Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Updates on Andon - And a Go Fund Me Account

Those who have been following this blog know that our youngest son, Andon, was recently diagnosed with and started treatment for leukemia.  Once we left the hospital, we went out and got family pictures done before things really started to change.  He has been losing his hair in clumps and decided on Monday to shave it off.  It was a very emotional experience for me.  Somehow him losing his hair has made it very real for me.  His brothers and father chose to show support for him and shaved their hair off that night as well.  Our oldest boy had about 6-8 inches of great hair that was hard for him to part with.  In the end he did it because he knew that Andon didn't want to loose his hair and he had no choice. This experience will forever change us as a family and as people.

Since last month, I have not been back to work full-time and have, in fact, only gone into work once a week since his chemotherapy started.  I have a great fill in for me at work which has made it much easier.  Dancing Moose has been an amazing support through this new challenge, as well as the parents of the children in my class this year.  I wish our family could afford for me to stay home with Andon full time until this school year is over, but at the beginning of December I will be going into work for the morning work cycle everyday except his chemo day.  This is of course subject to change according to how well he is and how he handles the chemo.  Our oldest daughter, who is 18 and graduated, has been amazing and is currently looking for a new job that will allow her to be there in the morning and work in the afternoon.

We have seen many blessings and an outpouring of love.  It has been good for me to see how many people in this world are so kind.  Our family has truly appreciated all the emails of support and concern for our sweet son.  Several visitors to this blog have emailed and asked if there is a fund set up for Andon that they can donate to.  There is now.  A parent of another childhood cancer patient told us about Go Fund Me.  Here is the Link

It is our hope that through the Go Fund Me account we can keep our family afloat while paying hospital and doctor bills, working part time, and having all the unanticipated expenses of a child with cancer.  We are trying to raise $20,000.00 so getting the word out is important.  Whatever readers of this blog can do to help that happen is very appreciated.

Thank you.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Three-part Card Trays From Montessori Research and Development

I have made it no secret that I like many of the materials that are available through Montessori Research and Development.  This has always been purely because of many years of loving their work.  This is the first time I have ever gotten anything in exchange for a blog post, and I am so happy to do it.

If you have read some of my previous posts about Nomenclature or Three-part cards you will know that my classroom has had a big uptick in those cards being pulled off the shelves and used this year.  In fact it is almost certain that at any given time during the day there is at least one set of cards in use.  Since this is the case, I have felt it is in the best interest of the class to have more cards available in the areas at the same time.  I have owned and loved a few of the Three-part Card Trays from Montessori Research and Development for a some years, but really needed more.  I corresponded with Erik Nuno, who is the company director about hoping to get a few more for my classroom.  He shipped them right off and my class has been so happy to have them on the shelf ever since.  I currently have 9 on the shelves of my class.  3 in science, 2 in language, 1 in math, 2 in geography and 1 in sensorial.  Now that they have been set up for a couple of weeks I find that we actually could use a total of 5 in science (depending on what we are studying), 4 in math for currency, fractions, time, and golden beads (my colored bead stair cards are a different type).  I could also use a total of 5 in language for pink cvc cards, blue blends, parts of speech, the farm and metal inset cards, and 4 in geography regularly.  I would prefer to have 4 available for sensorial for sensorial apparatus cards, geometric cabinet cards, geometric solids cards, and color nomenclature cards.  I would lastly put one in art, not all the time but according to the lessons.  So that is a grand total of 23 that I would have in my classroom.  I am far from it, but will continue to order from Montessori Research until I have the number I want.

The Three-Part Card Tray from Montessori Research and Development is a economical and lovely tray for the classroom, running only $9.00 each.  The compartments are spacious enough to hold even larger cards, and certainly the cards that I create.  The depth of the compartments is a feature I like as well.  These are both something you want to watch for when ordering trays.  They are easily cleaned by even smaller children, with the control of error being a gleaming white surface.

The other tray that I looked at in the same price range had the control on the right.  That went against my core feelings when it comes to Montessori works.  I have always been taught, and ascribe to the standard that all work should move left to right.  Since we place the control first it should be on the left hand side.

