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.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Montessori and Creationism

Legoboy and I have been busy with Cover Story, catching up and going deeper with reviewing our herb studies, preparing to sprout new seedlings and begin our herb garden anew, finishing up the major material-making projects for my 5 atriums, and getting caught up with Garden of Francis (including a site revamp, still to be posted) - all with limited internet access. Keys of the Universe discussion community has a life of its own, for which I am eternally grateful!

Legoboy has been assisting me in almost all of this - mostly happily, sometimes a bit more grudgingly. Somehow he still gets his Lego and reading time in - and all I get is a sore throat, lost voice and swollen lymph nodes (love those herbal remedies! I'd still be sick if on regular medications). But big sigh on being an adult and not an invincible child anymore!

One other project we have been working on is modifying the Keys of the Universe albums to specifically address those who believe in the 6-day creation of the earth, approximately 6,000 years ago. We have been studying resources in-depth to see what we can do with our lower elementary Montessori materials and presentations, most of which currently support an old-age of the earth even the ones that don't particularly emphasize evolution (some were already modified to remove "evolution").

The fact is that Maria Montessori lived at a time when long-term evolution and the Bible were potentially going to be reconciled; so she combined them. The last century has certainly brought about many changes in scientific processes, our ability to look in more detail at the presented evidence, and begin to realize that some holes just aren't going to be filled in, specifically because there is nothing to fill it in.


My household is Catholic. I am Catholic. Our homeschooling is imbued with the Catholic Faith.

I receive many questions about how we combine Montessori and the Faith, particularly in regards to the origins of the world. That part is the easy part.

The hard part is the persistent lack of understanding in our world, especially among Catholics, about what Catholics must believe about the origins of the world. Required to believe:
  • God created the world. 
  • God created two parents, each with an eternal soul and free will. 
  • There was an incident that lost Grace for the human race. 
  • He promised a Redeemer, who became incarnate as Jesus Christ. 
  • God is implementing Salvation History with the cooperation with the free will He gave to humans. 

From there it is open to interpretation. HOW did God create? How long did it take? Evolution, 6-day Creation, something in between? The Church allows us to look to the evidence for ourselves and believe what we will, if anything at all, on these matters.

That is not to say that people within the Church have not strongly put forth their own conclusions, and even made it sound authoritative.

In the Catholic Church, it is not authoritative as a required dogma of belief (what one must believe in order to be a true Catholic) unless it is promulgated by the Pope. Even the Popes who have believed, for themselves, one way or another on matters of creation that have been left open, never spoke dogmatically on those topics.

Respect for free will - especially when the Holy Spirit has not revealed it to us.

I personally lean VERY strongly to 6-Day Creation. I used to be VERY strong (devout?) believer in long-term evolution - I saw all the evidence and believed, I saw all the evidence and ignored all the holes. Then I started asking questions about those holes. This is MY experience. I will not push it off on others when the Catholic Church leaves us to interpret for ourselves. I suppose I will only receive the final knowledge on this matter, if (when?) I reach Heaven and the Beatific Vision myself.

Legoboy and I are putting together resources to help out others wanting to do Montessori with 6-Day Creation at the foundation.

Genesis Montessori is the slow fruit of our labors.

We don't have anything actually available for sale or review just yet. We are establishing the framework, then slowly filling it in so that we can then focus on each detail with confidence in the structure. It is really fun to work on this with my 9 year old at my side - and many times at the helm!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Herb Love

Here's a post that has been a while in the making - for something so simple! 

Our indoor garden went downhill fast after some dear friends over-watered; and we had a pest issue with the mulch used - our treatments were too-little-too-late :( 

But the marshmallow lives on! Can't beat that!

We started Herb Fairies when they opened up this past spring. We're not exactly "fairy" people in our home, but it is a neat concept and storyline to teach the various properties and uses for a wide variety of herbs. 

Each month, a new story is released. Legoboy reads the book via the computer and takes a look at some of the other information. He's more on top of things than I am ;) 

Eventually (generally long after that month has passed), I will sit down and print out selected pages for our binder. 

