Wednesday, June 30, 2010

And sometimes science just falls into your hands... er... yard

With the insane thunderstorm systems going through last night, our front tree must have been shaken a lot. Dh woke up this morning to find a bird's nest fallen from the tree! I'm pretty sure it's a new nest, which makes it sad to see; all that work ended in a flash. (No pun intended!)

However, that does make for a science opportunity for us! Dh picked it up and put it on the back porch (the mud used in it is very moist right now).

You can't see the piece of plastic ribbon the bird used!

It's very cool to look at, though, and will provide an opportunity to learn more about how birds make nests. And maybe even figure out what kind of bird made this nest.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


On one of the Montessori lists, the topic came up about Montessori does not have correction. Self-correction or built-in correction, but the teacher does not go around correcting students' work. Even at the elementary level.

Just now reading from "More Charlotte Mason Education", Levison had a part about narration and how it wasn't a time for the listener (the teacher/adult) to interject their own thoughts, but to listen. I realized: Charlotte Mason, too, did not believe in correcting students' narrations. It was about seeing what they remembered, what made an impression on them, not about seeing what they didn't remember. Levison continued with what to do if the child isn't doing a great job with narrations: modify the next narrations. Again, just like Montessori!

My feel at the moment is that there are going to be some parts that are definitely at odds with each other, yet CM could provide different ways of doing certain work, plus provide the what. It gets complicated providing the what at the elementary and above levels in Montessori. So much of it is tied with group work or materials or hands-on activity (like running a school shop at the jr. high level). It's just not practical in the home.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Charlotte Mason reading has begun!

I decided to get started on the CM reading yesterday, starting with Home Education by Charlotte Mason herself and "More Charlotte Mason Education" by Catherine Levison. I thought I'd share here comments, observations and comparisons.

I've only made it through the many prefaces of Home Education. Some of what I took note of:

*"the child is a person with all the possibilities and powers included in personality"
-this isn't really any different from Montessori; the idea of respecting the child as his/her own person, with his/her own personality, interests, abilities, etc.

*"that Education is the Science of Relations... as showing that the object of education is to put a child in touch with as much as may be of the life of Nature and of thought"
-this sounds very much like Maria Montessori's Cosmic Education; having children be connected with the world, thinkers, etc. To see the interconnectedness.

*"Add to this one or two keys to self-knowledge, and the educated youth goes forth with some idea of self-management, with some pursuits, and many vital interests."

Then there is the list of principles (there are only 18, whereas Ambleside Online lists 20 hm). Some in particular that I liked or noted:

*"4. These principles are limited by the respect due to the personality of children, which must not be encroached upon, whether by fear or love, suggestion or influence, or undue play upon any one natural desire."
-I really like this and think it fits so superbly well with Montessori, Choice Theory, etc. Since principle 3 had to do with authority and obedience, I think it's safe to say she is saying it is not our place to impose our *selves* onto children and who they are as individual people. It is also not our place to use fear to control children, threats, withdrawal or promise of love, etc., as part of our authority.

*The three "educational instruments":
  1. atmosphere of environment
  2. discipline of habit
  3. presentation of living ideas
Principle 6 is all about Atmosphere of Environment where she states:
By saying, EDUCATION IS AN ATMOSPHERE, it is not meant that a child should be isolated in what may be called a 'child environment,' especially adapted and prepared; but that we take into account the educational value of his natural home atmosphere, both as regards persons and things, and should let him live freely among his proper conditions. It stultifies a child to bring down the world to the 'child's' level.

I think it's safe to say she didn't like the Montessori Method much. ;) lol. Btw, "stultifies" has as definitions "cripples", "renders useless". I think the Montessori Method has proved that making the environment more child-friendly does not in any way cripple a child! Of course, there is a huge difference between this volume and the Montessori approach in that this volume assumes a child will be at home, in a loving atmosphere with a mother at home. The Montessori method started out in a large room for children whose mothers were working and they could not stay at home. One's home shouldn't be completely aimed at a child, with the intention of "isolating" him to a child-sized environment, but I do think providing certain child-friendly things can definitely help!

