Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Donna Young

If you don't already know about this site http://donnayoung.org/index.htm , do check it out! Lots and lots of free printable stuff.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The environment

And no, I don't mean the one we normally talk about! I'm talking about the immediate environment of the children.

I have observed two striking things this week on how the environment affects children. The first was when my nieces and nephew arrived Monday morning to a completely different layout for the living room (our front door opens onto the living room, essentially) and different bookcases. This was a huge change for my 2.5yo niece and she came over to me and needed the security of being in my arms! She normally just gives me a smile and goes about her merry way. But this "new room" wasn't part of her sense of order, of how things *are* when she comes to my place, and it made her feel insecure. I don't recall how long she stayed in my arms, but I didn't make a big deal of it nor try to separate her from me and once her security level was back to high, she played and moved about her day like nothing had changed.

The second striking observation on how important the environment is on the children and how it affects them was today. I was finishing up getting things in order in the family room, but there was this one little table there that dh had brought down from the living room. I had no idea what his plans were for it, so I set it up next to the one rocker-recliner. I didn't think anything more of it, but knew the girls needed some activities they could do independently while I kept trying to get everything in order elsewhere, so I pulled out some different things on the shelves and put them at different spots at the kitchen table. Not only did that work beautifully, but my 5yo niece came downstairs to see what else was in the shelves. (Shows she recognized everything as having been from the shelves.) She picked something, saw the little table there, pulled up a little stool we have in the family room and proceeded to work at this little table. She naturally had to share this delightful experience with me :D--and it truly was delightful for her. This little change in the environment, providing her with a different experience, truly delighted her. Of course, it was a humbling moment as it pointed out to me that I do not regularly provide variety. :S

There is so much to be learned from children!

I *was* reading "Real Boys"...

I had started reading the book "Real Boys" by William Pollack. Although some of the information in the early chapters gave me some "aha!" moments on my son, most of it felt like I was dragging myself through it. And I haven't made it very far in the book. I decided to pick up the reading pace a bit this morning while eating breakfast and got to a part where he takes a definite jab at Michael Gurian (another person involved in raising boys, understanding men, all that). He took some quote of Gurian's (did not even provide a source for the quote) that was completely out of context and to me, was not even saying what Pollack was trying to make it sound like Gurian was saying.

My interest in the book is now killed. However, I may just start looking into Gurian's work. :)

Off to get moving on another busy day!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Who has time for homeschooling?!?!

I can't report on any homeschooling progress. Been far too busy the past couple of days to be able to even think of homeschooling. Now my focus is really just to hopefully have the house back in order before school really starts next week!! The busyness for the week isn't done...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hehe, my typing doesn't keep up with my thoughts

If you read yesterday's post, you might have noticed that I indicated the piano was $10 at the music store. I've now corrected my mistake--it's $10 CHEAPER at the music store. ;)

Since I'm in here, let's see what I've accomplished:

*I have a very basic plan for the week written out: math and/or handwriting each day *with* ds (not just have him do it, but do it with him); dd will be asked to do at least 30 minutes of some sort of school stuff (yes, it can be piano, although she's not as interested since she's waiting for the new one and we can't find the damper pedal for the current one); with my 5yo niece, if I only do one thing this week with her, it will be to practise letters in sand, especially a's and other similar letters. A's and d's I think would be particularly good, without any mention of b's. And finally into her whole name--she has a tendency to do some of the letters in capitals, with the rest in print. Yes, I'll be doing it in print, but that's because she always writes her name in print and she'll be heading off to Kindergarten next week and I think showing her how to write the letters in her name a little better is perfect preparation.

*Got the books moved over from the living room bookshelves and even took some books that had been stuffed into the den on the new shelves. There is STILL room for more! Yay! Also moved over all of the CD's that were in the aquarium stand (aquarium was on top; cd's and bookshelf stereo underneath). Dh still has to empty the aquarium, although I did manage to pull two other snails out yesterday.

*I have some thoughts down for Bob's first week, which is really only 3 days. The following week is only 4 days. Nice way to start the year, I think! What are my thoughts? Well, I think we need to start out quite structured and let the structure disappear as needed as the semester moves along. I did that when he and his sister first started and it worked very well. What I did NOT do was restart and insist on the high structure in subsequent years; I think that made things more difficult as everything slips into entropy and it all just seemed to get worse year by year.

Okay, enough thoughts for now. Time to get on with my day!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

So much to do!

We are just a bustle of activity right now, and in the middle of that bustle of activity, I still have to try to figure out school stuff, routines, etc.!

