Sunday, June 30, 2013

Summer Break

We had two great weeks of school, then we had company for two weeks!  Now we have to get back in our grove (and I need to get my house cleaned!)  I'm also working on getting my bells on the shelf.  I am almost finished making the "board" for the bells (out of felt) but I forgot to get black, so I have to go back to the store.  I am finding that shelf space is becoming an issue, and I don't even have much out yet.  (I cleared the shelves and started fresh.)  Each time I think I have a system of organizing the shelves, I have to move something.  I'm sure it wreaks havoc on my kids sense of order!

I am also feeling the need to revisit my scope & sequence.  I am scared that I'm missing something.  I plan on adding a tab for Bumblebee as well since I need to get him started at the beginning.  He had gotten so used to seeing the pink tower, red rods, brown stairs, and cylinder blocks that he had a tendency to either ignore them or abuse them.  I'm hoping if I wait a while to get them out, they'll be like new again.  They weren't out for him before, they were out for Link.  You would think that the beginning Montessori works would be less stressful for me, but they aren't!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Material Delivery & Misusing vs Abusing Materials

It is always interesting to the boys when a box is delivered.  It is almost impossible for me to get a package without the boys knowing and wanting to see what it contains.  So, when new school materials arrive they usually help me unpack them.  It gives them a chance to handle the material, check it out, and "sensorially explore" it.  But I wonder, how much of this "sensorially exploring" should I allow for Bumblebee?  I have explained that this particular work is for Link, but he is naturally very curious about it.    I wanted to take a nice picture to show off the new material, but I haven't been able to pull him away.  As you can see from the pictures above, he is "misusing" the materials but not really "abusing" them.

Feeling how big the thousands cube is.
Noticing that he can make a cube out of the hundreds.
Moving the units to the cups.
Pouring the units back in the box.

Matching the hundreds to the top of the thousand cubes.

Sliding the tens down the hundred boards.
The things he is doing in the pictures above all seem very innocent.  But should I allow it to continue?  Check out the video... I was going to stop him here, but then he starting using the hundreds to fill in a hole in the middle of the thousands, and I thought that might be okay.  He told his brother, "I'm building squares."  

He made a new arrangement, and was very pleased with himself.  I showed him how to put them back, and he did for a while, then said "No, I want to stack."  He proceeded to stack up all the hundreds that would fit under the shelf.  Honestly, he never spent this much time with the pink tower or brown stairs. I guess they weren't new enough.  (That's why they are put away for now.)

In the end he was willing to put them all back right, but had a hard time getting them to fit.  With help, he finished up and we went to make donuts!

Soooo, anyone have any thoughts on this?  Should I allow him to explore materials as long as he doesn't abuse them?

Leaf Rubbings & Repeating Works

I think I've mentioned a few times that Link doesn't really like to repeat works.  Well, now I'm starting to think I just didn't have the right work for him! A few days ago I decided to make him a nature journal for collecting leaf rubbings, drawings and pressed flowers.  We watched a video on how to do leaf rubbings and it really peaked his interest.

First we spent a good bit of time making notebooks.  I got the idea from Counting Coconuts, but decided to use my new binding machine so that we could add pages and so that it would lay flat.  Link was so excited that he didn't want to wait for the rain to stop.

Leaves from the yard.

Decorating his nature journal.

Rubbing the leaves.

In the video, she used copier paper to make the rubbings, then taped them into her journal.  Link could rub his directly into his book, but that would take away the fun of the taping :)    He did a few directly onto pages, but then he decided to cut them out and use the neat little tape dispenser that I bought just like the one in the video.

I am trying to teach him about taking notes about what he sees.  So I ask him questions to give him ideas, then ask him what he wants to write.  He dictates very specifically what he wants.

We finished making the books late in the day.  Even though it was late I decided to let him do some rubbings.  The next day, he wanted to do more!  I have a feeling this is one work that he'll repeat often, especially when we start collecting leaves on our morning nature walks.  (So far he has just done the trees in the yard.) 

We also pressed some flowers, just like in this video.  I'm sure Link will enjoy gluing those into his journal as well.  

