Monday, September 20, 2010

First day of "School" 2010

"Walking to school"

Today was the official first day of school! Mason really wanted to wait until the first day of Autumn to start school. "I want to enjoy the whole summer Mama!"-M.
Alas he has a dentist appointment that day (so no school), So we agreed on the week of the first day of Autumn.
People always ask "If he is home schooled what grade is he in?" Lets see......if he were to go to "school" he would have just started Kindergarten since he missed the cut off last year by 2 days!  We are using the Montessori method this year, and since he is not used to this kind of "prepared environment, structured freedom" kind of learning we are going through the whole 3-6 year old curriculum this year and then we will move right into the 6-9 as soon as he is ready. (he is right in the middle)

Anyway today was allot of fun!  We followed the schedule I made up school-schedule-2010-2011, This has been such a great way to get Mason focused on the idea of school work! It has also been key to keeping ME on track...I could easily sit down and read all the great blogs out there and before you know it its 10:00!

So this morning I had a little fun playing "school"....I had them put on their shoes, back packs and  empty lunch boxes and we went out the back door, walked around the house to the front door where I said to them. "Wow this looks like a great school! go ring the door bell!" (I went inside) they giggling the whole time, rand the bell.  "OH look who is here!  Is Mason and James, welcome to the Cummins School. please come in.  You can hang your backpacks on the hooks and put your shoes on the shoe rug." OH MY GOODNESS the looks on their darling faces was priceless, it was a mix of has my mom gone nuts, and confusion! they loved it.  Mason kept saying " Your funny Mama."

"In front of The Cummins School"

I had them sit on the floor and continuing with the silly teacher act, introduced my self and had them do the same. Then I showed them the little table lamps (one in each of their areas). I said when these lights are on it is school time.  This actually worked for today! I thought it would help differentiate between school time and oh this is my living room!
I then introduced them to the school motto...."I love to learn,and I learn to love." Mason then respond with.
" Oh the motto on PBS Sprout is "If you want to know ask why its so!"  We will use that to I told him.
So far so good, they are engaged and happy...this is good......
I gave Mason a quick tour of his area and what was on his shelves to work with, he then had 1 hr to explore and work on what he chose while I worked with James in his area, where there are cubbies for him to pick from.  I really wanted 1hr each day to spend with James and it gives Mason time to work independently.

The hour flew by and before we knew it Mason had done....

Language= wrote "H" words in his word book from last year, practiced cursive for the first time ever,
Geography=  put together a geography puzzle,
Science= worked with a life cycle of a Caterpillar puzzle,
Ecology= used pollution 3 part cards
All on his own!!! (I love Montessori!)

did a number puzzle, placed acorns on number card 1-3, worked with 1 to 1 correspondence moving acorns from a wooden box with a slide top to a bowl., read many books with me, and stacked blocks.

Then we had a snack, where they counted out 10 pretzels and poured their own apple cider.

James went into for a nap and I continued to work with Mason...

Geography tray, we learning what geography is and the tools used to study it (map,compass and the earth.)

History tray , learning what history is and the tools use to keep track of time.(clock, hour glass,timer,watch, & calender)

We took milk weed seeds we had on our nature tray outside and let them fly away in the wind! We also noticed that our caterpillar we had in a jar is in its chrysalis!

For math we did the Teens Board with beads, he used the beads to show all the way up to 30 and then got tired of it.

I also showed him the Practical life area (small table in the kitchen) where is picked folding napkins and putting them into rings

James woke up, then the day was over and we had the most special thing happen, my mom and dad aka...Ammy & Papa  (who live with us in their own in-law apartment) came over and "picked them up from school"  They go their shoes and back packs and went out the front door, and in their house door.

