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.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Montessori: Small Objects

There are a few Montessori presentations for which random small objects are great for. Typically, these are in the language area --- and depending on the "style" you follow, you may need more or you may need less. The Keys of the World (AMI-style) require fewer.

In our home we didn't buy any - except one batch of tiny flower pots with flowers, on Ebay. Why? I don't know, but they sure are cute!

We could have totally done without them.

The thing is - each object has far more than just one name. And you can describe it.
So a "pig", depending on the details shown you could use: pig, sow, boar, swine, pink, large (other sizes), piglet, animal, mammal --- and even look at their parts that can be seen: snout, eyes, hooves. etc. Or what they provide: pork, bacon, ribs.

Cows are also bovine.
Horses are equine.

If you want to buy some objects - go for it! Just don't dismiss the idea that you have 100% of what you need in your home already. What you don't have in small objects doesn't have to done with small objects - "I hear the sound in "mmmm" in something in this room - who could it be? OH! It is Emma!!!"

Posted this on Facebook:
Some assurance that you don't "need" to buy small objects (if you "want" to - have fun! but those feeling the pinch? ***Look around your house***)

This stuff was gathered one day, several years ago. We sometimes pull additional things (like jumpdrive, necklace, lego pieces (Legos are great for miniatures!), other toy pieces, etc. It is AMAZING what we have in our homes, when we actually look. Got a junk drawer? A random art pieces junk drawer? Sewing? Hardware? Legos or other play sets? Oh! We did a tealight candle in this set for a while - then we decided to use it wink emoticon

Another Story: 

I met a homeschool mom about 2 years ago, who insisted up and down "we just don't have small objects - which ones should I buy? and we are on a TIGHT budget."
I told her

  1. You have more than you think you do. 
  2. You don't NEED all those cutesy objects other people have. Use the large objects around you if needed; use words in the child's mind. Use the kitchen cupboard contents, or the trees/objects in the backyard. Sounds are all around you. 
  3. She was still in a quandary (amazing how we moms like to work ourselves up into these). I was coming to visit anyway and I asked for permission to find small objects all over her house, requesting permission (or boundaries) of where I could look. 
I filled a 3-gallon bucket. All sounds were represented. 

She had insisted she had NOTHING! 

Here is a basic run-down of our "tiny objects" in our Montessori homeschool and co-op:

Toob animals (I don't even know what all we have here!)
Lego pieces (amazing what can be pulled from Lego sets)
Tealight candle
More hardware pieces
#6 from our fridge magnets (to have an "x" when animals are not present)

Barbie hairbrush
flower from my bouquet from my mom/stepdad's wedding
set of three tinier keys - on a key ring
plastic keys from a Wendy's kids meal game (like pick up sticks)
plastic rosary
plastic ball
big green button from an old coat
plastic pacifiers from a baby shower
tiny flower pots with flowers - different colors
white gift bow
red gift bow/rose
hexagonal box with two lids
wood cross
bunny in egg
paint board
rubber band
tongue depressor (popsicle stick, craft stick)
green paint
empty jar of paint (clear, jar, cap, lid, glass, metal, white, empty)
various rocks/stones
rug from a doll-house
tacklebox divider
wood star
egg-shaped stone - looks like the universe
pen cap
glass stone/marker
brown jars with white lids
small cloths
wood ring
red die
bunch of flowers
chopstick rest
sticky notes
brass bell
red netting
tiny wood cube
Christmas wreath pin
thread spool
gold dish
white cup hook
two sizes of paperclips
extr caps/lids/covers
4-leaf clover
suction cup hanger
silver bell
gold ribbon bow
plastic ring
gold cap for lightbulb
milk cap
red paint
silver ring
table-leg foot prop (we used these for polishing dishes years ago)

NOW **THINK** - for each of those objects are words for all of the following:
colors, sizes, textures, composition, style, other appearance, weight, multiple names....

