A little more Waldorf

So I’ve been away for a while.  I’m now 17 weeks pregnant.  I’ve mentioned before that I suffer from Hypermesis Graviderum when pregnant.  This has been my worst pregnancy so far.  I spent 2 weeks in hospital and had to get a PICC line for TPN which made me worse and was eventually used for my IV meds.  I spent October and November bedridden and lost 18lbs.  Thankfully I’m now through the worst of it and am slowly recovering.  Baby has stayed strong through it all (if you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know I had a miscarriage at 13 weeks two years ago and so this is always a worry).

However my pregnancy has not only been difficult for me but for my husband and children as well.  My husband has been amazing taking on all the responsibilities and taking care of me.  The children suffered a lot and many behavior problems came up due to lack of consistency, attention and boundaries and way, way, way too much TV.  As I was recovering I began to plan how our life would look when I was well and what we’d do about homeschooling.  I felt that the nourishing routines, simple, natural toys, and quiet rhythm  and activities of Waldorf was really what our family needed as we healed from this difficult time.  Having a mother sick and in hospital is very traumatic for a child.  Their world is turned upside down, their mother doesn’t have time for them and needs to be alone, she’s hooked up to wires and nurses come, they don’t understand what’s wrong and it’s scary to see her sick.  So I’ve rearranged the playroom (again), we’re not doing any formal school for December and are focusing on creating a rhythm, stories, songs and traditions of Hanukkah.  I purged toys and they will be getting more natural, Waldorf inspired gifts for the holidays.  I still have a lot to put back in order in my home but my strength is limited so I’m careful not to push myself or I relapse.  In the new year I’ll do a video of our new play/school room.

One thing I changed was to put the dollhouse in the basement (I’ll probably sell it) as it was so big and was rarely played with.  I put the lovely Plan Toys furniture in a basket and the kids love creating their own house with blocks.  It’s so much more imaginative and saves on space.  And now the furniture gets more play.

img_1594img_1599

 

My Top Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

Now of course I haven’t tried all the curriculum out there but these are the ones that have had great reviews and I too am enjoying using.

Handwriting Without Tears

Handwriting Without Tears Kindergarten Kit (with  Standard Letter Cards)  -

Pumpkin 1 really needs help with her handwriting.  We started with cursive and she knows her cursive lowercase letters to read but not to write and she wants to write in print so I’m going with that.  The HWT program works very well with montessori other than being print and starting with capitals but those are easier for a child to form.  Also it doesn’t mean you can’t be teaching them lowercase letters for your moveable alphbet and sandpaper letters.  The HWT program at first can be purely a fine motor exercise.

RightStart Math

Image result for rightstart math

This program is great and really helps a child to visualize numbers.  I really like the use of the abacus.  We combine it with Montessori Math as there’s nothing like the golden beads and stamp game.  They’re just amazing.  But I think the ability to visual the abacus in the mind makes a huge difference in doing sums in the head.  I also plan to introduce the Japanese abacus when Pumpkin 1 is 6.

Building the Foundations of Scientific Understanding

This book is excellent and fits in perfectly with Montessori.  It’s very hands on and lists a number of books for kids on each topic.  It helps build a great foundation of understanding the world around us.  It covers several grades.  Many of the books recommend in it are from the series “Let’s Read and Find Out” which are wonderful books I keep adding to our small collection of them as we learn a new topic.

The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading

I’ve found this to be an excellent reference to all the letter combinations and phonograms a child needs to learn.  It also gives examples of words for each combination and sentences and paragraphs to read.  I use it more as a reference than an actual curriculum.

Explode the Code

Explode the Code, Book 1 (2nd Edition)  -

 

Pumpkin 1 for some reason doesn’t like using the moveable alphabet but likes workbooks.  I was finding she just wasn’t getting enough practise with new word combinations or sounding out.  When she reads she prefers to memorize words rather than sound them out.  These workbooks get her doing more phonetic reading Though they seem to repeat the same type of activity over and over with just new sounds.  We started with book 1 just for review and filling in any gaps.  She likes to colour the pictures after she’s done her work in the book for the day.

