Sunday, January 26, 2014

Happy Anniversary!

Well, it's finally come.

The ONE YEAR anniversary of this blog!!!

To read my very first post ever, just have a blast scrolling through every single post until you get there, or dig all through the archives..... Just kidding. You can check it out here if you are really interested. It's pretty clear in the beginning that I wasn't sure where I was going with this blog, nor did I know then that I was going to even open it up to let others know about it and read it. 

I am so glad I did, because I have enjoyed making a small hobby out of writing here, and meeting so many wonderful bloggers/mamas. What an encouragement it has been! It is also so wonderful to have a place to record what's going on when I begin to get overwhelmed, or think that we have accomplished almost NOTHING - it helps to see it all in front of me.

I thought I would take a look back on my top five, most visited posts from this past year. So, counting down, here they are:

This unit study was *sooooo* much fun with my children - we all loved it! Although I am taking a slightly different approach this year, I hope to do some fun exploring into different themes throughout the rest of this school year, and possibly in to the summer!

I'll be honest here - I have found that any time Deb from Living Montessori Now features one of my posts, my audience temporarily (and sometimes permanently) grows!

I have had so much fun creating trays for  Buddy Boy. I am not sure how long we will do specific 'tot school trays' but I sure am enjoying it!

This was another one that took me by surprise, but I am glad so many enjoyed seeing our school room. By the way, I am fixing to have to do another one of these, because things are changing all the time!

This first post in a small series completely blew all others out of the water, and surprised me immensely! 

It is interesting to look back and see what interested people the most, and what drew the least attention. I want to say a big THANK YOU to all the faithful readers who have followed me at all throughout this year. I do not write as a business - I don't have affiliate links to offer, nor do I make any money at it. I am not the fastest, most frequent social media blogger. Confession: I don't even have programs (or experience) in making printables, and there are some amazing, wonderful ones out there! I would love to, and maybe one day will, but for now - I have very little to offer.

However, I started this blog in hopes that I could: 
#1 - Bring glory to God, who has always supplied EVERY  need we have, and taken many different avenues to do so,  especially in our homeschool.

#2 - Be an encouragement to someone, and help them find resources that are needed, and not give up! I will admit - there have been times when I have felt very overwhelmed and told myself it would be so much easier to just give up, order a boxed curriculum, and head down that path again. I wouldn't spend hours trying to learn something new, hours trying to create my own materials (because sometimes the expense is so much more than I could possibly imagine being able to fit in!), and have to completely re-train my mind in some ways. 

If I did that, though - I wouldn't see the smiles when Little Mama actually does something in Math she enjoys, and see the stress lift when she starts to understand and knows it's not as hard as she originally thought. I wouldn't have seen how quickly Hoss picks up on multiplication, when using the homemade bead bars we have to do it, and how much he loves it! I wouldn't have seen the joy that cards and counters, or sound baskets, brought to Miss Priss and Bug. And we would never have started any kind of tot school with Buddy Boy, for that was something I learned about when I found Montessori as well. God sent me what I needed, when I needed it, and through the past 1 1/2 years, I can definitely say the results are worth the work! 

Thank you all for sharing in my first year of blogging, walking this journey with me, and I look forward to the fun that this next year will bring!

~Amy@No Greater Honors~

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Week 1 - Sliding Back In To Business

We finally started getting back to some school this week. It feels like it has been forever, and the kids were ready.

Monday started out with a review for Miss Priss on subtraction, which we had touched on just a little bit between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  She had been content to keep working with the materials I used for her first presentation of subtraction. I was just beginning to wonder Monday how long she would want to continue, when she asked me for something new. My next step was, in my mind, going to be the subtraction board for just a little while. She wasn't really excited over using the addition board, so I wasn't going to press it much. Which is a good thing, since some of our printable bars for the board were *missing*. Thankfully, we had enough that she got the picture, and like I thought, she was ready to move on to something else in the same day. I saw the lightbulb come on while she worked with the subtraction board with the bars we had, so I wasn't concerned about going too fast.

The next work was the subtraction snake game.

 Armed with my laptop open to InfoMontessori's directions for the first presentation of the subtraction snake game, and our materials, we got started. About half way through, she started to get tired, so I encouraged her to continue until the end. Not only do we not have the ability to leave a work until the next day (which would be ideal, if you can), but I wanted her to see the snake disappear. Although she wasn't as excited about it this time, I think now that she has the ability to start right away with it, she won't be so tired trying to finish it.

We also worked more on learning to recognize and read long vowel words, especially those with that tricky *super silent e*. Often we use these [scrabble] tiles to move letters around and build words.

Bug pulled out our homemade teens board strips for the first time in a long time. It was a good review, and she easily identified all numbers and laid them out correctly. I think it's time to move on to the tens board strips!

Little Mama would do THIS all the time if I let her.

So, I waited until the first time she said "I'm bored" and grabbed the chance to strongly sweetly suggest she sit with me and review some math. I had her work a couple addition and subtraction problems that went in to the millions, abstractly, just to refresh her mind. Then we reviewed all multiplication tables up to 10. I found that she was still having a little difficulty in the 7,8, and 9 tables. Which brought on tears.... and the ever-present "I quit" when it comes to Math that gets difficult for her, or that she thinks will be difficult. This time, however, instead of backing off, I encouraged her to push forward.

As you can see in the picture above, this is the post-crying face. I wish at times like these that I had the short/long bead chains. BUT - I don't. So I made a rough DIY version - with pen and paper.