Tell me you can't do all the sound games and the Mystery Bag with this set?


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Work Plans - CONFUSION

Primary children should NOT use a written work plan.
But they can have the conversation!
And they can ask for a particular presentation
(as this boy is doing - because he has plans!)
There is a plethora of confusion about work plans.

I recently posted this in the comments of an online friend's blog and decided to make it its own post. I try so hard to "agree to disagree" on many interpretations of Montessori, while presenting information from a new viewpoint --- so each individual can make an individual choice for their own situation. This is one area where I am TIRED of being attacked, name-called, my intelligence and adherence to Montessori called into question because I don't "let" the elementary children "have complete freedom." Montessori never said "complete freedom". She said "freedom with responsibility" for the elementary age. And the misinterpretation of work plans and what they are SUPPOSED to be, I am drained of maintaining the quiet stance of "well, consider this aspect....".

Time for the truth to be told. Boldly.

Work plans are the child's segue into responsibility. 

They are the child's written down thoughts/plans for the day or the week or the month, following a conversation with the adult who does not dictate but listens, offers suggestions, answers questions, poses some questions and sometimes reminds a child of an area of exploration that the child doesn't know about (or remember) that would actually HELP the child's current explorations, interests, projects. 

Work plans are not checklists or pre-assigned/designed by the adult. 

Here is what I recently posted in the comments on another blog:

I think a good deal of the confusion comes from inaccurate information given to us first; it saturates us so that we come to the accurate information if it is not MORE forceful and MORE clear and MORE everything than the inaccurate information (and sometimes even then!) it gets pushed aside, not read/understood as intensely because an opinion has already been formed.

I REALLY wish certain other places would stop with the checklists - "download, print and use this as work plan". Those are not work plans, they are checklists. And they are adult led.

We ALL have work plans - whether written down or in a planner or in our heads - we all have a plan for the day, the week, the month, the year, life-plans - and we are all working towards those. To help the children we discuss, we check-in, we guide them, we make sure they are aware of scheduled activities that are upcoming so THEY can plan to get into deep or not so deep work depending on how much time they have, we let them make some mistakes but we also offer words of wisdom at the right moments --- and the children can write that down.

I don't see "checklist" in there anywhere. I am SO happy that the truth is finally being understood and being spread (I have felt like a lone voice for FAR too long) - but I am so sad at the depth of the misunderstanding.... 

A work plan is simply a written form of the plans in your child's mind. 

A homeschooler's version might look different from a classroom version - why? Because in the classroom, you have 35-60 children working in various areas to inspire the other children, reminding them of other areas of study.

Children in classrooms can observe others' work as a review and reminder of their own past work, inspiring them to further work or a way to apply that knowledge in their current work. Homeschool children don't have this inspiration, so it is OK to have a list of all the areas that could be studied in - as that way of reminding the children. They also won't be visually reviewing (observing) as much so it is ok to remind them to review areas they have not touched on in a while.

There are many other differences between classroom and homeschool, found in other posts - and some are still in-development.

Ultimately, we the adults have the map, yes the child still has his own personal journey - but how does the child know his options if we, the adult, don't present them.

Thus we continue to give new presentations (the children have a right to know when these presentations will happen, so they can learn to plan their own day); the children have a right to know there ARE more presentations and to request them. The children have a right to know how to plan their time wisely and receive GUIDANCE in their project and study planning.

If we do not have a conversation with the children and provide this opportunity for them to talk out their previous work (work journals) and their upcoming plans, then we are doing a SERIOUS dis-service to the children.

A GREAT article and video on the "Three Essential Tools of the Elementary Environment".
Montessori Guide: The Three Essential Tools

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Montessori FAIL

So many times in Montessori - or ANY homeschool program or experience - we feel like failures.

As intentionally homeschooling parents we tend to doubt ourselves even more than other parents - are we making the right decisions? Am I doing this right? Is this really what is right for my child?