I have noticed that he likes watching videos of things before we do them.  Its almost like it gives the process more credibility.  I may have to think about doing that with some of the Montessori presentations, then following them up with an identical presentation from me.  

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Purchasing Bells

My newest dilemma is bells. I'm so irritated with myself for not doing this a year ago as I had planned, when it would have cost me $30, plus about $10 for paint. I had printed my coupon, confirmed inventory at the store and everything. I just didn't make the time to do it. Now Hobby Lobby doesn't carry them and they are $50 each (I need two) plus shipping everywhere else.  **Edited to add** I just found this set for $35 with free shipping!**

So to make them would now cost ~$120. Not to mention the time I would invest taping and painting 16 bells. I could scream!  $40 if I had done it when Hobby Lobby had them!!  It may seem crazy, but now I'm at the point where I think this $190 set of Montessori bells would be my best bet.  So I've gone from spending $40 to (thinking of) spending $190. Nice job slow poke!!

So, roughly $120 for homemade bells or $190 for Montessori bells?   Hmm, they look so nice... But, I have no experience with this company, nor have I heard of any other bloggers buying from them.
If I made them, I think I would get the desk version since they are the same price as the handbells.  I'd want them to use mallets since I think my kids are not normalized enough to not go crazy shaking them.

Is it worth it?  Should I even do the bells now that its going to cost me so much?  ....... I think so.  Link will hopefully be starting piano lessons in the fall and I know he'd get some of this there.  But I don't have a piano (he'll have to practice down the road) and I want him to get as much experience with it as possible.

When I explained to my husband that I was thinking of painting the bells to save $70, he insisted that I get the montessori bells.  So I did!!  They'll only take a month or two to get here :)

Two of the bell sets don't match.  I'll update when I hear from the company :)

Well I contacted the company about 3 months ago, and never got a response.  Guess I'm stuck with bells that don't match :(

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Creating a Scope & Sequence

During my hiatus I was having difficulty wrapping my head around how I would implement Montessori for Link full scale.  Up until now, it has been very hit or miss, and I knew needed to have a consistent flow of materials and new works into the school room.  I was a little very stressed out about it, lost faith in my ability to homeschool my boys, and ended up over-doing things a bit :)

Since then I have discovered that my main problem was the lack of a scope & sequence for our work.  I was overwhelmed when I opened one of my seven albums and saw a list of hundreds of presentations for each subject!  Then, often I would think to myself "My boys aren't going to like this" or "I don't have the materials to do this" or "That's way too complicated."  I would skim the book, find one or two things to do, then set my shelves up.  But the next week I felt like I was back at square one, wondering what I should do next!

That usually leads to me browsing blogs and collecting files and ideas.  I have a huge folder on my computer full of things I have found while browsing.  It had gotten to where I didn't know what I had or where it came from.  As I was going through my hoard this week I found a few scope & sequence files and thought "Hey, that would be useful!"  In some cases the TOC was the scope & sequence.  I didn't know where some of them came from, but here are the ones that I found the source for:

Maitri Learning - Planning Book/Record Keeping (3 to 6+ Curriculum)
MOTEACO - Albums for ages 3-6
Montessori By Hand - Meg's free albums (you have to be a member)
Montessori Research and Development - Early Childhood Albums TOC
Montessori Primary Guide - Math Presentations

First I took the Maitri learning list and deleted 90% of the list, until I felt like I had something manageable.  But still, I felt like something was missing - cohesion and flow.  So I went to the Montessori R&D TOC.  These seemed very manageable, as long as I had the presentations to go along with them.  So I started looking through my albums and found that I did have some, or at least access to them in some way.   But I wasn't crazy about my selection for Botany and Zoology.  Link is 5 years old, so he's at the tail end of the primary period.  So for him I've really been wanting Geography, Culture, Math, Botany, Zoology and Language.  Meg only has a free album for Math.   I have all of Karen Tyler's albums, but they don't have all that I was looking for. So what did I do?

