Monthly Archives: May 2010

Yes, It is Fire. Yes, They are Boys.

JV and his trusty side-kick RL spent about a half-hour creating, refining, and shooting off match rockets.

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Montessori Botany

BR has become interested in the “inconsequential” world around him as the year has progressed.  We began they year with a “Yeah, yeah . . . grass, so what!” attitude.  It was difficult to encourage him to grasp the wonder of the smallest of items.

The unveiling has brought him to squatting over tiny flies on the beach to see their wings beating the sand to make little fly angles.  I could not believe it.  He wanted to know why they were staying so close to the sand.  Then what were those dimples in the dirt.  AV just stepped over him and kept walking.  BR was undeterred.  He watched.  He observed.  He was so peaceful. He rose excited and gestured all the way through his observation discussion with me.

Recently BR has become a farmer of a 3 foot by 3 foot box.  He bought the fake wood with his own money.  He sawed the fake wood for days in my kitchen; its fine powdery sawdust lurking next to the fridge.  He and JV worked together to pre-drill screw holes (had to figure it out), screw the pieces together, find the proper spot for the box, fill it with dirt, and go to Hyams for seeds and veggis.

He planted the seeds just as he had seen me do in my garden, and daily, he would check to see if his seeds were sprouting.  They did.  He rejoiced. He has fretted over the mildew on the squash leaves, pulled weeds, dead headed the marigolds, and generally puttered about his plot of ground.

He decided he needed a new project and it was going to be botany.  No questioning him on this.  “I love plants,” he declared.

He is working on his own project which we will post when it is complete.

Here is a taste of his work.

I went and pulled out the Montessori Botany Demonstration Cards.  These scientific demonstrations are accompanied by a Montessori Botany Chart illustrating the principal to be observed in the demonstration cards.

I also pulled my AMI botany books (which have three part cards, too), seed packets, and “Who Am I” Botany Cards. I have also begun revising my botany classification cards for a 5 to 6 kingdom approach to science.

A basket with the books nestled inside - for the moment.

Seed packets

Montessori’s approach to Botany is three pronged.

1. Taxonomy – dividing the kingdom into its subset so that the child may be able to understand relationship among living things (or the lack of obvious relationship as the case may be).

What is this? What is closely related to it? Why do we put this with that but not with the other.

2. Nomenclature – the parts of, types of, groups of: plants, leaves, stems, adaptations, roots, flowers, fruit, and seeds.  This allows for deeper observation of the natural world to aid in understanding and classification.

After cutting an apple open crossways, we discussed the name of this type of ovary, seed type, and parts of the fruit. Then we had a snack.

3. Physiology – how it works or doesn’t.  What systems do plants have and why.

The demonstration discussing respiration in a plant. Chart in the background showing sun, water, soil, air. The tray has matches, radish seeds (sprouting) in a large jar, and small jar of water to keep the cotton with seeds moist.

Just as an added note:  If you need to pop a seed quickly out of its protective coating, place the seed under a cotton ball that has been soaked in hydrogen peroxide.  In about an hour as opposed to 12 hours, the seed coating will be ready to remove.  BR needed to see the differences between monocotyledon and dicotyledon seeds. Shazzam.

Cotton ball soaked in hydrogen peroxide.

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Filed under Botany, BR, Construction Skills, Educational Philosophy, gardening, Going outs (Field Trips), Montessori, Practical Life - Elementary, Projects, Science, Writing

Vice Camp – Field Trips during Piccolo Spoleto

Piccolo Spoleto Events:

Our first excursion will be the wonderful one act opera Gianni Schicchi by Pucchini.  Brooks began a review of it here (then spring break ensued). This is a wonderful introduction to opera as it is kid friendly in theme, length, and production distance.

Gianni Schicchi

June 4th at 8pm at the College of Charleston’s Theater.  We will meet at the College at 7:30 to discuss the history, composer, and story line of the opera. Oh yes, it also only lasts one hour.  It should be attended by folks who can sit carefully and quietly for an hour and fifteen minutes.

