Monday, May 31, 2010

A Little Practical Life

We are just now starting to get into the swing of things with our Montessori materials.  We actually did a lot of work this past week, you can check it out on this Tot School post from Friday.  E has been getting more interested in practical life activities, and her favorite one right now is helping me water the plants outside.  I bought E her own watering can, I fill it up for her from the hose, and tell her which plants to water.  She is learning the names of the plants as well as how to use the watering can and carry it without spilling. 

Carrying the watering can

 Watering the small lilac

 Watering the big lilac

 Watering the daisies

 And the peonies

Friday, May 28, 2010

Tot School

Tot School
E is 28 months old
We had a pretty good week of Tot School, working on our bird materials and our new Montessori materials.  We have been outside a LOT this week, putting mulch down in the backyard, weeding the garden, and watering the new plants.  I bought E her own watering can and she loves to help me water the irises and tomatoes.  As for our indoor work, we had 3 good days of school, plus our letter of the week playdate this morning.  All in all, a successful week!

Math and Sensorial:

E worked with the geometric solids, naming them and matching them to the little wooden cards that came with them.  There are a couple of triangles, a square, circle, and rectangle.  I had her find all the solids that matched a shape: for example, for the square she found the cube, rectangular prism, and the square pyramid.  She is still not convinced that the sphere is a sphere and not a "ball."

I pulled out the pattern block pattern cards from confessions of a homeschooler, and E did several of them in one sitting.  She made me do some too - they're fun and relaxing, even for adults!

She also worked with the geometric cabinet.  I pulled out the cards that go with the demonstration tray, and she matched up the shapes to all three sets of cards (solid shape, thick outline, and thin outline). 

E loves to work with the sandpaper numbers.  She tries to trace them with her finger, but mostly we work on naming them and putting them in order.

We did a bit of work with the knobbed cylinders - she's been begging for #4, so I pulled it out.  She lost interest in it pretty quick when she found out it was too hard for her right now. 

She also worked with the pink tower, but no pictures!  She didn't want to make a tower with it, only a staircase.  So that's what we did and we let the baby cube walk all the way down and back up.  She is having difficulty seeing her mistakes when she builds the tower.  I am thinking of pulling out every other block  to make it easier for her to notice when she places one wrong.


E has also been begging for the sandpaper letters, so I had to come up with some ways for her to use them that don't involve tracing.  She's not ready for that and I don't want her to learn it wrong.  So we used the letters in conjunction with our alphabet box.  She worked on letter b.  I REALLY need to get more miniatures for my box!!  She would do this work for hours if she could, but I don't have enough items.  I am going to buy the picture sets from Montessori for Everyone, just have to get around to it!

The other alphabet activity we worked on was a major undertaking.  We laid out all all the letters in order (singing the alphabet song) and then matched our magnetic capital letters to them.  Some I handed her the capital and told her to find the lowercase, and some I showed her the lowercase and had her find the capital to match.  Some took a bit of thinking time, but she completed all of them with minimal help from me.  (She mixed up p and d, for example, and h and n). 

Science - Birds:

I finally got around to making my bird materials (from the Feathers for Lunch lapbook from homeschool share).  E did a part to whole matching activity:

(Does anyone know the names of all these birds?  I got most of them, but there are a few I can't find, and of course, they're the ones E wants to know the names of!)

We labeled the parts of a bird:

Did a sort of characteristics of a cat and a bird:

And made a cute bird craft!

Whew!  I think that's enough for one week, don't you??  To see what more tots are doing, check out Carissa's blog!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Peek Into Our New Learning Space

Now that I have everything unpacked, sorted, and checked; now that I have our room cleared out and shelves put up; now that everything has a home -- would you like to take a peek at our new learning space?  I've mentioned before that our original plan was to have the schoolroom and playroom together in the basement (along with my sewing table and exercise equipment, and . . .)  I've found over the past months that this just won't work for us at this stage.  E is far too distracted by everything else in the playroom to work well, and I was afraid of materials getting damaged or having to put them up every time we had friends over.  (That's what we were doing with our Tot School shelf - how exhausting!)  So we converted our upstairs loft office into a schoolroom last week.  The computer is still in here - someday it will probably move down to the main floor, but not yet.  All E's Montessori materials are on shelves that take up one whole wall, and other "Tot School," theme work, and practical life work are on her old Tot School shelves.  Here, let me show you!

