Thursday, December 4, 2014

Big Changes

Well, there's no time like the present for changes to occur. Especially unexpected ones!

In a nutshell, my husband will have to spend the better part of next year away from us, due to work, school, and retraining for a new job [insert sniffle]. We had talked before about any changes we would have to make while he is gone - if you know much about the military, you will know that a lot can be involved in a temporary duty assignment, and when you have a family in one place and you are in another, it can get tricky all the way around. On account of that, my husband decided the best and easiest thing in the long run would be for my children and I to stay with family, where I wouldn't be alone and it will make some important things a little easier. 

So, about two weeks ago, we began preparing to relocate the kids and I and what we can fit in with my mother, and have been feverishly trying to pack, clean, organize, and dispose of unnecessary items. This also brings a big change to our school, because I will have exactly two shelves and a couple plastic drawer units to store our school materials on/in. I have thought it out, and instead of trying to cram too much on them and make a big mess instead of order, I am going to temporarily move to Montessori inspired unit studies. Actually, somewhere in-between unit studies and focused learning. Which sound almost the same anyway.

That being said, I may be on a small blog break for a little while, giving us time to adjust to the changes, settle in, and get through Christmas together!

I will try to make sure we at least take pictures to give an update on what's going on whenever I get the chance :)

I do hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas season, and that you all spend it with family, cherishing the moments!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What's In The Pie?

Months ago, when I began making free printables for personal use and sharing on the blog, I made a few for Fall/Thanksgiving time. 

Thanksgiving Puzzles

Cornucopia (with miniature fruit pieces to cut and glue inside the 'horn of plenty')

These can be found on my FREE PRINTABLES page.

These have yet to be printed off, and may be something we use for Thanksgiving day while visiting family, so they can have something to keep their little hands busy while giving my husband and I a chance to enjoy ourselves as well :)

One that I have printed off and put on the shelves so far, though, is our 'What's In The Pie?' printable!

I have a fun, simple printable for you today!!!!

These cards are approximately 5 1/2 inches in width, 3 1/2 inches in height.
 I altered the way it looks for the post, but in actuality, it's going to print out like this:

with four cards to a page.

 The set contains six different types of pie: pumpkin, apple. peach, cherry, blueberry, and chocolate. Six pictures show the pie itself, then another six show what is 'inside' the pie - cherries for the cherry pie, pumpkin for the pumpkin pie, chocolate for the chocolate pie, etc.

I also made labels for these, for any readers who want to label them independently, or for you to read to your child and let them match the word with the correct pie.

These would be great for any Fall/Thanksgiving/Food theme for young children, or for a 'What Goes Together' pre-reading activity. Maybe it's my love of all things Thanksgiving that prompted these, but for whatever reason, they were one of my favorite and simplest printables to make. Here's what they will look like after printing and laminating (I always suggest laminating if you want to re-use them, and I am a little addicted to the feel and shine of laminated materials hahaha!)

Some *original flavors* like:



Apple and Cherry

Then a couple slightly different, but super yummy! Blueberry and Chocolate :)

I made the name labels for them using uppercase letters, which doesn't follow the Montessori general rule of lowercase, but I intended for them to be used by someone already reading in  my house, and any children that can read are also very able to recognize the uppercase letters, even in different fonts. However, you could make your own labels with plain white paper/cardstock and write the names in lowercase, or print your own to match.

I hope someone can use this and get some enjoyment and new vocabulary opportunities out of it, like we are :) 

For this free printable, check HERE or go to the Free Printables page (link above in post) and find it under Tot/Preschool Printables/Thanksgiving.

In case I don't get back around here until after Thanksgiving, I hope you all have a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving holiday and spend precious, fleeting moments with those you love!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Update on Life

Oh, I've been such a bad blogger!

In truth, we have been very busy this past month.The last several weeks have seen a lot of work, some 'school' related, some 'life'. I've been leaning on my favorite term, life-school, here lately. 

Bug working with the stereognostic bag.