We then listen to the audio-book together while we each color our own coloring page. Again - we're not exactly coloring page people here, but it is nice to color in the flowers and leaves of the plant at hand while listening to a story about it. 

It is really much better to do the stories in the month they are received, because that is the when the plant is already in bloom and going to be in bloom out in nature already. We attempted to grow things inside, but we had a series of unfortunate events - now that winter is soon upon us again (we have a south-facing window and grow tomatoes inside during the winter - they don't grow as much in the summer for us), I think we'll start again with fresh seeds.

I try to print on the lowest ink setting possible - and use up low ink cartridges - so our pages turn out light. It just means we can fill in the details we like (and get the information through our hands again!).

The great thing about our binder is that, even if we did the work in the actual month provided, there is SO much there - that you can easily pick and choose a few things this year; and cycle back around to it next year. We also have a beautiful binder full of recipes, crafts, additional activities, uses, journal pages and background information (like scientific classification information). One would have to cut back on other studies in order to do everything provided in one month. It has really been worth every penny spent.

I myself am really learning a lot and enjoying every minute of it!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Elementary Biology - Scientific Classification

Within the AMI elementary biology album, there are two levels of classification:
  • simple classification - primarily for the lower elementary student as plants and animals are being explored; simple classification based on observable characteristics - essentially "practice sorting" while being able to explain one's choices
  • scientific classification - primarily for the upper elementary student. The "traditional Montessori" system utilizes a dichotomous system for Kingdom Vegetalia and a not-so-dichotomous for Kingdom Animalia.

The simple classification is truly simple - it is organizing specimens that are on hand or through photos. No extra or particular materials necessary. 

The scientific classification though... not so easy. And that is where Legoboy is heading in less than a very few number of days. I have intended to get this material prepped at various times over the course of the last 4 years, but it just hasn't happened. So here we are. 

And oh my. What a chore! 

What troubles I am causing for myself: 
  • studying up on others' takes on the Montessori approach, including a prevalent science author with materials available on several Montessori websites. I purchased some of the material to get a feel for it. It doesn't sit well with me - particularly the sections that say, "We'll use those old outdated ways for now until the scientists get all the new naming structures in place." It is all just very complicated. And if you're looking at anything from a faith-based perspective? Well, her intention straight-out in the introduction to the book I own is to get away from humans as stewards of the earth - we are simply part of the earth (she's puts the words "an important part" in parentheses perhaps to downplay the anti-stewardship statement she'd just made?). Sorry - the whole attitude rubs me entirely wrong. 
  • studying up on more recent scientific classification methods, without the Montessori component. Yep, up in the air. At least the above-mentioned author is right on that one. So whatever I create now to "match" will be in-progress anyway, needing updates sooner and often. 
  • There are so many varieties of classification. 
  • the fact is that evolutionary-based classifications, which can only be based on current hypothesis (which change as the times change) are simply not appropriate to provide to young children. We want to give them the unchanging facts first - then with that solid foundation we can build upwards into the unknown or unclear areas. 
  • And some kids won't care - so let's give them the foundation they need for a solid education and let them be, without over-complicating the matter. 
  • Convincing myself that the Montessori materials for scientific classification are outdated - is spinning me around in circles. The only clear path is to accept the materials as they are, present these to the children.....
  • and leave "The Tree of Life" and other materials for adolescence, where they belong; NOT in elementary.

With that load off my shoulders, I can move forward, create the materials I received in training, enjoy my son's childhood instead of nitpicking all of these details - and if it works for him, we'll pick up further biological studies down the road. 

So our material might still include phylum for the plants - and that may be outdated for now (the above author states they might come back but with a different name) - but this system is based on observable characteristics that an elementary child can handle. 

Like utilizing the mind for foreign languages, this work will prep the children for further classification down the road - it is not the only way to organize the world - it is ONE way. And it is one way that works for the elementary child. 

