Friday, February 27, 2015

A Day in a Life - Keeping it Real-ish

Over the past week or so, there have been several discussions on the Facebook Montessori groups I frequent about how blogs can be disheartening because they seem so perfect. Picture after beautiful picture of adorable kids doing amazing Montessori work.

Well, I'll never claim to have beautiful pictures but I am guilty of mostly only posting about our successes. And that's likely not going to change. This blog is about celebrating DJ's growth and achievements. But just so there is no illusion of perfection when the camera isn't rolling, I decided to do a post about an entire day, warts and all, or at least mostly. For one I'm doing this from memory and for another there are still some things that don't need to be put in print. As a warning, this is a really long, wordy post. Detailing an entire day is a lot of detail!

DJ and I have both been sick all week, especially me. I've nearly lost my voice, I'm not sleeping well and food is mostly not interesting to me. Because of this, DJ has been watching an enormous amount of TV. This Friday, we had nothing particularly planned so I decided to make it a no TV day and to make it fair, I agreed to no iPhone as well. So none of the pictures in this post were taken during the day and I kept notes longhand on 2 pieces of 5.5" square inset paper with a colored pencil.

As is usual, DJ woke up before me and played in his room for a bit. He has a gate in the hall between his room and mine and he knows I won't open the gate until his Talking Alarm Clock turns green. As soon as it did, he called out to me and I opened the gate. He then removed his diaper that he only wears at night, put it in the diaper bin and crawled into bed with me. At this point he's only wearing a shirt and since we have no plans and I won't be taking pictures that is how he'll spend most of the rest of the day.

We go downstairs to make breakfast. He decides he wants oatmeal so he gets a packet, tears it open, pours it in the bowl and gets the milk. He's able to pour milk into a cup but I measure the milk for oatmeal by instinct so I usually do this for him. Today he wanted to try and of course he filled it too full. We spilled some of it when I jumped in to stop him. He cleaned up the spill while I got a second packet of oatmeal to correct for the extra milk. Then we warmed it in the microwave and he ate nearly all of it. Hm, maybe I should always make him 2 packets. After breakfast, he asked me to read him a book but he got distracted half way through, bouncing and running on the sofa.

Then he asked to go upstairs to play. Most of his toys are upstairs because his school materials take up all of the living room space. In his play room, I start to play with his Bristle Blocks. This is usually a frustrating experience for me because he'll either dictate what I can do or destroy what I do. Today is no different but I'm avoiding the TV today so I put up with it. I made a car and he destroyed it. I made a merry-go-round, he played with it a bit and then destroyed it. Then I made a robot that I was particularly proud of and would have taken a picture, but of course, he destroyed it.

After awhile, we went downstairs and cleaned up the dirt he tracked in yesterday from playing outside. Yes, it was left overnight. No, my house is not Montessori-perfect. But it is good Practical Life experience for him to sweep it up himself, even a day later. Right?

Then DJ started matching these puzzle pairs. It's pretty easy for him but he still has fun with it. He was lining the matched pairs up in a column by the stairs and at one point he looked over and said, "I have 5 of them!" At what point did he learn to count to five? And he did it just by looking, not counting each one as he pointed. I was surprised.

By now he's starting to get antsy and he takes one of the unmatched pieces into the dining room. I'm waiting for him to come back when he declares, "Let's do them in here!" Really? Ok, why not. So I move all the remaining pieces into the dining room where he matches 2 more sets and then gets distracted by the cat. After awhile of petting the cat, I ask him if he's done with the puzzle and he says yes, so we put it away.

We then go back into the living room and pull out the Geometric Cabinet drawers. I try encouraging him to trace them with his fingers. This is meant to be a very early writing practice, but he generally isn't interested in doing it. He did a couple but then pulled out the quatrefoil, which is his favorite and ran to match it to the same shape on the Metal Insets. I asked him how many bumps it has (what are those things called anyway?). This time, he points to each one as he counts, but points to the last one twice and declares it has 5. Hm. Maybe he can't count to 5.

He then said he wanted to do some Metal Inset tracing, but his table hasn't been cleaned since breakfast. That's right, it wasn't cleaned right after he finished eating. Definitely not one of my strengths. Once it was cleaned, we sat down to trace. DJ with the quatrefoil inset and me with the square. About the time we both finished the first one, DJ is distracted again. I clean up the insets while he flitters around the room. Then I asked him if he wants to learn new letters. For weeks now, he's been saying no. But today he says yes!

I presented H first. The objects include horse, hat, house, helmet, hippo, hand, hair tie, hanger, hamburger, heart, hammer, hot dog. He first tried to hang the hair tie on the hanger, then he used the hammer to bang imaginary nails into the door. Then he took the hamburger apart and pretended to eat just bun which is often what he does when really eating.

