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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Food For Thought

I've been doing some research lately on homeschooling in the Montessori tradition vs. sending your child to a Montessori school.

I've found a variety of opinions but haven't yet decided what I prefer to do with my own child.

In this search I've stumbled upon the term "unschooling". It hasn't been the first time I've heard the term; this time I just did a little more research on it.

I find there are some similarities between Montessori education and Unschooling.

Here's an interesting quote I thought I would share:

"I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built upon the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. Whereas, if the child is left to himself, he will think more and better, if less showily. Let him go and come freely, let him touch real things and combine his impressions for himself, instead of sitting indoors at a little round table, while a sweet-voiced teacher suggests that he build a stone wall with his wooden blocks, or make a rainbow out of strips of coloured paper, or plant straw trees in bead flower-pots. Such teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of, before the child can develop independent ideas out of actual experience." -- Anne Sullivan

Monday, May 31, 2010

Montessori Geometric Insets - Part 1

The Montessori Geometric Insets are really a gem, in my eyes.

If you don't believe me hear it from the woman herself:

‘These drawings perfect a child’s skill in that they oblige him to draw lines of different lengths and make him ever more skillful and sure in the use of this hands… I do not believe that any means could be found more efficacious in gaining such a victory in less time and which could afford so much amusement to a child. " Discovery of the Child, Maria Montessori

What are they?

10 geometric shapes in plastic or metal. They each have a frame, like individual puzzles.

What is the learning objective?

- To teach differences in shapes
- To develop the child’s muscles for holding a pencil correctly.
- To develop control and precision of movement with flexibility.
-Indirect preparation for art development of pattern and use of colour.

You can buy these Insets made of metal or plastic or you can make them on your own for much cheaper using heavy duty poster board. I bought a plastic set on Ebay for a great deal (Ebay is GREAT for Montessori deals!) since I wanted mine to last through many children.

Part 1

This exercise is very simple and I believe can be done with a very young child:

1. Using one shape at a time, take inset and frame to the child's table and remove inset from frame.

2. Going clockwise, trace with the index finger the outside of the inset and the outline of the frame's inside edge. (this is a great exercise for refinement of small motor skills and concentration)

3. Tell the child, " This is a circle," etc.

4. Ask the child to point out objects in the room that are circles

5. Proceed in this manner with the remaining geometric shapes, using Step 1 to 4 for each, as well as using the three period lesson.

6. Show the child how each inset fits into its own frame.

7. Finally present the full tray of insets and frames, remove all the insets, and have the child replace them.

Control of Error: Insets will fit only in their correct frame.

In the book Teaching Montessori in the Home, the Pre-School Years (great book and investment!) the author suggests that the ages for this activity is from 2 1/2 - 5. However I believe a child of MUCH younger could accomplish this Part 1 activity of the Geometric Insets.

Part 2 of the Geometric insets gets a little more challenging and fun....I just started it with my own daughter so I will be writing a post on it soon.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Colors in Nature Walk

My daughter loves taking walks.

She would walk for hours if only I wouldn't wear out.

I made up this Colors in Nature sheet for her to use on the walks we take, you can download it here.

I laminated the sheet for durability and added pockets for each color out of laminated paper as well.

My daughter really loved looking for different colors in the environment and putting them in the corresponding pockets.

I think it really helped her to open her eyes a little more to what her surroundings are made of.


Vinegar Cleans Dish Brushes!

See this dish brush?

Beautiful, clean, spotless....

And it's probably only one time in the life of your dish brush that it will EVER be that clean again.

The worst is when you're scrubbing cheese off dishes and the whole thing just gets covered in a gooey mess and you are very tempted to throw it out cause, gosh you wouldn't want to scrub any more dishes with it looking like that! (especially when you have dairy allergies in the household like I do!)

BUT I have a solution for you! Aren't you thrilled? :)

Honestly, it is the small joys in my life that keep me going.


My favorite new cleaning solution :)

How to:

-Put your Dish Brush in a cup

- Fill it up with vinegar (enough to cover the brush)

- Wait an hour or two, or overnight

- Rinse with HOT water

If all the gunk doesn't completely come out just use a fork to get between the bristles.

And voila!

