Saturday, September 13, 2008

Montessori Wisdom

I just read this great Montessori post over at Starry Sky Ranch and wanted to link to it. Method over madness :)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Unschooling in the a.m.

Okay, so things are going well here! Much better than I could have anticipated in fact :)

When Hug was at preschool I was always kinda nervous about the days that I had both boys at home. It seemed like everything was always a bit crazy! Well, it was & I guess in a lot of ways it still is :) but, I am feeling so prepared (more on that later) and the boys are working together & getting on so well. I'm getting them both involved in a lot more of the daily household jobs... cooking (Lovely helped me make a Lasagna last night!), hanging out the washing, putting washing on, mopping... 

Anyway, I digress from the original idea for the post! I guess my home-schooling approach at the moment is one of unschooling with a lot of Montessori influence and some Steiner as well. An eclectic mix and I hear women all around the world saying that theirs is an eclectic mix too :)
So, this morning T left to play golf this morning before the boys were up. Later when we were all up and sitting at breakfast Hug mentioned something about playing 9 holes of golf. Ahhh, yes. 9 holes. And there is a front 9 and a back 9. I got our basket of wooden clothes pegs down and counted out 9 for the front and 9 for the back. Then I asked Hug to count the 2 piles... 18!

The basket of clothes pins is something I put together a long time ago - my version of the Montessori spindles - but Hug has never taken much to using them here at home. I got out our foam numbers and laid them out in order from 0 to 9 and asked Hug to match the numbers.

You can see here that he put out too many for the 6. I was actually pleased because I wanted to see if he would realise this later on. When he got to 9 he told me that he was 2 clothes pins short. Okay, great! Go back and check.  Then, I modeled putting the pegs back in the basket and counting as I went. I told Hug that I *knew* that there would be 45 pegs in total. Interesting mama... He was going to make sure I was right! Yes, there were 45 pegs. 

So, next I explained that it was because 0 + 1 + 2 + ... equaled 45. This got us doing some simple equations. First, 0+1=1. Then, 1+2=3. Here you can see us up to 4+5. I set this up with the pegs under the 4 and the 5 and was going to show him how you added them together and they came to 9 but because he could already see the 9 he went and got 9 more and put them under the 9. Well, that was great too because we then had a discussion about the purpose of the equals sign... both sides of an equation are *equal*! We had 9 on the left of the equal symbol and 9 on the right & we were kinda back to where this conversation and impromptu unschooling session started!

While we had the foam numbers out I also grabbed the foam brain puzzle (the boys Nan had bought both of these foam sets) for Lovely to play with because he likes to play with the numbers one and I didn't want him grabbing the numbers while we were busy with them. So, after all of our number work we looked at the brain together. Lovely was quite taken with the spinal cord!
Then, Hug and I moved on so Lovely got to use his numbers too. We do a lot of one to one correspondence together but I am only gently introducing the numerals with Lovely & I think him playing with this puzzle gives him a familiarity with the numerals that will be great later. 

Tucked in the back of the same plastic sleeve as the brain puzzle was this Ant life cycle work, again something I probably made up about a year ago but haven't had out in ages. Hug and I recreated the life cycle (the master is on the black card just out of view) and then Hug wanted to do one of the colouring sheets. We got the Children's Encyclopedia of Animals out & I explained using the contents page and looked at the ants to see their colouring as Hug was interested.

Phew! Not bad for 7.15 am!! 

Now, I've probably bored any teachers or veteran homeschoolers to tears here with this stuff but it's all exciting & new to us so please forgive me :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Shoe washing

I know I've been a bit slow on the Montessori activities recently. That's one of the things about being on an *adventure*... sometimes you go off on unusual and unexpected paths, and that is kinda happening here at the moment. But, here is a cool and simple Montessori-style activity we did: Washing those Crocs! 

One little buggy full of soapy water (they jointly filled it using the hose - a popular pastime :) and a scrubbing brush.