I am so happy to recommend the 3-part Card Tray from Montessori Research and Development.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Parts of the Eye Nomenclature Cards and Blackline Master Free Downloads - Plus a Musings About the Sense of Sight

I created this set over the summer for our class to use while we learned about the sense of sight.  This year I have changed from doing all the senses at once to focusing on on sense in a month.  All of the senses were introduced during the 3rd week of school, but taking each sense and focusing more in depth has been rather enjoyable for the children this year.  The sense of sight was the first sense of focus.

To begin the sense of sight we took a little walk out to our community garden with a bit of prompting to pay close attention to interesting things that we could see there.  Once back inside we had a discussion about all the things they could see.  This took some time since all the children wanted to talk about more than one thing that was interesting to them that they could see.  The next question was, of course, "What part of our body do we use to see?".  At a later circle I introduced the Model of the Eye.  I have long been of the opinion that the Early Childhood through the Upper Elementary Child can benefit greatly from good quality medical models just as much as the college student.  While I would love to have inexhaustible pockets, I do not, so I purchase the best quality I can for my budget.

This model is from EISCO and was purchased from Amazon using our Prime Membership.  It ran just about $25.00.

After the children were introduced to and had some experience with the model, I introduced them to some sheep eyes and did a dissection.  Now-- I must say that there was NOT one child who was grossed out by this science work.  Quite the contrary.  Utter fascination and riveted attention is more like it.  I used these Large Line Time Cards to point out different the same parts we were seeing in the sheep's eyes.

Parts of the Eye Large Line Time Cards
click on picture to link to file

On a different day I introduced the Parts of the Eye Nomenclature Cards and the accompanying booklets.  Especially the 4's & 5's loved this work.  There were some children who loved them so well, they took them off the shelf EVERY day for two weeks.
Parts of the Eye Nomenclature Cards
click on image to link to file

Parts of the Eye Blackline Master
click on image to link to file

Monday, October 27, 2014

Life Can Change in a Moment

On Thursday, October 16th, at about 6:00 pm, we took our 11 year old into the Instacare.  He had been pale and fatigued.  They took blood work and sent us in a big hurry up to Primary Children's Hospital; which is, so thankfully, just a 20 minute drive for us.  There they did more blood work and had the Oncologist on call come in.  She looked at his blood right there and gave us the diagnosis we were devastated was coming.  Our baby had Leukemia.  Life can change in a moment.

We left our other 4 children in the charge of my parents and aunts, and both my husband and I spent the next 5 days with him in the care of the wonderful doctors and nursing staff at Primary's.  He had Surgery on Friday to instal a port, do a bone marrow aspirate, and do a spinal tap to check for lymphoblasts in his spinal fluid and give him a dose of chemo in his spine.  We got to come home on Wednesday, and life with leukemia has started to settle in a bit.  We have weekly visits to the Cancer and Bone Marrow Clinic for chemo treatments, at least until the 2nd week in November.  We do not know what his road map will be after that yet.  It is an emotional and sometimes very difficult beginning.  He is very tired and his knees and stomach are starting to hurt from the medicines.  He is a champ!  He told me that having courage means that he is sometimes pretty scared of what he needs to do, but that he does it anyway.  Andon is certainly right.  His prognosis is good, we are so grateful for that.  We wait to hear back about the bone marrow aspirate and the chromosomal markers that will help to determine more of what his future course of treatment will be.

We have seen an outpouring of love and concern from everywhere.  On Saturday they told us that he had broken the record for the number of visitors in one day, 25!  His favorite things on earth are probably hugs.  While he was going into surgery, my sister called from California.  At the end of the conversation she told me to give a hug for him.  I said that it would be great if she and her husband were to take a picture hugging each other and email it to me so I could show it to them.  They posted it on Facebook and pretty soon a hashtag -which I don't really get- was set up for him on instagram.  That had so many visits that My sister suggested setting up a community page for him on Facebook.  It is called Hugs for Andon.  He has been getting picture hugs from all over the world and they make a yucky day better for sure.  This has become a real big deal for his oldest sister who has become an administrator on the page.  She had told me about 2 months ago that she felt her future lay in charity and service work.  She said she never feels as complete as when she is doing things that are really meaningful for others.  She has stepped up in an incredible way around the house and with the other members of the family.  Our other children are all reacting in a different way to their lives changing so quickly.

