September 22, 2014

Sandpaper globe

The primary montessori globes are extremely cool but also come with a hefty price tag, I wanted to create one but all the tutorials I found were using actual sandpaper cut out and stuck onto a globe. I haven't tried it that way and I guess it must work because lots of people have done it but I thought it would be very laborious and also difficult to stick a 2d cut out onto a 3d globe. 

My method was to get a very cheap globe from a charity shop and paint the seas blue and the land a light brown. This took about three coats. I used acrylic so it dried fast. I then mixed some playsand with quite a lot of glue and used a tiny brush to paint that on to the land. I then left it over the weekend to get really hard and it's fantastic. The land feels really textured compared to the smooth sea and none has rubbed off yet. 

I went back to the charity shop and found another small globe (even cheaper this time because the stand was broken) and I painted that one like the continents globe with the sea blue and each continent a different colour. Binx made a stand for it by painting the inner tube of a roll of tape.

I'm very happy with these, I think I spent £3 on the first globe and £1.50 on the second.

Days of learning - elementary

Lots of good work on the bead frame this week. Binx has been working on addition of 4 or 5 addends in the ten thousands. One (of the many!) thing I love about the montessori materials is that really complicated processes are achievable and enjoyable because of the way they are taught. Just being faced with a huge addition sum on paper might have been intimidating but because we got to know the bead frame and worked through the steps then it is just a natural progression and before you know it you are working on problems that seemed really difficult before.

Binx is working on learning division facts here, this is an activity designed for younger children but she wanted to revisit it because she still has difficulty recalling division off the top of her head.

We read a good book about Van Gogh this week and that set off an impromptu art session that everybody got involved in.

Looking at the notation of squares of numbers in a very hands on way. Sneaking in some times tables practice too! 

Binx is always one for the science experiments so I usually do them at the end of the day because I know she will spend ages on them. After looking at the properties of solids, liquids and gases last week we looked at solids in more depth today. We looked at the properties of rigid, elastic and plastic solids (using a ping pong ball, a sponge ball, and a ball of clay), and we also looked at how a solid can be made to change by applying weight. The experiments involved changing the amount of weight, and also the length and thickness of the solid. Lots of fun! 

Days of learning - primary

Rogue has been working on loads of practical life exercises this week, as well as some sensorial work. He is still loving the cylinder blocks, I don't blame him actually, I find them really appealing as well! 

I made a button snake for him last weekend and that has been a big hit too. It is basically a ribbon with a button on each end and squares of felt with a slit cut so you can put the button through. I made this because he was getting frustrated and struggling to do up buttons on his jacket so I thought he could do with the practice. I have made three sets with gradually smaller buttons and felt. This is the largest one.

One evening rogue sneaked off to the school area and I came in to find this! 

I tried introducing hole punching for the first time. I drew dots on the paper for him to punch over. He had lots of fun punching holes, but not on the dots.

The pegboard came out again. He loves this activity and I am always intrigued by the very regular patterns he makes, never random.

Of course he had to get involved in his big sisters investigation of solids.

This pegging activity was new this week too and he concentrated for ages on it. Really worked the muscles in those fingers.

Scooping macaroni with a tiny sieve. He did this very slowly, enjoying the sounds of the macaroni hitting the bowl.

September 15, 2014

'Sandpaper' letters

The sandpaper letters are a classic montessori material for teaching letters. The trouble is they are pretty expensive for textured flash cards, so I made my own. I didn't have any sandpaper and I like to use what I have already if I can so here is the method I used.

First I just cut up some old mount board I had into roughly A5 size rectangles, and painted them pink and blue (21 pink and 5 blue). When that was dry I drew a big letter on each just lightly in pencil and when I was happy with it I went over it in sharpie, making the lines thicker. The letters are over to the right because Rogue is definitely more right hand dominant but if you have a left handed child you would want to position the letters more to the left.

Next I mixed some glue, black paint and glitter together. I used up old pots of glitter, mixing all kinds of colours and then used the paint to try to take some of the shine and colour off. It worked surprisingly well actually. The texture was very thick, like wet sand.

Next I used a small brush to paint a line of this mixture into the centre of the lines of the letters. 

This has worked really really well, once it was dry it had a really good texture just like sandpaper and bits don't come off when you use them. Sandpaper is great but this has worked brilliantly for us and it came at my favourite price - free!

Days of learning - primary

Rogue enjoyed using the pegboard for quite a long time. Whenever he uses this he always puts the pegs in lines or blocks, never just a random sprinkling of pegs.

Carrot grating proved a bit difficult so I think we will have to practice grating with something softer. No fingers grated though so that's a bonus!

This was a new activity that I put out, pouring pecans into a bowl and then using the small ladle to put them back into the jug. Simple, but entertaining.