There certainly was a lot of splashing!

And a little bit of cleaning :) Although they both did attempt a bit of scrubbing, soaking and splashing was where it was at for them. I modeled the scrubbing for them once they gave up and I *have* noticed since that they have been conscious about whether their shoes are clean or dirty and Hug and I did give his a clean under the tap in the yard one morning, so I am happy that the idea is there and it's something that we will build on. And it's fun :)

Painting Rocks

We have been painting rocks (and more) this week! 

A while ago I was reading a Chasing Cheerios post about a shell matching game and commented that I might make myself a version using rocks. Then this week Chasing Cheerios actually had a rock matching game. Eeeek! We had never got around to it ourselves. But I did have the rocks. And I did have 2 precious little artists laying in wait. So... lets do it!

Hug & his daddy had made some great wooden creations at his Steiner playgroup (Hug is crazy about the woodwork activities on offer there) and he got onto painting them, namely a huge red wooden 'pizza cuttter'...

... and a blue car...

And here is what Lovely and I got up to. 

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fathers Day Part 2

We love nice breakfasts around here! 

We ate our fathers day morning feast of croissants with french blackberry jam, fresh strawberries, orange juice and green tea at the coffee table in the lounge room for fun.

We gave T a copy of Giving.

Following our yummy breakfast I had the pleasure of doing some proof reading for his newest book and he took the boys back to the beach. This is my favourite photo from their morning. Ahhh, brotherly love.

Finally, to mix things up a bit we went to the local fatherhood festival (a great annual family day) and T and Hug did the obstacle course together. Tee-hee, I'm glad it was them and not me!

Fathers Day Part 1

T is such a hands-on dada who is totally involved in all aspects of family life so I knew that he would love nothing more than a morning of peace and quiet :) I also knew that he would want to actually spend fathers day morning with his boys so I secretly organised to evacuate the house on Saturday morning as soon as the boys woke.

I'm sorry if anyone out there is sick of my beach and ocean photos. I can't help myself! We left home about 6.15 with a note for T to find and we headed to our local lighthouse. The sun had just risen & the light was divine.

We got to meet the coast guard and have a look in his little cabin & the boys even got to speak on one of the radios, though I'm not sure he had it really working ;) They left with a brochure each and thought they were in heaven.

Here they are hiding in the lighthouse entrance. You can only go in on organised tours that happen occasionally throughout the year & we've never been in so that will be a must when they next advertise a tour. 

After seeing a pod of about 15 or 20 dolphins (but no whales this time - a few weeks earlier Hug and I had seen a bunch!) we left and got some breaky at a beachside cafe followed by a play on the sand. Then, there was a birthday party to attend before finally returning to a much rejuvenated T :) just after lunch.

Father and biggest-son spent the afternoon looking at an old Picasso book that had belonged to T's grandfather. T created a few of his own masterpieces that he kindly allowed Hug to colour in for him. I love family art!

An early birthday and farewell

Seeing we are so close to Hug's birthday I thought that a birthday celebration with his friends would be a nice way to spend his last afternoon at preschool. 
I would have thought that I would want to spend every second of that last day of peace and quiet in luxurious relaxation but I was actually rather emotional & felt like doing sweet things for my big boy so cake making it was.

I made 3 dozen chocolate cupcakes! More than enough for all of the children in the class and the teachers and extras for home.

Lovely gave lots of licking help.

The special birthday cuppie with 5 smarties and a blue wrapper.

And the final collection all ready to go. I included lots of strawberries too, to make it a little bit healthier. Yum. I really enjoyed watching the celebrations. Being a Montessori school I hadn't had the opportunity to spend much time in the room during "class time" before. Lovely was able to join in the circle time, sitting with Hug and they both got up when it was time to talk about him. Awww, sweet.

It's all about the process Mama

Hug has a cool artistic style all of his own. Of course, being his mama I might be more than a little biased :)
For the longest time we've done a thing were you draw a big doodle or scribble and then colour in the shapes that are formed. Here Hug worked with a similar premise, but was using a ruler. I was doing my own art project but when I finished he asked me to join him which I did. Lovely was napping so it was a sweet time together. 

Anyway, I grabbed the chance to take a few pix before he decided (despite his Mama's requests otherwise ;) to cut it up. What a waste!

How long will it take me to realise that it's *all about the process*?

A day of beautiful views

T has been doing lots of publicity for his new book recently and we have been tagging along whenever we can so that's why we always seem to be away!

Look at this beautiful strip of beach! So gorgeous. Amazingly it's by a rather commercial area & I'd never taken the time to explore the natural wonders that were on offer in this town about an hour north of us. It was an insanely windy day but you can't really tell in these photos.

Lovely trying to get a better look!

We picniced (isn't that a funny word) in a park by the river where the boys discovered this amazing tree. It was so huge in fact that I actually couldn't photograph all of it. 

My sweet Hug.

Next stop was inland and a regional art gallery. Originally I couldn't find it and turned around and headed away until Hug realised and insisted that we go back and keep looking. When we arrived I was gobsmacked by its location - so beautiful. I'm not sure what Hug was actually thinking because they just wanted to run around - not very gallery friendly! So we mainly explored the grounds. 

A boulder ewe.

But the highlight for them were the bubblers! Lovely was determined to master this new skill. Too funny. I was so busy taking pix that I didn't realise that he was actually putting his mouth right over the whole thing at first. Gross! ;) But here was the moment he mastered it. Yippee!

Avocado picking

We got to go avocado picking on my Mama's property last weekend.

Here is one of the laden avocado trees before we got going on it.

Here Daddy T works the magical avocado picking device watched on by Grandma :) We were bystanders (who got leeched! Yurk).

The magical bounty! Her avo's are possibly the best in the world :) They are all just so perfect and creamy with never a mark inside. What bliss.

Hug and homeschooling

Here is my beautiful big boy who will be 5 in just 2 short weeks. Wow. 

A big thank you to the women who commented so kindly on my earlier post, and questions, about homeschooling. My apologies for not responding sooner. Originally, I was just sitting with their wisdom ... but then the earth shifted a little & a few dynamics changed & I made the sudden (I wouldn't have imagined even a week earlier that things would play out this way! It's strange how life has a special way of surprising us) decision to keep both boys home for the rest of the year. 

It was a big decision to make especially because Hug's time in the Montessori program has been substantially *life-changing* for all of us. A huge adventure! But we are going to embark on our very own big adventure now and I couldn't be more thrilled. I just think that he will enjoy some extra mama & family time & here is an opportunity to spend the next 6 months together. After he starts school in the new year we may never have this opportunity again & once I realised that I jumped at the chance. It gives me the opportunity to fulfill my homeschool fantasies for this little while & who knows... maybe we will love it too much to stop?!  Whatever happens, I feel like we're pushing a little boat out on the big river and we have a lot of unique time ahead of us.

I love you Hug.

The rest of our last trip!

Hello! I've been "missing in action" for the past 2 weeks! More on that later because I just want to catch up on all of the things we've been doing recently first. After the city adventure and Picasso exhibition we had a day by the beach and then a day in the country. 

Our early morning walk - we (or should I say 2 little boys :) sure like to get up early. Yup, that's the moon you can see!

Going on an archeological dig! We visited a museum that featured an exhibition of the Megafauna period. 

Some fun puzzles. I'm sure L thought he was just building a Kangaroo but apparently it was a Procoptodon. 

The old country shopfront. All kid-sized and a lot of fun. Things to weigh & things to sell. Those blurs are my busy boys.

And a final stop at a Japanese garden. Hug enjoyed exploring all of the bridges that I couldn't reach with L sleeping in the pram :)

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