Monday, December 26, 2011

We Still Exist!

Just dropping in to say that we still exist.  We're "moved in" at my mom's until February.  So, school and blogging are on hold for a while.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Give Away over at "What DID we do all day?"

My Boys Teacher is hosting a giveaway from Alison's Montessori.  The prize looks pretty neat.

I think it would be a neat thing to have, and the concept sounds good.  I always wonder about things which are sold from a Montessori store, but are not classic Montessori equipment.  It'd be interesting to hear some thoughts from a Montessori teacher.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Working Unattended :)

I wasn't the most observant Montessori Instructor today :)  I was using the computer, which is in the school room and Link was doing his own thing.  At first he was just hanging out in the other room, but then I noticed him behind me, going through his new (and incomplete) /f/ box.

It's kinda funny how he progressed through his work today.  He found a piece of foam and thought it was like a sponge.  So, naturally, he thought it should go with some kind of water activity and put it with the whisking activity.  Then, he wanted to whisk, so I told him I'd find him a sponge.  Again, I wasn't paying a lot of attention to him at this point; he's pretty good at doing it by himself.  The next thing I knew, he was in the bathroom cleaning the toilet.  He was so enthusiastic about it, I had to be too!  Afterwards I cleaned his sponge and he went back to whisking.  Next thing I knew, he was cleaning the toilet again :)

It's very difficult for him to walk with the bowl full of water when he puts too much in it.  So, after I helped him clean all the water up, he surprised me by choosing the geometric solids!  I added the bases about a week ago, but haven't been able to give him a presentation on it.  I was about to jump in and ask if he wanted one, when he picked them up and started matching them up!  I decided that stopping his work to do a demonstration of something he obviously "got" would not be conductive to his continued use of the material.  So, I sat back and waited until he looked like he needed me.  Once he got out one of the stands, looked at it with confusion, and put it back, I asked if I could show him something neat.  So, I demonstrated how the ovoid wouldn't stand up on the tile by itself, but how it would on the stand.  Link was very into this.  He demonstrated for me how the others would either roll or fall over.  Then he spent a good bit of time building.  Since he wasn't hurting anything and was putting things together and experimenting, I just let him go at it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

School Day

We started the day out today with hammering!  Who could have thought this activity would be such a hit :) Surprisingly, Link chose to do a few works that he has not been interested in doing since I put them out.  But first, we painted.  He has been wanting to for a while, but he always asks towards the end of Bumblebee's nap, so I haven't been able to let him.  Today, he asked right away.  Since we were using non-washable acrylic paints I decided to take him to the garage :)  I painted his dressing frame boards and he painted a little boat.

Before Bumblebee woke up, Link washed his acorns and did some cutting and glueing.  The acorn washing is another example of him doing an activity simply because it has to do with water.  That was all we had time for, but it was a good two hours.  Then, for the next few hours, Link pretended to be a bird.  It really tickled Bumblebee, who kept trying to jump the way his brother was; it looked more like a skip.  I really could not think of a way to give the poor boy wings to "flap" as he requested.  I ended up using one of my long sleeve T-shirts, folded up so that I could stick my sleeves through his short sleeves.  It gave him something to flap and worked for him!

For some reason Bumblebee decided he needed to rest a bit this afternoon.  So Link wanted to go back to the schoolroom.  He did the push pin activity briefly.  Then I decided to do the cylinder blocks, two together.  He immediately asked if he could help and took over. They are so easy for him to do, but it is not a careful thing.  He tries each one in every hole, though I'm pretty sure he knows right where they go.  Once he realized that putting the really small ones in the really big holes makes you "loose" them, he wanted to do that over and over so that I could watch him laugh at the top of his lungs.  He is so rough with them I was afraid they wouldn't make it though their first use.  He used them to shoot, to squeeze his shirt, spun them around so he could reach the other side, banged them together and generally was not careful with them.

Then instead of choosing an activity, he wanted his coin box from the top shelf so he could take the money out to "help his brother".  I convinced him to put the coins back, on the condition that if Bumblebee cried, we would "rush back to the store and put that money in the little bucket to help Bumblebee".  (He put money in the bucket to "help people" today.)

