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, December 29, 2017

Keys of the World and Keys of the Universe

Legoboy and I have been working on some new projects!

New websites and some new structure on the current sites:
**Products are being added daily to each of the new sites**

Garden of Francis 

(new site is in-progress - once all products have been transferred over, the old store will close and the new store will replace the current site; for the time-being purchases are accessible through both sites)

New Site for Garden of Francis:

  • All of the offerings from both Keys of the World and Keys of the Universe in distinct purchase options: 
    • Mentoring via Albums/guides
    • Mentoring via Videos
    • Mentoring via Online Support
    • Certificate of Completion payment and instructions
    • Materials (download and physical)
  • Home Goods
    • Soap
    • Cloth items
  • Christian Formation
    • Catechesis of the Good Shepherd materials
    • modified Godly Play materials 
    • Prayer table and family altar cloths
  • Liturgical Celebrations
    • Organized by the liturgical season
    • Crocheted rosaries

The familiar site for Garden of Francis:

  • All current offerings (no changes)
    • Soap
    • wood cutting
    • custom orders
    • downloads for Montessori mentoring
    • liturgical seasons
    • Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

Keys of the Universe

No changes have been made to the outward offerings.
Upcoming changes:

  • Mentoring via Videos will be a separate purchase, with the current prices set as a combined price separated to lower amounts. 
    • Those people who already have video access will continue to access it in the same place as now AND will be able to access the videos in their new homes on the online support. 
  • Mentoring via Albums
    • complete albums continue to be offered. 
  • Mentoring via Online Support
    • online support continues to be offered. 

Keys of the Universe Montessori

All Keys of the Universe elementary Montessori offerings in distinct purchase options:
  • Mentoring via Albums/guides
  • Mentoring via Videos
  • Mentoring via Online Support
  • Certificate of Completion payment and instructions
  • Materials (download and physical)

Keys of the World

All Keys of the World Primary (ages 2.5-6) Montessori offerings in distinct purchase options:
  • Mentoring via Albums/guides
  • Mentoring via Videos
  • Mentoring via Online Support
  • Certificate of Completion payment and instructions
  • Materials (download and physical)

The Shepherd and the Vine

All of our religious-based offerings from Garden of Francis, separated to their own site as well.
  • Christian Formation
    • Catechesis of the Good Shepherd materials
    • modified Godly Play materials 
    • Prayer table and family altar cloths
  • Liturgical Celebrations
    • Organized by the liturgical season
    • Crocheted rosaries

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Crazy Times - Some are Awesome - and A NEW WEBSITE!

Life is crazy - and has so many curveballs, some awesome, some so far beyond painful I can't even share them, and some downright heart-wrenching as the strength of my supportive friends and family is proven second after crazy heart-breaking second.

First the awesome news!

I get to babysit my newborn nephew for two weeks ­čĺľ

The oldest of my mother's grandsons
with the youngest of her grandsons. 

Brotherly cousin love ;) 

And I spent the bits of downtime putting together three new websites. The first one is now live and active!

Keys of the World Montessori Resources
The Mobile Site

The Desktop Site

The listings for access to mentoring via albums, videos and online support are all up - I will be adding materials over the course of the next week, while working on the other two websites to be updated: Garden of Francis and Keys of the Universe are both getting a complete overhaul, with a similar format to the new Keys of the World site.

For the weekend I am focusing on some craft projects:

The baby's older sisters are learning to latch-hook. I helped them find a way to organize their colors and their pieces. The youngest is 4 and is just practicing putting the colors on - not following the pattern just yet.

And I am starting on Christmas stockings for each of my family members. Won't all be done in time for St. Nicholas Day, but my son and I are the only ones who officially celebrate that one. Everyone else fills their stocking on Christmas Eve.

And the adolescent-Montessori-homeschooled boy is continuing his studies in history, Minecraft and computer coding and the book of Proverbs - when he's not snuggling on my lap.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

REVIEW POST: Montessori Kiwi Elementary Montessori Boot Camps

There is not one thing I do not love about Montessori Kiwi's Bootcamps for Reading, Writing and Great Lessons!

I was privileged to access all three of them and, while I was asked for a review on just one, well, I can't do that. I truly appreciate the content of all three of them and can't pick a favorite.

As a homeschool mom years ago, just starting out; or as a newly trained Montessori teacher just going into my student teaching and even my first full-on teaching experiences, I would have loved Lisa's concise, focused, *practical* guides that she provides here. Even with my own studies, full training and many successful experiences in the classroom and at home, these boot camps provide a down-to-earth perspective that makes it all feel possible!