I made a scope and sequence using the Montessori R&D albums TOC for Geography, Botany and Zoology. Then I went through Gettman's book, pulling what I felt was missing.  I used Meg's math album TOC for math.  I discovered that Jessica, at Keys of the World, has albums that cover ages 3-12, and bought her Zoology and Botany "Keys" albums.  (I also bought her music album based on advice from MBT in the comments of this post).**Edited to add** I'll use the KotU Botany and Zoology for Elementary, and Karen Tyler's for primary**  I sold my Math-U-See materials on eBay and purchased the Golden Bead Material.  I still plan to use my Logic of English curriculum, but to also do Montessori works to supplement.  (at this point that includes sandpaper letters & sound boxes)    I have a plan and I feel better!   We will still be doing Classical Conversations, but mainly for the chance to hang out with other kids.  I don't have a play group and I don't know anyone in the area with kids around the same age.  We'll see how we like it and decide if we want to continue it next year. There is also a chance that we'll be joining a Charlotte Mason group.  Its a mixed age group that meets once a week for "enrichment" or nature study.  I really hope that works out!

My scope and sequence is a work in progress since I don't have my Keys of the World albums yet.  I also have not finished going through all of my Karen Tyler books yet.  But, I thought I'd post it anyways.  It is linked directly to my copy, so as I change mine, this one will be changed as well.  (I guess that doesn't help you if you download it before I am finished)

You can download it here.

So that's where I'm at!  Stay tuned for our work plan preview!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Presentations for Little Brother!

This morning I was sitting at the boys' table doing some reading (and shopping for bead materials) when Link decided to give his little brother a presentation.  Check it out!!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Busy Boys

For a while I'm sure it seemed as though we'd all disappeared.  We've been very busy though, which is part of the reason I haven't had time for blogging (not that I have more time now).  I thought I'd share a few photos of what the boys have been up to.  Haven't they gotten big!!

At the library

Link's new bow

Play dough color mixing

You may notice the half painted fence in the picture below.  Boy, that is a time consuming project!!!  We have only been in our house for a few years, now its time to stain the fence and porches for the first time.  I never realized how long that fence is!!!
Big enough to help in the yard

I built three raised beds with a little help from the boys.  Then we planted blueberries, blackberries and strawberries.  We have a lot of rabbits, so we had to have a little fence around the strawberries with a removable front.

Removing the bunny barrier

Bumblebee watering blueberries

Bumblebee and Beya have enjoyed going to story time at the library.  We always have to stop and play with the puzzles and legos while we are there.
At the library

Sheet fort!

Blurry, super fast baby Beya

Bringing me the "flower" he picked for me

Looking for strawberries

Beya looking for blackberries

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Montessori Math vs. Math-U-See

Remember I said I bought Math-U-See (in a moment of weakness)  because it had a step by step set of lessons.  Well, I guess I had forgotten about Meg's albums and Gettman, because now that I'm going through them, they do have a "list" of lessons.  But, its done, I've already spent the money ($158) on Math-U-See, now I need to make it work as much as possible for now.  However, I will have to spend an additional $73 each year if I stay with it.

I'm going to go through the Math-U-See lessons and see how they compare to Meg's albums.  Since I'm using Meg's albums as my primary Montessori Math resource, I guess it would have made more sense to use her groupings.  I'll just start with group two:

Group 2: Decimal System and Operations
  • Bead Presentation
  • Presentation with Cards
  • Formation of Numbers with Beads and Cards 
  • Collective Exercises
    • Addition 
    • Subtraction 
    • Multiplication 
    • Division 
    • Division with Bows 
  • Stamp Game
    • Orientation 
    • Addition 
    • Subtraction 
    • Multiplication 
    • Division

Math-U-See is similar in some respects.  It uses manipulatives and starts out (after learning everything that is also in Meg's group 1) with Unit Bars.  Here is the TOC starting with lesson 11 from Math-U-See:
11. Unit Bars
12. Addition: Introduction and Symbolism
13. Addition +1
14. Counting to 20
15. Addition: 2+2 and 3+3; Vertical Addition
16. Shapes: Squares; Addition: 4+4 and 5+5
17. Skip counting by 2
18. Addition of Tens
19. Skip Counting by 10
20. Addition of Hundreds
21 Solving for an Unknown

22 Skip Counting by Five

23 Tally Marks

24 Addition: Making 10

25 Skip Count to Find Area

26 Telling Time with Minutes

27 Telling Time with Hours

28 Telling Time with Minutes and Hours
29 Subtraction: Introduction and Symbolism
30 Subtraction: –1

It looks like the two methods are covering very similar material.  Honestly, I like the Montessori way better, except for having to spend so much on the bead material. In my next post I'll really get into how much I'd have to spend, but right now I need to figure out if I'm okay with Math-U-See.  My main gripe with Math-U-See comes down to one thing - WORKSHEETS!