I just made dots on long pieces of blank, white printer paper. Then she labeled them with a pencil similar to how you would use the bead chain labels. She was able to see the connection there and read the facts out loud to me, as she saw them on the paper 'chain'. 

Then, I got something a little fun out for her. I finally remembered to go back and pick up the paint dabbers - Walmart has some in their craft section for a very reasonable price. We cut up squares of paper, and I wrote a multiplication problem on each one (we only did the table of 7's) and she used the paint dabbers to find the answer. She really enjoyed this, and it lifted her spirits. 

This is the only picture I managed to get of Hoss this week. I caught him in the kitchen, trying to get the battery section open of our globe to see what kind of batteries it needs. They would really love to be able to make use of the electronic part of it, but I honestly dread getting the batteries. I know that eventually, they will run out, and I will have to get more.... I am not a fan of keeping up with electronics that need constant battery replacement! I'm sure I will end up doing just that, however...

I have yet to resume tot school - we didn't make it through the last couple of colors with Buddy Boy, but I hope to do that next week. We are undergoing some (more) changes in the school room, as it is constantly evolving in to what we need for the time being, and I am going to try to keep his things in the school room from now on, where he can get to them whenever he wants, instead of taking them down and putting them back up out of reach. We shall see if that works, anyway. 

I am so glad to be getting back to normal again!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Week We Didn't Start School.....

Well, my plans were to start school, like so many public and homeschoolers were all over. I was so excited to get back to normal, we weren't going to have a very busy week - just hopefully get back in to the school room, maybe do some rearranging together, and have some fun. I was still working in my Well Planned Day planner, trying to map out what I needed to remember to do over the next few months. That's when I ran in to the only problem with the planner - it didn't tell me I would be sick this week!

Monday brought on a horrible week of me being sick, that ended with me getting strep throat after all other flu like symptoms were gone. So we didn't get in the school room this week. I was almost discouraged, thinking this was a horrible start to a new school year. I'd like to take a minute though, and share why Montessori Practical Life can be very important.

Before we were 'Montessori inspired' in name, there were many things I did normally that I did not think of as a Montessori *thing*, and still don't - I call them training. Don't shrink under that word - it's not a bad one. I decided when Little Mama had yet to show her face in this world that, by the Grace of God, I would train her and all others after her, how to be part of the home. How to help - how to take care of things that she (and they) could do, and to hold their weight in the responsibilities. I didn't know then that I would have five children, but now it's impossible to do everything by myself - they have to help just to make our house run as smoothly as possible. So when I got sick, it seemed it couldn't have been at a worse time, right after the holidays, when laundry was going on for miles in our laundry area, and there was so much to do. Thankfully, all the years of teaching them to do the dishes, help cook in the kitchen, be able to get their own dishes out and put them up easily, put their own laundry up - it pays off. Long before they leave home! Monday I began to feel bad, and by that night I couldn't imagine getting out of bed. Little Mama took over 70% of my workload, sometimes more, and for two days she did all the cooking and meal prep, she and the others did all the cleaning, taking Buddy to the bathroom, baths and making sure everyone was dressed in the morning and ready for bed at night time. My husband was here - he didn't disappear, but he has been working many looooooong days and so there was a good deal of time when he wasn't here, and I couldn't do even half of what I normally do. Even when I started to recover a little, I needed more help in so many things. Because they have the practical life skills that were already in them, the help I got from them was tremendous

Hopefully next week, despite a birthday coming in and my husband still very busy at work, we will get back to school. But this week - we had some serious practical life school, and it was not a waste! If you have littles, whether there be 1 or several, don't give up trying to train them! Get that practical life in there, in the most practical ways you can - teach them to sort laundry and to wash their dishes, and make it fun now when they are little - you will be amazed what they can do when they get a little older!

I hope this was a blessing to someone!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Christmas Break

We had so much fun over Christmas break!

Riding our local train through the park, which is a Christmas wonderland every month of December!

Lots of Christmas morning surprises!!!!

A few non-Christmas shots:

I found these water beads at the Dollar Tree one day while out shopping. The intention was actually for them to be scented beads to make your home smell nice and inviting - but this is what happens when you are a Montessori mama. What you see is not always what everyone else sees. The minute I saw these, I knew they were made for the perfect sensorial activity. They also ended up being a great diversion on a busy day before Christmas, when Buddy Boy was especially mischievous. The scent combined with the fun kept him busy in the bathtub for at least an hour, maybe more! I was also able to rescue most of them and use them a couple more times before tossing them. Not bad for $2. 

Hoss also got a few lego sets (or the equivalent thereof), and we were up to our elbows in lego pieces one day with his cousin, Big Z, putting together a helicopter and Army tank. He was excited because what boy wouldn't love Legos, I was excited because of all the fraction extensions I can use them for down the road (I'm in a sad state - I can't get educational opportunities out of the back of my mind!)

Hah - one last one. Little Mama loves to piddle around with hand sewing (she is anxiously looking forward to learning to machine sew). and used some scrap material and ribbon to make a hat. It was actually supposed to be for Bug, but Buddy had it on. Kind of looks a little gnome-ish.....

If you look in the above picture, you can see a bit of me sitting on the couch. That's been a big chunk of my time, this past week especially. Along with my Well Planned Day planner - a timely Christmas gift - I am preparing for the second semester of our 2014 year! I am excited at the possibilities, while trying to remind myself of the reality that many times everything I plan doesn't always happen. :) That's okay, though - I am pumped for a great beginning to 2014 and I hope if you are reading this, you are as well!

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