Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Writing Has Begun!

My son is always full of surprises for me. Now that he's been reading well for sometime, I've been struggling with: how do I get him to write??

He's done it on his own, as he has with pretty much everything else. I've got to remember that's just how he is! I need to expect it, go with it.

He's never written more than maybe a couple of sentences. Last week, his sister was sitting on the couch writing (not an unusual occurrence) and he decided he would write, too. Got out a notebook (that we've had for years and have barely used because he doesn't write) and started writing about Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. He asked his sister when he wasn't sure how to write a word and sat there a good while until he had more than a full half-page, and I mean full. Everything scrunched together. I told him I would write it out on another piece of paper for him so he could see how to space it and, double-spaced, it took up a full page of my handwriting.

He has since started imitating his sister, again, and is now coming up with silly things to write out. Can't think of an example at the moment, but nonsense questions, comments and sentences.

I am sooooo glad this child is not in the school system where everything has to follow a specific pace!!!

Friday, January 29, 2010

A "PD" Day!

The oldest is busy today and we're really not going to get started properly with work on a Friday, so I told Bob he could have today off. Since the school down the street is having a PD day, when we passed the sign, I said, "There, we'll have a PD day!" lol.

I still have my nieces and will be having a visit from a friend and her daughter, but no school work today! Okay, well, not entirely true on my part as I've already been doing some research into Montessori jr. high and high school curriculum and schools. Which is kind of funny because Bob and dd asked yesterday what the PD meant in PD Day and I told them 'professional development', but that I wouldn't be doing any professional development, just taking the day off. haha.

I've actually been quite enjoying my research this morning. I need to do this sort of thing more often, to help keep me focused and attached to a vision. Some links people may find of particular interest:

Friday, January 15, 2010

It didn't take long...

...for my 2yo niece to lose interest in the transferring activity (spoon lentils from one bowl to the other). She did it a few times the first day, then once the following day, and that was it!

So, I went searching for more activities for her and ended up at Winners sometime this week and found this geometric stacker made by Melissa and Doug

as well as this little Bear Dress Up activity (also by Melissa and Doug):

which has provided both girls with something new to do things with.

I also decided to show pouring to my niece today. I haven't bought the typical little creamers that are used in a Montessori classroom, so just used some Corel cups. She was actually fine with the pouring; the tough part was to get her to NOT try to pour both cups at the same time! I don't think I showed slowly enough, even though it felt crazy slow and my movements were exaggerated to put the empty pouring cup down, pick the other one up and pour, and repeat. She kept trying to pick both up and pour them into each other. I ended up providing a little more structure and held down the empty cup while she picked up the other one. I'd like to find some cheap little creamers, if I can, this weekend. I've looked for sometime and usually only find the metal ones (if I can find any at all), and I don't want those.


A week and a half left of study time and exams!! We will be able to breathe a sigh of relief and get into a better routine once Feb. rolls around. I ought to make a point to do some "teacher prep" (gosh, it's been so long, I can't even recall what Maria Montessori called it, but there was a term for it), in reading and reflecting.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Happy New Year!

Is it just me, or is it crazy to realize that it's 2010? Twenty-ten. Say the words. Crazy.

Our first week back to school is done. Although I should maybe backtrack to Christmas holidays.

School-wise: Did absolutely nothing. Because I'd been sick with H1N1 for November, that left the first few weekends of December to really catch up on household stuff: laundry, cleaning, groceries... (It's a reminder to me that I need to learn to teach the others in this house how to do this stuff and to pass off some of the responsibility!) Now, normally I start my Christmas shopping in November and other than a few last-minute things that dh and I maybe have to agree on for a gift, it's done early December.

This year, NONE of the family shopping had been done by the time Christmas break started. NONE. Well, not entirely true, since dh's family was done back in October due to having had an early Christmas. However, that still left 2 step-nephews/3rd cousins (um, yes, my step-sister is married to my husband's 2nd cousin, which makes their kids my step-nephews, but also my kids' 3rd cousins), my Mom (separate gifts from me/dh and from the kids), my step-Dad (same deal), my husband (separate gifts from me and from the kids), my kids (from dh and I, plus help them shop for each other), and then pick a gift with dh from "Santa" to us. That kept us busy enough until the 23rd! Then we were gone for a few days, then when back, we spent the 27th recovering from the lack of sleep the previous days.

I had had the thought of maybe trying to do some school stuff, but we really needed to just vegetate a bit. So, I decided to leave the kids be. They spent a great deal of time reading, and dd did some writing, so I really can't complain. I couldn't stop a smile for my 9yo ds near the end of the holidays when I saw him reading yet another Geronimo Stilton book--something like his 20th Geronimo Stilton book in a month. I asked him if that was the last one to read from the library (we had about 10-12 out at the time) and he said he'd already read it and was reading it again. lol. I found out that he had somehow managed to read close to 10 books TWICE over the span of a few weeks. It was fascinating to watch him go play some active BOY thing, then switch gears and sit down with a book for about an hour, then back to play, then back to reading...

This past week, I have to say I left my kids be because the 18yo had a course to finish plus exams to study for, as did her brother. It was intense enough with that that I had no desire to get moving on school stuff for my two. However, it's time to change that!

This week, 18yo and "Bob" have exams to study for and Bob has some full-year courses to work on. I haven't a clue what I'm going to do with the others this week. Dd actually started a lapbook last night (at 8:45pm, to be exact) and has been working hard on it for most of the day. I still have NOT finished the Europe pin map flags for her, so I could work on that. She ought to continue doing some math (decision has been made to NOT have her use a workbook next year! it's somehow way too constricting and stressful) and we ought to figure out together what the next step for her French studies will be. German has been woefully neglected.

For ds... Handwriting and math are my main concerns. I'd love to figure out what I could do with him science-wise. I feel like I'm missing the boat with him on what to connect him with. I could just see him in an actual Montessori classroom spending tons of time outside with things for insects, dirt, plants, or with indoor science materials. Not the research and vocabulary stuff, but the hands-on practical things. I obviously need to build myself up in this area. Once the pin map flags are done, I know he'll want to work on that.

For my almost 5yo niece, I want to keep encouraging her to work on the things she already loves doing: reading Bob Books (can read the first three), practising the cursive sandpaper letters (I think it's time to start some word building AND some writing single letters on a chalkboard), addition (she's got this thing for addition lately, although I've not shown her anything formal; I could show her the bead stair to do some simple questions).

With my 2yo niece... I think I need to find out more information on toddler activities. Although, I could probably start the easiest 3-6 activities with her. She is such a hoot and so smart. I could see spooning beans and maybe pouring beans a good starter activity with her. I ought to also keep her and her sister's little table clear and provide them with a cloth to clean the table when they're doing. All kinds of routines could be built with her, now that I think of it. I just need to take the time to sit and think! :)

Speaking of taking the time... Things seem to be falling together nicely, which is starting to give me more time.  This school year, although heavy with work and illness, has been soooo great. The kids are getting along famously (okay, admittedly there are a few 2yo and 4yo tantrums in there) and things are just much more peaceful and fun. Once the exam stress is done, I think we will have a fantastic 2nd semester! I hope so. It's going to be the last semester for the 18yo and for my almost 5yo niece. Both are heading off to school in the fall. *sniffle* It's not going to be the same around here. And the 15yo could be done in 2.5 years from now--depends on course selections. *gasp* And my 2yo niece will probably be ready for kindergarten the fall of that same year. Gosh, this is what it's like when your kids grow up and leave the nest! :(