Montessori Elementary Homeschool Blog - with documentation of our infant Montessori, toddler Montessori, and primary Montessori experiences; as well as preparation for the upcoming adolescent Montessori homeschool years.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Geography River Model - Indoor Personal Follow-Up

I still need to get photos up of our "official river model" - Legoboy requested that I take and post photos of his personal follow-up work though, so here it is ;)  

Built with (surprised!?) Legos. 

Not entirely water-proof - and he learned some lessons on how high the banks should be to hold in the soil and keep the water flowing through the desired direction of the river, rather than out the sides. 

Thus, he learned some additional lessons on water-flow. 

We just set this one up on our dining room table with a bucket underneath to catch the water. As much as the official presentation is ideal (a full 3-d model and/or a low hill and a hose outside), I hope this post inspires you to create any of the Montessori key experiences out of whatever you have on hand! 

And yes we did all of this the day before Thanksgiving. We ate dinner at this table. ;) 

inserting rocks and stones

added some mulch and soil to see what would happen
as compared to JUST sand and soil

propped up the whole thing when the water wasn't running
the way he expected

pouring in the waterfall from "melting snow and rains"

the water is going underground -
underground rivulets ;)  

Sudden torrential rains caused some of it to wash away suddenly ;) 

He loved it :)

Here is a link to another idea too: 3D Geography - just before half-way down

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Week in the Life of Legoboy: Friday - Upper Elementary Montessori

wake up in a mood (don't tell me boys don't have PMS too)
straight to breakfast - took FOREVER (reading Life of Fred Geometry - AGAIN)

morning prayer, bit too quickly for my liking.

Primary Grade Challenge Math - chapter 9 on Percentages - again with the math facts not solidified, but he won't take up any of my ideas or come up with his own ideas for how to solidify them. He will learn them all great for a day. Then they are gone again. He has a great memory... so just not really really sure what is going on. 6% comes up a lot in this chapter - after a while he says, "UGK! I am SO tired of 6 perCENT! I need a NEW number!" So dramatic. I had to laugh at him. Probably not the best thing to do based on the grimace on his face afterward ;) 

Piano - for a LONG time - this helped him. A LOT.

Made lunch: scrambled eggs --- got to work on the clean-up part

I guess it did turn into a Math week though! ;)
(he even took the book "10 things mathematicians should know" (or something like that - by Ed Zaccaro - see review post here) along in the evening car-ride until it got dark enough to see the Christmas lights)

We spent 45 minutes this afternoon organizing a few shelves in the library - got more boxes emptied anyway. 
The goal was to gather the rest of the faith-related books onto the far two shelves - I had already set up the childbirth books (considering becoming a doula in the future), the adult faith books and the Montessori/Catechesis of the Good Shepherd resources on the upper shelves. 

But it is a 'give a mouse a cookie' deal - one thing leads to another - so we ended up also working on most of the math, some of the science and some geography, art and music. 

Not bad ;) We even ended up with several empty boxes. Haha. Ignore the stacks of books now on the floor that WERE in boxes. ;) Hey, now we can see what we have. That's a purposeful purpose for having stacks of books, right!? ;) 

he found a couple of books he wanted to read - one a book of Christmas stories and poems ("Christmas Tales for Reading Aloud"), and Advent devotional he forgot we had, and another faith-based books I can't recall off-hand. This is where I found him: 
This is the GUEST bed - yet he's been in it almost every day this week. 

Early evening, I finally read through this week's messages from Educents and came across a set of Minecraft math guides. Using my credit with them (from purchasing a mod class we've not been able to use yet) and the sale already on, we got three guides for $3.49. Legoboy is excited to try them out, even though his original reaction was "there is NO math in Minecraft!" Hm. We'll see ;)  Every once in a while Educents offers something really neat and useful. I consider it useful for browsing for interest units. 

Gathered up some wood from the backyard, but needed a LOT longer of outdoor time today that we did not get. 

