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.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Friday, September 9, 2016

Fractions Videos !!!

The fractions videos are finally being uploaded - I truly thought they were already up!

Here is a teaser!

This is from the fractions chapter in the elementary Montessori mathematics album - for Keys of the Universe that is "chapter 5".

All the others are available at Keys of the Universe!

And hopefully I will get caught up posting all my draft posts from... APRIL !? Ouch. We have had 2 boys come and go (to their permanent home), 2 older girls move in, then 2 little siblings move in. Addressing the needs of traumatized kids in the public school system. Family vacations.

And all the reality of how the Montessori approach is SO suited to the meet the needs of children with special needs and coming from traumatic situations.

I am in love with the Montessori approach more and more every single day. Even more so the days I don't approach things in this respectful, needs-based way - and go the way of the world - and everything literally falls apart.

More to come!


How many times was that!? 

I'm hungry! 

Cuz we can't be serious ;)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Snake Game Videos!!!

Montessori Snake Game videos are now posted at Keys of the Universe. 

For the elementary negative snake game, see the usual place for videos - on the course site ( in Mathematics. For right now, the snake game is the only video in chapter 9 (the others will follow!).

For the addition snake game and the subtraction snake game, please see the discussion community itself - I have posted both videos in both the primary level section (where all the primary videos will be) and in the elementary section in a pinned post under mathematics. While this work is primarily for 5-6 year olds in the primary environment, some lower elementary children can still benefit from it, especially as a build-up to the elementary negative snake game.

There are no videos for the following snake games, because they are redundant - already included in the other snake games!!!

  • Negative Snake Game (that has 5 boxes)
  • Multiplication Snake Game (already included as a verification stage within the Addition Snake Game)

Some of our cutest snake game bloopers: 

Other videos and samples are being added at our family business's Vimeo page



Rolling the mat: 

Leaving Runescape: 

Awkward Box Lids: 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Montessori Essentials Course

Montessori Essentials Course for all Montessori adults! 
       Montessori Homeschoolers
       Montessori Classroom Assistants
       Catechesis of the Good Shepherd *assistants*
June 6 8a-5p
Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception
Lafayette, Indiana

Learn the basics of Montessori that apply to all environments, along with the following:
  • History of Montessori
  • Exercises of Practical Life - preliminary skills, care of the environment, care of self and more
  • Grace and Courtesy lessons
  • Walking on the Line
  • Silence Game/Activity
  • Basic art lessons

$50 for the day (evening-before lodging available only as space permits)

NB: This Montessori Essentials course is one-day of a full 10-day course on the religious potential of children aged 2.5 through their 6th year. While the focus of the whole course is on the religious potential of the child as seen through a Montessori whole-child perspective, this first day will primarily focus on the universal aspects of the Montessori approach to life; thus anyone of any faith background who wants to utilize or learn more about the Montessori approach will benefit.

If you are interested in the full Catechesis of the Good Shepherd course, please see the post 3, 2, 1, Atrium at Seeking the Plan of God.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Making Montessori Materials: Bead Chain Arrows

I got tired of the paper/cardstock arrows. So thin, they slip around, hard to pick up when the focus should be on counting. They get *lost*.

The file I original used has two of the colors switched; I was able to change them (after I'd already printed the wrong arrows), then ran out of ink so had to wait. One thing leads to another, years have passed and the children are just making their own arrows out of paper for those two colors. I tried to print them again, but lost the modified file and don't have Adobe that lets me modify things anymore (and don't want to pay for it). Yeah. Craziness.

I kept saying I was going to switch to popsicle sticks.

Well, I started making the Keys of the Universe elementary Montessori mathematics videos - and my mission is to work on the corresponding materials as I get to the videos that need them. So there you go - or there I go. A simple project that became a big deal when it sat in my living room for months ;)

This material is indeed very easy.

What do you need?
  • A package of normal size popsicle sticks 
  • A package of tongue depressors
  • White very-fine-tip paint marker (for writing on darker colors)
  • Black very-fine-tip paint marker (for writing on most of the colors)
  • Paint in each of the bead cabinet colors (for "gold", I kept the sticks natural)
  • I also used a gold paint marker to outline the wide stick that represents the cube of the number. 
  • Note: I did not do the initial counting up at the beginning - these ones I will do in cardstock to keep them narrow. Easy enough to replace those for primary use (elementary students don't use them)
TIME: These took less time to make than printing, laminating and cutting the cardstock arrows.... Just saying.

