Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Free Montessori Phonogram Booklets

Earlier this year I decided that I'd remake our phonogram booklets. I've used the set I made four years ago, but one thing about them was really bohtering me. The booklets I made long ago emphasized practice recognizing the phonograms in the words, so each booklet had about 12 words. What was happening though, was that when children were reading the booklets independently they didn't know what LOTS of the words meant (with "au" for example... audit?, jaunt?, gaunt?, fraud? daunt?). So instead of maximizing words per booklet, I chose fewer words (in the case of some phonograms) but chose words whose meaning could be easily understood by the children. This was especially challenging considering we have many children for whom English is not a first language.

This time, instead of taking them to be spiral bound I will put rings on the booklets. I think this is a more durable binding for such small books. I'll print them on regular white cardstock and make a front and back cover of a much thicker cardstock.

The pdf file for the booklets is here if you'd like to make them too!

The phonograms that we use (as they were taught to me in my training):

ee- as in bee
oo- as in book
th- as in moth
ch- as in chop
sh- as in ship
ou- as in cloud
qu- as in quit
ie- as in pie
oy- as in boy
ar- as in car
au- as in haul
ue- as in blue
er- as in her
or- as in fork
ai- as in mail
oa- as in boat

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Inspiration for outdoor environment

“Must we always teach our children with books? Let them look at the mountains and the stars up above. Let them look at the beauty of the waters and the trees and flowers on earth. They will then begin to think, and to think is the beginning of a real education.” - David Polis

Back from time alone, with family, and just lots of being outside, I'm eager to invest some time developing our outdoor environment at school. These are some of the projects that inspired me:

Creating areas with different surface textures. In Aruba having a lawn or even a patch of soft grass is out of the question, so creating areas with sand, rocks, and weeds is as good as it gets for us. This little island of rocks seems very inviting and fun for climbing, or just contemplation. The use of rocks to create an impression of water is something that appeals to me as well.

Mulch is another surface area that's available for us. I'm going to section off a small area under a tree to be a building area with our very large home-made (construction salvaged wood) blocks. I love this little tunnel and the feel of this small play area.

Small spaces to crawl into and hide are great. We have a small wooden playhouse that three children fit in comfortably, but this recycled tire tepee seems like a winner. In our incredibly windy environment the sheet around the bamboo might not be possible, but I will try with a porous garden fabric.

This idea seems pretty great for partitioning off areas of our space. We can plant low maintenance wild flowers in the recycled tires after painting them.

This morning we put up two large plywood sheets along the fence, and tomorrow I will paint them with dark green side walk chalk. I am very excited to have such large and inviting chalkboards outside! I love the idea of the dangling bucket for holding the chalk.

I'd love to have a set of uniform brick-like blocks like this, but am happy with our construction grade salvaged wood blocks that I made earlier this year. I will add some sanded boards as well so that perhaps improvised see-saws or other inventions can be built.

Places to ponder and just observe are as fundamental as places for movement. We've made driftwood furniture for our home, but I never considered making something for school. This bench is totally inspiring.