This principle actually has me thinking of something. Many Montessori homeschoolers try to have a separate room set up for "school time" and that's where they go for their school hours. This may be more in line with what Charlotte Mason is referring to in terms of isolating a child to a child environment. People often ask on lists, "How have you set up your Montessori classroom/environment?", to which I respond something along the lines of, "My whole house is our Montessori environment." There's no need to isolate a child to a specific area of the home. It definitely creates a different atmosphere and feeling to the education! (Of course, some people find it really helps their homeschooling to do that; so be it! :) )

That's all I can write for now. I'm not even half done writing about my notes. I'm going to have to pick and choose or I could end up spending more time blogging about my reading than in reading. ;)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Now it feels like school is done!!!

This week was just intense for me. I worked on some gifts for the 19yo as graduation gifts and they took up pretty much my entire time this week! My kitchen table was covered in scrapbooking stuff. My poor house is falling apart, especially the den. But, with our little party done and school stuff cleaned out (although Bob still needs to come finish cleaning up his stuff), now it actually feels like school is done for the year.

Of course, that doesn't mean that learning is over with. With the World Cup, geography questions are popping up. "Where's this country? What about this one?" Dd's been reading and writing A LOT. Even been doing some poetry. She's done some nice poems in the past, but her most recent one really had "the feel", if you know what I mean? You could feel the storm she was writing about, the changes in it. Good stuff.

Ds has been pretty much in soccer mode. Watching the World Cup, playing soccer in the house, in the yard and for his actual soccer games. He's back to reading Garfields. Ah well. I have decided that I will have him work on his handwriting this summer. Just haven't figured out how yet. A daily journal? Daily worksheets? Actually, I suppose the best thing to do would be to talk to him about it!

Other than that, I really don't know. I know I've blogged recently about summer, but at the moment, I'm in wind-down mode. And get-the-house-back-in-shape mode. One thing I can say is that the little table got cleared off this week so the kids could actually have a place to eat. It's nice having the table completely cleared! I had kept on the table the little ones' crayon box, a little organizer with scissors, markers, pens and pencils, etc., in it and a magazine file with various colouring books, plain paper and workbooks. I'm thinking I will move that all downstairs to the shelves. It was so nice without it all on the table. Of course, that also makes sense to do given they only have 3 more days with me until late July--the little table is probably going to disappear into the basement at least until then.

All right, I'm going to do some unwinding before I start a crazy day. :D And once everybody's actually up, make myself a green smoothie. I haven't had one in days and I'm really missing it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Some more ideas

*Making a grocery list
*Budgeting (for a project, in general)
*Handling an allowance

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Practical Life for Elementary and Above

I welcome all ideas to be added in the comments! The discussion came up on a list about what kinds of things are Practical Life activities at the 6-9 level. I'm thinking here to broaden it a bit and to think about PL for those over 6. Here are just some to start:

-laundry: sorting, washing, drying, folding, ironing, stain treatment
-dusting, mopping, vacuuming
-walls, windows, mirrors
-decluttering, organizing, filing, etc.
-beds, bathrooms, daily tidying, dishes
-food prep
-pet care: litter, dog poop cleaning, cage cleaning, feeding, water, etc.
-renovations: removal of stuff, nailing, painting, sanding, carrying, placing, prepping, etc.
-plant care

-lawn mowing and other lawn care
-windows, power wash siding
-wash outside of car
-take care of mail
-bike maintenance: fill tires, replace a tire, check chain, oil chain, other repairs and maintenance
-when old enough, car maintenance, esp. how to change a tire

-use phone, answering machine, speed dial, etc.; how to take messages for others, how to answer the phone politely
-use a printer, replace paper, photocopy, scan, replace ink cartridges
-check library due dates online; know how to find things on the web
-typing (more for ages 9+)
-using DVD, blu-ray, recording shows (educational, of course ;) )
-install software
-computer programming, including website development

-sewing, crocheting, knitting, etc.

This is just a quick list. Please feel free to add more ideas!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Last full week!

This week is the last full week. My nieces will be here all week, then only 3 days next week, along with their brother (9 and goes to school). The 16yo will be here until at least Thursday. That leaves us tomorrow, Wed. and Thursday to get through his boxes of stuff! At the same time, I've a gift project I need to work on and have done for Friday morning and let's just say the project is going very slowly!!!

Today, we spent the day out at a park at a yearly end-of-year potluck "breakfast" (more like brunch, or even late lunch ;) ). We have not made it out a lot this year for a variety of reasons (weather, H1N1, other illnesses, too much work...) and it was so good to get out, let the kids loose, have some fun in the sun, although I stayed in the shade most of the time. It was a great time!

My nieces, however, started with the crazy goofy interactions this morning. It's been a while since it's been that bad because I was so good at interrupting and redirecting. This morning, though, I was very focused on the need to get ready for the park, as well as some housecleaning, so I let it go. Of course, I couldn't really hear it above the vacuum cleaner. lol. But, tomorrow, I need to nip that in the bud. It would be so much better if I had less going on and could really think about Montessori activities to engage them in. My 2yo niece, for example, really ought to be presented with the Touch Boards. She has started pulling out the Sandpaper Letters and runs her finger every which way on them. Now, she's 2, so it can be a tricky issue to redirect a child determined on doing something, even if that something they are doing isn't quite right. I'd love to start showing her how to do some of the letters--she's a very, very, very bright kid--but she's very clearly not really paying any attention to staying on the sandpaper, which is where the presentation of the Touch Boards, followed by the Touch Tablets, will come in handy. I will probably be able to actually introduce her properly to the Sandpaper Letters in late fall. (She will be with me one week late July, then not with me, then back with me for most of August. She turns 3 in Nov.)

Dd decided to do some German the other night. Unfortunately, her idea was to take some of the kiddy books I'd taken out from the library and try to make sense of them, writing something down (not sure if she was just copying what she understood or translating). It was "unfortunately" because a couple of the books were actually rather confusing and very wordy, so that didn't go over so well! Right now, she is desperately and impatiently waiting for "How to Be a Pirate", the 2nd book in the "How to Train Your Dragon" series. She read the first book, we saw the movie (excellent movie, btw), then found out there was a whole series and put in a request for each of the books from the library. I think she's got every single book now from the library EXCEPT the 2nd one, and she's something like 6th in line for that one and the books that are out aren't due for another week and I don't think she would be part of the batch of people who would get those books; she'd have to wait another 3 weeks before those ones were due and back. She could be waiting a while. So, we ordered the 2nd one on the weekend (no store in town had it from what we could find in online catalogues) and it should be here tomorrow or Wednesday. Good thing she's a fast reader because all of the rest of the series has holds on them (the ones she has out), so she's going to have to read them all in the span of about 2 weeks!

That reminds me: I need to learn how to either track what my kids do and/or train them to track what they do. There is so much reading and other stuff going on that never gets noted and it's so easy to think that nothing is done.

What else? We went to see Toy Story 3 last Friday. EXCELLENT movie! We had a hard time deciding if it was better than the 1st or not.

Enough of my babbling tonight. I'm going to bed.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Art galore!

Art has been the theme recently. Not a theme I introduced, just what the kids have been turning to! Lots of colouring and painting and drawing and crafty things going on. It's always a shame they don't have that kind of passion for cleaning. ;)

I guess it would be helpful if I took pictures more often, wouldn't it? Ah well. Not today. lol.