All the while, I'm talking about the h sound and some of it he repeats after me. At some point, I showed him the little plastic blue h and he says, "That's /d/!" Hmm. There are similarities, but no, it's not a d. So I brought out the plastic d and had him compare them and asked him a series of words and told him to point to the letter it started with. After a few correct answers I feel like he's understanding the difference so I asked if he wanted to trace h. As he's tracing it, he mumbles something and runs to the shelf and comes back with the TH green sandpaper letter we've done before. He pointed to the h on both the h & th cards. I told him he was right, there is an h in the th sound. Then he traced both several times.

Next we did the O sound. The objects include otter, ostrich, octopus, octagon, Octopod and olive. The octagon is a piece of paper I cut into the shape and then used a red marker to highlight the outside. The Octopod is a picture of the vessel from DJ's favorite cartoon that I printed from the Internet. I really dislike this sandpaper letter. As with many of the letters, I chose to scrape off the lead line to focus on the O itself. But what really bother me is this o doesn't have the upper loop that I was taught when I learned cursive. And it just looks weird to me. But I'm trying not to let DJ know that.

Finally we did Q. The objects here are queen, question mark, quarter, quilt, quail & quartz. DJ loved that the book is about a quail and he has a little quail to play with while I read. The sandpaper letters I bought came with both a single red Q and a double green Qu. I've chosen to teach the double here because all words in English have both qu so he might as well learn it from the beginning. I don't remember if DJ ever traced qu. My voice was really giving out at this point and I was coughing really badly. I guess I pushed it more than I should have.

After a break, I tried to encourage DJ to work with the number rods but he had zero interest. What's the deal? He's counting anything and everything but refuses to count the one thing Montessori uses to teach counting?! Gah.

Instead he chose the world puzzle map, animals and the Map Work book i wrote about before. He used his finger to travel the map from continent to continent describing the bus, plane, boat or train he'd have to take to get to each one just as the book reads. He named every continent as he went perfectly. I can't remember if he's done that before.

Then he pulled out the little bald eagle and began playing with it. About that time, my alarm went off for me to remind DJ to go to the bathroom because, yeah, that's what we have to do right now. The alternative is not pretty. DJ ran to the bathroom with the eagle and then pretended it was going in the toilet. Is this still Geography study or are we done with that?

After coming out of the bathroom, DJ began what I call "free play" which is really complicated to explain but it involves a lot of imaginary machinery, vehicles and explosions. I am completely ignored. A little while later he comes to ask me for lunch and it's then that I realize he's used a dry erase marker on the cabinets. He's allowed, even encouraged, to use them on the dishwasher or refrigerator but sometimes he forgets that the cabinets aren't ok. If cleaned off right away it's not a problem but if left too long it can be a pain to get off.

While I'm cleaning, DJ lays down on the floor and says "we don't feel good." Whenever he's sick he always seems to have the same high energy so I often forget he's probably almost as miserable as I am. I gave him some medicine and made the lunch he requested, cold cereal and a banana. Maybe his stomach is as upset as mine.

After lunch he goes right back into free play so I decide to take some time to get some work done. I'm kind of technically on a sick day but I work from home and no one else is going to do my work so I might as well do what I can.

I've hardly started when DJ asks me to read the Little Blue Truck. This involves gathering all the trucks and animals in the book from his toys and acting out the story as I read, so I told him to get it all together and I'd read it when I finished. He gathered all the farm animals and trucks at my feet and began playing with them. From the sound of it at one point the play involved a category 5 tornado attacking the farm but when I looked over I realized it was just a large RC car pulverizing the animals. Have I mentioned DJ is a boy?

When I finish work, we read through and act out the Little Blue Truck story a few times and then I lose DJ's attention again. DJ now has his barn and a ladder and he's telling himself the Eric Carle story "Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me." The level of his imagination fascinates me.

We then have a snack of carrots before going upstairs. I'm wanting to take a nap but we pause to scoop the litter box first. This is one Practical Life task I really wish DJ wouldn't help with but he LOVES it. At least he's getting better at it! He scoops and I hold the bag, moving it like a ninja to collect whatever he drops. Ahem.

We lay in my bed together with the hopes of a nap and DJ immediately says, "Let's do shadows!" This involves using a flashlight app on my phone against the ceiling so we can make shadows with our hands. DJ absolutely loves it. I get bored with it pretty quickly. But I always indulge him. Then I nap lightly for a bit while DJ plays with some cars but eventually he does settle down although I doubt he slept. He rarely does. When I woke up, he was in the bathtub asking to take a bath. He loves baths so again, I indulge him.

After his bath, we spend the rest of the afternoon snuggling on the sofa and had another snack. DJ's dad came home at 5:30 and they made dinner together. Yeah, I don't cook either. I know, illusion shattered.

So that was our day. I think this is a fairly good example why I have such a hard time answering the questions how long and when do we "do school" each day. It's just so fluid and random. Often I'll have a new activity planned but everything else is just at his whim. But even with no specific plans today, I think we still accomplished a lot.


  1. Thank you - sounds like me a lot! We have the Alphatales books too! I actually found these helped my daughter learn the sounds better than sound games... I might try to do a day in the life of too... I think it is a good thing for homeschoolers to read :-)

    1. You should do a day! I was hesitant at first but I think it was a good exercise.