I got out cylinder block 2 this week and as it looks the same when they are all in he was pretty surprised when he picked up the widest one and found that it was really thin! He tried the two blocks together and really enjoyed that, it seemed to be just the right level of challenge for him. 

 These bird pictures were cut out of an old calendar and usually calendars have little thumbnail images on the back of all the pictures so they provide a perfect matching game.

Rogue had fun exploring the 3d shapes. He just held them, tried to build with them and then experimented with rolling them. He discovered that the cube doesn't roll, the sphere rolls a long way, and the ellipsis is really really funny when you roll it!

Days of learning - elementary

Ok, so pretty much the day after posting all those pictures of our school room, I started seeing all it's imperfections and problems and got the urge to move it around. I am always moving the house around, my family are very understanding! I ended up moving the entire school room down to the kitchen and getting a lounge back. After our first week down there we are all really liking it, it is great to have access to the sink for practical life and science activities and there is more floor and table space. It took me about 14 hours to move everything but it was time well spent.

Binx used the hierarchical material this week, comparing sizes, labelling, discovering the families of numbers (simple, thousand, million) and how that relates to where we put the commas in numbers. She was very impressed with the size difference between the 1 cube and the 1,000,000 cube, so was I really, it's quite impressive to see it in such a hands on way. 

On Wednesday, after 2 days using the hierarchical material, binx started using the large bead frame, practicing building large numbers and then reading large numbers that I built. We then did some addition to practice the exchanging of beads. This work was mostly just to get used to the frame and feel comfortable with 'reading' it.

We did some work looking at the composition of the earth. We looked at the different layers in terms of what to call them (barysphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere), and related it to the density experiment where you put the syrup, water and oil in a jar and you get the separate layers. This is because everything settles according to its weight so in the earth the barysphere is heaviest, then the lithosphere etc. As you can see from the picture below, we also looked at the relative thicknesses of each layer. Binx was pretty interested in the hydrosphere (water!) so we did an experiment to show how much fresh water there is in the world. You get a great big bowl of water which represents all the water in the world and you take about 4 tbsp and freeze it to show all the fresh water in the world which is frozen and then 2 tbsp which shows all the fresh water in the world that all living things have to share. All the rest of the water in the bowl is salt water. Pretty mind blowing actually. 

We have been learning to play Chinese chess. My parents brought this set back from Vietnam last year but we haven't played it until now. It is similar to western chess but with some important differences and some great pieces (we have elephants and chariots instead of bishops and rooks!). 

I was busy with Rogue at one point and when I came back, Binx had made herself a den with a blanket over two chairs and was inside exploring an electronics set. 

We explored polygons and learnt some new quadrilateral names like the rhombus and parallelogram. Note: everyone should try to have a two year old present while learning the word parallelogram, lots of fun! 

We finished up the week with a review on the states of matter, solid, liquid and gas. This was mostly review work but we added in a few extras like changing a solid with heat, (melting wax), and making holes in the side of a tin to show how a liquid pushes sideways as well as down but a solid only pushes down.

September 09, 2014

Homemade hierarchical material

Last weekend, I made some hierarchical material. This is a hands on representation of the hierarchies from 1 to 1,000,000. This material is intended for use by children just starting elementary in a montessori school at age 6/7, with binx having just turned 9 she is a little old for it. However, having come to this a bit late, I wasn't sure where to start in the albums and I could see that in some areas she would be ready for later works but in other areas there would be significant gaps. Our way of dealing with it will be to start at the beginning and take it at her pace, if she already knows it we won't linger there and if she needs more time, she can have it. Anyway, I had noticed some confusion for her in the amount of zeros numbers had and also in how to say the names of really big numbers. All in all, that is why I spent 3 hours on Sunday afternoon taping cardboard together and covering it in tissue paper. Below you can see some of my process and that it really was cobbled together from random bits of cardboard. This material is available to buy very beautifully and precisely made (mine is not precise - can you tell!), out of wood...for several hundred pounds. Mine is imprecise, made of bits of card taped together and extremely old faded tissue paper, and it was free!

I also made these labels to go with it, colour coded the same as the hands on material. Later this week I will show the activities we did with this.

September 08, 2014

Days of learning - primary

Rogue loves working with the cylinder block 1, he does it several times a day. Every time I show it to him, I show him how to get the pieces out and put them down In a random order on the mat, and he watches carefully, even nodding to himself, and then when he gets them out, every single time he lines them up in order!

The next photo is blurry but I just had to show the funny way he built the pink tower, and that he always has to get the bears out of his puzzle to come and climb the tower!

Rogue spent a long time exploring some lifecycle figures, lifecycles of a frog, a butterfly and a ladybird. We talked a little bit about what goes with what and what comes next but mostly he just played with them, including on the light pad which was lots of fun. 

Just before bedtime I discovered he had sneaked back in to the school room to do some lacing!