Saturday, October 31, 2009

Our Journey Into Montessori: Part 3


Thought I'd show you all what was on the shelves during our first week (I haven't photographed everything).

I did try to keep things light on and simple since my aim for this week was to ensure an enjoyable transition into working back in the school room (we've been using the kitchen table for some time) moving to an afternoon time slot (whilst the baby naps) and then using the Montessori approach. Even looking at those points alone it was always going to be a huge week without even adding in any materials to work on.

As we entered the room for the first time (I had kept the door locked for over a week whilst I prepared the space so it was very exciting for them) I could see that they were both itiching to go grab something off the shelves and just get to it, especially K, she loves being in there and was so eager.

I wanted to spend some time talking about what we should have as the do's and don't's of the room, wihtout a list of rules a mile long. Technically these really are just standard household rules but in the room they will always be enforced 100% of the time by all of us. So after a discussion we came up with:

  • Inside voices at all times

  • Manners at all times with everyone, not just me

  • Using a workmat to designate space (I haven't been able to find any I'm happy with so at the moment they are using towels.)

  • Choosing another work activity quietly if someone is using something you wanted to use

  • Waiting patiently if you need my assistance and I am busy (or moving on to something different)

That's it really! We talked about them everyday when we first entered the room and they have been great, both trying really very hard, being polite to each other and not stepping on the towels, which considering the room is only small isn't that easy.

We will revisit the 'rules' once a week for now as we transition into some type of circle time for the beginning of our work cycle in the room.

Anyway I've rambled enough here's some photo's. Some of these photo's aren't very good, the lighting in that room isn't the best, I really can't wait until we get our new school room all finished.

I made these 3 part Australian State Cards, they are only black and a little boring so I may remake them in colour.

Sandpaper letters and the salt tray.

Blends, this download is from Montessori For Everyone as a transition between the pink and blue series. B, I think will be somewhere around the end of his blue series work but I am going to have him go through the blue series just to be sure. I haven't quite finished preparing everything (all of that laminating and cutting is time consuming) so this little transitional download was easy to add in.

Shoelace tying.

Nut, bolt and washer practical life.

My Map Book was on the geography shelves, so of course they both spent plenty of time working on maps.

B working on a Map of our house, yard and the street area.

Paper pin pushing with letter printouts. I believe these are normally done with standard push pins to ensure the pincer grip, but I didn't have any on hand when I found a piece of packing foam that was perfect for this activity. K is using an embossing tool and letter templates that I found here>>> She loved his work, in fact so did B I always knew he would have the patience for it but I was very surprised (and very happy) to see K complete this activity in full more than once.

Sound cylinders.

Sandpaper sensory match, neither of them enjoyed this activity and both of them said it was too hard. This really showed how neither of them have had much of this type of sensory work. This was left on the shelf, hopefully they will come back to it. I probably need a better way of presenting the work also, if anyone has any tips please share. :)

Simple math addition (they both had their own work at appropriate levels). This was the first time K completed anything written like this, using math symbols and the like, she did very well.

Piggy Bank Math, a friend made this a while ago for me, it was too easy for B but he enjoyed it none the less. You choose two coins, add them together to get an amount, find the amount on the playmat and cover it with a token. This can also be played with 2 people.

Another Montessori For Everyone free download - Where Things Come From.

From Kelly's Kindergarten, this simple activity using a magnifying glass to match pictures.

Children's ABC's of geography book that I picked up from a book sale for $2.50.

A very simple activity but I knew that K would love this. The tray actually held meatballs and a sauce sachet, it's perfect for these little pom poms. Once she sorted the pom poms with the tweezers, she then counted them and placed the correct numeral card next to the row of pom poms.

K loved this activity and completed it daily. If anyone has any ideas for extensions on this (as she is well and truly past the counting to 5 stage) type of work I'd love to hear them.

Well looking back on the first week I'd say all in all it was a success. I definitely need to extend on the work and challenge the kids more but I will add that in slowly at one piece of work every other day or so. I'm happy for us to continue along slowly for the next few weeks and just enjoy the freedom and the 'fun' of spending a few hours every day in the room.

I so can't wait get some real Montessori materials but wow, what on earth do you invest in first!!!!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Montessori Boomarks Via Tagfoot

Have you seen or heard about Tagfoot recently? Well in case you haven't this is how they describe themselves, We like to say, tagfoot is a no-nonsense social bookmarking, wishlisting, and tagging hangout where we find it, tag it, rate it, share it and talk about it. All tagfoot content is contributed and controlled by the tagfoot user community.