Please go purchase your tickets on line.  $16 for adults and $11 for children.

June 6th from 3 to 4:15 is a trip to Gershwin.  A subtext this year has been Porgy and Bess.  We checked out the CD from the library. We then attended a history lecture which included a discussion of Charleston, George Gershwin, and his time down south creating this great American opera. Selections from Gershwin’s work are going to be performed by talented musicians and singers.

World of Jewish Culture: Highlights from Porgy and Bess.

The cost is $10 per person.  We will meet at 2:40 at Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim.

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3 Frustrated Boys and a few positive notes.

We’ve been reviewing fractions.  The boys have an actual understanding of why you cross multiply (or make a reciprocal of the second fraction) in division problems. Go Montessori math.  I’m hating the work sheet site I found to provide them problems.  It seems that they like large multiplication problems – there is not elegance of reduction before or after. That is what I get for not working the sheet out ahead of time. I won’t make that mistake again. They are tired mentally.  But it is stretching them.  I think part of the frustration is that they are really looking for ways to simplify the math and aren’t finding any.

JV snapped at me when I went to take his shot.  Yes.  Very frustrated children.  Their brains are working hard.

Earlier in the day, however, the world was not so bleak.

JV created some shells (well not really created – he’s not God), cards, and names to be used in a blindfolded bag work.  He even sewed a sea themed bag for the work. This morning I made a blindfold from the left over materials.

RL has not been affected by the frustration.  He keeps plugging along on his various works.  He bound his work on reptiles. Then he added  a page to this project of creatures of life.

He is now researching sharks for his new project on Fish.

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Filed under AV, Biology, BR, Fractions, JV, Mathematics, Montessori, RL, Science, Writing

Disruption of the Silent Reading

About half way through silent reading, JV came thudding downstairs.

“You’ve got to see this.  (Pant)  I’ve never seen anything like this. Come with me.”  Everyone dropped what they were doing and thudded upstairs.

Here is what they were fascinated by:

The heat from the neighbor’s roof was evaporating off in waves of steam.

“I bet the other neighbor’s roof is steaming too!”

More thudding across to AV’s room to look out his window.

“I bet our roof is doing it, too.  Grab the camera.”

Thud. Thud. Slam.

“It is happening on our roof, too!”

“I can’t get a good photo because of the sky.”

“Let’s go upstairs again and get more photos.”

Slam.  Thud.  Thud. Click.

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Filed under AV, BR, JV, Physics, Science

Family Snapshot

The wonderful husband, DV has decided that he wanted to join the church we have been attending. Today is the celebration of Pentecost and our bishop, whom DV admires for his deep attention to prayer and doctrine, was to be at St. Michael’s.  DV publicly joined the church today.

Our church was constructed in the mid-1700’s and all the pews have doors.  This is from the era when you rented your family’s pew by the year instead of giving an offering on Sundays.  The high sides of the pews helped hold in heat from the foot warmers brought in during the damp winter moths.

The gentleman with the red bird in his breast pocket is Richard.  He is a regular at our normal service.  Until this year he had been homeless.  He began attending an Alpha class at the rescue mission and a bible study our missionary to Charleston hosted.  He is making his transition out of homelessness into self-sufficiency and from feeling abandoned by God and man into the family of the Church universal.

DV and I are standing right in front of Richard.

What are we standing in line for?  Good question.

Here is the answer.

DV received a prayer and a blessing from the bishop.

What was the prayer?

Defend, O Lord, your servant Daniel with your heavenly grace, that he may continue yours for ever, and daily increase in your Holy Spirit more and more, until he comes to your everlasting kingdom.  Amen.


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AV explains the tank to kids.

My sister-in-law brought my mother-in-law down for her birthday. This trip included Kezia’s three children – 4, 2, and 1.  They came for the glass show’s opening on Tuesday last week.  On Wednesday, they came over for an extended hang time.  AV was the tour director for the tank.  He pointed, waited, listened, and answered all of the adult and children questions.

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Filed under AV, Practical Life - Elementary, Salt Water Tank, Science