Saturday, 25 April 2009

Your Blog is Super Award

I am so grateful to Basia from United Teaching for giving me this award.  It was the perfect thing to come home to on Saturday after an extremely tiring week! THANK YOU SO MUCH BASIA.

Here are the rules for this award: Tape it up on your blog somewhere. Pass it along to 5 fellow super bloggers, and comment on their blog to let them know how lucky they are today! When you present your Super Blogger awards, link back to the super blogger who gave it to you.

I nominate the 5 following blogs for this award.

Enjoy it!!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Grammar cards, chart and booklets

I've just finished making my Montessori grammar chart, cards and booklets for use in my 6-9 class. And I have a surprise for everyone so keep reading.
This is the grammar chart with an explanation of the parts of speech.
These are the grammar symbol 4 part cards. The control cards are stuck together in accordion style.
This is the grammar booklet that I printed and then discovered that our school owns a ring binder machine so I'm so happy I could bind this into a real booklet.
You can see the front of this in the above picture.

We don't own a set of solid grammar symbols, they aren't available in the UK except at sky high prices and buying them from abroad will cost too much postage. So I decided to make them from card, below is a picture of the noun pyramid I just made. I'll make all the other shapes except the verb and adverb symbols as I'm sure I can find balls the right colour.

Anyway the surprise is, that I am selling the files for the grammar chart, cards and booklets on eBay. You can go to the listing here . I decided that I have to do something to make some more money as our school is suffering financially and unfortunately has cut all staffs salaries including mine :(
If you have shown support to my blog by leaving me 5 or more comments before this post and are interested in getting these files, leave a comment on this post and I will be more than happy to send you these files for free. This is my cheeky way of getting those who lurk to start commenting :)

I'll post more about how to use these grammar materials.

The grammar files that I posted about last week are no longer on eBay as I just found out that its against eBay policies to sell digital delievered materials. So I have move the file to my store, you can get them here.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Timetable to get organised

Does anyone have any good advice or tips for getting life organised? Especially for single mums?

I've been feeling very unorganised the last few months and haven't been happy with all the time that passes without knowing how it was spent. I have things piling up around me and I don't know how to get back in control of it all. I've decided to write up a timetable with things to do once I come home from work and I also made a weekly timetable with things I have to do throughout the week.

 Anyone have any good ideas?

Shoulder bag

I made my first bag!!! I needed a bag that would fit an A3 sketch book so I decided to give my sewing skills a chance and followed Tiny Happy's shoulder bad tutorial [with some adjustment to sizes], her tutorial is great and very easy for a first bag. I used some Hessian fabric that I got a year ago for the outside and an old scarf that my sis had for the lining.  The nice thing about Hessian is that you can cross stitch on it, so I hope to add a bit of detail to the bag later on.

I didn't know that making bags was so easy and quick, so I'm sure I'll be making another one soon.

My A3 sketch book is for a Geometric Art course I started on Saturday. Above is the first design we did using a pencil, compass and ruler. I'm hoping to incorporate some of theses patterns into my class and I'm thinking of a way to set up a compass activity.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Yesterday was such an exciting day. My delivery of Montessori elementary materials arrived, some for school and some for ME. I spent more than two hours looking through the boxes, checking all the materials and making sure everything was complete.

I hadn't actually seen some of these later materials, so I was so excited. Little-N did his bit helping me out. In this picture he is checking the Pythagoras theorem material, I opened the catalogue to the correct page and left him to complete the material making sure all was there. He made another break through with his maths: as he put the pieces, he  looked at the spaces and worked out how many squares there should be for each place. I don't know exactly how he worked it out, but without counting he said 'we need 9 blue squares for here and 8 and 8 is 16 so we need 16 yellow squares!!' He obviously isn't ready for this material yet [only sensorially], so he wont be working with it. 

I ordered a binominal cube, a natural binominal cube, a trinominal cube and a natural trinominal cube. These went straight onto the shelves in the learning area. 
In the morning while Little-N was still in his PJs [he learns a lot first thing in the morning] he got out the binominal cube and did it with ease.

Next he got out the natural binominal cube and tried that. All the cubes are one colour, so it's much harder to do, he did that with ease.