UPDATE 10/15/2013: Progress is being made! I hope to have a download available for purchase at Garden of Francis and Keys of the Universe very soon. Keys of the Universe discussion community participants will access it for free ;)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Writing Experiences - Upper Elementary

Reading The Remarkable Journal of Professor Gunther von Steuben
Legoboy was finally able to start his Cover Story program we ordered a few weeks back. Through Homeschool Buyers Co-Op, we got it for a significant discount and we were one of the first people to receive it. He has long had his eye on their high school "One Year Adventure Novel" (he kind of prefers their follow-up program on Science Fiction and Fantasy, but he knew he would do the Adventure version first) - and was SO excited when they created the middle school level "Cover Story." At the time we learned this, he was in an online middle school literature course on Lord of the Rings with my favorite college professor - so he already had an inkling he might be able to do this middle school writing course sooner than "6th grade".
Well, it took a few weeks for our lives to settle into the current school year (our school year still adjusts at Advent, but we have school-year-based activities and programs we join or I lead) - and he had a few requirements of my own before I was entirely certain of his readiness: I wanted him to review the lower elementary grammar boxes material (ostensibly to help me with some errors I had in the files, but also for his own review since we're not in a classroom where built-in review just happens), he also had some more language analysis work to work through - we will finish that up concurrently with his writing program. Otherwise, his "language arts" for the 'year' is in this box: 

I say 'year' in quotes not just because of our Advent school year change - but also because, well, it's Legoboy. He's creating a magazine about (guess!). I just have a strong feeling things won't take a typical school year. Although - they might. We shall see. I do anticipate by Easter, he will have produced his own magazine, but I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes a Christmas thing is all ;) 

What is in the box?

Teacher guide; student text; Journal (reading/writing); DVD set

The DVD does most of the teaching, with a lesson watched each of three days a week. There is a bonus DVD on grammar in case the child needs some additional work there; otherwise the program assumes the child has a good foundation there. Each of the core lessons are followed with a tiny number of pages done in the...

student book: focuses on exercises which clarify their topic, get them thinking about their topics, looking at different styles of writing, reading some short story selections and analyzing.

Write in the journal 5 days a week - instructions are given on the DVD. It alternates between the "Professor" and sets of blank pages to be filled in by the student. In the beginning days, the student writes sets of questions that come to mind - could be unrelated to one another - just to get started on "thinking": just asking the questions. Later they start to look at how to find the answers to those questions. Hm. Sounds a bit like "research" ;) The journal assignments build from asking questions, to describing interesting details, to a 5-sentence paragraph, to dialogue, to a paragraph describing a person, to a paragraph "mini-story" - and that's just the beginning!

If you follow the program to a T, it comes out to 3 days a week of DVD and workbook; 5 days a week of writing in the journal. Not very much time spent at all, which is great for someone with a full schedule. I really like this simplicity, because it means we have so much more flexibility with it when it comes to possible sickness, scheduling, and focusing on developing relationships with other people.

This first week is picking a theme - Legoboy is doing all the exercises in this section even though he has his theme already so that he gains experience for the future, when perhaps he won't have a topic already picked out that is acceptable to the current authority - i.e. college.

This is where I am (again!) so in love with the Montessori method of education and living. We keep things to the essential keys - and then we can flesh out interests, pull in other resources at will, and enjoy the learning process. Yes, I'm gushing. ;) I enjoy these moments as they come!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Rolling Mats at Home

When we moved several states over for Montessori training, my son attended a Montessori school full-time. Despite having learned how to roll mats and the like at home, he truly honed in on this work within the school setting.

So much so that he brought his work home with him. One evening, after he had rolled literally everything sensical that he could find to do so - he took my paper and began to roll it as well! I was laughing too hysterically to think to photograph the rolled blankets, aprons, placemats, coats, washcloths and towels - but I did get the paper!

So much for the ladies at the training center telling me that children who attend Montessori school will be put off by having the materials at home (it didn't happen in our case - his work was enhanced by me making materials at home for him to "test" despite being at school 10 hours a day in a fully equipped classroom).

