We are a family with three 'wee winkles' exploring the pleasures and perils of educating at home using Scripture, Montessori and a lot of love!

Monday, 28 March 2011

Weather Calendar

I have been meaning to post this for ages and keep forgetting!
We did a weather calendar as we began learning about seasons. I thought I might do a couple more through the year in order to demonstrate the differences between the seasons but next time we will do the calendar for about two weeks as that was long enough to exhaust Lamb's attention as you can see from the calendar...when the Mummy drawings start to appear again...
I printed out some summertime pictures which we cut out and glued on...well I cut and he glued then we documented the weather. This is the first time I have ever guided anything he has been drawing and noticed through doing this that suns began to appear in his drawing a lot!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Winter snowflakes

Through all of the stories and discussion about seasons over the last little while Lamb has developed a keen interest in snowflakes. It might be a little while before we can easily get to an area of snow so we made some.
First the glue
Then some wool
and some glitter
Winter snowflakes
Cherry did one too and was quite enamoured by the glitter!

Summer sun

So the idea was to paint a large sun, something easy that both children could be involved in. 
Then I thought we could dunk chickpeas into paint and stick them to the centre to create a textured effect and that was the beginning of the end.
One must strap a 17 month old child down when painting for a start and one cannot expect a three year old child to stick to the plan when the smaller person is giggling her head off while covered in paint.
The result was this...
Nothing like the sun I had envisaged. We had paint EVERYWHERE but they loved it!!!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Cherry's practical life

It's a little bit trickier with the smaller one of the bunch but Cherry is almost seventeen months and is responsible for getting her own shoes when we are to leave the house and putting them away again. She gets her own hat when playing outside and will happily partake in 'clean up' time dutifully singing her version of the clean up song that I made up.
I gave Cherry her own bowl and spoon at fifteen months and within the month she was feeding herself completely independently. She has a turn brushing her teeth once I have finished and 'combs her hair' in the mornings and after a bath.
She has just started pulling a chair into the kitchen when Lamb is in there helping me with something so I guess she will soon be mixing along with her brother.

Lamb's practical life

One of the things that really spoke to me about the Montessori method was the inclusion of practical life activities.
It is something that we have naturally incorporated into Lamb's life to encourage independence but when Maria Montessori wrote about the validation of the child by giving them 'real' work...well I really got that.
I want to document what Lamb is doing for himself at various stages in his development in the same way that I want to know about his language or math development...truthfully because I fear taking over and doing everything for Cherry because it's 'easier' and I am holding myself accountable!

Lamb is 3 years and 3 months.
He is responsible for brushing his teeth, washing his face and getting dressed in the morning (I still sit in the room with him when he gets dressed in case he needs 'instant' help). He is of course completely independant when it comes to toileting.
Lamb loves to wash dishes so he washed the breakfast dishes a few times a week.
He is also responsible for picking up his toys. This particularly relates to his animals and cars of which there are many. He likes to play with them on the couch and should he leave one or both lots out the whole lounge room is strewn with small things that one sits down on or stands on. He seems to understand that they are his things and therefore his mess. If Cherry has several things out at once he will tell her that there is too much mess and helpfully pack up what she isn't using (not all of the time of course and not always with Cherry's approval).
In a cupboard by the dining room table we have a dustpan and brush that he chose himself that is for his table mess from cutting bits of paper or dropping little bits of playdough or after a meal.
Lamb sets the table most nights. I put all of the necessary things in a basket on the chair and he places them in where they ought to go.
He also loves to 'spray and wipe' so has a cloth and 'squirty' bottle either for tables and surfaces or windows and mirrors.
In the kitchen we do several things each week that vary of course but typical things include chopping fruit to make smoothies, squeezing lemon juice to make hummus, mixing and cracking eggs when baking, buttering his own bread, making his own hot chocolate in the mornings. Most of these things require him to bring over a chair to stand at the bench with me so Cherry has started getting involved in that too.
Lamb also loves to be outside so is happy to 'weed' the garden with me or take clippings and put them into the compost or green waste bin.

