Thursday, August 28, 2008

Volunteering at my Sons school

Today I spent 3 hours at my sons school. This is the first day I volunteer while school is in session. I loved to see what he does all day! It has been exactly one week since he started school and already he told me what a Noun was!! He was playing with the farm and he opened the box of grammar symbols. I told him to please close the box because he had not received a lesson on that yet...What did I know!!... he said "No mommy, I did get a lesson", pulled out the black triangle and said, "this is a Noun", put the triangle next to the horse and said "horse is a Noun" He worked on transferring water, sorting, and the farm. I got to read a book to him and one of his classmates and his teacher asked me to give the kids a Spanish Lesson! At 11am it was lunch and play time. The kids go outside and play, then go in the lunch room to eat and back outside to play until 12 noon. I left at 11:45 because I know he does not like rest time and would ask me to take him home with me.....

I am so happy with his new school. His teacher is WONDERFUL. When I got there she was reviewing what it means to be respectful. How do we respect each other, the teacher, and the materials. She is so gentle. I started to see this gentleness come through my son yesterday when I picked him up from school. He talked very sweet, kindly, and respectfully to his sister.

I will be volunteering again tomorrow as I will be the parent that puts together the Friday folders. I am going to try to remember to take a picture of his classroom.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

On a schedule

This is the first year we have to be on a rigid schedule because the kids go to school at 8am. How I loved our lazy mornings.... Here are a few things I do to make sure our mornings are not rushed. I do not like to be rushed.

1. On Sunday I pick five outfits for the kids, get them ironed an hung up. The only thing hung on the easy to reach clothes extensions are their clothes for the week.

2. I iron all of my clothes that I washed and pick my outfits the night before.

3. During the week, the first thing I do when we get home at 4pm is make the lunches for the next day.

4. We eat dinner between 5:30pm and 6. I then walk around the neighborhood and the kids ride their bikes (get them really tired!) 7pm bath time a 30minute show, read two books and bed by 8pm.

5. Any bags for my work or anything that goes to the kids schools is in the car the night before.

6. Lastly, I try to get ready before the kids get up. When they get up, it is all about them ... I don't feel rushed...they get all my attention.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

First Day of School!

Today was my son's first day at his new school, Prek-4 Montessori. I cried :-)!! He is almost 5 years old, a big boy, and has attended school part-time since he was 3 years old. This is a new school, a big school, it goes all the way to 8th grade. We cannot walk the children inside the school unless we are late. I was scared and he was Excited! I thought about him all day wondering what he was doing. At 11am I knew he was eating lunch and at 12:30pm I knew he was laying down for rest time. I only wished I could be a fly on the wall :-)!

I actually plan to be at the school 2 days a week helping out so I am happy for that! Here is the breakdown of his class: 15 students, 10 returning students and 5 new. One teacher. There are 3 Primary Montessori Rooms. One assistant for the 3 rooms and many parent volunteers! 3 year olds can attend 3, 4, or 5 days a week, half or full days. 4 year olds can attend 4 or 5 half or full days. Kinder must attend all day, 5 days a week.

So, how did he like it....."I love my school Dad"!...was his reaction. I guess he liked it :-)!

My daughter, almost 3, also started at the Montessori School she attended this past year. I did not post about her first day, which was Monday but her reaction was "I am a big girl, I am in the big kids classroom!". Her school has one Toddler Classroom (she started there in Feb. of this year) and one Primary Classroom (where she is now).

The school year is to a great start. I am so happy to have my children in Montessori Schools. I get such a great feeling from their classrooms and teachers and I can see they do also.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Spanish work for my son

Today was my first day at the College. As I sat through our first three hour meeting I made a list of some Spanish work I have been wanting to make for my son. Here is my list! I am hoping by putting my list out there for everyone to see, I will get motivated to do it :-)

1. Color Cards, Names, and Items to match. I envision an index card size Color card, the name of the color on big font, maybe size 40. I noticed that he likes the big size font and it will work well for my 2 year old also. I then want to make one control card. A page with all of the colors and their names. I then want to have at least two items of that color for fun matching. He loves to match colors.
I have to tell you this story about color matching. I may have told this story already, I love it and have shared it with many. As you know I have all of our art supplies out. One day after cleaning up I noticed what at first seemed like my son had made a mess with the pencils and paints and some of his toy cars. I just thought "why did he just leave all of of this out?" It was scattered on the table. I called my son and asked him why he had left this mess on the table and no sooner did the words come out of my mouth, I noticed what he had done. He had placed the pencils next to the paints that matched in color and cars to match the colors!

OK, back to my list.

2. Numbers - have my counting number activity but add the names of the numbers.

3. Months - something fun we could do together at first is talk about one thing that happens in each month and have a picture of each to match to the name of the month. For example: Have a picture of his birthday party and match it to his birth month, have a picture of our Christmas Tree to match to December (diciembre), a picture of him on Halloween and match it to October (octubre). January(enero) - Grandpas Birthday, February(febrero) - St. Valentine...etc....

