Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Homeschooling - How it has gone this year

Well, we still have a month to go, but I thought I'd let you know how it went. Here is a link to my plan back in September.

Literature and History

I had planned on using the library to get books for Ancient Civilizations for our literature and history. We did do this for a few months (studying Ancient Rome, Ancient Egypt, and Ancient Greece. Ancient Greece was a particular favorite), but by January, Flower wanted to do something different. (In addition to the books about Ancient Civilizations, she did read a few Little House books, Little Women, and Poppy by Avi.) In her Brownie troop, she had to do a report on the 1920s, and she was also reading a Kit book from the American Girl Series. She asked if we could change our literature and history to the American Girl books. So we did. She started with Kaya and is up to Samantha. We have really enjoyed it. We also love the "Welcome to _____'s World" American Girl books for showing pictures of the real people and events from each time period. I've learned quite a bit myself about US History. However, since she started the American Girl books, she has not read any additional stories.


We started out the year doing our own version of Imitations In Writing about Princess Stories. This went well for the first couple of months, but once we finished the Pricess Story book we were using, I found it harder to motivate her to write in this way.

We did Copywork with bible passages for a few months, and she did not enjoy it. Then we went to seasonal poetry, and that went all right for another few months. Now she writes in her journal and does a report every two weeks about the American Girl she is studied and things about the time period.


For most of the year, I took words out of her literature, and had her look them up in the dictionary and then had a weekly spelling test with the words. She did not enjoy this method. Finally, we had to do something different. We moved to a workbook, Spell and Write for Grade 3, but it was much too easy for her. A week later, she moved to Grade 6, and it is a much better fit.

Parts of Speech

I had planned on studying this during a Main Lesson period in the winter, but by November, we had mostly stopped doing Main Lesson time. It just didn't work for us. So I picked up a workbook a couple months ago, Practice Makes Perfect - Parts of Speech for Grade 3 & 4 by Teacher Created Resources. She breezed through this book.


We started the year doing Math-U-See Level Beta. It was quite easy at the beginning for her. She enjoyed the manipulatives, but didn't have as much use with them after a few months. I'm assuming that there is less hands on activities as the child progresses, but it would have been helpful for her to have more hands on activities. Also, there is no multiplication and division in this level of Math U See, and I felt that it was important that she begin on it. When we finished the Math U See book in late February, I wondered what to do next. I eventually decided to go with learning Multiplication and Division through a variety of methods (charts, tables, flashcards, songs, and workbooks) She is using Practice Makes Perfect - Multiplication and Division for Grade 3 by Teacher Created Resources. She is currently on unit 16. We plan on working through these books through the summer.

We also did not do much with Geometry this year. She will be working on a Geometry and Measurement workbook and other related activities this summer. We did read a Main Lesson block in the fall on Living Math books (such as Anno's Magic Seeds, Anno's Mysterious Multiplying Jar, How Much Is A Million?, Sir Cumference and the First Round Table, and The Librarian Who Measured the Earth.


We used a variety of books and other things to study botany. We used Shanleya's Quest , Handbook of Nature Study, lots of nature walks with the camera, and creating definition books. We studied the Alphabet Fairies and the botanical information about the flowers.


We studied the main classifications of animals for most of the year. We used some Montessori parts of animals cards, created definition books, as well as a number of labeling activities. We are currently studying the human body.


We studied Landforms early in the year, and then we have been working through the states using Don't Know Much About The 50 States and Rand McNally Children's Illustrated Atlas of the United States, and H.I.P. Pocket Change - 50 State Quarters website. We do some activities about the different states, and she draws about the state in her sketch book, etc.

Alphabet Books

I got the idea to use these books from the Serendipity website, however, many of the lesson plans for these books have not been completed, so I just used the beginning lessons as a reference and set up the other letters in a similar fashion.

For poetry, we are using R is for Rhyme. She reads the sidebar information, then the poem, and then about the poem, and then recreates the type of poem. We have really enjoyed using this book.