What is very true about Montessori is that it is intended for ALL children - the universal child. The key principles of observation and key-based response leads to a personalized experience for each child - that recognizes both the universal forces within the child as well as their individual uniqueness.

But when Montessori doesn't work for OUR child, we doubt. Either it is ourselves or it is the method. Or maybe Montessori doesn't actually work for every child.

Well.... What Montessori means to some people might not work for every child, but the CORE of what Montessori actually IS does indeed work for all children.

Some keys to keep in mind with authentic Montessori:

  • Montessori works on a 3-fold foundation: prepared adult, prepared child, prepared environment. Of the three, the prepared adult is the most difficult. 
  • While it is not "about" the materials, the authentic Montessori materials are the response to the observation that children need particular keys to help them organize their world and master concepts. These keys have been thoughtfully developed and prepared to meet particular needs - and each material has a DEPTH that not all albums, trainers, or bloggers provide.
  • What Montessori really about is living real life - and providing the keys when needed. Living life with respect for one another, honoring the presence of each person in one's life as well as those who came before us and those who will come after us.

It is when we worry that our child is not working with the materials, we doubt. So let's consider why the child isn't connecting with the materials?

  • it may be in our personal approach
  • it may be in the reality that our children need something else in that particular moment
  • It may be the fact that our children learn through observation (we can learn through observation too!)
  • It may also be a lack of understanding the school versus the home setting. Montessori is not about the materials but about living life. We use the materials to provide keys-based experiences, but the children in a school do NOT spend their entire 3-hour work cycle touching the materials. They have bathroom breaks, stories, conversations, watering plants, caring for animals, perhaps some gardening, snack time, walking on the line.

Questions to ask ourselves:

  • Do you have a continuous non-circular line for walking?
  • Are you doing the activities that don't utilize materials (silence game, in primary (ages 3-6) the entire first chapter of the language album (Spoken Language activities are actually QUITE extensive))
  • Are we presenting the keys, then letting the child have time to explore and discover extensions and games and the like before we introduce them ourselves - in other words, are we pacing enough to keep presenting new things (daily in the beginning - but again, not everything with materials) while allowing personal discovery?
  • How much time have we spent JUST observing?
  • Do we have a good guide for WHAT to be observing?

Practical things to DO in Montessori:

  • Observe your child. Note interests, attention span, actual needs (some of which are unexpressed).
  • Have real conversations and experiences that bring the child into life in the real world. Social situations, gardening, caring for animals, practical life of cooking and cleaning.
  • Hold your child responsible for cleaning up after himself - yes this can be with your help; the focus here is on setting that good habit of "the work is not done until is put away and/or ready for the next person."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Given Time and Space to be Creative

Children WANT to be creative. 
Let's LET them!

Just a very few samples as I sort through photos from the last few months.

They need instruction on how materials are to be used - then invited to explore with the boundaries of respect and care.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Getting Started with Elementary Montessori Homeschooling

Getting Started with Elementary Montessori Homeschooling

How do I start Montessori homeschooling? 
How do we begin using Montessori at home? 