4. Now that school is starting and he is understanding time a little better, I would like to begin a time line of his life for the next year. I got this idea from the book Montessori Play and Learn. At the back of this book there are tons of Games and Activities. On page 69 and 70 it talks about making a Timeline of your child's day and life (Age 4 to 5). I am definitely doing the timeline of his day but also one for the next year. The one about the timeline of the year is on page 114.

Now I am motivated! If you do any of these activities, please let me know and share your pictures!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Books Organized!

I had forgotten to post about how I arranged our books. I had been wanting to do this for a long time but just could not think how to organize them. Seeing the baskets that Laura from, MyMontessoriJourney , used is all it took to get me started. We do not have a lot of books accumulated. We are really big on going to the Library but I do love to go to HalfPriceBooks and shop Garage Sales and Goodwill so I know this home library will get bigger. Our problem was that we had books everywhere and I just did not know exactly what we had.

I already had these baskets which I got for free at a yard sale. I made the tags with construction paper strips, white address labels, and letter stamps. The letter stamps are from my scrapbooking stuff which I purchased at Michael's Craft Store $1 section. They can be found at any craft store. My current tags are: Spanish, TV Shows, Fiction, Non-Fiction, Disney, and Five in a Row.

Five in a Row is a basket with books that go with the Before Five in a Row book to inspire learning readiness by Jane Claire Lambert.

I also have a basket next to each of the kids beds with books for nap and night time stories which I swap every two weeks with new library books and books from home. I also have a basket of books in the living room.

By organizing the books, I can now easily find what we are looking for!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Building Spanish Vocabulary

Here are some ways I help my children build their Spanish vocabulary. I know that I have an advantage since I am fluent in Spanish but I also help my 4 year old in other languages he is interested in.

1) The Internet is your friend! My son loves languages and lately he is constantly asking me how to say this or that in French or Sign Language. He has become interested in French because I mentioned I knew the numbers in French and he is interested in Sign Language because he signs in a church choir that teaches them the songs in Sign Language. So, any time he asks me how to say something in French or Sign it, I go to the Internet. Here are some free websites my children and I use for Spanish.

2) We listen to Bilingual and All Spanish Children's Music in the car. I have several I recommend here plus I personally have some just in Spanish since I can translate for my kids. It is important that if you do not know Spanish that the Cd's be Bilingual so you can help re-enforce or explain to little ones. My kids are really into the Teach Me Spanish Music CD right now.

3) If we meet someone that speaks Spanish, maybe someone that works at a restaurant or grocery store, I encourage my children to speak Spanish or ask the person how you say some word in Spanish or converse with the person in Spanish. If you are at a restaurant and the waiter speaks Spanish, you can practice ordering in Spanish (ask the waiter to help you). If you are going grocery shopping, make part of your shopping list in Spanish. For non-readers, ask them for the food in Spanish. "Where are the apples? I need two apples."

4) We set aside a specific time in the day to practice Spanish. With small children, bath time is a great time to practice the body parts and all of the vocabulary that goes with taking a bath. You can practice foods at meal time, grocery shopping, and making lunches. Numbers, Days of the Week, Months and Weather with the calendar, numbers with math activities, colors when playing, clothing when dressing in the morning, etc..

I personally want my children to be completely fluent in Spanish so I will be taking them to Puerto Rico (my home) in the summers and enrolling them in summer programs there so they will be immersed in the language.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Back to School and Time to Re-arrange

Everyone is getting ready to go back to school, my husband to teach 11th grade AP English and Thesis, my kids, and myself. I told you about my part-time job teaching Spanish 4 hours a week at a Montessori school. I have not told you that I have a full-time job as a Computer Science Professor. Since having my children, I only teach at a distance(on-line). This has allowed me to stay at home as much as possible with my children through their early years. My son, almost five, will be attending a Catholic Montessori school four days a week and my daughter, almost 3, will attend 3 days a week.

My husband has been busy getting his classroom ready, we have both been volunteering at my sons school with cleaning, painting, and helping with whatever the teachers need, I have been busy getting my virtual classes ready, and I am also re-arranging our home learning environment.

Today I re-arranged the Art Shelves. I do this regularly to keep the interest high. It is amazing how quickly the kids notice any small change I have made. This change was a lot bigger.

This is the art shelve. I change one thing on the shelve weekly. It could be the paint colors, swap an activity that has not been used in a while or change the collage items or paper colors. There are two activities considered 'art' that I have on a different shelf. Playdough and Cutting work.

On the top shelf is a book in Spanish titled "Let's Draw Animals". It teaches step by step how to draw many different animals. I will be teaching my 4 year old how to trace. On the top shelf I also have paints and paint brushes. This never leaves the shelf as my kids LOVE to paint. I did add one new brush (the sponge one with the red handle).

The second shelf has stamps, stamp pads, paper, and colored pencils to color the stamps. Now that I look at this, I am going to place the cutting work next to this since it is a very thin long basket.