  When Mason came into the kitchen of our house I pretended I had not seem him all morning and said...
"Your home! How was school?" and he was so excited he actually told me all about everything he did and learned!!! Then we had lunch with my parents and he told them all about History and Geography!
I would say it was a great first day of school!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Self Discoveries

I discovered something about myself today....I am not who I think I am!  OK bare with me while I explain....

think I am a free spirit.
think I am easy going.
think I am a relax person that lets everything roll off my shoulders.
think I am fun and happy all the time.
think I love clutter.
I think I am still 20!
I think I don't know who I really am!

Yesterday I spent the WHOLE day rearranging my son's closet and both the boys rooms.  I finally got fed up with toys tossed everywhere, (dumped really by the 2 yr old). I got tired of all the books falling off the shelves, The clothes hanging off the closet shelf, half folded half pulled out, it drove me crazy that every night the living room was a mess! I realized that as much as I love the Montessori method of letting them have access to their things to make choices, that too much of something might not be all that good for them (or me),

So I got a storage box that would fit under the crib and packed away most of James toys, except a few he had not seen in awhile. Eliminating the chance to TRASH his room with ALL his toys.  Now when he gets tired of them , I will just rotate his toys with others.

I also changed Mason's closet that they share to store their toys and his clothes so that James can not reach most of them, and they will have to ask for help to get out what they want, in turn having to clean up what they are done with before I will give them some thing else.  I was tring to make everything easy for them to be independent, but its just not working for me...I tried to be relaxed,easy going about it all, but ITS NOT ME!

I also took ALL the toys out of the living room and put them upstairs, leaving only the "school" stuff on the downstairs shelves.  Also reinforcing the concept of cleaning up something before taking something else out!

What did I discover from this day of mad cleaning and organizing...(no I am not nesting!)
 I am not a free spirit.
 I am not easy going.
 I am not a relax person that lets everything roll off my shoulders.
 I am not fun and happy all the time.
 I do not love clutter.
 I am not still 20!
I think I am learning know who I really am!

I love the way the rooms look, nice and clean and everything put away...makes me feel happy
I love the way the closet is organized and neat!...makes me feel in control
I love the way they are content with a few toys...makes me peaceful.
I love the way I feel today....satisfied!

School Schedual 2010-2011

I finally got around to putting together a schedule for our school days.  Since this is our first year doing Montessori, I thought I would get the boys used to some sort of morning schedule BEFORE the first day of "official" school. We are practicing the schedule this week and starting school Monday.  Mason wanted to wait until the first day of Fall so he "can enjoy the whole summer!" We are stating a few days before, since he has a dentist apt on the first day of Fall.  I also wanted him to have started so we can incorporate "National Peace Day" into our school day on Tuesday, September 21!
I wanted to copy and paste what I made but it is not working? So I will type it out for you....Keep in mind on the one that I made for the boys there are pictures of them for each activity (for James to follow) and pic of analog clock with the times for each activities (for Mason to follow)

6:30 Wake up, tea & T.V. (they wake up so early!!! I need a little time to let my eyes focus so I let them                  
       watch PBS while I have tea and check emails!)
7:30 Breakfast
8:00 get dressed, brush teeth, & hair
         Feed: dog, cats, rabbit, chickens, and fish
         *Tuesdays: Help Papa put out the trash* (which they LOVE to do?)
9:00 Mason piano
         James play
9:30 Mason independent school work
         James work with Mams ( I felt that I needed time to spend with just one on one time with James)
10:30 snack
         *Thursdays leave for park day ( we meet a home school group for park day every Thursday)
11:00 James diaper change and nap time (hopefully!)
          Mason school work with Mama ( I am going to use this time to present new lessons and help with ones he needs help with, also do non Montessori work such as, Story of the World (history), Save the Bay class review, Song School Latin, Sign Language, writing work, art work, etc....)
12:30 James wakes up

Rest of the day to play outside, run errands, visit friends or what every we want to do!
This is the "Plan" anyway, we will see how it all works out.........

