Monday, April 29, 2013

Montessori Trails - Our Montessori Path Through Life: Project-Based Learning

Montessori Trails - Our Montessori Path Through Life: Project-Based Learning

Absolutely love this article!  Note to self:  Learn to step out of the way and let your children learn on their own! 

Some helpful links for those that may be considering homeschooling the Montessori way

I was chatting back and forth through email with another mom from a Yahoo group and told her that I had some great things that I had printed out back when we were deciding to homeschool.  I got the kids occupied long enough for me to dig out the binder and send another email.  These are some really good resources for anyone considering Montessori homeschooling but are also a good reference point for anyone considering homeschool in general.  I hope that all of the links will work, I have not tested them and it has been 2 years since I printed the documents that have these links listed on them.  I would like to include a few other links that I had already sent her: 

Montessori Research and Development (these are the manuals that our family uses).  (Update:  In the summer of 2013, I decided that I was confident enough in my teaching to sell these manuals and venture out on my own.  We started using Unit Studies that seem to fit our family much better, covering multiple age groups with out a lot of work to tailor them to each child.  I just couldn't keep up with teaching to two different levels with different units and I didn't like always repeating units and looking for extra material to add in for the oldest.)

Shiller Math (this is the math program that I wish I had found bf we were in so deep with purchasing Montessori math materials).  (Update:  in July 2013, I decided to switch to ShillerMath.  Our family has really enjoyed the simplicity of using this program.)

Montessori Print Shop (I get tons of materials here, LOVE this site!!!!!)

Here's my message to her with all of the other links:

Okay, my kids are all occupied so I can get this list of links for you. 

Why We Homeschool   (This list of verses is what I found just before we made our decision to homeschool.  Ours was a decision based on finances since my youngest was about to be starting at the Montessori school in the toddlers program.  I still wasn't sold on the idea when I came across these verses.  I rewrote them into my journal as they were worded in the King James version and wrote my own thoughts about each verse.  I prayed over them as I wrote them on that Monday night, all day on Tuesday, most of the night on Tuesday and when I woke on Wednesday morning, I knew that this was for us.  I knew that I could do it and that my kids would fare just fine from my teaching.)

NAMC Homeschool kit (even if you choose not to go with this kit, this site has many great resources on it.)

Overview of Montessori Classroom

How to Create a Montessori Prepared Environment

Montessori benchmarks

Easy one/two word sequence for 3-6

Easy one/two word sequence for 6-9

Sequence and Order of Language Materials  (this site also has S&O of Practical Life and Sensorial).

Sequence and order of Math materials

Great free Montessori downloads, more are listed now than what I found 2 years ago when looking at this site.

I have one document that doesn't have the website listed at the bottom and no mention of where it came from.  I will scan it and email it in a bit.  It's brief descriptions of the 5 main areas in a Montessori classroom. 

Hope you enjoy reading these as I did.  You will do just fine homeschooling!!!!!!  Just remember that homeschool doesn't have to resemble public school or even a Montessori school.  Let me know if you have any questions!  Audrey

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Cleaning out..... Looking Ahead

I'm hoping to post pictures later (if I can locate the camera, which Elijah thinks is ours to share now) but today I am working on cleaning out some things in our classroom (I know, not really part of that cleaning list but since I'm behind, it shouldn't matter much).  I'm finally pulling out the curriculum that we had purchased at the beginning of the school year and getting it ready to sell.  I'm simplifying our shelves so that the boys know just what they need to be working on through the end of the school year. 

I am so excited with how this year has gone for us and I'm excited about the possibilities for next year.  Elijah has already decided on our first Social Studies topic for next school year and I will spend my summer preparing for that.  It will require lots of preparation and prayer because it is such a sensitive topic.  He wants to know about slaves and why people were so mean to African Americans.  We have worked very hard to teach our children love and respect for everyone, no matter their skin color.  Yesterday with tears in the corner of his eyes, he asked, "Why did peach people used to be mean to brown people?"  Someone told him that whites once fought the blacks and made them be slaves.  We've never referred to African Americans as blacks nor ourselves as whites.  The story that he has been told was no-doubt learned from another child that doesn't know and understand our history either.  He and I talked about it for a little bit and I promised that we would study that period of history so that we can both better understand it.  We have read a few books about it in the past and we will be reading much more about it soon.  If you have any suggestions for websites or books that would help in teaching this, please leave a comment below.  I want to be sure that in teaching this, I will teach an attitude of sympathy, love and understanding rather than one of entitlement and hate.  Please be in prayer for me as I work to prepare this study for the fall. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Cleaning Schedule

I haven't forgotten about the 30 day cleaning challenge.  I've just been extremely busy so the basic picking up is about all that has happened this past week.  I will pick it up again tomorrow and hope to get through quite a few days.  We've taken in another foster child and my car is too small for me and all 4 kids so I should have plenty of time at home tomorrow.  We are going to start with Elijah and Levi's bedroom and then move on to the nursery.  I'm hoping to have that finished by noon so that I can send the older two outside during naptime for the littles.  That should give me plenty of time to do one or two other rooms.  We'll see how far I get! 