The day ended with me posting this on Facebook: 

3 hours of Christmas light touring; ice cream eating; song singing; great conversation with my awesome son. Sitting in the car that long makes me sore. Worth it. 
We did some mystery shopping, enjoyed the Christmas lights in this darkest time of year, and talked a lot about the Amish specifically and the Anabaptists in general (we were driving through an area with a large Amish population; their night-time buggies are still required to have functional green, red and white lights). We discussed our similarities and differences and Legoboy developed a stronger understanding of where various pieces of the Christian puzzle fit together. He even deduced some of their beliefs based on particular things I shared with him - spot-on every time. We have a few things to look up that I was unable to answer for him.

Not sure I can see anything in this one. It was all lit up though. 

Then we got to talking about the other images on our Facebook page:

Thank you for spending the week with Legoboy! It was pretty exciting on this end, but with so much to write up on top of my regular work - I am not sure I made it sound as exciting as it really was. 

My goal: to provide a glimpse of what 5 days of a week looks like in the life of a Montessori homeschooled child. Especially at upper elementary, it is not so much about the materials anymore - but about the real life experiences, the planning, the follow-through.

He has plans going on in Minecraft and with his Lego creations that I do not get into - I monitor to keep things "moral" but otherwise, these are his world. His two other big projects right now are the Further Up, Further In Narnia study and Confirmation preparation. But other rabbit trails criss-cross continuously. We love it. :)

For more days from the past week: 
Friday of "Week in the Life of a Montessori Homeschooler"
Thursday of "Week in the Life of a Montessori Homeschooler"
Wednesday of "Week in the Life of a Montessori Homeschooler"
Tuesday of "Week in the Life of a Montessori Homeschooler"
Monday of "Week in the Life of a Montessori Homeschooler"

In the midst of this series, I also posted a "day in the life of a Montessori homeschooler" from about 2 weeks previous:
A Day in the Life of Legoboy

Any particular day or week may not be representative of what goes on in the grander scheme of things - that particular week would have made an interesting write-up - he ran in his first-ever 5K that Thursday (Thanksgiving) - VERY proud of him!

Saturday, right after this posted week, he has a 3 hour study at the local-ish museum on "Geometry in Nature". We will also watch their current IMAX film again (we have a year-pass to the IMAX theater there - we can watch as much as we want!) - and do more mystery shops on the way home. Not sure what he will do in the morning - could be school work, could be Legos, could be hanging from a tree... I'll be working. Lots to get caught up on now we are in a house. Legoboy is an awesome helper, taking out packages, locating good packaging options, weighing packages, printing labels and more. 

Sunday we have atrium and he serves at the Traditional Latin Mass - he is a bit nervous because it has been a while since he has been to Mass there, let alone served! He will do great! 


Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Week in the Life of Legoboy: Thursday - Upper Elementary Montessori

Today ended up being a very low-key day. Not the intent. He and I both had big plans for how the morning would go. It didn't materialize - no particular reason, we just needed to be more laid-back. I have found that when we don't honor this need, we end up sick or with headaches, or we otherwise crash & burn in such a way that following days are even worse. Honor it when it happens, and our bodies and souls get the rest and nourishment they need.

Woke up to reading - lots of historical fiction in the pile.
He'd already opened his Advent calendar.

Morning prayer together

UPS came early today - Legoboy helped put a new shelf together for the kitchen
     We have been almost agonizing over what to do in the kitchen. We have somewhat limited counter-space, no counter space at all by the stove. I did put a rolling cart (already owned) between the fridge and stove; but there was still need for something to cooking utensils nearby. And we'd already added shelves to the closet to make it a full pantry. Well, Legoboy helped organize all of this, so perhaps a post to itself. Short story for now - we needed something. Over and around the stove. We found an over-the-stove microwave shelf, but at over $100 for ONE shelf that is the width of the stove... it didn't sit right with either of us. We finally found a tall shelf with adjustable shelving, option of castors or levelers. Sure, it's wide

Read for the umpteenth time: Here There Be Dragons
Reading Upper Elementary Challenge Math (just reading it - not doing the math --- he did this during part of dinner last night too)
Life of Fred Geometry - just reading it, although he had a notebook in which he was taking notes.

lunch - leftovers

Seems like it is going to be a "reading" day!

head to Atrium - play Minecraft while I led a sacramental preparation session - when the other older children arrived, he joined them for a game of tag and word plays

2-hour atrium: opened with all the children from infant through 14 in level 3 to review the Advent Wreath and sing the next verse of the song; Prophecy of Light, learn and sing the associated song (learned the prophecy last week). Level 1 children went to their atrium, while the level 2 and 3 chilren stayed for another 40 minute presentation going through 7 more prophecies and what they mean for us as we prepare, not for Jesus to be born as a baby, but for Jesus' light to grow in us more and more each day, until His light fills the whole world and He returns as a glorious king at Parousia.

