Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pretty, Funny, Happy, Real 17

round button chicken
This week was gorgeous!  The leaves are starting to change color, and I had to explain to 2-year-old "Alleluia" that they weren't going to be turning blue, her favorite color.

From the Maple across the street

Trying to nurse a sick butterfly.........

Doesn't he look like he's smiling?!?


Found this on my camera.  According to 15-year-old "Wasabi" Sept. 22 was Hobbit Day (this is Frodo).


After her playdate with a friend, 8-year-old "Peel" said climbing trees was her favorite part.

We bought a butterfly net this week, and the neighbors' flowers were a great butterfly magnet.

She kept saying, "Butterfly!  Come to me!" (Can you see the little guy on the tall orange flower?)

I realized I forgot to mention that--unlike our fishing net we use in the creek--the butterfly net isn't for "scooping" but more for putting upside-down.

After a while she was more interested in the flowers anyway!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pretty, Funny, Happy, Real 16

It only took us a day or two to completely take over "Tesla's" bedroom, now that he's away at college.  Since I used to have a Catholic Montessori preschool in my home and I have been gradually getting all of those materials out again for "Alleluia," we can easily use the space!  His room is now the "Nature/Science Study" and has all the Botany stuff, rocks and minerals, and Shell stuff (plus some driftwood and feathers).


Trying to hear the ocean in a Queen Conch.


The omnipresent dog and his omnipresent nose.

The smell of the driftwood, seaweed, feathers et al. drove him crazy!

The dog should know all of the parts of the leaf by now.......


"Peel" reunited with her stuffed crocodile "Jaws."  We visit the residents of an assisted living facility every week and afterwards my daughter was absent-mindedly tossing Jaws into the air (outside).  He got stuck on the roof!  After a letter to the maintenance staff and a few nervous hours we got a phone call that he had been retrieved and could be picked up.  What a relief!  Remember that song, "Reunited and it feels so good.........."?


On Sunday we got out the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Altar I materials.  Alleluia was learning that the altar servers ring the bell when the priest elevates the chalice.  I put this under "Real" because I've been thinking this week about the Real Presence of Christ, contrasting this reality with my tendency (when I'm stressed out) to escape into fantasyland or imagine ridiculous scenarios or preposterous dialogs.  It was refreshing to think about His Real Presence and also to be surrounded by the shells, rocks and leaves that are His real creations!

The bell is the blur in the lower left.

A good shell guide is worth its weight in gold!

Alleluia is really drawn to the "real."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pretty, Funny, Happy, Real 15

Busy week spent delivering oldest to college (our first).  Makes you appreciate the little stuff...


Making dinner before trip.  Romas all washed and lined up for Rotini.

Found this on campus.  Anyone know what it is?


We all stayed in connecting hotel rooms, so "Alleluia" was fascinated to watch and take part in Daddy's shaving ritual.


On the way up to the East Coast we stopped at two museums.  Here "Peel" is part of a demonstration at the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, TN.  "Tesla" (on the right) was as happy as a pig in mud to be part of the high voltage fun (thinking of re-naming him "High Voltage").


All done moving him in.  Note the cool nerd shirt from the AMSE museum gift shop (yes, it glows in the dark).

Sheer exhaustion.  Two days drive up and two days drive back is a lot for a toddler!

round button chicken

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Self-Starters: Hold on Tight!

John Paul II said, "Become who you are."  The Montessori approach allows children to develop their interests, become self-starters, and find their vocation.  But beware!  You could say that both the fruits of and the price of a Montessori-ish education can be passionate hobbies!

In our oldest son this has taken the form of collecting broken things and taking them apart, as well as a host of other messy pursuits.  In our second child it has taken the form of culinary messes (yummy ones!), hand-sewn costumes and artworks using all sorts of media.  What messy, inconvenient interests do YOUR children have?

Last night I had to attend a parent meeting at school.  While I was gone, "Tesla" (our oldest)--who is about to leave the nest for college--decided to finally try out a Tesla coil he built a couple of years ago.  This is what happens when I'm gone for two hours.  Sigh.  But it's a good thing (sigh), in general (I tell myself), because he's using his God-given gifts and steadily growing knowledge to build and practice and mess up and learn.  Or so I tell myself.

The one short year he had in a Montessori preschool seemed to leave an indelible mark on Tesla. He has always been project-oriented, and enjoys working with his hands. So when he reached high school, he launched into a series of increasingly complicated science projects. In sophomore year, he built his own Tesla coil, using copper tubing and drier vent tubing from the hardware store. His father, "Gandalf," refused to let him turn it on, thinking that he might electrocute himself. But since Tesla is starting college soon, Gandalf finally let him turn it on last night. And it worked! (This was all outside, well away from the house and other kids or pets). In the first picture, you can see sparks shooting off of the Tesla coil. In the second picture, he's holding a fluorescent light bulb that is not connected to anything. Energy from the Tesla coil flows into the bulb and lights it up. 

With an environment that provides the raw material and that is merciful enough to put up with messes your children can find out who God made them to be.

Here are a few photos of creations made by "Wasabi" :

Many, many messes were created alongside each project/experiment/creation.  But if your child is driven to create or experiment, try to allow what you can.  Let them work with their hands! You never know where it will lead...

Monday, September 3, 2012

Montessori Math: Square and Triangular Numbers

Montessori Monday
We used black felt, ping-pong balls and painter's tape, but you could just use Cheerios on paper, too.

One of the features of Montessori math is the connection between abstract mathematical ideas and hands-on demonstrations of those ideas.  But you don't need expensive equipment to do this.  Here's an example using nothing but ping-pong balls.  (This is my husband's idea of a fun family activity on the long holiday weekend!  It's not a standard Montessori work, but shows what you can do to pass a love of math on to your kids.)

Some numbers correspond to particular shapes.  The simplest of these are the square numbers, such as:

  • 1x1 = 1
  • 2x2 = 4
  • 3x3 = 9
  • 4x4 = 16

You can show the squared numbers: 1 squared, 2 squared, and 3 squared.

You can show this by lining up squares made from the right numbers of balls.  But it's even possible to use these ping-pong balls to show more complicated algebraic ideas.  For instance, what happens if we take the difference of consecutive squares (the squares of two numbers in a row), like this?

  • 2x2 - 1x1 = 3
  • 3x3 - 2x2 = 5
  • 4x4 - 3x3 = 7

This pattern suggests that the difference between the square of a number and the next biggest square is just twice that number plus 1.  To actually prove it takes algebra or........ ping-pong balls!

This is 4 squared minus 3 squared.
You could express it algebraically as n + 1 squared minus n squared.
Square numbers are usually covered in school, but who's ever heard of triangular numbers?  They are:

  • 1
  • 1 + 2 = 3
  • 1 + 2+3 = 6
  • 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10

and so on.  If you lay out the corresponding number of ping-pong balls, you can see that these numbers form triangles.

Are we having fun yet?!?

If you think THAT's cool, now suppose you want to add up all of the numbers from 1 to 100.  It turns out that this is just equal to 100 x 101 divided by 2.  And this formula holds for any triangular number - just take the last number in the sum, add one, multiply these two numbers together, and divide by 2.  Sure beats adding them all up!  But why does this formula work?  The easiest way to see this is just using the ping-pong balls again!

I swear I don't have any stock in the ping-pong ball company.....

I don't know about you, but this makes for interesting dinner conversations and musings.  I think it also makes math seem fun and approachable--maybe (gasp) something even to be enjoyed!

She was just waiting for him to make something interesting, like a ducky!

The power of the lowly ping-pong ball......