After that, he wanted to read a book because he noticed that his reading chair was in the school room.  Is my child the only one who thinks that Peter Rabbit is scary?  After I got through the first page, he jumped out of his chair and said he didn't want to read it because it was scary and had "that naughty bunny" in it.  He is a very sensitive soul :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Getting Home & Getting to Work

We got home last night about 6:00.  As soon as we walked in the door, Link wanted to do some activities.  I managed to get him to eat a little dinner and wait until Bumblebee was in the bed, then we spend a good hour in the school room.  He wanted to hammer and whisk first.  Then I asked if he wanted to build something.  He decided to take three blocks from the brown stair out, built a "Brown Tower" and put it back.  He looked like he might use the cylinder blocks for about 2 seconds, then decided to cut some paper instead.  He showed Daddy his globes and told him all about them.  Then punched some holes.

I had to wrap it up so he could go to bed and he was out like a light.

We're working again today.  He's hammered and whisked again of course.  After that he needed to write and cut with his scissors.  I have been encouraging him to get his whisking activity out and ready by himself.  He needs a little reminding when it comes to putting it away, but I think he likes the fact that he is doing it all himself.  Plus, he gets to use the sink :)  For the first time in a while he got the beans out to sweep up.  He did a little sweeping, then used his hands to put them on the dust pan.  Pouring them back into the little cup was a cute challenge.  He said "oh, another mess" then cleaned up all the ones that didn't make it in using his broom to sweep the majority of them.  He repeated that process until they all made it into the little cup.

Link is funny about his work rugs. Sometimes he likes to choose a rug, then find an activity that fits that rug.  Today he wanted to do "a little one" so he chose the tree puzzle.  However, after he took the puzzle apart he decided it was too hard and his little rug would make a good cape.  I explained that if he wanted to play, we could put his school things away and go play.  He tried the tree puzzle  again, then pulled out the horse puzzle since he couldn't do the tree.  After finishing the horse I had to help with the tree so that he could put it away.  Then he was ready to go play with his cape!  I noticed the bowl and whisk were still missing, so I asked him to bring it back before going to play.

Bumblebee is awake, so I think we'll all color for a while.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

School Day

Since we've had our only school day this week, I figured I'd go ahead and wrap the week up :)  We're leaving tomorrow and will be gone for 10 days.  We made it to the school room yesterday for just a few works, but we've done some fun things outside of the school room that are worth mentioning.

Since we've got a lot of leaves falling around here, I thought it might be fun to get Link a child sized rake and let him go at it.  I also got him a garden hoe.  Little did I know, the hoe would be all the rage and the rake would get no attention at all.  Apparently little boys really like to whack on things, especially clods of dirt.

Monday was our school day.  Link chose to do all of his sound boxes.  Its time to switch the b and c boxes out, but it'll have to wait until after Thanksgiving.  Then he wanted to try the new push pin activity.  He really liked it and wanted to show his whole family what he'd made :)

This is the activity I tried making while he was working on other things, but he ended up joining me by cutting up a ton of felt.  So, of course, he decided that one of the brown strips needed to be smaller, and he had to cut it up before he could pin the pieces.  He was quite proud and wanted to have me take a picture after they were all in.

This may sound like a silly question, but I wonder with activities like this if I should go back later and take all the pins out and "reset" the activity, or let him do it next time?  With the golf tees and Styrofoam I just leave them because he still has plenty.  But with this, he's about out of space, push pins and shapes.  He doesn't really like taking his stuff apart and would probably just add to it.  But, I think if it was a clean slate, he'd get more use out of it.  I guess I'll have to wait and see if he will take it apart :)

Once he was finished with the push pin patterns, he asked about something new I'd added.  I made a bag of 20 blocks, 10 cubes and 10 rectangular prisms.  I used one of Daddy's winter hats as a "blindfold".  I tried starting the presentation, but had to stop in order to answer questions about why I didn't want to see.  Then, once I started again, he noticed that I was feeling the blocks the same way we do the geometric solids and decided to pull them out.  I am pretty sure I didn't handle his diversion correctly.  I really wish I knew how to handle things like this, I never know if I should redirect him, or just let him go.  Anyways, I asked if he'd like to do the geometric solids or if he wanted a presentation.  He decided to put the geometric solids back, but then didn't want to sit through the presentation either.  He decide he wanted to do some stamping.  That lasted about 1 minute, because he needed to go to the bathroom.  While he was in there, he noticed the step stool I'd moved to the room so that he could reach the water.  He immediately wanted to do some activity which required him getting water :)  Since I'd just added a whisking activity, I suggested that one.  For some reason, I didn't get any pictures of him whisking, just some of him drying his tools when he was finished.

