Monday, May 15, 2017

Growing, Growing, New Flute!

S is 9 years old and finishing up her second year of flute study. She is rounding out Suzuki Flute book 4, and will likely finish this in the next couple of months. She also uses Trevor Wye's Complete Daily Exercises for the Flute: Essential Practice Material for Intermediate to Advance Flautists for tone and fingering exercises

S just picked out a new flute. She picked an Azumi AZ3. We received three flutes in the mail to try out: a Sonari, a Di Zhao, and the Azumi. Her first flute was an Azumi, so it was no surprise to everyone that she picked this one.
S is sooo excited to have a new flute. Her mom is still having sticker shock. (I am probably going to have heart problems in a few years when we may need to upgrade again.)
I like this shot because her right hand gives away her age, and her level. So cute, those baby fingers!
We also did some glamor shots today, the day before it is supposed to rain for six days. I plan to print a couple and hang them around the house.
This is a shot from our last flute-photo session a couple of years ago.

This time we went for a more mature look, since she IS 9 now! Children grow and they don't stop. Here is to many more years of flute!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Montessori School for the Kids and for Me!

So the news!

A few months ago we found out that a public charter Montessori school would be opening near us this fall. We put the kids names into the lottery and with a stroke of luck all three made it in. After a lot of discussion about pros and cons we decided to enroll all three for the fall. So, T, S, and D will all be going to Montessori school full time for the first time.
 At first I had many reservations about this brand new public charter school. But after actually meeting the Head of School and talking with her about her new school, I found new optimism that this would be a wonderful place to call school/home in the coming years.

The school presently enrolls about 360 students ages 3-12. They are adding 7th grade and 8th grade classes each successive years as well as adding additional classrooms to each level. The middle school years will be modeled after the erdkinder school.

T will be entering 5th grade this fall so he'll have a possible 4 years at the school before a transition to whatever high school holds for him. S will be entering 4th grade and D will be entering 1st grade.

We know a number of other friends who will also be attending but we are excited about being a part of a school community once again and meeting and making new friends too.

I am so very much relieved to not be facing another year of homeschooling. I chose to homeschool because I couldn't afford Montessori school and didn't want public school. I've spoken to many moms who love homeschooling their children. I love my children, but I do not love homeschooling them. Sending them to a Montessori school feels like a dream come true. I am hopeful that they WILL have the chance to develop to their potentials and grow a lifelong-love of learning in a true Montessori environment. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. And now it feels like another larger challenge has just landed square in my path.

This all brings me to my next update which is that I will also be attending Montessori school in the fall. I am will be training for an AMI primary teacher training in conjunction with a masters degree in education starting in the fall. Additionally, I'll be moving to Maryland to study for the year. With some family helping here in Texas and some helping me in Maryland, I am confident that we will get through this challenging year apart with grace and growth.

I am so very very thankful to all of the guides and friends who really supported me during this discernment process. I really couldn't have stepped out into the unknown like this without my support village.

Taking this step out was, and still is, scary, daunting, uncomfortable, and a tiny bit thrilling. I was so scared to ask for help, advice and assistance. I hate not knowing what is coming next. I hate plans that evolve and change. And the financial state of affairs, well that is enough to make any sane person faint. In a nut shell, leaving your family, spending tens of thousands of dollars, moving half way across the country for a year, and getting a second masters degree (I already have an MBA) is just CRAZY. What I learned was that grace and huge blessings await on the other side of "no way, I did it!" If I had never stepped out and done it, I would have never been able to say, "I did it!" And in this case, "I did it," feels pretty good.

The application process is over, and now it is time to plan, budget, and plan more. I have another month of school and the whole summer to plan and prepare, but I am so excited to get there, and begin.

So, this blog will no longer be about homeschooling that is for sure. I haven't decided what to do with it yet. Perhaps it will become more about my personal Montessori journey, so stay tuned. (Wow, that is an old phrase, with iPods and cell phones, and Pandora, does any one "tune" anything in anymore?)

(The photos above are all S's plants. We have tomatoes!!! out back already!!! and we have cilantro, and sage, tons of zinnias, and gladiolas. And we have a couple of reseeded melon volunteers as well. Her garden is going to be a busy place this summer. And the last photo is of her amaryllis plants. A couple decided to make babies last year, and her grandmother gifted her another, the huge one in the center. S is going to have to find a larger space for all this, both indoors and out!)