We have had meals brought in, laundry done by members of our ward and family, cleaning helpers (since the house has to be made and kept super clean), gifts, prayers of many faiths, fasting, and letters of encouragement.  It has lifted us and helped to carry us through the beginning of difficult times.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Parts of the Skeleton and Parts of the Pumpkin Nomenclature Cards with Blackline Masters

Here are two offerings that I have finished in these last couple of weeks.  These are topics we are studying right now during October and I found I didn't have either of them created yet.

An important note is that the skeleton cards are patterned after a 3-4 year old's skeleton.  I adapted them from this printable work.

I didn't like any of the Parts of the Pumpkin cards that are out there.  You might notice the same type of cutaway as the layers of the earth.

Parts of the Skeleton Nomenclature Cards
click on image to go to file

These are the blackline Masters for both sets.  I have been learning a new way to make and use Parts of Books that I really like.  The first page in the blackline masters are just the image with no words or even a line.  The following pages are to help me in making the Parts of Control Books.  First I color in the isolated image in red and then I trace over the light gray letters with a fine sharpie pen.   I cut them apart, laminate them and plasticoil bind them.  I make sure that the plasticoil gives plenty of room for turning the page with ease.

One thing I learned years back is that whatever way you write your letters the children will copy.  Another thing I learned during one of my Practicum weekends was that a segment of the population cannot make sense of dotted or dashed letters.  Each dot looks separate and does not really create a whole letter.  This was troubling news to me and I started wondering about my oldest child with dyslexia.  Did that make things harder for her?

When the child creates the parts of books they can do one of 3 things in order to write the words.  They can copy the words because they are advanced enough to do that.  They can lay their colored parts of paper over the top of the page they are trying to create and trace over the letters, or I can write the words in a yellow highlighter for them to trace.  All three methods are regularly being employed in my classroom with great success.

Parts of the Skeleton Booklets Blackline Master
click on image to go to file

Parts of the Pumpkin Booklets Blackline Master
click on image to go to file

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Nomenclature Cards and Parts Booklets - What a Little Child Taught Me

I have formed a new friendship with the Nomenclature and 3-Part Cards and their subsequent Parts of Booklets this year.  Last year a few of the children really loved doing the cards and the booklets, while most of others have shown no real interest in them.  This year I have been hoping to interest more children in these lovely little cards and booklets that I have spent so much time creating (literally), laminating, cutting, coloring, binding etc.  They are great works that help integrate learning across the areas of the classroom.  They can be a pre-reading, reading, writing, coloring, story-telling, show-off to parents, memory building, science, geography, math, sensorial work.  You might be getting the picture.

WELL... this year our class has had the most wonderful thing happen, AND it was child directed.  About the third week into school I had a 4 1/2 year old, who is driven by a lovely inner voice, do the Parts of the Plant and Parts of the Fruit Nomenclature Cards at the same time.  He then made the Parts of Booklets as well.  Another child saw his work and wanted to do it too.  Both were very accomplished at their work.  At the end of the day they asked if they could read their books to the class in AUTHOR'S CHAIR (they knew this from last year and Writer's Workshop).  Of course I let them, and everyone clapped for their wonderful and challenging work.  I could have chosen to save the Author's chair for books that the children had independently created, but I am so glad I didn't.  We will make an extra special note when a child makes a book All-By-Themselves for Author's Chair.

The magic happened the next day.  Multiple children asked me if they could create their own books in order to read them to the class.  One child said... "So when I finish the Nomenclature Cards I can make a booklet right?"  I said that once she had mastered the nomenclature cards she could create the booklet.  The children spread the word and the Nomenclature Cards have NOT sat on the shelf gathering dust (that a child would clean off) this year.  The valuable lesson the children taught me is this: There is such beauty in sharing your work with your friends, and such a good feeling.  As an adult I recognize this in myself.  It is one reason I have this blog.  I love to share what I have created with people who appreciate and can really use them.  Why would it be any different for children?