No, the ladle was not part of the activity.
He saw it and decided he needed to make soup and pizza.
That was all we did in the school room.  However, during lunch he did get another practical life work in.  I pulled out a small pitcher and a shot glass for Bumblebee to drink water at lunch and Link decided he needed to help.  He would pour his brother some water, then wait for him to drink it, so he could pour some more.  It was so sweet :)  

Since he seemed to enjoy pouring with the pitcher, today I pulled out the one I was using for rice not that long ago.  I was thinking of using both with water, but he saw the rice before dinner and wanted to try it.

Bumblebee saw me taking pictures and started saying "Cheeeeese"
so I had to include him in the photo shoot :)
So that's it for this week.  We'll be back in about two weeks!

Friday, November 11, 2011

School Days

We made it "into" the school room twice this week.  That really just means that on the other days we did activities that were not on the shelves, but these two days Link actually chose something from the shelves to do.

I introduced the Continents Globe and the Map of the World Parts.  Link took to this presentation very well.  He also chose to look at his sound boxes.  I think the only thing that is drawing him to the sound boxes is the book that is in each one.  I think that was all we did that day.  He's not that interested in the other works and we haven't had as much time because Bumblebee's naps have been getting shorter.

The next day Link wanted to paint his bus.  I found this little wooden bus at Wal-Mart for like 98 cents.
Painting the lights

He gave a commentary on what he was doing...
making a road, power lines, and little foot prints from walking ;)

The finished product.

 When he finished painting he wanted to do his map and globe again.  He only wanted the sandpaper globe for me to use.  He also did not want to do this on a rug.  It had to be the table, which is probably better anyways since his knees always end up on the material.

He wanted to match up the pieces to the corresponding continent on the globe.

I added the /e/ box, but it only has an elephant and an egg... kinda sad.  I also have the envelope in there with the pictures from the alphabet photo library.   Right now I have the c, d, and e boxes on the shelves.

Below is the activity I've been working on.  I originally thought it would be a good replacement for a hammer and tack set.  But, I don't think hammering the little push pins would last long.  Link almost always does things the easy way.  (For example, if it is easier to pick up acorns with his hands than it is to use the spoon, then thats what he'll do.)  I am hoping it will at least be fun and help his pincer grasp.  The idea is the same as the hammer and tack set, but uses push pins instead of nails.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bumblebee and the Rest of the House

I often feel like my little Bumblebee gets neglected.  Link and I tend to do school activities while he is sleeping.  I've not been brave enough to allow him in the school room.  Part of it is that I'm not at a point where I trust Link to use the materials in the room appropriately without my supervision.  And, more than likely, if I were to try bringing Bumblebee to the school room, my attention would be primarily focused on keeping him from messing in things that aren't appropriate.  I'm just not ready!

BUT, he sort of is :)  He is at least ready to start drawing with us.  Today I finally brought him down to the basement and moved the little table out of the school room.  He had a ton of fun!  However, he was finished quickly and since this part of the house isn't baby-proof yet, we had to return upstairs.  I am really not sure at what point I should start bringing him into the school room.  I don't want to hold him back, but I also don't want for him to spend the entire time getting into things and taking so much of my attention that Link is left hanging....

Poor child also stays in his PJs most of the day :)

I want to talk about how the rest of the house is set up for the boys.  We essentially have three floors.  Upstairs we have two bedrooms, one for the boys and one for guests.  The boys' room is huge!  I think you could put six kids in there if they wouldn't drive each other crazy :)  The main floor has the kitchen, dining room, a small living room and the master bedroom.  In the basement we have what will one day be the family room (when we get some furniture) and the school room.

The boys' room is mainly Bumblebee's territory.  I have toys in here that are for both boys, but some of Link's toys wouldn't be safe in here, so they are in the guest room. (There aren't many, mainly some legos that are not Duplo)
This is our reading chair.  Books in the basket are board books only.
Paper paged books are on the dresser.

There is a little activity center in the corner.

And the play table in the middle, against the wall.
I try to keep vehicles under the table, or in the closet :)

I also try, unsuccessfully, to keep Bumblebee off of the table.

