Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Operation Christmas Child

I've been trying to model civic responsibility and giving. It is a challenge when the household budget is tight and some months it is more than tight.
I also have been waiting for the time when Sean would reach an age of understanding. He can now relate to children his own age, look at his toy room and see that he has been very blessed with friends and relatives who give. He can also see that he has more than enough of everything, and through studying other cultures, knows there are children who have nothing.
We are Christians, and he knows that as Christians we care about people, all people.
I offered him the opportunity to shop for a child in another country, and give what could be the only gifts they will ever receive. He was excited about it, so I gave him $5 to shop with and we headed to Target. He carefully chose some gifts and I had some of the Happy Meal toys, etc. in my closet. I like to keep any extras on hand as gifts.
We wrapped the box, and he filled it with all of the toys and some candy. We included a Christmas card and picture of him. He asked who would get the box, and I said there was no way to know exactly. He wants it to go to South America.
So in typical Marsha fashion, we made it to the drop-off spot on deadline day.
He was very excited to take the box in. He normally doesn't like his picture taken, so I asked if I could take a picture of him at the drop-off, and he agreed. Even reminded me when we got inside as he was about to hand the box over to the lady working there.
We have another service project planned for the first week of December.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More freebies

Just found a new place for 3-part cards, booklets, and more!! Much more!  Go to
www.etcmontessori.com ETC is a non-profit organization, and I just downloaded 3-part cards, etc. on almost 18 different subjects for FREE. These cards are beautiful, high quality photos. Getting to the download part was a bit tricky for me. I clicked on add to cart before I realized you have to click on the title of the item to get to the area for the free download.
So load up my Montessori friends. And for those of you who aren't yet certain about Montessori, take a look at those cards. Specifically, take a look at the planets chart, and the leaf cards. Beautiful.
This site also offers a lot of books or albums for teaching specific subjects, and it also lets you take a peek inside these books before you buy.
Check it out. Let me know what you find, and what you think.

South America is where it's at

Sean is very interested in South America. We read a book about Venezuela that we got from the library, and in that book Oscar D'Leon was mentioned. I suggested we could look for his music at the library as well, and Sean said, "Let's look on  iTunes." So we found him on iTunes, Sean was very into that music, and we have one of his CDs on order at our local library. He loves snakes, and one of the books is about the Fer-de-lance snake, which lives in parts of South American.
He has been exploring a book about world cultures, and seems to be heavily interested in all things culture, history and geography right now.
This week, I very informally read to him about the history of numbers. One of the pieces of information talks about how the Egyptians alternated from left to right on one line as they wrote numbers, then from right to left on the next, in the same way they would plow their fields. I found it fascinating, because Sean tends to do that as well. Until late in his third year at Montessori he did this, and still sometimes will start to do it.
For a while he also wanted to write right to left instead of left to right, and read the right page first in a book. My mom used to say he would do well to learn the Urdu language, which is written right to left.
While some would likely see this as a problem, I find it interesting and wonder why he would find that to be a natural way of doing it. He used to write his numbers across a page, and when he got to the end, he would just drop down to the end of the second line and start writing backwards, until he reached the end, and then drop down and go left to right again, like this:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
15 14 13 12 11 10
16 17 18 19 20
and so on.
He does it the way the rest of us do it now, but he asked for a grid paper one day last week, and said he wanted to write numbers. He began to do it again.  It must still be a way that is comfortable to him...
I'm not worried about it, I just find it interesting.
Has anyone else encountered this with their children, or children in their classrooms?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The rain is here

We put together the weather station on Monday and set it out where we could watch it as the wind whipped up and the rain came. It doesn't tell us the wind speed, but it has these cool anemometer cups that spin like mad when the wind blows, and a wind vane. And it has a compass, a thermometer, and a tube that catches the rain so we can measure rainfall.
Sean went out today to take a look, and we had almost 3 inches of rain since Monday.

Last week we went for a playdate at the Children's Museum. They had free first Friday, and we even found a free parking spot - Yay! We met some other homeschool families there and had a good time. There were great exhibits that focused on two Trickster Tales from our region. They had beautiful costumes for the kids to wear, and even had a light board where they could trace figures from the books to make their own little book. He had a great time doing that.
Sean said his favorite thing was the shopping game. It was a game that gave the player 10 acorns, and a list of items to buy. The goal was to have enough left over to either put into savings or buy something you wanted.
It gave me an idea to come up with a board game for him here at home. I've been looking for games that encourage working together toward a common goal, but I think it could be neat to make one. Instead of just a savings account and items to purchase that we really want, I thought it would be nice to have some charities to choose from also.
Since he is learning more and more about money, we could use real dollar and cents amounts, but keep it simple.
This week he has been looking in the snake books to find more snakes that live in Africa. Library books are due this week, then we move on to the next continent.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Africa, oh Africa

So Sean's plan in studying the seven continents was to begin with the African continent, and in typical "follow the child" fashion, we started with Africa.
Here are a few of the things we've done so far.
I bought some maps way back (feels like a year ago now, but only a couple of months ago really) and he has traced the African continent and labeled it.
We watched "Born Free," which I LOVED as a kid and he totally enjoyed as well. And at the end he yelled out, "This was a true story!"
We went to the library and checked out a bunch of books on Africa.
I bought a CD online for a great deal called, "Acoustic Africa." This CD was available in his Primary room at the Montessori school and he mentioned it often. I was happy to find it. He frequently chooses it for the CD player.
His interest now is with snakes and as he reads his snake books from the library we find out where there homes are, and some are found in Africa.
Here's where this turns a corner.
I bought a set of African continent cards through an eBay seller. This pack includes pictures of kids, animals, instruments, landmarks, etc. They're nice. Not laminated, not three-part cards either which bothers me now, but nice.
Sean couldn't give a rip. He hasn't shown the slightest interest in these cards, except when he was listening to the CD. I had all of the cards on the floor and he recognized one of the instruments as one that was used in a song on the CD.
I have been printing and cutting like mad, and let me just say, I have a JOB and I WORK and at some point the clicking and downloading and printing and cutting just gets to me. So I decided it was worth it to buy a few things.
It would have cost me $100, and I almost did it. I know NUTS. Luckily I decided to sample them by starting with the African cards.
Maybe other kids love these things. Not Sean. He just doesn't have any interest in them.
I'm going to try one last African continent work this week before we move on. I printed out all of the flags of Africa, but I am going to make them into three part cards and see if he goes for it. If not, I'll just put it all in the box and have it for next year. Maybe he'll suddenly have interest.
His taste seems much more sophisticated. He wants to plan a trip to Africa. He believes that would be a good idea. And of course I do too.
South America is next, he says. Stay tuned.