I chose to paint just one end - just on one side at first; but I found it was easier to sort them and use them with the bead chains when the color was on both sides. So the *number* is currently only on one side (could be on both). 

The numbers are written so the arrows are placed below the bead chain; I really could have, should have written them so the numbers are placed on the far side of the bead chain from the child, yet readable. Wasn't thinking much at the time. ;) 

They still work for elementary. Will have to test for primary.

A video from elementary:

Friday, February 5, 2016

A Day in the Life of a Montessori Homeschool Boy

Our days have been looking more unschoolish as Legoboy gets older. Not just unschoolish - but more "practical". Like making popcorn - daily. ;)

Some previous "Life in the Montessori Homeschool" posts - just a sampling of what Montessori life can look like:

Final Upper Elementary Work Plan

LegoBoy's Doings: June 2015

Montessori Homeschooling Week - February 2015 - this post has the links for each day of the week

A Week in the Life of Legoboy 2014 - this post has the links for each day of the week

A Day in the Life of Legoboy

Elementary - Sample of Our Day - 2012 - towards end of lower elementary

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

REVIEW POST: Montessori House Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers

Montessori House has been on my radar for a while. The author and I are in the same Montessori "team" on Etsy - and I have had to defend her right to utilize the team tag "TeamMontessori" on her albums.

The author has AMI training and has organized her AMI albums for use by parents and teachers. What she offers is authentic - with some caveats. 

I do have fundamental disagreements with a few areas of Montessori House: 
  • The primary - or second half of the first plane of development - ages 2.5-6 is to be kept together. No child progresses perfectly in sync in all areas nor in sync with any other child ever. Thus it makes no sense to split up the albums for ages 2.5-6 into 4 different levels. 
  • Primary only goes through kindergarten - not grade 1. Grade 1 (or first grade) should be the first year of elementary, the child has a different mind (a reasoning mind) and is need of the Great Lessons, not being held back into primary. 
  • The author says on the main website that the primary albums at least are a compilation "of the best exercises and presentations". Well, in one sense, AMI provides the keys, thus the "best" are all of them; so this could mean all of them. But I am not so sure on that, looking over the table of contents. 
  • There are related blogs and newsletters, but none seem to be producing new content of late. What is there is good however! 
  • The groupings of how to purchase which albums is odd configurations as well, which leads to confusion of "what am I suposed to get for which age/experience". But this is minor. 
Still - what is there, should be quality. 

Last week, I finally purchased the infant and toddler binders for my own use. 

Some of my own Montessori background: 
  • Before I had my son, I had spent many days at a then-local AMI Montessori school - I had no training, I didn't even barely know about Montessori when I first walked in. But I fell in love from the first 5 minutes! (it took 4 1/2 minutes to get used to the idea of "just sit in this chair and observe for a little while to get a feel for the environment here" ;) ). 
  • At that school, I spent most of my time with the infants and toddlers; second-most time in before/after care, third in elementary (6-9 and 9-12 at this school) and lastly in primary (3-6). 
  • I loved every moment - even when I was overwhelmed with confusion about what on earth was happening! Children excited about studying grammar!? Children ready to leave who spend 5 minutes picking well more than half of their "mess" from playing with a friend because that is what is done to be respectful to one another!? Respect!?
  • In the meantime, I have had an awesome son, went to AMI training for primary Montessori (ages 2.5-6) and elementary Montessori (ages 6-12), subbed at a slew of schools, spent more time with infants and toddlers (and all the other ages, including now a limited time with adolescents) - and run an in-home daycare based on Montessori principles. 
No Assistance to Infancy training is on my horizon at this time --- and the resources I have accessed have been much less than stellar (ahem - Montessori from the Start - I will post a review on that book soon - I don't recommend it anymore! I only used to recommend it with caveats.). I did use Montessori from the Start but set aside so much from it - and felt guilty for doing so (more in the upcoming post). 

I have been loving my recent discovery: Susan Stephenson's book The Joyful Child for children ages 0-3. I have a review post coming forth on that one too - I will only say here that my only caveat is the lack of some material descriptions. 

I started to write my own guide based on my own observations, readings, experiences, etc. It would have been awesome; but The Joyful Child takes care of a good deal of what I wanted to put together - and the remaining bits could be gleaned from Montessori from the Start, but still the separation of wheat and chaff was hurting me. 