Other than that, my 5yo niece asked to do the movable alphabet with me. It's been a while and it's reminded me that I have to teach her the digraph sounds in French. She hasn't a clue once she hits the sound and none of the letters match up, so she asks me and I tell her, but it would be good if she could really do the activity all on her own!

Not much else going on. We've been working on Father's Day gifts, went to Fort Edmonton earlier this week, have some cleaning and organizing left to do... All of that takes up plenty of time. The Father's Day gifts alone have required multiple outings to Michaels. :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Perrytech $100 Giveaway!!

The deadline is June 20, so, if you want to win a $100 credit for Montessori materials, go enter ASAP!!!

The more people who enter will mean the more Perrytech will do giveaways! Enter today! :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Next year's science

I've been thinking long and hard about the programs offered here: . In particular, the high school biology and chemistry. Those are the two that most interest dd and the chemistry would work for much of Bob's upcoming high school work. I hadn't ordered and I think I figured out this morning why: the program is so simply set up (which is FANTASTIC), that, other than the convenience of having the labs already decided and the quizzes already written up, I don't really need it. It's $80US (not counting shipping) per subject, just for the basic materials. Since Bob needs to at least meet Alberta Program of Studies outcomes, and dd will do the same, I think I would be much better off simply taking the outcomes and the text, creating assignment sheets for the week based on what they are actually supposed to know--instead of going through Biology/Chemistry in Your Home and figuring out what's missing--and taking it from there. It also encourages me more to prepare some things in French for dd, rather than just have her use the English book.

Are my thoughts making sense? It's not even 6am and it was probably about 11:30 before I fell asleep last night!

In any case, I do very much like the approach. The students are given weekly assignment pages and are expected to research the answers. It actually sounds like something that would be done in a Montessori high school. They can use any resource they wish, have to learn to budget their time for the week, are involved in seeking out answers, rather than simply reading through a textbook and taking notes, then doing practice problems, etc. That's another issue, actually: Alberta curriculum IS different and covers more than the standard US high school science class, getting into what is usually honors or AP.

For those who don't know what to teach for high school science, these are a God-send, I think. I already know what my kids have to learn to meet Alberta outcomes--or rather, I have available to me a document that says what they have to learn--so that's not really the issue. Just trying to find a more interesting, active approach to the subjects rather than just reading a textbook!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Montessori High School

Great links! "Maria Montessori called her syllabus for ages 12-18 a "Preparation for Adult Life," implying that the student must make a connection between learning and living a purposeful adult life."

A Charlotte Mason Education

I had ordered the Complete Homeschooling Series by Charlotte Mason and received the shipment yesterday. Of course, I wanted to start in right away, but I have a couple of thick books out from the library I need to finish soon because I won't be able to renew them. So, I did not start reading them, but remembered that I have A Charlotte Mason Education out from the library. I'm not sure how long I've had it out nor when it's due. It's a short little book, so I started it last night and finished it this morning.

I've read some Charlotte Mason stuff before and am always left with mixed feelings, as I am now. The scheduled structure of it does not appeal to me, and yet I could see how for Bob, the structure would be helpful in terms of training to stay on task and get a lot of work done quickly. He'll be faced with that in post-secondary, so part of me is saying this is a habit that needs to be worked on. In particular when others are around. Montessori high schools do have schedules, but not quite like Charlotte Mason. At the same time, there is such a broad education offered to the children in CM, just like in Montessori, with some very practical, home-based ways to do it. That's one advantage CM has over Montessori for homeschoolers: CM was designed for use in the home. Montessori was designed for large, multi-aged groups in a classroom.

The books recommended by CM are really great. Part of me is thinking again, after several years, of combining some of CM's materials with Montessori. But the thoughts aren't sorted out yet. As I read the Series over the summer, as well as Montessori books, I hope a clearer vision of how to meld the two will develop!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Cake baking!

We are getting together with family on the weekend, and part of the get-together is to celebrate my nieces' mother's birthday. We were asked to bring the cake specifically so the girls could help with it.