A few weeks later, he started in a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium at our local parish (yay! I was so happy to be at a parish with an atrium! He had such a wonderful catechist too!) - and he was showing HER how to roll the mats because apparently she didn't do it the way HE had learned it. ;)

Hi Mama! I'm rolling mats!
(notice the one behind him? already rolled)

He even PATTED the ends - just like the teacher did!
I so did not teach him that part.

Unrolling his work.
Got to to do it again!!! Unroll and do it over!
Now it's a fun game because Mama is laughing and the camera is flashing. 

Oh the memories this brings back...

Monday, October 7, 2013

Montessori Co-Op Language materials

I have these two language materials stored in my elementary impressionistic charts box - mostly left over from co-op, but Legoboy recently found this one and loves it:

I made this parts of speech display for my elementary co-op children - to remind them what each symbol meant. They had not had these symbols in primary, so this was a very helpful chart for them. 

This is one of the handwriting charts from my AMI primary language album. It used to be framed - not sure where the frame went ;) This is a sample of the banded line paper (faded on one side), placement of the letters on the paper and one of the several handwriting charts the children should have in primary (and sometimes in lower elementary) - I find the ones with cursive and print together especially helpful for children who learned print first.

These two very simple charts allowed my lower elementary co-op children with no primary level experience to fully integrate into a part-time Montessori classroom, without the need for outside resources or modifying the true Montessori experience in any way - any modifications made were the same ones I would use in a full-time classroom.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

First Paper - On Respect

Recently, Legoboy was required by his tae-kwon-do instructor to write a one-page paper on respect. This is the first outside "assigned paper" he's ever had, outside of some paragraphs here and there. At home, we've had other types of writing assignments, easing into writing "papers".

The pictures throughout this post are some of the resources he used to write that paper.

Despite having all the keys he needed, he felt quite overwhelmed. So, while I was occupied with my own work, I non-chalantly reminded him of the writing process:
  1. get your ideas down on paper (wide variety of options - notecards, bubbles, lists, etc.)
  2. organize those ideas under main headings
  3. consider any other headings that should be included (look at "audience requirements") - edit as needed
  4. physically organize all these ideas in order, and begin writing on paper with complete sentences.
  5. Edit from there as needed.
Praying for Gifts of the Holy Spirit

So he did just that list. As he considered the types of respect, he decided to divide it up under "Mom (and Dad, if ever)", "Teachers/Instructors" (to include all the teachers and instructors he has such as catechists, speech teacher, TKD instructors, any camp leaders, etc.), and "Other Adults of Authority" (godparents, grandparents - the sort of people whose opinion and advice he seeks out on a routine basis). 

He then proceeded to write his paper - one paragraph for each type of adult. It turned out great! And he even capitalized where he was supposed to do (an ongoing idiosyncrasy of his is to leave out capitalization).

learning the names and definitions of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Before I proceed forward, let's look at some background: 

Why do we homeschool?
We homeschool because it is the best available option for us at this time. If we had a full-time local Catholic Montessori school - or if I could open one at this time - Legoboy would attend. 

Why Montessori or homeschool and no other option?
I want my son to think for himself, be a productive and contributing member of society, be self-assured and live as a true Child of God. Unfortunately, I find these things difficult (not impossible!) to achieve in a public school or most of the locally available private school settings (including our local Catholic schools). The local school system is an excellent one - it just doesn't meet our needs. Legoboy interacts with a full society on a daily basis, as he would in a multi-age Montessori classroom with Goings Outs. 

Level 3 (ages 9-12+) - Peoples and People of God
Peoples are the nations and civilizations that have risen up,
made discoveries, invented, created gifts -
then faded away - but left their gifts to others (horizontal connections amongst peoples).
The People of God are the Jews and Christians.
This work explores the connections amongst peoples, and the moral responsibility
to utilize the gifts received from others, develop them, and pass them on
on a national level - and on a very personal level.