I just have to say... Follow the Child, they are our best teacher.

Solar System Nomenclature Cards
This is the same child doing the Nomenclature Cards and the Parts of Book in the next Picture.

Solar System Parts of Cards
This Parts of Booklet is pre-stapled because last year I noticed how frustrated the children were 
about this booklet.  They kept getting confused which planet was which.  I have some unstapled 
sets for the older kids.
Parts of the Body Nomenclature Cards
This child ended up getting one more rug out to hold all the name cards you can see at the top 
of the picture for this work.  There really are a lot of cards to this work.  Almost enough to break it 
into two sets, but they really like it together so I have kept them that way.  The Tray is from 
Montessori Research and Development.

Parts of the Plant Booklet
This child did not want to write the words to her booklet this day.  I let her know that as 
soon as she "publishes" a book - meaning that it is colored, with all the names written and 
stapled - she can read it to the group.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Taking Over a New Class

This year I have changed classrooms and responsibilities.  I moved from my safe little classroom to take over for some teachers who left our school.  It is my job to make this classroom successful.  I am in the Spanish dual language program classroom now.  It is a mixture of children from several classrooms, but there is a core group of children who were there last year.  These children have really needed retraining this year.  About 80% of them are boys.  I have spent a lot of time during the first 3 weeks of school observing all of the children, becoming emotionally available and a confidant, creating structure in the classroom, following through again and again with ground rules, and setting the stage for correct treatment of the environment and each other.  It is tiring work to be sure, but sticking to the difficult work at the beginning of the year really pays off.

For the first two weeks I pulled out over 25 different manipulative works and had several shelves dedicated to them just to give myself a pulse on the room and where the children were.  They used these works with gusto.  It has really helped to have only manipulatives in retraining the children to become careful with their work, return the work ready for another child to use, walk around and not through rugs, walk in the classroom in the first place, respect when a child has already chosen a work and not to disturb them etc.  This is certainly an ongoing process.  It seems like it can take an entire year for some of the younger children not to walk on their neighbor's rug if something grabs their attention.

During the third week I noticed that the older children were bored with the manipulatives so I began giving lessons.  Some of the record keeping was spotty so I had to test out to see where they really were in the different areas.  On Thursday, this week (being the 4th week of school), we noticed that it was 2 hours into our work time before any child chose a manipulative work.  YIPEE!  I only have one shelf of manipulatives now, and only the ones that the children find the most interesting.

These are some images from our last week of work.

Exploration of Metal Insets by a returning student

Mouse House turned into a Spanish Work.  Es el raton debajo de la casa anaranjado?

Hanging Bead Stair

Writing Words using the Large Moveable Alphabet

Initial Sound Object Sort - This is the Pink Mat
I am so excited to have these new mats.  I handmade the set I
have been using and just got these new ones this week.

Gluing noodles on apples work.  Next week we will paint these works.
This allows the work to be done in more than one step but still follow
the Montessori rule that art should be a shelf work.

Parts of the Plant Nomenclature Cards.  This child completed this work
 beautifully and could even tell me every part of the plant and later the
Fruit.  He then made the booklets for each work.

Rainbow Rings.  My children LOVE this work.  It is actually
Wine Glass Markers that I found at a kitchen store in Park City.

Using Clay Lesson.  You can see how the little one is using
his "watching arms" during this presentation.

Parts of the Snail Puzzle.  We wouldn't usually have this work
out right now, but this child found a snail in the school
garden and was really interested so I pulled it out.

Weaving with ribbons

Parts of the Flower Puzzle

Parts of the Fruit Nomenclature Cards and Magnetic Parts Puzzle 
Baby Spooning Stars.  This work is pretty challenging for this child.
She has been with me since last year and has needed this long to
be ready for this work.

