Saturday, February 19, 2011

Work Time Again!

Things always get a little crazy in our public traditional school from the end of October until January.  We have Red Ribbon week, Halloweeen parties, rehearsals for a Thanksgiving play, and lots of Christmas/holiday activities so we do not get to an independent work time much during this time.  I'm always kind of glad when January comes so we can get back to our regular schedule.  However this January/first of February was rather wild.  We had a lot of bad weather so we only had about three weeks of school altogether.  We are finally back in school in back to work time this week!
I found it interesting that the children chose nothing from the math and language shelves.  They went back to some of our first "work choices" and chose pin punching, the insets for design, and other non-traditional choices that I had not put away from the beginning of the year like animal models and puppets.  We are no where near a three hour work cycle but I do my best. In math I am still giving the golden bead lessons to small groups.  Each group is at a different place in the lessons.  Some are still working on naming the beads, others are working on counting the beads.  In grammar we are ready for our first key experience with adectives.  I do not have the wooden grammar symbol yet, but wish I did!  The children are at various levels in language/phonics activities.  I have gone back to my traditional reading groups during this time.  I just can't get to enough children to feel I am doing an adequate time with reading instruction.  As a reading specialist I am VERY comfortable with small group reading. 
Some other non-Montessori work we are doing is xtramath.  This is a free individualized program.  You enroll at and children work on bacsic facts.  My groups are also using the Reading First Listening Centers from Lakeshore Learning covering phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, context clues, fluency and comprehension.  This are a good reinforcement of my lessons I've taught.  My highest readers are also doing a read along of the first Junie B. Jones book with the audio CD.   I also have a DVD center with custom made DVD's to reinforce math, language, science and social studies content that has been covered.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Golden Beads!

I have finally ordered enough golden bead material to do the 3-6 lessons for introduction to the decimal system.  The items came yesterday and it was like Christmas for me!  I'm so excited to complete the lesson series with my kiddos.  Last year I did the early lessons, but did not have enough beads to do them all.  I also ordered 1 set of large wooden numbers and 1 set of small wooden numbers.  I really like the durability of the wooden ones/versus the laminated paper I used last year.  Also I did not have a great storage tray for them so it was a struggle to sort them for lessons.
Last night I was looking through sites/blogs for the instructions for the bank game and trying to find the appropriate "when" to use it with regard to lesson sequence.  That is when I had an "ah-ha" moment.  I discovered that there are 2 bank games.  I had only read about the bank game in reference to the golden beads.  Last summer when I was ordering new materials for the classroom, I ordered a wooden framed set labeled the bank game.  Come to find out this is actually a game for long division (Montessori gurus-please correct me if I am wrong on this.)  So now I have the materials for both bank games!
I also discovered something interesting.  Su Chen's albums for the decimal system alternate bead and numeral lessons in their sequence.  The Montessori World albums (which I really love because they have pictures and I like the way they are written) do all the bead lessons first and then the number lessons.  After seeing this (Su Chen's) I had a small "panic" moment wondering if I should have already introduced the number cards to my little ones.  So I sent out a desperate email to my internet co-hearts as to which one is correct.  The response I received gave me a sigh of relief and made perfect sense-beads before numerals, concrete before abstract.  I know it is probably not a big deal but my OCD mind likes order and sequence and I had to know the proper way to do these!
I also wanted to share my research on pricing in case anyone else needs to order some bead material.  I comparision shopped 4-5 major online stores for the materials I needed (Adena, Caliber, Montessori Outlet, Ifit) and from what I came up with Caliber had the most bang for the buck.  Adena would have come in first but some of the materials were out of stock and would not arrive until February ? and I needed the materials for this week.  Ifit was running an close 2nd to Adena until I looked into shipping and Wow!  So Caliber had the next best pricing and they said they shipped next day and it took up to 5 days for shipping.  I ordered my materials Monday evening and received them on the following Monday afternoon!  I spent a little under $100 and ordered Large numbers to 9000, small numbers to 9000, 45 wooden hundred squares, 9 wooden thousand cubes, 45 golden bead tens, 45 bead units, and 1 golden bead hundred chain.  I already had the introduction to the decimal system set with the real bead hundred squares and thousand cube so the wooden ones were fine for me for the difference in the price.  The only thing I was a little unhappy with and this is a personal thing-not with the company is that the cubes are larger than my bead cube.  Overall, I am very happy with my purchase.  This is my 3rd order with this company and they have not let me down, yet.  So if you need materials consider