We have had many school days since my last post, and started some fun new things.
Little Mama has *finally* begun to use the multiplication checkerboard that I made last year, and is working with five digit multiplicands, and  two digit multipliers. Due to her tendency to get overwhelmed, she generally tends to do only one equation when sitting down with that work, and I'm usually with her or close to her. She moves slowly with it, but I am glad, because she is seeing it work. Since she is already a second year/fifth grader, I wasted no time, and showed her how to use the board and how it looks to work it out abstractly on paper, all at the same time. I didn't push, but just wanted her to see what we were doing on the board, and how that was going to look on paper. She is not required at all to do an equation abstractly yet. She is also reviewing division with larger dividends, and refreshing herself  before we begin with long division.

Hoss and Miss Priss have been spending a lot of time with fractions lately, subtracting, adding, and working with mixed fractions. Fraction work is one that can tend to be 'forgotten about' here if we are not careful, myself included, because there is just SO much we can do, and only so much time in a day/week/month. Miss Priss is also enjoying working through multiplication with the bead bars, and they both have been working a lot with the squaring and cubing chains.

Hoss has been dedicating himself to his piano more lately!

Music has been a great deal of our busyness! We have choir on Mondays for LM, piano on Tuesday for LM and Hoss, and General Music on Wednesday for Hoss and Miss Priss. I've already said before that LM does wonderful with the piano and is playing more and more by ear. Hoss, however, tends to sometimes be reluctant with playing. Then, just a week or two ago, he brought home the sheet music for a song they are learning for the Christmas play this year. That particular piece apparently struck a chord (pun intended) with him, and he played it more than he did the music he was supposed to practice! It was fun to watch him get so excited, unless that excitement hit at night and he wanted to play late in to the night :)

We've taken a small break from Parts of Speech over the last month, while Miss Priss was introduced to alphabetical order and she and Hoss have done a lot of work with compound word practice - a new one for her, an oldie but goodie for him (that gives him a little bit of spelling practice that he doesn't realize was my intention from the start *heehee*). I love this picture of MP. Apparently, upside down in the recliner is the best thinking position for your work, although it's undoubtedly the pits for handwriting! :) 

I will be sharing about our compound words work soon, and also our History packets, and offering freebies! Stay Tuned!

Those little flying pigs keep showing up..... you know, the ones that Buddy Boy likes so much? So I keep these little guys all together in a drawer and he can get them out anytime he wants. It's fun to listen when he doesn't realize it, and hear the different scenarios he makes up for them. 

Bug has been enjoying cards and counters here lately, and I can't wait to show her the fun counters for Fall/Thanksgiving time! She's going to love it! She's also been working at a slow pace through the math charts for addition. Where Miss Priss was attracted to these greatly, she isn't so much. I have chosen not to make her use them, but she is getting the concept nonetheless all on her own and will be getting re-introduced to the addition snake game soon so I can *test* her to see where she is at. 

And then, towards the middle-to-end of October, things got a little crazy. LOL - There's no better picture than this to give you a visual. I spent a few weeks slowly helping my mother clean out a house and prepare it for the second and final estate sale. After that, we had a short school week, another yard sale of our own (For the record, I do NOT overly enjoy having them. There was so much left over from the estate sale and the owners of the house, friends, said we could do whatever we wanted with it. Where we live is a good area for them, so I flipped the leftovers and made a profit of my own!). 

Then we went on a mini-vacation visit for a few days the first week of November,l and came home to a train wreck of a house, due to some interior work being done that now has to be cleaned up from.

Thankfully, as of today, we should be able to settle back in for a couple normal weeks of school before having a few days off at Thanksgiving. :) 

Life never fails to keep up busy and on our toes, but we are enjoying it SO MUCH and God's still good, all the time!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Not-So-Montessori Memorization Game


A few weeks ago, Hoss and Bug were playing dominoes at the dining room table. Well, they were trying. My dear children had NO idea about the rule of the 'running domino', and had some kind of board set up that looked akin to a 12-legged spider. I sat down to play with them, and explain the rules. When we finished, they were going to start another game when an instant burst of inspiration hit me. It had to have been from the Lord, because it's been loved for three weeks now.

