Hebrew Lunar Calendar

Our family follows the Hebrew Lunar calendar for religious holiday dates.  I wanted to start teaching Pumpkin 1 the Lunar calendar so I put together this.

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The pocket chart is this one from Amazon.  The pictures below is for that week’s Parsha reading from Chabad.org 

I made my own cards to use in it.  We start a new month on conjunction but the great things about this calendar is you can set it up any way you want.  You can download the cards for your own calendar through the link.

Hebrew lunar calander

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It’s hung with removable Command hooks.
Pumpkin 1 is always asking what phase the moon is in now.  We check the moon out the window at bedtime.  I’d love to get this one day.  It automatically syncs with the moon outside!

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But of course nothing beats the real thing!

 

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Pumpkin 2’s First School Day.

I decided on the spur of the moment today to try doing some school activities with Pumpkin 2.  He’s 2.5 now and a real handful.  He’s so different than his sister and can drive me crazy yet be so sweet and adorable.  He’s high energy, always on the go, always doing whatever he wants no matter what I say.  I’m hoping school time will help him learn to focus better and redirect some of that energy.  We do try to get outside daily and he got some gross motor toys for Hannukah.

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His first activity was the Geo-Cabinet.  We did the presentation tray with cards and then the circle tray.  He really enjoyed it and it was just the right challenge for him.  And yes, he has one circle incorrect but he corrected it.

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Next he did the Pink Tower.  He did it all correctly the first time, though the second time he didn’t.  Go figure.  But he was very proud of himself.  He loved to be using the materials he usually is told to not touch (which he touches anyway).  He did handle them very carefully.  Hopefully getting to use them will help him learn to respect them since he had a habit of throwing everything for fun.

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Then we tried the brown stair.  He had more trouble with this one, I think because he just wanted to put it together to drive his toy car on it so wasn’t focused.

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He really enjoyed the Knobbed Cylinders.  He did them all.  They were just the perfect challenge for him.  I really love this material.  I find it so pleasing and satisfying.

Here’s a video of him at work.  I love the concentration on his face.

 

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His final work was matching Toob insects to their picture.  This was actually a bit of a challenge for him.  Matching objects to pictures helps children learn that things can be represented in picture or 2d form.

All in all it was a great 1st day.  Pumpkin 1 didn’t help him too much which I was afraid of and she kept telling him, “good job!”.  It was cute.  We did his school work in the morning and hers in the afternoon during his nap time.

 

Story Cubes

Pumpkin 1 has been reluctant to do any writing; to use the moveable alphabet or practice writing her letters.  I was encouraged on a wonderful Montessori Homeschooling Facebook group to try to incorporate more hand writing in daily life since children rarely see us writing nowadays and to also encourage story telling.  Story Cubes were suggested as a medium for story telling.

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I picked up a set of Rory Story Cubes from Chapters for $10.  I removed two of the cubes that had more scary pictures on them because Pumpkin 1 is very sensitive but there were still lots left.  She LOVED them.  And I was amazed at how she was able to make up a simple tale using the pictures for ideas.  The kids both love this game of taking turns shaking the cubes and then telling stories (though Pumpkin 2 isn’t able to do it he likes to listen).  I’m thinking of getting a few more cubes but they’re hard to find.  They’re quite expensive on Amazon.  Indigo books/Chapters carries them for less.  I think this is a wonderful way to encourage their imagination, develop their sequencing skills, vocabulary and show them that they have things they want to tell and write.

The second approach I’m taking is a journal.  I got a simple notebook with the primary lines in it and I wrote down a story she told me and I also wrote what she told me to write about what she did today.  I did correct her wording, (“she” instead of “her”) by repeating it correctly and then writing it.  And then I let her draw a picture.  But instead of a picture of the story she drew the cubes and she wrote numbers and letters on the cubes (you can see she started to draw a picture and changed her mind) which was a yay for me since she rarely writes letters and has never written a number so I hope it’s her associating the letters with communicating stories and thoughts and being more excited about writing.

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So, when your child is reluctant in an area, instead of forcing it, try to find ways to make things interesting or go back and build more on the foundations.  Also model things yourself.  Let your child see you writing.  Keep a journal yourself if your child is very young.  Retelling their day is also important for emotional development.

What we’ve been up to…

Pumpkin 1 has been into the constructive triangles lately.