Legoboy and another level 3 boy planned Communal Prayer for the level 2 and level 3 children. Favorite song: All God's Critters (message: everyone has a place in the Plan of God - God loves all and so should we).

Afterward, he helped clean up, re-set each atrium for Sunday class, and ensure all tasks were completed.
He really wanted to get home and have some popcorn ;)

He cleaned out the car, played some piano, wrote some e-mails to a few people, and read some Lord of the Rings (The Two Towers).

These descriptions still aren't getting all the in-between stuff - checking the mail, checking the time, random e-mails. But I hope it is a peek into the life of an upper elementary Montessori boy ;)

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Week in the Life of Legoboy: Wednesday - Upper Elementary Montessori

Wake-up - he wants to snuggle with me for a bit (morning prayer) then play "throw me off the couch" which is where he requests and begs and pleads that I please throw him off the couch or down the hallway or (his newest one) "throw me down the stairs" - all to help him wake up. NO I do NOT do these things, though sometimes I will ROLL him off the COUCH. He is always so disappointed.

Speech at the local school - He is still has speech therapy for his /r/ sounds (minimally on /ch/, /j/, /z/). Note to all other parents - when your instincts tell you something is wrong with your child, don't let any evaluation or expert tell you otherwise. I was told he was in normal range until age 4 and the waiting lists for therapy were LONG at that time. Now, 6 years later, we are STILL at it. This is so much easier addressed with little ones.

Breakfast - cold pizza. Some days I should call him "Pizza-boy" instead of Legoboy ;)

piano practice - just review of past lessons. He's not been practicing as much lately, so needs to get back into it if he wants to move ahead (which he does - he keeps saying when listening to particular selections, "I want to play like THAT!"

Friends over for some elementary math tutoring - he helps or distracts depending on the day - today he helped - long division ;)

errands to the parish office - taking over a jumpdrive with a St. Nick video for the priest and a Sedia image for the CRE

re-organize electronic components - new storage container. He'll get there. Eventually.

Primary Grade Challenge Math - chapter 8 - "How many legs?" (lots of multiplication, intro into squaring/cubing/powers, careful step by step work)
He threw a fit about not having his facts memorized - he gets them, then he loses them - a throwback to not utilizing the memorization sequence properly in primary.
He is kind of tired of me taking photos ;) 

He also likes to rush through; with this work he needs to slow down and look at each step. He continues to do the math accurately for what he sets up, but continually skips a step from the original problem in his "rush".


more piano practice
He really wants to sound "excellent". He has not progressed too far, but is going back to more thoroughly perfect previous lessons.

Electronics - try out more ideas from EEME Dad's e-mail - and create more circuits, finding the one that makes the brightest light.

Confirmation notebook card - continuing work, reading from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and noting key concepts about the sacrament of Confirmation itself.

help clean up basement - sand spilled on the stairs, more baking soda for the old oil smell (from the oil heater that has now been replaced) and (shhhh! don't tell him!) we are looking to convert one half of one of the basement rooms into a tae-kwon-do practice area.

Magician's Nephew notebook and lapbook - slow but steady progress. He loves the stories and he really wants to do these studies, but they are just NOT as interesting as they could be. If these were ALL we were doing, we could probably focus on pulling in more interesting resources for the suggested activities... and they're not UNinteresting - it just doesn't pull together as well as we had hoped. He is adamant he wants to do it though. I think his goal is to DO it, then write his own version! We have been SLOWLY working on a Narnia cookbook of our own, since the only one published is currently not in print, unavailable at a reasonable price and the company refuses to re-print it, despite a list of over 1,000 purchasers --- because they say "last time we printed, it did so poorly" - well, the last time they printed was before the recently-made Disney versions of the movies, which only incite more interest.... people are BEGGING the company for a re-print. Seriously!? They won't re-print. Bad business practice, folks.