Thus, I took a chance on the Montessori House Infant and Toddler binders. Spent $80-something after shipping. Then I read some reviews from others in a Facebook group, posted right after I ordered. I was doubting my purchase. Very concerned about the wasted money. There was one good review but she said she didn't want a lot of background/theory (and that portion is needed!). 

My verdict? 

YES! Just enough theory/background to get across the points without being overwhelming and spending hours upon hours of reading. And straight-forward material descriptions. 

And the emphasis on OBSERVATION! Phenomenal! Even places to record dates, notes, reactions, etc! 

Not a downside or a caveat - but just a point of interest: These albums are written pretty much without emotion; there is little in the way of wordy explanations. It is very much "here is the idea, here is why it works, go observe!" Some people may be put off by that, but just read it as a factual document and all is well! 

One issue noted by the Facebook group reviews: a lack of structure, finding some of it "vague and disjointed" - I have that part covered below ;) 

Of course I have my own personal caveats - personal to me, but also from my professional perspective. I thoroughly stand behind the infant album (up to 18 months). In the toddler album (18 months to 2.5 years), here are some of my tips: 
  • page 83: When a child shows interest in letters at this age, Montessori House says to use sandpaper letters, DON'T. That is not the most accurate match for the child's self-construction. When the child is interested in letters and words, be sure you are playing the *sound games* instead. Separately, if a child asks about a word or a letter, give the word or give the letter *sound* (not the name). 
  • The math section: Counting - YES! Making counters out of clay for the fun of it - YES!
    But please don't do sandpaper numbers at this point or do the numbers & counters activity. These come after a child has had the number rods experience later. 
  • For math, keeping going with patterning, oral counting, one to one correspondence and the like. 

Overall, these two Montessori House binders, taken together with Susan Stephenson's lovely, parent-friendly gentle book The Joyful Child, will provide all that you need for an awesome Montessori infant and toddler home experience! What the one lacks, the over fills in! 

These two resources for infancy and toddler - transition readily into Keys of the World for 2.5-6 and Keys of the Universe for ages 6-12.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Planning in a Montessori Homeschool

Planning in a Montessori Homeschool sounds like a huge contradiction in terms, depending on how you define each of those terms ;)

Homeschool - school at home, but we're not always at home; and we spend less time on "school" than children at an out-of-home school.

Montessori - seems to be a free-for-all for some; trays on a shelf for some; multi-age grouping that can only happen at a school for some; and other variations. Indeed, Montessori incorporates freedom, a very few trays, multiple ages can be addressed in a homeschool situation in another way (including for only-children - siblings have that multi-age setting built-in!)

Planning - juxtaposed with Montessori, some people flip over. You can't *plan* a child's education weeks and months in advance - especially not in a Montessori setting! No, this is correct - I cannot tell you what your child should be doing the second of week of June the year they are 4 years old; nor can I (or *anyone*!) tell you what your child should be doing the 25th week of the 3rd year of elementary. Sorry!

But what DO we have? We have a set of key experiences that are typical for the universal child within some time ranges. We can be prepared to provide for those key experiences as the child is ready for them. This part of the three-sided support that IS an authentic Montessori environment - the prepared adult. Please visit that link for the prepared adult - because it highlights some of the many things we adults need to be prepared for - items such as right use of imagination, the four planes of development, human needs and tendencies and so much more!

What about those who don't follow a schedule - and maybe not even a loose routine?
I personally still need to have an idea of what is upcoming - so we can ensure we have time, space, materials, and the right attitude (nothing like saying "Mom, I want to do the river model" when the only space available to do one indoors is the only clear space in the home because of our other projects! ;)

CAVEAT: None of the planning suggestions on this page are boxed into a particular schedule or routine. What is here, is adaptable to any kind of schedule.

