Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Party 2009

We had our holiday party in mid December. Here are some pictures from the day. (We missed you Sweetie!)

Listening to me read a Christmas story

We did a gift exchange.
Super got a slinky.

Wiggles got play-doh

Spunky got a magnadoodle

Lollipop got a bath set

Princess got a book

And here is a video of us singing "We Wish You A Merry Christmas"

Montgomery Academy will be closed until the first week of January. Happy Holidays Everyone!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

How we got our kids to love grammar . . .

Well, love might be a little strong. But the homeschoolers certainly enjoy it much more than the grammar programs we used first. I'm sure that they are a lovely curriculums (Abeka God's Gift of Language A and Rod and Staff Beginning Wisely) but they just were not working for our homeschoolers.

I use several of the books/ideas from the Serendipity website, but I had not used their grammar ideas before. My sister and I were struggling to find something that would work for them - something that was enjoyable, but still enabled them to really learn the parts of speech. So I was searching through all my links, and I first looked at what they offered on the Serendipity. It is called Lively Language Language Lessons. The Lively Language Lessons primarily use the Ruth Heller language books to teach the parts of speech, although there are some suggestions for other grammar resources there. So I printed off the Lively Language Lessons, and got the Ruth Heller book for Nouns (Merry Go Round) to start out.

Then I decided to check my Montessori links. I use some Montessori materials with the homeschoolers, but I have always used Montessori materials with the preschoolers, but I had only used the very, very basics of grammar with the preschoolers. I knew that the parts of speech were generally introduced around age 6, and I knew that our children were older than that, but I wanted to look at the materials to see if they might still be workable for 7, 8, and two 10 year olds.

I first went looking for a Montessori manual. I thought about buying one, but many were fairly pricey, and I wanted to be able to really look at the manual to make sure that it would work for us, and so paying for one/having it shipped wasn't my favorite option either. Thankfully, I clicked on my link to Cultivating Dharma, and there is a great language album at this site, and the section on grammar is excellent. And the download is FREE!

Then I ordered the Montessori Grammar solid symbols and the Montessori basic wooden grammar symbols from Kid Advance.

Finally, I downloaded grammar words and sentences from both Montessori (link for words) for Everyone (link for sentences) and the Montessori (link for words) Materials (link for sentences) site. Montessori Materials uses a different color for conjunction and one other part of speech, so I only have the words for those two parts of speech from Montessori for Everyone.

And then I printed, and laminated and cut. And then decided I needed to find a good way to store the grammar materials. So I went off to Target (one of my favorite places to shop) and this is what I found:

(found in the nails, hooks, etc. section)
holds the grammar words and the
grammar nomenclature cards.
Another Plano utility box holds the grammar
sentence strips from Montessori Materials.

A coupon organizer holds the grammar
sentences from Montessori for Everyone

Here are a picture of the Ruth Heller books,
the solid and wooden grammar symbols,
and a binder that holds the language manual,
and the Lively Language Lessons.

My sister teaches grammar, so I don't know EXACTLY how it all works, but here is how she has explained it in our teacher meetings.

It is a every day but Friday subject. Generally, she does the activity from the manual when introducing a part of speech. Then she will read a couple pages from the Ruth Heller book and look at the Lively Lessons to see if there is anything they want to do on that part of speech. On another day, they will do create a page of their own drawing/writing examples of what they learned in the Heller book. On another day, they will work with the word boxes to create sentences. On different day, they may use the wooden symbols with the sentence strips or with sentences of their own creation.

And we are finally achieving our goal with grammar - they are enjoying it AND they are learning. Our goal is to get through the parts of speech this year. In some future post, I may share our plans for grammar for next year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pictures from Week 13: Preschool


Making a bracelet with
pipecleaners and beads

working on objects and letters

Working with the farm -
next week, I am introducing a few labels

I saw this activity on My Montessori Journey
who got it from PreKinders.
It is a great activity.
This little guy loved it!!!!
Locks puzzle

Shape Game

Preschool - What We Were Up To: Week 13

Happy Holidays
December 7-11, 2009

Letter of the Week: Ii
Number of the Month: 4
Shape of the Month: Rectangle
Color of the Month: Green
Nursery Rhyme: Little Jack Horner