 

She’s learning the names of the types of triangles but they’re tricky.  She doesn’t quite understand planes yet for acute and obtuse.  But she knows the equilateral triangle well and the right angled isosceles triangle.

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She loves to see what shapes she can make on the light table with our plastic shapes too.

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I picked this up from Well.ca in order to get free shipping for a few other things I needed.  It’s been great for practise putting numbers in order.  I’ll mix them up or leave one out and she has to put it right.

 

These are the colour grading peg people I made.  Pumpkin 1 likes them better than the tablets.

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I really like this material.  It’s from IFIT.  It’s amazing the difference a year can make.  A year ago she struggled with this one but now she can do it easily.  Unfortunately Pumpkin 2 thinks the cylinders are fun to throw.  sigh….

Here’s some math work with the Discovery Toys Busy Bugs and the Abacus (she in the process of counting the bugs out)

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Pumpkin 1 has been really into math activities lately but I’m trying to encourage writing. We worked the other day on writing letters on paper.  She hates making mistakes so it’s difficult to get her to do something she thinks she can’t do perfectly.  In the mean time I think I’d better get to work on making the golden bead materials.

Vertebrate and Invertebrate

Here is Pumpkin 1 doing some spontaneous vertebrate and invertebrate sorting.

 

The cards are free from The Helpful Garden

http://thehelpfulgarden.blogspot.ca/2012/07/vertebrate-and-invertebrate-sorting.html

Affordable Alternative to the Constructive Triangles

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These shapes from Learning Resources are a great alternative to the rather costly Montessori Constructive Triangles.  They don’t have all the same shapes but they have other ones (circles and 1/2 and 1/4 circles) and enough shapes that I think the few missing ones aren’t a big deal.  You could make them yourself with laminated paper or cut them from heavy plastic of some sort. The quality is great (nice and thick) and they don’t have sharp edges

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These have the added bonus of being able to use them with a light table and they can be used as a sort of tanagram to make pictures with.  Tanagrams have been shown to improve a chid’s math thinking.

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The set can be purchased at amazon.ca 

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Flags, Pompoms and Boomerings

I find practical life activities impossible to leave out because my 2 year old gets into them and makes a mess so we don’t do them as often as we should.  This is a cheap easy one to set up.  The tray is an ice cube tray from the Dollar store.  The pompoms are from there too.  She’s using tweezers from Scholar’s choice that came in a large container of them, I’ve given some away.  They’re easy to use for little hands.  This activity helps build finger strength for writing and fine motor skills.

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Pumpkin 1 LOVES this flag map from Affordable Montessori.  I thought the price was really reasonable and the quality is better than expected.

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I don’t even know the flags so I’ve been learning them.  It’s amazing how fast you pick up something when it’s hands on like this activity.  The map has a key on the back with all the flags and country names but of course you can’t check the back when you’re using it so I made a printable version.

You can download it here: flags

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Have I said how much I love Discovery Toys? Oh, I did?  Haha, they’re just so wonderful.  I love toys that engage and challenge my children, that teach them math, reading, logic, reasoning, prediction, memory, and so many other skills plus they have a life-time guarantee so I don’t have to worry about anything breaking.  We incorporate many of the Discovery Toys into our homeschool activities.

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Today Pumpkin 1 was really engaged in making patterns with the Boomerings.  These are so great, they can be used from infancy right on up until childhood.  They’re really strong and durable and there’s an activity set that comes with different activity cards for matching, patterning or math. Putting them together also is great for her fine motor skills and strengthening her fingers.

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You can even use them for dress-up!  Princess Pumpkin!

Montessori Inspired Math

Pumpkin 1 is just starting to be ready for math at almost 4.  Majority of children aren’t ready for math until that age as their brain hasn’t developed that somewhat abstract thinking skills needed for math.  Math has always been a difficult subject for me but I love the Montessori method of math since it’s so hands on it makes it much easier to understand.

We’re doing a combination of Montessori and Right Start Math.  You can read about the Right Start Math approach here and here.  And a video review by another homeschooling mom here.

Since I still want to use many of the Montessori math materials I am creating my own bead bars, chains and cubes with the Right Start principle of 5+.  Here is what my beads look like.

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So you can see for 6 it’s 5 dark and 1 light.  9 is 5 dark and 4 light.  The 5+ concept helps children to visualize the number.  You can visualize amounts up to 5 but after that you have to group them in your mind to be able to visualize.