You can pretty much find bookmarks, or tags as they call them on any topic you like over at tagfoot. With all of my reading on Montessori and stumbling across so many wonderful ideas for activities I was losing track of where to go back and find everything so I started a tagfoot page just for all of my Montessori stuff.

I thought that it was about time I shared it. I think I have about 120 tags (bookmarks) in there currently and everything is sorted into categories. This really helps to find things. If I want to do something in the practical life area for my 5 year old I can just go to my bookmarks and find the '3 - 6 practical life tag' and all of my bookmarks (tags) for that category will show up.

As I read something online that I want to come back to at a later date I add it to tagfoot. There are several great sites/blogs that I'd love to go back through their archives and add to my tagfoot day when I have a few spare hours maybe hehehe

Anyway, if you are already a tagfoot user you can easily follow me with the follow link. If not you can just view my tags (bookmarks). I've also added in a Widget to the right side bar with the other Montessori links. I will have to let their support area know that they need to allow bloggers to reduce the width of the widget somewhat though as it doesn't quite fit in my sidebar.

So that's tagfoot, check it out.

Getting A New School Room.

Finally our much talked about new school room is happening.

I'm posting about it over at our family blog if you'd like to follow the progress.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Finally A Button That Works

Thanks for letting me know that my 'Grab My Button' code was not working.

I am pretty sure that is now though, so go grab it just over there to the right.

Please let me know if you do put it on your blog.

Our Journey Into Montessori: Part 2


I’ve been thinking a lot about how we are going to implement this especially with a toddler in the house. A toddler that loves to get into everything!! First I raised all of the shelves so that he couldn’t reach them but then K5 could barely reach anything and she would have found using them and getting to her work frustrating to say the least. So I’ve moved them back.

For now I have decided to shuffle our day around and spend time in the work room, school room, class room (we don’t really have a firm word for it but the kids seem to call it the school room) in the afternoons whilst Cbub is napping.

At least 2 mornings a week we are out anyway with our home school network and/or extra curricular activities. The mornings we are home we will spend doing more messy type work, read alouds, Tot School any book work I would like the kids to do, Nature Study and I hope to introduce some type of circle time as well. I do have quite a few plans for the mornings but more about those at a later date.

I do also plan on the kids doing a small amount of bookwork for now, at least until I am satisfied that I am covering everything I want to/should be with our work shelves. Over lunch we will have some free play opportunities and then again later in the afternoon.

At this stage Cbub is napping on most days for 3 hours so the perfect timing for a work period (if all goes well). I plan on building up to that though and certainly don’t expect the kids to be in there for the full 3 hours every day. In fact I hope to not clock watch at all and just let the time spent in the room take care of itself. Some days we may only spend an hour and others I am sure we will still be in there when Cbub wakes and that is totally fine by me.

So that’s the initial plan but I am prepared for things to not work out that way. We’ll start with that and see how we go.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Flat Stanley: # 3 Ahoy There!

Check our cute little pirate that we've had visiting with us this past week. Isn't he adorable!

He watched whilst we had tennis lessons this week.

Apart from tennis we pretty much stayed at home this week and as always rode the bikes alot.

He even got to spend some time with us working in our school room and on some neat solar car kits that B got for his birthday.

He was a very lucky Pirate Stanley as he got to spend an entire morning with K and I at her kindy. It was my rsoter day so he came along. He played out in the playground and indoors and enjoyed morning tea......watermelon yum!

He's neatly tucked back inside his envelope and his off again for his next adventure.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Montessori - What is it?

I just had a thought after posting this that some of my readers may be a little unsure as to what exactly Montessori is.

This is in a nutshell and it is soooo much more but:

From wkipedia: The Montessori method is a child-centered, alternative educational method based on the child development theories originated by Italian educator Maria Montessori (1870–1952) in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Its method of education is characterised by emphasising self-directed activity, on the part of the child, and clinical observation, on the part of the teacher — to stress the importance of adapting the child’s learning environment to his or her development level, and the role of physical activity in the child’s absorbing abstract concepts and learning practical skills. Auto-didactic (self-correcting) equipment is used for introducing and learning concepts, and reading is taught via phonics and whole language, the comparative benefits of which are presently being recognised.

I’m sure as I continue to learn more about Montessori and implement the method and philosophy into our home you will also learn more along side me, as you all know I’ll post about it all here, so just keep on reading *grin*

Monday, October 26, 2009

Letter Box Love - Pay It Forward

I recently was one of the lucky three that got to play along with Pink and Green Mama's Pay It Forward fun.

