Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Start Good Work with a Great Breakfast

We started this morning making breakfast. As usual, DJ is a big part of that. Today we made pancakes. First DJ gets the box of mix from the pantry. He uses a 1/2 cup scoop to measure out the mix (with my help to be sure it's full). Then he pours in the water. The mix that we buy is only sweetened with a little honey, so we add half a banana to sweeten it up. In the photo above you can see DJ mashing the banana with a fork.

This is a great little calendar that hangs on the back of our front door. DJ doesn't fully understand it yet, mainly because he can't read but he loves to move around the little pillows with Velcro on the back. Today he has decided that we're back in February. Right now we just do it for fun but DJ did surprise me today by asking if it was Wednesday. It is but... was that just a lucky guess?

DJ pulled the color boxes off the shelf again. This time I decided to try a game with him. I'd point to one of the color tablets and ask him to find something in the room that same color. You can see he easily found matches for red, yellow and green before refusing to play anymore.

He started then to play with this blue car. I asked him to find the color tablet that matched it. This was a bit of a trick question because the blue from Color Box 2 is not the same blue! So he had to look in the graded colors in box 3 and decide which one matched. You can see the matching dark blue on the mat above. In the picture he's checking whether a lighter blue matches the color of the windows.

Next he chose the the sound cylinders and here is happily shaking a matching pair. I made these with old-fashioned film canisters, fillers like dried beans and salt and colored stickers. The boxes that they're kept in are the lid and bottom of a new iPhone box.

Continuing the whirlwind day, he wanted to do some flower arranging. The flowers on his shelf are artificial but we have a lot of yellow flowers growing in our front yard. I ran out and clipped a few making sure to keep the stems much too long. That gave him lots of practice with his scissors.

Then he chose from our language shelves these awesome 3-scene sequence cards. These were thrown in for free when I bought some Montessori materials from a lady on Craigslist. We have six stories in the 3-scene set and 12 in the 4-scene set. DJ can't sequence these yet but he watches me carefully as I choose the order and then tell him the story. In this picture, the story goes, "First, the boy put a hot dog on a stick. Then, he cooked the hot dog over the fire. And finally, he ate the hot dog."

More from the language shelves, these cards are matching opposites. This is the first time that DJ has matched on his own all 7 sets that I have out (from a total of 30 sets). Looks like it's time to rotate some new cards. I bought these from a homeschool consignment store for $5 and they've been great in expanding DJ's descriptive language.

Next DJ pulled out the J letter box. This is the first time he's seen this one and it includes juice, jack, jet, jaguar, jeep, jack'o'lantern, jacket, jellyfish and giraffe. I can include the giraffe now because we're only hearing the sound but when we start to include the written letter J, I'll have to remove that one since it doesn't actually start with J.

Despite DJ's excited distraction over the jeep, I tried to play the first stages of I Spy with him again. I'll hold in my hand two items (ex camel & jet) and say, "Camel, Jet, Take the one that starts with /j/" (the sound not the letter name). To my surprise, he actually selected correctly at least 4 times before choosing wrong. This is HUGE because he normally just refuses to play at all.

These puzzles are very, very easy for DJ and he almost never plays with them anymore. But I have read it is very common when a child has done a lot of heavy work, that they need something easy to help them regroup. And here is evidence of that because DJ selected these next and actually completed them both without getting bored and wandering off. I had thought maybe this was him winding down and we'd be done for the day, but DJ wasn't done.

After the easy puzzles, DJ turned to the geometric cabinet and selected the drawer of rectangles. All of these are the same height but range in width from narrow to wide - the last being a square. With this drawer, DJ learns to discern size by matching to the cards. You can see in this picture, DJ has placed the 2nd narrowest rectangle onto the narrowest card. Then he's holding the narrowest rectangle confused because he can't find it's matching card. He's asking repeatedly, "Where does this go? Where does this go? Where does this go?"  After I helped him get back on track, he matched them all and then did the same with two more drawers before moving on.

And finally! Our "schoolwork" would not be complete without choosing the cylinder blocks.

Not long after he finished working and had rolled up his work mat, he heard one of the neighbor girls in her backyard. They yelled across the fence for awhile until she disappeared and he started adamantly saying "have to go over his house" - getting the gender wrong but otherwise clearly stating his intention of going next door. Before I could figure out what to do, the two neighbor girls showed up at our front door WITH their mom, asking him to come over to play. He is in heaven right now. What a great day!!


  1. "But I have read it is very common when a child has done a lot of heavy work, that they need something easy to help them regroup." You know, I remember when I was in corporate America, there were days when I just wanted to do less brain-intensive type stuff, like a whole bunch of photocopying or shredding or filing. I found it very centering. I can to relate to it now, so I know I'll remember this bit from now on and will not forget to leave some old favorite toys out for my boys to center themselves after hard work.

    1. I'm glad I had read that too and didn't immediately begin removing things that seem too easy. I know he's doing a lot of challenging work these days so it helps to have an old, familiar work still available.