Monday, August 29, 2011

And even more photos....

Rooty working with the tower.

His own tower extension.

Rooty's first time to use the tower.
This was earlier in the summer.

Baby Boy has been working
on this puzzle for weeks!!!

Rooty likes the spooning/lima bean
Baby Boy counting with the
red counters and numerals.

Rooty explores our bird cards.
My own personal extension of the
Montessori tower, using several
other towers that we have.

Rooty enjoys the hammering lesson too.

I drew the bird and Baby Boy colored it.
I will be downloading a bird unit tonight.

Rooty thinks the small knobbed
cylinders are fun.  He loves this lesson.

Sweet Friend likes our new
hammering lesson.

Rooty enjoying stickers!

Baby Boy says he doesn't need a nap
anymore but has taken one 3 of 6 days
since we've started school.

More photos from our first week.

Recess at the park!  It was about 107 outside so we only stayed a few minutes.  The walk across the street was enough to wear us all out.
Baby Girl, Sweet Friend, and Rooty in the tunnel.
Rooty and Sweet Friend on the slide.
Baby Boy on the bridge.

Baby Boy and Rooty on the swings.
Rooty and Sweet Friend on the bouncer.

 Baby Boy spent his first day working with Legos for 3 hours.  He had required work for Tues-Thurs and on Friday Free-Day, he choose Legos again.  I was proud of him for putting them away and choosing a Math lesson on FFD!  He is doing GREAT in school.  He makes sure that I know the rules of a Montessori classroom, tries to make the others follow the rules and works very well.  I don't have a lot of lessons ready for him just yet but hope to finish more soon.
Baby Boy loves Legos.  He always chooses Legos or markers
when he finishes his required work. 
Sweet Friend really enjoys Playdoh.

Lunch time!!!

Rooty loves Stickers and cutting!

Dad gave the boys a tape measure to add to Practical
 Life and later Math.
Rooty thinks it's cool!

Sweet Friend working with the tower.

Baby Boy doing some Math work.

Writing the number sentence that he just made.

Enjoying a salad for morning snack.
A sample of Baby Boy's math
work.  He has completed 10, 9 and 8.
 My mom gave Baby Boy some math mats from an old textbook.  We used his numerals and red counters to make a lesson for number sentences.  We've worked on number sentences a good bit this summer and I thought it was time to put them into his work binder.  I showed him how to write a number sentence with 10, but each day he has done another number without me telling him anything. 

On FFD, I had some left over lettuce, tomato and cheese from Taco Night on Thursday.  I decided to use it for salads and spritz with raspberry vinegerette.  I wasn't sure what the kids would think but they all really enjoyed it.  I now have a great dinner idea if I add chicken!!!!!

As you can see, we had a wonderful week!!!!  The kids seem to really enjoy homeschool and are adapting well.  I hope to have us a steady schedule in place by next week, have all of my rat holes cleaned out and our shelves organized then as well.  Homeschooling isn't easy, it isn't quick and it isn't cheap.  It is hard work, it takes dedication and it takes lots of patience.  This year will be very interesting but it's going to be great!!!!!!!!!

Our first week!

The first week went GREAT!!!!! My boys had already been working throughout the summer so they pretty much had the hang of it. Our friends are still getting used to putting work away when finished and only taking one lesson out at a time. We are all strugging to get used to not talking across the room or in our case, across the house. I'm still tackling the stash and dash places in the office and dining room to prepare our lessons. I even had to cover some areas to keep the kids from getting into things that weren't ready for them. I really am not a slob, I just wasn't ready to start school when the kids were. I wanted to wait until September, they wanted to start now! 
This will be the Math shelf once I have it all organized.  The blue drawers are my craft supplies.

This will be our Language shelf.

The shelves in the back contain scrapbook supplies.  Under the sheet are boxes that I need to go through.  Some have already been unpacked. 

This will be our Sensorial shelf.  This photo was taken before the Math shelf was added to the room.  The wooden desk has been moved out now.

This is my area for my work. 

This area contains photo boxes that one of our friends kept getting into.  I covered it and it seems to make a huge difference.

My office area.  Not sure if there is help for this area or not......

