Friday, September 18, 2009

A Few Useful Resources -- Activity List, Writing Games, etc.

I found a really good resource for upper elementary aged students.  It's a list of homework ideas for students at a Montessori school.  The list has suggestions in a whole range of categories from creative arts and language to science, math and sports. It's about five pages long.  It includes ideas such as knit, embroider, tie knots, learn to weave, learn how to use tools from an adult, start a family newsletter, write poetry, write a review of a movie you saw, help with the family budget, help plan a family vacation researching the various landmarks and special attractions of the area you'll be visiting, go hiking, biking, snorkeling... and on and on.  Even though my kids are quite young for most of the ideas on this list it's the kind of list that gets you thinking what *could* we do.  At least for me, it gets my creative juices flowing.  If you're interested, here's the link:

Most of you probably don't know much about my interest in Montessori methods.  I have never been a Montessori student or done any Montessori training, but have had an interest in Montessori schooling pretty much my whole life.  I grew up hearing my parents rave about my sister's wonderful Montessori school.  According to my Mom, my sister "turned into a mouse" (timid, shy, withdrawn) after having a horrible first grade teacher.  My parents withdrew her from that school and put her into a Montessori school for second grade.  My sister flourished and at the end of the year (2nd grade) was reading and doing math at an 8th grade level.  (Anyone who knows my sister won't be surprised by that!!)  My sister skipped a grade (and consequently graduated from high school at 16).  After that my family moved away and my sister resumed public school.  Funny how family stories swirl around in your head and leave a big impression.

My sister, who also has three kids (now 8, 10 and 13), put her kids into a Montessori preschool before beginning to homeschool them (which she still does).  Again, I heard great stories and have had WONDERFUL suggestions from her about Montessori activities her kids did along the way.  Hopefully that explains a bit about why I have so many postings about Montessori activities and free resources on the blog.  Many of Maria Montessori's ideas resonate with me (but so do many other educator's ideas -- I read pretty much anything I can get my hands on!!)

Speaking of other educators, let me rave for a moment about another resource I have found to be FANTASTIC! Peggy Kaye is the author of Games for Writing, Games for Math, and Games for Learning (grades K-3).  She also wrote Games for Reading, but I did not get this book (I might seeing how wonderful the other three books are!!).  Anyway, I've read half of Games for Writing and Games for Learning.  She has wonderful ideas and what's even better is she explains why she created the games she did (with anecdotes about her students).  She worked/s as a tutor so these games were used in a one-on-one setting which makes it a great resource for parents and homeschooling families.  I've had both DD and LD doing some of these games.  For example, LD is learning to write, but it's a slow, difficult process.  One of Peggy Kaye's games is to work on writing speed (helping overcome a fear of writing/making mistakes).  LD and I simply look around the room and write down as many items as we can in a certain amount of time. LD gets 3 points for every word he writes that I don't have, 1 point for every word that I have and I get just 1 point for every word that he doesn't have.  He really enjoys it and has ASKED to play it!  I like to see him enthusiastic about writing.  He'll do his writing journal (I have different writing tasks each day), but it hasn't been done with the pure enthusiasm that this simple game produces!!  That's just one of her games, we've played about a half dozen little games this past week.

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