He can reach just fine, I don't know why he likes it up there so much.
Then across the room, in the middle is Bumblebee's toy shelf.  To each side of the shelf is a closet for each boy.  I will not be taking pictures of those!  Try as I might, they stay a mess.

I have found that Bumblebee is much more content in his room when he has just a few toys out.  I also found that storing them in the closet meant they rarely got switched out.  Having them out where I can see them helps me to rotate them when I see that something isn't getting used much.

Honestly, Link doesn't have a whole lot of toys out right now.  In his closet I have some boxes on the floor for sorting toys.  He has one for his fireman gear, one for tools and one for vehicles.  These are all okay if Bumblebee gets into them, it just helps keep the room from being too full of clutter.  He used to have a ton of Duplo Legos, but they weren't getting a lot of use, so I put them all away.

I try to keep most of the boys' toys in their room.  However, they usually want to be on the same floor as me, so this doesn't happen.  In an effort (mostly failed) to keep the toys out of the living room, dining room and kitchen, I have designated an area in the master bedroom for them to have some toys.

Again, these are mainly for Bumblebee.
We bought the boys some massive construction equipment, which is parked to the right of all of this.  Its too messy to take a picture of.  There are also a few things for cooking and some tools.  That area is mainly for Link.  The boys play in our bedroom in the mornings, while I cook, clean, and do other uninteresting things on the main floor.

Link used to play in the basement by himself, but has since developed a little bit of separation anxiety, or something....  I don't know what you call it, but he has to be on the same floor as me and has to know where I am at all times.  Anyways, we have some shelves in the basement where I put his books and a few toys so that we could play down there and have access to his books during Bumblebee's nap.

You've seen the school room - its kinda narrow, a little crowded, and has no natural light.  Since we don't have furniture in the "family room" it seems like a natural place to do school work.  There is great natural light and plenty of space.  You may have noticed above that both tables are out there now.  I am still trying to figure out how to best use this space.  I don't want the shelves out in the family room and it is just next door... so I'm hoping that he'll be able to flow from one activity to the next since he has to take them back to the shelves when he is finished.  Moving the table out will also give me some more space for shelves, since for some reason I seem to be running low.  Does it make sense to have the shelves in one room and the table in the next room?  Will Link be less likely to choose works if he is not surrounded by them? I guess we'll see!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Doing Work (Picture Heavy!)

We haven't had a lot of school time this past week, but we have gotten some work done.  Before our company arrived Link helped me assemble his new table.  Well, actually, he helped me assemble the stool, then said I could do the rest.  Before starting he helped me sort the hardware and count to make sure we had all the pieces.

First, he walked around and around turning the wrench.

Then he decided to try sitting down, but it was hard.

He figured out how to get some leverage :)
We didn't really go to the school room for these activities.  We just did them, then when we were finished I put them in the school room.   I know this is a lot of pictures of the same activity, but I love the faces he makes!

This is why we needed a new table, the little one would have been way to small!

He had to get his tape measure out, because that's what Little Bear does when he's building.
He tried taking them out with his pliers, but it didn't work as well as his fingers.

You know you need to make some marks so you get it right...

This hammer is "real" and works much better.  It also looks like Daddy's.

So that new activity has been a total hit.  He does it every day.  I also tried a new one using a slotted spoon and some acorns we picked up at the park the previous time we had company.  This is one of those times when I wonder if I should be demonstrating more, or just standing back.
 He pours in the water and stirs them up a bit.  Then starts trying to scoop.  I told him the process, but did not demonstrate.  He does things so ambidextrously that I don't know how to show him!  I was hoping it would just come naturally.
He dropped a few, then switched hands. As you can see, he really wasn't sure of the best way to hold the spoon either.  But, it was working, so I just waited.
 He seemed to get more comfortable at the end.  I think he did it this way pretty successfully.
Then he dried a few.  After about five, he said I could dry the rest.  I helped and he put them in the cup. This one will stay on the shelf until he has cleaned then a few times.  Then we'll use the acorns for other things.

Oh, and the suspenders are his "worker man" attire.  He wears them for part of the day almost every day.  Its either suspenders, or his fireman outfit :)

During all of this I sometimes try to prepare things in the school room or read up on my presentations.  Often, preparing anything distracts him from his work.  I was trying to cut shapes out of felt, and so of course he had to help.

He loves cutting and I don't think he's had a chance to try cutting felt.  So I gave him some and he told me he was making an activity for me :)