Monday, August 19, 2013

More fun with Letter Mm!

     So, the Back to School countdown for my kids has begun!
     The school clothes have been bought (just need shoes) and almost everything is crossed off the School Supply lists!
     Even with all the Back to School craze, the little munchkin and I still find time for our learning fun with the letter Mm.
     We worked on the letter Mm in different ways. She built M & M shapes using printables from the Letter of the Week curriculum created by Confessions of a Homeschooler, and then she quickly did a graphing activity--- so she could eat the M & Ms!!
     She gave her little fingers some work as she cut small pieces of tape to secure her Mm stencil onto a paper. To add variety to her painting tools, here she clipped cotton balls onto a clothespin and used it to paint.
    And more fine motor work came with cutting and gluing to make a Monkey!
     Earlier last week, we explored our new Alphabet Soup Cans and drew pictures of the items. Mid week, I created some labels and pulled out letter tiles and she worked on spelling each "M" item on the tray.                                  
    And here are a few pics of her Reading Corner. We had a monkey theme going on all week!
    We had so much fun creating these Five Little Monkey Props. I made the bed simply by covering a tissue box with felt and added a little blanket... and rolled up the extra felt to make a pillow! 
     Lots of letter Mm fun...some Montessori and some not! 
     But all fun and educational either way! Just the way I like it!!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Letter Mm and other fun play -- in a Montessori-Inspired Way!

   So after spending time learning about the world of Montessori and learning more about her philosophy and methods, I have decided to incorporate a little bit of Montessori in my learning area for my little munchkin. I have been enjoying searching homeschool blogs and seeing how moms implement Montessori with their little ones everyday.
    I am still learning about different aspects of a Montessori curriculum, but after reading a few things here and there, I wanted to get started right away!
    Here is what I learned (or rather re-learned, because I did briefly study Montessori topics way back in my undergrad work) about the importance of the learning environment.

    So the first thing that I did was look to the environment where I was doing most of my learning activities. First thing I noticed when I really stopped to look: Clutter. Too many toys; some slightly organized in small baskets and bins (as they are in a typical classroom) and some just scattered. I usually like to try and keep the area organized, but some days, it just gets overlooked. In a Montessori classroom, things are simple and clutter free. So I put away some toys and cleared a few shelves, which fortunately are a child friendly size! I found (and bought) a few trays from the Dollar Tree and Walmart and began our new Montessori-Inspired set up.
       Because of my 9 years of teaching experience, embracing Montessori 100% seems too overwhelming of a task. Not to mention, too much of a change all at once for the munchkin. So I will try to find a nice balance of Montessori activities and activities that I know and love to use!
       Anyhow, this week we went right back to work, and our Letter of the Week is Mm.
       Here is how our learning area is now set up.
     I chose to start off with 8-9 activity trays for her to begin with. I plan to switch up maybe 2-3 activitiy materials mid-week, depending on her interests. I plan to only change the materials, not the concept. For example, once she completes the art activity (cotton ball painting), then I can add another type painting activity.
     Here is what is on our shelves this week:
     On the top of the shelf, I have 3 trays:  Letter Mm Tray (using my awesome Alphabet Soup Cans that I was so excited to finally purchase- and some items that begin with the Mm sound), another Letter Mm tray with coloring and letter search activities and an Art Tray where she could use stencils, paint, clothespins and cotton balls to paint.
      On the lower shelf, I put out a Puzzle Tray (20 wooden pieces), a Lego Tray and a Writing Tray (which you can't see from this pic)
             Letter Mm Trays
            Letter Mm Tray and Art Tray
          Writing Tray
(with my DIY Sandpaper Letters)
     On another lower shelf (an old tv stand) I put out a  Play Doh Tray, a tray for Water Pouring, a tray to Measure & Pour Rice and a Math tray with M&M patterns and graphing activities that I have from the Letter of the Week Curriculum by Confesssions of a Homeschooler.
     The first things we did was read our Letter Mm books and she selected one of the Letter Mm Trays. (The Alphabet Soup Cans just arrived this weekend and she was eager to get her hands on them!)
     After reviewing the sound of Mm and talking about the pictures, she wanted to draw each one.                                                                        
     The other popular activity was Water Pouring. (I found some super cute, measuring pitchers at Walmart). I placed 2 cups, a funnel and a towel on the tray as well. I demonstrated how to use the materials and how to clean it all up when it was done. In this manner, she will learn to use the materials correctly for her exploration and respect them as learning materials. And she does need work in the respect area because she tends to make a mess and walk away!!
     Anyhow, this Water Pouring Fun occupied 55 minutes of her time!! I kept track because as she worked, I sat back and played the observer. I was so happy when I caught glimpes of her little smirks as she worked hard and focused. Pouring can be hard work!!
     And the pouring fun continued with the Rice. She learned how to measure and pour rice!
     And with her newfound pride and confidence, she begged to make her own lunch! Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich with Strawberries (that she cut herself) and a glass of milk, that she poured herself, of course!
It was a fun, Montessori-Inspired day!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Back to School Blues...

   So, it has been almost 2 weeks since I last blogged about anything. It’s not that I have abandoned my lovely teaching blog at all. More like, hmmm, maybe just thinking about if and how I might have to revamp it? I am not sure what to call it.
   Here’s the thing. Last post I rambled on about the decisions I had to make as a mom and a teacher. Well since then, my decision has been made: I need to find a job closer to home.
   What does that mean? Means no more jobs/commutes into the city… there are far too many time issues with drop off and pick up for my little munchkin at her new (private) preschool. But thanks to my workaholic hubby, things are manageable for the time being, as I search for a job (maybe even something part time) closer to home.
   I can say with all honesty, that I am a little…hmmm? What‘s the word?... “sketchy?” about my decision. Jobs leads are scarce and I am a little nervous, not to mention a little… depressed?? For the past 9 years, this time of year brought excitement as I prepped for a new group of kids. This year with a possibility that I will not have my own classroom, makes me a little sad. I read everyone’s blog and I love the excitement, but do not like that I am not in that boat… yet! (Things can turn around in 3 weeks!!)  
   I have a serious case of Back to School Blues...
   Maybe part time work is what I need for now? Maybe this is a sign that I need to take it easy this year…? I don’t know. Sure, being a SAHM will be totally new to me… but does it count when there are NO kids at home during the day?? =) 
   BUT----- I must say that I am very excited about being able to drop my daughter off at school (NOT daycare anymore) every morning and pick her up at dismissal (rather than have her stay late at an After Care program until 5pm or later) And with a part time gig, I can have “me” time and be more involved in the school communities (at her school and my son’s high school) Those are definitely the things I am looking forward to!!
   So… that is where I am at. I guess I will sit back and enjoy my extended summer vacation!!
   In the meantime, I am still working with my little munchkin in fine tuning skills before she heads off to her Kindergarten Readiness program in a few weeks. And lately, I have indulged myself into learning more about the world of Montessori…
   Stay tuned to see how I plan to intermix Montessori methods and principles with what I have currently being doing with at home with my little one!