Monday, November 11, 2013

The Water Cycle

This week the younger children are learning about the water cycle.

We chose to read from Rivers and Oceans by Barbara Taylor.

We also did an experiment demonstrating  evaporation, condensation, and precipitation.
      Draw the water cycle on a plastic bag.  Add some water and seal up the bag.  Tape the bag in a sunny window.  The sun will cause the water to evaporate and it will condense at the top of the bag.  We dyed the water blue so we could see it better.  I also used hot water because the I wanted to speed up the process. (I mean we live in Michigan.  There are no warm, sunny windows right now.)  Finally, I taped the bag to another bag of ice to help the condensation.  It looked something like this:

(8) Earth and space. The student knows that there are recognizable patterns in the natural world and among the Sun, Earth, and Moon system. The student is expected to: (A) differentiate between weather and climate; (B) explain how the Sun and the ocean interact in the water cycle;

More water cycle resources:
water cycle

Label the Water Cycle

A Mommy Talks has this very cute printable to help practice the vocabulary.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Introduction to the golden beads

The next step for Little Bear is to introduce the decimal system.  Montessori teachers would use the "golden beads."  We don't have any, but since the math curriculum we use is Math-U-See we already have a set of math manipulatives that will function in a similar way.

image from Math-U-See

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Montessori on the Cheap- Red and Blue Rods

No doubt about it, Montessori can be expensive.  There are specialized materials, and a lot of them.  since we are using Montessori ideas to supplement our schoolwork it makes sense to make and find what we can instead of buying all new materials.  Especially since Bear and Pookie may breeze through some of the exercises.

Number Rods 2.JPG
Image from

Blue and red number rods:
I made a small set from a photocopy.  They are not very hardy.  I would definitely make something more sturdy if we were going to use them more often.
A set of printable number rods from Montessori Print Shop

Number Rod Control Chart and Numbers (Image from Montessori Print Shop)

Some people make full sized rods from 1x1s like at Montessori MOMents.  There are smaller sized rods like over at Walk Beside Me , but my favorite idea is at Totally Tots . She used the ever present blue and red dupolos.  I love it!

Duplo Number Rods by Julie from The Adventues of Bear at Totally Tots

Montessori Math

Bear has been struggling with the concepts of number and how to write them for the last year or so.  This is such an intuitive thing that I feel it is really hard to teach systematically.  Inspired by Montessori methods this is what we've been doing:

1. Introduce the numerals using sand paper number.
     The book Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Preschool Years has a pattern for number that I            traced and pasted to poster board.

2. Teaching the quantities 1-10 and their names using the red and blue rods.
Number Rods 2.JPG


Later the child can add the symbol.
Number Rods 9.JPG

3. The spindle box
     In the last exercise the quantity was fixed and the child assigned the numeral.  In this exercise the numerals are fixed and the child add the correct quantity.
Spindle Boxes 1.jpg


4. Cards and counters
     In this exercise neither the numerals or the quantity are given.  The child must put the numbers in order and assign the correct number of counters to that number.


Cards and Counters 6.JPG

I love Montessori Album for simple and clear exercises with lots of pictures.

Montessori Musings

My sweet Little Bear is really having problems learning using traditional methods.  (Well, not entirely traditional because we use a very Charlotte Mason style school)  Thus, I've been looking into Montessori method for teaching.

 I think I'm a little bit in love.  I'm so sad that I never found this for the other children when they were younger.  It is so exciting.

A few hallmarks of the Montessori method are :
* characterized by an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological, physical, and social development ) 
* mixed age classes
* child sized materials
" 'discovery' model, where students learn concepts from working with materials, rather than by direct instruction"
* beautiful well-made materials 

I love the sense of peace that I get watching all the children working on their activities.  I love that Bear can practice an activity over and over again until he has mastered it. I like that there is hands- on learning  rather than lots of teacher led instruction.  

