Sunday, September 5, 2010

Back to home

Well, this is my last post at Raisin Ian.

I was taking too much time doing blog-related activities and I think it is time to move my focus back to my family and my home!

Writing in "Raising Ian" was a great experience. I am so thankful for the opportunity it gave me to meet and receive such great inspiration from all of you! It was a journey full of learning and I am so happy I have these priceless memories recorded. I will print all the posts and make a beautiful diary.

Ian and I will continue our Montessori journey and I will keep reading about the wonderful things you're doing.

Happy blogging to all!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Back to Basics

This was a short week for homeschooling. Ian got sick with tonsillitis, had fever and received injections of antibiotics, too much stress for him. Fortunately, he recovered quickly, but shortly after, I got sick. The story of our lives, we always fall ill together.
Those facts, obliged me to take a rest from homeschooling. I added some activities during the week but kept the ones from the last week. This is the first time I did that. We do not have much space to have many activities put away, so I rotate activities every week. Another reason to do that is the short attention span of Ian with the activities.

On the other hand, after my camera broke, I had a "aha moment" and I saw myself treating Ian's homeschooling as a race. Naturally, this week, I reduced my anxiety to have Ian working everyday. Before that, although my level of frustration had decreased enormously, I had kept suggesting to Ian that he should do the activities. I've learned to respect him when he says "no" and, a great advance for me, do so without feeling upset. This week I went further and, after making a short demonstration of the new activities, I left him to choose whichever he liked. It was very rewarding when while I was busy around the house, I heard some sounds (like garbanzos falling into the pitchers) that announced that Ian was doing some of his activities. Another gratifying thing was that Ian not only picked new activities but some of the "old" ones too.

In the absence of my digital camera, I used Daddy's Blackberry and a disposable camera to take photos, just like when I started this blog. Back then I used to enjoy writing this journal as part of my personal learning process and to be a gift for me in the future. No matter how dreadful the quality of the photos, I felt that my reports were "impressive", and that is the way I feel again.

Another task I have now is to make a record of all the activities that my little super cute student has done so far. There are many activities Ian has not yet mastered and I want to put those ones out again.

Now, let's picture our week.

Practical Life

Dry Pouring Pitcher to Pitcher. This is the first Montessori exercise Ian did 6 months ago (this is a great memory for me). As part of my attempt to go back to the Montessori basic activities and reinforce them, I set it up again and observed that Ian still has the habit of not holding the spout correctly to prevent spilling. However, he is supporting the pitcher of beans with his non-dominant hand more often now, as well as paying more attention to these control errors: spillage of beans and remaining beans in pitcher.

Vaseando solidos (garbanzos esta vez) jarra a jarra

Tweezers. Ian still can't use tweezers properly. I could not find small beads and the pom-poms I was using for this activity seemed to be too big. This week I changed them for pom-poms made for me. Actually, my goal was to make black pom-poms for Ian to use when we read the counting book Ten Black Dots, but what a mistake I made! :-) .. no even close to the pom-poms Mary-Ann at Counting Coconuts  made (I follow her tutorial :-). I changed my mind and made more pom-poms for Ian to attempt to transfer with the tweezers. The colors of the yarn were the same as the lids of the empty tempera tray Ian likes to unscrew, so I used it to set up the new tweezer activity. It seems to be easier but not simple yet, he still needs several attempts until he gets all the pom-poms.

Usando una pinza para transferir pompones a una
bandeja de temperas. Ian desenrosca las tapas al empezar
y, una vez transferidos todos los pompones, enrosca
las tapas de acuerdo al color.


Sorting paper clips. Finally Ian is interested in sorting activities. I just need to find the objects that captures his attention and paper clips are just right. As with the activity above I am combining the activity I want to engage Ian, with another I know he likes. For this one, I used an old little box Ian used some time ago to match keys. I put the clips in a bowl, on the left side of the hook box, but Ian insisted on placing the clips inside the box, just like we did in the keys activity. Well, he follows the same order as always, first he gathers all the hand-shape clips, then the foot-shape clips and finally the star-shape clips. That's right, he is discriminating the shape of the objects but, I need to remember not to mix the clips on the hooks. Certainly, the hooks set up a requirement for extra concentration as the clips were a bit tricky to hang.