For art, we are using M is for Masterpiece and doing the same sort of activities that we do for poetry, but for art. Again, this has been good. She also does free art during the week.

For music, we are using M is for Melody. This book has not lended itself to activities week to week as much as the other books. She also has been learning to read music and play the recorder.

Practical Life

She tried crocheting and didn't enjoy it. She did not want to do knitting. However, she has been taking sewing lessons once every two weeks since January and is doing great. She cooks at least 3 days a week. We didn't do as much with woodworking as I would have liked. She will be involved in gardening this spring.


So, like many things in life, somethings went well, and somethings didn't. But overall, it has been very good.

Wednesday - On The Shelves

Sorry, I still don't have my camera here.

Sensory Table
Seeds in one tub. Blue play-doh in another tub.

Practical Life
Sweeping, Sorting Rocks, Making Flowers with Beads
Lacing, Flower Arranging
Dressing Vests

Free Art Supplies
Dry Erase activities (made by laminating) maze and umbrella, worm and ladybug coloring pages, make an umbrella out of a half of a paper plate and a chenille stem, clay, flower rubbing plates.

Smelling Bottles added this week.

Constructive Box #1 added this week.

Gardening sequence cards added this week.

Root Vue added this week.

Nothing added this week.

Nothing added this week.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tuesday: Montessori - Language

I am slowly but surely adding to my language area, but one of the first things that I bought when I decided to use a Montessori-based curriculum was the sandpaper letters. We use them every day. We use them during circle time to talk about our letter of the month, but then they are used to draw letters in the sand, or to create a letter out of clay, or to match up with other versions of letters we have in the classroom. Sometimes a child will use the sandpaper letters instead of the moveable alphabet to create words.

The younger children are especially drawn to the sensorial aspect of the sandpaper letters. Often, the youngest children in the classroom will just sit on the floor and rub their fingers over the letters.

I bought my version of the sandpaper letters years ago from someone who handmade them. It is a nice set, but since they made of sandpaper glued onto matboard, they are beginning to show signs of wear and use. They are also on the smaller side. I would like to add another set next year, and this time, I plan on ordering them. But for those of you who want a set for one child, or light use, there is a small, reasonably priced set available through Lakeshore Learning.

Monday: Our Schedule - April 27 - May 1, 2009

Hard to believe that the school year is winding down. 5 more weeks of school, and then we go into our summer schedule. I'll post about our summer schedule in a future post.


For the Month

Number : 7
Shape : oval
Animal : bird
Botany : seeds
Continent : Europe

For the Week:

Letter : th
Theme : Bugs and Gardens
In the Reading Basket: Wiggly Worms At Work, Diary of a Worm, Creepy Crawlies, Ladybugs, and Bettle Bop.

3rd Grade

Literature: Samantha books from the American Girl Series

History: Books from the library about Industrial Revolution, Statue of Liberty, and New York and New York City. We also love the "Welcome to _____'s World" American Girl books for showing pictures of the real people and events from each time period.

Mathematics: Practice Makes Perfect - Multiplication and Division for Grade 3 by Teacher Created Resources

Spelling: Spell and Write for Grade 6, Unit 4

Parts of Speech: Practice Makes Perfect - Parts of Speech , Conjuctions

Geography: New Hampshire and New Jersey in Don't Know Much About The 50 States and Rand McNally Children's Illustrated Atlas of the United States.

Botany: Shanleya's Quest - finishing up the last chapter and reviewing the book

Zoology: Finish up study on human body parts

Music: Playing the recorder, and letter "U" in M is for Melody

Art: Free Art and letter "U" in M is for Masterpiece

Poetry: "U" in R is for Rhyme

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday - What we are doing

marble transfer

writing letters

moveable alphabet

classification of animals

moveable alphabet with picture/word cards

reading time

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday: Waldorf - A Comparison To Other Types Of Education

A UK Department for Education and Skills report noted significant differences in curriculum and pedagogical approach between Waldorf/Steiner and mainstream schools and recommended that schools in the state sector could benefit from the following elements of Waldorf education:
  • early introduction and approach to modern foreign languages;
  • the combination of block (class) and subject teaching for younger children;
  • development of speaking and listening through an emphasis on oral work;
  • the good pacing of lessons through an emphasis on rhythm;
  • the emphasis on child development guiding the curriculum and examinations;
  • the approach to art and creativity;
  • the attention given to teachers’ reflective activity and heightened awareness (in collective child study for example);
  • and collegial structure of leadership and management, including collegial study.