I also do not believe in wasting time. Rising before 6 am to be on a school bus with ages 5-18, before 7AM, to return after 3PM, with a total of 90-120 minutes on the bus each day - when you are 6 years old (now 9yo) is not a good use of time. Driving back and forth to pick-up/drop-off is not a good use of my own time (I did this for 2 years when I had in-home daycare - picking up and dropping off children during what would have been our family prayer-times - but I was paid to do that). Legoboy has been able to accomplish the schoolwork of the public school in a matter of minutes each day, without additional homework time; he has time to explore his own interests and go very deep with them. He has time to participate in activities that others have to say "no" to (or that others say "yes" then back out when it gets to be too much).

My son is learning to maintain his commitments, because he does not over-commit. Each new activity, whether on-going, short-term or one-time, we are able to discuss the realities of the situation and make an appropriate commitment level, such that we don't break promises. We have the experience repeatedly with children attending full-time schools of broken commitments, tired children, cranky parents who over-step their boundaries in public. It is simply not a culture we seek for ourselves. 

source for the Gifts: Scripture itself
Scripture is the primary reading reference in our household
It is so easy in school to just "get by" - our Montessori-homeschool is based on mastery: while we might move on to other areas of study within that subject, we continue to review and work on skills that need to be mastered - they don't just get passed over and left behind as so readily happens in schools. As homeschoolers (and Montessorians), we review just what needs to be reviewed and reinforce all else. 

Some of the definitions - particularly COUNSEL

Also, we can take our time when needed - have a deadline for a project at school and turn it in late? Grades get knocked down, but you move on with life; don't do so well in 5th grade, you move on to 6th grade without enough time to ensure basic skills are thoroughly covered. Most schools simply cannot handle the developmental needs of a child who has a wide variety of ability levels - one-room school-houses and Montessori schools address these appropriate developmental needs of their students. It is not the fault of most teachers - it simply how "the system works". What a sad fact. How many times, I (the "good student") learned how to play the system when I was in school - sometimes to my own long-term benefit, but many times to my own long-term detriment. "Playing the system" is NOT something I want to my son to learn. I want him to respect legitimate authority, learn to function within it, and know when and how to properly address concerns. 
The Mystery of Life and Death

As a Montessori homeschooler, we have our foundation and framework provided by the Montessori albums ("lesson plans") and we have the construction of this growing human being fleshed out by his own interests, local educational standards (he's been studying US History because that is what the local schools do in 3rd grade - that is the ONLY thing they've done to date that's he wouldn't have done on his own), and parental requirements. To flesh out these interests and go deeper with our work, we utilize other resources. This is a Montessori practice at elementary. 
Level 2 (ages 6-9) Maxims Cabinet
maxims are moral statements of Jesus calling us to our "maximum"

He has responsibility for his own work - my responsibility lies in assuring he has the necessary keys to get the job done to his greatest potential.

Level 3 study of some of the moral parables

What does this have to do with writing a paper?
Short answer: I don't do his work for him. I don't homeschool to DO his work, his study, his learning, his projects FOR him. I know this is common practice in schools - for the parents to do so much for the kids. NOPE. Not a chance in THIS house. My mother didn't do my work for me when I was in school - my experience was my own - for better or for worse - and for that I am SO grateful. I wish she'd been on my case a bit more, but there's another bonus to homeschooling. Want Lego-playing time? Get that project of yours done.
(funny thing is - those parents who do the work for their kids - could spend the exact same amount of time homeschooling their children instead - and there'd be a lot less stress in those homes, a lot more responsibility, and time to just be together as family - all the reasons I homeschool)

Legoboy has been writing with pen and paper since he was 3 1/2, when he started writing "thank you" on cards of his own accord (I thought he was drawing pictures until he asked me how to make a K). Not consistently and he wasn't writing out a college thesis at that age (he's still not ;) ). I do not consider him a genius, but I do consider that he has had the proper keys to learning, via Montessori and homeschooling, that allow him to blossom forth at the proper time for HIM. 