Useful tips for starting a new classroom or transitioning in new-to-Montessori children as well.
Over the years, there have been numerous blog posts and other articles helping parents get started with Montessori homeschooling; most of these articles are addressed to the primary level; a few to elementary. None really get to the heart of the matter. Dr. Montessori intensely observed the child and his inner workings, observing what has been there since the moment of creation - and found a way to provide for what she discovered. On the one hand, nothing magical; on the other hand, so profound that it affects our very being - because that is what she observed - the depth of the human soul. Thus Montessori is about more than materials and lesson plans (album pages), more than the academics... it gets down deep and the environment MUST reflect this depth in order to achieve the true fulfillment of the child.
Elementary is compatible with primary, if you have children of both ages in your home; but it is NOT the same. The needs and tendencies are the same, the core response is the same (respect, follow the child), but the outward signs are different. Why? Because the elementary child is now in the second plane of development, which brings about a set of changes. A need for order? Yes! but order has now been internalized and the child no longer feels the need to keep order in his outer environment - now we must be very conscious about keeping our space cleaned up out of respect for the other persons in the environment and not for our own internal development. Among many other examples.
So how do we get started with Montessori homeschooling at the elementary level? What if your child has had no Montessori background or is even approaching the adolescent years. Let's take a look at what remains the same. First some previously posted articles of interest that remain pertinent to our needs in this article - these apply to both primary and elementary, with my elementary additions:
Thoughts to keep in mind as you FOCUS ON THE KEYS: 
    • A set of Montessori albums (manuals, lesson plans) will be your "keys" - your academic teasers to get the children working on their own interests. 
    • The children should be exploring their own interests; and you will need to pull in resources according to those interests.
    • You do NOT need the most expensive manuals with every possible interest included. You want something reasonably-priced with the *keys* so that you have both time and money to do what you need to do with your child's interests.
    • You WANT a theory album to explain all the background in every day applicable terms.
    • The elementary level is OPPOSITE the primary level in the following key ways:
        1. If the child is not yet reading/writing, reading will typically come first. (in primary, writing was first)
        2. We will now provide the BIG picture first; then go back and fill in the details. We will provide that big picture every single year of elementary - so there is plenty of time to come back to it; they don't need to get everything the first year. (in primary, we start with the most basic) - Cosmic Education (everything is inter-connected) - the big picture is told via stories called the Great Lessons. 
        3. It is NOT necessary to finish the primary albums before moving into elementary, if you have AMI (keys) albums that provide for what to do with children who didn't finish or didn't do primary Montessori.
So how do I suggest getting started?
(these tips are good regardless if you are new to Montessori altogether or are transitioning from primary to elementary or even if your children are nearing or even in adolescence)
  1. Follow the steps in the two articles above. This is just to get started in laying the foundation. Add in the book Volume 2 of The Advanced Montessori Method (available free online through Google Books) - just the background portions to get a feel for things. Purchase your core set of albums, or at least the "theory" album. Hint: if the set of albums does not contain theory, it probably won't suit your homeschool needs at this time; these other album options can be added later if you find your child has particular interests. 
  2. Focus on de-cluttering your home. Don't get rid of anything just yet (you'll end up wanting some of that stuff back) - just clear it out of the main living areas. Do get it out of the way - what is the purpose(s) of each room, just have what you need there. You do not need 5 tools to do the same job. You do want your children to have access to the tools they need. Consider placing strong chemicals in a high-up cabinet so that the accessible cabinets contain safe items. Consider replacing your cleaning chemicals with safe substances your children can use with you.
  3. IF you are transitioning from primary, you will be removing a LOT of trays (or keep the trays for your other littles). The elementary child now has things he needs in more logical places. Science experiments are only trays for the teacher demonstration, and when the child goes to the supply shelf to gather his needed supplies. He does NOT need everything laid out for him on a tray anymore. Trays at the elementary age, for the most part, are an insult to his intelligence. Yes, a nice basket of interesting items, requested by the child or presented once in a while by the adult is a great way to entice an interest, but that doesn't look like primary ;)
  4. WITH your children, make any necessary repairs on found items. These practical life skills are HUGE to the foundation of an elementary child's education. And a very strong preparation for a fantastic adolescent experience.
  5. WITH your children, truly clean the house. Same idea with the practical life skills. Use those safe cleaners (white vinegar, baking soda and citric acid go a LONG way; add some washing soda and borax and 99% of your cleaning is done). Use those large muscles and those tiny muscles. CARE about the environment and show them how to do so as well.
  6. On your cleaning breaks: Begin telling the Great Lessons. Just the stories, with the included experiments. You'll pull your supplies from what you have, only buy what you  need for these lessons.
  7. Work on remedial language skills IF needed. 5 minutes at a time, interspersed throughout the day - the needed keys should be in your elementary Montessori language album. The ideal is that a 1st grader can read at what the public schools consider a 3rd grade reading level. By 2nd grade, a Montessori child utilizing KEYS, will be reading at middle/high school level and your only concern from there is keeping up with maturity in regards to topics.
  8. Where do your children's interests lead? Establish the pattern of hearing a story, exploring what we think about it, what entices us, what questions do we have (write those questions down and expect them to find answers, sometimes with your help), what do we want to DO with this new knowledge (write that down too). The children can copy the chart, re-create the charts in another way, repeat experiments, seek out further information on a key point of interest.... If they have more than one idea, write down the other ideas to save for another day. Encourage a point of completion - write down the question and the answer found; draw pictures; collect ideas in a notebook; create a poster; etc. Around this time you will also be starting to work on work plans and journals - as you are comfortable and find the need for accountability, it will come more naturally. Not every story or presentation will lead to self-designed follow-up; be ok with that, but also be encouraging of the child asking questions, going further, and EXPLORING. 
  9. (this step might be a month or more in) With your chosen set of albums, go through the early math lessons to find where your child is. Keep it fun and interesting - let your child show you what they know. Let them know this is what you are doing (show a material, state its purpose and say, "show me what you know, I'll fill in the rest"). Do NOT worry about the age on the album pages when you are starting - just focus on finding where your child is since the sequence is very different from every other math option out there. Begin where needed and move forward from there. Hint: Good elementary math albums include a section on what to do with children who have had no (or limited) primary experience. Do not start a typically developing elementary child in the primary math album.
  10. Getting into the rest of the albums. By now, you should find that you are using most or at least half of the subject albums based on the child's interests (geography, music, biology, history) and the basic skills (math, language, geometry). Add in the remaining subjects when appropriate for your family.
There you have it: 10 Steps to Elementary Montessori Homeschooling.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Switching Roles: Who is Building Legos Now?

