecules inside of the water  had gotten so cold that they froze together and made a solid. Then we went in to the kitchen and placed the ice cubes into a pan, and the kids watched them turn back in to a liquid, as I explained to them that as they began to heat up, the molecules began to spread out. When they got hot enough, the molecules would separate and turn into our third state of matter - a gas. They thought it was neat to see me hold the glass pan lid just over the pan and watch the steam make the lid cloudy. I thought it would be fun to get a little action in, so the pictures below show up acting out the cycle from a solid to a gas.     

First a solid,

Then heated up to make a liquid form, where the molecules were spread out,

And finally, a gas! They loved running all over the living room and  showing the molecles spreading out. I think standing on the coffee table was the favored place to go to - it's usually strictly off limits, but of course - who can limit a gas? :)

I got many of the ideas for our weather unit from blog links  that I saw on Living Montessori Now's posts herehere, and here. The print out below that shows the water cycle came from Our Little Monkeys in their April Showers preschool pack. I also got some great print out games that are on the shelves, as well, including match the shadow, patterns, and a roll the dice game that my children have loved!   

The water cycle, complete with glass bead 'water droplets' to follow through the cycle

One of the printables for patterns that I laminated and put on a tray on their shelves (ignore the plate in the background - she wanted to do this after dinner one night, I think it was) 

The next experiement we did (all of these were began as a group work together - I have found that if we have a group work of any kind, it's easiest to do in the morning, that way everyone can be involved) can be found all over the blogosphere, so I can't pin point where I saw this first, because I have seen in in several places. I did this one twice, once in the afternoon for the older two children, and again the next day when everyone was awake. I placed boiling hot water in a glass jar, about 3/4 of the way full. Then Hoss ran to get about 10 pieces of ice, and placed them on a plate. When he brought them back to the table, we placed the plate on top of the jar, sealing in the steam. 

This took some patience, and Little Mama was almost ready to give up watching for it, when they finally began to see rain pouring down the inside of the jar. 

After watching it rain for a few minutes, they discovered that if they quickly picked up the plate, they could see a 'cloud' (the steam) come out of the jar, which made for several cloud appearances and a great way to reinforce the fact that rain comes from clouds.    

I found free 3 part cards for the different types of clouds from this blog site that I stumbled upon while looking around at different weather units. I printed and laminated them, then placed them on the shelf in the blue buckets that you see in the picture. While the little ones were asleep, Little Mama, Hoss, and I worked together on them (they really like to do things WITH me when they can, instead of choosing to do a lot of their work independantly. I am not sure if this because they get the time with me, or if it's just that they were used to doing thing led by me always when we did traditional school methods at home).

I found a number of different weather related and cloud books at our wonderful library which I have switched out as we changed weeks and the different areas of the weather that we are studying. I caught this picture one day in between a couple different experiments that we were doing together. I love when my older children read to the younger ones :)

This work has stayed on our shelves from the beginning and has gotten the most use out of all of them, all month long :) I found this idea here at My Montessori Preschool. I took a stainless cake pan (I wanted something with higher sides than any of my trays have) and placed two small white bowls (Dollar Tree find), a dropper (I stole it from a bottle of ear drops that were used up), and a folded rag. They used it just as the link explains - first they filled one small white bowl with water, half way full. Then they took a cotton ball from the other small white bowl, filled the dropper, and held it over the bowl with water. They loved dropping water into the cotton ball, and waiting for it to 'rain'. The end was probably their favorite part - when they felt that it was full enough and beginning to 'rain', they caused a 'thunderstorm' (they squeezed every bit of the water out of the cotton ball. One of our favorite books to read went well with this work -  Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld - all about a small cumulus cloud that finds her purpose by puffing up and *letting it pour* to help others who need the water.

Our next weather-related group experiement was another idea that can be found many places on the web. Using glass jars (I always said I wouldn't be saving glass jars from sauce etc., but now I find myself doing just that for times like this), we made it rain again. I am trying to make sure that clouds and their purpose is solidified in their heads. This was very fun for them - a little shaving cream on top of half a jar of water, and add in some food coloring, and you will have delight from all your young students :) They loved getting to :carefully: use the food coloring to make it rain, and after using their own colors, even shared, which ended up making a muddy brown color in most of the jars after mixing a couple colors together, but they enjoyed it.       

After we made our clouds rain in the jars, I sprayed shaving cream into plastic ziploc bags and let them draw in the clouds a little that way. That kept their attention and they enjoyed it, but it wasn't enough - I could tell that they would enjoy my next crazy idea even better - so the bags had to go! I squeezed all the shaving cream on to the table, and used the rest of the can as well. They LOVED it! Little Mama said, "It feels Sooo good in between my fingers!" and I can't even begin to tell you how many times I heard, "Thank You - I Loved That!" from all of them. As insanely crazy as this sounds, we probably will do that again before too much longer. They really enjoyed it, and the sensorial part of it was a big hit.  

