Monday, May 28, 2012

Grammar Shelves

Today I thought I would show you our grammar shelves.  The pictures are so revealing that I almost did not want to share them but this is our real life.  I was unhappy with the pictures for their cluttered appearance despite my work to organize the area.  I want our work areas to be inviting and appealing to the eye but sometimes I have to be practical and use what I have instead of running out to purchase things to make my vision come true or grabbing the paint can for a DIY makeover.  So even though the shelves are not visually where I want them to be, they function well for our use.  It has been quite some time since I took these photos but they remain in this condition and all I need to do is write up our work plans to go along with our materials and set-up.  I don't know about you but sometimes things can feel like larger hurdles, work plan writing for example, than they really are so hopefully during our break and more relaxed summer schedule I can write our fall work plans.

Our grammar shelves are part of a large bookcase of five shelves, we have 3 sets of these, purchased years ago from a local discount furniture store.  All three bookcases house our Montessori grammar and math supplies as well as storage for extras on the top shelf.  This is our grammar shelf area.

The full view of the shelf unit.  Grammar takes up five shelves with the very top shelf storing our extra grammar and language materials.  This bookcase is to the left of our language shelves that I shared in a previous post.

This is the bottom shelf where we keep our version of the grammar farm.  The farm is used by all the children whether for lessons or play.  The farm is a fisher price set from when our eldest was a toddler.  In the basket I can add or change out farm related objects and in the back I have brochure holders with our grammar words sorted into library pockets by parts of speech.  I found the library pockets at the Dollar Tree a few years ago and have not come across them since. 

This shelf houses our grammar nomenclature cards and sentence strips as well as various packs of grammar words for sorting different parts of speech.  I would have loved a drawer storage unit here but the old floppy and diskette holders are what I had and they work just fine. On the shelf above you can see our box of grammar symbols and various other grammar storybooks, games I have found on the internet and a binder with grammar "funsheets" as we call them.

This section is our word study work.  In the drawers we keeping materials for rhyming, antonyms, synonyms, prefix work, suffix work and compound words.  To the left in the business card and brochure holders are contraction work and on the top of the drawer are large cards with the months of the year on them for putting in order.  To the left of the drawers is a small bin with days of the weeks cards.  I really like this shelf because of the drawers and how it holds work for all of our children's ages from kindergarten to fifth grade.

This is the last shelf in our grammar area.  On the right you can see our Word Family Wheel from Lakeshore (I don't think they sell this anymore, I didn't see it on their site).  This is a fun game with a lot of different activities to work on word families for early reading and spelling for the older children.  In the background you can see The Perfect Punctuation Pop-up Book  we used last fall to learn all of the different types of punctuation.  In front of that in the brochure holder are punctuation command cards.  E ran through this set twice this school year in her journal and it was  fun to see her progress.  In the basket is more work that I have found on the internet like days of the week mats, months of the year mats or mats from Take it To Your Seat Phonics Center Book.  The basket also contains file folder and other games we have printed relating to our work.  Then you can see another binder with Word Study Funsheets and our dictionary.
I hope this little tour can give you some ideas how to organize and better utilize your learning materials and you can see it doesn't have to be perfect.  You just take what you have and use it to function well for your family.  So now, onto the work plans for this area, right?  Well actually the sun is shinning beautifully here and little people are scattered about waiting to help me with some yard clean-up.  Blessings to each of you!

I'm linking up with Montessori Monday and the Preschool Corner.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Playdough Fun!

Playdough seems to be a mixed bag, some moms love it and some can't stand the stuff.  Here at the Middle of Somewhere we love our playdough.  Whether store bought or homemade playdough is an often used toy at our house.  Playdough is also an often used tool to answer the question "What do I do with my littles while the others are doing lessons?  This is what I came downstairs to one day during lessons.

K using her Playdough Magic Swirl Ice Cream Shoppe.

Playdough as a head covering.

Playdough as a window cling.
 All of this play lead to us making playdough.  Here is our favorite recipe found in the Toddler's Busy Book

1 cup water
1 tbs. vegetable oil
1/2 cup salt
1 tbs. cream of tatar
food coloring
1 cup flour

Combine first 5 ingredients in saucepan and heat until warm.  Remove from heat and add flour until well combined.  Dump out dough and kneed until smooth, sometimes I have had to add more flour.  I store our dough in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

measuring cream of tartar into the saucepan

mixing her dough
We have a few other playdough tools we enjoy:
 Melissa and Doug's Shape Model and Mold set
Playdough Cars 2 Mold and Go Speedway
Playdough Cake Making Station

So once the fun was over and the mess was surveyed K washed the windows and vacumed the floor.  So don't worry about the mess because when the fun is over the practical life work begins.

I'm linking up with Montessori Monday and the Preschool Corner.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Winnie the Pooh Storybook Center

Every afternoon after lunch I have both our little and big kids lie down on their beds for read-aloud time.  This is a peaceful time of rest for the older children and a relaxation time for the little children prior to napping. We all look forward to this time of day and for some strange reason I like sitting in the hall reading to the children as they listen, rest and add the occasional opinion, question or comment. We recently finished reading The House at Pooh Corner, so I thought it would be fun to put a learning center together.  My primary source for our center were these printables. Here are our 2 youngests in learning action:

I was so delighted to see this game in the activity pack.  The game  is called Honey Money and has been a wonderful help to identifying the coins for K.  She has asked to play many times and each time that we do she always wants more.

I really liked this printable because I have not seen anything like it on the internet.  B had to match the counter color to the background color on the page.  Wonderful color identification practice, matching and fine motor, because for those young hands it is still so hard to pick-up small items.

In the printable pack there was a set for patterning activities.  B is just beginning to work on this skill so we had a fun introduction.  The pattern set could also be cut up for a game of Memory or Go Fish.

When we practiced patterning I would walk B through each card and have him look at them for details like color or size before he followed the pattern sequence. 
This was a fun activity to match the real life animal with the character animal.  This could be printed as a worksheet, laminated for reuse or like here, we put it in our Crayola Dry Erase Activity Center.

The Pooh Pack also included a beginning addition page which was great to use with our Montessori Addition Strip Board.

Then of course a Pooh story must be accompanied by a Pooh Show.  The older children were the directors and the 2 littles were the actors.  I had totally forgotten about these 2 costumes and it was so fun to see the littles wearing them.  The Pooh Bear costume is my favorite because of the puffy Pooh belly.

Here K and B are holding their version of honey pots, really syrup containers from Costco.

We also looked at the book Tigger's Giant Lift the Flap Book

Then we gathered all of our bears together for a bear hunt.  The children searched their rooms for bears and then I hid them around the house for them to find.  These hide and seek activities are always an enjoyable activity.  The bears could also be counted or sorted according to size or color.

And finally we read every bear book in the house.  My favorite bear books are by Karma Wilson.  We own Bear's New Friend, which you can't see in the picture.  We also really enjoy Martin Waddell's bear series.

Now I think it is time to fix a little :smackerel" for dinner.

I'm linking up with Montessori Monday and the Preschool Corner.