"Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table." -William Shakespeare

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Banquet, Part II

"You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives."
~Clay P. Bedford

The materials out on our shelves don't get used every day. Obviously, that would be impossible. Like trying to eat a few bites of every single thing on a big buffet. That wouldn't make a very satisfying meal! But the feast is spread. An important concept in a Montessori classroom is that every material be always accessible, so, say, a child who long ago mastered a certain skill, can go back anytime and work with it again. It often happens that when a child is struggling to learn something new or is stressed and lacking in self-confidence, he goes back and puts together a puzzle he knows how to do well. To remind himself of success.

That's a great benefit in the home when you have a baby and/or toddler and/or preschooler all the time. The older children always have their toys and puzzles about to use, even if sneakily and when no one is watching.

This is a wall in our dining room. This buffet is full of art supplies, board games, and Montessori activities. On top is a rotating set of oversize art books, 1 book on a display stand- Da Vinci at the moment, plus a stack of piano books with a lap harp on top and a tape recorder in front. We really enjoy our lap harp (it's the $28 cheapie in lots of catalogs). These belong in the music center, I suppose, but I just rearranged and didn't move these yet.

I really enjoy the serendipity of 'finding' or being handed down manipulatives, books, and such. You never know what is on the menu when you go snooping around the clearance box at vthe used bookstore. In Kansas, the used book store by my house would often have pallet crate boxes of children's books, $5 for a grocery bag! MANY of our favorite books came out of those crates! A helpful suggestion is to keep a booklist of intersting titles you've seen in catalogs or on blogs, and always have it in your purse or wallet. That way when you happen on a garage sale or a used book store, you are ready!

"In the spider-web of facts, many a truth is strangled."
~Paul Eldridge

Music center. This keyboard replaced our antique piano, which we had to leave behind in Kansas. It also is a pretty cheap model, but it is a Yamaha and it is touch-sensitive (very imnportant in a keyboard and worth the extra $10). The baby piano was a gift many years ago, and toddlers love it. Ours is getting a little sad-sounding, but it works. Box on top has a toy xylophone, drum, harmonicas, music box, whistles, etc.

"I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught."
~Winston Churchill

Little reading center. Basket of easy readers, handwriting books, book rings, Montessori alphabet (which rarely gets used), poetry books, picture books, board books, and several toddler Montessori activities, in bags, that he must bring to Mommy to be opened. That keeps me sane.

Book nook in use:

"The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers."
~Sydney J. Harris

Generally, I find it better to make things rather than buy them. I worry less if they get broken or ignored, and often the children can help, which makes the thing much more interesting to them in the end. Anything I want/ need and can't make I try to buy in a sturdy, unbreakable form. Man, I'm in love with our stuffed globe!

Random little bookcase with our paper supply, trays for Montessori activities, children's 5 volume atlas, dictionary, and encyclopedia (vintage, USSR timeframe, but they were free and the kids love to pour through the set), set of National Geographic photo books of nature and architecture, red box of preschool Montessori activities, jar of beads.

"The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn."
~John Lubbock

Atrium shelves:
The atrium is a term from Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a Montessori-style program of religious education for the young. I use both the home Catechesis manuals by Moira Farrel and the book Young Children and Worship, aka Godly Play.

Little tabernacle with candles, censer, incense boat, gold parable boxes (each box holds materials for acting out one of Jesus' parables), creation story box, globe with Holy Land marked (sitting on top of an atlas of the Holy Land), basket of holy cards, box of Rosaries, stable, nativity set, all our saints and "holy" kids books. Next to the shelf is our little altar which stores a Mass kit, and our credence table.

These materials take up so many shelves... every now and then I wonder if it's worth all the work and space. Then Rosie will spend an entire evening going through every set, or I will find John Paul with all the (faux LED) candles lit, head bowed, jibbering prayers, and ya, I think it's worth it.

Most of our materials and books have been
a) gleaned from free boxes at curriculum fairs and the library (our library always has a free box of odd books),
b) made by us,
c) bought on clearance, or
d) been given to us as gifts. When you don't have to buy 50 new consumable workbooks every year, gathering up a few new things you'll keep and use forever is quite doable. This year we bought our huggable globe, built the new shelves, and the keyboard. Plus a few books that I couldn't find anywhere for free.

If you come back here tomorrow, I will show you some of our Montessori activities and how to make them. These are very fun for toddlers, increase their attention span, and keep them happily occupied for a few minutes when you need to mix up a batch of x, help a bigger person, distract from a temper tantrum, etc.

Have a great holiday!

"The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives."
~Robert Maynard Hutchins

1 comment:

  1. This definitely inspires me to do some different stuff in my own 'homeschool' setting. We are about 2.5 weeks in and the novelty has worn off and I'm feeling frustrated. Thanks for the uplifting posts!