Monthly Archives: December 2011

Vocabulary has its roots in Latin and Greek

In the search for using more challenging words in our writing and speaking, DW and MMcC are working on words rooted in Greek and Latin.  It is extremely challenging for all of us to use these books.

MMcC makes cards with the various definitions and their words.  DW and MMcC play “Pick a Card any Card” until they get the definitions down.

They are really challenging.



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Filed under English Language, Letter Work, MMcC, Students

Brave descent into oblivion

I don’t often discuss family in this place, but today I feel the need.

We’ve just returned from a visit to my family.  The trip takes four hours each way;  the boys and I do it about every two weeks.  The home I grew up in is in the upstate of South Carolina – six miles from the nearest town and twenty from the nearest hospital.  I grew up without AC or central heat and when we return now, it is to that two story home with a large fireplace that heats one room in the winter.

My father is 87 years old.  He,  a little runt of a farm boy, went off to fight the Japs in WWII. Returning he found a job at the USDA milking cows – somethings you just don’t forget.  He married my mother who was the first in her family to go to college.  She played fast-pitch softball on the Mall in DC to relax after teaching and dad coached her team.  They were both tenacious people.  Dad surviving as a 9 year-old male leader of his family during the depression.  Mom surviving a single mother’s alcoholism and subsequent foster family experiences.

They made good.  Retiring to the upstate, Dad began to hunt and plant whichever the season.  Mom busied herself through my life – education in faith, arts, southern etiquette and work.  As their world became smaller through the year’s progression, they have become their own constants.  They are the unchangeable, immutable statement of their survival.

As I would come home for visits, I began to wonder about mom.  Something wasn’t right.  I began to ask people about it.  “No,” I was told.  “She is herself.  You’re imagining it.” But soon dad noticed it, too.  Mom began writing down the date for the next day on a pad beside her bed.  “Today is: May 16.”  She knew something was very wrong.

He took her to a doctor who sent her to another doctor and this young doctor with horrid beside manner told them that she had early onset Alzheimer’s.

We’ve been watching her inner world’s reduction – she couldn’t write all the way across the page now she can’t write;  she would glitch out during a conversation now she is primarily vacant; she couldn’t say the Pledge of Allegiance in English but could do it in Latin now she has forgotten to try.  As her abilities have retracted,  we’ve soldiered on being as normal as possible.  JV keeps her busy while AV and I rewash the dishes.  All of us clean the house surreptitiously- so mom and dad can’t be embarassed.  We hug more.   We laugh and tell stories and happenings that we know won’t be remembered and may be repeated six or seven times in five minutes.

Recently, mom has turned down a narrower path into her brave descent into oblivion. One doesn’t know if the grief that is a constant as the tides is because the person you’ve had for your whole life is being removed by the plaques and tangles of her mind or because you can’t untangle your life with her any longer.

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Filed under Montessori

Making the Pythagorus Board

BW is continuing his love for numbers in making his own primary Pythagorus Board.  He spent a good bit of time thinking about the board today.

First we noticed that all the numbers have matches – except the squares that travel in a diagonal down the middle of the board.

So then we began to see that the two x one and the one x two added together  make four.  Four is the square of two.  So two has two squares.

We spent the better part of the morning finding the pairs.  He has yet to discover that the smallest and the largest non-square of a number go together to make the square.  He was very excited to discover that each group of squares has exactly the same number of squares as the primary multiplier.

BW figuring out how to make the squares out of all the multiples.

Once complete BW began to reset the board and glue it to a piece of special paper to make his own board.

He laid it out and began to move the pieces to the special paper beginning with the 100 square as he glued them.

He was amazingly careful applying glue to his work.

We then decided to trim off the excess.  This was BW’s first time using a blade by himself.  He did a great job.

Tomorrow we are going to write the title of the board and our three observations.  Doing this work without working out some observations is not really doing the work.  Understanding is not drawn from blindly doing the work.  For the child to make a deep connection with work in elementary, the child must talk about what he has discovered.

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Filed under BW, Mathematics, Practical Life - Elementary, Pythagorean theorem, Students

BW – Pythagorean Decanomial Layout

BW is truly turning his mind to the pattern of multiplication.  Today we discussed a “very difficult, long work. Did he think he could do such a hard work?”  Of course BW could.  I do not have enough beads to do the true pythagorean layout.  We’ve made do with the papers that are used for the numerical paper layout.  The grids were printed onto card stock and then watercolored to resemble the first layout of the table.  BW went to town!  I’m not sure he even breathed he became so absorbed by the work.  As he began to put the work away, he discovered that the numbers paired except for the squares.  Oh what a find!


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Filed under BW, Mathematics, Pythagorean theorem, Students

Periods of Pendulum

In our discussion of Kinetic and Potential Energy, we began looking at pendulums and their transference of potential to kinetic energy.  JV became the photo documentarian for this lab.

Step one: make hypothesis

Step 2: Be precise in your measurements and procedures.


Step 3: Time it carefully.


Step 4: Repeat - a lot!

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Filed under BW, DW, JV, MMcC, Physics, Students

Principal Parts of the Verb

We’ve been working through some upper elementary lessons on principal parts of the verb – just to know the words and to help us understand when we switch verb tenses mid thought.

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Filed under AV, BW, DW, English Language, Grammar, JV, Letter Work, MMcC, Students

Sight for the day

DW headed out to they yard for free time (also known as recess) and discovered this sad robin.

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Filed under Biology, DW, Practical Life - Elementary, Science, Students