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Lacrosse and Montessori Math

Lacrosse season is over! T scored his first goal ever! They ended the season with something like a 6-1 record. They were rained out a bit. So now it is on to a May tournament, and then skills camp, and then lacrosse camp, and then it will just be too hot to play, unless you want to suit up and jump in the pool.

T thinks he is funny, and is "fake" throwing the ball at me. You can see his stick is turned around so the ball will not release...funny guy.
Little D will also be going to skills camp this summer.

He thinks the chin strap feels a little weird. Wait till he tries out the mouth guard.
D doesn't need reading glasses. But since S does, he figures what the heck, so do I. Now his doggie...well he has cataracts, or at least that is what the scuffs on his eyes look like.

Half way through All About Spelling Book 2. This man loves spelling, but we are taking it kind a slow.
Big man math. Cubing a trinomial.
This is the last iteration of the Three Kings lesson. T is comfortable enough with the categories that he can do his multiplication like this. Hundreds cubed is millions. Hundreds (100s) have two zeros each. So, you have 100*100*100, you add the zeros, and throw in some commas, and then you get 1,000,000, a million. Gotta say, this is a good test prep thing. Makes multiplying numbers and estimating answers a lot quicker.

This was T's problem sheet for (243)^3.
And S is doing the bank game. (To find out more about the bank game, scroll down and click on the category to see more posts where I mention this presentation.) She's had a LOT of practice with the large bead frame, and understands decomposing your multiplicand and multiplier and how to multiply categories. She is pretty quick with her math facts as well, and this really, really helps because this activity involves a lot of mental math. She settled into this lesson quite easily.
There is a bit more to come...I have some exciting news about our homeschooling so stay tuned!!

Friday, February 24, 2017

More Math: Group Division and Dividing Decimal Fractions

More math. Yes, more math. T is pretty close to the end of the elementary Math album. But there are times when we need to go back and review something that, well, just isn't there in the brain anymore. This happened recently with fractions and finding least common multiples. And this happened with S, when we had to back and do the golden-bead change game before continuing work with the Large Bead Frame. She is quite far behind in the math album, but who's counting? Me? Yeah, probably. But after a circle back around, and a rather quick-ish review, the kids take up their work where they left off and keep on going.

Here, T was finishing up group division. Yes, you go back to the stamp game! This comes after distributive division in the form of racks and tubes. I had to really try to wrap my head around this lesson to try to figure out how this is actually different than distributive division.

In distributive division, you say, okay, I have two friends, and including me, there are three people who get to share the cookies. Okay, I've got a basket of cookies here, and I am going to distribute them, "one for you, one for you, one for me. Now, one more for you, one more for you...." You get the idea. If there are twelve cookies, each person ends up with four distributions.

In group division, we say, we have 12 cookies in the basket and two fuzzy blue friends with big bulgy eyes that don't use articles in their sentences. We also say that you are also blue and fuzzy and you want cookies too. Your first blue fuzzy friend says, "Me hungry, give me cookies?" You take the basket and start making groups of three cookies and tell the other monsters no one can sample till you are done counting. This first group of three cookies contains a cookie for each friend and for you. You can make four groups of three cookies using all 12 cookies. So, that means each monster can get a cookie 4 times.

And then I said, isn't that mostly the same idea?

Well, it gets better as your divisor increases!
Before the divisor increases, we'll take the example above.

T made piles of seven of each category. (It would be like he gave six friends and himself each hundreds first, and then tens, and then units.) There are two piles of (7) hundreds, six piles of (7) tens, and three piles of (7) units with one left over. Each of six friends and T would get a hundred stamp two times, a tens stamp six times, and a unit stamp three times. The quotient is two hundreds, six tens and three units, or 263.
Here, T used a two digit divisor. In the top row he made (32) hundreds. In the second and third rows, he made (32) tens, and in the fourth, fifth, and six rows he made (32) units. He made one group of hundreds, two groups of tens, and three groups of units, so his quotient was 123. Am I losing you yet?
Here, he made one group of (48) hundreds. He made no groups of (48) tens, and one group of (48) units which you can't see in its entirety. This meant that his quotient was (1) hundred and (1) unit or 101. Now I am positive that you are turning blue and fuzzy and thinking about cookies out of sheer "what???" slack-jawed confusion. This is group division. It seem mind-bending to me, but T seemed to absorb it like a-no-big-deal-sponge. And then we'll see if that no-big-deal-brain retains any of this.