We have used some writing resources outside of the Montessori keys: 
  • Creative Communications: a series of writing exercises designed to get the children thinking and utilizing real writing skills - nothing arbitrary here! These are assignments from me, but he enjoys them. 
  • writing prompts from the history and science magazines he reads - these have never been "assigned" by me, but have been freely worked on by Legoboy
  • Typical writing experiences: letters to family, grocery lists, write-ups to me about why we should spend our hard-earned money on specific purchases (what would be the benefits and drawbacks, how much will it cost, how long will it last, maintenance, where will it be stored, etc.)
  • summaries of Scriptural passages, with some quotes
No formal writing - he's not even in middle school yet. We did purchase this resource to utilize when he is done reviewing some elementary materials for me: 

He is REALLY excited to do this work, because over the course of the curriculum a magazine is created. He's already selected his topic. Anyone's guess what the topic is ;) (I'm not telling - it's too obvious!)
I have looked the material over and I know that at age 9 1/2 he is just barely ready for this middle school work. Go Montessori! (and homeschooling!)

I repeat the short story: I DON'T DO THE WORK FOR HIM. That is ridiculous to think of anyway - who checks his work? Me. Who doesn't assign grades? Me. If it basically wouldn't be considered "A" or "B" work in a school setting, who works with him to make sure he understands the concepts at hand and has him re-do it? Me. Who is with him every step of the way and knows the progress he is making? Me. 
So why would I do any of it for him!? I spend my time TEACHING him (or providing the tools that he uses to learn it for himself) - what benefit do either of us get for me to do his work for him? I don't have to report his work or show it to anyone. And it would go against all my parenting goals of raising a responsible adult.

Reading the Scripture itself

The Respect Paper:
So there we are, in the level 3 atrium at our local parish - I am working on materials and organizing boxes of mixed items. He is sitting at a low table surrounded by the Moral Formation materials, working on his respect paper. He reads the first paragraph to me (about parental respect) - great; he reads the second paragraph to me (about teacher/instructor respect) - not so great - I am a HUGE stickler against blind-obedience. So we discuss that I only want him to obey when it is not a sin (my words) - he can do a tae-kwon-do form wrong by instruction, his speech therapist can correct his pronunciation wrong - and these he needs to obey and speak to me later about it - but if someone tells him to commit a sin, he is NEVER-NEVER-NEVER to obey. So he re-wrote his second paragraph to say that he would "obey all moral instruction" - perhaps "morally correct instruction" would have been better, but at the time I let it go, because he got the concept and this is HIS paper. 

His words. 

Not mine. 

Level 3 Prophet studies - moral and messianic
Then he struggled with the 3rd paragraph - he struggled for quite a while on this one - he knew what he wanted to say, but didn't have the words for it. I, in my impatience at the sound of a whining voice and busy with my own work, tired and hungry at the time, told him in a rather (too?) sharp voice, "You have everything you need to figure this out - use the materials in the atrium if you have to."

So he did.

He wrote about seeking the counsel of those who have moral authority over him and considering their words when making decisions of his own. 


I thought it was great. I was so proud of him. I AM still proud of him. 

Typology studies - this one is creation (How does creation continue today?)
Legoboy has also studied Sin (How do we fight Sin today?)
and the Flood (How are we renewed by God today?)

So here I am feeling guilty about snapping at him - when he's writing a paper on respect. Seriously, talk about a hypocritical Mama, right!? 

He was told by the tae-kwon-do instructors to re-write it with the insinuation that Mom did the work; that he couldn't possibly have written it himself. Later, after I explained that he had taken bits and pieces from several of the atrium materials to construct this paragraph, the accusation was changed to him copying it from somewhere. There was so much mis-communication during this time period, I am not sure how any of us got to the other side of it (but we have!).

The two instructors involved continue to state that Legoboy is obviously intelligent, surpasses his peers in many ways especially academically, they see the books he reads. So why is it so hard to believe he could write this paper BY HIMSELF? 