Enter: The Domino Game

Invite a friend (or brother, or sister) to the table with the dominoes. Line them up in two equal rows, so every domino will get used before the end of the 'game'.

Choose two dominoes (similar to a matching/memory game). If they match, keep them. If they do NOT match, flip them back over and the turn goes to the next player.

IF they matched, as in, having two sides with the same amounts, put the matching sides together. The amount on the OTHER side are your numerals for your equation. 

For example. with the above dominoes, Bug chose them. She slid the 6's together, and, since  she is working on memorization of addition, her equation became 7 + 1. The next step is to record them in your binder/notebook/graph paper (or whatever you are using).

Last, but certainly not least, use a control of error (in this case, the addition chart #3 - finger chart - for Bug, and the multiplication memorization chart/Table of Pythagoras chart for Hoss) to check your work. 

If you read this post, you'll know that this work was so exciting to me. Not because it's ingenius - I am sure someone (or many people) have done this before, but rather because Bug loves it, and will willingly choose it WITHOUT wanting me to be right beside her. In the weeks following the first game, she has done this many times with Hoss - sometimes daily - and loves it!

So, if you've got extra dominoes lying around somewhere, and kiddos that love to play with them, they might enjoy this game! It will work for 3 out of 4 operations (it's pretty obvious that it wouldn't work for division). 

I hope this comes in handy for you in your home(school)!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Encouragement after a long week or two...

Phew. It's been a long week and a half.

The beginning of last week had us recovering from a long weekend of stomach bug - all over the place. Buddy Boy had come down with something the Wednesday before, and I was hoping (and praying) the other kids had avoided it.

It was not to be so.

So, after a tough weekend (not a lot of sleep, because just when one would stop making trips to the bathroom, another would start), we spent a couple days recovering. Then - it was a life school end of the week. Thankfully, by Friday we got back to some school time around the house. Days like that, though, tend to discourage me - as a mother, and a homeschool mama. Those tend to seem like two different, and yet the same, jobs sometimes. 
I was trying for a better start to the week today, and got the feeling that comes all too often. You know the one - the, "I'm barely scratching the surface, and am so TOTALLY going to fail my children and I must be the worst mother ever" feeling.

Yehap - that's me. Most certainly NOT meeting my own expectations, I was sure.

Hoss discovered the pattern of the numbers (products) on the multiplication finger chart, which he was actually using just to check his work. On his own. He was playing the domino game, which is something that won't make any sense to you yet, so I will explain it in the next post. It's irrelevant here, though. While I was lamenting how little I felt I was doing, he was studying the chart and seeing something that I didn't realize he didn't see before. *Note here - he was older when we began Montessori and has had little to no experience with the number chains. If he had, he might have picked up on this sooner. That didn't matter - he found it out on his own.

Same day:

I love watching this little girl concentrate on her work :) 

Miss Priss discovered the rule of alphabetical order - on her own. I gave what was her first official presentation. Nothing fancy, and possibly nothing like what is in any manual. I can talk about that later, too. The point is, again, she found it.

Some more revelations, now that I'm thinking on it:

Recording her work in her binder, after checking to be sure she had the answer correct.

Bug is playing the aforementioned domino game *without me*. If you know anything of what I have EVER told you about her, that is a miracle  in itself. 

LM - well, she still reads like crazy. She's also enjoying her piano lessons and new-as-of-this-year choir class immensely. Oh, and she's also playing piano BY EAR. No one taught her - she has begun picking out music on the piano of songs she knows, even just today (a day after I started this post) playing part of a song we sing at church. One that she has no written music for, and that no one has shown her. She was able to show her piano teacher what she knows, and get further guidance to play both hands of that particular piece. 