Keys of the World

Image result for earth moon photo

These are excellent Montessori Albums for a very reasonable price.  I couldn’t get by without them.  The theory album is a must read.  If you’re planning to homeschool in the Montessori method I highly recommend these.

 

Follow me on Pinterest!

100 Sticker Chart

I’ve been working on counting to 100 with Pumpkin 1.  She’s pretty good but struggles with the teen numbers.  We have a magnetic 100 chart but she wasn’t too interested in it.  She does however LOVE stickers.  Like really loves stickers and will chose new stickers over a new toy.  I had an inspiration to do a 100 sticker chart.  I found these on amazon but I didn’t really want to order anything else right now (on a strict budget) and didn’t want to pay shipping.  I was at Walmart and found coloured blank circle stickers which were perfect to make my own.  With a marker and a blank 100 chart I printed off I was all set.

It was a big hit.  Even Pumpkin 2 wanted his own.  It’s also great work for fine motor skills

 

The sticker set did have over 300 stickers and we used them all in one sitting between my kids and my daycare child.  I’ll probably pick up some more to do this again.  I was thinking of maybe a fill in the missing number 100 chart or having the numbers all mixed up rather than in order.

I Sea 10 Game

It seems we’re really into games lately.  Maybe it’s the age.  I’ve heard age 4 can be unfocused and distracted and that seems to be where we’re at.  So games go over well.  This one I highly recommend.  I’m planning to eventually teach my children to do calculations on the Japanese abacus.  This requires them to know their sums up to 10.  So I got this game.

I paired it up with the Montessori addition strip board.

I set up the board with all the pairs that add up to 10 for reference.

IMG_1379

Then we turn all the numbers over so the fish are up.  To play we turn over one fish.  Then we see what number it pairs with to make ten.  We scan those that are turned over and if we find a match we take them out.  If we don’t, that number is left turned over and the next person goes.

IMG_1380

Today we played twice and Pumpkin 1 was starting to memorize pairs that go together.

IMG_1378

There are also sharks for the game but I removed them because right now Pumpkin 1 gets too upset about having to put things back.  We combine our pairs together as she doesn’t do well with competitive games at the moment.  It’s much more fun to play cooperatively right now.

Free Sight Word Board Game Printable

I’ve been trying to find some ways to make learning sight words more fun and came up with this game.  I must say it’s quite fun.  I used a board game template from here and added to it.  This game teaches sight words along with counting and turn taking.  IMG_1452

What you need:
Board game printed and laminated :Sight word board game
Box to use as the “treasure chest”
Glass gems
Dice
Playing pieces, we used Lego men
Cards with sight words written on them.  (I purchased blank playing cards from Amazon)

How to play:
The object of the game is to collect the most gems by saying the secret password to open the treasure chest.
Put the gems in the chest and the cards face down.  The first person puts their player on the first square and draws a card and reads it.  If they read it correctly they can open the chest and take out one gem.  If they read it incorrectly it goes back in the pile and they don’t get a gem.  They keep the correctly read card beside them.  The next person repeats this processes.  After everyone is on the first square the first person rolls the dice and moves the number of spaces indicated.  They then draw a card and read the magic word to collect a gem.  (Make sure everyone sees the card being read to check that it’s read correctly and to help the others learn the word).
If a player lands on a star they may take 2 gems if they read the magic word correctly.  If the player lands on a lightening bolt they may take a card from another player and read it and steal one of their gems.  If a player lands on a crossed circle then they miss their turn and do not get to pick up a card.  When a player lands at the finish they may pick one final card and collect one final gem.  After everyone has reached the finished the gems are counted and the one with the most wins.

IMG_1456IMG_1454

Follow me on pinterest for more sight word ideas.

Bringing Montessori Outside Part 2

I already feel like winter is looming and it’s only June.  That ominous, “Winter is Coming”.  I know the next few months will fly by and I want my kids to soak up as much of beauty and nature and sun and warmth they can.  Official school activities are not priority right now, gross motor play is.  We recently started going to a new park the kids love.  No one is there during the day yet so my kids have the park to themselves.  The other parks we go to are frustrating because a school or daycare will show up with 30-40 kids and just take over the place and my shy kids fell overwhelmed or they’re older kids who are too rough and use bad words and so we leave.  Anyway, we’re trying to do school outside as often as we can.  Here are some more ideas for bringing Montessori out into the sunshine.

