Monday, August 29, 2011

FIAR - Volume 1: The Story About Ping

We rowed "The Story About Ping" by "Marjorie Wise" for our first session of FIAR.

"The Story about Ping" is a delightful story about a duckling in China that escapes from punishment only to find himself alone on the Yangtze river, where he encounters different situations.  In the end he eventually decides that accepting his punishment and getting back home is way better than the other option.

We've discussed/done the following so far:
  1. Located China on the map and pointed to the Yangtze river.
  2. Learnt that the capital of China is Beijing.
  3. Identified the Chinese flag on our Flags of the World Poster.
  4. Colored the China map and the Chinese flag.
  5. Read the following books related to China and the Chinese culture:
    1. The Story of Noodles - A fun story about how noodles were invented.
    2. The Story of Kites - How and why the Kite was invented.
    3. One Year in Beijing - A Journal style account of a little's girls one year life in Beijing.  D loved this book the most.
    4. Daisy comes home - A cute story about a chicken named daisy that gets lost.
  6. Watched a few shows from the Wild China Series on Netflix.  It was amazing to watch Cormorants fishing for their masters!
  7. Went through the Chinese items from our Asia Continent Box.
  8. Made Chinese noodles for lunch one day and ate with chopsticks!
  9. Learnt about the duck family.
  10. Read books on the life cycle of ducks:
    1. Duck
    2. A Duckling Is Born
  11. For art, we did a drawing of a duck and colored it using color pencils just like the illustration in the book by Kurt Wiese.
  12. D narrated the "The Story about Ping" and I wrote it down.
  13. Read "Make Way for Ducklings" by Robert McCloskey.  Such a delightful story!  We would be rowing this again during our FIAR Volume 2 session.
  14. We discussed following rules and accepting consequences for your actions.
Below are some other things that I wanted to do, but could not due to lack of time.  We would probably complete some of these at a later date, may be when we row "Make Way for Ducklings".
  1. Make a Kite using brown paper bag and ribbons and fly it in our back yard.
  2. Learn to say "Hi" and "Bye" in Chinese.
  3. Learn to count to 10 in Chinese.
  4. Make a family tree of all of D's immediate cousins with their picture.  D would love this activity.
  5. Experiment on sink/float and documented our findings.
  6. Go and feed the ducks in our nearby park.
For our first rowing, I think we did great!  I tried not to focus too much on actual activities and frustrate D, instead focussed on general discussion about the book and mostly reading.  D loves anything to do with maps and flags so generally enjoyed those activities.  As far as art goes, she did the duck drawing to entertain me, but was not too enthusiastic about it.  So for future rowings I might not include art activities  unless D seems genuinely interested.  She is not into coloring too, so we might avoid that.  For future rowings, I am going to just get ideas from the FIAR manual for general discussion and not do much in terms of actual activities.  The only problem I see with this approach is that we would not have enough stuff to make those wonderful lap books that I see in the various FIAR forums.  But I guess that is ok as this whole process should be for D's enjoyment, not for me!

For our next row, we've selected Madeline and various other wonderful books! Can't wait to get started!

Here are all the titles that we read, linked to amazon:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Our first week of school for the 2011-12 year

With the school room all setup we started school (not that we took a break!) last monday (22nd Aug).  We started a couple of weeks early because we are taking a few weeks off next month.  The kids were sick Tuesday, so we took a break on Tuesday but continued to have school the rest of the week.

We don't have a strict routine, but we try to be consistent with what we are doing everyday.  We wake up, get dressed, have breakfast, change the calendar date (currently in our dining room) and get into the school room.  D does all the stuff she does without me doing any new presentations as I need to keep M from getting into all the good stuff in the room!  We stay there till M gets tired and starts getting into everything she is not supposed to and then get out.  Sometimes D continues in there without me doing mostly practical life stuff and then gets to our dining area where I have her art supplies set up.  At various times through out the day you can find her at her art area cutting, gluing, drawing, coloring and generally creating.