This picture speaks volumes of the concentration going on while he was playing with Legos. He didn't even know I'd taken it.

Buddy - well, he's still Buddy. :) He counts pigs. Little, miniature, cute pigs. Did I mention his pigs fly? Leaves the mind to grasp the concept of "when pigs fly", doesn't it? "When pigs fly" he'll be focused. Until then, he's just having a whole lot of fun. Oh - there was that one day, a few weeks ago, when he started and stopped his own work cycle that lasted about 2 hours. Or that *one* day when he played and built with legos for 30 minutes, mindless of what was going on in the room and how much noise the rest of us were making, fully focused on what he had going on. 

Come to think of it, I guess life's not too bad here after all :)

Philippians 4:11 "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."

*Editor's update - it took me almost four days to finish this blog post, if that's a clue to how busy we've been!*

Thursday, October 2, 2014

We've Got Grammar Going On

*a little late in posting, but it's better late than never!*

Week 6&7

Grammar seems to be showing up everywhere here lately - at least, in the pictures it is!

LM (not pictured - at all) is finishing up the review of parts of speech. Many of them she - brace yourself - hasn't had the formal first presentations for. That doesn't mean she doesn't know what they are - she just hasn't gotten every presentation that some of the younger ones have. I want to get to the advanced grammar that she is really ready for, so we are having some fast review lessons so she can get the notes down in her binder and be ready to move on. 

Hoss worked on reviewing verbs these last couple of weeks. He has a hard time keeping track of the name of the pos AND what each one does, and being able to tell me both. Example: He can sort the phrase "the little boy sings" in to article, adjective, noun, verb if I give the sentence, but then can't quickly tell me what each does. OR he can look at the words 'article, adjective, noun, verb' and tell me which words belongs to the rule I give (usually). I am working on trying to get him to know which is which easily. So we are doing a lot of review of what we've done before to make sure he's on good footing. 

Here we started with the simple phrase 'the tiger' and talked about the job of the article again, then added the adjective and reviewed it's job, and then finally the verb and talked about it's job again. We did this with several sentences, and he recorded them in his binder - I am loving the VERY easy DIY grammar symbol stencils that I made for this year. I got the idea from MBT and this post - What Did We Do All Day - Grammar Stencil. Hers looks MUCH better then mine, but mine still does the trick :) and the kids enjoy being able to label their parts of speech easier.

The same day that Hoss reviewed the verb, Miss Priss reviewed the adjective. This is a work she did often last year, but didn't record it in her binder. This year, she made note of the job of the adjective, and recorded/labeled each adjective/noun phrase - i.e. green felt, orange felt, etc.   

Although this constitutes more as language, Bug has enjoyed working with 3 part cards as of late - pictured are the Electrical Appliances cards and Life Cycle Of A Ladybug cards, both from Montessori Print Shop's Free Downloads. 

Miss Priss also likes to review phonograms with 3 part cards from Trillium Montessori

Another extension for practice work with parts of speech that I showed both Hoss and Miss Priss was this one. We picked out a book, any book she chose from either ours or a library book. This particular choice was the book 'Mind Your Manners B.B. Wolf'. She read it to me/with me, and every time she saw a phrase with the article/noun or article/adjective/noun, she would record it, and after filling her page up with different phrases, went back and labeled the parts of speech. I wanted something they could do on their own to practice what they are learning, but that can be a little 'new' every time. 

The next post will be an update on some of the Math that went on during these weeks. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Day I Left My Children Alone

Week 6 - Day One

On Monday of this week, I left my children alone. After waking up and getting their breakfast, we started our morning cleaning routine, complete with work cards, and spent a little while at it. For some reason, Monday mornings are rough cleaning days, although goodness knows why - half the weekend is spent at church, it seems, but somehow - they always are. 