The planning style that has worked in our home: 

First, I need some tools:
  • Key experiences appropriate to the plane of development of the child/ren before me. 
  • Noting the particular child's needs and interests. 
  • Something to record work done. How will work done be recorded? So I know what to plan next time? Montessori Trails page on work plans and work journals in a Montessori setting
    • For younger children, this is my own record - I can just check off a presentation or an exercise as being presented. I am planting seeds that will sprout later - giving keys for them to utilize in their own explorations and discoveries; sometimes they will repeat something, other times not - so I don't record things like "repeated, mastery, etc.". I am a homeschool parent, not a school teacher. And my current students who come to me from their own families "master" at home, not with me. If I were in a situation to worry about mastery, I would observe and have conversations to see if the concept is mastered - and have a second checkmark for that, Seriously? Keep it simple.
    • For older children - elementary children and some kindergarteners, we have a work plan/journal to look at in planning our next steps. In kindergarten and first grade, that can be as simple as moving cards of chosen work from one basket to another
  • That's it. KEEP IT SIMPLE. You are a homeschool parent, with a household and other family members to take care of - and yourself to take care! Montessori is about exploration and discovery - not about being the smartest kid in the universe! ;) 
Some early work plan/journal samples.
Legoboy's First Work Plan/Journal
Used at age 5-6 

Next, I need to put those tools together! The following photos show primary level first; then elementary. 

You'll notice I am only planning for MY presentations. At primary, the child's work is the child's choice within the parameters you have laid out. At elementary, the work plan (conversation) with the child is where the child notes what he is going to do about his particular interests and I the adult can note any outings we will be taking, any supplies to have on hand, etc. The child should be involved in this planning too!!!

THUS - the child's day might inlude a new presentation (0-5 depending on the age and the need) and their own self-selected follow-up work, which might correspond with your presentation and might not. You still have family time, free time, outings, etc. as well. 

Primary Montessori Homeschool Planning

Intervals - for starting with a child at 2 and a half years old, you can figure about 6 months for each interval. Starting with an older child? Begin with those earlier intervals but your child will move more quickly through them. Allow them to move at their speed, it is YOUR preparations that will be stepped up a bit. Beginning with an elementary child? Start with the elementary work, not the primary!

Need to organize material purchases and material-making? That is where the intervals also come in handy - focus on THIS 6-month time period. If your child gets ahead in something, then you only have that one area to look ahead in!

The first interval is only 2 pages - and decent size font at that! 

Plug into a chart - could be a weekday-based one or just a grid, with everything in order - check it off as you go. Or don't plug into a chart and just use the "first interval" (or your current interval section) and select a few activities to show your child this week - you can quickly look it over to pull out another idea if your child is expressing an interest in a particular area. 

Starting out with a 2.5 year old, this is what our chart might look like.
note I crossed off weekday indications.
It isn't about which day you do something - it is about the child's readiness.
We would do walking on the line, some language and some preliminary exercises of practical life on day 1.
Otherwise, I just pick activites in each thread and move forward;
review as needed; when ready, move on to the next stage - mastery only when clearly necessary.
These could be dated if you need that record; or just checkmark or highlight. 

draw a line to separate the threads.
Each day pick 1-5 items to focus on (some things are quick)
or each week pick a few items to focus on. Move forward from there. 

Elementary Montessori Homeschool Planning

Elementary - this can get a bit trickier because there are more "threads" that overlap one another. 

I still only plan weekly and sometimes daily for my own particular presentations for particular timing; looking ahead to the month or a few months to be sure I have materials on hand; with some days of preparing the materials right before giving the presentation or even WHILE giving the presentation! 

Children at this age can see the entire scope/sequence or just provide them the suggested scope/sequence by year. In this way, they can see what is coming up, request something or otherwise prepare for it. 

The elementary child has their own work plan and work journal, which can include more information. My son's routinely includes researching some aspect of an ancient civilization for example; and as a family we strive for routine astronomical observations and studies. These aren't planned as much as we learn about something and my son puts it on HIS chart. 

I have done a plan book at times - lay out every thread in its separate physical thread - anything that wouldn't come until after that thread is closed can be filled in after the end of the activites in that thread. So Decimal Fractions chapter comes after the Fractions chapter - I don't have an individual row for each of those. This can mean we are on separate pages in the plan book I am using, but it does allow individual pacing. One way to get around the multiple pages? cut along the lines that separate each row and paper clip loose pages together - so when I open it up, I am only on the current placement in each thread. This works for ONE child in the home; or a small number of children that you are giving the same general presentations to, with their own individual follow-up. 

And I have re-organized the elementary scope/sequence to show one year at a time - it's a large chart, but could be a useful image for the children. 