Ordinarily, I am the one working on the computer, with the sewing machine, on the scroll saw, etc - all the "electronics", while Legoboy builds with Legos. 

One day, we switched places! His new EEME kit had arrived (we are on month 2: DIY Display). So he had the computer with the internet to watch the instructional videos. 
See our review post of EEME Kit 1 here

He bought me this with his LEGO VIP points! 
The Creator series set (it is a flower cart) wasn't an actual purchase. If one purchases more than $75 at the LEGO store or website, during the month of January, it is free.

Also, during the month of January, there was a promotion that for ANY Star Wars purchase in-store or online, you could receive a free Star Wars set (retail value $4.99). Well, we were in there the FIRST TUESDAY of the month and they were GONE. The employee said they'd only received 150 for the entire month's promotion. Wow! Lego usually has better planning than that - it's Star Wars! When they have Star Wars Lego Club meetings, they have to offer two in a month and they are still booked solid far in advance of the date.... You'd think they'd send each store more than 150! As a consolation, however, she offered my son an alternate package that actually has no name.

He gave ME the Flower Cart on the way home. What a sweetie!

The box has 3 birds; the first two birds have 2 bags each.
And I think Legoboy had put the Flower Cart set in here already too.
I LOVE the design on this box!
(I love the design OF the box - reclosable!)

Each bird has its own booklet - the first half is written in 3 languages
(Spanish, French, English)
and has a full page photo of the bird, along with information about each one.
There is also an informational page on the designer of this set. 

In the meantime, the resident Lego-obsessor is watching
some videos and building an LED digital display
using generic electronic components
that he can apply elsewhere in the future. 

Not sure which is cuter:
my aviary trio
or the Legoboy foot off to the left! 

Friday, January 9, 2015

When do you become a "writer"?

Just some musings as a variety of fragments come together over a short period of time.