Then he took out the trinominal cube and instead of building a cube, he built a castle. The yellow cubes where the knights!! Then he got up and sat at the other end of the table and started to build the trinominal cube. 
It's been a while since he worked with this so he was a bit rusty. He completed layer one, then did half of layer two and explained that he can see a binominal cube in the trinominal cube.

I didn't ask him to do the natural trinominal cube and he didn't suggest it either. I think he needs a few more goes with the coloured trinominal cube first.
I gave the natural trinominal cube to my 16yr old brother to try and he did it straight away [he's a genius anyways so I was sure he'd do it]. I then gave it to my dad to try and he gave up half way. It's interesting how some adults I meet can do it without a struggle, while others are totally lost. Little-N also took out the 4 bead chain and counted through that and through the 4 squares and cube, but he didn't want to work with the arrows [I'll post more about these later].
While he was doing his activities his Lego men [I mean Lego knights] were working with him too. He seems to want to involve them with everything he does [this has been happening for the past 4 months] Missing companionship??? He took the above picture and told me to include it in this post!

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Mental Maths

A question that I get asked a lot : 
'When will the children learn to do sums mentally without using the montessori beads or materials?'
The montessori mathematics materials are brilliant, they introduce the mathematical concepts in a very concrete way. As a child progresses through the materials, they become more abstract but in tiny weeny steps and many things such as colour coding help the child to feel confident when working with large numbers or hard sums. The child gradually progresses from doing addition with the large number rods [holding, counting, seeing quantity] to written addition mentally [sitting at a table with a pencil and paper].
Montessori mathematics materials allow for an enormous amount of repetition. For addition of one digit numbers we have over 12 activities for the children to do! With each activity they are working hands on and using they're senses. By time [and there isn't a specific time or activity when this will happen] the child will begin to mentally recall some number bonds or know how to work things out in their heads.  The ability to do addition mentally can happen anytime from 3 years up and Montessori allows each child to take their own individual time to make this leap.

Below are a few pics of Little-N's work. He's been working with the golden bead material a lot and is now able to do addition with 4 digit numbers [with out changing] mentally. 

He first showed me he could do this when he told a 5 yr old, 'Did you know that 200 plus 300 is 500?'. The 5 yr old was shocked and came to ask me if Little-N was right, we checked the answer with the golden beads and he was correct. The 5 yr old then set Little-N up with other sums until finally he asked Little-N to work out the 4 digit addition sums mentally while the boy worked out the answer with the golden beads.

I find with most children its a matter of practice  and more practice until a switch is flicked within them and they're able to do it all mentally.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Home Learning Environment

Easter holiday is here and Little-N & I are staying put in London. Yesterday I decided to set up Little-Ns learning environment in the conservatory. It's been years since he had a proper learning environment at home, the last few years have involved so much house moving I never felt  ready to make one.
This large shelf unit was unused, the chairs and table where in the store room and activities where in my bedroom cupboard/drawers. This isn't an area where I plan to teach him, but just somewhere he can work/play and learn on his own.

I have a selection of different activities out:
Books: his encyclopedias and appropriate reading level books.
Crafts: All sorts of bits and bobs, glue, tape, paper, beads, play dough and painting. 
Mathematics: Addition chart A and B, golden beads activities. 
Sensorial and  Geometry: Pattern blocks stamps, colour box 3, tessellation shapes, pentominoes, constructive triangles box  6, puzzles, tangram and blocks.
Language: Chalk board, writing paper, reading books. I'm hoping to make some of the green level sentences that he is working on at school. 
I also have a few materials for learning Arabic: Basket of animals [to learn names], Arabic cut out letters [instead of moveable alphabet], Arabic dictionary.
I also have a microscope activity on the shelf  which I presented to Little-N this morning.
The activities are all self contained and mats are provided where needed.

I'm hoping to add a few more things over the next few days, let me know if you have any ideas :)

Friday, 3 April 2009

Our Garden

Our garden at school is small, but full of wonderful things the children can do. The garden can be accessed directly from my class, so the children have free access to it. We have the same ground rules for the garden as indoors, except that they are allowed to run [and they can't inside]. The children are free to choose whether they want to work with an activity inside, or take it out. They have their daily plans inside and all know that they can spend the time wherever they want as long as they're responsible for completing their daily plans, this is my way of keeping the balance for those children who would rather just run all day. Here are some more pictures of the garden:

This is a climbing frame that we got made especially for the garden. We have a selection of works, continents and other learning cards stuck on it.
In this sand [mud] pit we have lots of mud, water and other strange things growing. The children like to add stones to it and mix it with a spade. They use a wheelbarrow to transport the mud from the logs area to this mud pit. This is where we will be putting our tadpoles soon. Sorry that I don't have a picture of it when its open. On the wall you can see some pegs, that's where cloths are hung to dry.
This is our vegetable patch. The children plant in it each year and they pick and eat from it. This year they have planted radish, carrots and cabbage.
This is the log area, a favourite for the young and old. They climb these logs, walk along them, roll them about and take off the bark. We have loads of fungi growing in between them and the children like to count and observe them. Beneath these logs live plenty of creepy crawlies and many beetles.
This is the compost bin where the children throw the food waste.
This is a bamboo plant that they planted years ago. The children love to break off sticks from this and then make kites and other structures with them.
This is called THE BOAT, it's supposed to be a walking beam for the children but they prefer to pretend its a boat and sit inside it. The wooden pillar in the middle has the children's height marked on it.
This is a walking beam that was made for the children. Little-N thinks its a crocodile!

In the garden we also have a small slide and a large sandpit that they can sit in. We have the Community Play Things building blocks which the children use to build structures that they can actually walk or climb on. We have a few shelve units with various practical life activities for the children to work with. There is a selection of rakes, spades, buckets, watering cans, wheelbarrow and other planting patches where the children dig freely.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

March's pictures

Here are some pictures I took this month. The children at school work independently most of the time and I am usually just there helping out when needed. This term has really been successful and my class has progressed so well. I'm proud of all my children :)
Little-N reading independently. Reading is one of the most popular activities in my class. Some children read about 6 books per work cycle. [Note: Little-N has finally had a hair cut!!!]
This picture is really special as Little-N doesn't like to sit and eat with anyone, however somehow his best friend managed to convince him.
Here a child is working with the pin maps. This is very easy to present, I just show the child how to use the control to find the flag and then to place it in the correct place. I leave the child to work with this independently then.....
Just a week later she sat and placed 20 flags of Europe in the correct places from memory. This girl was once told by a professional doctor that she had memory problems, she's proved them wrong!!!
Little-N working with the green series 'oo box', using the small moveable alphabet to spell the words.
Someone proud of her grammar work.
A castle Little-N made from the polydrons.
Practicing hand writing in the garden.
Matching fraction circles to fraction symbols.
Land form cards.
Flag cards for matching.
Working in the garden, the child have free access to the garden when weather permits.
Two boys busy with a written hundred chart.
Writing a story about a fairy. Girls!!!
Practicing her handwriting on special paper.

Lego Golden Beads Alternative

A while ago I posted here about the golden beads I made for Little-N from Lego. Thank you everyone for your comments, I really appreciate them.
Amber from Adventures of a Rainbow Mama also made them and blogged about them, her blog is great so if you haven't seen it before you better go over and check it out.
Amber asked what the trick was for making the 100 square and 1000 cube. So I decided to post this so that anyone else who is going to try this out knows what to do. If you have a better idea please share it :)
For the 100 square I made a 10x10 square from flat lego pieces. In the above picture I have separated them a bit so you can see. I did 3 layers so that each square is the same as a normal lego piece in height. The bits were sometimes quite small so I made sure I crossed them to hold the square together firmly.

Here's the 100 square from the top. I wanted the pins to show so that Little-N can count them to make sure that each square was 100.

For the 1000 cube, make a base of a 10x10 square basically the same as with the 100 square. Then build up the 'walls' so that there are 8 layers of walls on top of the based square.

If you have enough lego u can fill the inside so that it is really solid and does have 100o pins inside.
To finish off put a 100 square on the top and then u should have a 1000 cube. I made each layer in a different colour so that Little-N can count that they are ten layers. 10x 100 is a 1000.

Amber also made a short bead stair from the lego which is a brilliant idea. I decided to make it as well just for the sake of it and this is what I came up with. I tried to keep each number a different colour for the sake of colour coding.

For the 5, 7 and 9 piece, I made them up of flat pieces and layered them so that they would be the same height as the other pieces. The picture above shows they're side views so that you can see that the 7 bar was made from flat 4s and 3s layered.
Here's the view of the short bead stair when each piece is on its side. I think I prefer the first pic as it looks more like the real short beads stair.