Friday, July 17, 2009

Seven Quick Takes


Go visit Jen for more Quick Takes.




So I decided to undo the sock completely and start over. I'm going to go "toe up" this time using Wendy Johnson's new book. These will be my first toe up socks! Love trying new things.





We've been having some, um, "lively discussion" around here this week. Ender has decided that he's the captain of the family debate team and that it is his job to quibble on every point. We've talked about what arguing is followed by me stopping him mid argument to say "This! This is arguing!" It's so bad that if you say "the sky is blue" the child feels obligated to disagree- "no, it's actually baby blue." By Wednesday he had caught on that we're not going to tolerate constant arguing and he was tired of me and Superman pointing it out to him. So on Thursday morning when he started his usual "no . . ." and I reminded him not to argue he said, "But I'm not arguing with you- you keep arguing with me!" All a matter of perspective, right? He's so going to be a lawyer.





Little Happy Dance- I have a new dishwasher coming next Thursday! The last 2 weeks have been like Christmas- well, an icky kind of Christmas where all your appliances die at once and have to be replaced, but I'm choosing to put a good spin on it. New range! New Dishwasher! New garbage disposal! Superman had to wire the range (which was interesting since he'd never done it before. Thank goodness his dad who is an electrical engineer came over to check the work before we turned the power back on!) and he put the garbage disposal in on his own. The kitchen will look brand new before we know it.





The tent is a success. The boys spend half the morning under there (specifically with all the little animal figures they have) and pretty much cry when I take the tent off so we can eat lunch at the table- even when I promise to put it right back on after lunch is over (which I always do!). Ezra calls it the "bit" and I've finally caught on that that means tent. He starts asking for the tent about 5 seconds after he wakes up. It always makes me extra happy when they really love something I've made for them.





I'm still on the hunt for a winter project and I came across a spiral quilt book at the library.  Now to figure out if I have the patience for the patterns! I seem to need a fair amount of quick projects to keep me happy while I work on longer crafts, so for now I'll keep drooling over the pretty spirals.





Speaking of quick projects, I made a new apron late last night. Superman went to bed early (it's been a long week for him!) so I stayed up and made an apron. And cut pieces for another one. And drew a sketch for a third. We'll have a big happy apron sharing fest on Monday after I have a chance to take pictures, okay?





It has not been a good eating week for me. Oh, I've made sure everyone else ate well, but I've had most of a pan of brownies in the last 24 hours. Yes, I had some for breakfast. And yes, I count it as breakfast food- after all, there ARE two eggs in there . . . If cherry cobbler can count (fruit!) so can brownies!


Seriously though, I'm suffering the consequences. Allergies and intolerances suck. And one day I will finally learn that my intense longing for dairy products never leads me anywhere good.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My File Crates

The file crates are ready so we must be ready for school! This is one of Dawn's excellent ideas. If you've been reading this blog for very long you know how much I adore Dawn's organizational style. We're trying out her file crate system this year and I'm really excited about making this work for us. 


My modifications to the system:



The most obvious change is that I have two file crates. The first crate is the one that looks like Dawn's - weekly files divide into hanging files marked for every 2 months starting with July. This is the file crate that structures our week. I put any papers or crafts that we'd like to do in the appropriate week and then we get to them whenever we're able during the week. I also file papers regarding our schedules in there- upcoming events, doctor's appointment reminders and all that go into the file crate.


The second crate has 1 hanging folder for each month, and it stores all my seasonal ideas that don't belong to any particular week. I have this crate partly because my mother was an early childhood educator for several years and I have all of her papers and printables that she gave me after she retired. I also have all of MY papers and printables from the years I spent teaching early childhood also- I have more than enough material to do at least 5 years of preschool and kindergarten units! There is no way I can do everything that is in here in one year, but I don't want to lose track of the materials. Organizing this material seasonally allows me to assign it to certain weeks more easily, so it's one of my first stops when I'm planning.


I have a page like Dawn's for my menus our weekly agenda and all that, but I also add two more planning pages. One is for the Montessori work each boy will be doing in the next several weeks, and the other is for book orders from our library. I tuck those pages into the front of my folders. It works better for me to sit down and plan out about 8 weeks worth of Montessori work for the boys (what to put out on the shelves each day, which presentations to do, materials needed, etc.). There are things that change on this plan since new interests come up along the way, but it helps me to be organized about having the necessary materials on hand.


In the back of the planning file I keep the catalogues I have from places like Lakeshore Learning and Montessori Services. I keep our Parks and Rec activity book in there too since they offer a lot of classes and activities for families. My other planning books are on the shelf right above the one where my crates reside.