This DIY spindle box is so simple.  The container is from the Dollar Store.  It’s a tackle or hardware box.  I use these a lot for storing things.  And popsicle sticks, also available at the Dollar Store.  Often I change up the “spindles” for other things – straws, sticks, counting bugs, etc…

13509140_10157140273875046_3596615995573277358_n

In fact you can use nature for counting.  These are pine cones the kids collected.  The numbers are regular magnetic ones.

13524277_10157140273555046_5500427920078340246_n

Toobs are great to bring outside or any other small plastic animals.  This is Vertebrate and Invertebrate sorting.

We recently got a Backyard Birds Toob from Michael’s.  We already had the bird book.  The kids like to find the birds in the book. They also are painting pictures of the birds to make their own bird book.

IMG_1370

This is a sight word game from Amazon.  It’s a way to make learning sight words more fun.

This is so simple to do but it takes dexterity for the kids.  They have to remember to weave in and out.  It was too hard for Pumpkin 2 and a challenge for Pumpkin 1.  The tidy part you see was me showing her how.  It’s really great for crossing the midline and spacial reasoning.

We tried out a ball run with cut pool noodles and Boomerings (and you thought Boomerings were a baby toy).  The balls kept getting lost in the cut grass so then we did water.

Next we’re going to try building something with trough.  I need to get some more Boomerings though.  They’re super strong and sturdy.

I have lots more ideas in my head for outdoor learning I can’t wait to share with you.

 

Follow my Pinterest board for lots more Montessori ideas.

 

 

Colour Mixing Science

I found these test tubes and stand at the surplus store and knew that they’d be great for many activities.  The colour mixing was really fun and you could really observe the colour change.  Also using the pipette it was great for developing fine motor skills and strengthening the pincher grasp for writing.

IMG_1384IMG_1386

The Body for Kindergarteners

Pumpkin 1 has been asking a lot of questions about how her body works.  I like to follow interests and I always learn a lot too.  So we have two new friends in our homeschool room.

This is Fred, the Squishy Body (should be called sticky body).

IMG_1139

He’s from Amazon.  And he’s amazing.  All the body parts come out and feel so….squishy and sticky.  He comes with a booklet about the body parts and a chart to match them to.  It’s very fascinating.  I didn’t know that the bladder was behind the intestines.  I’m kinda jealous about how my kids are learning.  Health class would have been way more interesting with a Squishy Body.

IMG_1137

I still supervise the dissection of Fred but I’ve been told that the body parts can be washed if they pick up lint and fluff.

This is our other friend, Stan.  Stan the Skeleton Man.

IMG_1135

He came from China from Ebay.  He’s pretty great for the price (though it looks like the Canadian dollar went down more).  And he came really fast.  Pumpkin 1 likes to mother him lol.

I printed off some bone cards from Montessori Print Shop as Pumpkin 1 was asking to learn the names of the bones.  I didn’t print all of them, only the major ones for now.  Pumpkin was kinda annoyed because she wanted to know the names of bones I didn’t print off.

I also printed off organ nomenclature cards for reading practice.

I like to have books to read too.  These are the two books I’ve purchased for learning about the body.

They’re simple enough for primary but not so simple that there’s no real information.

Now when her brother jumps on her Pumpkin one tells me, “He hurt my intestines!”

 

 

Cosmic Nesting Boxes

I first saw these here and thought it was a great idea but forgot about it until I saw them again.  The M&D nesting boxes aren’t very expensive on amazon.ca.  You could probably find them even cheaper at a yard sale or maybe some friends have a set they don’t want any more.

IMG_1008

I first painted the boxes black.  Then found the pictures on the internet and pasted them in Publisher and formatted them to fit the box measurements.  I attached them with a paper glue/finish (kinda like Modge Podge not so sticky when dry).  I sealed everything with two coats of the finish.  The boxes are from biggest to smallest – Universe, Milky Way Galaxy, Solar System, Earth, North America, Canada, Ontario, Our City, Our House and then a little peg person.

IMG_1009

They’re a great way to help a child understand how everything fits together when it comes to the world and countries and where their place is in it all.

IMG_1010