To be honest when the parcel arrived the Pay It Forward thing was the furtherest from my mind. A parcel all the way from the US, what on earth could this be and who was sending it to me.

As soon as I opened it and saw the colours it suddenly dawned on me. MaryLea had posted a sneak peek during her creating of the Pay It Forward gifts she was sending.

This was so much fun and the kids were even so excited to see what mummy got all the way from America from a lady she has never even met! So what did I receive?

This super funky repurposed tie-dyed Tshirt bag. Pretty cool huh! It is huge, as in it will hold alot but it also scrunches down real small so would be great as an extra bag to take along to things when you think you may need something to bring things home in. (in other words plenty of room for lots of shopping hehehehe)

In fact the kids only made some of these a few weeks back in our Green Day activities with our homeschool network and even then I thought it was a pretty cool idea. I'd even begun daydreaming about some of the ways you could dress them up. The colours on this one are so bright and vibrant though, hey wouldn't it be a really cool as a beach bag. Especially since we are heading off to the beach in a few days time for a little break, it will definitely get used alot!

MaryLea also arranged for 3 women to receive 'mid-wife safe delivery kits' through International Medical Corps and for 3 girls in Africa to receive 'School Textbooks' from C.A.R.E cool is that and so very very thoughtful.

Anyway the one and only guideline for the Pay It Forward fun is that as a recipient you must also Pay It Forward.

So you wanna play?

You really do don't you?!

Ok well all you need to do is comment on this post stating that you would like to join in the fun.
You have 48 hours (roughly) to comment. Wednesday night (Aussie time) I will use a Random Number Generator to choose 3 people to play along.

You must make sure that you either leave an email address in your comment or that I can easily find your email address through your profile. Then once the lucky 3 are chosen I'll post here and will email the lucky 3 also, then it's just a matter of waiting and keeping an eye on your letterbox.

There are also no rules about what you can and can't send. Just think of something to brighten some one else's day. My gifts certainly did that for me!

So you wanna play?

Got My Computer Back!!

Thank goodness. Although we set up our new computer which is right next me I love my own little baby and am so happy to have it back.

Everything is in tact, it has had a good clean up and I now have an external hard drive that backs up every night for me. YAY!!!

I've been so lost with out my computer and the new one has Vista on it which I'd come pretty close to say that I dislike it very very much. I haven't been able to visit my regular blogs and leave comments etc etc as the connection just never held long enough.

So here I am back on XP and things are looking good.....gee I bet I sure have loads to catch up on!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Our Journey Into Montessori: Part 1

We’ve been home schooling now for about 2 years and 3 months (wow how time flies). During that time we’ve tried various approaches from school at home, the classical method to complete unschooling, some of these approaches felt right some of the time. All of these approaches were brought about by our spending time with other well meaning home schoolers that felt that their approach was the best approach and after spending time with them I began to feel that maybe it too was the best approach for us. Whilst I completely understand that these different approaches work well for certain families using them as a hard and fast rule was not for us. If there is one thing for sure, that is we will never be a true ‘school at home’ home schooling family. I think I can safely say that we will always be an eclectic homeschool, picking and choosing the bits that work best for us at any particular time.

In saying that, I strongly admire, in fact I am in awe of families that unschool and allow their children to learn naturally, as learning should be. Not those that do next to nothing with their kids and just hope they grow up ok. The families that truly meet the needs of their children whilst allowing them the freedom and having the confidence in their children to be their own driving force with their education.

To be able to just drop everything because your child has decided that their current passion is Vikings and they wish to construct a viking ship and reinact a viking battle is, in my opinion, a precious commodity to behold. Not all of us are so open and relaxed with our time and approach to our days.

I am a planner, love to plan. Just ask my husband I am forever walking around with a notepad and pen, planning something. I do not do schedules though! I’ve never been able to stick to a schedule anyway and so over time I have learnt to not bother with them. So although I have my plans I also really love to have the flexibility to drop everything to go on rabbit trails, should the desire strike or to allow the kids a day off if they are deeply engrossed in some other worthwhile activity. I am however uncomfortable with just leaving everything to chance and hoping the kids will learn all that they should so that they end up with a solid education.

That’s where, for me, Montessori really comes into it’s own. I can plan and prepare various topics covering all of the subject areas and still allow my children the freedom of choice. The freedom to work on geography all day or all week if they so desire. That I am comfortable with!

