Google+ Followers

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Great Story my plan for the Year.

Through my reading more on Montessori Method I learned about the Great lessons and how elementary Montessori schools cover these lessons in the first few weeks to month of the school year. They set the tone of learning and discovery for the rest of the year. Each have subject areas to dig deeper into for the children. "Montessori uses its Five Great Lessons as an introduction to all topics, providing a "Big Picture" to demonstrate how the sciences, art, history, language, geography are interrelated. Through the Five Great Lessons, children become aware that the universe evolved over billions of years, and that it is based on the law and order through which all the plants, animals, and the rest of creation is maintained."You can find the great lessons here with resources as well.

I also came across The Great Story site which is a evolution curriculum used in Montessori schools. You can find that and all the resources for it including videos, links, and pdf forms here.  A suggested added on reading are the 3 part book series from
Jennifer Morgan called Born with a Bang. Luckily I already own this series and had not used them yet.
Between the two curriculum the Evolution Great Story and the original Montessori Great Lessons I figured you can cover just about everything you need to cover in a yr and some.

The first great lesson is called" God without Hands" It is pretty much the story of the Big Bang and the creation of the Earth and the Universe. The second Lesson is called " The Coming of Life" it is pretty much what we call prehistory. The third Lesson is called"  The Coming of Human" is is early history of man, up to the first civilizations.The Fourth Lesson is called " The Story of Writing" its all about the first written history, languages, .The fifth and last lesson is called" The Story of Numbers" it is the origins of numbers and mathematics.

The idea is after exposing the children to the Big Picture or The Great Lessons at the beginning of the year they would then go back and study areas of interest that fall within the contexts of the lessons using Key lessons.

Lesson One Key Lessons: God With No Hands"
This lesson leads to the study of:
• Astronomy: solar system, stars, galaxies, comets, constellations
• Meteorology: wind, currents, weather, fronts, erosion, water cycle, clouds, glaciers
• Chemistry: states of matter, changes, mixtures, reactions, elements, atoms, periodic
table, compounds, molecules, chemical formulas, equations, lab work, experimentation
• Physics: magnetism, electricity, gravity, energy, light, sound, heat, friction, motion,
• Geology: types of rocks, minerals, land forms, volcanoes, earthquakes, plate
tectonics, ice ages, eras of the earth
• Geography: maps, globes, latitude/longitude, climates, land/water form names,
continent and country research

Lesson Two Key Lessons: Coming of Life
This lesson leads to the study of:
• Biology: cells, organized groups, five kingdoms, specimens, dissection, observation,
use of microscope, Dinosaurs, Prehistorical animals, Amphibians , Reptiles, Insects
• Botany: study of plants, classification, functions, parts of plants (seed, fruit, leaf,
stem, root, flower), types of plants
• Habitats: location, characteristics, food chains/webs, symbiosis, adaptation,
ecosystems, conservation
• Ancient Life: eras of the earth, evolution, extinction, fossil records, excavation
• Animals: classification, needs, similarities/differences, human systems, nutrition,
• Monera, Protista, and Fungi Kingdoms: what they are, classification, observation

Lesson Three Key Lessons :Coming Of Humans
This lesson leads to the study of:
• History: timelines, prehistory, ancient civilizations, world history, history of specific
countries and continents, stone age life, shelters, weapons
• Culture: art, artists, music, composers, dance, drama, architecture, design,philosophy, religion, grace and courtesy
• Social Studies: current events, government, economics, commerce, volunteering &
• Discovery & Invention: scientists, inventors, scientific method, inventions, simple machines
math: geometric shapes used in building, 

Lesson Four Key Lessons: Story of Writing
This lesson leads to the study of:
• Reading: literature, poetry, non-fiction, myths and folk tales, authors, reading
comprehension, reading analysis, literary terms
• Writing: elements of style, function, voice, composition, letter writing, research,
study skills
• Language: origins of spoken language, foreign languages, history of languages,
speech, drama
• Structure: alphabets, bookmaking, grammar, punctuation, sentence analysis, word
study, figures of speech
History: Cave Paintings, Cuneiform, Hieroglyphs, paper making, myths/legends

