October 24, 2014

Equivalence material

I have to be honest, I was daunted by this material. It is big, it's expensive, it's extremely precise and it seems to only be available from neinhaus which is even more expensive than normal expensive. My only option really was to make it, but, as mentioned before, it's so precise! The whole point of it is to be exact, shapes that are congruent are 'exactly' the same.

I thought about several materials, thick card was first, very thick card like mount card was next but I wanted the pieces to have real depth to them. Corrugated card was a strong contender and I may even go there if I have to remake any but I avoided it because of its tendency to squash on the corners. In the end I went for foam board, it is good because it cuts cleanly, but not ideal because the edges can crumble if you're not careful. It's saving grace was the price tag, £4.99 per board and I used 2, so £9.98 total compared to over £260 just for the square figures from neinhause. Of course they are amazing quality, made from iron, durable, exact and so on, but really, £260!

I made the square figures, the triangle figures and a circle for learning the parts of a circle (chords, arc etc). First I cut 14 squares (14 x 14 cm), then I very carefull measured, drew and cut out the centre shape. Making sure all the squares were the same and all the triangles were the same. I made these as precise as possible using a ruler protractor and set square.  Next I just cut up the centre pieces into half, quarter, eighth and sixteenth pieces. I say 'just' but it took ages, as you can see they are not exactly exact but they are very close and I am happy with them. I then stuck the frames down onto some mount card I had around and then finished it all with a few coats of spray paint.

The very small pieces are a little bit delicate but this is an elementary material so it should be fine and so far the coats of paint have stopped any of the crumbling edges. I think that it will be strong enough to cope with my children but it probably wouldn't survive several classes full so I can see why the schools buy the iron.

October 20, 2014

Days of learning - elementary

Wow, a flurry of new interests and activities this week. Binx has been desperate to get on the computer for some time now but I was holding back while I searched for some good content, we are not by any means ready to just let her loose on the internet. Khan Academy has filed that gap for us, I certainly haven't explored the whole site yet but what we have used is amazing. Binx has been doing the maths and the computer programming. I was happy to see her doing maths but amazed to see her progressing through the computer programming at such a rate. This is something I have zero experience in and could never have taught her but here she is (only 3 days in), creating shapes, colours and using variables in code. She is practicing all four operations, graphing, plotting points, and pretty advanced algebra formulas and best of all she doesn't even realise it because it is fun! I was getting left behind by the whole thing so I created an account so I could learn too. As a parent/educator you get progress reports including how long they spend doing each thing, which areas they are focusing on and which areas they need help in. I think we are quite late to the party here because Khan Academy has been around for a good while but we are excited to be joining in now. Note: no one paid me to review this site, I am just a mum and a homeschooler and we like it!

Of course, the more traditional materials still continue, below was a lesson on suffixes which involved the invention of many random words and was pretty fun.

We explored different types of mountains and how they are formed several weeks ago and this week binx revisited it and created posters showing the main types of mountain.

Story of the World has been great for history and projects this week had binx building a ziggurat out of blocks and painting a shirt to make a kind of dress coat.

Here she is exploring a lesson on ways of combining. We mixed water with salt and water with copper sulphate to show solutions, water mixed with chalk dust to create a suspension, sand and iron filings made a mixture (that could be separated with a magnet), and bicarbonate of soda and vinegar gave us a chemical reaction. The albums that we are using have many chemical reactions shown but I can't seem to get hold of the chemicals because I am not a "proper" educational establishment and I don't have a license. 

Quite a lot of maths got worked on this week. Addition and subtraction on the bead frame, the division board, multiplication of fractions and this fun work on square numbers. While drawing out these squares binx said out loud "I think I get this!" in a really excited voice, and that is what it's all about.

October 13, 2014

Days of learning - primary

Caring for an animal is always included in a montessori classroom. Usually they start with a fish and take responsibility for feeding it and cleaning it out. We don't have a fish but we do have 2 dogs, 2 rabbits and a hamster in the house. The kids have always been involved in helping to look after them, including feeding, cleaning and loving them! Over the last couple of weeks though, rogue has been so excited about the rabbits. The one he is holding in the picture is called Benjamin Mittens and we have another called Teasel Thumper Cuddles, (all our bunnies have had long names, I really don't know why!). For the last week then it has been his job every morning to give the rabbits their food, check their water and say good morning to them. He is very proud of the responsibility.

Binx was working with grammar boxes this week so rogue decided to get involved by climbing right up on the table to examine the grammar symbols. I gave him the large stencil (binx was using the smaller one for her work), and he spent some time matching the symbols to the correct space in the stencil. He then wanted to draw some of the shapes using the stencil and cut them out. He is a bit young to draw using the stencil so I had to hold it down for him. His cutting out was pretty good. He drew the shape in the middle and then sheared the edges off gradually until he got close to the lines and then rounded the corners. He is doing the circle below.

A favourite work that gets used a lot is matching the small pictures to the large pictures. I am going to add 'old calendar' to my montessori materials hunting list right now because I really need to make him a different set of these while he is still enthusiastic about it.

The box below was actually sold for holding tea bags but it is perfect for sorting. At the moment it just has a colour on a sticker in each compartment and then craft sticks with the colours on for sorting. I will change this often for different sorting tasks. I'm also thinking if I can find another of these boxes they would be perfect for spindle boxes.

I introduced transferring water with a baster this week. A big hit, after he got over the fact that the water was green! Honestly, I thought that would just be a bit of fun, you know, make it a bit more interesting, but while I was trying to show him what to do he just had to keep on (and on) asking, 'why is the water green?', 'what does green water do?', 'does green water taste nice?', 'can the dogs have green water?', you get the picture! Lesson learned, do not introduce new activity and new colour of water at the same time! 

My biggest success of the week was the binomial cube. I think I managed to stumble my way into presenting this at just precisely the right moment in his development. He was so impressed by the sides of the box folding down that he let out a little squeak even though he was trying so hard to be really still and quiet to watch. He paid attention the whole time I was showing him and then proceeded to repeat it himself three times in a row just like the presentation. He didn't even try to build a tower which is what he usually does with everything even remotely block shaped. It seemed to be just the right level of challenge without being frustrating and he was so satisfied with folding the sides of the box back up. Isn't it lovely when things just work.

The orderliness of montessori seems to be occurring at other times too. He was getting his duplo bricks out at the weekend and on auto pilot just went to get a tray to put his 'work' on! Anything that keeps the bricks in one place is fine by me!