The last shelf has a tray with collage items (pom-poms, stickers, small punch outs, and pieces of construction paper). Next to it is colored construction paper and a glue bottle and a glue stick. I like the collage work on colored paper so the kids can see the glue. White glue on white paper does not work for my 2 year old!

The next shelve I am working on is the Spanish Language shelve. It will be a few days before I post on that.

I got my ideas from here and here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My $4 Small Moveable Alphabet

This is the moveable alphabet I created for my son's Spanish work.

I purchased the Scrapbooking Chipboard Alphabet letters from Target's $1 section. They are currently 50 cents for a pack of 55 letters. I just found the pink ones. They have been out all summer so they may be hard to find. For the tilde that goes over the 'n' and the accents, I just cut some from the leftover chipboard. I plan to use the pink letters as the vowels.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Spanish letter-sound Association

I have been working on the following a little bit here and there this
summer but no very motivated to get through it!

I've tried to do some research on which Spanish letters to introduce
first to English speakers and really have not found much. I just know I
am not searching correctly. But I did find one source, it makes sense
so I will go with that. I have tweaked it a little bit. I am going to
use this at home and introduce it at my school later and see if the
teachers wish to have it as shelf work for the students.

We will start by teaching the Spanish letter-sound association with the
vowels and selected consonants that are consistent in Spanish and
d, f, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, k, w, z

Second, teach Spanish letters that have two letter-sound associations
according to their spelling patterns.
ca, co, cu, ce, ci: ga, go, gu, gue, gui, ge, gi, güe.

Third, teach letters and their letter-sound correspondences that are
unique to the Spanish alphabet
ch, ll, ñ, rr

Fourth, emphasize phonemic awareness of sounds in Spanish that are
often confused.
b, d, j, silent h, x, v, y, q

So, here is what has actually taken me a while to do. I went through
and found words for all of these. The words are related to the ocean,
animals, fruits, home, school, transportation and numbers. Vocabulary
that I teach at the school and vocabulary that we can find objects for
object sound boxes, spelling, or 3 part cards.

When you print the Spanish words they should be a different color (red
for example) than the English work you have. This will be a clue to the
children that this is Spanish and not English.

Below I have uploaded a file with some words for each of these letter sets.
Please e-mail me if you see a word in the wrong section. For example,
a word that starts with the letter in the first set of letters but that
has a letter from the second or third set of letters. (zorro for example
does not belong in the first set of letters even though it starts with a
'z' since it has a double 'rr').

In the next posts I will show you our $4 moveable alphabet from Target, the sound boxes, spelling with the moveable alphabet, and other language work!
OK - if someone knows how I can upload a text file, please let me know! I can't figure it out.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Tiny Toys

We were shopping the other day at a closeout store called Tuesday Morning when my daughter asked for me to buy her a toy. She is 2 and had about 5 things in her hads. I asked her to pick one. I did not even pay attention to what she picked until we got to the register.

This is sooo cute. These minuature objects would be great for story writing in an Elementary classroom, object boxes, and a variety of language and sound games.
This toy is called Breyer Mini Whinnies.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Student Portfolio's

Do you create student portfolio's for your students or children of sample work for the entire year? I find student portfolio's to be such a wonderful way to see how the children have progressed through the year. My son's teacher made portfolio's for the class and used them at our parent-teacher meeting nights. We then got to take them home at the end of the year. I love to look through it and see how his pictures and writing have progressed. This last time I looked through it I noticed 3 pictures he drew. They were titled 'Me'. One was drawn at the first of the year, one the middle of the year and one towards the end of year. They all were basically the same picture but you could see how they got straight, the circles got better and a little more proportionate.

'Me' First of the Year.

'Me' End of the year.

When I went to last weeks Elementary Training, the trainer showed us a portfolio that she keeps of her Elementary students. She keeps some of the small books they create, research, writings, etc.. Here is a picture of that portfolio.
I have always enjoyed having my students create a portfolio of their work. I did it with my high school students and college students and I am going to start doing it with my Spanish Elementary classes.

Friday, August 1, 2008

I love symbols!

My training had the first part of Language in June, which I will attend at a later date, and this past week was the second part of Language. The part I missed had the lessons for Grammar and Sentence Analysis. I did get to see some of this because for the past two days we have all been presenting lessons.

I am showing you this picture because I loved this teachers storage for her grammar symbols. She got the big clear box from The Container Store. Inside this box are small boxes also from The Container Store. There is one clear, red, green and yellow small boxes no lids.

Another thing I also liked was how someone else in the class made all of her grammar symbols and sentence analysis symbols from foam sheets. They looked wonderful.

Two discoveries from this weeks training. One, I LOVE analyzing sentences! I recalled, with love, my high school years of analysis sentences. Two, the wooden grammar symbols brought back memories of playing backgammon. It was actually very cool. I just had this great feeling when I touched the round wooden circles. It brought back childhood.