14 months ago, Legoboy started a Cover Story program (writing his own magazine - middle school experience). We LOVE it, but last year wasn't a year for accomplishing much. Honestly, looking back, we were both really, really, really, REALLY burned out living in that apartment. It was hard to get through a day just fighting to be able to spiritually LIVE, let alone focus on much routine. At the time, in the thick of it, we didn't realize how bad that was. But now, looking back, the amount of time we simply spent ELSEwhere, or looking for "stuff", or getting out essential oils and herbs to deal with respiratory issues (smoking neighbors; strong perfumes on the neighbors; after a while even the laundry detergent and fabric softener smells from the laundry room below us were setting off strange reactions). Those memories are permeated with a sense of *searching* - always searching: for an item, for a remedy, for a moment of peace at 2am listening to the neighbors... do what they do at 2am (which most of the time was drinking and singing in the living room, but you know - walls are paper-thin). I suspect we were searching for peace.

That description makes it all sound so horrible. And it didn't feel like that in the moment; all 6 years of moments living there. It was a temporary place that became the longest time I have ever lived in one place, ever. Waiting and searching for a house to move into (and yes, I know MBT is waiting to hear that story).

All that to say - Cover Story took a back burner.

But now we are moved and unpacked, catching up on SO MUCH and looking forward to starting it up again next month. Legoboy wanted to start it sooner, but we have some other areas to address first.

I am totally rambling - and that is just going to be the nature of this post ;)

We follow Cover Story and One Year Adventure Novel (warning: the home page on that site opens up a video almost immediately - cute video, but auto-play annoys me) on their blog as well as on Facebook. Interesting blog topics are the norm, with highly thoughtful responses.

Recently there was a post on When Can You Call Yourself a Writer?

The general gist of how I would personally respond and what the author was getting at: you are a writer when you write your own ideas.

Copying someone else does not make you a writer.

Writing someone else's ideas does not you a writer make.

You are a writer because you write your own ideas.

Rambling on....

So often in the realm of Montessori teaching as well as homeschooling, we have some foundational groundwork experiences that seem straight-forward, but are then interpreted several different ways, and end up with different outcomes. I am thinking particularly in this moment of the learning to write and read experiences offered to Montessori children around the world. Some use something more similar to what Maria Montessori actually did (AMI comes rather close; probably not identical; Muriel Dwyer summarizes it); some use a pink/blue/green reading scheme for the complicated English language (which makes me wonder how the AMI/Dwyer-taught children learn to read/write English with such ease, exploding into reading with joy between 4 and 5 years of age, if English is too complicated to use Montessori's method; compared to those using pbg whose children read first then write, but later - many times not until unto lower elementary... but I digress - both systems WORK, just that one feels more authentically Montessori and the other feels more adult-controlled --- if the Montessori goal is to present the keys and let the child decide when he can write and when he can read, that is all that matters for this post).

My question though is - do the children in a Montessori setting become writers from the get-go? Or do they have to be eased into it?

I make a strong case for the children are writers when they write their own ideas - when they are communicating via a written language their OWN ideas.

The AMI/Dwyer experiences allow the children to know all the 40-44 key sounds in the English language prior to starting the movable alphabet; the children can write words the first time they pull out the movable alphabet. The adult/guide/parent/teacher orients the child to the box, how to carry the box, where it goes on the shelf, how to straighten the letters. the placement of the letters within the box, how to place the letters on the mat, reviews a few sounds and invites the child to think of a word (ANY WORD! What did you eat for breakfast this morning?). Let's listen for the sounds in that word. What sounds do we hear? Say the word the child chose - he selects the sounds, and places them in order on the mat.

If the word can be (silently!) read phonetically by the adult, we do not correct spelling. We will get to the phonograms very soon. Right now, the child is WRITING. His own ideas.

The child creates a list of self-chosen words. He may ask the adult for inspiration and the adult provides some questions to generate the child's ideas.