Lesson Five Key Lessons: Story of Numbers
This lesson leads to the study of:
• Mathematics: operations, fractions, decimals, multiples, squares, cubes,
percentages, ratio, probability, intro to algebra
• Numbers: origins of numbers and systems, bases, types of numbers, scientific
• Geometry: congruency, similarity, nomenclature of lines, angles, shapes, solids,measurements, sacred geometry, geometric art
• Application: story problems, measurement, estimation, graphs, patterning,
rounding, money concepts
History: famous Mathematicians , Roman Numerals, architecture, History of mathematics,  Pythagoras, vedic math,

So as you can see you could very easily spend the entire year and more covering a number of interesting topics that fall under just about every subject area there is to cover. It seems to me a great way to plan my next year out in an over all picture of topics so that I know what resources I will need to have on hand or be collecting to help my kids dig deeper into these topics but without spending days/weeks making out a very detailed lesson plan. Clearly, these five stories encompass an enormous amount of information about the origins of the world around us

Resources sites: 

a print out timeline

youtube video playlist

Link to the Jennifer Morgan Book series

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter and The Song of Creation.

Humans are the instruments got uses to play his favorite music. You are a note in a song and I am another note. If you strum a guitar, you play five or six notes all together and it sounds really good- a chord, right? Well, all of us here are a chord when we're vibrating right. In attunement we sound a beautiful chord. If the people of the world were all in attuneement, they would be sounding music that we could actually hear. Some people actually do begin to hear the music life is playing throughout the universe. The stars, the planets, the galaxies are all vibrating to this song. This is the song of life, the song of creation. it is the creative word that was spoken in the beginning of time. It is still being spoken now. In the beginning was the word and God was the word. Everything including you was created by the word or the vibration of God. You, me and all of creation are God's song. 

 Now on this wonderful day I want to add to this...Jesus tried to tell the people of the world don't worship me- be like me.Let the same spirit I am move through you.Jesus was like a single note sounding.He knew if their were others vibrating with him, making chords of Gods song with him then they could do great things together. We are here to learn to vibrate/life like Jesus. We are here to help making the beautiful song of God's creation.

On Easter I don't focus on the story of the death of Jesus. You will not see me watching a Passion of the Christ Play. I focus on the message Jesus came here to teach us. I focus on becoming more Christ like and remembering that I am a divine creation , my goal is to attune my vibration to God's creative song and help make the world a better place. To bring it back to it's original glory. I truly do believe that our world is in a time of reawakening, a time where the truths that are at the heart of all religions and spiritual teachings are coming to light. We are waking up to the understanding of our true spiritual birth rite and realizing that we are all apart of God. the story of Jesus rising is the story of the human race waking up.We are at the point in human history were we have been in the tomb for 3 days/ and are now waking up to our true self's. Little by little over the last 2,000 yrs we have woke up more and more. we are beginning to remember things from the very beginning, even things from before the earths creation.Spirit beings are what we are.  For 2,000 years we have been riding the wave of awakening. This is what I believe to be the Second Coming of Christ. This to me is the story of Easter and the message Jesus brought to the earth. Happy Easter may your day be blessed and may you awaken that part of you to take part in God's song.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Waldorf Gnome

So if you haven't seen all the cute little Waldorf gnomes yet as soon as you do you will want your own set. They are just cute little guys. Now I am no artist but I am a creative momma who likes to save money so I made my own.
So far I have a total of $16 in my cost but I still need to get felt to make their hats. For the moment we made paper hats for the math gnomes.
If you are interested in the Waldorf math gnome lessons you can get them here also here You can also find Waldorf gnome stories in ebook at Waldorf Library

Friday, April 18, 2014

Why not blend take what works

I have spent the last few years learning as much as I can about different educational philosophies with a real focus on a few that I was drawn to. They are Waldorf, Montessori, Unschooling, and Unit based learning. I personally felt these forms of education had areas they were strong in and areas they were weak in. Seeing I wanted my children to have a very well rounded education I felt it was best to follow my heart and my own intuition on what method or methods I should use. I have taken the time to try them all and see were their strong points are to me.

First I will talk about Waldorf Education created by Rudolf Steiner.   Rudolf Steiner
developed on an extremely detailed curriculum in which subject matter is designed to complement and harmonize with the growing state of the child’s inner consciousness. Thus the child is taught in ways he can deeply connect with, such as using fairy tales as the springboard for early language arts work — or studying a science unit comparing people and animals at an important developmental juncture at age nine. The teacher brings in stories, poems, songs, and a sense of lively imagination and wonder to enliven curriculum topics. Written work is almost always approached with
colorful drawings and artistic, often multicolored,writing. There is an artistic thrust to almost every lesson in all curricular areas — even math and science. Personally once I used Waldorf educational material I felt the math was extremely weak. On the other hand I was very drawn to the very artistic creative approach to learning the lessons. I also enjoyed that I had a major role in helping my children learn with this method.