I threw in a few sponges, and they enjoyed scrubbing the table and making  pictures in the shaving cream.

We are not finished with our weather theme quite yet - I want to go in to more in depth studies of different types of weather, hopefully studying tornadoes, hurricanes, and if they enjoy it enough, we may study some winter-related storms, I'll just see how far they want to take it.

That's not all we have been doing - I think I need to do a school days post to show some other things we do that aren't group related. That's just another post for another day. 

I hope you have enjoyed this and would love to hear your ideas on what you have done in teaching your children about all kinds of weather. 

                                     Happy Homeschooling!!! 


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sharing a Giveaway from LMN!

Just wanted to do a quick share of a great giveaway at Living Montessori Now! In celebration of her third Blogiversary, Deb is hosting yet ANOTHER giveaway! KHT Montessori has sponsored a full 12 month online course, PLUS all 12 albums, an estimated retail value of $315!

For those of you who already have albums, this might not appeal to you, but for someone like me, WOW! The need for the albums alone in my house is incredible, but to also have the blessing of the online course, however - that is almost more than I could hope for! Within my five children, we fall in both the primary, and lower elementary categories, and upper elementary isn't far away!

By lots of observance, that isn't too hard, because what I am fixing to say is very plain to see - switching from Traditional to Montessori has absolutely been one of the HARDEST things I have ever attempted in my homeschool. I refuse to quit - I believe the Montessori method was a big answer to prayer as my children got older and I started seeing some problems and new circumstances creep into our daily routine.  That does not mean it has been easy, however, not on myself or my older two children who are so used to something so diffferent.

To win these would be wonderful for me, but I wanted to share the opportunity with anyone who might be reading this and could use the courses and albums just as much I could! :) 

So skip on over to Living Montessori Now's giveaway post and enter today to win! If you happen to be the winner, I'd love to hear from you in the comments after the contest is over!

Monday, April 15, 2013

What We've Been Up To

We have had a couple busy weeks here, although so much of it seems to be outside of the 'classroom' environment.

Little Mama went through her first year of state mandated testing. Where we live, a home-schooled child only has to take tests in Reading and Math, since it would be nearly impossible to make/take an accurate test in History or Science, since there is no good way to know what families are currently learning about. I have to admit, I was a little nervous - only for her and how she would adjust to the environment where I was not the main teacher and where she would not be able to  ask for help. Reading was not a concern of mine - I don't say that with an over-dose of pride, it's just that - well, she can read faster than I can and retains EVERYTHING. She amazes me at her reading skills - I was more concerned about her Math portion. If you have read this post about Little Mama's math, you will understand why I say that. We DID have the talk about not being able to ask for help with a problem, and I DID have to remind her that she was not allowed to cry and give up if she came upon a problem she wasn't sure about.

Little did I realize, my concerns were for nought. She came out extremely confident, telling me that they "didn't even have long division or fractions on the test", and that she was the first one done every time they took a portion of the test. I was a little unbelieving at first, until she told me that she looked around when she was finished, and that everyone was still working. :) 

With that out of the way for the year, we took the next day for a little bit of fun!

 We have a lovely nature center in our town, and we haven't been since the weather got too cold last Fall! So, in honor of our current theme - Weather and Spring - and the fact that this particular day was supposed to be sunny and beautiful, I decided it was the perfect time for a picnic and nature walk!

There is an amazing indoor world inside the Center, with small areas showing the different land formations in our area and how they happened over time, a HUGE fish tanks with a good variety of fish, a REAL tree that the center was built around,with many differnet examples of wild life and fun, interactive facts. They also have a great kids classroom, with quite a few different displays of wild life, birds, and many more things - I would have taken more pictures, but quite frankly - we were too busy having fun! Then we took things outside for a walk around the lake (there are actually three or four different trails, but we were with friends and fellow homeschoolers, and some of the bigger children were in canoes on the small lake, so we chose the path closest to the perimeter of the water for that reason). We plan on making regular trips again, now that the weather is nice - it is a WONDERFUL learning environment, that is so much fun!


We are still making our regular library trips, and I managed to capture a few good pictures of one of our most recent:

snacking with Clifford!

Buddy Boy loves ANYTHING that has the appearance or shape of a ball :) 

Hoss begged to stay long enough to finish the typing game he was playing - he insisted that he get to 'save all the letters from the green monster that was trying to get them!'

I think she just loves the camera, to be honest with you.... :)

     Baseball season is beginning for us - well, the game portion of the season, anyway. Last year, my husband was overseas for the entire season of Hoss' last year of T-ball, so this year he is more than making up for it - I have been the official MMIA - Missing Mom In Action - because it is usually a 'Daddy' trip to go to practices. However, I managed to make one last week, and enjoyed watching the progress Hoss has made in the last year. 