Because for every belt test there is a paragraph supposed to be written - and he previously only wrote a sentence. Well, no-one told him to do otherwise. Once he was told to write more, he did. He's a boy - and a child - and it's not school-work - he's going to do the bare minimum needed on something that is not of direct interest. So if you want more, TELL HIM - then he'll do it. He also took a short-cut (which I stopped as soon as I caught him) - he went through the entire book and tried to fill them all out something like 4 belt tests ago - he is supposed to write one PER belt test - the progression of growing and maturing is supposed to be shown. He's efficient, I'll give him that. 

The one instructor then had the audacity to tell me that Legoboy couldn't have written that 3rd paragraph specifically because if he'd written those words, he would be living them out in his life. Ummm.....

This man is a father of several grown children and he has already forgotten that head-knowledge isn't always heart-knowledge? And that sometimes the act of writing something down and thinking through what one believes about something turns it into heart-knowledge. That's not copying - or getting help - that's figuring it out and making it one's own (one of the other reasons we Montessori and homeschool).

Ever since Legoboy wrote that paper, he has been living it out - to a T. He didn't "live it out" beforehand because he hadn't organized all these thoughts and teachings yet - this paper has been GOOD for him, let us allow the child to grow up now and not hold him to his understanding BEFORE the paper!

10 Commandments and the Level 3 maxims
(same as the level 2, on smaller tablets - and 5 more of them)

I appreciate the assignment from them, because of this growth in my child. 

I also appreciate the bitter side of this gift in that I see my son growing stronger through being in appropriately accused of something - yet still respecting the very people who falsely accused him. 

Level 3 History of the Gifts of God
(level 2 is bigger but covers the same concepts)
Level 3 requires personal responses
regarding the Gifts we have received.
Yes, I'm offended. This started a month ago - and the more I consider it, the more I pray about it, the more I let it go - the more I realize how much pain could be inflicted here, how much trust is being broken, how much my son is hurting because of the pain and the dropping trust - and how much he is growing by working through that adversity and forgiving. He is a better person than me. 

We ALL have so much to learn from the children.

In the end, Legoboy was asked to provide examples of respect - because I refused to have him re-write his legitimate work, and I am his ultimate authority here on earth. I think this is the first time ever I have modified a requirement from someone in authority over him. So they provided a new assignment. Since they didn't give any other guidelines to it, he created a "graphic paper" for them:
UPDATE 10/7/2013: It turns out they loved the fact he used a combination of art and some words to show the examples. They also love the examples he utilized. Success!

For the PUBLIC record - I edited the first page of his paper entitled "respect in graphic" - I replaced his name for obvious reasons - you can tell where that was/is.
He provided 5 examples of "this/not this":

  • practicing low-block while the instructor isn't watching (do it right, or do it sloppy)
  • putting a book on the shelf properly in our home (yeah, there's a history here on this one)
  • saying no to drugs
  • seeking counsel (I love this one: say "hmmm" to consider someone's counsel - or say "I don't care what you think" in the other)
  • speech therapy (he listed the things the could think about if being disrespectful (Legos, etc.) compared to what he would think if respectful (whatever it is she is telling him to work on)). 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What Montessori Homeschooling Does to Children

First, he did this work to help me locate any remaining typos reported by Keys of the Universe AMI Montessori Album owners: 

Grammar Box 6 (filler box B)
ignore the colors - my printer is out of some of the ink

Then, in pure LegoBoy fashion, he did this:


Only in a homeschool (in an authentic Montessori, my upper elementary should not be working with the grammar boxes anymore at all ;) ). I love it!!!!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Small Home Montessori: Impressionistic Charts

I am asked from time to time how we store our charts. This has changed over the years - and the caveat is that I have the FULL-SIZE mat-board charts from AMI elementary training. These are intended for a full classroom and I would not have purchased from specifically for homeschooling; however, for what I purchased, they were much less expensive than any of the options available for purchase anywhere else (even now), they were a complete set that coordinated with the albums I was creating in training - and, well, they were required for training.

