You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2010.

which was much needed.

I have been very busy trying to get ready for homeschooling, and preparing everything for the olders once the baby gets here.  I can feel a shift in my mood recently where I feel like it is time to plan and get ready for the newer…  I think this shift is happening all by itself while I find myself being more and more ready as far as work and projects for DD and DS.

I can certainly feel the nesting effect slowly starting to make it’s way in my daily activity.  I have been cleaning, and rearranging, and sorting, and purging…although maybe the arrival of spring has something to do with it…

A quick trip to Ikea really helped to ease the effect for a few days, but really that is it.  I can feel it coming full force again today

I am also feeling strongly drawn back to my first loves as far as creating (although making Montessori material is fun, I still have a deeper love for knitting and sewing…).  I got out the scarf I have been working on for a while, that was *almost* forgotten in my WIP drawer.

And while that, the kids have the time to rediscover their barn and have a few minutes to just let their imagination run wild.

But I can see that toys is not their thing.  They like the real world, learning about everything, touching everything, making art projects.  Untoys are still much more interesting to them, and have always been. And I don’t have to look very far to find them some material.  They find it by themselves, and create whatever they want to with it.

They have a sweet spot for this farm, but I think they do because they have been on a farm a couple of time, able to help, touch, see, and this is what makes it interesting.  In fact, DS was commenting this morning that there are no farm persons to go with the farm…  Good things his b-day is comming.

Unfortunatly though, the end of semester is almost here.  And I can see that the next few weeks will be really crazy with corrections mostly.  So this pause in time before the end rush is a necessary balance, and I plan to enjoy it as much as I can until I no longer can…

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It is ready.  Everything is finally here.

I have a few things to print laminate and cut…(print laminate cute, print, laminate cut…does that remind you of anything?) but that is it.  Practical life and sensorial are ready.

Here is the sensorial shelf:

(head on to flickr I have sevral notes explaining what is where)

I bought these shelves a while ago at IKEA in the “as is” section.  Nothing was wrong with it, it was a demo.  I have always used it to put the kid’s stuff in it.  And now, it is serving it’s purpose perfectly again  for the sensorial section: low enough for the younger to be able to reach the material, and has just enough room for everything without being too big.  That was one god buy.

I will now be working on the math and language shelves.  I am wanting to look for bookshelves that we will be able to use later on for something else, and that is a tad higher, since the very young (i.e. our soon to be 3rd baby…) won’t really have to have access to these for a while.

After a good look at IKEA, I am thinking about those:

Where the lower shelves are large and long enough for larger items, and the higher spots can be use by me to rotate or organize other things.

Otherwise I am thinkg this:

that is very cheap, and could be reused in an office, garage or storage room.  There are lower shelves possible with this…

Both are made out of real wood, which is one of my first criterias…There are otherwise beautiful bookcases (lack and expedit) but they are particule panels, and I don,t want that in my house.  I know that kinda limit my choices…

I cannot wait to have them done, although I still have a while to go.  Some material needs to be done, and other to buy (think beads here…)

I had a little bit of spare time to work on those this weekend.

I was planning on trying to stamp the numbers on the board and wooden chips.  So I used the number pattern provided by JHJ publishing (although I am not sure that it is still available since the site has changed) for the small number cards.  THe font is primer print.

Using a carving technique seen here I copied the letter on a carving pad, and carved them.  It was easy enough, and I was rather satisfied with the results.  But when I started stamping them with the acrylic paint I had, I wasn’t impressed with the results.  The lines weren’t as clean and well defined as I wanted them to be.

So I had the idea from here to use a ink pen.  So I went to a local art store, and ask the salesperson a good ink pen to use on wood.  She wasn’t really sure that this would yield the results I wanted, she thought the ink might run and make a fuzzy line.  So she suggested this instead:

which works like a charm.

So I exactoed the JHJ publishing pattern ( again, the small number cards) , and then drew the numbers on the wood using the “pochoir” method:

and with no running whatsoever.

The lines are sharp and clean, just as I wanted them to be.

It dries quickly, and since there are differents types of point, you can have sharp or larger depending on what you need.

The only thing left to do is to seal this, so that the paint doesn’t chip.

I have been using Mod podge for the red rods, and I really like the results.  And since it is non toxic, I like it even better.  So I will be using it again to seal the boards and pieces that goes with it.  I plan to use it with a small paint brush.

Hopefully this will be done by the end of the day…

I am please to report that we are almost ready to go.  Of course, you are not always completely ready when homeschooling, a concept that I am clearly understanding, but the basis, on which I wanted to start, is almost done.  Good thing, because this belly of mine is also getting bigger…

this moment of peace is brought to you in part by Ikea…

As far as I can remember, I have never seen an Easter being so hot.