Our dining room table.  The things here are all to be made into lessons.  It seems that the more I take off the table to put out on shelves, the more things that migrate to the table. 
Music with Mrs. Brittany

We've started having a daily circle time so that the kids can learn to be quiet and still while in a group.  This may prove to take a while!  During our circle time we talk about the date, sing songs about the days of the week, months of the year and seasons, as well as read a short devotional for kids.  Today we used a picture card to talk about our 5 Senses and will be exploring some lessons in this throughout the week.  It's still VERY HOT here but you can tell the change of seasons is in the air.  We are going to start putting out Autumn decorations this week just to help calm us down and trick our minds into leaving the lazy days of summer mode behind for a while. 

The kids also enjoyed music time with a dear friend of ours last week and will be continueing that each week throughout our school year.  They really enjoyed this!  We took our first field trip, very impromptu, and went to the pet store to purchase new fish for our aquarium.  The boys had a great week at school so Daddy gave them each $10 to purchase more fish, so we went back a 2nd time.  In the first trip, we talked about the habitat of frogs (the boys wanted to put one into our aquarium) and that frogs will eat our fish when they get bigger.  We also talked about salt-water/fresh-water fish as we decided which fish we wanted to put in our tank.  On our second trip, we discussed this again and then wandered over to the other side of the store to look at the birds, rats, ferrets and other pets.  Thankfully, the only pet that has made the Christmas list so far is a frog. 

We got several new lessons throughout the week and will continue to add new lessons throughout our school year.  Each box that gets delivered stirs up a frenzy in our house as we all rush to the door and tear the box open.  I'm pretty sure that most of our Christmas list this year will be filled with materials for our classroom. 

Rooty loves looking at his photos in our Practical Life area.

Sweet Friend doing her first Montessori lesson. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

It's about time....

   Despite the 107 degree temperatures, Fall is in the air.  The cool breezes at night are a reminder that cooler temperatures are in store; the preseason football games are a reminder that the regular season is just around the corner; schools are back in session.  As the obvious signs of fall move in, I've had kinda a rough week.  I've spent all summer reading and looking for the best deals on new and used Montessori materials for our classroom.  All of my nieces and nephews went to school this past week and the last of our friends children will start on Monday.  My teacher friends all started about 2 weeks ago.  I was feeling a little schooly so I decided to scrapbook photos from Baby Boy's first year at the Montessori school he went to for 3 years.  This was a big mistake!
   I started working on the layout on Tuesday evening and it made me a little sad that he wouldn't be starting back to school this year for Kindergarten.  He had amazing teachers in Toddlers so I got a bit sad that Rooty wouldn't have that same oppertunity.  Wednesday the Hubby had to attend a funeral so it just added to the sadness.  On Thursday a dear friend had a new baby, I'd love a new baby but it just isn't in the cards for us right now.  Needless to say, I spent most of this week depressed.  I snapped out of it on Thursday afternoon when I went to visit the sweet new baby and then went to choir practice at church. 
   I decided that I still had tons to do before we start school on September 6th so I called up Friend C who is bringing her daughter to our homeschool.  We decided that her older boys go to school on Monday so they will begin coming on Monday.  The kids will begin some informal work while we finish cutting and laminating lessons, organizing the shelves and putting materials out.  I know it's gonna be crazy but the kids are ready and Montessori is all about following the child.  Well, after talking with Friend B, who will be bringing her toddler a few days a week, she decided that she will start Music class with the kids on Monday and will take care of our sensorial lessons this year.  This was a HUGE relief to me!!!  Friend C isn't familiar with a Montessori classroom but I look forward to teaching her and hopefully letting her take over an area or two as well. 
  I found a wonderful find at the Goodwill store last week.  It was a two drawer night stand for the boys room.  The boys pajamas go in it perfectly, tissue and combs go on top and we hung a mirror on the wall behind it.  It's a perfect place for them to be able to comb their hair and get dressed without assistance.  Their morning routine chart is much easier for them to follow now that they don't have to wait on me to get the Octopus Spray (Suave Detangler Spray) down from the cabinet above our bathroom sink.  I have a great idea for my kitchen as well, but I wasn't sure how we could pull it off without spending a fortune.  I told the hubby my idea and he informed me that he had a few premolded counter tops that were scraps from some apartments he just built and that one should be long enough to make the counter we need for the kids.  He is going to build a cabinet under them and we are going to put a mini-fridge, microwave and toaster at a level that the kids can help themselves.  We are on the lookout for some heavy children's tables to place in the kitchen, dining room and office for the children to work on.  The Little Tikes ones that we currently have are great if placed against a wall but the move way too much for the open floor.  They are a little small for two children to work on together as well. 
   I hope to get things pretty straight next week and post some photos of our Montessori Home.  It is really coming together nicely and my work has inspired my husband to start working to finish out the upstairs.  Once that is finished, we will have a complete library downstairs, a LARGE office/classroom and still have the kitchen, dining and formal dining to use a our Practical Life areas.