(From Waldorf Education on Wikipedia)


At Montgomery Academy, I do try to use the emphasis of rhythm to our daily routine as well as to the rhthym of the year, and an emphasis on art and creativity. I also try to be reflective of the children's actions both during classroom time and the way that I approach my lesson planning.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wednesday: On The Shelves

I don't have access to my camera right now, so I'll just describe what is out, and I may put the pictures later.

Practical Life
Sweeping, Shell sorting, Spring Colors Pom-Pom Transfer with small tongs
Marble and Duck transfer with fingers, Flower arranging with daffodils
Dressing Vests, Folding cloths

Free Art Materials - Crayons, Colored Pencils, Markers, Glue, Scissors, Paper Punch, Stapler
Ducks to Cut and Color, Laminated Umbrella and Dry Erase Markers
Construction Paper, Cardstock, Copy Paper
Art Easel

Sensory Table
Beans and Plastic Eggs, Green Playdoh

Fabrics, Touch Tablets
Color Tablets 1, 2, 3. Color Matching Cards, Color Sorting Activity
Block Tower, Knobbed Cylinders
Brown Stair

Geometric Puzzles (Triangles, Squares, Circles, Rectangle), Geometric Demonstration Tray, Geometric Cards
GeoBoard, Pattern Blocks
Geometric Solids, Geometric Solid Cards, Stereognostic Bag with Geometric Shapes

Language - Shelf 1
Sandpaper Letters (All letters a-z are out now)
Sound Boxes
Picture Cards

Language - Shelf 2
Upper/Lowercase matching with plastic eggs
Season Matching Cards, Days of the Week Matching, Spring Matching Cards
Moveable Alphabet, Pink Level Cards, Laminated Letter and Number Cards

Science Shelf
Bird Puzzle, Type of Birds Cards, Parts of Bird 3 part cards, book about ducks
Seed Puzzle, Type of Seed Cards, Parts of Seeds 3 part cards, book about seeds

Continent Globe, Land and Water Globe, Atlas, Europe Continet Box
Continent Map
North America Map
United States Map

Introduction to Decimal System and Number Cards
Cards and Counters with blue circles for raindrops, Sandpaper Numbers
Number Rods and Numerals
Pattern Cards and Counting Bears

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesday: Montessori - Sensorial Activities

Taken from "Sensorial Impressions vs. Sensorial Education" by Phoebe Child

"Thought is his human birthright, all education aims at helping the individual to think clearly about them instead of half-knowing things all in a muddle."

Sensorial education helps develop a child's intellect. Whether you believe intelligence is genetic or produced by environment, you can further it by education. Intelligence is built upon experiences and thought processes. The Montessori materials for ages 18 months to 6 are designed to help a child's mind develop the necessary skills for later intellectual learning.

Sensorial impressions of child's environment are not the same as sensorial education. Impressions are feelings, not an intellectual building block. The mind needs information to discriminate and appreciate culture, art, music, poetry, reading and all aspects of the environment. Early sensorial educational materials were provided by Dr. Montessori for this purpose.

Sensorial apparatus provides a particular purpose and focus. It includes using the child's hands, senses, and spontaneous activity. When a young child sees something new and exciting, he or she will want to touch the object. Young children will grab a new kitten and hold it immediately, they want to feel the reality of the object.

This education is not an exercise to sharpen the senses, but to allow a child to use his or her senses to understand what he or she sees. The first lessons present contrasted sensory materials, and then graded materials. This teaches concepts of comparing and contrasting. For example, the first colors introduced are the primary colors, which are the most distinct on the color chart. Red, blue, and yellow are introduced, then shades and combinations are later introduced to grade by shades. "This is the beginning of the development of the intellect and it is brought about by the intelligence working in a concentrated way on the impressions given by the senses."