Thank you for the brilliant idea, Dawn!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Do you know what happens when you leave your half knitted sock on the sewing table overnight?


A little boy finds it early the next morning while you go to the kitchen to get him some milk and make him a bit of breakfast.


A little boy thinks the sticks are to play with and takes them out for that purpose- which wouldn't be so bad except that he also notices the pretty yarn and pulls . . .


and pulls . . .


and pulls . . . .



Good thing he's cute and gives great hugs.

(And yes- I've learned my lesson about leaving my knitting in reach of the 2-year-old . . . )

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Table Tent


I think it's a success . . . they spent most of the last two days hiding under there with their cars and train tracks.



This was an interesting project- it was my first time dealing with heavy canvas, so that was a bit of a learning curve. If you decide to make something like this I definitely want to mention the importance of a bigger needle (I used a denim needle) and sewing a ton on scraps to get a good idea of the tension settings you need. The most useful thing you can do is to pin everything. The weight of the fabric became incredible by the time I was dealing with the last side and that was hard enough to deal with without also worrying about lining things up properly as they went through the machine.


The idea came from this, but I deliberately kept the design plain- this can be a fort, a house, a cave, a nest . . . whatever the boys dream up this little place can become that very thing. I cut 6 individual pieces (two doors, the back, two sides and the top) to fit the table closely. I cut the doors to overlap by 4 inches so that it is "closed" even when they go in and out several times. I used bias tape on the door flaps (mostly for my younger one to easily recognize the doorway) and hemmed the bottom edge.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Musical Alphabet: Part 1


Ender has been learning about the musical alphabet for the past week. I made 8 sets of musical alphabet cards (A-G) about 2 years ago to supplement a few of my music students and the cards have become one of my most used games since they are so versatile and open ended.


I made the font big enough on the cards so that there were 4 letters on one page, and 3 letters and a blank space on the second page. I printed each set on a different color of cardstock (to help young children see each group of A-G as it's own set) and laminated all the cards including the blank cards. I specifically chose to use the uppercase letters for these cards as a prequel to later music theory when we write major keys and chords using uppercase letters and minor keys and chords using lowercase letters.


I'll be listing the games in sequence over the next few weeks as Ender learns the steps. The work should be used in this order and repeated until mastery is shown before moving to the next extension. The first few periods are easy and will be mastered after 2 or 3 times, but later steps can take up to several weeks for mastery. These games are intended for students who already know letters A-G (meaning they can identify them on sight and out of order) and have a fair understanding of what before and after mean. Many 3-year-olds are ready for this kind of work, but some are not. None of these activities are part of any Montessori album I've seen, but we include the cards on Ender's Montessori shelves as a choice during his work period.


Part One


First, we work on identifying the letters. I lay out one set of alphabet cards in a row, in alphabetical order. I ask Ender to say them with me, starting on A. If your child hesitates anywhere, repeat the process as many times as it takes for them to know the letters in order with confidence.


After going through the letter names I hand Ender his own set of alphabet cards (different color) and ask him to line his cards up with mine- A under A, B under B, etc. After he has completed this portion I ask the question, "Do you know what happens after we get to G in the musical alphabet?" And his now-programmed response is, "we start all over again!" So we start with my letter A and say the musical alphabet through to G, then immediately start with his letter A and say the musical alphabet through to G again.



For the next step, I pick up both sets of alphabet cards and put one aside. I ask him to close his eyes and I mix the remaining set so that the letters are out of order. I lay them out in a row as if they are in order. When I ask him to open his eyes I ask him if he sees that cards are out of order. Ender says yes and I ask him to put them back in order from me, starting with A on the left. If he gets stuck anywhere, let's say on finding the letter that comes after D, I will say, "A, B, C, D . . . what comes next?" to help him see that a problem solving strategy here would be to use the letters he already has in order to help him solve the problem. When he has successfully put them back in order, we cheer and say the letters in order aloud again, starting with A.



For the last step in this period, I lay the cards out in alphabetical order and again ask him to close his eyes. I remove one letter card, replace it with the blank card and turn that letter card face down. I ask Ender to open his eyes and I tell him, "one of the letters is missing. Do you see where the empty card is?" I ask him to tell me which letter is missing. If this is difficult I will again use the problem solving strategy of saying "A, B, C . . ." and tapering off just before the missing letter so that he realizes that the letters surrounding the blank card give him a clue as to what might be missing. If he answers incorrectly, I'll say, "hmmm... I think I see that letter over here, so it can't be that one . . ." and pretend that I'm thinking really hard about this problem too.



Once he comes up with the correct answer I show him the letter card that is turned face down, and SURPRISE! He's correct!


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