Thus I use what I have, though it is not ideal for a homeschool setting.

For a while, I had a Montessori co-op set up in a rented room at our local church school building, stored in a shelf purchased from a closing Joann Fabric. We just brought home the charts we needed. We were in the building enough times during the week to access the charts for follow-up work, but it still wasn't good to have them separate from us.

The shelf up top holds the smaller supplies.
Charts are organized in the two sections (left and right)
with some timelines rolled up in the front (a box on the bottom holds them in place)

Now, I have brought all the charts home. WHAT a relief!!!

Our living room closet looks so innocent:

The right-hand side is normal enough: coats, shoes....

The left-hand side though.... AH!!!!
   The hanging shelf on the left holds many of the supplies needed for the charts; other supplies are now stored with our regular science materials.
   The charts themselves are organized by their subjects with wooden boards - each board is labeled with the subject and the numbering system for the included charts. I didn't end up cutting enough boards and just wanted the project DONE, so I kept the U and GW charts with the first set of Geography charts (that tab is partially covered: it says 1a-28a - then lists the numbers for the U and GW charts); and I grouped geometry and mathematics.
   The blue binder in the lower left contains master copies of various copyable stuff - mostly from primary, but there are a few elementary. I use that less these days since I can print directly from the computer, but it was handy in the school-rented co-op.
    Notice the box? Yep. Straight from an Alison's Montessori order. Perfect!

top-down view
I added tabs for art and music - no impressionistic charts for those, but we can keep some of our poster-prints and the like in here as well; I also have a section in the back for blank posterboard, and I have the pegboards in here for now - that plastic lid in the back is just to hold things more securely in place for the time being.

You can see the geometry corkboard plane to the left in the image above - I made it too big to fit in the box and don't feel like cutting it down ;)

If ever needed, I'll find a narrower box for the rolled timelines, so that they fit in a row towards the front and provide more room for the charts themselves.

I use a similar idea for our Communal Prayer materials in our atrium - much smaller charts, but the same concept - so this file system applies to any size if you have stiffer charts. The available cloth charts would need to be mounted for this system to work; I would love to see storage ideas on those because it seems that rolling them all would take up so much more space. Maybe?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Material Making Mistakes - Mathematics

Just sharing one experience we had that I wish I had done differently from the beginning:

I purchased our decimal fraction material after using a cardstock version for a while, with makeshift pieces. The number cards that it came with the purchased material align with the columns perfectly.
I can't find the aligned photo off-hand - but here are the cards it came with. 

I hand-made ALL of our other number card material, including all of primary, the Bank Game (Bank Game is elementary; the "primary bank game" is called Change Game in AMI albums), and others.

Handmade Bank Game cards - with the white card coming from the primary material;
additional categories created to add on

For a portion of the work with the decimal fractions, we show how the whole numbers are flipped over, gain a decimal point, and become decimal fractions.

In addition, we sometimes use whole numbers with the decimals to show how it works on the board - most children move through that stage quickly, but even so it is nice to have those whole numbers actually align with the board.

Even most importantly for the first exercise - when we use those whole numbers they know, flip them around to become the decimals, then replace with the actual decimal cards, the numbers should align with the columns.

Mistake made??? - I didn't have any whole numbers that corresponded to the column size on the decimal fraction board.

If I could do it again, I would love to make at least one set of cards that correspond with the decimal fraction board, so that I save myself making a set of cards ;)

Our Bank Game material corresponds with our primary cards, so that I just "added on" rather than created a new set. This should work for most homeschools - but some (with several elementary and several primary might want two entirely separate sets). These cards are larger, but perhaps I could have made them narrower....

Then our wooden hierarchical material - I did ultimately re-create this number card set (for primary we used the number card material I already had, and added on the higher categories - elementary needs commas, so I did create new ones for that in order to keep the primary set comma-free for use with my co-op children). Since these have commas, they don't work for flipping over....

Or perhaps I just need to deal with un-aligned columns or make a new set.