T had a tendency to stack his groups into piles. In this way, you can't see a multi-category group as easily. If the tiles are laid out all next to each other it is easier to see that you have (48) hundreds, rather than a stack of some number of green and red tiles.
T also finished up the decimal fraction part of the album. Here he is dividing decimal fractions by decimal fractions. Here we were using distributive division.

Above, his problem is 8.6 / 4.3 =. He put out 4 green unit skittles and 3 blue skittles to represent tenths. (The skittles were borrowed from the stamp game.) He then counted out 8 green unit cubes and 6 light blue tenth cubes from our decimal fraction materials. And here he distributed the 8.6 dividend amount among his 4.3 divisor amount to find that each unit skittle received (2) units.  This was his quotient.
In this example, T is dividing 0.4 / .25 =. He has placed two blue skittles to represent the 0.2 in his divisor, and five red skittles to represent the 0.05 in the divisor. The green disk (also from the stamp game) is to remind us that the unit category would go here. He also has counted out four light blue cubes to represent his 0.4 dividend.
He distributed two light blue tenth cubes to each blue skittle, and then realized that he needed to get some hundredths to distribute to his red skittles. He exchanged each light blue tenth cube for (10) orange hundreth cubes, and distributed five of these to each red skittle. The blue skittles represent 0.1, or tenths, and are worth ten times what each red skittle is worth. (Red skittles represent hundreths or 0.01.) If you give blue skittles units, the red skittles would get tenths. If you give the blue skittles tenths, the red skittles will get hundreths. Blue skittles receive then times what red skittles receive.

He ran out of light blue tenth cubes to give out, and instead gave out orange hundreth cubes to each blue skittle. Then he needed to get some thousanth cubes to give out to each red skittle, so he exchanged a single orange hundreth cube for (10) green thousandth cubes and distributed one to each red skittle. He continued distributing and exchanging until he ran out of cubes.

Then we asked, "what would one unit have received?" There wasn't a unit in our divisor, but we put the green circle tile as a place holder. And what one unit would receive is our quotient. A unit skittle would receive ten times what a blue tenth skittle would receive. In this case, a blue tenth skittle received 0.16, so a unit skittle would receive 1.6. Our quotient is 1.6. And now, I am quite sure I've lost everyone.

Somehow a minecraft guy got in this shot and he is doing some exchanging.
This is the same deal, but the divisor doesn't contain any tenths and I believe the quotient is a repeating decimal.

The problem was 0.36 / 0.027=.

The divisor is represented in skittles and the missing place values, units and tenths, are the blue and green circles. T started out with three light blue tenth cubes and six orange hundreth cubes. He distributed a tenth cube under each of the red skittles. Then each green thousanth skittle received a hundredths cube. T didn't have enough blue tenth cubes to give each red skittle another distribution so he exchanged his remaining light blue tenth cube for (10) organge hundreth cubes and gave one of these to each of the red skittles. The green thousandth skittles then needed to received green thousandth cubes, so T exchanged an orange hundreth cube for (10) light green thousanth cubes and distributed these. T continued distributing and exchanging to find that this problem never ends because it is a repeating decimal. He also figured out that the unit skittle would have received 13.3333.

Interesting stuff humn? I am glad that T understood it all because I barely understood what was going on. I feel calculus is easier than this.

One of the very cool things about Montessori math is that the child builds upon the concepts they've already absorbed. Color coding is reinforced again and again. The child circles back around to reuse essential materials and in doing so, is invited to dig deeper into more complex topics. To the outsider, who learned math entirely differently, it is like learning a new foreign language to figure out how to present these lessons. But to the child, who has been absorbing and using these coding systems and apparatus for 6 years running now, the mystery and complexity of the mathematical operation is completely eliminated and the genius of mathematical illustration is allowed to shine through. This is what continually amazes me about Montessori's presentations.

Ah, a weekend is upon us and the weather will be a bit cooler! (I know, you are probably like, for real? It is February!! REALLY! It's been near 90 a few days running now and we are having to water grass already! 80s will be nice.)  I think we'll be barbecuing some tandoori-style lamb kabobs, baking gluten-free-egg-and-dairy-free pitas, planting hollyhocks, phlox and daylillies, doing a ton of other lawn and garden work, and cheering on our first lacrosse game of the season. Okay, well, S and I won't be there at the game. We'll be at a flute lesson trying to figure out dynamics and other fun stuff. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and week to come!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Rocks and Fossils, and Grammar and Other Projects

Old things that are hard: these two explorations weren't all that close to each other, but I'll try my best to remember my information sources.  If my mind seems a bit sprout-y it is because it is spring and I am presently wondering, HOW are the boys destroying my measuring tape outside? The SOUNDS are tipping me off that there may be some impermissible tape-measure behavior going on. Hold, on....

