Sunday, May 31, 2009
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Pretty much anything can be strewn; the idea is to let them discover and use whatever you strewed on their own, in their own way. No getting impatient and pointing it out to them if they don’t discover it right away.
For M, this means gathering several items and arranging them for her to find when she is playing. Leaving cars next to blocks or putting a new tool in her kitchen or a new color of playdough in her bucket is an indirect way of exposing her to new ideas. It stimulates her imagination and results in creativity. The joy of discovering something on her own rather than having us show her is wonderful to see.
For M, strewing right now is reserved to toys and books and discovery object like paper towel tubes, straws and pompoms. But as she gets older, it will include puzzles, pictures, and craft supplies. It can even include spelling new words on the refrigerator with letter magnets and waiting for kids to ask what they mean.
For older kids like J, strewing can include leaving books, crafts, games, nature items (rocks, feathers, leaves, flowers) or other unusual items to be “found” in places like the back seat of the car, the bathroom, or the back patio chairs. I slipped some fun new brushes into the paintbrush jar for him to find next time he feels like creating, for example. It can include posting paintings, cartoons, postcards, quotes or articles they might find interesting on a bulletin board. For computer savvy kids, adding a new bookmarked site to their favorites folder can even be a form of strewing.
I have collected a box of items from the used bookstore, the consignment store and $1 bins at the craft store that we will be strewing this summer, at random intervals, and I can’t wait to see their imaginations at work.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Our plan is that he will spend 1 hour each morning working on spelling, writing, and math. Spelling and writing are areas he struggles with due to his dyslexia. As for math, he does great overall, but those darn multiplication facts are still causing him issues, and we can't move onto 2-digit multiplication until he gets those down. We are also instituting a new "Quiet Time With God" time at the start of each day. He can use this time as he chooses (reading his bible, praying, singing, learning a memory verse or a new prayer, or saying his rosary), but we are going to be encouraging him to do this daily.
After that, it is on to playtime. Last year, we chose a theme each week and did crafts and read books based on those themes. I had originally not planned to do that this summer, but at J's request we will be doing Vikings. I have found several fun books, crafts, and even a model viking ship that we will be working on throughout the summer, and we'll share as we go along.
Some of our regularly planned activities include:
* The pool (of course)
* Library summer reading program
* Weekly family night at the library (games, movies, crafts, etc.)
* Friday night concerts at the park
* Friday field trips (the first is a trip out to see a friend's new baby goats!)
* One week of cub scout camp
* T is teaching J to play the trumpet
J loves art, so I have also planned out some fun new art projects for him to do this summer using the style of the Great Masters. (You all know that I can hardly draw stick figures, so this comes straight out of a book!)
And then the big one for J is the Hogwart's Summer Correspondence School. J loves Harry Potter; he and T have read most of the books together. He is also at an age where he can tell reality from fantasy, but is still young enough to want to believe. When I found the idea for the HSCS online, I couldn't resist. He got his invitation via tree mail two weeks ago, and eagerly responded. I have initially planned to spend only a few weeks on it, but given his interest level we may continue this throughout the summer. "Magical" assignments are actually science experiments, craft projects, or just game playing so it will be fun and safe!
So, those are our summer plans. M will continue with her Montessori work and Tot School, so nothing changes for her except more time spent playing with her brother!
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
One of J's favorite parts was a Chemistry presenation involving density. The presenter took a can of Diet Coke and can of regular Coke and asked the kids if they would both sink in a tub of water, or both float. The kids decided that since they were the same size, shape and the same weight to them they would float. The Diet Coke can floats, but the regular Coke can sinks. The difference is the 37grams of sugar in the Coke can make it denser, so heavier. J loved this experiment, and I have a feeling we will be repeating it at home sometime soon.
Here are a few photos of the day.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Bean spooing and sorting:
She also did lot's of dramatic play with her Little People this week. She makes them talk to each other, and names them after family members. Too cute!
Of course, we played outside a lot at the park, in our wading pool, or doing sidewalk chalk. She loves to play baby basketball inside using a laundry basket, and did this daily! Our art project this week was our self-portraits.
Sidewalk Chalk with J:
We ended the week playing with our puzzles, sailing our colored ice boat in the bathtub, and reading on our new felt storyboard.
That was our week at Tot School. Don't forget to see what the other's did in their Tot Schools this week!
Friday, May 22, 2009
He has snakes, bears, and turtles which will sell for 25 cents; cats, dogs, and frogs which will go for 50 cents; and one-of-a-kind (only made one of each) fish, mouse, bird and dinosaur which will sell for 75 cents. Any profits will go to a local charity of his choosing; which I think is the local food pantry. He is making his advertising posters now, and I'll post an update after his sale next week! (One of the pictures is sideways, but no matter how I load it blogger flips it, so just tilt your head and enjoy!)
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
I had a friend ask me the other day why we were choosing to use Montessori with M, especially when we didn’t use it with J. The simple answer is that we didn’t do it with J because we were not familiar with it. This is one of those instances when you learn about something and wish you had known about it earlier. Of course, Montessori methods do extend through high school, and we are researching what aspects we will be incorporating with J. It is easier to start with M, however, since we can start from the beginning with her.
We feel strongly that the best place for M to learn is at home with us, and that is why we are using Montessori methods at home rather in a center. We are by no means experts, and there are certain parts of Montessori we are not implementing as they just don’t fit with our current philosophy, space or budget. With that said, there are several reasons we chose Montessori as our main learning method.
1) The whole basis of Montessori is child-led learning. We find that both the public and private school systems focus too much on making children conform to their list of approved “standards” and do not allow children enough time for creativity, imagination and exploring their own interests. One of the keys of Montessori is that once the teacher introduces an activity, you sit back and let the child explore and learn on their own. This means that rather than learning there is only one right answer (the answer the teacher wants) children learn there are many ways to do something.
2) Montessori focuses on learning through the use of all your senses, literally “hands-on” learning. Our experience with J’s dyslexia has proven to us that kids learn in so many different ways, and the typical auditory and visual learning does not work for everyone. These multi-sensory approaches that Montessori uses are the same as those J is utilizing in his MTA reading learning program. We have seen how well these work, so this was a key for us.
3) Montessori uses both phonics and whole language to teach children. We know that the educational system alternates between which is currently in vogue, but we think both are key to a child developing a strong vocabulary and a firm foundation for literacy.
4) In Montessori children learn to be masters of their own environment, to focus on maintaining their surroundings, respecting the objects around them, and learning to put everything in its proper place. Enough said!
Those are the main reasons we are choosing Montessori methods with M. The fact that she loves doing them and is learning so quickly just reinforces that we have made the right choice.
There are so many wonderful blogs out there with Montessori ideas posted by trained teachers who have a much better grasp of what they are doing than I do! There are also 3 wonderful books we recommend reading: Basic Montessori: Learning Activities for Under-Fives by David Gettman; Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Preschool Years by Elizabeth Hainstock; Montessori Play & Learn by Lesley Britton.