Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Greetings

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everybody!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Poetry and Christmas Tree

There are numerous blog posts all over the blog world on decorating a mini christmas tree.  It is an awesome fine motor work, appropriate for the holiday season and child approved!  We created one for our school too! I hunted and hunted for a decent mini christmas tree that wasn't expensive, but could not find it at any of our local stores.  Finally I bit the bullet and bought a live, small tree at our local Walmart for $8.  (Since it was live, I was kind of ok!)  Since our tree was really tiny and the branches were thin, I bought some mini ornaments from Michaels and luckily they were 50% off, so got a good deal on those!  After spending close to $10 total on this work, I had to get more value out of it for sure! So, I hunted for a nice poem to go along with this, got it from google and created our poetry tray. As always poetry is a big hit at our house!  So here is the tray and some action shots!

Both M and D worked on decorating this tree.

Here is the little tree after they were done with decorating.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Poinsettia, Free Downloads and More Holiday Works

I added a small unit on "Poinsettia" on D's shelves.  I placed a live Poinsettia plant and the following tray on our culture shelves.

The tray holds "Parts of the Poinsettia" 3-part cards and a small booklet that D can read by herself.  The booklet is my test to see if she would be ready for the Classified Definition work.

You can download both the 3-part cards as well as the booklet here. If you end up using these cards, you will have to color in the parts and the booklet is meant to be printed back-to-back. 

I created this tray so, she could also make her own booklet.  The tray contains 4 Poinsettia pictures and blank labels.  The basket contains stuff she can create and color her booklet with.

You can download the page to make the booklet here.

I had to help her punch holes and create a label for the book.  But she was able to complete the rest by herself.  Here is her finished booklet and an page from inside.

We followed this culture work with the reading of "The Legend of the Poinsettia", to understand the significance of Poinsettia and Christmas.

Here are a few more new trays on D's shelves.  D is free to choose any work from M's shelves, so these are just a couple of new trays for her.

Shape Tracing and Pin Punching those out

Some Christmas themed Sticker Work
This post is linked to Montessori Monday.

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Little Angel turns 5 today!

Covered in cake and icing, 
Your smile stretched ear to ear. 
Five candles celebrate, 
The joy of your fifth year. 

We sing Happy Birthday, 
You play midst wrap and bows. 
We marvel at how you touched our lives, 
Just five years ago. 

I remember the first time I held you, 
whispered your sweet precious name. 
You've changed our lives forever, 
Our hearts will never be the same. 

As a child you'll love this day, 
For all the sweets and presents too. 
As parents we'll love your day, 
For the gift we got was you.

Each year we'll add another candle, 
So proud to see you grow. 
But always with the memory, 
Of your first day long ago.

On your birthday, special one, 
I wish that all your dreams come true. 
May your day be filled with joy, 
Wonderful gifts and goodies, too.

On your day I wish for you 
Favorite people to embrace, 
Loving smiles and caring looks 
That earthly gifts cannot replace.

I wish you fine and simple pleasures. 
I wish you many years of laughter. 
I wish you all of life’s best treasures. 
I wish you happily ever after! 

(Adapted from a poem by Jamie Sidwell)

I still can't forget the image of my 5 lb. 6 oz baby, the day she was born! Those huge eyes and dimpled cheeks keep me going even on worst days.  I can't believe my little baby is becoming a little girl.  I wish her all the happiness in the world! Happy 5th Birthday my love!

Some of her favorites from her 5th year: Pink, Swimming, Pizza, Vegetables, Canada (!), Math and Hannah (her friend!).  She wants to be a "Ballet Dancer" when she grows up!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Check out the Mom Bloggers eBook @ Living Montessori Now

Mom Bloggers Talk Montessori: Favorite Ideas and Activities e-book has been published, thanks to Deb @ Living Montessori Now and John Bowman who wrote Montessori at Home!  To get the e-book you need to subscribe to the newsletter from Living Montessori Now.  You will not only receive this free e-book, but also Karen Tyler's 3-6 Geography Album!  I've added a "Contributor" button to my sidebar that is also below, that will take you to this post, that has the instructions for getting the e-book.  Be sure to check it out, it has tons of great ideas from all the wonderful mom bloggers out there!  Once you get the book, let me know how you like it!

