Monthly Archives: August 2010

Looking for individual paths

We’ve been puttering along. We adults are along to guide and point and prod and push. We watch and observe which work is calling to the children and which work is being used to avoid harder work.

AR has continued to put her skeleton together.  She spent time with Ms. Julie working out the names of the primary bones in it.   AR has been attaching 20 gage wire that she has cut and hooked so she can hook all the pieces together.  She adhered the wire to the plaster with duct tape (that shiny silver stuff).  We’ve had an oweeee that AR has set with some more tape and wire.

AR has been busy.  She is rolling through her work.  Letter work is knocked out.  Then number work – out and done.  AR is all over the work.

Her brother, BR, and DW were about to have a lesson on common multiples.  AR wandered in and began laying out the bead bars.  Factor times Factor equals Multiple.

We laid out the 3’s multiples and 4’s multiples.  We then created a Venn diagram and place all the 3’s multiples in “A” and all the 4’s into “B” – the multiples that are the same in both were placed in the Venn overlap. The older guys were all over this game.  AR was all about figuring out the squares and cubes of the factors

DW has also been impressing with her lovely writing.  Check out her thoughts about the history of telescopes.

She is working on researching topics, finding facts, sorting and ordering them by importance, and then typing them into a coherent paragraph.

BW has begun settling down and has been working in Geometry with types of lines (straight and curved) and parts of the line (line segment – end points, ray – origin, line).  We’ve also been working on gluing and stapling, so our books may be more beautiful.

BW has also been learning about the solar system by laying out the game of the Solar System which includes the beautiful planets created by Ms. Julie..

The upper elementary kids have begun creative writing.  JV chose to put his effort into a story about moving to a big city.

But JV, in the interest of authenticity, spent 45 minutes studying how his character would have gotten from a small town in the West to New Orleans in the 1920’s or 30’s.  Mind you, he is writing about what it is like to live in the big city after coming from a small town.

Ahhhh. JV.

JV did have a bit of fun with some felt.


Leave a comment

Filed under Montessori

A Field Trip to the Beach

The W family went to the beach and participated in a seining afternoon.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a comment

Filed under Biology, DW, Going outs (Field Trips), Oceans and their creatures, Science

Older Upper Elementary and Erd Kinder Reading

This year we are heavily focused on history and language.  The older children have been provided with several book choices. (Thanks Teresa for some great books.)

1.  Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities

2. Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis

3. Animal Investigators: How the World’s First Wildlife Forensics Lab Is Solving Crimes and Saving Endangered Species

4. The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements

5. The Dangerous World of Butterflies: The Startling Subculture of Criminals, Collectors, and Conservationists

Leave a comment

Filed under Montessori

And away we go.

Ms. Julie prepared a remarkable presentation on the relative distance between objects in the solar system.  Being a 1:1,000,000 scale, we needed a large space in which to observe the outcome.  We departed to Waterfront Park in the Old Navy Yard.

Ms. Julie laid out the scale model of the solar system.  The sun was an orange ball that is eight inches in diameter.  Jupiter is a shallot. (All the planets are painted in miniature.  Gorgeous!)  She modeled her lesson off of a wonderful lesson called the Earth as a Pepper Corn.  Away we went.  But we didn’t go very far at first (and the disappointment was there).

It was windy on the waterfront, so we tucked things into the bushes.

And stuck them in the anchors.

We made it to Mars. Not too far from the sun. We could still see the tree under which the sun was tucked.

And then we really began to walk.  We walked, and we walked, and then arrived at Jupiter.

More walking!

Finally! A place to sit down.

We ended our walking a few steps from a big kid playground.  Hurray.

Julie’s presentation was wonderful.  The children thoroughly enjoyed it!

Leave a comment

Filed under Geography and World Studies, God With No Hands, Going outs (Field Trips), Physics, Science, Solar System

The work of the child

Friday was a bit of a quick finish day.  The three hour work cycle was broken into three pieces.

DW is shading her map of the world with the countries who use English.

The work expectation in language was to complete the seven Excavating English work cards with their appropriate activities.  All the older children had been lax and didn’t plan.  They all had several to complete.

The younger set began work and the Snake Game is BW’s favorite.  The snake game consists of laying out bead bars in a long “snake” pattern.  (ie: 4+6+5+5+9+1+2+8+3+7+5+5)  The child then looks for ways to make 10.  He pulls out the two bead bars that make 10 and lays them aside.  He then places a golden 10 bead bar in the opening.  He repeats this until all the snake has been transformed.  The child then checks his work by lining up all the 10 bars and placing the bead pairs with them.  This will become more complicated.  BW is enjoying the process of 7 and 3 make 10 and 3 and 7 make ten.   Five and five make him giggle since the reverse is the same.  Ahhh young number love.