We decided to purchase some new bookcases and a "sofa table" for our living room, which, of course, requires emptying the old ones and whatnot. Dh has given up waiting for the fish to die of old age, so they were given away yesterday, but the tank is still not emptied--dh spent most of yesterday afternoon and into the evening putting together the new furniture. There are still about 10 snails in the tank and I hope to be able to rescue them and add them to the almost 30 rescued yesterday from the decorations, and I'm not sure how many snails the mom who took the fish took. We had a lot of snails. Just little guys, but still.

So, there's trying to get the books all moved over in a reasonable fashion, figure out what to do with the games we were keeping upstairs (the new shelves don't have any doors, so no toy bins or games can be hidden behind with them) and all that. Dh is actually out at my mom and step-dad's today helping reshingle their roof, so I've got to try to get through what I can today on my own.

Once the upstairs shelves are emptied, dh can move them elsewhere. One of them will go into the family room, where we've been complaining about not having proper room for the dvd's and blu-rays. There, problem solved. The other of the same size and style, I think dh was going to put in the den. That means cleaning up and moving around some stuff in there. I don't know what he was going to do with the shelves the aquarium is now on. It might become the new tv stand for the tv in the basement (the tv is actually on a very small, cheap night table--the whole thing wobbles if you're not careful!).

Add to all of that, part of the rearranging will involve having a new electronic full-size piano--which I don't have yet, would like to buy from a specific store, but they don't know when it'll be in. I don't want to move the old one out until the new one is in, even though the old one is all crackly and undependable for the sound. I may give in and go to Best Buy. I'd so much rather support the music store, though. Besides, it's about $10 cheaper, I think, at the music store. ;)

I have been working on plans for the school year. I need to be a little more specific with Bob's plans because the school wants deadlines and resources and such, at least for his science and ELA. We're doing math on our own (not through homeschool registration; we need to keep him as entirely teacher-directed) because the province decided to drop that math course, but he needs that math course to be able to do the best he can 2nd semester in Math 20 Pure, which the province has not yet dropped. Confusing.

For my kids, I don't have a month-by-month plan yet. So far, I've worked out some things for dd for September:

*German: This is mostly my job, making sure to add new vocabulary each day, use it with her, we'll keep track of words maybe on a large sheet of paper that's out in the open, make some labelling cards, etc. There's no specific goal here other than just get going with it and keep adding on to it!

*Math: Life of Fred. I've told her, and will remind her, that I want her to do a minimum of 5 hours a week in math. That sounds like so much. I might be willing to make it 4. Then she can easily break it down into 4 hour-long sessions and take a day off, or spend 2 days doing 2 hours. I'll talk with her about it. My main goal is to make sure she's working on it. She's only on the first book right now, which is definitely below her "grade level" (not that that matters), and I know she will enjoy the next book, so I want to ensure that she gets through it, completes it, has that satisfaction of having it done and moves along. I will ask her if she wants more tables practice. She's gotten bored of sheets, but seems to like random problem solving questions here and there or collective game style.

*French: September's goal is to get her writing a bit each day in French. It can be just a decent-sized paragraph, but she has to get writing in French. She reads a TON in English and writes a TON in English, even though French is her first language. I would not forgive myself if I let her French slide to the point that she will finish school not feeling capable of reading and writing in French!

*Science: I don't know. She was very interested at one point this past spring to study human biology. I may just have her get going on that, kind of following typical APS or high school outcomes.

*Social Studies: I'm going to encourage study of Aztec and other similar civilizations. I'm not sure how Montessori junior highs cover this kind of thing, or even if they specifically do, but rather than the elementary level's focus on needs, her fascination is on their beliefs. I think studying specifically their religion and government would fit well with her age level.

*Music: She already has this decided upon: piano. I think as part of all of her work, I will give her a tracking calendar so she can track when and how long she is spending playing piano, etc.

*Art: At least once a week. She can go with her own idea or work her way through the art course books we have. I bought the grade 7 and grade 8 texts that our school board uses (I could have rented them, but I but them both for cheaper than the price of renting a single text for the year!), plus we found a really good painting course book. Just have to get her started on it and she'll be good to go.

*Religion: She has decided that she does want to be confirmed this year. I haven't figured out a plan really for September yet. Mass, of course, and I think I might work through the grade 4 book of Faith and Life with her. It's got nice, simple foundational things in it. I need to check the contents for the grade 5-8 books and maybe see about getting some others to use during the year. Due to scheduling conflicts, she might not be able to participate in all of the sessions our parish runs for those seeking Confirmation, so I definitely need to do some things on the side. And I'm not thrilled about the fact our parish's preparation for Confirmation is pretty much a session each week for six weeks in a row--that doesn't feel like much of a preparation to me. So, we'll use the year to cover topics, questions, etc., through other resources than just the preparation sessions. Of course, encouraging daily Bible reading is always good! :)

*Health: September's focus is on healthy eating, specifically, on eating enough fruits and veggies. I've slowed down my raw food exploration, but it's gaining momentum again and I hope to be able to provide some alternative things for her rather than just basic fruits and veggies.

