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.

Friday, April 11, 2014

School Days - Botany, EPL, Language, Geography/History

We have been so way-laid from our plans these last few months as you will see with our botany studies... but I feel like we have utilized this season of Lent to really freshen up and clear out. So now, we can focus on things we love to do :)

Practical Life: 
Legoboy got right onto his morning chores, clearing up corners that he'd not quite done just properly the last few days. He even vacuumed (an extra). He must think it's almost time for his birthday ;) Actually, he has really begun to appreciate having a clean home where he can spread out his Lego projects and still find everything.

He arranged the prayer table a new way - with only a week to go until the start of Holy Week, he wants to be ready for some planning he has been doing for the Triduum. He lit the candles for prayer time and replace the old with new.

I wanted to replant our herbs in October or November, start the seedlings then, so that they could benefit from our south-facing balcony window through the winter and be strong hardy plants by now.
All of our herbs except marshmallow did NOT make the full cycle of life from our last planting. :(

Yeah. Um. Or not. Here it is April - we finally got them in.

According to our plans from last time, we made some changes:

  • use a seed starter within the egg cartons
  • make holes in the bottom of the cartons for the roots to not have to through so much thickness of cardboard (even soaked, many of the roots worked their way between the layers of cardboard, but not all the way OUT --- even after watering only the soil to attract the roots to the soil. 
  • place the egg cartons in the seedling planters immediately (well, they now have holes in them after all)
  • place directly in a warm window (we don't get as much direct sunlight right now, but a friend has a sun-lamp to loan us if needed)
  • use this blue rack that has been making the rounds (we've used it for home stuff, Montessori stuff, in an atrium, in a Montessori co-op, in Legoboy's bedroom, and now into the living room stacked tall and narrow) --- it really helps all the plants reach the light, uses vertical space and not our entire floor space or play area. 
After getting this all squared away, Legoboy wanted to listen to some of the Herb Fairy stories again (Herb Fairies is currently offering a free herb cookbook and will soon open up their yearly Herb Fairy adventures ---- we are SO NOT into "fairies" and the like in our home, but we love this learning adventure!). We chose the one about roses today. Oh! All the things that a rose plant can help with! And the candy from the fruit! (actually you can make candy from the petals too, but the story didn't share that part - which means there is SO much more to learn about all the herbs we've been studying!). So we listened while I worked on tracing figures for a Garden of Francis order and Legoboy built some Lego structures. 

Practical Life Moment (as if herbs aren't practical ;) ) --- he went down to check the mail....
And we got our package from a Mountain Rose Herbs giveaway - I love winning giveaways!!! In this giveaway, we received a package of dried herbs: marshmallow root, chicory root, astragalus root powder, milk thistle seed, and burdock root --- all of which go along quite nicely with this month's Herbal Roots Zine which is on chicory. Many times, we can't do all of the recipes because we don't have the ingredients on hand. No excuse this time ;) So when we get to actually reading the Zine next week, we'll have what we need. Yay!

Our herbal studies have really gone deep. I blame Montessori on that. I can't imagine having time or energy to explore the options and make any basic herb-learning selection if we used any other curriculum. Using Montessori, this IS our botany studies (after the basic lessons). I know I gush about that freedom of time we have - but it is SO true! We worked out a plan today to choose one day a week to be our herb day - it could be reading the Zine and doing some of the activities, doing activities or watching videos from the various newsletters we are signed up for (Learning Herbs, Herbal Roots Zine, are the two that come to mind right away), doing or creating something from the kids herbal books he has, doing a recipe from the Mountain Rose Herbs catalogs (because they have recipes in there --- teas, foods, medicines, candies, you name it!).

We are taking a short break from the Montessori lessons while I create the follow-up cards for the upper elementary portions - I want him to work on these sections from the beginning, rather than what he's been doing (reviewing the lower elementary follow-up cards for typos and logic).

We played Act Your Wage again today and discussed some variations to try out next time. I'll post how all that goes ;)

I then assigned him some real life word problems of a sort, using our home finances as the foundation. It is amazing the insights he comes up with by "handing over" the finances to him. Not that he is really doing our home finances, but allowing him real life participation in real numbers and real situations, he sometimes comes up with ideas or asks just the right question to get me thinking of something better. And he finds the applicable Scripture passages when it comes to certain situations as well. He is the one to coin the phrase I have used a lot frequently: "the wife is to increase what the husband provides for the family". Well, that is perhaps a topic for our Catholic Hearts blog, but it ties in so well with our Montessori studies of real life, real experiences, inter-connecting all areas of school and life.

With these word problems, he has been looking at basic interest rates, savings rates, expenses, ways to expand our budget, etc. Utilizing both math skills, as well as logic, problem solving and ethics.

As an upper elementary student he is really delving into exploring the various beliefs about the origins of the earth and the early history of humankind. Last year, he explored various creation myths from around the world; he wants to get that book again from the library - I will post about when we do because it is recommended in the elementary Montessori albums and he wants to create some sort of analysis of the similarities amongst each one, as well as the differences - then see what those differences have to do with the culture the story came from.

Today he read a chapter from a book he has on Creation vs. Evolution.

We finally had our discussion on what a debate is, how it works, no winners/losers yet how we can analyze a person's evidence as well as the presentation of that evidence. Look at the questions still unanswered and how many debates prompt people to do their own research.
All of this ties into his earth origins studies, because of the recent Nye/Ham debate (the link is creation perspective but I am short on time and can't find a link without a "bias") - we own the DVD - I watched part of it online but didn't have time to finish. We'll be watching the debate soon, tracking the evidence each one puts forth and see how well each one does in responding to the other.


  1. A school days post! I was SO excited. Good work :)

  2. These are such interesting topics to be exploring! I am glad for perhaps a glimpse of what might be to come.