They get bored without anything to explore, so we school year round. Since learning is life around here, and we don’t use textbooks or anything else that sucks the joy out of learning, they love doing school. What they do NOT love is preparing the environment each morning, or anything else that appears to be cleaning, but we keep working on the idea that we must complete our responsibilities to have our privileges/freedom…in this case, the privilege of school! The balance between responsibilities and freedom is an essential tenet of Montessori, which we are incorporating more each day!
Enough chatter, it’s time to see a few moments from this week’s learning! I’m going to link up with Doodle Bugs, too, so I’ll limit myself to five for now. You can find much more at my Tumblr, where I share the majority of the photos I take each day. I’m slightly behind right now, uploading pictures of what we learned while on vacation a couple of weeks ago. I’ll be back up-to-date this weekend though! 🙂
My children are amazing naturalists. They are always finding animals and making habitats for them so we can observe them for a while at home. We caught that little frog in a pond; we did not take that one home with us, but it represents another frog we found on our back porch that we did make a little habitat for, observing it for one day. It’s mating season for that gray tree frog, though, so we definitely didn’t want to keep it any longer! We don’t want to be responsible for a lack of tadpoles. We are always careful to give animals we catch the food and other things they need, and to return them to the EXACT place we found them. That is extremely important to prevent the spread of disease, and ensure that the animal will continue to thrive. One exception is our insects and arachnids. We found this spider and cricket in the basement, and we are not putting them back in the same place. 🙂 Who would have thought that one day I would be catching spiders instead of smashing them, and keeping them as pets? The children currently have spiders, crickets, ladybugs, rolly pollies, and a centipede as pets. They take care of all of them by themselves, and know how to do it thanks to an incredible book called Bug Zoo by Nick Baker. This little turtle (Western Painted, I believe) was found in the little forest we have behind our house, where there used to be railroad tracks. We’ve had it for a week to observe, but we’ll put it back this week. According to Montessori theory, children should have access to all classes of animals, ideally within the classroom as pets or which they care themselves. Our current practices fit in very well with this theory! My husband is never going to let us have a snake or lizards as a pet, but at least we can have a turtle occasionally. 🙂 And we can always visit the biology department at the local university, where there are tons of reptiles to observe, and sometimes touch!
Mr. Scientist and Miss Adventuress learned to add using the golden beads. The first picture shows the addends that we made. Each person made one using the small number cards. You will note in the bottom photo that we had to change one of the addends from 5 thousands to 3 thousands. For this presentation with these materials, you can only use addends up to 3,999. After making our addends with the cards, we each built our number using the golden beads and the additional hundred cards and thousand cubes. Then we put our materials in columns, in the same way we would later write it on the paper. And we began with the units, adding them together, and changing (regrouping) when necessary. We could jump right to dynamic addition with this material, since we had already played the change game in which they learned to change 10 units for 1 ten, 10 tens for 1 hundred, etc. I wrote the addends on the paper this time, as it was the first presentation, and they finished, writing the sum. The paper helps a lot. It’s graph paper, but with much larger squares than normal. It reminds them that they can only write one number in each box, and if they were going to write two, they need to make a change (regroup). Now that they’ve had this presentation, they can repeat it alone. According to Montessori, students should always make their own problems, so I won’t be giving them any practice worksheets. I will only give them some task cards, but not with problems written out. They will be of this kind: invent a problem in which one addend has zero hundreds. It’s not necessary to give them anything more. Less work for me, more interest for them, and more learning on their part. A perfect combination!
The next day we moved right on to dynamic subtraction (with regrouping). There’s no reason to wait for them to completely master addition prior to moving on. It’s actually better to continue, to give them more variety in their work that they can choose. Since we are using a concrete material, the golden beads, there’s no reason to wait. I made the minuend with the large number cards, since the minuend is the largest number in the problem. When we were adding, we used the large number cards for the sum. I made one minuend for each child. They made their minuend with the golden beads, and extra hundred squares and thousand cubes. Those extras should actually have little dots to make the connection to the golden beads even more evident, apart from being exactly the same size, but I haven’t decided how I want to add the dots to my homemade squares and cubes, and we’re doing fine without them for now. They wrote the minuend on their paper, the same paper we used for addition. Then they chose a subtrahend. I explained that their subtrahend would have to be smaller than their minuend. They build their subtrahend with their small number cards, and then wrote it on their paper, below the minuend. We began with the units and started to subtract. When they discovered that they couldn’t take away a certain number from their minuend, we talked about what they might be able to do. Miss Adventuress immediately suggested that we could make a change, like when we were adding. We discovered that would could make the change the other way this time. Instead of changing 10 units for 1 ten, we could change 1 ten for 10 units. As soon as we made the change, we noted it on our paper in the problem. Then we kept subtracting. And we continued that way until we had our difference!
This is their subtraction work. Children naturally embellish work of which they are proud, and on which they made a great effort. In Montessori, we encourage this. And we don’t just embellish work that turned out perfectly, because in Montessori we do not give rewards or focus on the result. We focus on the process. This doesn’t mean that we don’t want them to complete the problem correctly, but it does mean that we openly value their effort, even when it doesn’t result in a correct answer.
Solder and bebes…I’m getting ready to give the First Great Lesson! The Great Lessons are the structure, the cornerstone, of the entire Montessori elementary curriculum for ages 6-12. This first lesson gives an impression of the beginning of the universe, and how the earth formed. It includes demonstrations of the states of matter, the attraction of particles, and a volcano that really erupts, using ammonium dichromate and sulphur. It is going to be incredible.
And now, how about if I share the large-square graph paper we use for arithmetic? Just click the link to download it. I hope you have a lovely weekend!
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