Clasificando clips por su forma y colgandolos en ganchitos.
Ejercitando sus sentidos y su motricidad fina.

Here you can see a bit of how the activities are set up around the dinning table.

Aqui se puede ver como estan dispuestas sus actividades
alrededor de la mesa del comedor


Preparation for Reading and Writing

Figure Pattern Card. This activity reinforces the ability to follow a pattern from left to right. We have a figure control card and a basket with figure cards (which are duplicated on the control card). Ian had to follow the sequence of the control card, find the matching cards and place them on top of the control card. At the beginning he tended to take the pictures from the basket and looked for a match in the control card; so, we've been working together on it and he's been catching on to the idea. By the way, I used the cute figures of Sarah Kay, I love them ... Daddy asked me if this activity was for me (lol).

Emparejando las figuritas de la tarjeta de control (con fondo
verde aqui) con las de la canastita. Ejercitando la habilidad
para seguir un patron de izquiera a derecha y mejorar
coordinacion ojo-mano.

Pasting. Six months ago he disliked any activity that could dirty his hands. I've been setting up a pasting activity every so often, but he never got interested until this week. The tray I set up contains: a small bottle of white glue, a brush, a small bowl of collage scraps of paper and a sponge. This tray is placed on the table he has in his bedroom, along with paper. He learnt the steps quickly and enjoys all the process, but it is not yet an independent activity for him. I cut figures from gift wrappers for the collage pieces. When Ian is pasting he does not pay much attention to the figures, but he does when he has finished, he takes his time to admire his job (I love this part) and names the figures.

Pegando recortes de papel de regalo. Ian usa un pincel
para aplicar la goma en el recorte antes de pegarlo y
una esponjita para limpiar

Sequence/Patterns Puzzles. When I saw this craft I thought It would be perfect for Ian to practice putting the numbers in order. I made two of them, one with a picture of two clownfish (his favorite fish) and another with a picture of us. I numbered each of the craft sticks and made a control frame with the outline of the sticks and its numbers. I thought it would be easier as Ian is able to recognize the numbers, but this activity requieres other abilities Ian has not mastered yet, like following a pattern from left to right. So, for now, I put the sticks in the tray always in order to let Ian just transfer them one by one in order to the frame. At first he needed a reminder to do it sequentially, but after a few practices he is doing it pretty well.

Armando rompecabezas hecho con palitos. Para facilitar la
tarea, hice un marco donde marque la silueta de los palitos.
Estos y los del rompecabezas estan numerados.
Hice dos versiones: una con una foto de un par de peces
payaso (favoritos de Ian) y una foto de ambos.

Ejercitando la habilidad para reconocer numeros, seguir un
patron de izquiera a derecha, mejorar coordinacion ojo-mano

Counting puzzles. Ian is not able to associate quatities of objects with numbers yet. He does it sometimes, but I guess it is by rote, as we count things aloud all the time. This week I put out a foam puzzle to associate quantities with numbers. I did not expect Ian to do it but instead practice number recognition and visualize how different quantities look. He loves to disassemble and assemble the puzzle while I count out each piece he takes out and puts in.

I am sharing this post on One Hook Wonder where you can see other toddlers learning according to the Montessori Method.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Play and Work in our Montessori Homeschool

Ian is a challenge in homeschooling: he hardly engages with an "work" activity. However, it gets easier whever the activity has a "play" component.