Montessori created By Marie Montessori is very much different. Far from Steiner’s notion that the inspired teacher should present special lessons to the children, Montessori’s radical idea was that the teacher should take a back row seat: “Education should no longer be mostly the imparting of knowledge, but must take a new path, seeking the release of human potentialities”. Through the use of hands on learning materials with clear concepts in math I seen the real benefit of this learning method. Yet I felt it was very lacking in the areas of story telling, arts, and even spirituality. I was not attracted to me the parent/ learning guide having such a non involving role, yet I seen the benefit in having some area of learning where the child was the lead and could gain a strong confidence in themselves and their own abilities to learn on their own. That idea just happens to be very unschooling and something I do agree with on a certain level.

That brings me to the area of unschooling that I do agree with and try to impalement in our learning journey. The freedom for the child to follow their own interest and learn from their own creator inspired gifts. I believe every person is born with special gifts and purpose in life. I think unschooling is wonderful in the area of allow the children time and space to really strength this gifts and interest. I think it is highly important to allow time for this in my child's life.

Now unit studies this really isn't a philosophy but is a great way to cover topics of interest. It is so well rounded you can cover just about every subject area using one unit study. For new homeschoolers this was a life blessing.

This blend of philosophies is what I use and feel is best for my children. Maybe that’s what
education should be for children: helping them learn about the world around them through touching their inner, subjective beings, as well as leading them to interact with a rich environment. In other words, maybe what children really need is a creative, nurturing, enlivening blend of Waldorf and Montessori.  

DIY Montessori learning materials

This week I have been busy bee making and using some homemade Montessori learning materials. They seem to be a big hit with the kids and a much welcomed change to some of the online materials we have been using this yr. I thought I would share some and tell you how I made them at very little cost to me.

These are the number tiles used with the 9 layout. I still need to make 9 thousand blocks but I will be using the base ten set I already have instead of the Montessori bead set. I used a bundle of shims I had in the shed. Shims are angled pieces of wood used to level things like cabinets. You can get them for like $4 at Lowes. I cut off the thin end , sanded them down and wrote the numbers on with sharpie. Then I coated with triple coat finish. If I would have paid better attention I would have color coated the ones and thousands green and the tens blue and the hundreds red. Oh well these will do for now.

These are the blue and red color rods for counting. The real Montessori ones are actually connected where mine are not. I used an old jenga game no one played with any more. I figure not only can the kids use them for counting but the can use them for block building as well.

The addition board you can get this print out free from Montessori Print shop here  I just laminated it and attached to a file folder for easy storage.

you can get basic math equations as well off Montessori print shop in addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication. I would laminate because you can use them over and over with many different resources.

The teen board is used for learning numbers 10-19. The real ones are wood but I used two different colored poster board. The pink is two inches wide and has ten 10's on it and then the green tiles are 1 in and are 1-9.

My 4yr old Maverick working with the teen board.

This is my daughter Alyssa working with the division board. I made it using a paint canvas but you could make one using some ply wood . It really could be used for multiplication as well.

The Montessori stamp game also from Montessori print shop. It is used when learning place value and can also be used along side a set of base ten blocks. i don't have a color printer so I cut construction paper in the needed colors to fit my printer and the number tiles printed out just fine. I laminated everything so it will last longer.

Our morning wall is not really Montessori as far as I know but is a great learning aid to have for young children who are just learning about the calendar, seasons, weather, ect. This is the first thing we do everyday.  You can buy one off amazon for about $30 or you can piece together your own for about ten using items from dollar tree and walmart.

My 4 yr old working with the 1-10 cards. I suggest using two different colors so you can cover even and odd numbers in a very visual way. The glass gems run 1-2 dollars at walmart. This is what he has worked on all week. I mix the cards up and have him put them in order 1-10 then I have him place the correct number of gems with each card , making sure to place them in groups of two so that we can go back and visually see which ones do not have a partner/friend and cover even and odd. Then I have him place the color beads below with the correct number of bead on each strain. Then I go back and point to each number while asking can you tell me is this number even or odd. I do that agin but in random order. Then we end the lesson by counting the evens 2,4,6,8,10 and counting the odds 1,3,5,7,9.

