Monday, December 30, 2013

A Busy Holiday Season!

I know it has been a while since I last posted. We took a long trip to visit family for Christmas and had a wonderful time. I had planned to post during our trip but it just didn't happen. I tried to keep up a bit on Facebook to let you all know we were still around, but the blog just got lost in the shuffle. I do not get to see my family all that often because I moved across the country from them, so I like to keep our few visits each year all about family.

We had a wonderful time, the kids got to play in lots of snow, which is a treat because we do not get snow where we live. We also got several Christmas presents that will be helpful in our classroom as well as fun for the kids. I plan to post some reviews on some of these items in the near future.

I have pictures from our adventures that I will be sharing as well. As you all get to know us, you will find that we are museum junkies. The kids and I visited a very special museum that I visited as a child and it was so wonderful to enjoy it again from a different perspective.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. We are now gearing up for New Year's and B's 2nd birthday. This next week will probably be quite busy for us again, but I hope to get a post or two up about our trip.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Little Holiday Crafting

We have been working away on our regular lessons this week. T has been enjoying learning about prehistoric humans along with the other prehistoric life from the second and third Great Lessons. Lots of math and grammar too!

Today I decided to focus a little on my younger child B. B is almost 2 years old and rarely participates in our classroom. I have a few lessons for her but she usually does them only when being supervised because she is very into destruction at the moment.

Last week, we picked up a crate of small mandarin oranges at the store on B's insistence. She has been enjoying them for her snack and lunch but T didn't really like them. We had several pounds of these oranges to eat and B and I were the only ones eating them. I remembered seeing this beautiful holiday craft at Munchkins & Moms, and I thought it would be a great way to use up those oranges before they went bad.

B is just under 2 but she is fairly coordinated. One of her favorite activities is standing up miniature animals in rows. I thought she would enjoy this craft.

You only need oranges and whole cloves.
Take a whole clove and poke the pointed end through the skin of the orange. You can make any pattern you like.
T made a person on one side (its upside down in this pic)

I cut B's orange in half as suggested in the link above. It really helped but I cut it the wrong direction so it wasn't divided like suggested. She still had fun but she mainly lined all her cloves down the center of the orange.
B's Pomander half

T's Pomander ball

My Pomander ball
B kept trying to eat her orange. Once she finished her half she got to eat the other half. She then insisted on another half so I had to open another for her and eat the remaining half myself. It was quite tasty.

Once we finished and let them sit a while I wrapped some yarn around the two whole balls and hung them on the tree with ornament hooks.
The look beautiful and smell amazing!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Coming of Humans 2013

We moved on to the Third Great Lesson: The Coming of Humans today. There really isn't all that much to show because this lesson is really just a story. We did some follow up work this afternoon after reading the story this morning. I have to mention that T (7yrs) is not impressed with the fact that the first Great Lesson is the only one that has "science demonstrations". He wants them all to have as much excitement in the presentation as the First Great Lesson, and quite honestly, the others are not as engaging for him.

I have several sources of the Great lessons in manuals and online but I have chosen to follow those that are on because I feel that they are the best fit for our family. There are many options depending on how you feel about the information. I personally prefer to teach the most up to date scientific information available so there are often times when I add or change the information to suit our needs.

We had a discussion about what makes humans different than other animals. There are three things we have that make us different, our hands, our brain and the ability to love. We read the story of the Coming of Life and then went through several books on the subject that we found at our local library. T's favorite was one called The Stick and Stone Age (A cartoon history of the Earth). It had some great information in comic book form.

When T had enough time with the books (and B went down for her nap) we stopped for a fun little project. I got the idea for making stone tools out of clay from a recent post at Making Montessori Ours. We used the crayola air drying clay because we had it on hand. T chose to use the brown clay and he also chose to not let it dry but continue to make other tools for over an hour.

 Some of his favorite creations were a harpoon and a knife.