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sorting Sea Glass

Sorting Sea Glass.....
James (2yrs.) LOVED this activity! We had this out almost all summer. I simply put sea glass (I got from my grandparents cottage when they sold it) into a long basket.  I put out a sorting tray. (this one is from a shipment of pears my aunt got and gave us the packaging). I put one of each color into a cup and James sorted the rest. Not only is this fun but beautiful too!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fruit Leather

Fruit Leather....
"What is it?" This is what most people or kids that I give it to say. Well it is like a fruit roll up, remember those sticky, chewy, round thin rolls of what was supposed to be fruit you could peel off a piece of plastic that we used to eat when we were little? Well they are like that only...better and better for you!
This batch was strawberry.

1. First I blended 2 quarts of cleaned, trimmed strawberries with 1/2 cup of honey.
This filled the tray 1 and 1/2 times...

2. I poured it into the food dehydrator, and went to bed! 
I used the solid sheet that it comes with for making fruit rolls.

3. 8 to 15 hrs later, when there is no sticky wet spots left, I cut it into strips, wrapped them in soy wax paper and stored them in a mason jar.

I also did this with blueberries.  My verdict...First of all the blueberries one go over done, so keep checking it. It was still edible but chewier. My husband Warren liked it in his lunch, because he could eat some fruit with out having to actually eat fruit on the job site with is tough (I guess?) .  I think you use way to much fruit to make way to little fruit leather, I could eat that whole fruit roll in one sitting (I wouldn't) but its not like it is filling, so it is not that satisfying, so I tend to eat more of it.  It was a nice snack while it lasted and it taste amazing! Not to mention there is NO JUNK in it! Also it was supper easy to make. 

Not sure if i will do it again with locally grown fresh fruit.  I would however make it with fruit that is on sale off season, or from somewhere like BJ's wholesale club for Warren's lunch.

SOyKind Candles

I am so excited to have finished the NEW website for SOyKind Candles!
It seems each season that comes, has a plan for me.....summer is garden and canning craziness.  As soon as the cool nights arrive and the garden slows down its home school and candle season! Next week my house will be filled with the smells of Fresh Pick Macontosh Apple (candles and real!) and Pumpkin Spice candles! Something about the those yummy smells makes a cool New England evening cozy and warm. So grab a cup of tea and come for a visit!- 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Pin Maps

I was lucky enough to be invited to be in a "Continent Swap" were several families joined together to share materials,ideas and media about the 7 continents.  Each participant was assigned a Continent....mine was Asia.  For the swap I made pin maps, here is how I made them. 

1. I printed out the map.  This took me at least 2 days to pick the image that I wanted to use.  I finally pick the image from Google images.  I printed out a map and blacked out the names of the countries with a black marker, laminated it and used this as the pin map.
For the control map, I did not like how the names of the countries were not that clear, so I printed out a copy of the map and  printed out the names of the countries that I typed up on Microsoft Word. I cut out each name and glued it where it should go, then I laminated it. 

2 .I bought 8x11 craft foam and cut a piece of cardboard the same size.  I glued them together using white craft glue.  I stacked 4 pieces of foam with a layer of glue between each layer. I glued the pin map with countries blacked out on the top (the glue did not hold the laminated map well to the foam (but I fixed it latter with packing tape around the edges.)

3. Then I piled a bunch of heavy books onto and they sat for a couple of days to dry.

4. I printed out the Asian flags from this site....Montessori materials
I laminated them and cut them out.

5. I used round colored toothpicks instead of pins to keep it safe for small siblings to be around, I think they worked great.  I used clear scotch tape to attach the flags to the toothpicks.

6 When they were dry I used a toothpick to poke the holes where the countries are that the flags would go.

7 I used clear packing tape around the whole edge to make sure that the pin map was on nicely and it made a nice finished edge around the whole  thing.
I think they cam out very well done, and they work! We have not used it yet with Mason, I will let you know how he likes it.  Now I have 6 more continents to go........