Tot School shelf and E's table
 Table, random cat (Felicity), and half of the Montessori shelves
 Other half of the Montessori shelves and a relatively clean computer desk

And I know some of you are curious of what exactly is on those shelves, so here is a breakdown of the Montessori shelves.  The Tot School/PL shelf still gets rotated quite frequently, but the Montessori shelves will stay mostly the same so E knows where everything "lives" - where to get it from and where to put it back away.  I apologize for the picture quality - I was so excited, I took these the night we got the shelves up.  Couldn't wait until morning for better light.
  the entire wall

 Math and Geometry
top: cards for the geometric cabinet
middle: spindle box, sandpaper letters, Melissa and Doug pattern blocks
bottom: geometric solids box, geometric cabinet and tray
top: knobless cylinders, touch boards, brown stain
bottom: knobbed cylinders, pink tower, (spindle box)

top: alphabet cabinet (miniatures), sandpaper letters, alphabet BOB book set
bottom: moveable alphabet, (knobbed cylinders)

And, just in case you're still curious, here is what was on our Tot School/PL shelf when I took all these pictures.  Like I said, this changes regularly - you'll have to wait until this week's Tot School post to see what is on the shelves this week. :)
E wants to point out that there is a "gwobe" on top of the shelf.
top: counters and popsicle sticks, spelling E's name, what's different activity
middle: sorting, pouring
bottom: button snake, bird cards and figures, color dominoes

I just found out that I might have another "student" for the summer!  My neighbor saw my setup and wants her son to come work with E and I a few times a week.  He goes to regular preschool during the school year.  I'm excited, I think it will be a good chance for me to see if I want to pony up the money for Montessori teacher training or not, and it will be a good for E to get to work with another child.  

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pre-Reading Skills

I've been doing a lot of work recently with E on her pre-reading skills.  We play lots of games of I-spy around the house and when we're out at the store.  I recently came across some new BOB books that are for pre-readers!

I picked up the Alphabet set at my Barnes and Noble the other day and E has been doing so much better at finding the beginning sound of words.

Another activity we've been working on is our alphabet cabinet.  This is still a work in progress for me, but I do have a couple of drawers ready for E to work with.  This week, she got to work on /b/, /l/, and /c/.  In each drawer there are miniatures that start with the letter of the drawer.  I'm always on the lookout for good miniatures for our alphabet cabinet!

Since our Montessori materials arrived, I have brought out a new work for E - sandpaper letters.  I use them mostly for letter recognition now, she learned her capitals first through a couple of puzzles and our Leapfrog fridge alphabet.  She likes to feel the letters (not really tracing yet, just feeling them) and we match our capital letters to them as well, so she learns which letters belong together.

We also host a bi-weekly playdate with our friends, where we learn about a specific "letter of the week."  It's a fun chance to get together with friends, read a story, do a craft, and eat foods that start with the letter of the day.  Check out some of our previous letter playdates!

And of course, I can't leave out reading to E.  I think that's the MOST important thing.  We are constantly reading stories.  Fiction, non-fiction, fairy tales, picture books - anything and everything is fair game at our house.  Current favorites are: Skippyjon Jones, Olivia, Hooray for Fish, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, and Mother Goose.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tot School

Tot School
E is 28 months old

This week's Tot School was kind of sporadic.  We attempted to continue our bird theme, but got a little sidetracked when our NEW MONTESSORI MATERIALS arrived!!!!  The rest of the week, I tried to interest E in some work that was already on our shelves while her schoolroom/our office was getting cleaned out and new shelves put in.

Tot School Work:

E made a flower with her M&D pattern blocks.  This one was done with no assistance from me.

She "wrote" a "story" with our magnetic alphabet.  She said the story was about a "cat and a bird."

She built a "forest" with the brackets for the new shelves.

She did a little bit of sorting work.

Montessori Work:

E started out with cylinder block #1 and worked with it over and over.  I showed her how I could use a blindfold with the work, and she insisted on wearing it, too.  Only when taking the pegs out, though.  :)

She also wanted me to show her the pink tower, so the next day I did a presentation on that.  We worked on finding the biggest block, and she got to knock them all down when she was done.

In the Kitchen:

I am trying to make time more often for E to help me in the kitchen.  She has her first chore - to clear the table after dinner!  She concentrates so hard when she is bringing me plates or glasses.  This week, we made cinnamon and sugar cookies (kind of like snickerdoodles) for a picnic.  E poured the ingredients in the mixing bowl:

She helped me mix everything together:

Then she rolled the dough in cinnamon and sugar and squashed them on the cookie sheet:

And finally, she got to eat one for a snack!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Like Christmas in May??

Look what came to my house yesterday!!

All of our Montessori materials!!  Shelves are bought, ready to put up.  E was so excited it took her an hour to fall asleep for her nap.  I let her choose one thing for me to present to her (and kept my fingers crossed that it would be something I remembered how to present, and something at her level), and this is what she chose: