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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Levi and Mommy School on Steroids

Way back in the summer I included a post about our choice to do school at home.  Now that we are back after the holidays I been able to bring to Germany a wonderful home Montessori curriculum to use.  Interest-led, play based learning is the only way to go for my quick moving, stubborn and curious little man, that is for sure!  I love Montessori's completely child-led approach, the idea of self-discovery (even Levi reminds me not to jump in and talk now, haha!  He's SO right!), and the cumulative approach to all the subjects.  It has been a bit tricky to begin as we had already done a lot, but only in bits and pieces, but I am learning more and more as I go about what works for Levi, what interests him currently, what to save for later, and what flat out bores him.  

We try to do about an hour/day during the week in our mornings before heading out to a play date, a museum, the pool, errands or just having a lazy play day at home.  Some days are absolutely fantastic.  Other days are harder.  But those happen whether at home or in a traditional school.  Five minutes of intense one on one learning can make an entire hour worthwhile, I have discovered. 

Of course, the whole day becomes a learning opportunity, but below are pictures of just our specific school time…..I am in love with the process and learning with Levi.  It is a massive topic and I have a billion ideas for educational blog posts.  (Hello, blog #2!?!?)  But if anyone of you would ever like more info on any part of the home education topic, just let me know!

Oh, and yes, sometimes we do school in our pj's.  One of my favorite things is the lack of a morning rush these days.  Many days we still must arrive somewhere "on schedule", as Levi likes to say, but our mornings are so much more relaxed now!

Our living room is also our school room.  So, I do a week's setup and then we choose from it all week long.  Some things never get touched and some things are huge hits.  We also mix in lots of outings, play dates, science experiments, tons of reading, messy fun, music, etc.
Learning to roll up our mat (or, as we like to call it, "Levi's Office")
Learning to set up a chair at the table for certain projects.
A spray bottle (filled with diluted vinegar) and matching towel that are just Levi's.
Themed boxes, like one for the start of the Olympics.  We also found Sochi on the globe and chatted about Russia some.
About as close to a craft as I can get Levi to do.  
And now proudly hanging in Daddy's office.
Watching the real thing.
Learning about all the winter sports with nomenclature cards.  This time we just matched a photo of the sport to an artistic representation.  Levi's favorite is bobsledding, it seems.
Outings are education too!  Shopping lists, prices, categories of food, where the food comes from, social interations….Levi had been DYING to do his own cart for a while now.  Mommy was finally brave enough to put him in charge (in the very narrow aisles of our little grocery with Germans ready to critique my parenting, haha).
And sometimes the checkout person gives you a treat since you were so very helpful.  (Very random, but exciting.  And all good socialization opportunities!)
Music time!  This day we played along with an African CD and found the countries on the map for each song.
Making our own kazoo.  (He refused to color or paint it, haha, but it still served its purpose.  We discussed how the sound was amplified.)
Every now and then he does like a worksheet, like these letter or sight word mazes.
And anything to do with Daniel Tiger….
He's become quite the helper in the kitchen!
We put all these little pictures on this chart to represent our daily routine.  
Audio books are the best invention ever.  We spend a lot of time in the car while taking Daddy to work and also driving to play dates, attractions, etc.  Levi turns his own pages and has every book memorized.
Always inspired by books, this was the night he created a "library" for us and told us that we could choose any book we would like.  
In one of our favorite world culture books, Levi told me that I looked like this little girl.  So sweet.
A rare play dough play session.  A cake for Mommy.
Lots of pretend play.  Doing some work on his car.
Building our "robot" by following printed instructions.
Dinner with our buddy, Alexis.  She actually inspired Levi to do some coloring!  I had no idea he could color somewhat in the lines as he NEVER colors at home.  Probably because he already knows how to do it, huh?  Note to self: trust the child and their interests.
Learning about charts, probability and graphing results.  Which Daniel character will get to 5 first? We've done this with quite a few different themes - dinosaurs, Curious George, and now Daniel Tiger.  
The fun of throwing the dice.
We all know Levi loves maps and geography.  Continents and their labels were a favorite this month, as well as labeling land/water/air.
And then picture books to go with each continent!  These were a moderate hit and I think he may enjoy them more in time.
An African-themed box.  I see continent boxes on lots of blogs as being a big hit with little ones.  Levi was a bit interested this day, but then quickly lost interest.  Saving it to try again later.  I'm thinking country or content-specific info may not be that interesting to him at the moment as we are somewhat living it.  Our day to day lives are filled with culture study, so perhaps this isn't that fascinating or new an idea for him?  I don't know….Always trying to figure out why something isn't a hit.
Levi loves finding Madagascar.
African Animal Nomenclature Cards
Land and Water forms study.  Made a little book with matching cards, and had to review the definitions for myself too - I had forgotten about an Isthmus!
Where would the animals live?  Water or land?
Sensory games!  Matching objects by feeling around in a mystery bag….
Anything else in there?  This was a hit and Mommy had to refill the bag a few times!
Arranging color clothespins and practicing our colors in Amharic and Spanish.
Shade work as well as good vocab: Darkest, lighter, lighter, lightest, etc...
Matching shakers by sound.
A nature box
Another successful craft this month!  The fact it required squeezing glue and had pictures from Noah's Ark certainly helped.
"Green light"/"Red Light" dots on our sand paper letters.  (Great sensory way to get pre-writing practice in.)
Another favorite way to incorporate the red/green idea for writing, plus a bit of staying in the lines practice.  Fantastic for a car-loving boy like mine.
Incorporating the sandbox (well, polenta box for us) to practice writing as well.  This is not one of Levi's favorites and we've put it away for a bit.  
Scissor practice with subliminal fraction work :).
We do a lot of clock practice/calendar/weather time every day, which Levi generally loves, and now we have a watch for each hand: one for Indiana time and one for Germany time.  There have been a lot of questions about why it is day in one place and night in another, and therefore study of the rotation of the earth, which combines nicely with his love of space!
Puppets for language practice!  We alternate days with Amharic and Spanish.
"¿Como estas?"
Numbers, numbers, numbers.  Lots of Montessori tools at work.
Excited to have matched all his "sand paper numbers" to the corresponding number rods.  
Building stairs with the number rods and matching to written numbers.
Doing his 100's board.  He completed the whole thing and we were missing 36.  We then found it under the board.  Figures.
And one day he decided to do the odds!  We had previously done some odds/evens work with a fantastic Montessori method and it worked like a charm.  He's fascinated with the idea that there are different kinds of numbers and likes to talk about how the even numbers all have "buddies" to their parts.  Another favorite is counting stairs by odds or evens (especially in Ikea for some reason).
Number beads in stairs as well.
Odds on one side, evens on the other side.
Matching clothespins to number quantities.
And then the corresponding beads.
Pulling out a number and then running across the room to get the corresponding number rod.  Gotta keep my boy moving!
Dump truck numbers!  We load up the number and bead, dump them out, then put them in order.  
Science - Botony!
We've started with learning the parts of the plant and parts of the root.
Blue food coloring experiment = Blue petals!  Roots and stems at work, as well as daily observations and talks about our hypothesis.
Blue-tinted flowers!  (Yes, even Mommy was impressed.)
Picking out flower seeds at the store and then planting them.  We have some nice seedlings now!
Observing roots and learning how to water a plant, one of his favorite jobs.
Nomenclature cards started to take off this month and the love has continued to grow.  The puzzle love in a different form!  Here he's enjoying planets and Daniel Tiger characters.
MESSY FUN!!!  Baking soda + shaving cream = pretend cold snow!  Then try adding some vinegar and let both the snow and fun erupt.  Love how serious Levi begins and where he ends up:

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