Tuesday, October 29, 2013

School Day - New Math!

This weekend as I was preparing to present a new math lesson to Link, I realized that I needed to get Bumblebee going on math!  I used to have all kinds of things on the shelves - pink tower, brown stair, red rods, cylinder blocks - but I had to put them all up because Bumblebee was constantly making huge messes out of them.  But, he's ready to get presentations on these things, so I have to make room again!

Today I first attempted to give Link a presentation on the teens using the bead stair.  Right now he counts like this - 11,12,13,17,18,19,20.  He's very consistent, he always counts this way.  So I was trying to be very careful in this presentation so that he would learn it correctly.  After I presented 11, 12, and 13, he said "Can we stop this now?" 

So then I gave Bumblebee (who is 3 1/2) a presentation on the number rods.  He can already count pretty well to 10, don't ask me how.  This ended up being just the right difficulty for him.  He did not get it right the first time.  He had to move a few and fill in some spots, but he ended up getting it right in the end.  He was very enthusiastic and put it away when he was finished.

After that Link asked for a presentation on the number cards and counters.  I knew this would be an easy work for him, but he asked, which was great!  I wanted to use that time to talk about odd and even anyways, and it was good for Bumblebee to watch.   

Bumblebee was disappointed that he was not actually given a presentation and allowed to work with the counters.  I'm pretty sure he isn't quite ready.  He really, really wanted me to give him a presentation that involved beads.  So instead of the counters, I gave him a presentation on matching the bead stairs to number cards.  He did pretty well up to 3, but when he couldn't immediately tell which was 4 without counting, he started messing around.  Probably not ready for that one either.  Maybe counters would have been better after all :)

After that I could not convince Link to choose any more work as he was complaining about being hungry.  Bumblebee, on the other hand, chose to work with the geometric shapes for quite a while, building rockets I believe, but I was okay with that.  I went upstairs to make Link lunch and heard some bells ringing randomly as well.

That pretty much wrapped up our school "day" and only lasted about an hour.  After that my Aunt read probably every single letter book from the Sound Box Series.  I'll call that phonics for the day :)  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Stuck in a (Math) Rut

Why can't I wrap my head around Montessori Math?  It shouldn't be that hard.  Really.  But I tell myself, "I'm not a teacher by training, I'm not used to this sort of thing. "  Sometimes that makes me feel better, sometimes.

I have a manual.  It's pretty good.  It tells me what to do and when.  For some reason I am finding that its not enough.

I'm reading these posts and thinking, why don't I know more about this?!

I chose these because they either organize the primary math sequence or are referencing something from about a year ago, which is about where we should be.  We are not where we should be, probably because I'm not introducing the works correctly.

So MBT teacher organizes math into threads:

I divided the math up into what I call "threads."   My threads are:  linear counting, operations, memorization, fractions, and story problems/equation formats.  By the third year of primary the boys do 3-4 math works daily, each work from a different thread.  So, we don't get to every thread every day but we do get to every thread every week....Me Too is further behind him in the sequence.  So, on Monday he would choose counting a bead chain (linear counting.  spindle boxes, 100 board, teen boards, etc., are past works in this category), golden beads (operations), subtraction snake game (memorization).  On Tuesday Me Too might choose the subtraction finger board (memorization), counting a bead chain, and a packet of story problems.  He has not started fractions yet (he did the typical primary work, but I waited to start fraction equations until elementary).

We are even farther behind, since we are just doing the collective exercises.  But in this post, Me Too is still working on static division with the golden beads.  So, it seems like he has been doing the later collective exercises for some time.  (I don't want anyone to think I'm comparing my kids to other kids.  Its not that.  I'm just using other kids as a rough guide to figure out where I should be heading.)  

In the free Montessori By Hand album that I use it says to wait to do the Teens and Tens until we are into the collective exercises a bit.  I would not say that we are since we've only just done addition.  So I feel like I'm stuck with only the addition collective exercise.  Should I also be on some other thread?

My other big problem - setting the work up so that it can be done independently.  Shoot, I can't get him to do it with me, much less without me!

**Edited to Add**
I'm thinking of buying the Montessori R&D album  or the Keys of the Universe albumhoping one has more information than my Montessori By Hand album.  Can anyone who has any of these say if that would be helpful or not?

**Edited Again to Add**
Ok, I'm starting to get see my problem - I'm just slow :)  I am not into the collective exercises much, but Link is still ready to start the "Linear Counting" thread (or Group 3 from MBH).  First that means the Short Bead Stair.  Link was probably ready for this a long time ago, but I've been holding off because I haven't gotten far into the collective exercises (which is my fault for having a hard time presenting them.)  I got some help from MBT that should make this go better.  She left a great comment on how she does these exercises with one child.  

Math With One Child?