It was incredibly hot, and yet, there were still some spots of ice in my swimming pool…how weird was that.  That allowed us to do a first round of BBQ in the backward, which was absolutely delish.  At some point, we even had to try to find shade, because the sun was just so darn hot.  But we enjoyed nontheless, but had to be careful that the chocolate, for the easter hunt, would not melt (a problem I never anticipated before…)

And of course, some artwork is always a good way to end an egg hunt…

I hope you had a lovely easter, whatever you did, and whatever the temperature was…

Since my last post about the lightbulb that clicked after reading a fantastic post about Montessori wisdom, I have been refining my ideas, and working a lot in the direction of simplifying.  I cannot said enough how good it feels.  I don’t feel as overwhelmed by everything I have to get ready, learn and do.

THis morning, while searching for some information online, I found this article which discuss strategies for starting a new school.  It is directed at somebody who opens a school, therefore a teacher, and not for homeschooling parents.  But I think a lot of it does apply to anybody that wants to start using the Montessori pedagogy, whether it is in a schooling facility or at home.

The article draws many conclusions about people that start their own school, and highlights many mistakes that are commonly made when starting out.  2 were standing out IMO.  The first one being not presenting the material at the rght time, and missing out on the right timing to fully capitalize on an learning experience.  This seems to either be du to a lack of understanding of the method itself, or due to not having the core material on hand before starting out.

The other mistake is choosing quantity over quality.  People seems to think that the classroom needs to be full of material of any kinds, instead of having fewer but the right kind.  And I seriously think this might lead to the first mistake  I mentionned.  If you have too much, but not the basics, you get easily lost in everything else…  And you have to get the basics ready before anything else.  It must all be there and ready to be used to be able to follow the child in his development.  The rest, can come later.

The author makes a list of what she thinks is the bare basics that is hard to make material, for each area of study.  If I compare this list with what I wrote in my previous post, as far as sensorial material, it is basically the same. Language as well.  The math list is even shorter, but the author insist on being able to make most of the material by hand.

If you are interested in the topic, I strongly suggest to read this article, it was a very interesting read.

I personnaly think there are many advantages going to simple way:

1. knowing the material better.  If you have less, you master it more…it is easier to know all the extensions, the variations…This for me is a BIG advantage.

2. less materialism stress on the kids:  the material is all there, without being overwhelming, and they can really work it through, find new ways to use it, and thus be creative, and master all the variations.  They master the material, and they don’t just skim through.  I think this is a great life lesson as well.  When you have something, you don’t need more, you use it as much as you can

3. Easier to start from, makes it easier to plan.  Not as much to get, to read to understand…not as overwhelming, you know where you are heading and what you have to do.

4. money.  At the end of it all, if you need less, you buy less.  Yes, quality matters, but I think there are ressources where you can find material that is quality enough for a homeschool point of view at reasonable prices.  And having less means less time to make the material, so for anyone that is handy, it is doable.

5. and with all that you still reach the point of using the method.  Dr. Montessori did it that way after all…and some of her material was made with simple material at hand at the time where it was made.

I am currently following Karen Tyler’s class.  Every month, she is giving us an entire album for us to read through and get familiar with.  We are currently working the sensorial aspect of the method.  We only have a couple of presentations so far to read, but there are so many variations of every presentation, that really, this can keep busy a child for a while IMO.  I now understand how in the first Casa dei Bambini, only practical life and sensorial materials were present at first, and yet the kids didn’t get bored. Languge and maths are still to come…

I think with that, we will be busy for a while.

I have a few ideas bookmarked for special occasions, or just because we feel like it, and I am getting some of this material ready for when the time comes.  But I am clearly seeing the bigger picture here, and it makes it easier to get to from point A to B.

One thing I am finding hard to “get” is the  the rhythm of it all.  And I am not talking about the rhythm of the day.  This is something I strongly believe in, and out time testing the Waldorf philosophy has make this even stronger for us.  This is one thing we have adopted from Steiner.  I mean the annual rhythm, the sequence of the year, the line to follow that kinds makes it all a whole.  DS is currently in a Montessori school part time.  We receive every month the monthly report card of what they did and learned.  I can see a thread, a trend in how the year goes by.  This month, they were talking about dinosaurs and the beggining of the earth, and what it planned for next month is the evolution from there.  They have work to rhytm of the music, dancing, walking on rhythm, and how a metronome works, but that after learning the basic notes, and how music “works”.  You can see a planing behind all this, when the children are not choosing what to work on by themselves, something else is going on and THAT is planned.  And this is the part that makes me feel like I am not ready yet to homeschool.

I have been looking at the New child Montessori curriculum, and I am wondering if that wouldn’t give me a head start at least in the right direction.  Maybe I wouldn’t feel so unprepared, and unorganized as I sometimes feel right now.