· At the sensory/art table, we have green play-doh, the nature box, and a salt tray.
· At the paint easel, we have green paint, water color paint, and green DOT paint.
· On the practical life shelf, we have opening/closing, putting ornaments on the tree, tonging with marbles, bead work, sorting with holiday pom poms, transferring with green and red pom poms, and dressing vests.
· On the art shelf, we have a Christmas tree coloring sheet, make a wreath, christmas stamping, and then our free art supplies (paper, cardstock, construction paper, scissors, crayons, markers, pencils, tape, glue, stapler, and paper punch.)
· On the sensorial shelf, we have color tablets 1 and 2 and 3, the brown stair, block tower, and knobbed cylinder A and B and C and D and the red rods.
· On the geometry shelf, we have the circle, triangle, square, and rectangle puzzle. There is also a geoboard, shape sorter, and geometric solids, pattern blocks, and a shape game.
· On the letter shelf, we have sandpaper letters (lower case and upper case) alphabet cards, and leap frog letters. I’ve also added the Red Language materials (learning 3 letter words that start with r, a, m, f, b, i, t and g.) We are working hard on the letters i and g.
· On the language shelf, we have a reindeer letter game, classified cards on rooms in your house, calendar matching, and winter letter words. I also have the Bob books – Set A (easy reader books) on the shelf.
· On the writing shelf, we are working on the rectangle shape with the metal insets. We also have dry erase writing, letter stamping, letter tracing for i, magnadoodle, and moveable alphabet. The older children are working on spelling words with the movable alphabet. We also have i coloring sheets and i tracing sheets
· On the science shelf, there is reptile puzzle – turtle, plant puzzle – leaf, and land and water cards.
· On the geography shelf, there are the continent globe, the continent puzzle, and the sand and water globe and the continent map puzzle.
· On the math shelf, we have sandpaper numbers, number puzzle, number rods, bead matching, spindles, and seasonal counting activities.
· We are reading Mousekin’s Christmas Eve, The 12 Days of Christmas (we are comparing a few different versions), and Bialosky’s Christmas.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Look At Our Usual Schedule

It's a busy life here at Montgomery Academy/Simple Life. Well, not necessarily busy exactly, but we've got people coming and going for much of the day, and some wee ones that make sure that our schedules remain "flexible."

5:45 am I get up. If I don't get up by 5:45, then I don't get a shower, and if I don't get a shower, then I have a hard time waking up, and then the whole day is thrown off. I take a shower, unload the dishwasher, do the rest of my morning routine, etc.

6:30 Wiggles (almost 4 year old boy) arrives. He plays while I read or finish up morning chores, etc.

7:15 Little Boy (18 month old) arrives. He eats breakfast, gets a diaper change and plays.
My kids (Flower - 10 year old girl, Jelly Bean - 8 year old girl, and Super - 5 year old boy) wake up around this time.

8:15 Belle (6 week old girl) arrives. She just started on Monday. She usually gets a diaper change, eats, and goes back down for a couple hours.

Sweetie (almost 4 year old girl) usually arrives around this time too.

8:45 My sister/co-teacher arrives with her kids Scooter (10 year old boy), Helper (8 year old boy) and Smiley (17 month old girl) arrive.

9:00 Princess (4.5 year old girl) arrives. And then on MWF, Spunky (3 year old girl) arrives or on T/Th, Lollipop (3 year old girl arrives)

For those of you who might have lost count, here's a breakdown of who is here by 9 am.

1 six week old girl
2 toddlers - a 17 month old girl and an 18 month old boy
5 preschoolers - three 3 year olds, one 4 year old, and one 5 year old
4 school age kids - two 8 year olds and two 10 year olds.
2 adults

9:00 - 9:15 Preschoolers work on their journals while the homeschoolers work on reading. Toddlers playing.

9:15-9:30 Preschoolers have morning snack. Homeschoolers continue reading.

9:30 - 9:45 Preschoolers read/potty break. Homeschoolers start their table work (history, spelling, writing, grammar. My sister, Lisa, teaches the homeschoolers and watches the toddlers.

9:45 - 11:15 Homeschoolers doing table work and toddlers playing upstairs. Toddler Boy starts napping around 10:45.

9:45 - 11:15 Preschoolers downstairs. We do circle time, then helper jobs, then story time, then work time, then goodbye circle time. Belle is downstairs sleeping, eating, getting changed, etc - newborn baby stuff.

11:15- 12:00 Lunch, and weather permitting, outside time for homeschoolers and preschoolers.

Then at 12:00, we have some preschoolers leave. Monday-Friday, Super leaves for afternoon Pre-K. On MWF, Spunky leaves. On T/Th, Lollipop and Wiggles leave.

12:00 - 1:00 Then other preschoolers usually read or do something quiet for an hour. Homeschoolers do some sort of physical activity.

1:00 - 2:00 Little Boy wakes up at 1:00. Preschoolers lay down or nap. Smiley goes down for a nap. My sister is watching the Little Boy and Belle upstairs. Little Boy is playing. Belle is upstairs sleeping, eating, getting changed, etc - newborn baby stuff.

1:00 - 3:00 I'm teaching the homeschoolers downstairs.

2:00 Preschoolers wake up and play.

Starting at 2:30, people start leaving again.

2:30 Wiggles leaves.

3:00 Super comes home.

3:15 My sister, Scooter, Helper, and Smiley leave.

3:30 Princess and Sweetie leave.

For those of you who might have lost track, by 3:30, there are:

- 1 Adult (me)
- My kids (Super - age 5, Jelly Bean - age 8, and Flower - age 10)
- Little Boy (age 18 months)
- Belle (age 6 weeks)

From 3:30 to 5 pm, we just have general playing and hanging out and I try to fix dinner.

