Saturday, February 22, 2014

It's been quiet....

Well, it's been quiet on the blog, that is. Usually, when it's quiet on the blog - it's anything but here. However, a lot of it has not been in the school room. Which  might be because we currently don't have a school room anymore! Our house has been in a state of transition this past week, which has resulted in not a lot of school time, or time to take pictures and blog about all the things we haven't done! We have moved our materials, and shelves, out of what was our school room, and converted it back in to a dining room - it was just too necessary to have one. I have also found that our children loved having things all together - they would choose their work.... and then migrate back in to the living room or other parts of the house to do their work. So our room had just become a holding tank for all the shelves and materials. 

We have been working on reorganization this week, as well as some bigger changes around our house. I will do my best to get a post out by Monday on all that has gone on this week. In the mean time, if you are reading this, and following me, I wanted to give an update so I didn't seem to be disappearing!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Verb

As most of you know that have been reading the last couple of weeks, Little Mama has been getting a review of parts of speech. Most she already knows - or doesn't realize she knows, but knows. :) Confused yet?

Anyway, we don't have to take it as slow as I would, were I presenting this to Hoss, or Miss Priss, because this is just reviewing before we start on the advanced parts of speech and sentence analysis. I wanted to get the verb presentation in this week, and begin to teach her about the different types of verbs in a sentence, some of which might be a little new to her. She has been trying out sentences to show other parts of speech, and linking verbs and helping verbs pop in there, so I know she has the correct usage down, just needs to know what she is doing. 

On Wednesday, I had prepared to give her the verb review presentation. Then, she woke up wanting to sew. My little girl wants to sew on a machine badly, and I will admit I just need to MAKE myself sit down and get her started. I love to sew - when I have time - but I have to be in the mood to do it, and I wasn't. So I sat there, trying to figure out how I was going to deter her from sewing - because I didn't want to - and give her a verb lesson instead. Then a light bulb moment came - why not combine both? I told her I would sit with her and teach her how to start using the machine - as long as she brought her notebook, because we needed to review verbs first.

I will put in a disclaimer here - normally, the verb lesson would be given with a black pyramid and red ball. You can buy a wonderful set for this lesson here through Kid Advance, or almost any other site selling Montessori equipment. But, I don't have one - yet. I would NOT give this lesson to Hoss or Miss Priss without the correct materials, because they still have so much time to spend with the grammar symbols. Little Mama is moving so fast though, and I knew she would be able to understand what they should be and the connection between these and the printable grammar symbols we use.

We talked again about the role of the noun, and then the verb. She was able to tell me already what a verb does. I  used this opportunity more to show the place of the verb with the noun family. I did use these materials to give her the experience of the verb showing action and always moving - such as the ball.

We talked about where the verb can go in the sentence, and that it does not change the order of the noun family at all.

Example #1 - Noun family + verb

Example #2 - Verb + noun family

I have a simple work basket set up with mini objects, word cards, and phrase slips (missing their verb) set up for work on this. We used it to practice labeling phrases with verbs - I think I have about 8 example phrases in it.

Then, we moved to the sewing part of it. The excitement was paramount!

Not pictured above is me teaching her how to thread the machine, where the thread is going to come out, etc. Then the steps to pulling the bottom thread up and so on. Then I asked her to record what was going on in her notebook. Her first two phrases were "The needle moves" and "The material spins". 

I asked her about the second phrase (The material spins) so she showed me what she meant.

Needle down, presser foot up, spin the material. :) Silly me for not knowing what she meant... ;) 

She recorded one more, while we reviewed the direction that the wheel must always turn while threading the needle. 

Then, I left her to do a little practice on a small scrap of material. She took to it like a duck out of water, and several times that night, I caught her threading and unthreading the machine, just for practice. 

Out of the ordinary, I know, but that was our review for the verb. Next week I hope to get through at least two more with her, along with delving deeper in to verbs as much as possible. I am very careful to make sure I don't rush her. At the same time, I have taken so much of the past couple of school years trying to familiarize myself with the changes I chose to make, and so now we begin a few months of catch up. I think it will go smoothly - I pray it will go smoothly - and that by the time next school year starts, I won't feel as if we have to do any more backtracking! 