Education is used to tap the young child's mind of absorbed information from the first 3 years of life. The information at this point is a sea of impressions in the unconscious mind. As a child works further the young mind becomes aware of concepts of size, color, weight, quantity and so on. This is the beginning of sensorial education. When the differences are clear, the names are introduced to describe these concepts. Montessori builds on concept upon concept. Nothing is left to chance learning. There is an order and sequence to the materials presented. Montessori's sensorial approach helps a child categorize and use his vast amount of subconscious knowledge in his or her surroundings. It is a key that unlocks the door of the mind.

Montessori understood that this intellectual activity was a manual, active approach. It came from observing her own students and is contrary to adult methods of teaching and learning. The materials are three dimensional and real. Montessori at this stage did not use pictures for teaching sensorial concepts, she believed that children wanted to see and feel the real objects.
Concentration is a by product of a child learning with his or her hands. During the ages 3 to 6 the "hands are the busiest of all." The equipment provides an intellectual education that will help a child eventually acquire his or her culture.

How are sensorial exercises provided?

Usually, the pink tower is introduced at age 3. After the child has successfully done the tower, he or she has learned several things: difference in sizes and weight, how to hold his or her fingers with the small cubes, how to grasp the largest cube, controlling arms and fingers so that tower doesn't fall, and has the good feeling of completing the task. Muscular skill, intellectual and character development combine as a whole for the child when using Montessori sensorial education.

More activities, such as the broad stair, the long stair are introduced after the pink tower. "A much more complicated exercise is that of the cylinders." The the geometric shapes are introduced. All of these activities are with 3 dimensional objects that help with eye-hand coordination and provides a concept of size and shapes for later learning.

All the other activities include use of the senses. Everything is moveable and a real object. Visual aids are not used in the sensorial education. "They cannot see properly without their hands." (Child) The marriage of the hand and mind is the cornerstone of sensorial education. With it, the child unlocks his or her world in a concrete way.


When I first started teaching using the Montessori Method, I wondered whether I should spend the money to get "real" Sensorial materials, or if I should just try and use substitutes/go without/recreate them myself. What I ended up doing is recreating where I could, but there were certain materials that I decided were important, and I decided that I would buy those materials. I bought my materials through Montessori N' Such & Alison's Montessori. I bought the Pink Tower (but in Natural) Brown Stair, Red Rods, Knobbed Cylinders, and Knobless Cylinders. I purchased most of them five years ago, and I've never regretted buying them. The Sensorial Materials are generally used every day. I would like to purchase the Geometric Cabinet sometime, but it has been cost prohibitive so far.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Schedule - April 20-24, 2009

Science: Weather
Zoology: Birds
Botany: Seeds
Geography: Europe

Number of the Month: 7
Shape of the Month: Oval
Letter of the Week: Sh

From the Reading Basket: Little Quack, Little Quack Hide and Seek, Earth Day, Chick Life Cycle & Sunflower Life Cycle, and One Rainy Day.

Third Grade
Literature - Addy books from the American Girl series
Writing - Journal writing and writing a report about US History in 1865.
Spelling - 3rd unit in Grade 6 Spell and Write book.
Grammar - Prepositions
Mathematics - 2 digit multiplication and division up to 12.
Zoology - Human Body. Finished the systems and now looking at specific organs.
Geography - Nevada and New Hampshire as well as Philidelphia, PA (as part of the Addy story)
History - Civil War, Abraham Lincoln
Alphabet Books - The letter T (M is for Music - Tempo, M is for Masterpiece - Taj Majal, and R is for Rhyme - Tampa)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thursday: Charlotte Mason - Nature Study

One of the things that the Charlotte Mason educational philosophy is "known" for is the emphasis on nature study. I live in the city, and in a new subdivision with little trees, and not much wildlife either except for an excessive amount of rabbits and some mourning doves. But I try to do what I can, and there is always room for improvement.