Monday, July 4, 2011

One month into Summer....

Okay, so I know it's supposed to be summer vacation but after a week with no structure, my kids were crazy and I was going nuts.  My family thrives on structure and routine.  I had already begun gathering things that would make great lessons so I just jumped right in and set up two shelves of lessons for the boys.  Many of these lessons came from the closet of toys that I rotate in and out of their bedroom.  We made a trip to Toys R Us for Melissa and Doug lessons but ended up with a cool water table, a small Lego set and a graduated stacker.  While many would say these are toys, they are what my family calls work. 

We found a small chest for the Lego's, along with the guide sheet.  This is a rug lesson.  Baby Boy mastered it within about 15 minutes.  This built lots of confidence and each time he works with it, it reinforces to him that he is capable of doing something really cool. 

The graduated stacker is for Rooty.  He is still working on mastering this but is really enjoying his work with it.  It has 5 pegs with a different color/shape on each one.  The first peg holds just 1, the 2nd holds 2, etc.  Each time he chooses this lesson, he seems to find something different to question about it.  He mastered his colors about 6 months ago but for the first week he seemed to enjoy just taking the shapes off and putting he colors together.  He's noticed that there are more of some colors than others and has even begun to count them (he can count items up to 3 but can say his numbers to 14).  Today he began asking about the shapes of each of the pieces.  Sometimes he stacks them on his rug, sometimes he lays them side by side on his rug.  Sometimes he mixes all the colors up on the stacker and calls it a rainbow.  His excitement over this $10 lesson is so fun to watch.  He hasn't began to put it all back together correctly yet but I do make sure that each time he takes it down to work, he finds it in proper order so that he sees the correct way to put it away.

The water table isn't so Montessori (it's a pirate ship) but the fun part of homeschooling is getting to offer the same activities in your own way.  The boys love raising and lowering the anchor, pouring the water, squirting the canon, etc.  Baby Boy enjoys testing "volume" of objects by placing them into a full cup of water and seeing the amount that pours over the side.  I would like to get some graduated cylinders to put in the water table for him to begin noticing the lines and discovering actual measurement.  I'm a science nerd so I don't think it is the least bit too early for him to be doing this!  LOL!!! 

Some of the other lessons that we have on our shelves so far are a basket with 3 different seashells.  They are different shaped, different textured and different sound.  I would love to find some larger shells but these came in a basket with many others from the Just a Dollar store.  We have a Jack in the Box (well, really its Elmo in a kettle but again, it's homeschool...).  Baby Boy started learning origami and Rooty is working on fine motor skills by sticking stickers onto paper.  We have buttons to put into a muffin tin, large beads to thread onto a piece of yarn, a 100 piece puzzle, play dough, a snail that wiggles when you pull his string, a see and say, a rice spooning lesson, two different cube stackers, a globe and books that switch out nearly every day.

  Our 15 year old nephew is staying the summer with us and commented about the boys doing work during the summer.  I loved my husband's reply!  He said, "They enjoy working and learning so why should we stop them?"  That one sentence summed up the entire reason that we believe in Montessori and is exactly why we are choosing to homeschool since the tuition was too much for us.  We want our boys to grow up with a love of learning and an interest in things far beyond those that are printed in a textbook.  Maybe I am raising nerds but that's perfectly fine by me!!!  I have two very happy, playful and good looking little boys and in my world, there is absolutely nothing wrong with knowledge!!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