We then moved on to a little study on the human hand. I pulled out our copy of The Hand Book and the model hand that goes with it. We didn't read through the book but just did some of the exercises in it and looked at the model.

 There are some really fun exercises like taping your thumb to your hand so that you can't use it properly. Then try to do activities that you would normally use your thumb to see how useful it really is.

Trying to pick up a pencil was fun.

 Writing with a pencil was even more difficult

Then he pulled out the hex bolt board and gave it a try, not as easy as he thought.

The book even had a comparison picture of hands belonging to humans and four other primates

I didn't buy this book specifically for this lesson but it really turned out to be helpful and I would recommend it. We also tried a few more experiments like testing your hand's reaction time when dropping a dollar bill (we used a fake $100 bill instead). It really showed how the thumb is so important and how the brain is linked to the hand. 

When we were finished with the hand book, T went back to his clay work

That was the end of our Third Great Lesson this year. We plan to do lots of follow up work on prehistoric humans and move into human anatomy.

The Week in Review

A little review of our week last week. You aren't going to see any school pictures because we took off the entire week. We really enjoyed the time of rest.

T(7yrs) enjoyed three days of camp away from home. Two days he spent at a local recreation place. They offer lots of fun energy filled activities like rock climbing, trampolines, foam pits, giant slides, games and crafts. He also spent one day at his karate school doing a camp with lots of karate instruction and other fun activities. I like to take advantage of these types of programs because I feel that my children need time without their parents. I want my children to be able to go out into the world and feel confident in themselves not always relying on Mom and Dad to do everything for them. He is learning skills of self reliance and also having a great time socializing with other children.

While T was off having fun, B and I spent some girl time together. I do not talk about this much but I have some guilt about not giving my second child the one on one attention that her brother got for 5 years. I have mentioned that I never planned to homeschool and when I was pregnant with B I always told myself that the best part about having kids 5 years apart was that the second child would get lots of one on one attention while the older child was at school. Then we started homeschooling and I feel like she gets left out more than she should. Anyway, it felt really nice to focus all of my attention on her for a few days and she loved it too. We went shopping and I painted he little toenails (she is now obsessed with "pretty toes"). BTW, love piggy paint nail polish. We played together and read lots of books.

Thanksgiving was wonderful but busy for me. This was my first year hosting Thanksgiving dinner and I was nervous about getting everything ready at the same time. Well, everything went well except that my turkey and ham didn't fit in the oven at the same time. So we waited on the ham and had turkey and all the trimmings at 3:30pm and then around 7pm we had ham and some of the earlier trimmings. Everything turned out great and luckily my in-laws are awesome and didn't care that the ham wasn't done on time. It was nice to spend time with family and the kids just adore their Grandparents and Aunt. The kids even enjoyed time with each other.

Saturday we spent the day at a local state park hiking and enjoying the beautiful weather. Later that evening we put up our Christmas tree. We moved last year and never got our tree up (moved right before the holiday) and we haven't found our tree skirt, oops! I just love unpacking ornaments and telling the kids all about each one as we hang them on the tree. I know we are a Montessori home, but we decided to avoid the smashed ornaments and we only decorated the tree above B's reach. She' isn't quite 2 yet and her favorite thing to do is grab things she shouldn't have and run off with them. Then when you confront her, she throws that item and runs. Not exactly what I was hoping for with the ornaments so we are just avoiding the problem. We do have some fabric, felted, plastic, unbreakable ornaments that I allowed her to hang on the lower branches. Its not exactly the best looking tree this way, but its still special to us.

And, I can not forget to mention, T was THRILLED that it snowed last week. LOL I laugh because I grew up in a very cold climate and we now live in a warm climate. When I think of snow, I think feet of snow, but here snow is counted in flakes. (it was all melted by the time he got home from camp that day)

I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday week as well. We will be traveling for Christmas in December so there will only be a few weeks of school before we stop for the year. Right now I am working on a post on our Third Great Lesson, stick around you won't want to miss it.