Actual samples of my then-3-year-old son's movable alphabet work
Self-chosen topics
note the rules he has picked up on and those he has not yet -
yet all are phonetically spelled according to the rules he received to that point
The list is cleared away when the child's work is done; we do not have the child record his work (the adult may copy some words down, the child does not about this, as a record of work to show mom/dad at conference time - or other parent if a homeschooling family - but the child is not yet writing with pencil on paper the words, because we do not want to reinforce improper spelling, nor do we want to reinforce that everything has to be written down - sometimes the child just wants to WORK --- so these early times, we stick to the basics; let the child request to write it down on paper, or just do it on his/her own).

When the child is ready - that day, the next day? Short phrases. That orange you ate this morning? Describe it to me! "the juicy orange"
Introduce a puzzle word (the) - or wait until another day. it is ok since we are not writing this stuff on paper.
thu joosy ornj (or: thu joosy orinj - depending on dialect)
(the juicy orange --- it's phonetic, it's legitimate --- as the child has more phonograms, this will naturally correct itself)

it wuz joosy
it wuz sweet

The children are writing!

I do have strong feelings about providing the children crutches - idea cards (pictures or objects for example) for what to write, because their knowledge of the symbols of sounds is so limited that the adult feels the need to give the child success through a series of cards or pictures or books keyed to the sounds the adult has provided the child. I DO feel strongly that we should give the key sounds in quick succession so that the child doesn't NEED these crutches to have success. When a baby learns to walk, he generally has a running-like gait. Let the children have this experience with writing too! Let him run before he walks with crutches!

Not only does it give them confidence from the beginning, it provides the keys they need to write anything, thereby freeing up their creativity to GO places! Rather than writing someone else's ideas and waiting on that person to give them permission to write on their own, then having to figure out how to think for themselves.

You are a writer when you write your own ideas. Describe your own real life experiences. You need real life experiences and sometimes guiding questions.

Copying someone else does not make you a writer. Copying words that are meaningless - you have not chosen the words. You have not chosen the topic. These are not your ideas or your interests. Choose your own words of interest from the various topics presented in an authentically Montessori real-life environment! 

Writing someone else's ideas does not you a writer make. Spelling out the words of pictures on cards is not writing your own ideas, your own thoughts, your own interests, YOUR writing. Draw your own pictures to write about! 

You are a writer because you write your own ideas. Describe your own real life experiences. What do YOU love? What do you loathe? What brings you passion? 

I once worked with a young man, age 4, going through a PBG "program" modified with G-O - giving him lists of words that met the criteria for what he already knew. He was accepting of the work, but only asked for it because he knew he "had to." It didn't seem to fill him with joy or peace - simply "ok, I did that work, now can I go play?" This wasn't my environment, I didn't control this part about the adult giving the words; I was there to fill in for the main teacher and I am happy to respect her authority, despite the drudgery of 3-4 letter "phonetic" words. For my own personal kicks one day though, I said, "What word would YOU like to write?" He said, "Really!? I want to write the word skeleton - I have been wanting to learn to write so I can write the word skeleton!"

I said, "Let's do it."

skelitun is what he wrote on the mat.

That boy could NOT BE MORE PROUD of HIS OWN WORK. He went on to write a LOT the rest of that week - all of it was phonetically correct, he did need some sounds given to him (he didn't know some of the key individual letters yet, but his teacher already had him writing with the movable alphabet - so he would ask me, "what is the letter for the sound (fill in the blank)?")

That day, he became a writer.

The lead teacher didn't seem too enthused. I felt like saying (but didn't) a slightly different rendition from the Frozen movie, "Why are you holding back such a man!?" Such a writer! This kid was creative!

I wish I had permission to publish his adorable SO PROUD smile.

Click here for a link to the Montessori Trails page correlating Dwyer with AMI with Pink/Blue/Green - aligned next to each other according to stages.