What makes this an official end to summer and start to a new year has more to do with me than DJ. While I have coasted through the summer, I now have a renewed commitment to present new work to DJ each week along with a goal to do at least one "science" activity each week.
This week's science activity was one I've been wanting to try for awhile. DJ had two neighbor friends over this week so I decided to make it a group activity. I found the instructions for this project here. It is a simple milk+soap+food coloring mixture that has surprising effects. All of the kids loved it and we did it twice. I tried to make it as autonomous as possible by putting the milk in DJ's little pitcher so they could pour themselves. Then I put some dish soap in a small bowl, letting them dip their own Q-tips. I also let them choose their own colors but I dripped the color into the milk for them. It was fun having friends participate in this project!
Later that day, DJ had his very first Tae Kwon Do class. I've been looking forward to this for a long time. I really value the lessons that martial arts teach to children in regards to respect, self-control, confidence, physical fitness. The benefits go on and on. DJ did really well in this trial class and even though he's not yet 4 years old he's been invited back for a second trial.
The next day we continued our non-traditional schooling with a visit to the dentist. DJ did amazingly well and so far has perfect teeth! And the dentist had a surprise for him this time.
DJ had his very first X-Rays taken! And in the top pictures you can see his adult teeth behind his baby teeth. I'm not sure why but that image of adult teeth inside my baby was really bittersweet.
When we arrived home, we had an exciting new delivery from IFIT Montessori - a new maps cabinet! We've had the first three puzzle maps for quite awhile, the World, North America and the US map. Last spring I purchased the South America and Australia maps but wasn't ready to present them so they were in a storage closet. In the meantime I had the three active maps stacked on top of each other on the shelf. This was really unwieldy and made it difficult for DJ to select a map that wasn't on top. I knew I wanted to bring out the South America map this week and I knew it was only going to make the problem worse. So I splurged and bought the cabinet and the last three maps, Asia, Africa & Europe.
The cabinet was really easy to put together but we needed to put all the puzzle pieces into their respective maps and that was quite the job! I have been made painfully aware that I know next to nothing about the countries in those three continents!
After we finished with checking the new maps, DJ wanted to explore South America. You can see on the map cabinet behind him that I have the bottom 4 maps tapped off with painter's tape. This is to keep DJ's focus on one new map at a time. After he has worked with South America for awhile, he will "unlock" the next map.
Along with the new South America map, DJ now has the South America continent box on his shelf. He was most interested in the paper money from Argentina that his grandmother gave to me.
He also enjoyed this sticker paper doll book with 3 outfits from Brazil to choose from. I had similar books in the North America box and he never paid them any attention. Sometime in the next few days I hope to do a post on everything I have in this continent box.
One thing that I am seeing a lot more of after this summer is independent work. Last year, DJ almost exclusively refused to do anything from his shelves if I wasn't sitting right there doing it with him. But now he'll pull off work like his Guidecraft Feel & Find shapes or Melissa & Doug tracing boards and work with focus without even asking me to participate.
As DJ was doing this independent work and I was watching quietly, he selected this tangram puzzle from the shelf. He had just started with it when I hear him declare "Hey, these two triangles make a square!" That is about as clear a message that he's ready for the Constructive Triangles as he could send me. I had put off bringing those out because the albums I use stress the importance of knowing the names of the shapes in the Geometric Cabinet first, which is not something we had really done yet. To my surprise, DJ selected the Geometric Cabinet to work with almost immediately. So I took the opportunity to teach him the names of parallelogram and trapezoid and remind him of rhombus which he would need for the first Constructive Triangle box.
The purpose of this set of Constructive Triangles is to show that all of the quadrilateral shapes can be made (constructed) with 2 triangles. He made a square with 2 isosceles triangles, a rectangle with 2 right angle scalene triangles, a rhombus with 2 equilateral triangles, three different parallelograms with various pairs of isosceles triangles and a trapezoid with 2 different triangles.
He enjoyed this activity quite a lot and repeated it after I presented it. I felt quite accomplished having made a presentation I hadn't planned. Then DJ stands up and says, "Let's do the next box!" (There are a total of 5 Constructive Triangle boxes). Ack! Slow down, my little man!
Once I'd convinced him the second box was not going to happen today, he decided to do some tracing with the Botany Cabinet shapes. He did really well, tracing each shape in the drawer several times although he was annoyed the thin shape was too thin to fit his dowel.
Tracing with the dowel prompted him to pull out the sand tray, but he mostly just wanted to play in the sand. I let him know the sand tray was for writing letters so if he wasn't going to do that, he needed to put it back. Instead, he brought out all the sandpaper letters and began sorting them by size. He had no interest in tracing the letters or trying to write in the sand. Trying to get him back on track, I suggested he write with the movable alphabet. He agreed that was a good idea and proceeded to make a series of nonsense words and asking me to read them to him.
I feel like I've gone off track with the writing/reading process with DJ. He recognizes nearly all his letters and can successfully play all stages of the sound games. But he has zero interest in writing actual words with the movable alphabet, which is supposed to be the next step. We've been at this impasse since last May!
After putting the language materials away, DJ wanted to work on this puzzle. While some kids his age are whizzes at puzzles like this, DJ definitely finds them challenging. But I'm mostly able to give him verbal direction now, allowing him to do all of the actual work of putting it together. He always feels really accomplished when he's done.
I had a work call that left DJ alone and the genius of the new map cabinet was revealed. Although this is the only picture I was able to get, DJ did ALL of the original 3 map puzzle by himself while I was working! In all the months we've had these maps, he has never been willing to attempt them on his own! He did the World and North America maps completely and then wisely chose to only do the New England states of the US map. I'm thrilled. Money spent well.
After my work call was finished, I found all the geography puzzles put away but the trinomial cube was sitting in a pile on the floor. So I presented again how to put it together and then DJ worked through it twice before putting it away.
Finally, another new aspect to our "homeschool" days is that DJ is firmly into the "why" phase. He asks why? about everything! And if he's not asking why, he's asking "what would happen if...?" For example, he asked once "what would happen if you had a washing machine in a lake?" Wha?!
This week his why and what would happen questions led to two fascinating discussions. DJ wanted to know what would happen if someone did something bad and the police came. He seemed to accept that the police would likely take them to jail but he was truly amazed when I explained that everyone the police arrested got a chance to explain themselves in front of a judge. He seemed relieved that there was a chance for a fair recourse if the police were wrong or didn't understand why the person did the seemingly bad thing. DJ has only just recently learned of "bad guys" through super hero shows and I think he was somewhat concerned that the police might misjudge HIM as bad at some point. His faith in humanity has, hopefully, been set straight for now.
The second discussion we had today was how the circulatory system works. I can't quite remember how we made our way to that topic but I know it started with him wondering how/why I got sick last week (with a common cold). He was fascinated with my description of red blood cells and the beating heart so I found a couple of YouTube videos on the subject for him. A possible unit study on body mechanics in our future perhaps?
So that was our first week! And a great beginning to what promises to be an exciting school year.