New Beginnings

   Today marked a very important day for my family.  It was my 5 year old's last day of school.  Three years ago we enrolled him in a wonderful Montessori school and shortly after, we found out we were expecting another baby.  We have spent the last 3 years knowing that he would also need to go to school one day.  Our finances could barely handle the tuition of one; we had no idea how we would pay for two in private school. 
   I once had a not so glamourous career as a daycare center owner.  I spent the first 2 1/2 years of my oldest son's life working 40+ hours a week for a salary that mimiced my high school job.  Three years ago I left that path and embarked upon the path of a stay at home mom.  In December we welcomed our youngest son, now 2.  For the last 3 years I have lived a dream life.  No we didn't have fancy cars or even a fancy house.  In fact, our vehicles are all older and nothing fancy.  We didn't have a luxuary home either; we lived in a 2 bedroom rent house that first year and then a 3 br single-wide moble home for the next year and a half.  Our life was far from easy but I experianced something I never dreamed I would love.  I was a wife and a mother full-time and I felt fulfilled.  I wasn't stressed bc there was so much to do at home but I was at work.  I got to volunteer at school and take naps with my kids in the afternoon.  My house was generally straight and I wasn't embarrassed to have people over.  Dinners became healthier.  I was able to do church work (did I mention that my hubby is a pastor?) right along side my husband. 
   Well, as we enrolled our youngest in Montessori for this fall, I was faced with the end of my dream life as I prepared to go back to work.  See, we purchased a home in January and a mortgage and double tuition would simply put too much strain on our budget.  I was hoping for a job at the school but I still wasn't content in that because it would keep me from doing the things that I need to do at home to keep my household running smoothly.  The end of school was just a few weeks away and all I could do was cry each time I thought about going back to work full-time.  The only reason I needed to go to work was to pay tuition.  I kept praying that God would show me what He wants for our family and I kept waiting for an answer.  We had already decided that homeschool for 1st grade up was a great option but hadn't considered it for kindergarten and certainly hadn't considered it for the youngest's preschool.  A little over a week ago, it all caught up with me.  I knew God didn't want me to go back to work, because I know how important my work at home is to my family's well-being.  I knew that Montessori works well for my family and I knew that there are many who successfully homeschool their children.  What I didn't know was that there are many who successfully homeschool with Montessori. 
   I was searching the internet for homeschool blogs, companies that offer materials, etc.  I came across a homeschool math curriculum using many Montessori materials.  It really got me questioning whether there are other things out there for Montessori homeschool.  Guess what!  There are!!!  I actually found a wonderful Montessori teacher training center that offers not just support for Montessori homeschool families but also offers a complete 3-6 Montessori homeschool curriculum and it comes with materials.  I was impressed!!!  This was just what I had been wanting, a way to combine the two things that I knew were right for my family.  We prayed about this scenario and it only took a few days for us to know it was perfect.  Actually, the 2 year old told my husband it was perfect.
   On Monday I ran some errands and my husband stayed home with the 2 year old until I got in.  When Rooty (his nick-name) was finished with breakfast, he told my husband that he had to go to work.  He went into my office, where there are quite a few "lessons" available for him to occupy himself while I am working, and took his work off of the shelf.  He spent a little time putting 1 button in each of the 24 spots on the mini muffin pan and then put his work away.  This really showed us that doing Montessori at home would fit perfectly for our family.
   We told our family and friends, Baby Boy's teachers (the 5 year old), Rooty's future teachers and the head of the school.  This was certainly hard and brought many tears but they weren't like the ones before.  These were tears because of the wonderful relationships we have developed over the last 3 years.  I just knew they would all be shocked and maybe even try to talk us out of it.  I was wrong!  They were actually all very supportive and encouraging.  The teachers all spoke very highly of homeschool and the head of the school mentioned that many families are homeschooling now.  They all told me that I would do great and that the background our family has in Montessori will carry us far in homeschool.  They all seem to be excited about me setting up a Montessori classroom at home and several have asked to come and see it when I get it set up. 
   The last day of school was today.  It was bittersweet.  We leave behind a wonderful school with wonderful friends but we are heading towards something that will be even better for our family.  A large part of my heart will always be at MSS but I am finally content in my plans for the fall.  I am excited about this new trail my family is taking.  The boys are excited about spending more time with Mommy.  Baby Boy can't wait to show Rooty how to do lessons.  Rooty can't wait for new "work" to go on his shelf.  Hubby is excited about building shelves and materials for our classroom (really, he is).  For the first time in several years, we face a future that we both want and agree upon.   It feels wonderful!  I have peace, comfort and joy that we are doing exactly what God has called us to do.  This is truly a new beginning for our family and I am delighted to share it with each of you.