Scope and Sequence in chart form (each subject in a column,
3 pages each (some are more blank than others since threads differ in length)
Art and Music are more free-form, so are not included in this image. 
My son's plan for a while - with the threads written horizontally.
Highlight as we finished - could date them if we needed such a record.
Not all things are highlighted, though Legoboy is done;
because I couldn't keep up with it!
I needed to write it out for my own mental preparation
but then I preferred the checklist approach most of the time. 
The threads do peter out - not all are the same length.
But this gives the children time for their *own* studies:
reading, building, DOING. 

So you can see - KEEP IT SIMPLE. Use a checklist for your own presentations if that works; the children shouldn't have a checklist, but should be given the key presentations, ask questions and find ways to answer their own questions. Lots of real life experiences, outings, and lots and lots of DOING.

How do all of these plans pan out?
See this page for some samples of A Day in the Life of a Montessori Homeschool.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Tessellations - Pattern Blocks - In Montessori

Tessellations are an awesome extension of the Montessori experiences. While not a "Montessori material", they are perfect for children of all ages.

There is one modification I make to them, to align them with Montessori principles: if they come with a set of design cards, I utilize any of the cards that show how the pieces form other pieces (this is akin to the constructive triangles material); and I remove all the cards that show designs.
The three cards on the right - we like those type for some self-guidance.
The two cards on the right - I prefer the children to discover those patterns for themselves. 

Why? Because the children should use the pieces to create their own designs and discover for themselves the variety of "pictures" they can form. I find too many times over that providing the design cards, locks a child's mind into design mode and less on creative pattern discovery.

Toys in a Montessori Home - Lower Elementary
Tessellation Patterns in our Co-Op

Informative and interesting site about Tessellations:

Some 3-dimensional "tessellations" - the power of 2 in elementary and the power of 3 in adolescent mathematics.

Fractals extensions totally work off of here too!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Final Upper Elementary Work Plan

Legoboy is coming to an end of his elementary years and is already showing signs of the Adolescent mind... sleeping a lot more; moody-moody-moody; more expression through hand-work; and needing more guidance with his work plans, where he was really independent for quite a while there.

This last bit threw me for a loop, but also entirely makes perfect sense. For all of us who have spent a few years avoiding the checklist mentality with the work plans???? Guess what the adolescent actually NEEDS! A checklist!

A checklist developed together - not something pre-determined - and the child still has control over his day and week and month and year and interests and studies, but the child right now *craves* more connection with the adults around him, seeks that guidance so much more when the previous second plane of development was worked through properly with a strong relationship built and all internal needs met ---- so this new child just wants to know what the expectations are so he can get on with things. He IS working toward a goal now - whether that be to finish middle school or high school, earn specific credits, learn a specific skill in order to do a particular activity, etc. There really needs to be more of an "end in sight" mentality.

We are still in the transitioning phase. And I have already noticed something as I type this up - unbeknownst to me and just following our natural Montessori paths, we are totally moving into a classical direction. Bess at Grace & Green Pastures has already identified this connection and has some plans in mind - I always saw the connections, and know that others have combined the two, but I never really made a plan - I had a few specific goals for our household as a family, otherwise the plan is to meet the needs of each individual and the family as a whole. And here we are - classical! ;)

So here goes - final semester of upper elementary Montessori homeschooling for my precious baby, Legoboy!

Finishing up the elementary albums

Legoboy has slowed down *quite* a bit on the final presentations - partly his own readiness and interest, partly to help me create videos. He figures he will get those presentations with the videos and he mostly enjoys helping me (he earns Dairy Queen blizzards as well as a percentage of each KotU sale that includes video access).

Also, the albums are not the be-all-end-all of your homeschool curriculum. They are a foundation and a structure on which the individual child and the individual family has time to explore areas of personal interest and family importance. So many resources can be plugged in as the child reaches out into the world and deeply explore their areas of interest at the time of their interest. For example, I could sit here and complain about not finding just the right match of a study resource for my son to care about American History, but really? He has been exploring the Highlights series on the states, reads lots of books (ahem, historical fiction) of various time periods and locations, we watch a lot of movies, we discuss all of those movies and books and references that he isn't clear on - and it all ends up interconnecting. Oh yes - and games. Board games, card games, dice games, you name it, we play it; and the more educational or strategic, the more we play it. And there are geography games too!