In this respect, NAMC blog  posted an interesting article about "Play and Work in Montessori Education". Here is an extract:

Maria Montessori recognized that imagination or play was not the same as work, but she also appreciated that learning is most effective when play and work are united in a single activity ... Although we tend to think of work and play as in opposition to one another, they are most effective when they are brought together. Therein lies the genius of the Montessori materials. Form boards, for example, bring together both play and work. The child must mentally transform the form board, and the pieces to be placed within it, into a problem to be solved, the play component. Positioning the pieces into their proper places is the adaptation to reality, the work component. By bringing together learning tasks which unite work and play Montessori was able to mobilize the child’s personal motivation for the purpose of social learning. As Montessori’s curriculum materials make clear, a less misleading aphorism might be, “Play is the motivation for the child’s work.”
Last week I noticed Ian was very motivated peeling and sticking band-aids (let's say, the work component) of the "Toy Story" movie figures (let's say, the play component). He had fun and, at the same time, he improved his fine motor skills and space awarness as he was not arranging them mindlessly. I think the key is to determine if he is really engaged in a "purposeful activity" and I think he was.

I've been  reluctant to mix play with work because I was confused about fantasy vs. Montessori, but after I saw how much Ian enjoyed that band-aid activity, I was thinking about that and asked Karen Tyler, about her take on it. She explained it to me:

During the time that Maria Montessori lived and in the country where she lived, fantasy consisted of fairy tales and the purpose for telling your children Fairy Tales was to scare them.....and they were scarey! Just think about Hansel and Gretel being put into an oven by a witch for trespassing and you get the picture. Well, we don't live during the time that Maria did...we live in 2010. We live in a place and at a time when cartoons and fantasy are all over the place and children are exposed to them from birth.....there are many wonderful fantasy figures and even the ones that aren't can be used to teach a lesson ... Real life includes being able to think original thoughts and in order to develop this skill a child needs to daydream and have exposure to good fantasy.
On the other hand, Colleen  at Sunrise Learning Lab gave me some great advice concerning Ian's fantasy interests, in order to:

... do things like have him work on topics that are related to his imaginary play, such as real space info if he likes Buzz Lightyear, or real information on cowboys and horses if he is a fan of Woody.
I think I must wait for Ian to get a bit older to introduce themes like that, but that is the direction I want to take in the future. For now, here is what I am doing : I am finding out what Ian absolutely LOVES, following my child and using his interests to create works. At this moment, he is drawn to the fantasy figures from books and movies then, this week I included objects related with the movies "Nemo", "Cars", "Toy Story" and "Thomas the Tank Engine" to create activities and, Ian could not resist them! I think Ian knows what is real and what isn't, that the characters are pretend and he is just having fun with them.

Before presenting the activities Ian did this week, I want to confess something: my camara broke in the middle of the week and at first I felt depressed. I've been taking photos to Ian since he was born, but since I started blogging, photographing him has become such a "must" to illustrate my posts. Ian seems to be used to it and I thought I was not disturbing him while he was working; but, just now since I don't have a camera I've noticed he enjoys it more when I observe and support him. I have had time to observe him and  it really makes a great difference. This week I gave Ian complete freedom to decide when and what work to do and we both enjoyed it. Great sign! Great lesson!

Having said that, let's check out what Ian did at homeschool this week.

Practical Life

Slotted spoon. As using a sifter was difficult for Ian, I got him to attempt using a slotted spoon to separate flat marbles from a bowl filled with rice and then transfer them to another bowl. I put the flat marbles on the top of the rice to ease Ian's work. It took some time for Ian to catch the right motion and finally he learnt to spoon superficially the rice because if he spooned too much rice, the spoon became heavy and more difficult to shake. I liked how he understood the purpose of the activity. He was very observant to be sure that no rice grains fell into the bowl with the flat marbles or on the tray. When that occurred he grasped the grains and put back into the rice bowl.

Usando una espumadera para separar canicas
planas y arroz

Cutting and sticking paper with adhesive tape. Lately he's been focused on cutting the tape from the dispenser by himself. We have tape strips stuck everywhere in our house. I printed and cut diverse figures of animals to teach Ian how to stick paper using the tape, but he did not get the idea of where to place the tape to adhere the figure to the paper and lost interest quickly. This week I printed and cut figures from the  "Toy Story" movie and I got him so focused that he did cut the tape from the dispenser and placed the tape through the figures ... well, he placed too many strips but it was good practice. Look how proud he was admiring his work. Now we have the figures stuck on the wall :-)