Today I was working on helping her understand that the beads and the abacus are the same.

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She has always loved the hanging bead stair since she was little.  If you don’t have one I highly recommend it.  Today she was actually counting the beads past 5.  Usually she just rhymes the numbers off without 1 to 1 correspondence after 5 but today she insisted on counting every bead bar carefully.  When you start to worry as a mom that they’re not getting something, just give it time.  A few weeks older can make a ton of difference.

We’ve also been working on some geometry.  Today we did triangles and quadrilaterals.  Pumpkin 1 loves this geoboard from Discovery Toys and I do too.  It’s huge so it’s easy for her fingers to use, unlike the smaller ones.  I made triangles and quadrilaterals on it and she’d tell me which it was.  She also likes to just make pictures with the elastics.

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Last week I was teaching her (and learning myself) the different types of triangles.  The geoboard was also perfect for this.

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Pumpkin 2 likes to use the other side which is the Giant Pegboard.  Toddlers love to fit things in holes.  You can also do colour and shape matching and patterning and counting and so much more.  It’s just so versatile. You can purchase one for your family here:

http://www.discoverytoys.com/PublicStore/stores/pumpkinsandme/AMCA/product/Giant-Pegboard,621.aspx#sthash.PnGUdXcA.dpbs

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We’ve also been doing shapes on the light table.  I use this set of shapes on it and we put them together to make other shapes.  They’re like mini constructive triangles.

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I’m really enjoying homeschooling in math because of the awesome manipulatives available.

Life Cycle Cards

This is a set of life cycle cards for using with the Safari Ltd or Insect Lore life cycle figures.  My kids love using the figures.  We have both Safari Ltd and Insect Lore and they’re both great quality.  You can purchase these sets from Affordable Montessori and from Alison’s.  You can also find them on Amazon.ca but they’re rather expensive on there.  These are a great add on if you’re doing a big purchase from one of the above stores, toss a couple into your cart since you’re already paying the shipping.  You may also be able to find them at Michael’s as they sometimes carry Safari Ltd figures.

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Life Cycles

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Home Schooling JK

We’ve been taking a break from home schooling because it was just too difficult with so many daycare kids.  But now that they’ve gone to school and I’ve got the school room/play room organized, we’re starting up again.  Pumpkin 1 is going to be 4 in November and so it’s time to take home schooling more seriously.  It’s also time to start doing more math activities.  I have a number of new math manipulatives.  I love manipulatives for math, being math challenged myself.

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This is two sets of rods from a cusinaire rod set I bought.  They’re great mini red rods.  You can do so many activities with them.  Comparing length, counting, matching, sorting.  We did one set from tallest to shortest and then I showed her how you can combine each rod with a different rod to make them all the same length.  She really liked that and caught on quickly.  This is a great pre-math activity.  I purchased this set from amazon.  The tray is from a M&D block puzzle.  It helps her to line them up without the frustration of bumping them.

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These tiles are from a game called Qwirkle.  They’re great for patterning which is an important pre-math and pre-literacy skill.  You can also do colour or shape sorting with younger children and play the game memory with them.  You can purchase this from amazon as well.

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Shape pattern pictures and tangrams are also great pre-math activities.  In fact one study found children who did tangrams before a math test scored better than those who didn’t http://www.parentingscience.com/tangrams-for-kids.html.  This set Pumpkin 1 is playing with is a magnetic one by Melissa and Doug.

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Pumpkin 1 really dislikes the sandpaper letters.  I was so excited when I found these tracing boards from Alison’s Montessori.  She really likes tracing those letters and the first time I brought it out she wanted to learn more and more letters.  Today I added the sand tray however I don’t think she’s quite ready for it yet.

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Pumpkin 1 has started working with the moveable alphabet.  She recently started to catch on that you can write words with letters.  Of course after her name she wanted to write “Elsa” (really, she doesn’t watch TV, really lol).  Then she wanted to write all the other names she know only names aren’t usually phonetic so it was….interesting.  I got the carpet from Walmart.  I wanted one with stripes for lining the letters on.  She did need a lot of help with this activity.

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Later on she played with the Discovery Toys Motor Works.  I didn’t think she’d be able to do it but she figured it out with some help and took apart the car and air plane.  This is a great activity for promoting the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects, especially in girls.  This kept her busy for a long time.  It also got Daddy involved when he came home.