  • Mathematics - I have been eyeing some of the adolescent algebra presentations - the early ones - for Legoboy. He seems ready and the author (Mike Waski) says that some of the work can be done in upper elementary. I recently attended a workshop and tried to engage in a conversation about which could be where, but time was so limited, we didn't get back to it. Follow the child!
  • Art - at this point, art works into everything. I do want to do a history of art timeline this year yet. And he has plans to work through Art-Pac 6 for basic simple fun. 
  • Music - we still need to work on the tone bars, but will do those as we get to them in the videos. Otherwise, he has history of many composers and styles down pat, piano lessons (see below) and a wide variety of musical interests under his belt. 
  • Biology - we have thoroughly covered this album, but he will help with the videos for some built-in review. 
  • Geometry - A few spots left to fill in, but he wants to just do them with the videos - it will be good to show audiences a genuine "first lesson" ;) 
  • History - we have this covered ;) 
  • Language Arts - also covered; he will do review with the related videos and he is doing literature studies as noted below. 

1/23/2016 --- OOPS! I posted this before Legoboy looked it over. He said I made some mistakes - I added in some things he wants to work towards doing in the autumn, when he is fully in adolescent mode. So I have struck some things out! Sorry!

Literature Studies - stemming from the elementary Language Arts album
Legoboy chose some pre-written literature studies from Memoria Press to go through of his own accord. This year the focus is on Adam of the Road, Door in the Wall, King Arthur, and Robin Hood. He likes these guides himself; as for my preference, I would like to see related art and science suggestions, etc - you know, more of the cosmic education components. When I let up my own expectations though, and let Legoboy lead - he always pulls in these outside studies himself. When I start to do something he backs off. You'd think I'd've learned my lesson by now! Someday. ;)

Poetry: He is also working through the Poetry selections in Poetry for the Grammar Stage.

Geography Studies - stemming from the elementary Geography album
The Keys of the Universe albums do not at this particular moment have a "functional geography" chapter. The geography album almost had this in it ---- then the jumpdrive was lost right before a back-up was going to be made. Yeah. Not a good day (now a month...).

Legoboy's chosen paths have been the inspiration for what *will* be in that geography album in regards to functional geography. He chose these resources based on a wide variety of options (including not using any particular resource at all). And as the soon-to-be-adolescent he is becoming, he is really eating up the idea of following the lessons point by point, stopping to add in his own; discussing with me when he hits a point he already knows (verify his knowledge so he can move on) or is bored with (verify he knows enough to move on, or how much to work through anyway to move on to the next lesson).

All of these really get into specific cultures, music, art, as well as the physical geography of the local area.
Why so much? Because he wants to!

Ancient Greek - stemming from love of all things ancient History as well as Biblical
Online course through Homeschool Connections.

Cover Story
He took a long break from this as he shifted focus to other areas. Next month he plans to pick it up again, probably from the beginning. Here is the post where he first started Cover Story.
Although he HAS started going through it again, he asks me to note that he probably won't delve into it until we have the Keys of the Universe Montessori homeschooling videos finished. Why this connection? Beats me, other than the amount of time involved.

Christian Studies
Legoboy has been working through Memoria Press's Christian Studies 1, 2 and 3 at a rather fast clip. He has studied so much of this within the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium already as well as his own studies and other homeschool studies, so this is just putting it into another framework. He uses this as a review and it is going FAST.

US History - finally finishing !? 
The post where he started US History studies - way back! We still have those resources; but they are not meeting our particular needs anymore. The book mentioned there is good; I think it will be more meaningful now we have gone through the videos. With that video overview, Legoboy is moving along more smoothly through his study book; then we will get back to the book in the other post, with its even greater detail on the eras it covers.

Key Montessori principle for the elementary age: whole to the parts. Overview, then delve into the details of interest. As we delve into these various details (of which he is creating a notebook of questions and ideas to explore that he does not want to research until he has had the entire overview (videos) and finished the study book), we will explore various viewpoints and use a variety of sources.

Legoboy continues to participate in the local parish's level 3 atrium. This has been a mixed bag experience. The current catechist is brand-new to being in level 3 full-time, only recently finished her training, and has a great deal of other responsibilities on her shoulders. It is a lot for her. An adult male friend of the family and his daughter have recently returned to the atrium, so Legoboy is much more amenable to attending as long as they are present. Previously, he would ask ME to give him a presentation at home and suggest some work options - now he knows there will at least be some good exploration of some aspect of the faith. So - he goes. And texts me during class to ask what he should work on... Not because he isn't capable but because the structure of the class is no longer amenable to children identifying their personal interests and following through on it - that and he can't find half the materials. Pray for this catechist! Her heart is normally one of gold and there have been some difficult situations of late!