She includes ideas for "what if this doesn't work", shares experiences from her own teaching,

Each half-hour video is a slideshow presentation with Lisa's voice-over. A pdf of the slides is included with each video as well; the writing portion has a writing template.

Great Lessons: 
She includes specifics on what can be done before, during and after the Great Lessons. Typically with such resources there is always something that makes me cringe a bit or think "that doesn't quite fit with my reading of Montessori's work" or similar. But NOT this time! Spot on, 100% agreement! I gleaned some new ideas/tweaks as well; which just goes to show that collaboration does indeed help us adults go deeper!

Lisa includes information on the Inquiry approach which is very much in line with the Montessori approach, but (as she states) was not created for a Montessori environment - so some of the details are somewhat "givens" (such as freedom to go back and review a concept at any time). The way she organized and presents about the writing prompts, inquiry, and all else is very intuitive, very practical - and very much needed reminders about how straight-forward we can be with the children!

In this boot camp, what she describes as happening in primary/casa/other-name (ages 3-6) includes a variation on the pink/blue/green series, that not all Montessori approaches utilize. I find reading to be the one area that different Montessorians really take different approaches. I love how Lisa works through this area in a way that honors any of the approaches.

She also offers supportive downloads in a variety of areas. Take a look!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Planning my presentations

This post isn't about planning the children's *work* - it is about planning my presentations.

Mostly for the little ones: infant, toddler, and primary. While I am not showing the infant and toddler portion, it is the same principles.

The general overview of the intervals is at this Montessori Nuggets post on Organizing Primary Presentations. What I have in my notebook is the detailed version which tells me the specific names of exercises to be worked on in each interval. This is available at Garden of Francis or is included free with the Keys of the World Primary Montessori albums online support.

Just a simple three-prong folder. I drew in some lines to separate the areas for me visually. Each interval covers about 6 months if I start with a 2 1/2 year old. Older than that, I still let the children move at their own pace (slower or faster), but I consider the fact they may be in need of something appropriate to their age-interval, while still wanting to get in these preliminary foundation experiences.

At this first interval, as long as I am reading books with the child, providing lots of real life experiences and having lots of conversations, I am looking at 1-2 "new" presentations a week. This number fluctuates between 1-2 up to 5-6 for some intervals (essentially a daily new presentation).

This does NOT dictate the child's work choices. Simply my presentations of new material.

Each week, I look over the list, consider the needs of my children and select which are the most appropriate.

I might note the date I give the presentation, or check it off, or I might write it on a calendar of some sort. Since I have had a wider variety of children in my home other than my own, I have used a calendar to note what plans and outcomes rather than print out this document for each child.

I might make a list of materials for the interval I am focusing on - things I need to check on or purchase or locate. When making purchases, I might look 2-3 intervals ahead to try to save on shipping and time.

See this post for more information and pictures - Planning in the Montessori Homeschool

For those looking for elementary Montessori homeschool planning: 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Financial Learning

Legoboy is now 13 - he has started investing !!!! And I have been fielding many questions about what led to such an occurrence with a 13 year old.

Well, it certainly wasn't planned! It just happened.

Meaning - I laid a foundation, knowing the results should be good, but not knowing the details.

I wrote about some of our history here:
April 2014: Personal Finances and Montessori - Go read this one for our history! So I can just build on it here!

and here:
April 2014 - School Days - this really just notes that we continued playing the Act Your Wage game ;)

We are about to dive into the Middle School edition of Foundations in Personal Finance and with all the investing questions, I thought it is time for some updates!

Your Business Math
- and Day to Day Operations at Home
Legoboy finished up the Your Business Math, using the Pet Store option. LOVED it. Then he went through and did it all again, running different numbers and different mock orders. We honestly could probably do it again and I could add some cards to make it more complex, but we have the FPU course coming up, he is helping with more of our real business operations at home (Garden of Francis and Keys of the Universe) and taking on more involvement in the daily home finances, that I think we're probably good!

Day to Day Operations at Home
I recently pulled out the Dave Ramsey baby steps again. We had been working on them, but got distracted by the fact that when we were finally debt-free, I shifted into savings mode. It came time to teach all the older children in my care some financial skills, and slow down my own spending on them.