Sandpaper Letters with Initial Sound Booklets.
This child was successful at all the letters in the first
set and was subsequently hiding them in the
classroom to then find them again.

Hand Transferring.  I just have to say how much I love the
elliptical shape of these wooden bowls.  There are mung beans
inside.  They sound just like rain when they hit the
wood.  Many times the child will remark about this when
they first have this lesson.

Object to Object Sorting with two Space Toobs.  Because I
have so many boys I have geared some of the Pre-reading
works to pull them in.  We are also beginning the year by
learning about our place in the universe.
The Farm Mat - a grammar work.  I made this mat as well.

Class Aprons

I am a bargain hunter.  This is definitely something very true about myself.  I believe in quality and in spending good money where it really matters - on the materials.  However, I have a hard time spending my own money or my classroom budget (small as it is) on something I can make for less.

I have been blessed with many talents that I find useful in the Montessori classroom.  One of them is sewing.  I was a professional seamstress in my younger married life.  I used to give children and adults sewing lessons, sewed for the state prison, did alterations and tailoring, and did original work for hire including the occasional custom wedding dress.  I got so tired of sewing! I felt that looking at any of my 5 my sewing machines might make me throw up.  I put the bobbins and threads behind me and moved on to other forms of employment that could supplement our income, keep me at home and able to homeschool.  It took many years before I had an itch to pull out the machine and create some halloween costumes for my own children again.

I am happy to say that my former love of sewing has returned now that it doesn't actually have to pay any bills.

This summer I have really wanted to make aprons for my class.  I love the pattern of the ones from Montessori Services, but do not love that the wet aprons are not actually made of vinyl.  I own some from a local shop that are vinyl but the bands are too long to fit around the child's waist, and the hole for the head is a little too small for my older children.  SOLUTION?  Make my own.  I took the suggested measurements for a primary apron and checked them against the smallest and biggest of the children in my class.  Once that was finished I created a pattern.  I would really love to post the pattern, so if anyone knows how I could take something that I just drew up and get it onto the computer to share it would be FABULOUS!

Next I found an great deal at the fabric store on some vinyl.  I always check in the clearance section for it.  You can pay almost $20.00 a yard for vinyl, but I ended up only paying about $6 a yard plus a 25% teacher discount. I bought everything on the bolt and got the last 30 inches for 50% off.  I figure it will get used one way or another.  From the almost 4 yards that I purchased I was able to cut out 12 aprons.  This vinyl is a midnight blue.  This part is not important except that if you are going to have aprons mostly of one color, they ought be easily distinguishable from other aprons in the classroom.  They will be used as the generic aprons for any works using water or food preparation in the class.  They will also be the apron for painting and other art works.  There are a few works that have a different colored apron.  Namely the polishing works which have their own coordinating aprons.

Until I can get a pattern uploaded this picture can at least give some help with measurements.  I took some width out of the shoulder area and rounded the corners.  I like the look of the softer corners on these aprons.

Once I finished cutting out the aprons I pinned them up with a navy blue, double folded bias tape.  I purchased a couple spools of clear thread.  I like clear thread for bias tapes because I can sew a lot of bias tape on things in different colors and I don't have to spend money on every color of thread that way.

Once they were pinned, I sewed them up and added the "ties".  These aprons are an independent work for the children.  They can put them on by themselves and fasten the "ties" in the front with velcro.

I will have to get a photo of a child in the class putting one of these on during the next week and post it.


This is a photo of one of the children in an apron

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Cosmic Nesting Boxes

Summertime is such a busy time for a Montessori teacher.  Saturday has been spent getting some Cosmic Nesting Boxes ready for our Solar System Studies/Cosmic Education studies for this year.

A gorgeous set of Cosmic Nesting Boxes can be found here as well as the Cosmic Nesting Box Lesson as a free download.  The child gains a greater understanding of where they belong in the universe. It can somehow be grounding for little children to have this information, and to use the boxes over and over again.  I have seen the cosmic nesting boxes used as a reference when creating stories during writers workshop.

I have wanted this set for my classroom, but did not want to spend the $85 for them.  Now that I have finished with this project I believe I love these boxes much more than I ever would the pre-made set.