As far as RightStart and All About Spelling, this week we worked on it a couple of days each for 10 - 15 mins late afternoons.  We've been practicing the oral addition/subtraction problems for fun all week.  D even makes up her own which is a lot of fun.  For FIAR, we've been reading tons of books related to the FIAR book but have not been doing any actual activities.  I will keep it this way I think as I am pretty exhausted setting up all the montessori stuff for her anyway! The good thing is that we are reading a lot and the FIAR books are awesome.

Here are some pictures from our first day.  My 1 year old is working on pouring, open and close basket and stacking rings.

My 4 year old is working on stitching buttons, musical instruments, screws and hammering, astronomy, the golden bead material and fractions.

We also did a presentation on Living and non-living things and you can find a blog post on that here.

Apart from these, I had left the Object Box 1 and 2 out in the language area and over the course of the week D completed both of these.  I need to now start changing the objects in the boxes or advance to the next step in the sequence.  We also did a primitive map lesson in the geography area.  D has been working on tracing her numbers and is pretty good now with writing those.  The work on fractions during school time has made her think about how to make fractions with her food!

It has been a very interesting week and we hope to continue the same pace the rest of the year, God willing!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Our Unit on Living/Non-Living/Once-Living

After our unit on matter I wanted to present the Living/Non-Living/Once-Living chapters from Karen's album. We started a while back but then we never were in the school room for a significant period, so it was never completed.  Now that  school is open here we have started on this again.

The first is the presentation of the Control Tray and the Living Tray. The control tray has the four things that all living things have in common - food, air, water and re-production. Another reason I love montessori is the use of the correct vocabulary so the child learns it and has no fear of using big words in his/her language.

Our living tray had our kitchen herbs and a couple of ants in a jar.

Next up is the abstract portion where we introduce the pictures of living things and again stress on the things that all living things have in common using the control tray.  I got these living/non-living cards from Jojoebi.

If there is a classroom pet or a plant, a care lesson for that follows. Since we already have a classroom plant, D already cares for it daily. We don't yet own a classroom pet, getting D a fish to care for is on my to-do list. For now, we have a some food a couple of drops of water for the ant.

The presentation on non-living is next. Here is our non-living tray.

And the abstract with pictures of non-living stuff.

An activity follows the non-living one. We had this polishing/cleaning rocks activity.  The container in the middle has some wet wipes.

Here is a picture of D carefully wiping the rocks!

Here is our tray for once-living.  It has a dinosaur skeleton (dollar store find) and a few flowers picked off our garden.

The activity that follows this is a mini fossil dig.  I got this little kit at lakeshore learning for a couple of dollars.

We dug out the dinosaur bones and played archaeologist! D loved every minute of it.  Here are the bones we found!

This wraps up our lesson on this unit. I loved setting up the trays and D loved the presentations! I am planning to leave the picture cards for sorting in our shelves for a few more days.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Our School Room Setup

After weeks of hard work finally here is a peak at our school room.  This room is our library that is right at the front of our house.  I chose this room because I can close the door and secure it out of my curious little M's reach.  Another reason I love this room is the large window that allows so much natural light into the room.

Here is a look at the doors to the room.  As you can see I have it closed and secured using a hair band!

Here are some overview shots of the room starting counter clock wise from the door.

After you enter the room, to your right is this large shelf from Ikea that we already had.  The top shelves are for my supplies.  In the bottom left are the books that are used during school time (both D's and M's) and to the right is where I keep M's montessori works. This way when M is in the room I can contain her to this area and let her not mess with D's other shelves.

Just next to this shelf in the corner is our practical life area.  I didn't have enough shelves so had to use this end table that was sitting un-used in our basement.

For now I have this table for D placed near the big window, but we move this around the room depending on where we need the space.  This is a big Ikea table and the Ikea Chairs.  I love that the surface is white and wiping and cleaning the surface of this table is a great practical life activity for D.

The other corner in the room is our Math area.  Again, I re-used an old TV shelf for this area.  I love this TV shelf as most of the Math trays are large and this long shelf serves it right.  I had these Clock and Money Posters that I had bought in the Dollar Store a long time back and now it hangs behind this shelf. Also on the wall you can see our Large Number Cards displayed for easy access for our golden bead material work.