Piano Lessons
Last week, Legoboy started on his first official piano lessons. To date, I have taught him, he has self-taught using The Music Tree books, and he has had random music lessons from various individuals. It has been a while and he needs something more consistent. So there goes any extra money I thought we would have from being debt-free! He really does enjoy playing the piano, though - so the cost is totally worth it.

Strengthening and Conditioning
The local YMCA has a class that we've not seen listed in the program before, but apparently has been offered for a while. This class meets twice a week for an hour (plus 5 laps around the building before or after) for children about 4th through 8th grade. The idea seems to be a "something to do in between other sports". Since Legoboy doesn't play any seasonal sports, this has been a great ongoing class for him - they do a lot of what looks like military drills, use a variety of workout equipment - and his favorite part: use some of the workout machines and big equipment (the stuff that the Y says you have to be older than he is AND receive a demo on how to use!).

Legoboy continues with taekwondo - the instructors are teasing he is making career of the school black belt! Normally you test for the school black belt, than take (and pass) the association test about a month later. The association only has tests every 6 months. We are coming up on the 3rd one since Legoboy got the school black belt, and we're still not sure if he is going to test or not! He just needs SNAP in his forms; instead he looks bored (he IS bored - so he does them sloppy - this is an internal attitude that needs work).

In the meantime, he LOVES tournaments!
My handsome :)
Last Saturday's tournament:
1st in breaking
3rd in weapons forms
no place in regular forms (bored look on his face)

Swim lessons
He is also on his umpteenth session of the swim lessons for the lowest level. He IS making improvement in every area, but just hasn't moved out of the lowest level class since he started lessons in summer 2014. He started with a 3 week summer session, twice a week; then did one session on then one session off (a session is typically 7 weeks) for a while, but he just started his 3rd session in a row to just get past the basic skills. Then he can re-evaluate to continue on or take a break.

Other - more informal:

We still have other studies going, but not on any official basis:
  • Life of Fred - we'll pick up more next year. Legoboy has read all of the stories already ;) 
  • Key To workbooks - again, we'll pick up the rest next year. 
  • Khan Academy - totally informal. He works on it when he likes, on whatever topics he likes. Most recently he has been focusing on some coding classes they have. 
  • Minecraft Mod Coding class online 

As you can see, we are really kind of coming together, consolidating. The coming adolescent (middle school) years will continue academic growth, but at a slower pace. More in another post! 

What about the 6th grade local educational standards? With all the flux with common core, not common core, but still have to revamp our standards (which were already *better* than common core) to be in line with common core, without being common core..... 

I'll be blunt: 

I. Don't. Care. 

Our local schools don't finish a textbook anyway; when we do a course of study, we meet all goals. 
Our local schools have children all over the place regarding mastery; when we do a course of study, we master the material. 
Our local schools are good schools and meet the needs of most of the local children; my son's homeschool meets the needs of 100% of its students.

I am all for checking in with local standards, ensuring we have the same terminology, that all concepts are covered. 

But when local school districts can't get it together, it is time to move on with my child's education. 

Ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ----- the Montessorian in me can't just set it aside and not LOOK. 

Everything I see in our current state standards for math, social studies, science, language arts, health & wellness ---- is covered by the Montessori experiences as I have them in the KotU or in a child's natural follow-up studies - OR will be succinctly covered in the upcoming adolescent math album. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Culture Studies in Our Home

We have not really written about our cultural studies in our Montessori home... or have we?

What is included in cultural studies?
  • Political geography 
  • Physical geography - and biomes - climate - all of these affect how people live, the choices they make, and even how the political lines are divided!
  • Music, art, clothing - all those choices that people of different regions make
  • History of various areas - what happened in the past still affects today
  • Economic Geography - goods that are available in one area might not be available in another; or there might not be enough in one area to support the needs and desires of the local people. 

A Montessori Nugget on Culture in Montessori

Previous stops along the Montessori Trails - not all-inclusive: 
Continent Folders - Primary
Some of Legoboy's work plans - Upper Elementary age
A Week in the Life of Legoboy - earlier Upper Elementary
Timelines: Doing the Child's Work for Him