If you want to follow along, there are some links in my earlier posts of other bloggers that are doing this during the month of April.  Here's where the list originated  It was altered a bit from another list found here  I hope that you will join the rest of us in our quests for a more organized, cleaner and much more calm home. 

The End is Near!

I can't believe it!  Tomorrow is April 15th.  It's nearly the end of the month, which means May is coming, which means that the end of the school year is just a few more weeks away.  In a way, I feel like I should be rushing the boys to finish up this or that but I'm really not that worried about it.  Last year we finished the school year at the end of April because we were just ready for a break.  This year, I have no idea when we will finish but we're not ready yet either. 

We're still studying Knights and we want to do a unit on Birds and also the Water Cycle before we call it a year.  I'd like Elijah to finish his reading curriculum but if he doesn't, we'll continue it next school year.  Who says he has to finish it this school year anyways?  I do have a few more math lessons that I would like him to get through so we will be working on that but again, if we don't make it through them, it doesn't matter. 

We don't have to finish everything this year.  We have taken our time learning this year and have really learned a lot.  We've enjoyed most of the year and we enjoy taking our time as we learn new things.  This year has been a year of many lessons for us and many of the things that we have learned have been real-life things and could never be found in a book.  The boys are becoming much more independent and are learning to take responsibility for their chores.  They are learning to work on school work without me standing over them.  We've worked on many heart issues that have affected our relationships with each other as well as our behavior.  We've learned to open our home and hearts to others that are in need, both through family/friends that have stayed with us for long periods of time and now through foster care.  These are things that will carry my boys way farther than anything they ever read in a textbook.  These are lessons in hospitality, manners, love and respect.  These are the things that will keep our family close through the years and will have a lasting place in the boys' memories. 

As we look to the end of the school year, I won't be looking for curriculum for next year.  I won't be talking with friends (okay, maybe I will listen with interest) and deciding to change directions for next year.  I will be making a list of the things that I need in order to continue school just the way we have been doing it.  I will need to get the next math manual and purchase the materials needed for the first month or two (then I will order as we go).  I will need to have the next Explode the Code books ready for the boys as they are ready for them.  I will need to get Elijah the BJU Reading 2 curriculum to continue working on comprehension skills.   I know what works for us and though it can be tempting to try the things that work well for our friends, I have to stay strong and trust my instincts as Elijah and Levi's mom.  These are little boys.  I'm a boy mom.  We are different and that's okay.  We know what works for us and we will stick to it.  We are blessed to live in the United States where we have the freedom to homeschool and even more blessed to live in Louisiana where we have the freedom to homeschool our own way.  Most of all, I am blessed to have a husband that not only supports me but also encourages me to do things our own way.  This is our trail, our journey.  It isn't an easy one and it isn't anything found in any book.  It's what works best for us!!!!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Day 2: The Bathroom

The instructions for today were to clean your bathroom.  As you can see from my before pictures, the bathroom needed a bit of attention. 

The tub is over 100 years old and is stained pretty badly.  I read some of the ideas and comments on this post from the Money Saving Mom about cleaning the stains.  I decided to try a combination of Bar Keepers Friend and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  When you see the after pictures you will see what a difference it made and that I also need to repeat this several times.  The Magic Eraser completely disintegrated though and I didn't have another.  I'm a tad embarrassed to be posting these pictures but it is my house and I am working to get it cleaned. 

I am following along with Mindful Homeschooler and Money Saving Mom as we strive to get our homes clean this month and hopefully set a routine and schedule to maintain our homes once the month is over.

Always behind....

There are a few things that I have come to accept being a Stay At Home Homeschool Mom.  The first is that my house will never be completely clean all at the same time again.  The second is that I will forever be behind on something.  My friend Melissa of Mindful Homeschooler is following along another blogger as she strives to clean and organize her home this month.  I am following along behind Melissa.  One day 1, April 1st, Melissa posted to clean the kitchen completely.  We all know that when we clean the kitchen, there are many things that are overlooked.  We get used to those things being there and we just clean around them.  I spent about 2 hours working on my kitchen on Tuesday night and finally had it cleaned.  It now needs a bit of TLC so that it doesn't get back to the state that it was in.