In A Charlotte Mason Companion, she says "City children can have windowsill gardens. They will enjoy growing carrot tops, keeping their very own geraniums clipped and watered, starting marigolds from seed, and learning to recognize herbs by their scent while blind-folded."

Montgomery Academy always has a garden, and this year is no exception. It will even be expanded to about twice its current size, although it will still be small (10 feet by 5 feet). We will be growing flowers, vegetables, and strawberries. I also have plans to make the backyard into a more child friendly place - a new wooden swing set, some stone slaps and boulders, an area for a japanese garden, and some tree stumps. We will also hopefully be adding some fruit trees, some evergreen trees, and some shrubs.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Practical Life: Care of Self - Dressing Frames

A traditional Montessori dressing frame - the button frame
A student wearing the zipper vest while doing the drying the cloths activity

Direct Objectives: Development of order, concentration, coordination, and independence. Development of pincer grip.

Indirect Objectives: Development of the ability to fasten/unfasten. Development of mathematical mind with one to one correspondence.

In a Montessori environment, you usually see dressing frames (a wooden frame, 12 x 12 with two panels of fabric fastened with a variety of fasteners – buttons, zippers, snapping, hook and eye, buckle, safety pin, and bow tying, etc.) The child begins with the large button frame and continues on through the bow tying frame.

However, in my classroom, I wanted the dressing tools to be even more true-to-life, so I had one of the preschool mothers make a set of dressing vests. I've found that the students are much more likely to pick the dressing vests than they were to pick the dressing frames.

Tuesday - Introduction to Practical Life

The Practical Activities are the first activities the child is introduced to in the Montessori environment. These skills allow the child to become more self-sufficient. The Practical Life Activities allow the child to do things that the child sees the adult do every day – dressing oneself, cleaning the house, and greeting people. Because of this, the Practical Life Activities should use real, child-sized, working tools, not toy versions of adult tools. The child enjoys the PROCESS of the practical life activities, and often is not concerned with the results.

According to the Practical Life Early Childhood manual available through Montessori Research and Development, the Practical Life Activities are broken down in the following areas: Control of Movement – whole hand grasp, three-finger grasp, wrist movement, and arm movement, Care of Environment, Care of Self, and Grace and Courtesy.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Schedule: April 13-17, 2009


Practical Life: Sweeping
Sensorial: Stereognostic Bag
Language: Moveable Alphabet
Science: Weather
Zoology: Birds
Botany: Seeds & Growing Plants
Geography: Europe

Letter of the Week: X. This is our last letter of the alphabet. Starting next week, we will start with simple blends.

Number of the Week: 7

Shape of the Month: Oval

In Our Reading Basket: This is the Sunflower, Fletcher Gets Hatched, Grow Flower Grow, In the Garden, and A Present from A Bird

3rd Grade

Literature: Addy books from the American Girl series
Writing: Journal and writing a report every two weeks about the American Girl she is studying, where she lives, and the events of the time.
History: Slavery, Civil War, Abraham Lincoln.
Spelling: We moved to a Spell and Write workbook for Grade 6.
Parts of Speech: Currently working on adverbs.
Mathematics: Working on one and two digit multiplication and simple division using Grade 3 workbooks.
Botany: Working on seeds and Shanlaya's Quest
Zoology: Human Body Systems
Geography: Montana and Nebraska

Sorry, we had a major computer virus problem

I couldn't get on-line for awhile, and then I couldn't get on-line on my main computer, and so I couldn't put pictures up, and so I just haven't updated this blog for awhile.

I'm changing my other blog, and I'm going to make changes on this blog too. Here is the schedule:

Mondays - I will post our schedule for the week.
Tuesdays - I will talk about a Montessori topic (practical life, sensorial, language, math, cultural - botany/zoology/science and geography).
Wednesday - I will post pictures of what is on the shelves for the week.
Thursday - I will post about a Classical/Charlotte Mason/Waldorf topic (History, Grammar, Narration, Nature Study, Art Study, etc.)
Friday - I will post pictures of what we are working on.