I'm not a "from scratch" cake baker, so I led the girls, 2.5 and 5, through the whole baking routine: wash hands, put on aprons, follow the instructions on the box to get all of the measurements ready, etc. My 2.5yo niece had a wonderful time pouring things into the bowl and the 5yo greased one of the pans and then helped me pour the batter into the pans. Of course, the "best" part of the whole process for them was licking the spoons afterwards. ;)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Montessori this summer

With school being essentially over for us tomorrow (yay!!!! I'm so ready to be done!), I've been thinking about summer and some goals and educational things that aren't necessarily schooly, but definitely in line with Montessori. One thing I feel I've severely neglected with my kids, and am comforted by others telling me they feel the same way about their own kids, is not having them do enough practical life around the house.

I think I've brought this up in the past. I had made progress here and there, but it has always gone back to what it was. A goal for this summer is to have the kids much more involved in the care of themselves, the house, the pets, their laundry, etc. I decided even to start right away--why wait until summer? :D Ds got some serious mud marks on a brand new WHITE shirt (yes, yes, I know: 9yo boys and white shirts do not go together) and I was sorting the laundry and discovered it. I told him to come with me, that I was going to show him what to do about it. I took the bottle of Shout and explained what had to be done and *he* asked if he could do the spraying! Yay! Then we rubbed the fabric together (he was a little put off at first because it gets on your hands; I told him it does that and he can wash his hands after--all it took to remove the resistance). It was so simple, so quick, and he's perfectly capable of doing this himself. Of course, I continued doing the laundry by myself. *sigh* BUT, I discovered that the jumbo size of Tide (I think it's Tide I have) has a very cool dispenser where you push a button down to have the stuff come out and I know they are going to want their turns doing that.

And see, they want to do this stuff. Maybe not all of it all the time, but it so often happens that it's a desire to not have the other one do it, or a desire to not let me do it. Like tonight with the spray. Although, me TELLING them to do something doesn't go over well, but me having them come with me to do stuff, no problem. But I can't ask them, usually, it just has to be a direct... um... direction (lol) to come with me. I might give them a choice within whatever we are doing, but the direction needs to be there.

So, there it is, my goal for this summer: to direct them more in the daily practical life activities. They can help with supper, laundry, bathroom, outside work, scrubbing their own stains, etc. We can set up a chart about who is helping with supper one day, etc. NOT a reward chart. ;) (Those new to Montessori may not understand, but I can explain later, if you wish!)

It's not that they don't do things: they help set the table, clear the table, they are responsible for making their beds, they scoop out the cat litter boxes... But, they could be a part of it more. And for dd, who is nearly 13 and craving that sense of do-it-myself, it's vital.

Other Montessori plans for the summer: read Montessori books. I'm going to start with "Children Who Are Not Yet Peaceful." I think I'll post in here what pages I've read and any notes and thoughts I may have on what I've read. It's such a fantastic book! While it deals with difficult situations with certain children, it so embodies the Montessori spirit, I'm always left feeling great. And with some great ideas. I recommend the book heartily!

Summer Plans

Just want to quickly jot down some ideas of things to do this summer. We have all kinds of projects not-quite-started, started and not finished, things we'd like to do... If I can write the list down somewhere that can't get lost (lol), all the better:

*dd has a mini quilting kit
*decluttering the kids' rooms
*guitar (that reminds me, I find a program for kids and haven't ordered it yet)
*make rosaries (still have to finish buying all of the supplies for this one)

There's other stuff. I can't remember it at the moment. :(

*I have a crocheted bag I started almost 2 years ago that I want to finish up.
*send off a Flat Traveler
*dd has a cross-stitch she has been wanting to work on
*she also has a painting course book she may start

School is almost done!!!

Bob is doing his last exam tomorrow. Probably tomorrow morning. Then I think we'll bring in all of his borrowed texts!!!! :D

All other school stuff has kind of been thrown by the wayside. For now. :)