Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Last Week of July

DJ has been really enjoying the warm weather this month. We went to the local public wading pool a few days ago and DJ met this little boy and his awesome alligator. It was the perfect ride and DJ attached himself to it for an extended stay.

DJ has also been inviting the neighbor girls over to play. Here they are sharing his Melissa & Doug Cutting Fruit & Sandwich Making Sets. The girls live in the house next to ours and when they want to talk they go out into the back yard and yell "Quack!" as loud as they can until DJ answers back with a "Quack!" of his own. It's such a joy to see him developing relationships, even friendships, which signifies moving out of egocentric toddler-hood.

DJ has also been riding his bike quite a bit too. This is a Strider Balance Bike. It is scaled to his size and doesn't have pedals. He's learning to balance and steer with it. Eventually he'll be able to pick his feet up and coast on it. When he's mastered this bike, he'll likely be able to transition to a pedaled bike without needing training wheels.

DJ has been perfecting his knife skills lately. There is a fine balance here between encouraging him to practice and letting him get over-confident and careless. He's also learning that different materials need different levels of force to cut.  You can see that he enjoys cutting with a knife so much that as soon as he realized he had a window of opportunity, he abandoned his ham sandwich that he'd been eating in favor of the knife!

DJ received this Melissa & Doug 12 piece jigsaw puzzle this week and it's his first jigsaw and the perfect challenge for him right now. He does fairly well connecting the pieces together but he has to learn to identify which pieces match and how to orient them properly. Once he's confident with this puzzle, they also have 24 piece puzzles.

DJ is becoming a pro with putting his own shoes on. These sandals have a Velcro strip in the back and here he is working to thread the Velcro through a slot on the shoe, currently the most challenging part of putting them on.  A big part of the Practical Life segment of Montessori is called "Care of Self" and DJ is right on track with learning the basics of doing everything for himself, even down to the iconic squeal "No!  I do it myself!"

DJ selected the globes from the shelves this week. He now has both the Sandpaper (Land & Water) Globe and the Continent Globe. They are identical except for the coloring. The continents on the Continent Globe are each painted a Montessori signature color, North America-orange, South America-pink, Europe-red, Asia-yellow, Africa-green, Australia-brown and Antarctica-white. This color coding with continue through all of the Montessori geography works.

This is our newest tool on the Montessori shelves. It's a Botany (or Leaf) Cabinet and I'm so excited to have it. I wasn't sure if it fit into our budget but I came across a Montessori supplier that was liquidating their inventory for half price and I jumped on it! The cabinet has 4 drawers each with 6 shapes and insets of types of leaves. It's used not only to learn the various names of the leaves, like cuneate or obcordate, but also as a preliminary writing practice. When he's ready DJ will use a pencil-like stick to trace the inset shapes to prepare his hands for making the shapes of letters.

For now, DJ is just exploring them sensorally. He recognized the similarity to the Geography Cabinet and went right to work. He quickly discovered that they're a bit more complicated than the Geo Cabinet. The drawer he selected has both the reniform shape and the orbiculate shape which are very similar. (Note that I'm cheating and using the control chart to know the names. I need to learn these too. The two I named are the round, almost circle shapes in the photo above). Another challenge he discovered occurred when he removed the yellow insets and the put some back face down instead of face up. Unlike the regular shapes of the Geo Cab, the Botany shapes are not symmetrical so the puzzle pieces won't fit in the inset both ways, which he found to be very frustrating.  He knew he had the right shape and couldn't understand why it wouldn't fit.

DJ's response was to put the drawer back not long after selecting it. This is evidence of the child working to his own level and choosing not to do something he's not ready for yet. There is no need for me to tell him he can't do it; he figures it out himself. And of course, putting the drawer away is a challenge in itself. It takes a certain dexterity to line both sides of the drawer into the slot and slide it in, all while holding the relatively heavy drawer level so as not to drop the puzzle pieces.

After attempting the Botany Cabinet, DJ returned to the familiar Geography Cabinet and chose the Polygon drawer for the first time. His timing was a little unfortunate because the polygons are quite a bit more challenging than the other drawers like circles, rectangles and triangles. This is because an 8-sided octagon looks a lot like a 9-sided nonagon. So this drawer was quickly returned to the cabinet too. But not before the 10-sided decagon was identified as being similar to a wheel, which he's demonstrating in the picture. It may be a simplistic observation, but one of the things DJ will eventually learn about polygons is that the more sides you add the closer you get to having a circle. Without knowing that fact yet, DJ is getting a sensory experience of the similarities between decagons and circles.

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