Friday, August 22, 2014

The Trickle Up Effect

Atrium Mommies + Their Children + A New Friend
It seems like, based on the "hits" for each of my blog posts, the posts that describe our co-op have been some of the most interesting to our readers.  So I wanted to just say one thing about having a co-op Atrium:  the mommies are learning just as much--if not more--than the children!

Since the moms are here when lessons are presented, they absorb the same catechesis as the children.  For some of us, who were raised on the "Glitter Jesus" curriculum of the seventies, these simple, profound lessons are timely.  We are SO ready to listen to God's Word!  We are hungry for the essential lessons of our faith.  We are grateful to meet other mommies seeking the same.

I noticed early on in my training as a catechist that the same transformation I was hoping to see in my young students was taking place in myself and in my fellow classmates.  I saw the same joy and wonder on our wrinkled faces that the children have on their fresh, innocent faces!  I saw it when we realized the Good Shepherd calls us EACH by NAME, when lighting those small candles from the Pascal Candle and proclaiming, "Emily, receive the light of Christ," and, "Joseph, receive the light of Christ," and so on, and then I noticed that the light is spreading, just like the light of faith is spreading, and when I pondered the Annunciation, when Mary's troubled heart quickly became an open, trusting, receptive heart (which makes all the difference).

There are many goosebump moments in the Atrium, despite some occasional crying or spilling, despite the general hubbub, passing grumpiness and the messy humanity of it all.... I recommend THIS kind of co-op because it will benefit you, your children, your families and your faith.  The lessons will trickle up!  And that will make all the difference.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

More Impromptu Works at Home

Works All Around Us, Part II

In my last post I wrote about turning a silly little everyday thing into a work for a 4-year-old (getting rid of all of the junk pens and pencils, etc.).  Since then I've noticed A ZILLION such tiny chores that "Alleluia" would not only be good at, but would love to do.  Such as.....

Reinforcing Torn Holes in the Cookbook

Does your favorite cookbook look like this?  :(

After 20 years many of the pages have come out :(
Have no fear--"snowman stickers" are here (actually, they're reinforcement labels, but we use them in the winter for easy snowmen on construction paper).  This cookbook was a wedding present, so it had sentimental value.  Also, it has some of our favorite recipes, so fixing the torn pages was a good task for a 4-year-old, who is old enough to realize its importance!

As with any impromptu work, first show the child the tools you'll need.  Whomp up as much drama over the torn pages as you can muster.  Then demonstrate how to peel each label and carefully put it around the hole, turn over the page, and carefully do the same to the other side.  If your child is able to do this pretty well, oooooh and ahhhhh because really it's pretty darned difficult!

(Superhero costume optional.)
"Alleluia" did well on centering them, but every so often I showed her how to fix any crooked ones.
It takes a steady hand to put the label on the other side.
Be sure to check that it lines up nicely.  "Well done!"

Re-Working an Old Story

In a classic Montessori classroom there is a lot of storytelling going on.  We recently came across a book that first tells a traditional folktale, and then asks the reader to re-tell the tale using different elements.  What a great idea!

This could easily become a work that you do in a formal setting (as school work) or in an informal way, like when you are stuck in traffic or waiting for a while.  All you need is to first tell the story the "right" way.  Then identify which elements can change, such as the setting, the main characters, etc.  Lastly, re-tell the same basic story with the changed elements.  For some reason, this 4-year-old finds this hilarious!  (Incidentally, our 10-year-old did similar work for a creative writing class!)

Playing with a Dictionary

I used to LOVE looking up words in the dictionary, because I would get sidetracked and learn all sorts of amazing stuff along the way.  So even though my older children often use an online dictionary, I want the younger ones to use the "old fashioned" kind.  There are LOTS of good children's dictionaries out there.  So first ask your young child what one thing would be fun to look up ("Alleluia" has been going through a phase of being obsessed with turtles, tigers and robots, so we knew they'd be on the list.)  For instance, let's look up turtle.

"What sound does that start with?"  "T!"

The first time you may go straight to the letter T and then find the prize quickly.

Cool turtle!  (Obsessions have their advantages.)
After reading all about turtles, ask for another word to look up.  "Robots!"  "What sound does robot start with?"  "Rrrrr!"  This time, show your child how the dictionary is organized alphabetically.  You might sing the alphabet song quietly to yourself to figure out where R is found.   Once you've found R, ask, "What sound comes after 'rrrrrr' when we say, "robot?"  "Oh...."  Then show your child how to look for the letter O as a second letter in the word.  Don't take too long or the whole thing will get too boring!  Pretty soon you'll both see a photo of the beloved robot and read all about it!

Replacing Dead Batteries

(**note:  no small batteries should EVER be around young children, who can swallow the button batteries!!**)
The next time a toy, remote, tuner, or smoke detector battery is out of juice, call your child over to replace it for you.  All you need (besides fresh batteries) is a battery checker (well worth the money!).  In our case, our guitar tuner and remote control car were out of juice on the same yucky rainy afternoon.  So first, show your child how the thingy ISN'T working (if they haven't already figured that out and come screaming in frustration).

No worky.
Next, introduce the handy dandy battery checker.  If you are really smart you can explain electricity, otherwise do as I do and just point out that the needle thingy is in the red.

Toss the old battery and test another one, this time (with hope!) the needle thingy will be in the green.

Woo hoo!
With some kind of batteries you have to point out details, like the terminals on the 9-volt.

Eating Outside

Table washing is a traditional Montessori work, so if your family is eating outside tonight get the kids to help get ready.  If they've already done indoor table washing and gone thru the rigmarole they know the basic procedure, but outside it's usually WAY more fun because the table may be REALLY GRODY and because it could easily turn into an excuse to put on your swimsuit and play in the sprinkler afterwards.

Pretty self-explanatory.....

Cleaning Up After You Eat Outside

How might you "Montessori-ize" the clean-up process after dinner?  Bring out a trash can, a plastic wash basin, a rubber spatula and a dollop of dishwashing liquid.

Ask each family member to scrape their scraps into the trash and put their empty plates in the basin.

Carry the full basin inside to the kitchen sink..........

....where the washing up is made a bit easier!

Car Wash, Wagon Wash, Tricycle Wash--It's All Good...

If it's the first wagon ride of the season, or if the last passengers had popsicles that dripped all over the place, a good scrub may be in order.  This kind of job is great for a toddler, who may hate sitting in yucky stuff or who may take great pride in his or her ride.  It also takes a lot of energy!

Mixed Ages, too

I am a big fan of any works that involve mixed ages.  This is a work that can get very detailed and can take a long, long time if you need it to.

We got these car wash supplies at least 10 years ago and they seem to make this work more attractive (yippee!).

What impromptu works will you notice this week?