On that same day, Melissa posted to clean your living room the same way.  Thankfully, my living room wasn't as cluttered as my kitchen and it only took about 30 minutes.  I had to wait until the weekend to work on it though as we have school during the day in the week and at night my husband enjoys relaxing in front of the tv.  I didn't want to disturb him so I've waited until today to work on it.  It didn't start out so bad but before I thought to take pictures, I had already fixed the pillows on the furniture and swept the mess into a pile for the boys to pick up.  You'll notice most of the clutter/disorganization is on the shelves behind the chaise.  Until this past week, we've had a recliner in that spot so the shelves were used as a coffee table.  Not sure exactly why things get tossed on the top shelves but you'll see lots of junk there as well.  Take a look....

  It only took the boys a few minutes to pick the pile up, and then I vacuumed the floor and set to work on the shelves.  I straightened up the books (I have a "Book Organization" project planned for the summer), returned a few things to their rightful home and then straightened the shelves.  I spent all of about 30 minutes from start to finish on this so I'm not sure why I haven't just straightened it up as I've cleaned it.   Those shirts on the top middle shelf (they were the wrong size) they have been there since Christmas,  I actually dusted at the shelves a week ago and just dusted around them.  I know, that's pretty bad and lazy, right?  Well, it's all cleaned now and looks nice.  I do need some help with figuring out how to decorate on those shelves and also need to get my hubby to finish my cabinet doors.  I'm so glad that it is organized now though! 

To follow along with Melissa as she cleans and organizes, please visit the Mindful Homeschooler page. 

To follow along with Money Saving Mom, the one that started it all, visit her page.  There's TONS of great info on her page.  I can't believe I am just now finding her. 

Kitchen curtains are up!

I was so excited to get a call from my friend Jennefer, who made my curtains for my kitchen, to let me know that the other sets were finished.  She did a fabulous job on them and they look great!!!!  Normally I wouldn't be posting this on this blog but since I am posting my progress as I clean up/out and organize my house, I wanted to follow up my kitchen post with the pictures of the new curtains hanging.  I did the measuring but my husband hung the rods, needless to say, I need to move the rods down to the sides of the windows where I measured from because they are a tad short.  I must say though, I kinda like the way that they look being a bit short though.  The small window had the rods hung a little low and they do need to be moved up.  Anyways, that's all for another day though!  Note: photos were taken with my phone so they aren't the best quality. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Just following along....


So, who am I following?  My good friend Melissa at Mindful Homeschooler.  I think she may be following along with another blogger but without clicking over and double checking, I'm not really sure.  In all, what matters is not that I'm following but that I'm actually getting something done around here (and not just enough to get by). 

Those that know me well will tell you that I am always cleaning.  With 3 little boys, if I don't stay on top of things, this place gets to looking like a tornado went through it within a matter of hours.  I pride myself on trying to keep my home company ready at all times.  I fail often but I do try!  I have piles everywhere of things that I need to get done.  I have lots of creative chaos in nearly every room too.  This month Melissa is writing about her journey through cleaning and organizing her home and I've decided to follow along.  She started yesterday with the Kitchen and Living Room.  I started today with my kitchen.  The living room needs a day all to itself in this house!  I took my before pictures while 2 of the boys were eating breakfast, I then ran a load in the dishwasher and tidied up just a bit.  I tidied up a little bit more before dinner tonight and then after dinner I went to work.  I spent about 2 hours tonight cleaning the kitchen. 

I had a cake pan on the counter that has been there for about a month waiting to go back to a friend.  I took it back today (this was partly due to the fact that she's got a newborn baby and I wanted to see him)!!!!  I also still had so much clutter on the counters that just needed to be put away.  Under all that clutter were Kool-Aid stains so out came the BarKeep's Friend and now the counters are back to white!  The floors were less than clean so they got a good vacuum with the stick vac and then scrubbed with the FloorMate (this is the greatest invention EVER!).  Two hours later and I have a sparkly clean kitchen that I actually look forward to cooking in tomorrow evening.  I am so glad that Melissa has decided to challenge herself this month to clean up her house because I might actually get some of my junk cleaned out!  It may take me a bit longer but I will be following along at my own pace. 

Note:  A friend is in the process of making my curtains.  I have one set up already and the others should be ready by this weekend.  I also need to recover the chairs to my table but that too will come with time.  We live in a home that was built in 1910 and our list of things to do is quite long.  We are working on it a little at a time and have made great progress in the 2 years that we've been here.  I look forward to the day that I can say, "We've finished the house," but for now the baby steps are all pretty exciting.