I contributed to Mom Bloggers Talk Montessori!

Toddler Holiday Trays

Here is a look at some new holiday themed trays are on M's (18 months) shelves.

Sparkly fuzzy sticks into a cheese shaker

Spooning beads (think berries!) onto paint palette

Popsicle sticks into Moon Jar

Pouring star and bow buttons

Transferring bows (M tried the tweezer, but it was meant for D)
And here are some action shots!

This post is linked to Montessori Monday.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Drawing Faces

I recently came across this book about drawing faces when I read a post about it at The Artful Parent. I immediately had to check it out as this seemed like something D would enjoy. I got a copy from our local library and D went crazy drawing faces!  It has simple, easy to understand instructions that the child can follow without parental guidance.  I had set this book and a few sheets of paper with a marker on D's shelf this week and this book was the center of her school this week!

The book we got from the library is a smaller one than the one displayed above in Amazon, probably a different edition.

Above is a picture of a page from this book, so you can see how easy this is.

D drew all of the above herself and would have done more if she had not run out of paper! 

Here are some of my favorites!
Surprised Sam
Proud Paul
Tired Tilly

Puzzled Polly
Since this book was such a hit, I am planning to buy this book and check out the other titles from this author from the library.  Here are a few other ones listed on Amazon.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Why are we doing Dwyer and All About Spelling?

I recently received a question from a reader who is a fellow homeschooler and a good friend, asking me why I would be going through the Dwyer Reading Scheme, when All About Spelling covers all the phonetic rules and wouldn't the same results be expected at the end of the AAS program?

The Dwyer Reading Scheme is exactly as the name implies, a Scheme for Reading.  To me, Reading  is a different skill that requires different thinking capabilities when compared to the Spelling skill.  In our house, the approach to learning is based on Montessori and it is widely believed in the Montessori world and I have found true in our case too, is that writing comes before reading.  So D has been in a sensitive period for writing for a long time. With all the exercises that we covered using the Dwyer Scheme, her spelling was purely phonetic.  Even with learning the spelling variations (Reading Folders work) in the Dwyer Scheme, I found that the child learns that a phonogram can be spelt differently, but the strategy of when to use what was missing.  I can give you two examples to explain this:

  1. Double letters that are used to spell words like "off", "dress", "smell", etc.: Reading these words need no extra knowledge other than knowing the sounds "f", "s" or "l" makes and that two "f"s, "s"s or "l"s still make the same sound.  But while writing these words, how do we know when to double and when not to? This is the key that is addressed using the AAS program.  In this  program there are various rules that the child learns and is taught when to use them.  
  2. The sound of "/k/" at the end of a word: "c", "ck" and "k" make the same sound, so while reading this does not make a difference, so nothing special is there in the Dwyer Scheme to address this.  Then again while writing and trying to spell a word which one do you use? Again AAS addresses this and teaches the rule.
There are many more examples I can give, but I think you get the point.  I personally am a fairly decent speller but my skills come from years of practice.  I don't know a lot of these rules for correct spelling and I am learning as we go along with the AAS program!  

So, since AAS seems to address all the variations and teaches all the rules, why not stick with just AAS, why go through the Dwyer scheme too? As I have mentioned before you need not know all these rules to read. It is enough if you know the phonograms, their variations and sight/puzzle words. So once you go through the Dwyer scheme, even though the child might not know all the rules to spelling, he/she can explode into the world of reading.  This is what happened in our case and D is much more open and confident in reading, now that we have gone through all the reading folders.  As for spelling, we completed, Level 1 in AAS and are now a couple of lessons into Level 2.  