Cortando cinta scotch del porta cinta y pegando figuritas

Spooning. Spooning was never a task that Ian enjoyed. To give him spooning practice at mealtime I put the food in bowls and provided him with different kinds of spoons to let him serve it on his plate. Honestly, I thought that after that practice, he would not need to do spooning activities. In order to prove it, I set up the first spooning activity, it is from bowl to bowl, but again he was not interested. So, I changed one bowl for a ice-cube tray and got Ian's attention. I could see the broader purpose of the activity (as all the Montessori activities). It is not just to get the ability to transfer objects with a spoon, but to develop eye hand coordination, concentration and order. I could see that Ian's gotten better at this but needs more work. Well, although it is not a favorite activity he does it once a day. He is learning not to use his non-dominant hand to make the task easier. At first he did not care about where and how many marbles he put on the tray; now he is very attentive looking for one empty space (he does not do it sequentially yet) and when one marble falls into a filled space he spoons it and moves to an empty one.

Usando una cuchara para transferir canicas planas
a una cubetera de hielo, una por una


Sorting erasers. Sorting is another activity Ian hardly has interest in. I've been looking for real-life objects that could be attractive for Ian and finally I found erasers with figures from the movie "Cars" (that Ian's never seen). I bought four sets of four figures and set up a tray with four dot stickers to guide Ian where to place each group. He got the idea very quickly and completed the full cycle of the activity (he rarely reverses the process) and starts over and over again. As part of the activity, he must also pile the eraser of each group and he was very careful to get them perfectly aligned.

Clasificando y apilando borradores con figuritas de
la pelicula "Cars"

Size discrimination. We have the Pink Tower, but Ian does not work very often with it. So, I am trying convensional methods to help Ian develop his visual discrimination of size, through the manipulation of pairs of objects with different sizes. As he is still enjoying the magnet tray I set up for him two weeks ago, I just placed the objects in the tray for Ian to gather them with the magnet and match it with the corresponding picture. At first, he paired the objects without considering the size of the picture, but now he seems more attentive to do this.

Atrayendo objetos con un iman, discriminando forma
y tamaƱo para emparejarlos con su correspondiente

Texture balloons.  I saw this idea in Chasing Cheerios and waited for Ian to get interest in sensorial activities to put them out. I filled four balloons with different substances (chickpeas, lentils, flaxseeds and flour) and let Ian squeeze them to stimulate his tactile awareness of diverse grades of grain. Later, I will put out another set of balloons (filled with the same substances) for Ian to find the matching pairs.

Explorando granularidad a travez del tacto con globos
rellenos con garbanzos, lentejas, linaza y harina

Matching picture-objects. I found a set of 12 plastic tropical reef fish and I knew Ian would love them, especially because they include a clownfish (like "Nemo"). The fish came in a plastic box with 12 compartments, perfect for exercises of transferring objects one at a time and one-to-one correspondence. I thought that Ian would examine the details of each fish, so I printed images of them (scanning the fish was easier than getting pictures off the Internet) and put them in the compartments. I thought that 12 fish might be too much for Ian, but he definitely has periods where he is attentive to "small details" and he enjoys checking each detail of the fish and looking for its place.

Emparejando peces tropicales con su imagen


One-to-one correspondence. I stuck a long strip of tape on the floor, wrote numbers 1-to-10 and got Ian to park each of his trains sequentially in each numbered spot.

Correspondencia uno-a-uno: estacionando cada uno
de sus trencitos en un estacionamiento (numerado)


Emotions.  I want Ian to learn how to identify and communicate his emotions and our first approach was know the different ways he can feel. He likes the book  The Way I Feel, the emotions presented in words and pictures include: silly, scared, disappointed, happy, sad, angry, thankful, frustrated, shy, bored, excited, jealous, and proud.  He is not very interested in the text so much, but in the pictures and names of the feelings and especially in making faces to represent each of them.

Representando y nombrando distintos sentimientos
 ilustrados en el libro The Way I Feel

I am sharing this post on One Hook Wonder where you can see other toddlers learning according to the Montessori Method.


Related Posts with Thumbnails