Okay, I'm back. First, different types of rock. I think that this is sedimentary, or layered rock. I adapted this set of instructions from Homeschool Den. I just used what I had on hand.
Here, we have layers people. Color-full-sugar-filled ones, which incidentally, the kids didn't eat because we are on an elimination diet. Amazing.

This was pre-heat metamorphic rock/sugar.
After we stuck the metamorphic specimen in the oven and added heat, it looked like the mess on the right. The specimen on the left, is igneous: one piece that had cooled from a very high temperature into a more homogeneous mass.

Then we sang the three types of rock song to the tune of "row, row, row your boat."
Sedimentary rock,
Has been formed in layers,
Often found near water sources,
With fossils from decayers.

Then there's igneous rock,
Here since earth was born,
Molten lava, cooled and hardened,
That's how it is formed.

These two types of rock ,
Can also be transformed,
With pressure, heat and chemicals,
Metamorphic they'll become.

Kids loved singing that one.
And we explored some of our personal rock collection specimens. These specimens are large enough to be held in the palm of your hand. They are from and I purchased the Premium Rock Collection. It comes with a handy booklet for those who don't have a strong geology background. I'd say that the booklet is more for adult useage, or middle-schooler/high-school usage, or for the young extreme enthusiast. My kids weren't interested in the more detailed information. This collection was a bit more pricy, but I really wanted the kids to have large-enough samples to hold, feel, and identify. Most smaller sized sets I found on other websites, featured quarter sized rocks, and I felt these samples were too small. I was quite pleased with this sample set.

D figured out that pumice floats.
I think that these are two selenite crystals, purchased on a trip to some underground caverns.
Some of these other specimens we picked up on that same trip south where we went to visit the caverns and "pan for gold." This is S's personal collection. She is very proud of her collection. Her rock collection is second only to her chicken bone collection. (I am not kidding, in her room she has a box of chicken bones collected from the dinner table.) S was very excited we went to the museum to look at bones!
Recently we went to a museum that had a lot of dinosaur fossils found in Texas.

T, S and D all got to converse with the paleontologist who was working at the museum that day. The tooth she is holding in her hand is from a woolly mammoth and the kids got to touch it and hold it.
This is the top part of a donkey skull and S is holding a horse's tooth. 

We visited early on a Saturday and there weren't many families at the museum yet. The exhibits were pretty small and old-looking. But it was wonderful to be able to ask the staff person any question we liked about bones and get some up-close, hands-on, personalized lessons about fossils. This first-hand interaction isn't something we've ever gotten at a larger museum and this conversation made the kids' day.
S sure looks serious doing her sentence diagramming. She and T really like these exercises.
This work was D. This work also reminded me that I have to remind him what the different parts of speech are, again. Though he has some parts down pat, others are still, lost in that goes-in-and-never-comes-out-again bin. All my children need this constant grammar review over 3-4 years and the older ones still can't identify a conjunction.
D has also started our word study cards from ETC. Here he is alphabetizing this card deck.

These are a couple of T's sentence diagrams. I guess this lesson was about prepositional phrases.
I mentioned this book in a previous post.  It is Drawing Sentences by Eugene Moutoux. The kids like the exercises and I love the instruction and descriptions. His website is here and you can now buy it on Amazon.
Over the past few months we've been doing a lot of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd materials making. For those familiar with level I materials, this one T is working on could seem a lot like the Empty Tomb work. This is because it was patterned after that material. I've cut and glued two of these "tombs" so far and I still can't seem to get the outside dimensions quite right. There are instructions, but they are vague in parts and you really need to have it in your head, what your cut list is supposed to be, and how to scale-down this ginormous material to "fit" into your atrium space. Maybe by number 3, I'll produce something satisfactory.
Here T is taking the wooden outer and making his own Minecraft "land" with styrofoam, wood glue, and joint compound.
This is what our school table looks like sometimes.
D was helping me paint the, now-that-I-think-about-it-it's-too-short-walls for the city of Jerusalem. This one is staying at home. The other one went to the atrium all ready.
He's a precise little boy.
I haven't a clue when these were shot, maybe in early February? But it was 90 degrees here today. The weather man said we were in early spring and S planted some Hollyhocks before the boys complained it was too hot and wanted to go inside. We live south I guess.