Battling invisible enemies. Yep. Our home is a safe, that is for sure - thanks to my valiant warrior. Today's weapon of choice? a curtain rod. Sigh.

Honey for a sore throat. Yelling at the bad guys will do that.

Legos. Why not. Then...
"Legoboy, what are you diong?"
     "Eating! Reading math!" I hear his voice from the library.
            I truly thought he said "Reading! Eating Math!" at first. Not an impossibility.

Hiding by the ONE empty bookcase.
No worries. We have boxes left to unload onto the shelves. ;) 

Evening Mass for him while I prepped for atrium; during atrium this evening he helped a bit with the level 1 children, but apparently mostly sat in the material-making room doing pencil fights with himself and napping. He was supposed to either play Minecraft, work on Consecration in Truth or offer further assistance. He does not join Wednesday evening level 3 atrium because I already have too huge a class and he attends on Thursdays in addition to helping me prepare materials and our home faith studies.

After atrium he spent time with friends while a few catechists worked on a project.

Dinner Prep: Back at home, we made alfredo sauce with pasta, mixing in a bit of leftover Thanksgiving turkey. I love having his help in the kitchen and typically require it. We are a family - we do things together. He participates in all aspects of meal preparation to varying degrees on varying days. Sometimes he might put an entire meal together himself (he IS 10 and has been helping in the kitchen since he could sit in the sling and dump stuff into a bowl for me; and setting tables since he could walk while carrying an object) - most days we work together and I give him the opportunity to work on different aspects of meal preparation, so that he has experienced all of it, has practice with all of it, but in bits at a time. Then, when he started with simple entire meals, he had the confidence to know when to ask for help and when to get creative in problem-solving.
I always add leftover veggies of one kind or another to our alfredo sauce
he never notices the cauliflower though he claims to hate it. 


Evening prayer

Now we are researching models of Jerusalem together.
I want this for our atrium:

Now if we could just find an affordable replica of Jerusalem - the entire city itself. I want something 100% accurate. We have representations in the other atriums, these older children want to really see it - experience it.

He fell asleep right at midnight, trying SO hard to stay up until midnight so he could open the next door on his Lego Advent calendar. Oh well - maybe in the morning ;)

Note on bedtime here: we do shift to a later than typical schedule - because of our evening activities and the desire to unwind at home before bed. We typically do not have morning activities (speech is at 9:30, so late enough we don't need an alarm; Sunday mornings we have atrium and do set an alarm; Tues-Fri he has the option of setting the alarm to be up for early morning Mass - some days he does, some days no). In the end, he sleeps no more than a child of his age SHOULD sleep (which yes means he probably gets more sleep than the average 10 year old in our area - they too have evening activities AND some have to be on the bus between 6:40 and 7 to be starting school by 8am).

This week is an exception because of how it started, but typically he is in bed by 10 (Tuesdays at 11:05).

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Week in the Life of Legoboy: Tuesday - Upper Elementary Montessori

We started with a different sort of Monday, ending with adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (Jesus) at the local parish from midnight to 1 AM - something we normally don't do at that time. We did get to hear "Holy God We Praise Thy Name" at the fastest pace EVER. No funeral dirges or slow meditative chants from this priest at 1AM with his favorite song ;)

And now - at 9:57AM, Legoboy sleeps. With this National Night of Prayer running form 9PM to 1AM, I am not sure how many other children were able to participate due to the need to be at school by 8AM. Blessing of Homeschooling.

By the time he woke up, USPS had been here to deliver some Christmas gifts for others. He made breakfast for both of us and we finished prepping and wrapping the gifts. We both found it funny that we received two mail deliveries today - one with packages, the other with regular mail.

Morning prayer

Watched some more Once Upon a Time - honestly, looking for plot holes to create a list of questions to send to the creators.

