Friday, July 24, 2009

Pocket Charts Galore!

I've been reading this terrific book, which I actually found at a garage sale:The Scholastic Integrated Language Arts Resource Book (Grades K-2)

and I've been turned on to the value of using pocket charts in lower elementary. I personally don't remember there being any pocket charts when I was in public school, but after reading this book, I see the value in have several of them around.

Here's the first one I just completed making for under $3.00

This will be great for practicing sight words and spelling words. And my 3yo likes to spell her name with the chart as well as other small words she is learning.

To make this, I used a piece of old black felt for the back and bought a shower curtain liner for the pockets. The one I bought was pretty thin and sewing on it was like sewing on freezer bags, you know? Not really fun and difficult to work with. But it's definitely functional. It might be easier to work with that clear plastic material they use for covering seats. But I've got plenty of shower curtain left so I'll keep using that.

The whole thing is 18"x8". I cut the shower curtain in 2.5" strips and the pockets themselves are appx. 2.5 inches across. I made the letter cards 1.75"x 1.75" on card stock. There are 4 lower and 2 upper for each letter.

This easily rolls up for storage. Be careful not to unroll it until it is lying on a flat surface or your letter cards will fly all over.

I plan on making one for the 100 days of school as well as one that can hold larger sentence and word strips for poems and center instructions.

This chart is small enough to be used on a table/desk or on a work mat. But for larger charts, I plan to use hook and loop Velcro and just stick it to the wall. Another idea is to hot glue clothespins to the wall. I've done this several times for other things and you can remove them (with a little force) without any damage to the paint.
After you've made your pocket charts, you will find really fun ways to use your charts in these books:
100 Riddle Poems for Pocket Charts

Month-By-Month Pockets Charts: 20 Knock-Your-Socks-Off Pocket Chart Poems With Lessons That Take You Through the Year & Build Skills in Reading, Math, Science & More

Big Book of Pocket Chart Poems: ABCs & 123s: Engaging Poems, Lessons, and Instant Templates to Teach the Alphabet, Number Concepts, and Phonics Skills

Scholastic Interactive Pocket Charts: Nursery Rhymes (Grade prek-2

Happy Charting!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Orchestra Unit

We're continuing on with our orchestra studies.

First we read

And we also did our Stand Up Orchestra, which is a really cute 3d representation of an orchestra. If you'd like me to email you the PDF I will. Just leave a comment here and I'll send it. Here's a pic:

And thank you to the wonderful blogger at http://www.homescho olblogger. com/joyfulschool /
who posted a terrific series of orchestra lap books at this site:

We can't wait to dig into those!

UPDATE on our family book club: The other family that is scheduled for our August book club has settled on Stuart Little .
We've got our copy and we're ready to enjoy another classic.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Have to Share

I'm up late reading. And I found something that just had to be shared from the book "Leadership and the One Minute Manager" by Ken Blanchard. On page 33 it reads "There is nothing so unequal as the equal treatment of unequals."

Wow, what a perfect description of public education's one-size-fits-all model. I loved it even more because of the way it combats today's notion that EVERYONE is entitled to the same treatment and same outcome in this country regardless of your individuality and personal desire and work ethics.

The idea that we all have to have equal outcomes and that we all have to have equal access to every so-called "entitlement"out there is ludicrous in my view. The only equality we have is that we are equally valued in the sight of God, and we all have unlimited potential to achieve even the most lofty of ambitions.

There is no person or organization that is "too big to fail"; No race, no religion, no creed, no human condition that entitles an individual to endless sums of public money.
When we "level the playing field' so much that no one person can be distinguished for their ability to excel, to achieve, to thrive, and flourish; when we have been so stripped of our individuality and prepackaged as identical wards of the all-powerful state, then I believe we cease to possess the very traits and characteristics that make us priceless members of the incredible human family. It is our God given uniqueness, individuality that makes us who we are.

For the most part, we all come to this human experience with a different set of divinely devised talents and abilities. It only follows, then, that we will be afforded the opportunity to express that individuality in ways that result in varying degrees of "success", what ever that may mean to the individual. Declaring (no mandating) that each person be forced into sameness, is direct opposition to the Creator's plan for personal choice and responsibility for one's choices.

And while I believe that it is also our duty to care for those who are unable to care for themselves, it most certainly is NOT my responsibly to ensure the equal outcome of financial success for the general population.
Ok, I'm done lecturing. I'm off to bed.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Starting a Family Book Club

My head is swimming with great ideas for the coming school year. Sometimes I feel lost in the rush of ideas. It's been a struggle to keep my thoughts organized enough to actually be able to implement them. I've finally come to accept that our home school will be ever evolving and always a work in progress. It will never be "just right". And that's ok.

But I am feeling good about taking one step toward setting up a family-to-family book club as suggested in the book I'm currently reading: A Thomas Jefferson Education Home Companion

I've invited a family with similarly aged children to join us in choosing a classic (there's a terrific list of classics for all ages in the book mentioned above), reading it at home as a family , and then joining us one month from now to discuss the book with our kids, do a fun activity relating to the book, and then share dessert together.

I was happy at their quick acceptance of our invitation and we all look forward to our August meeting. I'll keep you posted!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Starting Your Montessori Home School

I certainly do understand those parents who like the idea of implementing Montessori at home, but really have no idea where to start. I get that!
I wasn't very organized in my approach. I had no manuals or formal training. I just started reading, researching, and then I dug in making materials that I thought would interest my kids.

And then I kept it going! It's a never ending process.

I find that making materials for my classroom to keep it fresh and interesting for my kids challenges my creativity and problem solving skills to the max. I've actually come to really enjoy the task almost to the point of becoming a hobby. It's what I do when I have spare time, or after the kids are in bed. I research the internet for the endless ideas from other amazing teachers/parents that are giving their kids their very best efforts at home.

Here are a few resources that really helped me get started:Teach Me to Do It Myself: Montessori Activities for You and Your Child

Basic Montessori: Learning Activities For Under-Fives

Teaching Montessori in the Home: Pre-School Years: The Pre-School Years

Reading those books, and perusing the internet was a terrific start to my own Montessori classroom. FYI: For those of you implementing Montessori methods in the home, you'll be interested in this site here:

As you really get into the Montessori Mode, you will look at things differently as you visit the dollar store, yard sales and thrift shop. Nearly everything you see will become a future "work" in progress.

It's actually tons of fun, especially when you see your little ones enjoying the materials you've labored to create.

Here are just a couple of things I've been working on lately:

I got the pictures for this (above) work from which is a favorite site of mine. We have a section of wall in our school room with magnetic paint and we like to use the magnet wall for various things. On this work I've added sections of magnetic tape so the poster can hang on the wall. It's also reversible. The other side has the percussion and woodwind families on it.

Here's another quick and easy work:

This one is pretty self explanatory. Just a shoe box taped shut and a cut out of my daughters shoe taped on top. I drilled holes in the shoe and laced it up. (remember to drill the holes and lace the shoe before taping the lid on to the box).