Hope this explanation clears the need for use of both the Dwyer Reading Scheme as well as the AAS program.  I wanted to post my answer to the question on this blog so that it helps other parents having similar questions.  I am not paid or compensated by AAS, I bought both the levels from their site!  I just love this program for spelling as much as I love the Dwyer Scheme for reading!

I am linking this post up to Montessori Monday.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Another good week at our home!

We had another great work week at our home with D. She is moving along great with her reading and in Math we have covered all the four basic operations including exchanging at the bank and D loves this work. We will probably work on it some more next week and I will introduce the stamp game the following week. I need to go through Karen Tyler's culture albums and put out more work in that area. I also need to put out some holiday themed work for next week. So much to do and so little time! Anyway, here are a few pictures of some serious work this week!

More Stitching
Writing the different phonogram variations
Tool Box Work
3-Part Matching work
3-Part Card Label Matching and verifying using the Control Card

In addition to Montessori work, we also completed a couple of lessons from All About Spelling Level 2 and proceeded with abstraction using the Base 10 picture cards, which is similar to the stamp game.  We baked a chocolate pie for my husband's birthday.  All in all we had a fun week!

I am linking this post to Montessori Monday.

Friday, December 2, 2011

FIAR - Volume 1: How to make an Apple Pie and See the World

We rowed "How to make an Apple Pie and See the World" mid October around the time we went apple picking to a nearby orchard.  This is a cute and funny story of how to make an apple pie a little girl goes around the world to get the various ingredients!

Of course there are ample opportunities to indulge in some World Geography in this row.  We located the various countries on our world map and discussed how certain ingredients are native to certain countries.

We went apple picking to a nearby orchard and the kids had so much fun there.  We ended up making apple sauce and some snack sized apple pies with those apples.  We discussed the different kinds of apples we picked and had a taste test to find which one we liked best!

We did some Science by cutting an apple in half and naming the parts of an apple.  We used the free cards from here.

We also got the free lifecycle cards from Montessori for Everyone and D loved this work.

We made some red and white playdough and D made apple pies.

We made apple prints, cutting an apple in half both sideways and length-wise.

We also worked with this poem during this week and poetry is always a favorite in our house.

We had checked out an "Apples" kit from our local library.  So, in addition to the main FIAR book there were other lovely books on Apples that we rowed.  Here are a few from the 10 books we rowed.

We had great fun with this row!  I am so late in posting this! I am linking this up to Montessori Monday.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

FIAR - Volume 1: Cranberry Thanksgiving

We rowed "Cranberry Thanksgiving" the week before Thanksgiving. This is a wonderful story on how appearances can be deceptive and accepting people for their values. We loved this row and had a lot of wonderful conversations based on the theme of this story.

Picture taken from
This story is set in the New England region, so we identified the states in this region and located it on our USA map. We also discussed how cranberries are harvested and looked at pictures of it online.  Visit for beautiful pictures and more information on Cranberries and how they are harvested.

This picture is from
Of course we had to try out the secret recipe, so we baked cranberry bread with real cranberries and some craisins. The recipe is extremely straightforward so D was able to make it mostly by herself once I measured and set out the ingredients. Here is a picture of the bread pan ready to go into the oven.

Here is a picture after I took it out of the oven.

The bread was delicious! D and I added some sugar and water to the left over cranberries and made a sauce/ jelly that tastes delicious with plain bread!

This is the first year we celebrated thanksgiving with friends and family and we loved the feast and the gathering!

We read "The very first Thanksgiving day" and made our story necklace using the beads we had on hand. We did not have white beads for snow, so we substituted yellow ones! D had a lot of fun retelling this story several times!

This idea is originally from here.  It was a great row and a perfect Thanksgiving, though I am a week late in posting this! Better late than never!  Since we did do some Montessori themed activities (baking and bead lacing) I am linking this up to Montessori Monday.