I spent a long time during the school year looking at thrift stores for a set of nesting boxes but never could find a set.  I ended up getting a cheap Melissa and Doug alphabet set for $10 on Amazon and spray painting them black.  It took several coats to cover the previous images entirely.  I also used the  extra coats of paint since children will use them.

You can see my 10 year old's bike helmet in the background :)

Next I printed off images of the following to paint on the boxes:
  • Galaxy - largest box
  • Solar System
  • Earth
  • North America (since that is where we live)
  • United States
  • Utah
  • West Valley City (since that is where our school is located)
  • Dancing Moose (since that is our school)
  • A Boy and a Girl
  • An Atom (to represent the energy in the child) - smallest box
I traced the outline of each image onto the respective box and filled in the lines with white paint to help the images show up better on the black background.

This image shows the galaxy already finished as well as the water for the earth filled in.  The rest of the images are just filled in with white.

I choose to make the images the same colors as the Nienhuis maps.  These are the same colors used in our classroom.

Once I was finished painting all the fronts of the boxes I let them dry for a day and then sprayed many, many coats of clear coat varnish on them.  I really love them and I know that it may very well be because I did them myself.  Even so, they are beautiful.  I will place them in a lovely basket with an ecru cloth liner when it is time to put them out on the shelf.

I am certain that the children will really take to them.  I am most interested in how long the children will be interested in choosing them from the shelf after our lesson and, subsequently how well they stand up to use during this year.  I may find myself needing to make another set from sturdier material at the end of the year.

This project probably ran me around $20 with boxes, paint and varnish.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Montessori Botany Primary Parts of Cards - Update!!!

During my new training this summer I learned so much, and have had to adjust my thinking and approach in some ways as I have been stretched.  I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to become a better educator and guide for my children.

As a result of the training I have learned more about the Parts of Cards.  My lovely and VERY knowledgable queen of a trainer, Teresa, spoke about why it is important for primary Montessori classes (3-6 years) to have the isolation of the difficulty in red.  First, our eyes are drawn to red.  This was, of course, not new information for me.  But more importantly, when a child is making their own parts of booklets and they have to keep changing pencils to color, let's say, the horse's legs in dark brown, off white, and light brown for the hooves... the child is actually paying more attention to the COLORS instead of the part they are learning about.  We also discussed which parts are appropriate to focus on for the primary class as opposed to the elementary class.  They should be more simple.  For example, when making Parts of Cards for the fish we will show all the fins together and call them just fins instead of separating them as the caudal fin, pelvic fin, pectoral fin and so forth.

The light bulb went off in my head, I understood it in my heart, and then I groaned within myself.  I knew that all the parts of cards that I have been making and posting on this blog have been geared toward ELEMENTARY and not primary!!  I also knew that I would need to remake my cards for the children's sake.  It took me a couple of weeks to really get my soul prepared... and then I went to work.

part of the fruit of my efforts are in this post.  I am actually excited now to make more.  I have been wanting to make parts of cards for tools, the house, and other things like cars, planes and trains that some of my students are fascinated with.

You will note that Botany and Zoology cards have a colored line around them.  I have considered this idea for a long time, but wasn't sure how I really felt about it.  Now I am ready to roll with it.  Another thing to note is that I have done these cards in D'nealian only.  I will not lie that it is my preferred font for parts of and nomenclature cards and I am not ready to do the print font yet.

This is a living and changing experience for me and it follows as the night the day that my blog will also change.

Botany Parts of Cards

Primary Parts of the Plant Cards - red isolation
click on picture to link to file
Primary Parts of the Tree Cards - red isolation
click on picture to link to file
Primary Parts of the Leaf Cards - red isolation
click on picture to link to file
Primary Parts of the Flower Cards - red isolation
click on picture to link to file
Primary Parts of the Fruit Cards - red isolation
click on picture to link to file
Primary Parts of the Seed Cards - red isolation
click on picture to link to file

Primary Parts of the Root Cards - red isolation
click on picture to link to file