Whew! That's a lot. Time for me to get back to reorganizing things!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Oh, forgot--who needs button dressing frames???

Yesterday, I served as a large-button dressing frame for my 2.5yo niece. I was feeling a little cold and grabbed a cardigan with large buttons, but left it undone. Well, this was just way too much temptation for this little one. We were on the sofa and she did one of them up. I got up and she kind of fussed that she wasn't done. LOL. So, I stood until she had finished doing all 6 or something buttons. I'm thinking it might be a good idea to leave that particular sweater out so that she can keep doing it next week if she wants to.

This reminds me, too, that my 5yo niece has recently learned how to tie shoes. I can't remember if she'd ever done any of the practice stuff in the past, but if so, it wasn't all of the steps. I showed her a couple of times last week, her mom showed her 2 or 3 times and the 5yo said her dad showed her once, too. Well, she's got it. Sure, like all beginners, she doesn't quite get it tight enough, but she does the whole process masterfully. Just goes to show that when they are ready, away they go!

A little blogging this Saturday morning

I thought I'd just babble a bit this morning. Lots of thoughts in my head!

First thought: Next week's gentle start to school time. The kids have honestly been so very good at keeping themselves reasonably busy, I don't feel guilty about not having had things prepared to do with them if they got too crazy. This past week was a sluggish week for us all in general--the weather, the forest fire smoke... I was feeling bad because here, again, I'm not anywhere close to 100%, but then I realized none of the kids really were, either. My 2.5yo niece had 3 days in a row of naps--for a girl who was having one nap every 3 days, that's a lot. My 5yo niece fell asleep on the sofa yesterday afternoon. They've all just been tired and affected by the weather and smoke. It's maybe a good thing that I wasn't prepared because then I would have felt like I had to present something!

But next week... Next week, I've already told my two that I want them to do some work. Now, at first, I was just thinking, for ds, that I'd give him a choice between handwriting or math facts. But I saw something in him last night, kind of helped by my current reading of "Real Boys", that he's been so busy with everybody else, he needs and wants to "reconnect" with me, so to speak. (He wanted to do some rowing last night at 7:45 and invited me to stretch near him. lol. I told him it wasn't a good time to be starting to exercise and we ended up playing Guess Who? instead. He beat me 4-0. Then he, dd and I watched part of X-Men in bed. He just wanted to have some time with me!) So, my thoughts are now turning towards what he needs right now, which is some time with me. I can still bring in work stuff, but I need to change the focus of it so that I make sure I'm with him, maybe doing the same type of work next to him or something we can do together.

Dd has pretty much planned to do piano all week. LOL. I'm thinking I might encourage her to get going again with Life of Fred (her math), but without "Bob" back, she might not be quite ready to move into those kinds of academics.

For the little ones... The littlest one (2.5yo) has found herself by herself a fair amount this week due to the bigger kids playing games in a dark basement--not quite the 2.5yo's thing. She is sooooo used to pretty much having her sister's constant companionship (is that a word?), that she was kind of out of sorts and didn't know what to do with herself (the 5yo is usually the one who decides or initiates things and the 2.5yo just follows). She wanted *me*, therefore, to do all kinds of things with her. Sometimes I would say yes, other times I would say, "Give me a few minutes," because I was busy with something else, and she would usually find something else to do. That said, I think it's time (haven't I written this before?) that I really consider starting her on the Montessori sequence of activities. She has been kept so busy with her sister and has tried to do everything her big sister's been doing, that there wasn't really the room to give her her own presentations. Big sister is going to be starting full-time school in a week and a half (well, kind of--kindergarten, so it'll be a half day or full day here and there, with school time increasing as the month of September progresses). And although I will have the others and need to keep them on track, especially Bob with his high school courses--not so much leeway there--this is a child who is going to want to be doing. Her big sister wasn't really like that, I don't think. She's always been the type to hold back, to watch, to just do something comfortable, although that has been changing the past year (she even allowed a crab on her hand the other day! this is the child who would not feed herself at age 1 because she didn't want to touch the food!). The littlest one, ever since becoming mobile, has been the one to do, do, do. She does love "reading books" and the like, but I also know she'll love doing practical life and sensorial and all of that. With a little 1yo boy being added to our mix in October sometime, it will also give her another focus. :)

Isn't that interesting. All the thoughts about school and planning and all that just seemed to stop. Must be time to go exercise. ;)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Insets--5yo style and 2yo style ;)

My 5yo niece decided to get creative with the insets. This is what she did the other day:

Her 2.5yo sister decided to do her own version of the creative version:


Monday, August 16, 2010

I wonder what Maria would have done...

...if she had but a few children in the classroom and they all showed up tired, crabby and easily weepy?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Not ready for the week! :(

I had hoped to be a little more prepared for the week starting tomorrow, but I've been battling sinus problems this whole past week, and it's been even worse today. Not sure what was going on yesterday (geesh--that's how badly this is affecting me!), but I didn't sit down to plan anything. I ran errands, I know that. Laundry's not done. Bathrooms haven't been done. Vacuuming's not done. Ran some more errands today--got a little bookcase for ds's room (nice improvement over having books lined along the floor)--found myself some shoes, have had two naps today. I'm not kidding. It's 8pm and I'm ready to nap again. Maybe I should.

Talked to the kids about starting school stuff. Dd's ready to get going with piano, but not really ready to commit to anything else, which I can understand as she's just come back from camp. Ds isn't interested in starting at all. lol. My gut is constantly telling me to prepare some science stuff, yet I don't follow through. Why not? I don't know. I should, as per the Nike motto, just do it.

Okay, I'll just do something: clean the kitchen, tidy up a bit, then sit down with the science books I pulled out and pick something. Or maybe nap first. ;)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dd's back from camp

Not sure what to share about the past couple of days. School-wise, I have noticed that I really need to show my 5yo niece how to write a printed 'a' correctly. It almost looks like she's drawing it sigma-style. Other than providing colouring pages, I'm not sure I've done much directed stuff. I read a lot to the 2yo niece, pulled out some puzzles, ran some errands. Nothing very exciting nor Montessori. I've just really not been up to thinking and directing more than that!

I did clean up dd's room and purchased a new bedspread she'd seen in a Bed, Bath and Beyond flyer. It was all ready and set up for when she came home from camp today. Which was an experience, apparently. Dh went by himself to go get her, she got into the car and said she wasn't feeling great, then said she felt like she was going to throw up and within 15 minutes of leaving camp, blaugh. On herself, on the car door, seat, mat, speaker... Dh cleaned up a little bit what he could, but he didn't have a lot of  options on the side of the road. They had a 1.5-hour drive home to go, too. :( She seems fine now, but others at the camp apparently had this stomach bug, too, and others had it worse, so we'll just knock on wood. In any case, she was happy to come home to see her room cleaned up for her (she had complained before leaving that she wanted it clean but just felt like she never got anywhere with it) and the new bedspread in place. With her cat already sleeping on it. ;)

Dd's doing math calculations (with the calculator), calculating how many days we've been alive. I'm glad we count our age in years and not days. ;)

Let's see, what else? I've finally gotten to work on some year plans for dd and ds. Very brief year plans, but it's nice to get them down. I'm never very good at following the plans, but dd and I seem very motivated and focused. A good portion of it is stuff she wants to do: German, music, art and math. She is very eager for us to replace my old keyboard (did I already blog about that?), but we still need to wait because I want to try out the one I think we'll get.

I feel like I'm not making any sense. It's only 8pm but I'm thinking I ought to brush my teeth and put on pj's, curl up with a book and let myself fall asleep.

Back to what I was saying (this is the most disorganized blog post ever, isn't it?), it's nice to have at least something written down for both dd and ds. Kind of started the plan for "Bob", too, but he's only covering 3 subjects for first semester, so it's not too bad. Although I do have to figure out his English and which resources we will use.

The plans are very brief, as in, for example, dd's:

*finish workbook
*check APS outcomes for grades 7 and 8
*use lots orally on a daily basis

*finish the first two Life of Fred books
*work on mastering tables


There's a lot in dd's plans, but I think that's good. We spent so much of last year with her kind of flitting around, her wanting me to give her something to do, me not knowing what to give her. If I can have this basic plan in place, something we can refer to, then it'll be easy to go, "Well, you haven't worked on this and this, so get to it." ;D One thing I would like to figure out is how to meet the Montessori idea of having her involved in the community somehow, involved in how the world around her works. She would LOVE to have a part-time job, but she's 12 and looks 10. It's just not going to happen this year. If she gets more involved in producing art this year, that's always something she could work at--creating her own enterprise. She's a natural artist and loves it, but isn't always consistent. We have some fantastic resources for her this year and a little nudge will help her get going. I'm also hoping our school board will run a session again with the same painting instructor from this past year.

There are some little holes in her plan, like what to specifically study for social studies and science. I've got question marks beside the ideas. She learned a bit about the Aztecs while at camp, so that could be an interesting culture and history to delve into, or others in the same area and same time. Or I could take a CM approach, Ambleside's history recommendations or something else. I guess part of me is trying to find "the right" thing for her to study this coming year when it probably doesn't matter much. She loves *real* history, so right there, I can at least know in which direction to head for her, whereas for ds, right now it's all about maps and where places are in the world, etc. So, for his plan, I've got the focus on world geography for social studies. (Again, such disjointed sentences/paragraphs. I'm frankly too tired to care at the moment.) Ancient North and South American civilizations could actually be a fascinating topic for her, finding biographies, journals, etc. for her to go through.

All right, enough for tonight! My brain's turning to mush!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

So tired today

Feeling very tired today. And horribly congested. I'd love to be able to call in a substitute. ;)

This is the kind of day where one (okay, *I*) would really like to wing it, but I know the best thing I could do is to have some sort of plan. I'll start at least with a list of some easy-to-do activities:

*colouring pages
*story time
*tracing pages

I can't think of anything else at the moment. My mind is distracted by a Charlotte Mason site that a message I got linked to. I'm not finding this particular site very helpful, to be honest. Or rather, I'm having a problem with the inconsistency between what Charlotte Mason wrote and what this site suggests. The two don't fit and that always throws me for a loop. My brain just doesn't deal with it well at first.

At the same time, I'm all for people modifying things to suit their needs. I guess, in this case, my mental issue is that it's supposed to be teaching about CM and is not clarifying that there is an alteration of what is actually recommended by Charlotte Mason; at the same time, people are probably reading the books, so they'll know what Charlotte wrote anyhow.Just my quirky brain. And a tired one at that. I think I might actually be able to fall back asleep now, which I will go try and do.


“She [Maria Montessori] taught me that one's love for others is more important than all the education in the world,” he says.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Yesterday and today

So, yesterday was overplanned, as I expected, but I think that's a good thing, because when I did want to direct the girls, I had my plan there ready and just needed to pick something. Things didn't quite get rolling as I had hoped in the morning because I simply was not ready for the day when they showed up--I had not yet eaten breakfast! They were going to pick some dress up stuff, I said sure, but my 5yo niece changed her mind (which means her 2yo sister followed suit) and I suggested they find something in the shelves so I could go eat breakfast. The 5yo picked Playdough, including the doggie doctor toy that can be used with Playdough. It was an interesting choice, because right away, she started getting into medical care of the dog--her own dog had had some health issues the past week.

They did that for quite sometime, which allowed me to do some stuff around the house. When I saw that they had moved on from it, I asked if they wanted to listen to a story. As I shared earlier, I tried Beatrix Potter and that was a flop. The elephants book was great. After we were done that, the 5yo asked if there was something new for school that I could show her! :D I decided to show her the "prequel" to the teens boards since she is still having issues counting to 20 and reading numbers to 20. (Essentially, this is an activity with ten bars and the coloured bead stair. It went quite well.) After that, she wanted to play Chocolate Chip Math, which also got her brother and my ds involved. It was interesting to note that my bright 10yo nephew, going into grade 5 (just like ds) struggled with fairly simple subtraction (9-3). On the one hand, it made me feel better about not having drilled ds with subtraction, because he can't do 9-3 quickly either; on the other hand, it left me wondering about what they are now teaching in school because this is a boy who does fairly well in math, it seems to me--yet he declared yesterday, "I'm not very good in math." When kids say that, I think what they really mean is, "I'm not as capable as I'd like to be." Kids *want* to know the tables by heart, even if they don't necessarily want to do the practice involved. They *want* to be able to quickly and mentally solve things. Something goes wrong somewhere in that they get the message somehow that they simply ought to "know" it, rather than realizing they need the practice.

Now, my nephew is going off to school and I will only have him a couple of days per week after school during the school year, during which time he will most likely play away with ds. So there's not much I can do with him about his math, unless for some reason his parents do decide to pull him and have him homeschool (which he would LOVE; he has practically begged to be homeschooled this year). It does have me thinking about my own kids, though, and how I can incorporate these kinds of math things that mean a lot to them, but which they want to avoid because facing them means feeling bad. "Fun" is the first word that comes to mind--no better way to work past fear than tying in something fun with it. Games and such, like the Chocolate Chip Math game which the boys both wanted to play yesterday. If we play enough such games, will that be enough? Just some thoughts. I have had the thought with my son that I need to do more oral math with him, rather than written work all the time. I still have Ray's Arithmetic, which I think is a fantastic program, and maybe doing that orally, kind of game-style, while incorporating a Montessori approach to the other stuff, would work well for this coming year. But, I digress.

Back to yesterday. After Chocolate Chip Math, I think I went to take care of some laundry, during which time the girls took up a little piano book and singing the songs in it. Fine activity. I let them be. When they stopped, we set up things to have lunch. After lunch, we had a short quiet time, then ran errands and played at a playground. All-in-all, a very reasonable first day back!

Today: It was humid, everybody was tired, so even though I had a plan, I ended up just reading with the girls for longer than planned (Winnie-the-Pooh beats out Beatrix Potter, but non-fiction is still preferred by the 5yo!), then I did my own thing and let them be. When I saw things were getting kind of silly, I set up some collage-making at the kitchen table. There was a 2nd issue with the 2yo downstairs, so I guided her upstairs and to the table and told her she could glue all kinds of things. Oooh, glue. Always appealing. ;) She did that for a while, then her sister made her way up, saw the collage stuff and put her planned activity aside. Not sure what we did after that, but the 5yo eventually did make her way to the insets, but used them to create characters rather than the traditional Montessori way!

By the time that was all done, it was early lunch, then off to run some errands and head to the playground again, where we stayed for nearly 2 hours.

Issues with a tired 2yo at the moment. Must go.

Beatrix Potter vs a book on elephants

Beatrix Potter lost!

I don't know if it was because it was a translation and the translation was not very engaging (I don't know that I've ever read the English), but my 5yo niece quickly grew bored, asked if we had to finish and then passed me a book on elephants, which we read instead. The 2yo didn't seem to care either way--she just wanted to look at the pictures in the book. :)

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Need to rethink my plans

Yesterday was all about getting the juices flowing so I can have at least some reasonable plan for this coming week. I realized a couple of things since:

1) I want time during the day (not in the evening) to work on longer-term school planning. Not only have I not worked out a plan for my kids for the year, but all progress in terms of planning for "Bob" came to a halt. I *need* to have plans in place for him because we have to submit them in September. And we have to have an idea of what to do, too. ;) I also have a French course to plan out! I'm going to be teaching a once-a-week French session.

2) I want to be able to run errands and such. Not that I couldn't with the routines/schedule I proposed for myself yesterday, just skip the afternoon routines when we're out. I guess it's more a mental note for me that the schedule is for when we're home and I shouldn't feel tied to it. At the same time, this has me thinking more long-term and perhaps a week schedule, with specific days for specific types of outings. Although, I'm thinking "Nah" as I write that. :D

So, some rethinking about tomorrow:

*I will not be ready to do the first Great Lesson. I don't think. If I do it, I'm going to make it much shorter. I printed it off yesterday and it's ridiculously long. Instead, I will have a science activity of some sort ready to do with the boys each day. I will hold off on handwriting and such and let ds know that the following week, I will be expecting him to work on some stuff.

*The morning plan I had set up yesterday ought to be fine. I think I want to be more relaxed for the afternoon. Now, it also turns out that the littlest one is in the transitional phase for her naps--naps some days and not others.

*Afternoons: I don't know that I want a schedule at all. I'd like the philosophy to be kind of:

--silent reading right after lunch
--as much outside time as possible
--when inside, art, music, games, more read-alouds, etc. I think it'll just be more of a "be prepared to direct them" kind of thing. That way, I can leave them be for the most part while taking care of things around the house, working on planning and preparing, etc.

Well, now, that was an easy enough change to make. :)

I think I just need to be realistic this week: I have had a crazy July, between travelling and getting ready to travel and a one-week stint with my nieces and nephew and then several days taken up recently due to my mother breaking her wrist and needing to be driven places and such, that after all of this, I am not prepared for a full onslaught of "school" as I had hoped, and (yes, saying this to myself and everybody else ;) ), that's okay. Getting a strong morning routine going, having things ready to do with the boys, these will be great things to do this week while I figure out what to do next week. ;D

So, since everybody's still sleeping here and I don't feel like reading, let me actually kind of plan out tomorrow:

I will probably be awake by 5:30 as that has been my pattern lately. I can do my own morning routine (exercise, emails, all that), but I'll have to make sure I have things ready tonight so that I can get myself ready first thing in the main bathroom--no guarantee that dh will be up before my nieces and nephew arrive tomorrow morning. Ds has been sleeping late ever since we got back from Kelowna, which I think I will just let him do for now. Having him get enough sleep is always difficult.

So, get that all out of the way, have breakfast and everything before the kids show up. Then, maybe more of a checklist/routine rather than a set schedule:

*kids arrive, shoes away properly

*sit with the girls, chat, read them a story--I have to pick which one. I have some little Beatrix Potter books out, so reading one of those could be just perfect. Then I could read them a story from our children's Bible stories book.

*"lessons": I think I ought to start with a practical life activity, then a sensorial activity, and so on. Each girl can have her own turn after shown something, or I can (maybe not tomorrow, but another day), show something much harder to the 5yo, let her do that, then get the 2yo busy with things elsewhere; regardless, I am going to aim for at least 1 hour of lessons. If they want to go longer than 1 hour, great. I suspect the boys, at least this week, will already be engrossed in whatever they have decided to do, but in case they aren't, I do want a science activity of some sort, or maybe building or something, to be ready for them, visible on the table. But I've gotten away on myself. I'm supposed to be specifically planning for tomorrow. I'll have to have a look in Gettman or at Montessori World or something to specifically decide which lessons I want to present tomorrow and pull out our science experiment books. Maybe for tomorrow, since I have limited time today, I will just put the books on display on the table.

*Grace and Courtesy: Maria Montessori had 30 minutes for this. I don't know if I can make it happen for 30 minutes! I think doing some "walking on the line" would be a good choice for tomorrow. It would be nice if I could actually find a line other than the lines our laminate create in the flooring. ;) If it's nice, we could always take the activity outside. A second Grace and Courtesy lesson could be good, too. I'll have to look through a list and see. I know the 5yo is not always very good about saying please and thank you, so that could be a fun little role playing game to play.

If this doesn't take us to lunch, then I will just do more reading aloud, probably from the book on animals we had been reading from when they were here in July.

Lunch: Have at least 2 kids work on preparing the dining room table to eat lunch. Grace. Lunch preparation as required (I'll probably have started before; my nieces and nephew all come with their own lunches, but sometimes things need to be reheated or cooked). I could always do a collective read-aloud at this point since it's probably the only time during the day I'd be guaranteed to have the boys available for a read-aloud. lol. That means picking something to read for just then... Hm, not sure I'm prepared to do that just yet.

For tomorrow afternoon... It's supposed to be rather nice tomorrow. After our silent reading time, I think maybe we'll head to a playground where I can work on some planning and the kids can play. Or maybe we'll go for a walk in one of the nearby ravines and do a bug hunt. :D I'll choose between one of the two tomorrow. Then we can come back, have art or music time, then they will be free to go back outside, play board games, etc.

I'll need to specifically write out what I'm going to do or have available for each step of the day (like, for art or music, what?) so that I'm not trying to figure out things on the spot.

Oh! Signs of life upstairs! I ought to be able to go get myself ready for the day!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Solar System Activity

I remember having done something similar to the rope of the solar system described here: http://www.missbarbara.net/thebeginning.html#keylessons . I used cups or something to mark the places on the road (yes, we went outside to do it). This could be a fantastic activity to do with the kids as a follow-up lesson to the first Great Lesson.

Got to get planning!

I had a vision at the beginning of the summer of how much I was going to get done, the sort of routines I was going to have, and how prepared I was going to be for when my nieces and nephew came for most of August.


This summer has had so much busyness, part of me feels like I haven't really gotten done any of the things I wanted to get done. And while I've had some moments here and there to kind of think about things, I am certainly not prepared for this coming Monday, which is when my nephew and nieces will be with us.

What is my vision for August? A baby step at a time, I want to incorporate Montessori lessons into our day. I want to have a more structured day for all of the kids. I want my son to work on his handwriting and math. I want my nephew to get a feel for what it would be like to actually homeschool with us (he's been kind of pestering his parents, but whenever he's with us, ds pretty much gets the day off or he does his work really early, so my nephew has never really seen a homeschool day in action; well, except when he was 4--he's now 10). Basically, I want structure, I want the little ones in particular to be directed, I want activities prepared and in the boys' face that will get them involved in something other than scootering, biking or playing in the yard.

That's all fine and dandy. But how will I make this work? What will I specifically show them? I have a tendency to want everything all planned out ahead of time, every last detail, and I know that's self-defeating. Let me just ramble with some thoughts:

*I would like to present the Great Lessons to them. I haven't presented the Great Lessons in years. I had hoped to present the first one this coming Monday, but I don't know if I'll be ready because we are so very busy this weekend.

*I would like to have science activities ready for them. But what? I need to figure this out. I have a bunch of different books with science activities. As much as I would like it to be all Montessori in nature and everything connected, I think I have to suck it up and just show them things.

*I remember having done with dd and another girl I had been homeschooling some homemade baked playdough models of the core, the mantel and the crust. We also did something on dinosaurs, but I can't remember what--it was 7 years ago. I really ought to have a look in the Montessori science albums I have! See how blogging can bring things back to mind? :)

*I want to have a sort of schedule, at least for the little ones. They are the ones who need the most direction right now. A modification of Maria Montessori's original schedule. Something along the lines of:

(Before school begins: I need to make a specific plan for the day, have activities prepared, lessons practised, etc.)

8:30 - 9:15? Arrive. Put away shoes properly (instead of literally throwing them into the closet). "Circle time"--we won't really have a circle since there are only 3 of us at that point. ;) We'll chat a bit, talk about the day before, etc., and have a  story time. Maria Montessori "eschewed" (where did THAT word come from in my brain?) obviously fictional stories (fairy tales, talking animals, etc.) because she found the children weren't very interested in them the way they were interested in them compared to stories about real things. However, I have found my nieces love everything, so I will probably mix it up between real stories and fictional things like "The Wind in the Willows". In Maria Montessori's original schedule, she had "religious exercises" listed as part of the first routine of the morning. I have no idea what that means. I could maybe read them a little Bible story or teach them a prayer, I suppose!

9:15 - 10:15 "Intellectual exercises" Maria Montessori writes. "Objective lessons interrupted by short rest periods. Nomenclature, sense exercises." Essentially, LESSONS from any of the Montessori subject areas, except probably not room care nor grace and courtesy. Because the latter comes next.

10:15 - 10:45 Grace and courtesy lessons and practice. This is almost like a game time for the kids. Walking gracefully, moving chairs without making a noise, practising greeting people, thanking people, etc.

Maria Montessori's schedule would be moving into lunch prep right now. The kids get to my place 30 minutes before MM's schedule starts, plus I've shortened the first routine because there isn't really any room care to do, although perhaps I could add it in. Actually, 10:45 would be a perfect time for us to do a pre-lunch clean up (not just the little ones, but EVERYONE). We have a tendency of having lunch around 11/11:30. So, 10:45 could be the check the rooms, see that everything is in place, maybe dust, prepare the table for lunch, prepare any lunches as needed, then we could all sit down together, say grace and eat lunch. Then do the after-lunch clean up. We could be done lunch by 12.

The afternoons:

12 - 1 Maria Montessori has free games at this point. I think this might have been a time where really little ones may have gone off to sleep, too. In any case, part of me resists this idea as I've tried it and it doesn't seem to work for us. So, instead of free games, it'll start with quiet time: free reading or writing. Assuming my 2yo niece still needs naps, I will put her down for a nap at this point. (Ach--I just had the reminder that I was hoping to work on potty training with her. I have to try not to do too much at a time, though. Maybe have a week with the schedule then add in the potty training.) So, around 12:30 or so, I think I will move on to the activities Montessori had planned for later in the day.

12:30 - 1:30 Manual work, clay, art... I actually have a fantastic book of guiding children through art projects. I could pick a particular medium each week, or maybe have different things each day--one day is painting, another is drawing, another is collage, another is sculpting... I find it so hard to make these kinds of decisions, even though it probably doesn't make much of a difference. I'm thinking at the moment that to have a varied week is probably better, because it shows them more things. Of course, with the little one down for her nap, she will miss this part, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Now the Montessori schedule really breaks down for me. I would love to go outside and have directed outside time. BUT with a little one sleeping inside... I'll need another hour of indoor activities, or give them free time at this point, then when the little one is up, we can go for a nature walk, play games outside, etc. At the moment, I'm thinking from 1:30-2:30 could be me reading aloud for 30 minutes, then free time for the older niece. Although maybe the read-aloud would be better for 12:30-1? Although, that would be right after their own reading time. Does it matter? (Dang, far too much perfectionism in me trying to find the "right" time to do a read aloud!) I'll leave it for 1:30. And free time can be until the littlest one wakes up. That will give me a chance to do some planning, prepping and my own free reading. :D

So, roughly 2:30, weather permitting, outside we will go. Start with a walk or maybe head to a playground or a path or area where we can do some nature observations. We could make it CM style and bring books and pencils to do some sketching. (I'm still very confused about CM's "brush drawings" while out in a natural area--did they really bring paints with them? Were they already mixed and wet? I don't understand!) This could take up to an hour. Of course, some days we could just go into the backyard or into a field and play around with a ball, badminton, stuff like that.

Back home, maybe around 3:30?, good time for music :) Spend maybe 15-30 minutes playing an instrument or showing them how to play something or just letting them explore. Then they can have time to play board games, card games, Lego, go back to artsy activities, etc. while I start supper preparations.

It's a very structured schedule compared to what we have been doing. Of course, I'm going to have to prepare for some "interruptions", such as showing things to the boys, taking the littlest one to the toilet or changing her diaper, etc. But I like the general feel.

Now, this is all fine and good, but that doesn't make me any more ready for the Great Lessons or whatever else I'm going to do with the boys next week. Dd will be away at camp, so I have all next week to figure out things for her. So, off I will head to http://www.moteaco.com now to read up on the first Great Lesson!

Friday, August 06, 2010


Did I ever share this link? http://www.squidoo.com/notebooking  It looks like a great thing to try as a learning tool.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

I'm back!

Sorry to not have been blogging. Last week, my mother broke her wrist and it required me to help her out a bit, plus I had all kinds of things to do for the bank and to prepare for a little vacation out to Kelowna to visit a dear friend and her family. We only got back just last night. I can't really blog much at the moment as there is so much to do! I will say that dd (12) has taken up the Rubik's Cube. Can anybody say sensorial training? :D