*In other news, I had to turn on word verification. I hated to do that, because I know sometimes it's can deter someone from commenting. I LOVE to see comments and hear what others are thinking, or their suggestions. However - the amount of spam coming in was ridiculous! So I am going to try this for a while. If you are a reader, and you have an opinion on word verification's pros and cons, I would love to hear them!*

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tot School - Hearts and Valentine's Day

Now that our color study is over, we are moving on to some loose learning of shapes. I am hoping to purchase a good, albeit inexpensive, set of geometry solids here soon, and will be going over them again with him - for a good sensorial lesson on the solid shape.

Since Valentine's Day was right around the corner, we started on hearts! I have two weeks worth of Valentine's/Heart trays to share, and then will show them in action.

Week 1 - The Heart

Matching heart shaped cookie cutters to traced, laminated cards. A great lesson for Big, Medium, and Small.

Clipping Clothespins
I made these last year, and put them in a glass heart shaped bowl. This was a favorite! (and yes, he did clip them on his fingertips more times than I can count - he's still a boy!)

Sticker tray
This was post play - the original tray had blank paper where the used paper is now, and sticker sheets cut in half (to fit) in the bowl. I found the stickers at Walmart last year, and used them for another tray that you will see farther down, as well.

Hand transfer. 
Once again, a missed opportunity to use tongs for transfer. Actually, there was some thought in that, since the heart shaped ice cube tray actually has fairly small sections, and I would have had to use the smallest pair of tweezers I have, which are still a little difficult for him.

Our Valentine's/heart sensory box! 
Included are:
       clear gems and heart shaped gems from the Dollar Store (as a base)
purple pom pom's
small heart boxes - got them in a pack of ten at the Dollar Store
pink scoop and cup
small Valentine's erasers - found them at the Target Dollar Spot last year. This entire sensory box probably cost me $5 max - and it's been the ultimate favorite!

Week 2- The heart and Valentine's Day 

Button snake
I made this last year, and pulled out only the red squares this time. He gets tripped up on remembering the word red every time, so this helped to review color names some, as well.

Sticker Tray
I removed the stickers from last week, and added these - found at Target's Dollar Spot.

Cookie Cutter Size Matching
The same as the last week, except that this time I used hearts with a swirly edge, and the appropriate matching cards.

Number Wheel
This is what I used the same stickers from week 1 for (last year). It was a hit last year, and is again this year!

The only change to our sensory box is this red, silicone ice cube tray. Miss Priss saw it at the grocery store, and exclaimed "Hey - we could use that!" What's funny is, I knew she wasn't thinking about using it to make ice - and neither was I! :)

Week 1 - action shots
The sensory box was the favorite once again! Okay - so I lied, a little. These sensory box pictures are actually from week 2. They were the best ones, though, and since nothing much changed, I didn't see any harm. We did a LOT of filling the small heart boxes with gems, 'giving them to mommy as a gift' and counting how many were inside. Did you know that after counting the same heart, that still has only 7 gems in it, about 15 times - you are tempted to *accidentally* drop it back in the box? 

Buddy Boy LOVES 1-1 correspondence trays, and that is what this ice cube tray was used for most of the time.

Except here. 

He filled the cup (great scooping! Interesting that he scooped with his left hand, and did that consistently with this box for days. He has favored his right hand for a long time, but managed just fine!)...

Then proceeded to loudly exclaim, "It's throwing up!!!!" - and dumped the contents in to the box, right on top of the ice cube tray.

He wasn't a big fan of matching the cookie cutters the first week - I suggested it this particular time, and you notice he still has the cup in his hand from the sensory box.

Then, we have week 2 of action shots....

Buddy definitely didn't get the point of matching the numbered clothespins to the correct space, although, if you look at the next picture, he did try to  make sure there was one for each section, which I thought was wonderful!

Bug came behind him and did this work correctly, and very easily of course. She told me after, "Look! It's a sun!"

I wasn't sure if the button snake would go over well - a year ago, he loved it. He is past this as a work, though, for the most part. He did enjoy doing it, though. 

He really liked saying, "Look! It's a swingy swing (pronounced by him as a shfingy shfing!).