Then, I left my children alone. I dove into the abyss that is school materials, determined to clean out, rearrange, and reorganize. There were still things that needed to go on the shelves, Buddy Boy needed new theme trays, and it had to get done. Immediately. We had choir that afternoon for LM, and still had to fit lunch in before that. I faintly heard LM say she was going to start with the multiplication checkerboard as I began to move my couch away from my hidden, built in shelving. 

About halfway through, this is what I found the kids doing.

Miss Priss did this puzzle of the states - three times. In a row. The third time, she figured out how to slide it on a cookie sheet and flip it over to see the flags and facts about each state that is on the back side of the puzzle. 

Hoss got upset over something - I've got no earthly idea what -  and decided it was his job to personally test out every new tray that I was putting out for Buddy Boy and Bug. 
size sequencing

 matching number/picture cards

 fine motor

All trays were beneath him, but somehow it was appealing to be the 'tray tester'.

After multiplication from LM and pattern making from Bug (no pictures, but she showed me several different patterns with the unifix blocks), they apparently started building. I'm pretty sure there was some kind of elaborate pattern scheme they were working on - I overheard LM telling Bug to get a certain type of pattern for the next row of blocks in their castle/tower.

(please ignore the mess that is the kitchen floor - it doesn't manage to stay clean for very long. Oh, and the need to re-paint. That's another issue all together.... :/ )

Buddy Boy worked for at least 30 minutes making pictures with our pattern blocks, eventually inviting Hoss to work with him.

By the time they finished their own, unprompted, unsupervised work period, it was time for a quick lunch which was made by LM and off to choir. 

Moral of the story:
Be a *present* parent - and while doing it, learn to be *present* in the background. It's good for them to just occupy themselves, and they might surprise you sometimes! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fall Baking With Kids - Montessori Practical Life

Wait for it.... Wait for it....


Okay, so I might be a little premature to call it Fall in the South, but the last part of last week, it sure felt like it! :)


LM made her first ever solo batch of Pumpkin Bread.

This recipe is one that I can't say was handed down through the family with tons of secret, special ingredients. I will say, though, that it was a favorite growing up, and the tradition continues in my home now, with my children growing up loving it. It was also greatly associated with Fall, Thanksgiving, and Christmas time.

The recipe is so simple and easy to follow - you'll have great smells filling your house in under an hour!

You'll need:

3 cups sugar
1 cup oil
4 eggs, beaten
16 ounces pumpkin (canned or fresh!)
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger (not ale - typo in cookbook!)
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup hot water

Oh, and one handy helper!

First, cream sugar and oil - this is where a KitchenAid Mixer is going to come in real handy, so you can mix, measure, and pour all at the same time!

After sugar and oil have creamed, add eggs.

Then, add your pumpkin. We cheated and used canned pumpkin, but if you have fresh, feel free to use it! Confession - I've never tried it with fresh. It must be good, though!

Next, in a separate bowl, add dry ingredients - flour, salt, baking powder, and spices. 

Sift dry ingredients together, then add to pumpkin mix alternately with the hot water. 

When that's all in your mixer, and if you do have a wonderful KitchenAid, let it mix while you clean up what you have used and get ready for the oven.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

I love my Pampered Chef mini loaf pans, but you can use any style of mini loaf pans you have. I highly recommend the mini loaves, versus the full loaf - it's less baking time and less chance of a slightly over-cooked bottom. Or, you can mix it up and make muffins or make it all at once, cake style. Just remember to adjust your baking times accordingly.

After spraying your baking dish well with non-stick spray, carefully fill at least halfway, though no more than 2/3 full. Be careful to make sure they are even, of course!

We like to sprinkle the tops with a little cinnamon sugar. It gives the bread a nice, sweet crunch :) .

Place in the oven, and set a timer for 30 minutes. At this point, check your bread. When the top is cracked and no longer looks wet, you'll know it's finished. With my mini-loaf pan, we actually bake ours for about 35 minutes. Just keep an eye on it and use good judgement from the 30 minute marker until you know it is finished. Another good way to check is the tried and true toothpick-in-the-center method.

After that, all that's left to do is.... 


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