Concepts are taught with the blocks, then the child is supposed to practice using worksheets.  There are about 400 pages in his workbook!

More Math Materials

I'm 95% sure that I'm going to be doing Montessori Math this year.  Since I have Math-U-See I'll use it as much as Link wants, just to see how he and I like it.  So now I have to figure out what materials to get and from where.

Here is what MBT has determined that you need:
  • the Decanomial Bead Bar Box
  • the Elementary Negative Snake Game
  • the Complete Bead Material
  • Forty-five Golden Bead Units
  • Forty-five Golden or Wooden Hundred Squares
  • 9 or 45 wooden 1000 cubes (one golden cube comes in the complete bead material)
From IFIT, this is what that would cost (it was a few dollars off from free shipping):

In the comments, someone mentioned that all they needed was this:
the Intro to Decimal System
the Decimal Quantity,
the 100 chain and
the 1000 chain
the short bead stair and bead chains,
the decanominal box.
wood base 10 blocks

Below is actually what she said, and I extrapolated.  I wasn't exactly sure what she meant by "wood base 10 blocks" so I guessed.

What I've done/decided to do is buy the Intro to Decimal System and Decimal Quantity, the 100 chain and the 1000 chain from one of the discount supplier. Then I made the short bead stair and bead chains, but I made them in the Math U See colors because that is what the elementary kids use. The Math U See blocks are like plastic base 10 blocks, but each quantity is a different color (a unit is green, a 5 bar is light blue, etc.)
I bought the starter set of Math U See (and am going to buy the completer set) so that is basically the decanominal box. Then I have wood base 10 blocks for the rest of the golden bead material. (I got them from a local teacher supply store when they were having their 25% off sale.)

That way, I haven't spent TOO much money, and I haven't had to spend TOO much time building my own, and then my own preschool aged children ease right into Math U See.
This is what that would look like, from A Plus Montessori:

What I need to know is how long will this last me?  Will I end up needing more later?  If so, what will I need later?

I also noticed this set from Adena (for $77+$16 for shipping), which looks like it would work all the way through the Group 2 work, but not through the other bead work:
This set includes three kinds of materials :
beads: 100 unit beads, 45 bars of 10, 45squares of 100,9 cubes of 1000
containers: 2 wooden boxes, 3 wooden trays and 4 brown cups
cards: set of 2 small number cards 1-9000 and one set of large number cards 1-9000

Then there is this from IFIT for $230+$60 shipping:  (also from KidAdvance for $242 total)

There are other math materials that I will need to buy, regardless of what bead material I get.  I don't need it all right now, but I do need some of it.  The prices look like this from A Plus Montessori:

If I got the KidAdvance set plus a Teens &Tens board, then for $295 I could make it through Group 2.  That sounds reasonable to me.  Then again, if I don't buy the full set now and wait until next year, then I will be wasting ~$68.  If I get MBT set, then I also need the Teens & Tens board and number cards.  As much as I hate it, I'm going to have to get a cabinet for the bead materials too.

$295 now, then $584 (KidAdvance) = $879
$838 now (IFIT)

Since its not that much of a difference, I'm going to have to go with the smaller purchase!

Not that I can compare directly, but on this post from MBT, she says that Me Too is gearing up for the snake game.  A year ago he was doing the collective exercises, so maybe Group 2 would take about a year.

Now I just need to figure out if there are any other materials from either math or the other subjects that I need to get while I have free shipping!

**Edited to Add**
Just realized that I don't need the Teens & Tens board yet!  That's in the next group!  But, I may need the stamp game.