AR - sanding down her plaster femur with a Dremel tool.

AR brought in a project she has been working on at home – a plaster mold of a skeleton.  She wants to put it all together now.  However, to be her very best work she needed to sand off the overflow plaster.

JV brought his Dremel tool down for AR to use.  She figured out the best possible method for her body size and strength.

Our second lesson was the retelling of God With No Hands designed for the upper elementary age.  It is not a classical Montessori lesson but was created by Harvey Hallenberg. He called his lesson “Time Zero” I’ve modified it a bit.  I had planned to provide the God With No Hands Lesson only but the children have continued to show interest in the creation narratives as well as the formation of the Solar System.  So, the plans of mice and men went out the window and now we will continue working our way through the formation of the world.

Ms. Julie prepared a lesson on the Solar System.  It deserves its own post.

Leave a comment

Filed under "Coming of Man", Construction Skills, Excavating English, Geography and World Studies, God With No Hands, Mathematics, Physics, Practical Life - Elementary, Science, Snake Game Addition

A Shoulder to Cry On (or A Shoulder upon which to Cry)

A dear friend is adjusting to her family’s exiting of the Montessori environment.  Due to economic reasons, she has placed her son for his kindergarden year at the local public school.  He is in a class with the county’s teacher of the year last year.  She and her assistant are long-time partners and seasoned public school teachers.  The school building is only two years old – all the class rooms have “smart boards” and the music, PE, recess facilities are excellent.  Yet this morning she cried.  How could a parent be less than ecstatic?

It’s not Montessori.

The young man’s work is not valued past the time that is given to work on that topic.  The elaborate reward system that involves candy, ice cream, stickers, and toys dismays my friend.  The use of crayons for everything leads to less than what she has come to expect in the way of precision and beauty. The children are entertained to teach – all the shapes had names and characteristics in the puppet show so the children would want to learn their names.

I grieved with my friend.  She doesn’t want to be a helicopter parent.  Yet she feels compelled to watch over her son to see that the years of Montessori values aren’t sucked out of him.  I grieve, too.


Filed under Educational Philosophy, Montessori

Projects are rising to the top

We are moving forward in the process of the creating a community.  Lessons, food, projects, prayer, discipline.

Ms. Julie and her helpers made potato pancakes for lunch.  It brought about this priceless comment.    “First you tapped the egg ever so gently, then you squeezed the egg and jammed your fingers until it exploded in your hand. We need to make sure we clean up really well.”

Projects are on the rise.  AR has completed her  four birds and wanted to bind the pages into a book.  We made a cover (a totally beautiful tree with the title as leaves on the tree and nests and birds) then bound the book using sewing thread.  AR finds sewing excellent work and enjoys the finished feel of the books.

AR sewing her geometry book.

AR and BW have  been working in the morning with Geometry lessons.  Their first book was on the topic of 0, 1, 2, and 3 dimensions.  The classical Montessori lesson discusses the cube in relationship to a square (plane) in relationship to a line (no that line is too thick, let me sharpen my pencil even more since a line has no width) in relationship to a point which is soooo tiny that we can’t measure it.

Their second lesson was on straight and curvy lines.  They made a book with the definitions of the lines and then found and wrote six of each curvy and straight lined objects found within the classroom.

AR sewed hers again. BW just wants to finish and move to something different.

BR and JV working hard

BR and JV are waaaaaayyyy about gemstones.  They have been holed up in the back room working a way.

JV has been downloading and printing the chemical patterns that create the crystals.  He is building the crystal of zircon.

BR has completed his research on sapphires and rubies.

They have set Friday as the day to complete their rough draft of their presentation and Monday to complete the work.

AV is working on a study of the Levant civilization.  He, being the research king, is reading web pages and watching videos.  It will be interesting to see what comes out of this study.

Of course eating is important.  Feeding ten people is quite a bit of people to feed and clean up after.  Of course everyone wants to cook, too. BR and LR worked together yesterday to create tacos.


LR has been working on his own project.  He is researching Polynesian map making and has made his own twine from raw hemp.  He loves it.  Making twine is a small bit addicting. He split dried bamboo and made half-inch wide strips to be the lines on his map.  Today he began attaching the bamboo together with his twine. I’m sure his written paper will be following tomorrow.

1 Comment

Filed under "Coming of Man", Art, Cooking, Geography and World Studies, Geometry, Mathematics, Physics, Practical Life - Elementary, Projects, Science, Writing