Where he didn't enjoy the Big, Medium, Small heart match the first week, he did like the one the second week. Maybe he was just too distracted by other trays the first week, maybe he liked the wavy cookie cutter lines... who knows! We were able to do a 3 period lesson with the vocabulary *Big, Medium, Small* and he was able to grasp it very well, and could tell me which was which after a couple repetitions.

Concentric hearts? Maybe... or maybe he just enjoyed putting them together! 

That's it for the pictures! We are still working with these trays, through Valentine's, and then - who knows what shape will be next? That is yet to be determined, which just tells you that I don't always plan ahead for everything we do!

To see our Valentine's Day theme unit from last year, check out:

We also had a special lesson in Love this year, when we go to

I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Tot School - Black and White (and the end of our color study)

We actually have been finished with colors for a few weeks now, but I realized I never shared our black and white color week. I had so little for both that I needed to do them together, and I think it worked out well, since they both highlight something important in the color study - the absence of color, and the culmination of all colors combined.

I will start with our trays and sensory box. I only made two additional trays this time to go alongside our box.

In our Sensory box we had:

White decorative marbles
Black pom poms
Black and White zebra striped notebook
White key chain (stretchable)
Black key chain (stretchable)
Black and white mini's - gorilla, cow, sheep, felt dog and cat, monkey, zebra(s), and miniature bowl.  

One to One correspondence tray - white painter's palette and white marbles

Zebra puzzle

Buddy Boy enjoyed this tray, and did it several times. My intention was to put some sort of tong with this tray, but - it didn't happen. I couldn't honestly tell you why - it just didn't. Hand transfer worked very well, though, and for the last three weeks, I have found many a white marble hiding under my furniture and around the room in hidden spots. :)

I am sad to say that he was completely uninterested in the puzzle tray this time. He had enjoyed the others we did in the past, but I guess there just wasn't a pull to it this time. I did not catch him at any point choosing it, and when I gently suggested it, it was always declined. However, I was able to get a picture of Bug using it - so that's what you get to see, too!

(side note - am I the only one who finds her children's shoes lying all over the place every day of the week - except Sunday, when we need them?)

The sensory box was by far the most used part of this week. That comes as no surprise - they are still his favorite! The mini animals were the most used of the box, as well. He did pull the notebook out and find a crayon from time to time to write in it, but always retreated back to the animals before too long.

Here he decided to see just how far we could get that key chain to stretch. In case you are wondering - no, I have not kept these key chains after the particular color week was over. They aren't in any shape to be used - especially not this white one :)

He decided that one white marble (or two or three) in this mini bowl is perfect for feeding the animals. At one point, he had several animals all around it - presumably eating out of the same bowl. The only place you will ever find a gorilla sharing lunch with a zebra and lamb at the same time! :)

As always, it never fails that we end up playing some sort of ball. This time, he said that we both needed a marble, and the goal became trying to roll our marbles toward each other. Major bonus points were earned if the marbles hit and split in two directions across the room! 

You can't see it from this picture, but during this particular week, it snowed some - which meant that he actually got a full sensorial experience with the color white. It also means that he got distracted quite a bit by the desire to look out the window and watch the snow.

And that, my friends, is how we ended our weeks of color study. I was afraid that, regardless of the time spent, he was still not where I'd hoped he would be. Orally, at this point, he wasn't always connecting the correct color names with the colors themselves. He can, and has been able to, match the colors, so I know he understands the difference. Thankfully, over the last couple of weeks, I have been able to observe through talking with him that he does manage to use the correct color name about 90% of the time. 

Our tot school time will be changing a bit in the next few weeks - it already has, to some extent. Instead of trying to block out 30 minutes - 1 hour every day, I am just incorporating his trays in to the rest of our day. Taking that time for just him was fun, but there were times where he would gladly spend all morning with it, meanwhile - the rest of the kids don't get started right away and makes for a harder time getting them going. His trays now reside on a shelf among the rest of our shelves of work. He can access them any time during the day, and if I am not busy giving a lesson or presentation to one of the other children, and he wants to work, I direct my attention his way and give him that focused time. A few more minor changes are coming, but I will share about those in future posts.

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