Montessori colored beads. The real ones come on metal wire. I made mine that way but my son didn't like the texture of the metal. So I went back and made these with pipe cleaners and he likes them much better. His issues with textures is why we do not use the sandpaper letters or draw in sand.

I still have a good many more DIY educational items I am working on making for next school year along with themed boxes for topics like ocean animals, insects, space, ect..I will post those when I get them completed. I think I have about $15-$20 dollars in making all of the above. If I had bought the real ones it would have cost me hundreds.Our homeschool is a little bit of this and a little bit of that but we mainly used Montessori for math and Waldorf for History and Science with some added in resources. Since we will be moving to pretty much year round learning I am hoping to have everything pulled together and ready to go by June.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Planning to move to year round schooling

I have realized that long summer breaks just don't work for us. First off it gets to hot to even enjoy the break and 2nd like most kids some of what they learned last year goes right out their heads lost into the ether. So as we finish up the last two weeks of this years curriculum I have been busy planning next. The plan is to take off the month of May. Here in Georgia May is about as good as it gets. Not to hot not to cold and usually beautiful weather just about every day. We will start back in June with a 3 day week until Sept. then move back into our normal 4 days a week schedule. I won't be doing a unschool approach after all. Turns out my kids don't like it nor my hubby. Therefore I will be going back to my relaxed eclectic with a good bit of Waldorf/Montessori  inspired style that has worked for everyone in the past. We will stick with lesson blocks each month. Over the summer our blocks will be review concepts, Nature, fairy tales, Oceans, and Insects.  My kids really missed the Waldorf inspire rhythm we had used in the past with our morning circle time, handcrafting, and heavy use of arts. Some of the interesting areas we will be learning this year with my 5th grader will be learning to play the recorder, free form dance, clay and wood working, With my kinder son we will have basic intro to ocean life, zoo animals, reptiles/amphibians, dinosaurs, insects, nature studies, and earth/space. He will also be learning poetry and how to make home made instruments.

This style of homeschooling allows me to not only cover I wide range of topics but it allows me to connect more on a spiritual level with my children. It just feels right in my heart and soul to introduce them to these concepts. I felt while giving unschooling a try was a great learning experience for us it just wasn't the right fit for my family nor me. Even though I still see everything as learning and I feel allowing time and space for a child to follow their interest is highly important I felt I could give my child a more enriched experience doing it my way instead of what is or is not unschooling. In the bigger picture I was seeing a disconnect and I didn't like it. I started homeschooling to bring the world alive and when I just let my children do their own thing it seems they were learning very little. I even tried to stew new educational items all around them but nothing much happened. So it is what it is.

So for those who might be wondering what we will be using curriculum wise I will list them below. We still will not be doing any testing and will use art and notebooking to show what we are learning.

5th grade curriculum

Lit- Norse myths, various fairy tales( with painting and notebook page for each story)
Grammar- Growing with Grammar
Spelling- Soaring with Spelling
Writing- Winning with Writing
Math- a mix of family math( which is hands on) and AHA math which is online
Science- two main areas Geology and Astronomy- using a mix of Waldorf book Geology and Astronomy for text reading( with art picture and notebooking) and Science Odyssey Earth and Space for hands on projects
History- We will cover the Middle Ages- Using  mix simple homeschool,  Story of the Middle Ages, Life in Medieval Times, Viking Tales. ( again will show work by picture with small notebook entree.
Home- ec- made my self
Learning to play recorder- Youtube lessons
Handcrafting- using a Waldorf book called Creative Pathways

Kinder curriculum

Most everything except his phonics, history, and arts will be using the curriculum. It has a wonderful well put together curriculum that comes with lesson plans, recommended reading, and covers math, handwriting, phonics, science all in one.

History- he will join in with sister
Phonics- using the sound city reading program which you can find free on line and I highly recommend.
Handcrafting- Creative Pathways.

I am pretty content with where we are at on our homeschooling journey after what is now our 3rd year. Not only have they learned and experienced a lot but I have as well. I have learned more about my self and my children and what works best for us at this time. I have learned to drop my fear and trust in my self to follow my own intuition on what path we should or should not take. I have watched my children blossom into very intelligent beings. I look forward to a much needed break and to the excitement of what next year will bring.