How do you do the beginning collective exercises with one child?  I feel like we're pushing it just doing it one time!  We made three people with me, Link and Bumblebee.  When we did static addition, Link was like "Yeah yeah, we added them up, is that it?"  So are there any variations I can do to encourage him practice this? Or should I just move on? 

I also felt like it was rather cumbersome to have all those number cards out!  We didn't do one large set and three small ones.  I just did one large and one small, and chose the numbers carefully.  

Saturday, October 5, 2013

School Days

We seem to have found a rhythm for school, which unfortunately doesn't include a whole lot of school! 

On Monday's we go to Classical Conversations.  Link does not participate in the memory work (I figured he wouldn't) but he does like doing art and playing with his classmates after lunch.  He participates in the map games, but I'm not sure how much he is picking up.  You may wonder why we are still doing it if he's not actually doing the memory work.  I think there are other things that he's picking up, soft skills I guess you'd say.  The kids all do a little presentation during snack.  He's gradually getting comfortable enough to speak.  At first he would tell me what to say and I would tell his class.  After about four times, he actually spoke himself with me right beside him.  Then he turned to me and said "that wasn't that hard!"  His presentation consisted of about five sentences and answering a few leading questions from his tutor.  He's learning to listen to his classmates and ask questions about their presentations.  His favorite part is eating lunch and playing afterwards.  I think of it like a really big play date :)  He needs the interaction with other kids and I have a hard time providing that.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we are at home.  My main goal for those days is to do some kind of phonics and math.  If we manage more, that's great, but I try to make that my minimum.  We alternate between doing Montessori sound boxes and Happy Phonics games.  I thought it was funny that most of the beginning suggestions for learning the sounds in Happy Phonics were all Montessori activities.  So we were already doing those.  Happy Phonics just provides some games that we can play too.  For math, we have been doing the Bank Game and the Exchange Game with our Montessori golden beads.  I found this post about combining Montessori math exercises and it really hit home with me.  Link was getting burnt out doing things over and over, but he really needs more practice.  Switching things up a bit and adding dice helped for a little while.  Then we had to take a break.  He is still having a hard time understanding what exactly happens with the magic slide and has to have the number broken down.  I know he needs more practice so I keep holding off on the collective exercises.  Unfortunately that means he is loosing interest as he doesn't like doing the same thing for more than a few days.

The extra things that I try to add on those days are where Charlotte Mason comes in :)  That means I'm reading some stories, which all the boys love!  We are reading the Old Mother West Wind Series by Thornton Burgess and James Herriot's Treasury for Children.  We also go on nature walks and sometimes do some journaling.  I am occasionally able to throw in some Montessori geography with our land and water forms.  That usually ends with the boys making things with clay and playing with water :)  The boys were really interested in the map cabinet when we first got it, not so much now.  (Very oddly, they also aren't into the bells!)

You would think I'd have plenty of time to do these things every day, but its hard!  Little Beya has really thrown a wrench in our day :)  He cannot go in the school room anymore because he climbs out of his pack n' play.  So the only time we can go there is during his one hour nap.  Since we can't get all that we need to get done during that one hour, we do our math and phonics at the kitchen table now.

It also takes up a good bit of our day just trying to get Link to actually work.  My hope was that by using Montessori I'd have a very self motivated five year old.  I haven't done a very good job of implementing Montessori, so I can not blame the method!  Often I have to mention that we can't go to the park or some other fun thing if we haven't finished our work.  You may also be wondering why I keep saying "our work" or "I don't have time".  Well, that's because I have to do everything with Link. He will not work independently.

Ok, on Friday we do our Charlotte Mason co-op.  This is sooooo great!  We have about ten families and we do something different every Friday.  Yesterday was a field trip day. We visited an apple orchard off the Blue Ridge Parkway and the kids learned about pollination, bees, butterflies and other bugs.  They peeled apples, and ate them of course.  They sang folk songs and danced (not Link, but the others did.)  Then they went on a storytelling hayride (minus the hay).  After that we explored Linville Caverns.  On other Fridays we meet at a local park and alternate between the other CM subjects - Nature Study, Art/handicrafts and Artist Study, and Enrichment which includes hymns, poetry, composer study and recitation.  Our families total to about 30 people, with the kids ages ranging from 15 months to about 13 years old.  This has been such a great experience for us.  I get to hang out with adults and all my boys have some kids to play with!  The older kids are a great example for Link!

So that's our week.  I don't blog much about what we are doing because there really isn't much that is new.  I will however, wrap up this very wordy post with some pictures from our co-op field trip :)

Going down to the orchard
Peeling an apple
Just like his big brothers!
He was so tickled with his work!
Both of these boys were drawn to the bees!
He wasn't so sure of the cave, he was a little nervous about going in
In the bear hole :)
If there are rocks nearby, my boys have to climb them!