It was also very funny to see Buddy Boy watching the practice - he LOVES anything with a ball involved, and so he really got in to imitating the batters when they were practicing with the machine.

We also had a very fun visitor to our library this past weekend - YES! It was the Cat In The Hat himself :)

They got to watch projector video cartoons of Cat In The Hat

Color a variety of CITH Pictures

And we were able to catch one of several different story time readings throughout the day!  

That is just a little of what has kept us busy the last two or three weeks! Before I go, I will show a sneak peek of what the next blog post will be on and what is keeping the attention INSIDE the school room lately!!! Good Bye For Now!!! 


Thursday, April 4, 2013

It's another GREAT Giveaway!!!

Stopping by quickly to share with you another AMAZING giveaway!

Living Montessori Now   is one of my FAVORITE blogs! Deb's resources, encouragement, and connection to other wonderful Montessori resources is just unbeatable. In celebration of her 3rd blogiversary, she is hosting one of the most exciting giveaway events - 3rd Blogiversary Giveaway – $645 Montessori Print Shop/Montessori at Home Products!!!

Deb says : 

  It’s my 3rd blogiversary and I have 3 amazing giveaway prizes (ARV $645)!  Montessori Print Shop, one of my very favorite Montessori suppliers, is giving away a grand prize of 1276 beautiful printable Montessori materials in digital file format! That’s ALL the Montessori Print Shop PDF files, including 6-9 Grammar Boxes/Filling Boxes!!! There’s a second-place prize of a $100 Montessori Print Shop in-store couponAnd that’s not all! There’s a third-place prize of a $24.95 Montessori at Home! eBook and Materials Bundle (which includes both the fabulous Montessori at Home! eBook and 21 Montessori Print Shop materials that go with the eBook)! The giveaway is open to my readers worldwide!

Here's a run down on everything you'll get in the grand prize package -

Sensorial Materials - Sample 

Language Materials - Sample

Math - Geometry Materials - Sample

Science and Culture Materials - Sample

Areas include:

  1. Primary Teaching Manuals
  2. Classified Cards / Picture Cards (vocabulary enrichment)
  3. Culture
    • Celebrations
    • Music
    • Peace
    • Visual Arts
  4. World Geography
  5. Pre-Reading Activities
  6. Phonics, Moveable Alphabet, Language, Grammar (including 6-9 Grammar)
  7. Math
    • Introduction to numbers
    • Operations
    • Extension Lessons
    • Geometry
  8. Nomenclature
    • Botany
    • Zoology
    • Other (Health, Science, other)
  9. Science
    • Animals
    • Astronomy
    • Plants
    • Science
    • Weather
  10. Sensorial
  11. Teacher / Administration
  12. Toddler

             The prizes don't end there, however. If you aren't the recipient of the grand prize, there are still two chances to win! 

 2nd Place Winner will win a $100 MPS in-store coupon! (Coupon is only valid for 1-time use, regardless of if the $100 is fully spent.)

For a full view of what there is to offer with this win, check out Montessori Print Shop's store. Be sure you have time to browse - there is so much to look at!

Last, but definitely not least - 

3rd-Place Winner will win a $24.95 Montessori at Home eBook and Materials Bundle!

For more information on the e-book, visit here. There are also some great links through Living Montessori Now that showcase some of the useful Montessori-at-home ideas that you can find in the book, such as marbles and golf teesbuilding a flashlight and building with pipe cleaners , and DIY 1,000 - 10,000 number block cards  (one of which I plan on using myself!!!).

The bundle from MPS that goes hand in hand with the book contains:

Montessori Print Shop Materials for Montessori at Home! Materials Bundle

  1. Phases of the Moon (3-part cards & chart)
  2. Animals of the Continents
  3. Continents 3-Part Cards
  4. Land & Water Form Photo Book
  5. World – Control Maps, Masters and Labels
  6. Moveable Alphabet – Print – (includes full instructions)
  7. Sentence Cards – Step 1 – Set 1
  8. Word and Picture Cards – Step 1 – Read Pictures
  9. Geometric Matching Cards
  10. Geometric Solids 3-Part Cards – Blue
  11. Skeleton Nomenclature Cards
  12. Tree Nomenclature Cards
  13. 1-100 Math Series
  14. Phonics Sound and Picture Sorting
  15. Association of Objects
  16. What Does Not Belong
  17. The Five Senses
  18. Plant or Animal?
  19. Animals and Their Names
  20. Color Grading Cards
Metal Insets – Shape Outlines
For more information, visit Living Montessori Now and be sure to enter using the rafflecopter at the end of the post! 


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