I pulled out the Dave Ramsey baby steps and talked through them with the older children.
Each older child (ages 11, 12, 14 at the time) received a prepaid Bluebird card through American Express. They were each given a base allowance of $150. Of this money, a certain amount could go into a savings account I set up for each of them, a certain amount was spending money on whatever, and a certain amount was intended to cover their own toiletries and clothing. Activities we would discuss on a case-by-case basis. This didn't mean I wasn't ever going to provide any clothing or treats or the like, but they were no longer to ask me for money. They had their own; if I so chose to offer a treat, it was on me. The "certain amount" was discussed individually with each child after budgeting for their "needs" and their "wants" and their future needs/wants.

We had a variety of experiences with this, from awesome savings after frivolous spending, to "let's go steal someone else's card and claim it was lost at the Reds game, thus someone else must have spent all that money at all the places I typically spend money at." Um. Yeah. Good learning experiences there too! All the children set some aside each month into savings.

Shortly thereafter, the children were removed from my home, due to lies and DCS covering their own past mistakes and putting them on me - but that is another story. Please pray for the children, their families, for DCS, the judge, the court system, the local prosecuting attorneys and all those who I met during the worst 5 days of my life in May.

Just before the children left, I received our tax return for the year and finally got started on retirement. The program we are using allowed me to set up separate accounts - not necessarily belonging to the children (they can't have investments accounts of their own), but labeled with their name and only using their money. This is what got Legoboy started. He was looking at it, looking at the differences between Aggressive, Conservative, Moderate - what are stocks, what are bonds - no guarantee of higher earnings, but wow the typical difference between that and his regular savings account!!! Yeah, he was interested! The 14-turned-15 year old chose to split her savings money between regular savings and investment savings, but following whatever plan Legoboy chose. The 11-turned-12 year old chose to keep her money in her regular savings.

Act Your Wage
We played this game with our older bonus children. It was frustrating and beneficial all at once. Afterward, the oldest (who complained about it the loudest) wanted to play again. Sadly, that time hasn't yet come, but it did get her thinking about finances in a more healthy manner.

Foundations in Personal Finance
Dave Ramsey now has a middle school edition of his FPU resources and we are about to give a try!

We'll update more soon! 

Update: 7/7/2017 - Lesson 1 talks about teens having $500 in an emergency fund. Legoboy's response: Um. No. If I am being financially wise, I would set myself up as if I have some adult responsibilities so that I can be better prepared when I am 18 and an actual adult. What am I supposed to do? Turn 18 and have to put another $500 in the emergency fund immediately? What about the fully funded? This is my time right now to build that up, while I have no debt already.
(they may cover all this later)

7/8/2017 - BORING! I know all this.
(he does indeed answer all the questions in the workbook before watching the DVD lesson; he talks back to each person with more information. Perhaps he is too well trained ;) We are only on the second unit, so more material to cover yet!)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Family Gardening in Our Home

Time to move these plants outside! 
My children and I need to get cracking on planning our gardens. It is March already and we should have seedlings going already! OOPS! Flu and public school issues will do that to a family, I suppose.

This year, with 5 children instead of 1, we are going for a modification of square foot gardening. Each child will have their own space to plan within.
(Technically we had 5 children last summer too - but we started the growing season with 1 child and 1 adult and added from there - and our garden FAILED last year. Utter Failure.)

  • Pumpkins
  • Tomatoes
  • Rhubarb
  • In the yard: add more lilac bushes, landscaping refreshed, plant some berry bushes for the future

Miss 14:
  • Watermelons
  • Strawberries
  • Purple Trailing Petunias

Mister 13:
  • Pumpkins (more)
  • Cucumbers
  • Watermelon
  • Cantalope

Miss 12:
  • Corn
  • Strawberries
  • Coleus

Miss 4:
  • Carrots
  • Sunflowers

Mister 3:
  • Flower mix
  • Sunflowers

Not as much variety as I would like to see, but we've had a late start in planning. We'll see what happens in the coming weeks!

The children will be responsible for their own area. With the particular needs we have in our mix of children, it is best for them not to share duties with the others, although Legoboy (Mr 13) and I will provide reminders and guidance for the others when needed. Miss 14 has never grown anything, ever. 12, 4 and 3 had a garden in their previous home but didn't get to see everything grow - they were provided some of their vegetable produced as it was harvested, but didn't get to pick it themselves.

This should be an interesting year to say the least ;)

Previous gardening related posts:
Lazy Gardening
Pollinator Week - Planning for our new home and garden
Nature in Montessori Education
Almost on the Farm
Vermi-Composting: WORMS! 
Gardening in an Apartment
KidzHerbs Garden Kit: Review Post
Musings on the Elementary Scientific Classification Material
Herb Love - Review Post of Herb Fairies

Other Posts in the Series: