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I didn't have a chance to post this before our first learning time of the week, and I've gotta say, the kids LOVED the new activities on the shelves. It's very rare that my kiddos choose activities from the "work" shelves before they choose a new activity from the "fun" shelves, but today "work" activities were considered just as fun. Due to another obligation today we had to cut learning time a little short. The kiddos were very upset and didn't want to end our time together. I write about this because, it's a very rare ocurance. I want to be sure I remember it. Lol.
On to our trays this week!
They seemed super excited to see this activity on the shelves. I worked hard to find cards that not only had facial expressions but other nonverbal cues, the kids may pick up on. I included a mirror so they can practice making the facial expressions themselves and see what they look like in comparison to the expression they're trying to mimic.
One of the reasons I didn't have time to post our activities this weekend, was because I spent a significant portion of it making some homemade Montessori Materials. I had been postponing it for quite some time in hopes that money would magically appear and I could just order some. No such luck.
It's funny how the timing couldn't have been more perfect. Bulldozer and Princess have really been struggling with meeting their Math and Language goals. I know it's only been a month into the school year and a very relaxed one at that, but I found myself becoming extremely nervous about the goals I had set for them. As one often does, I reverted in my teaching methods, back to the traditional public school way of doing things. I'd drill them on sight words, numbers, letters, and addition facts. Nothing seemed to be working. Then it was as if a light went on in my head, or perhaps some sense was knocked into it. HELLO! USE THE MONTESSORI METHOD!
It amazes me how quickly I can forget why we chose to teach our children this way. The materials and method are already there, so concrete and so perfect. It's been tested and proven to work. Other than the cost of materials, the only other thing that holds me back is myself. Sometimes I doubt it, never having been officially trained in it. Sometimes I just forget things I've learned, studied and researched in regards to the method. And then there's the pressure from the district to collect "data" to prove what doesn't work for my kiddos, in order to make sure when testing comes around, they'll accommodate them in the ways they need. The whole process is torture for all of us. Looking on the bright side of things, at least I've proven one method that definitely doesn't work for Bulldozer and Princess.
Spelling is something that Dinomite struggles with and always has. I learned a long time ago, he was not one who was going to learn a spelling list and be tested at the end of every week. Talk about screaming fits, tantrums, anxiety, etc. I've been reading and researching about how spelling is approached in the Montessori Method. I was able to speak with a retired Montessori teacher. To my surprise her answer was,
"Well, there's really not much emphasis put on it at all. They learn as they go." How could that be? Is it really that simple? I mean those spelling tests are forever engraven in my mind. That's how I learned to spell right? It was those tests.... Or perhaps not?
Montessori schools have a wonderful movable alphabet. The letters are red and blue. For some, the colors might not mean much, but I REALLY love the color coding system of all the Montessori materials. Anyways, I've wanted my own movable alphabet for some time, but with my husband not working, it hasn't been possible. This weekend, I created my first movable alphabet activity, along with a free movable alphabet printable.
Wouldn't you know it, Dinomite took right to it and LOVED the activity. Mind you this is the kid who screamed and cried and literally FREAKED OUT over spelling. If I had only known it was going to be so easy.
Here is our new movable alphabet! I didn't have a container to store all of the letters separately so I decided to use a wall chart instead. It's hung close to the floor, so the kiddos can easily access the letters (and numbers).
When complete, this is what the work should look like! I was so amazed at the difference in Dinomite as we used this method compared to spelling tests.HERE. I also made the movable alphabet and number cards. For your own free printable click HERE.
Source: I found the free cards at Homeschool Creations.
Bob Book Set 1 Book 2 Build the Words
Source: This free printable can be found at Walking by the Way.
Besides creating my own movable alphabet this weekend, I made A LOT of homemade bead materials. I was fortunate that the only materials I had to purchase from a store were the gold beads and pipe cleaners. Everything else I had on hand. My bead materials follow traditional color schemes. I worked hard to make sure each strand could hook up to another, if I felt so inclined in the future. The only materials I used were pony beads and pipe cleaners.
With finances so tight, I knew purchasing my own tens boards was pretty impossible. At first I tried making a printable, but then when I tried to use the beads with it, the numbers and spaces were too small. So, I grabbed a piece of oak tag I had stored in the house and made one using a ruler, pencil, marker and scissors.
Tens Boards & Beads
When I had borrowed teens boards from a Montessori school in the area, Bulldozer really struggled with the beads. He would stim off of them constantly. This was my only worry with using the beads again. However, he surprised me and did such a fantastic job today laying out his tens bars, selecting numbers, and then the appropriate beads. It made all of my work over the weekend totally worth it.
I did not purchase this board. It was given to me. It's amazing how many teacher-like people start giving you items they don't use anymore, once they find out you're homeschooling. It has been a big blessing for us in humble circumstances.
A dear friend gave me an entire set of these tranogram activities. I wasn't sure if the kiddos would like them or could do them, so I picked out the three easiest ones in the set. To my surprise the kiddos are loving them. Hooray! I can't wait to progress to some harder ones.
Me on the Map
Each kiddo has a bag with all of the pieces printed and cut out, ready to put together. They are using my project as their control. Princess shocked me today by putting the ENTIRE thing together by herself, without asking a single question.
Source: I originally saw the idea for this activity at Counting Coconuts. However, I have also seen it other places since.
Earth's Continents & Oceans
Source: I found this free printable at Our World Wide Classroom.
Artist Nomenclature Cards
Color Wheel Experiment
We did this activity a long time ago, but the kiddos were super excited to see it back on the shelves. I place drops of water along with red, blue, and yellow food coloring in separate little compartments on the round tray. The kiddos then mix and match colors to their heart's content, experimenting to see what happens when certain colors mix.
Piano & Theory Lesson 1
A piano doesn't fit on a tray obviously, but the book and cards do. So, as one of Dinomite's goals for the year is for him to take piano lessons, we're starting our journey. My degree is in music. That said, I've really struggled to incorporate music activities into our learning time schedule. I've found that subjects that are most near and dear to me are much harder to prepare and simplify for the kiddos, compared to themes I really don't care about.
This week the kiddos will match up items on the cards with items on the sheet music pages. Then, once having done so, they will play the first line of the first page of "This Old Man." Each day we'll work on finger positioning, as the control is at the top of the page. Ultimately it will be up to the kiddos if they decide to actually read the music or just learn it by sound. By the end of the month, they'll have the whole song learned (and most probably memorized). Each month I'll introduce a new piece.
We'll also be having fun singing lots of songs each day that we already know.
Buttoning & Snapping
Pipe Cleaner & Colander Activity
When I spotted this activity, I was originally thinking of it for Sunshine, however, when I was looking for ideas this week, I came across it again and thought the other three might like it too, especially if I made it a little bit more involved. Sure enough Dinomite really liked it. What a creation!Mama to 5 Blessings.
Source: I created the cards for this activity. For your free printable click HERE.
One of our Spanish goals for the month is to learn the names of our body parts. I found this cute video to help the kiddos learn, since they really seem to do fabulous learning Spanish through song. This week we'll focus on the English words and next week I'll introduce Spanish Body Part Nomenclature cards to help the kiddos learn all of the Spanish pronunciations. It should be fun!
And that's it! I'm still waiting for some of my books to arrive at our local library, or else I'd share our reading for the week too, but oh well. Hopefully next week. :)