Confirmation card - on the effects and responsibilities of Baptism and the gift of Grace by the Holy Spirit.

EEME - Work on some of the follow-up questions/suggestions he received via e-mail from the creator of EEME. Legoboy created what EEME Dad calls a "dumb light" (gets brighter in bright locations and dimmer in dim locations). He is working on the suggestions and a response e-mail to EEME Dad

Clean up the hall and landing upstairs - we are mostly beyond the unpacking mode but are still in the "slowly getting specific items where we actually want them and find them the most useful". We are working in stages so we can keep going with the rest of life.
Missing two shelves from moving helpers...
Organizing still a work in progress. 

Eventually we'll have these games organized.
Apparently we like games around here. 

Free-time: Legos and tae-kwon-do practice

Come up with a thousand ways to ask about opening Day 10's Advent Calendar.
(Can I blast a hole through an iceberg? Can I do light-saber target practice? Can I make a sky-light?)
The #10 slot in question is located above an ice-cave opening. On Day 1 he asked such questions as "Can I be-head Darth Vader? Can I give Darth Vader a new helmet?" and the like because the top of Darth Vader's helmet overlaps the Day 2 slot.

For the record - I do not see this as a sign of commercialism or materialism - merely a young boy who LOVES jokes. He will argue with ANYthing just to get people thinking and riled up.

Early dinner - LOVE tortellini here :)

Tae-kwon-do - running a bit late, ordinarily before class is hang-out time with friends. Just one class this evening. Because during Advent we have:
...Children's choir - Tuesday evenings leading up to Christmas. He'll be singing at the 4pm children's Mass Christmas Eve. He's not a singer in the spirit of having good pitch matched with others - he sounds great singing by himself with his own renditions though. So this was a surprise to me. He wants to sing at that Mass and serve the altar at midnight.
(the file below has now image - I had the phone facing down on the pew while recording - so it is a video, but it is ok you don't "see" anything ;) )


Get gas - pick up pizza
Yes, I let him go across the street from the gas station we were at, to one of our other local gas stations (their pizza is the BEST) while I pumped the gas. I then picked him up from there. I love this area - I can see his every step, we know on some level every employee of all 3 local gas stations (and both banks), and the sheriff was on duty watching traffic right there ;)

Home for bedtime prep and two of our shows (both in winter finales)
Marvel's Agents of SHIELD
Watch the news to catch the weather (the ONLY time we watch the news - ever - is after our shows)

Evening prayer

Throughout the day we also played Quik-Sane and a few rounds of W'FF. Because yes, we do like playing games. Legoboy always has some set of cards out to play in between other stuff. Our latest favorite? Rivals for Catan.

Not much math happening here - but lots of using it in real life

  • cooking - measuring water and oats, adjusting for wanting 4 servings (the instructions have 1, 2, 6 servings)
  • how many miles per gallon gas, how many miles can we go on a tank, how many gallons are left when the low-fuel light comes on. Yeah, we had one of THOSE evenings. While at choir practice, I also drove over to the choir director's home to get her reading glasses she'd accidentally left there, so we *really* needed gas after practice was over ;) 
  • he wanted to know when the mail would be arriving; a friend texted to tell us their mail had been delivered, he calculated the miles, the speed of truck with it stops, added to the time of the text message. He was off by 10 seconds - "And that my son is called estimation. We can't predict every delay or package or which houses he can skip for having no mail that day."
  • Estimating wood branches usage to see how many Friday fires we can have throughout the winter with current supply. Yes, this one was just plain hilarious - what if we want a longer fire, what if it burns slower or faster, what if we want a bigger fire? But at least he's trying - and thinking. 
  • I weighed a package for a Garden of Francis order - he plays with the buttons every time to see what it is in grams compared to ounces then re-calculates to get me to believe that the scale is inaccurate. It's NOT inaccurate, but he "plays" with the numbers to get it looking that way. The thing is - to do what he is doing, he has to KNOW what he is starting with; otherwise he might happen upon the "right" answer and end up looking foolish ;) 

Writing these up, I don't feel like we're hitting on everything - that would take a book each day ;) All the little conversations we have, tossed in between and during everything else....

Interesting to see.