Right next to the Math area is our Language Area.  The bookshelf I used for this has only two shelves and kind of small, so I have the sandpaper letters and our salt tray on the floor.  On the wall above is the first finger painting from D.

This is another old TV cabinet re-purposed for the sensorial area.  Between the language and sensorial area is our bin for rugs.  On the wall above the shelf is a picture of Maria Montessori that I cut out from an old NAMTA journal.

Up next is our cultural shelves.  You can see our continent boxes on the floor.  On the wall are posters that I got for a buck at the dollar store and laminated at Lakeshore Learning.  One the other corner are two more boxes that are used for storing some of my supplies.

This is the initial setup that we are going to use to start our school with.  As time goes by we might switch things around.  I am pretty sure once M hits eighteen months there would be a lot more she would be interested in and I would have to move the shelves around.  May be I will win the lottery and will be able to afford new shelves or may be a newer house with a bigger school room! Dreams!

It is still not as perfect as I want it to be, but for now it works and it is way better than our old setup.  I don't have before pictures, but our previous set up was very cluttered.  In the ideal world I would have matching shelves for all the areas and would have moved the supplies out of the room into another area that is accessible easily, but I did not want to spend any money and so re-used what we already had.  The important thing is that D and M love this and have been having a blast in there!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cultural Exchange - Our Package: India

We are participating in a Cultural Exchange organized and initiated by Melissa @ Chasing Cheerios.  We are exchanging a letter, pictures and items of cultural significance with twelve more families.  We had so much fun putting together this package representing India!

WARNING: If you are part of the Cultural Exchange groups 14 or 26 and want your package to be a surprise please do not read further!

Here is a picture of the overall contents in our package:

First we wrote a letter addressed to the other kids including a lot of pictures of India.  We tried to include pictures of our city, some places from our city, maps, celebrations and sports.  We also tried to put in some interesting facts about India.  Here are a couple of pages from our 10 page long letter:

We included the Indian flag and a two rupee coin in each package.  I wish we could have included more coins or currency notes, but unfortunately this is all I had at hand here in the USA.  There is a small packet of some Indian beads that can be made a part of a necklace or bracelet.

We included a "Rakhi" which is a bracelet tied on the wrist of a loved one.  This is a tradition for the festival of "Rakhsa Bandhan", where sisters tie this on their brother's wrists to protect them from evil.  In turn brothers take a vow to take care of their sisters.  We included this to extend friendship to the other kids. Also included is a pack of "Bindhis", which is worn on the forehead between the eyebrows.  All girl children in India wear this and I've included a picture of my girls in a traditional dress wearing a bindhi!

We included a packet of "Mango Mood" candies and dried Mango Bars to represent Mangoes in India.

We also included a pack of Basmati Rice from India, some Pressed Rice (a story and a recipe for this too!) and some green Cardamom.

I include a story about friendship that also has a relation to the pressed rice pictured above.  I tried to narrate it myself (pardon my story telling skills!) and include pictures to make it interesting.

I included two simple recipes that kids can participate in making with their parents, a Mango Lassi and Pressed Rice Pudding.

Finally some coloring pages, one representing Kids on Diwali day and one a Rangoli.

I got my package all ready in their covers, addressed and taped them shut.  I will mailing those out today and I hope that family that receives it will enjoy it as much as we enjoyed putting these together!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cultural Exchange - Sweden

We received this wonderful package from a sweet boy and his family from Sweden.  You can read all about their preparation plus a lot of wonderful Montessori posts at their blog Little Red Farm!  On to the pictures now!

I love how they wrapped their package in local newspaper! Great idea!

We are saving these stamps!

Some animals sticker book and a lovely letter that explains a lot of Swedish culture and traditions.

Some money.

Coloring Pages.

Flag, Candies and comic book about Bamse the bear!

Balloons, Stickers, ribbons and crawfish confetti!

We love this package and my daughters love Bamse!

To see the other packages that we've received click here.