5:00 Little Boy leaves

5:15 Belle leaves.

5:30 We sit down for dinner.

I try and get the kids into bed by 7:30, and I try to get in bed by 10.

And then it starts again . . . .

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Homeschoolers Have Been Busy . . .

You may get the impression that the homeschoolers don't do anything interesting around here. If you get that impression, it is my fault. It is quicker for me to blog about the preschoolers. I just repost the weekly sheet, and put up pictures from the week. It often doesn't take a lot of explanation.

Also, my sister and I co-homeschool. She teaches the homeschoolers Literature, History, Writing, and Grammar in the mornings while I do Geography, Science, Math, Music, Art, and Poetry in the afternoons. We also have been slacking on taking the pictures of the homeschoolers. Our bad. I should have some pictures up this next week of some of the things they have been doing in the past month or so.

We revamped things a bit around the first of November and I think everybody, teachers and kids, liked the tweaks. We do most subjects more independently now, but we do all subjects every day instead of doing things on a certain day at a somewhat certain time.

For example, here is an example of afternoon schedule:

12:45 Math Minutes (a drill sheet for each of them)

After this, they picked from the following activities - Map Activities (South America for the olders and US for the youngers) from Montessori For Everyone, reading on the books about Beethoven and writing 3 facts about him (We are working our way through The Story of the Orchestra and M is for Melody), watching a DVD about Monet (We are working through M is for Masterpiece), and writing a poem with an iambic meter (We are working our way through R is for Rhyme).

At 1:45, we take a break from "work time" and we do a section from either Apologia Botany or Apologia Astronomy (we alternate days.) Then we go back to work time until 2:30.

The children then work on math from 2:30 - 3:00 pm. The olders are supposed to work on a lesson every day (They are doing Saxon 5/4 and Saxon 6/5), and the youngers work on one sheet from their unit every day (They are both working on Math U See Beta). If they get done before 3 pm, they are done for the day. If they don't get it done, we move on the next day. Before, we were getting bogged down with math because it was taking a day or two or three for the olders to get through a lesson sometimes.

For us, it is a good blend of Montessori and Charlotte Mason. From Montessori, we are using some of the resources that would be used in Montessori, and the idea of freedom within limits. From Charlotte Mason, we are using the types of subjects, using "living books" (Probably the best known of Mason's methods is her use of living books instead of dry, factual textbooks. Living books are usually written by one person who has a passion for the subject and writes in conversational or narrative style. The size of the book does not matter nearly as much as whether it is "alive" and engaging. Textbooks are allowed if they meet that criterion) and idea of short lessons.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Homeschoolers Visit The Fire Station

The homeschoolers went for a field trip at the fire station in November too, but they had their own field trip to learn more about fire safety in the home.

Before the presentation.

They learned about fire safety using the Hazard House.

After the presentation.
Thank you to the fire department
for two great field trips!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pictures of the Playset in Action

We purchased a wooden playset at the end of the summer, and it took a little longer than anticipated to get it set up, but ever since it got done, it has seen a lot of action!

There is a rope ladder, a slide, the fort area,
trapeze, and a rock wall in the front,
a tire swing underneath, and two swings on the back side.

Here's a picture of the climber and the playhouse that we have on the other side of the yard. That playhouse has seen HOURS and HOURS of play. One of my best garage sale buys.
Even though we have the wooden playset, I'm still glad that we have the Little Tikes climber. The younger preschoolers prefer the smaller slide, and they like to climb under it.

Here's a picture of playset, playhouse and climber from the edge of the backyard. We do have a smaller yard area on the other side of the sidewalk, but yes, much of the yard is dedicated to outdoor play things. But I don't regret it a bit. The kids LOVE all the stuff, and spend hours playing outside.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sorry - I got a little behind over here - Pictures of the Thanksgiving Feast

We had the Montgomery Academy Thanksgiving Feast her on the Thursday before Thanksgiving. We had a VERY full house. Next year, we will probably have to move it to a larger location. But it was still fun to see and talk to everyone and eat LOTS of yummy food.

I also apologize for the photo quality. My camera just isn't taking great pictures lately. They tend to be dark or too bright, and grainy or blurry. My camera is a Kodak EasyShare Z740, and it is only about 3 years old. There isn't any room in the budget for a new camera, so I am hoping that it just starts getting better soon!

Happy Turkey Day!

A picture of the turkey. I provide the turkey and the dressing. I cooked the dressing in the crockpot this year. I just put the ingrediants in, turned it on low, stirred it a few times, and after an hour and a half, it was done. And it was yummy!

The "big" kids eating, and a visiting alum clearing her place.

The preschoolers tables

We had to use the couch and the train table (covered with a table cloth) for some people.

The adults and another visiting alum

One of the toddlers. Isn't she cute?
Happy Thanksgiving
from Montgomery Academy!