Preparation of the Environment
Great Books for Our Great Stories
Many of you have asked me to share my favorite books that align with the Great Stories. So, here they are! I have used every single one of these books either in my elementary classrooms or in our homeschool life. Some are child-friendly reference books, but many have activities to inspire follow-up work.
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Montessori Essentials: Grammar Boxes
When I began homeschooling my kids in a 1,000 sq. ft. condo, I spent a few days pondering which materials were truly essential and which we could live without. I narrowed down our math essentials, but was stumped by the language materials. How was I going to fit a huge set of wooden Grammar Boxes into our very limited shelf space?
It was during this moment of panic that I discovered Jennifer Kilgore and Branch to Bloom. Jennifer had the ingenious idea of converting the cumbersome Grammar Box…
Connecting math, language, history and other academic subjects to your child's real-life experiences makes learning relevant, increases participation, and supports development. A hands-on home calendar is an ideal tool to learn and practice a variety of skills (whether you homeschool or not!). It also provides many opportunities for cultural explorations. Here's how we use it in our home... MATH: The first day of each month, I take down the calendar numbers, divide them into three piles (1-10…
Long Live the Short Chains
The Montessori Short Chains and Arrows pack a big learning punch and are often under-utilized. They're great for a homeschool environment because they don't take up any shelf space. Their initial purpose is to help the child first count linearly and then skip-count. But when your child is comfortable with these two concepts, you can use the chains for much more! Here are four ideas...
Find the number: Ask the child to set out the hundred chain with the corresponding arrows, while you c…
On a recent date night at a local bookstore (exciting, I know), my husband came across Good-Night Yoga: A Pose-By-Pose Bedtime Story. Neither of us practice yoga, but we'd been trying to find activities we can do as a family in the evenings that will engage both a three-year-old and a seven-year-old AND that will help us transition peacefully into the bedtime routine.
We've been reading and yoga-ing with this book a couple of evenings a week for the past month, and it's become on of our favo…
Moon-tessori (haha, couldn't resist)
"You're great at this homeschooling thing because you're a teacher... I don't think I could do it because I don't know much about anything."
I can't tell you how many times I've heard this phrase since we started homeschooling two months ago, coming from the most capable and well-prepared mothers in my circle of friends. So here's a little secret... I don't know everything. Heck, I don't know most things! But I don't let that hold me back from learning and sharing with my children.
The "Annoying" Seven-Year-Old
Seven-year-old Zachary learned how to build a popscicle-stick catapult at a free library workshop last week. Over dinner that night, I "casually" asked my engineer husband if he knew the difference between a catapult and a trebuchet. A brief but interesting discussion ensued, and my son hung on to every word.
Sitting around the kitchen table after breakfast Monday morning, I asked Zachary: "What would you like to explore today?"
He pouted and crossed his arms. "Nothing."
I tried again. "Y…
The Story of Money
Is your child afraid of math? I know many who are. I also know that one of the most effective ways to help them overcome their fear of math is to give them an allowance. In addition to teaching your child patience, opportunity cost, and the value of things, money is a hands-on way to work through many math skills!
My son got hooked on math through his allowance. At the age of four, he wanted to save up for a LEGO kit. On a piece of graph paper, I marked one square for each dollar he would h…
Kingdom of the Sun
"Where do the names of the planets come from?", asked 7-year-old Zachary. I knew they were first named after Greek gods and then were changed to the equivalent Roman gods, but didn't know much else. Then I found Kingdom of the Sun, where we learned that Aristotle, the astronomer who originally gave the planets the names of Greek gods, "did his best to match the character the gods were supposed to have with what he knew about the planets - their speed, brightness, and color."
This sets the s…
When Help Is A Hindrance
Few clean-ups seem as overwhelming as that of the Montessori fractions. The halves through sevenths are easy enough for most children, but the 27 hard-to-distinguish red wedges that make up the eighths, ninths, and tenths can leave even Elementary children feeling stuck and discouraged.
I've inherited Montessori fractions in several of my classrooms, and I've often found that a well-meaning predecessor had written the corresponding value on the underside of each fraction piece. At first gla…
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