Whilst I’ve been aware of Montessori schools and the movement itself for some time I didn’t know a great deal about it, except that it was very child orientated, until recently. Something, I have no idea what, pushed me to pick up a couple of books and to start reading Montessori inspired blogs. I’m guessing now it was the knowing inside that I wanted more for the kids; more freedom, more pleasure, more satisfaction in their learning journey. Not just the coming together at the dinner table to do their school work and then running off to play where the real fun and enjoyment is had.

I don’t believe that learning should be a chore, especially for young children. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t know how to work hard and apply themselves. Everyone needs to know how to apply themselves when necessary, but to be able to do this in work that has meaning, (not time wasting worksheets) work that is inspiring them, making them think, getting them excited (not spending wasted hours in a classroom). This has been something that has been on my mind for awhile and so seeking out Montessori was a fairly natural progression I suppose.

I first tried the feel of Montessori back in April with our Easter Activities. I prepared several themed activities (mostly just for fun), laid them out on trays and positioned them on the shelves. It certainly made for a lovely display.

I was amazed at how the kids took to it. After explaining the procedure of choosing the activity, taking the tray to their chosen spot either on the floor or at the table, completing the activity, cleaning up and returning the tray ready for the next child to use. They jumped right up and got to it, they really took to it like ducks to water.

After Easter I emptied out our large hallway linen cupboard and started laying out the kids schoolwork on trays and allowing them the freedom to pick and choose their activities.

This worked, except, in my opinion we still had too much bookwork and one cupboard was nowhere near enough shelving.

Recently, K5 especially, has been asking when we are doing more , “of those activities on trays, like we did at Easter time mummy” obviously she loved the set up and the way in which the activities provide structure but freedom within that structured environment.

So I am now in the process of rearranging our shelving in our learning room bookshelves (which is a temporary space, but that is a whole other post) so that the bottom halves are empty to use for ‘Monti Trays’.

I’ve been reading, reading, reading and watching lots of ‘how to’ videos on You Tube. Books, blogs, articles anything and everything Montessori. I will add to the left side bar the books I’m reading and I do plan at some stage to give my own review on them (albeit a very new to the ‘monti way’ perspective) I’ve been gathering (at this stage) mostly free printables and have been cutting, gluing and laminating. Organising the materials is quite a task. I’m also sorting through what we have on hand to see how I can use it in the room or how I can adapt it to suit the Montessori philosophy.

My plan is to present more monti shelf activities to the kids this term. I should have enough shelves to cover all of the major subject areas. I will however need to rotate more often as I simply don’t have the space that a standard Montessori room would have.

Here's a few shots of the room as it stands, bare bottom shelves all ready and waiting for lots of activities to be added to them.

The view of the room from the doorway.

The shelves to the left will be Math, then the large shelf unit to the right (which I have already given away to a friend, I'm just waiting on a couple of new low shelves to take it's place) will house Language and Science/History work.

This area for now will hold sensorial and practical life. I think we are really going to run out of room though but for now it will do.

And the Geography/Cultural Area.

The bookshelves house all (well most) of our books, except children's picture books, they desperately need a home.

I plan on a few more posts about our initial journey into Montessori, these will also (hopefully help me get my head around a few things.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

8th Birthday Photo's

If you'd like to see what B got up to for his 8th Birthday jump over to our family blog where I've posted quite a few pics.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Flat Stanley: A Vist From Alaska

Wow, Stanley's all the way from Alaska. I'm guessing they are probably glad they are on this side of the world at the moment as I'm pretty sure things would be very chilly in their neck of the woods right now. Meanwhile we have been having glorious spring weather.

We had an excursion to our Smart Tip and the Stanley's got to join us on that. This may have been their very first bus ride, how exciting for them. :)

They also enjoyed the presentation and short video's the children watched about the smart tip, waste, recycling and how it all works together.

We've started a new program called Switched On Kids which is full of lots of movement, fun and games. The Stanley's really enjoyed participating in this.

They also got to play a few games around home with B7 and K5, it was a Mr Potato game this day.

I lost a couple of Stanley's photo's when my computer died last week. Not sure if I will get them back or not either :(

These Stanley's are now well on their way back to the US and we are checking our letter box daily for new arrivals.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Happy 8th Birthday

Where have these past 8 years gone?

We all (especially B) had a very memorable and super fun 8th birthday but I'm completely and utterly exhausted so this is all I have time for now. I'll post a birthday update with lots of pics and all of the fun he got up to very soon.

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