Preparing the environment

With enormously limited space I have done the best I can to create a Montessori environment for Cherry and Lamb. We have one little lounge room so all of the books that were on the bookshelf have gradually found new homes so that I have some shelf space.
In the top left corner we have a pouring exercise: I wasn't too sure how Cherry would go with this so we have started with chickpeas (something easier to pick up than say rice), the next cubby over has our felt leaves, ladybirds and laminated numbers for our introduction to sums in a basket and the sandpaper letters, the third cubby on the top shelf has a tray with sandpaper numbers, some cards with images in different quantities and a little container of buttons for counters, the cubby on the right has a box of homemade colour grading cards that I got from Montessori print shop and a puzzle map of Australia.
The bottom shelf has a numbers puzzle, a basket of animal pictures for classifying according to genus or where they live and the felt mat that I made currently holding a felt puzzle for the seasons. The two baskets hold Cherry's cloth nappies and wipes and things and the cubby on the right has board books. I separated the board books from the page books when Cherry was learning how to treat books so that she knew which ones were hers and they have stayed separate.
On top there are the geometric solids that I made with cards for sorting (also from Montessori print shop).
To the left of the cubby on the floor is a basket of animals and to the right is a set of stacking cubes.
Lamb has a basket of cars tucked next to the couch and there is another basket with things better suited to Cherry (stacking rings and the like).
We also have a shelf in a cupboard for mostly art related supplies.
Texters, crayons, chalk and pencils in little boxes that are easy for Lamb to get out. A container with playdough and cutters and things. A basket with our homemade geometric insets. Paints and paintbrushes. A container with scrap paper for collage. The magnets set is in here so that Cherry can't get to it being as that it has little ball magnets that she could easily choke on. And a document file that has plain and coloured paper, a pocket with stickers and colouring books(that Lamb never chooses).

We also have a moveable alphabet and a set of cuisenaire rods but they are currently in a spot that Cherry can't access...until she is old enough not to pull things out for a five second look that takes me an absurd period of time to clean up, or until she can carry things without dropping or mixing them up.

I also commandeered some wall space with a homemade seasons wheel and a learning clock that I picked up from Aldi (it does work so once we've gone through the motions of learning with me changing the positioning of the hands I might pop the batteries in).
I made the day and month chart out of a white board that I no longer use. I sewed a square of fabric with two little pockets in the front and made up cards for the days and months in English and French. They all have velcro dots on the back so that Lamb can take them off and put the new ones on as we need to. I just put this up yesterday so my plan is to take a quick look at this each morning. Lamb knew the days of the week in both languages by two years old but I haven't taught him the months yet and it's more about the routine of it helping him to connect with the passage of time.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Spring Flowers Craft

As part of our work with seasons and times I plan to do a little craft for each of the seasons. We did the autumn tree for autumn and now some flowers for spring.
We glued paper muffin liners onto our paper, put a little glue in the centre then carefully sprinkled some glitter and swizzeled it with our fingers. I drew two stems with leaves. Lamb drew one but it hasn't really come out in the photo. The little brown squiggle on one of the leaves is a caterpillar, oh and we glittered up the bee that I drew for him as well. Lamb did this completely independently once I told him what the plan was.

Geometric Solids Update

Lamb with the geometric solids I made...

I thought the whole exercise would be a little more complicated for him when faced with 3D objects and a picture of them to match up but he had no trouble with this at all.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Salt tray

Lamb has well and truly hit his sensitive period for letters...YAY!
I started presenting them to him at two years and four months and it took another five months before he was actually interested in them.
Over the last six weeks he has progressed so much it's been wonderful to be a part of!
He has been very interested in finding what letter a word begins with so we did some activities like this:
A basket of random objects that he matches up to the beginning sounds.

We sit at the table at meal times and he insatiably finds words that rhyme with others. He can often think of rhymes that I haven't thought of! And he has begun sounding out three letter phonetic words and building them with the moveable alphabet which has been so exciting for me to watch.
Enter the salt tray....
He was losing interest in the sandpaper letters until I brought the salt tray out. He went from letter to letter tracing the sandpaper version first and then tracing it in the salt for a good twenty minutes and apart from occasionally encouraging him to try again when the letter didn't come out well or he didn't trace it correctly...I was redundant....I just sat there! 

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Autumn tree craft

What does one do when stuck at home on a rainy day with very little planned?
One uses the resources available. In this case, some coloured paper, toilet rolls and ladybird stickers!
Voila! An autumn tree...

Geometric Solids

I printed out the solid sorting cards that I got from Montessori Print Shop and Lamb was completely focussed on them, so much so that I thought "He really needs the solids". There was no money in the budget to spend more than $100 though so as I was wandering the aisles at Spotlight I spied a cone, an egg shape and balls made from polystyrene....
Then that polystyrene that I had stashed in the garage for 'crafts' suddenly had a use.
After fashioning them I thought they really needed a coat of paint.
Now polystyrene is quite temperamental. I'm not sure how long these will last so they are positioned on top of our shelves in order to stop Cherry from getting them down and being unable to resist the temptation to pull pieces from them. Nevertheless, they will do until I can come up with something better or afford the real thing.
On the shelf they look like this...
And for a grand total of $4 and about an hour and a half, I'm pretty happy with that...oh, and so is Lamb!