Oct 19, 2008

A change of pace

Totschool is going to be a little different around here from now on. We were having fun, for the most part, but I think I was trying to do too much too soon. We were starting to get burnt out. The curriculum that I am using, is what I did with Kaytie and Nate when they were 3 and 4. I thought I could "tweak it down" to Daniel and Abbie's level, but it was getting harder and harder each week, and the kids were getting less and less. Besides, when I have to coax kids to school, things need to change. So while I was pondering this, I have been reading, and loving, this blog. She has made me, if not fall in love with, definitely be attracted to, Montessori. Not everything about it, of course, (that's just not me! lol) but enough that I'm wanting to attempt some of their style. But I could not conceive of how to pull off at home what she does in a classroom. Especially MY home! We live in a tiny apartment, and there is no way I could dedicate bookshelves or even A shelf to putting out school stuff. And even more, I do not have the time or the energy to keep them out of it "after hours". But I found this mom, which convinced me that it is do-able, if I use a little ingenuity. Not that she had the same problem, but just the fact that she does it at home, and she has lots and lots of details in her posts! Now in no way will I ever be a Montessori purist. There are some things I don't agree with, and some things I will just never be able to pull off with the personalities that swirl in this family. However, Montessori moms and teachers have TONS of good, hands-on ideas that I am thrilled to steal. (not just for prek-ers, either! I'll have to post about the geography plans I have for my 1st and K kids!)
So, in an attempt to make a long story short, on Wednesday, I made a master list of activities to choose from, and on Thursday, I pulled this box together.

And so it began. It worked well for the first day! LOL Which means there were many bumps in the road, but I had four kids intensely interested for an hour and I had weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth when I declared school was over for the morning. Which is its own sort of success. :)
So this is what we did pre-change (yes, I know, I should have waited until Monday, but what can I say, I got excited)

A color sheet.

Exercise is a good healthy habit to have!

We drew on dry erase boards.

Played with pattern blocks.

Helped Dad carve this guy...

And, that's all... See? I told you we were burnt out!

After the change, we did this:

On Thursday, our first day, I learned that some of the "rules" are there for a reason. The kids loved working on the floor, instead of at the table, and I did, too, because they were separate, yet much easier for me to turn from one to the other, depending on who needed help. I hadn't quite remembered all the little details (a failing of mine) so I had to jump up a few times, but I'm sure that will get ironed out with time. But anyway, back to the rules, I thought these mats would be fun, and they were, but they were VERY distracting, and I quickly switched to boring mats. The fun mats will have to be a work of their own, later.

For some reason, this "work" was a favorite! Could it be that I used pumpkin candies as the counters? :) Daniel got the idea of this very quickly, but I had to help him quite a bit. He enjoyed it though, and did it several times. Abbie just practiced putting the pumpkins in and out of the cup. She did figure out very quickly that these pumpkins were a treat to lick!

Daniel also enjoyed stamping leaves on paper. I was surprised at how well he did, because the big kids have never done really well with stamping, even now. Maybe it was because I was distracted with Abbie licking the pumpkins and left him alone to do it on his own? I also think the small pieces of paper helped. He wasn't as overwhelmed as if I had given him an entire sheet to fill.

Abbie had a good time with the pattern blocks. Again, she mostly just took them out and put them in again. She does recognize the triangle, and points it out to me, although only a mom would recognize the sounds that come out of her mouth as "triangle".

And this work was the big hit of the day. Both toddlers absolutely loved this. Just simply spooning glass rocks from one cup to another. Daniel had to use his hands a couple of times, but he did really well with the spoon overall.

And Abbie just loved it! She played with it for a good 15 minutes, then, every time it was free, she grabbed it again. She spooned, she dumped, she poured, she played with the stones, she just enjoyed it every possible way!

Friday was not quite as good as Thursday, they were excited, but too much so. Neither of them would focus on anything. They just kept choosing an activity, then putting it back and choosing another. I had put a couple more things in, and they enjoyed those.

I put in clothespins and a bowl. Daniel did this easily. I was glad to see he could do it, because I have some more challenging things made for him to do with these clothespins!

Abbie didn't even try to squeeze the clothespins open. She just turned them around and put them on backwards. lol She gets points for creative thinking!

I had a stash of die-cut, laminated leaves from my old Daycare Teacher days, so I used them as a pattern for leaves out of sandpaper and introduced them to Daniel as an exercise in "rough" and "smooth". I have enough that eventually I'll have him sort them.

Nate, Daniel and I together managed to produce a leaf-rubbing with a sandpaper leaf. Rubbing is hard! There must be a trick to it that I have yet to figure out.

Abbie's focus right now is "taking out" and "putting in".

I spent the weekend sorting through my "stuff" and I have two boxes made up, so I can switch them every time we do school. I am hoping that this method will simplify our lives, make school more enjoyable for everyone, and let Abbie have a more active part in our learning. We will still be doing a regular craft time, as well as our alphabet color sheets, Circle Time and our Active Game time. And of course, we will still be reading A LOT!

For more Totschool ideas (and a lot less rambling, I'm sure) click here and as you read, pray for Carissa and her family! As well as the other mommy-to-bes who are dealing with morning sickness.


teachingtinytots said...

looks like a really fun week! and all kids love food manipulatives :)

Liz said...

wow! I am shocked that you actually used "lol"! You never do that? Have we teenagers been rubbing off on you?

SchoolinRHome said...

Great week! I love the candy pumpkin counters-great idea!
Stop by my TOT post. I am posting it next!
Have a great week!

melanie said...

We have also had to cut back a bit on my fancy TOT school plans. Some things just weren't all that fun and my daughter wasn't getting anything out of them. Live and learn... right?


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