Sunday, November 16, 2014

Searching for an Upper El binomial presentation

We have the binomial and trinomial cubes. Sean has used them since he was in primary, and I distinctly remember him showing me both of them during an Open House when he attended the private school.

But now we are homeschooling for Upper El, and I really wanted to present them algebraically. I'm not Montessori trained, so I watch a lot of Margaret Homfray videos when I can. Before I found her presentation of the binomial cube for primary, which is amazing, I watched a few Youtube videos of others presenting the material. It was confusing, because no one did it the same way.

And while Homfray showed how to present it to the child in primary, and then explained it to the adults in algebraic terms, I didn't think the way she explained it to the adults was the way to present it to a child in Upper El.

So I kept looking. And I got more confused.

Then I just stopped. I gave up, and decided at some point down the road I would stumble upon someone who could help me, or a video that was the correct presentation.

Fast forward a few days, and I was looking for some Montessori cards for the parts of an Atom. I found some at, and while I was there I decided to look at some of their other pdfs to see if there was anything that I could use.

WHAAAAT? There they were. The binomial and trinomial cards, along with instructions.
I've used several times. The cards are affordable, and come as a pdf that you print on your own, and laminate if you choose.

I'm going to practice several times before I present the binomial cube, and I'll be observing to be sure that Sean is ready for the presentation.

No one at has asked me to write this post, nor has the company given me a discount, or anything for free. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Great Day to Work

I bet you can hear me singing, wherever you are. "Alleluia!"

Homeschooling is a journey with highs and lows. Some days go pretty well, others are really not good and include some raised voices, or some defiance and frustration.

Today is Veteran's Day. Sean has had years of Veteran's Day celebrations and assemblies at the public Montessori School, and though we talk about what it means, we don't do anything all that special for Veteran's Day.

While the rest of the school world in this country is on what my son calls an "off day," Sean was not at all upset when I told him we were not on an off day today.

Last year he was very aware of all of his friends' off days. And he has friends in different school districts, so their days off are all different, except holidays like Veteran's Day, of course.  I had a hard time getting him to understand that we couldn't follow every district's schedule because we'd never get any school done.

But last night, when I said we were doing school today because we started school a month late, he was fine with it. He even argued with a friend on the phone saying that unless you're a soldier, you shouldn't have the day off anyway, because all a kid is going to do is play video games all day, and they wouldn't be doing anything to do with Veteran's Day.

So today we did a full day of school.

We have started learning Greek root words and their meanings, and how we use those root words in our own language. I introduced six yesterday, and another six of them today. I will continue until we get through the material I have on Greek root words.

I begin by introducing the root word, and see if he can guess the meaning. A lot of times he can guess. And then I have him find it in the dictionary and read me what the word is and its meaning. If it's an ending root, such as logy, then I encourage him to think of as many words as possible with this in it. We discuss the root of those words, and how their meanings are related to the root word. For instance, ast, aster, astro mean star, stars, outer space. We haven't studied Greek, so we aren't sure, but we discussed how Greeks use plurals, and ast means one star, aster means more than one star, and astro means outer space. He is flying along with this work. It makes me want to introduce another language, but I'm not fluent in any other languages.

We are still finishing up Ancient Greece, but there seems to be one more thing, and then just one more thing that we can research or read about Ancient Greece. We aren't done yet. I plan to use it a little more to go back over the election process.

Another work on our list today was math. We've been doing math since the start of school, but I told the Story of Numbers today, and he was enthralled. I'm pretty sure he has heard this story in school, but I admit I don't think I got to it last year. No matter, he really liked it. It is the last of the Five Great Lessons. I love these stories so much. I got mine from They are AMI based.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Getting Connected

I know I'm preaching to the choir here. We all know the highs and lows of being a homeschool teacher and mom.

What I want to express is how important it is to find your tribe.

I've spent years searching, but have finally made some connections with other homeschooling moms. Most of my connections have been intermittent. I've never created bonds with other homeschool moms, and it isn't their fault.

I'm a complicated introvert mixed with some aspects of an extrovert who needs small groups instead of large ones.

My friendships are few, but meaningful to me.

I've known for a long time that I really needed some people around me who know what it's like to spend each day guiding their own child to the wonders of the world. They don't need to be Montessori homeschoolers, but like-minded is a plus.

In my search for an activity for my son, I've found some great homeschooling moms in my community. I am hosting an outdoors camp at our rural, 7-acre property. Some of the moms are staying to socialize while their kids enjoy the camp.

We have had a great time. We sit at my dining room table sharing stories about our lives, and talking about homeschooling and the joys and not so joyful moments.

Wolf Camp is an outdoor camp for kids that teaches outdoor skills. You can read more about it here.
In organizing the camp I reached out to various homeschool groups and people I know in the park district to publicize it. I decided to require participants to attend all five sessions, hoping this would create some friendships for our kids, and for the moms. The parents can hang out with their children during the camp, or they can drop off, or stay and socialize.
It has been so much fun!

We've started having lunch after camp, with everyone bringing an item. Moms take turns bringing snacks for adult time, and now we are planning meals and everyone is bringing one or more items to contribute. Our first lunch was simple, so I could get a feel for how it might work. We did hotdogs.

It went so well that I suggested a make-your-own pizza party last week. I made dough and sauce, and everyone brought a topping to share. It was a lot of fun to see the different shapes and combinations of the pizzas.

I don't think I realized how much I needed these women. It feels so good to have other moms to talk to, who know what I'm dealing with on a daily basis. I am connected to a lot of Montessori moms through Facebook groups. I don't know what I would do without them. I have only met one of them in person, but the support and knowledge from those women is so important to me.

But there's nothing like having friends to sit at your table.