There are several components to the Montessori Primary (ages 3-6) program.  Math, Language, Sensorial, and Practical Life.  Last night I ransacked  rearranged our playroom to have an even larger area for school.  This way I can give the kids more choices to work on.  the bulk of the older kids work is still the same, but I will also provide them with some Montessori activities, especially in the arts and sciences.  With Pookie and Little Bear I am focusing on math, practical life and sensorial.  the language activities we've been using are working for us, so that is pretty far down the list.

Monday, November 4, 2013

November Song of the Month

With election day and Veteran's Day this month I thought that we'd feature The Star Spangled Banner.  The national anthem is something that we will feature every year until all the children can sing it easily.

Friday, November 1, 2013


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

DIY Pencil Grip

Bear does not have a good pencil grip which makes it really hard for him to write.  I was going to let him watch a video to see how it is don, but I found this great idea for a pencil grip.  I made it yesterday afternoon and his grip was automatically perfect.  Enjoy!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

October Song of the Month

Every month the kids learn a song in addition to the Hymn that they learn.  In poreparation for All Saints Day the children have been learning "When the Saints Go Marching In."

Kids with Limb Differences are Awesome!

A 17 year old with one hand will play basketball for the University of Florida.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Hymn of the Month- Sing to Mary

Every month the children and I work to learn a hymn.  I want them to be  literate and knowledgable about the richness of their faith.  Over time I hope that they will be able to sing some of the beautiful traditional hymns of the Church.

This month our hymn is "Sing to Mary."  It is beautiful, simple, and easy to sing.

Sing of Mary, pure and lowly,
Virgin mother undefiled, 
Sing of God's own Son most holy,
Who became her little child.
Fairest child of fairest mother,
God the Lord who came to earth,
Word made flesh, our very brother,
Takes our nature by his birth.

Sing of Jesus, son of Mary,
In the home at Nazareth.
Toil and labour cannot weary 
Love enduring unto death.
Constant was the love he gave her,
Though he went forth from her side,
Forth to preach, and heal, and suffer,
Till on Calvary he died.

Glory be to God the Father;
Glory be to God the Son;
Glory be to God the Spirit;
Glory to the Three in One.
From the heart of blessed Mary,
From all saints the song ascends,
And the Church the strain reechoes
Unto earth's remotest ends.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Little Bear's legs and feet have the possibility of causing him great pain.  In fact, I'm surprised that he can walk without a great deal of pain.  He does complain of pain, but often it is when he has to do something boring like walk through a store.  In the past I've thought that he was just fussing (like when Jophus is "too tired" to participate at mass).

I've been reevaluating that after reading that children with attachment problems can be disconnected from their physical pain.  I also realize that we've kept Little Bear in a stroller much longer that most children just because he is all over the place.

The last few days I've been watching him.  He really can't walk very far.  I don't know if he just get tired or if there is pain, but someone showed me a great tool called "Oucher" that I'm hoping will help.

caucasian oucher
It's a visual pain scale, and I'm hoping that it will help us evaluate what is real pain or just Bear avoiding unpleasant tasks.  If he really is having a lot of pain we will have to re-evaluate treatment options for Bear's feet, something that I'm not really keen to do because we will have to make some very hard decisions.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

So, if anyone is reading this you may notice that posts have been very few and far between.  I'd like to say that is because things are so amazing that I didn't want to make you jealous . . .but it ain't so.

After three years home Bear still struggles on a daily basis with  behavior problems.  About every six months he completely  dysregulates into extreme and dangerous behavior.  This is a grueling and exhausting process to get him back on track.  It takes all my effort to get though the day and meet the responsibilities (OK, try to meet and fall short).  Between that and the other children and their activities, blogging fell to the bottom of the list.

Hope to write more soon.

My Love Song to Little Bear

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning the devil says~~ "Oh Crap, She's up!"

Monday, August 26, 2013

I didn't write it, but as someone who lives with a great deal of stress, I appreciate the thought.

A young lady confidently walked around the room while explaining stress management to an audience with a raised glass of water. Everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, 'half empty or half full?'... She fooled them all.... "How heavy is this glass of water?" she inquired with a smile. Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz. She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes." She continued, "and that's the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on." "As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden - holding stress longer and better each time practiced. So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don't carry them through the evening and into the night...pick them up tomorrow."