You can feel content again scrubbing dishes with your now clean as new Dish Brush.


Friday, April 30, 2010

Two Great Counting Activities

I am on a File Folder Activity role since I finally got around to getting cute file folders at Michaels and finding an old filing box to keep them in.

Ahhh, I love getting organized.

Here two great counting activities.

The first one my daughter loved.

You put the corresponding muber of apple cards in each pocket. It was the perfect amount of challenge for my two year old, but easy enough that she enjoyed it and actually wanted to do it again.

This next one was a bit more difficult, but a good difficult.

As long as I prompted her and asked her how many balloons, finger, ducks, etc. there were, she was able to count on her own and for the most part understand that you had to match it up next to the corresponding number.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I Clean with Vinegar

Yes. I do.

And that's all I clean with (for the most part).

Something about the extreme chemically smell of cleaning products has always bothered me.

I never wanted to breathe the fumes in....and now after doing research I have good reason not to!

So I use vinegar.

For my counters, toilet, shower, windows, mirrors, etc.

Here's what I found out about vinegar:

"Heinz company spokesperson Michael Mullen references numerous studies to show that a straight 5 percent solution of vinegar—the kind you can buy in the supermarket—kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold, and 80 percent of germs (viruses). . He noted that Heinz can’t claim on their packaging that vinegar is a disinfectant since the company has not registered it as a pesticide with the Environmental Protection Agency. However, it seems to be common knowledge in the industry that vinegar is powerfully antibacterial. Even the CBS news show “48 Hours” had a special years ago with Heloise reporting on tests from The Good Housekeeping Institute that showed this."

So here's what I do:

I fill a spray bottle with a solution of vinegar & water; either 1:2 or 1:3, depending on how I'm feeling or what I am using it for.

You can either spray it on the desired area and wipe off immediately or you can let it sit if you want it to work harder.

For my mirrors & windows I spray it on and wipe it off....streak free, for real!

In the shower, I spray it on all over and let it sit for a while. Then I usually go back spray it again and wipe it off, using a scouring pad in places that needs it.

To clean my toilet, I pour straight vinegar in, filling the toilet up just past the top of the water, in order to get that mucky ring off. I leave it for 30 minutes then dip my toilet brush in the water/vinegar, pour baking soda all over the brush and dip it back in the toilet to scrub, scrub, scrub.

On the kitchen or bathroom counters (and walls) I just spray and wipe off.

Here's another tip for using vinegar in the kitchen for cleaning:

"Keep a clean spray bottle filled with straight 5 percent vinegar in your kitchen near your cutting board, and in your bathroom, and use them for cleaning. I often spray the vinegar on our cutting board before going to bed at night, and don’t even rinse, but let it set overnight. The smell of vinegar dissipates within a few hours."

One of the BIG pluses for cleaning with a safe and natural cleaner is that I feel comfortable having my daughter help me! One more practical life skill I am able to teach her and she really loves spraying the spray bottle :)
Oh yeah and the fact that it is SO much cheaper than traditional cleaners!!

Montessori Quote of the Day

"The basis for a child's early learning in mathematics and numbers should be established by the time he is three years old. With the infant, such simple games as counting his toes or fingers is a good beginning. Take advantage of everything in a child's environment. Count the steps to the front door, the bottles of milk the milkman left (wow, this book is outdated!), the trees on the block, the daisy plants Dad is putting in the garden."

Math is difficult for so many people.

I, myself, have never had a problem with math.

I can easily visualize things in my head and I have always enjoyed it.

My husband, is completely the opposite.

He struggles tremendously with it.

We have always just attributed it to certain strengths and weaknesses that we each have.

But can it really be that simple?

One inherent difference is that I attended a Montessori school during my early grade school years (thanks mom!) and he didn't. Of course you can't simply blame the difference in one's schooling for a lack or strength in core subjects such as math...or can you?

All I know is that the way Montessori teaches math concepts in such a concrete, hands on way, I really don't see how anyone could fail....honestly. If someone is not naturally gifted at math, I really can see how the Montessori method would help them reaach a higher level of achievment than would the traditional method of teaching math in other schools.

That's my two cents, I will be posting more later on specific math concept activities I am using and will be using with my daughter....so check back later!