Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I is for Incredible India, letter A

Batman (7) is starting to read a lot of books about India, mostly fun mythology books, and epics (the condensed versions) and has lots of questions.It was his idea to come up with an A-Z book about India.

It's mostly aimed at the 7+ crowd (Batman's age).

Every week (or two), I will post about one letter. When the entire series is complete, I will put the whole thing in a pdf file. Till then, feel free to print out the images.

This might be a fun addition to your continent box for Asia. 

India just celebrated it's 65th Republic Day (anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution) on 26th January with President Obama as an honored guest. I thought it was a good time to start the series!!

This week's post is about letter A. 
But first, a quick introduction to India!

India, officially the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country with more than 1.2 billion people, and the the largest democracy in the world, with a civilization that is more than 5000 years old! 
Spanning an area of 3,287,263 square kilometers, it is a vast country and includes dry desert areas, evergreen forests, snowy Himalayas, a long coast, and fertile plains. It also hosts a unique eco-system rich with vegetation, wildlife, rare herbs, and a large variety of birds.
Virtually every major religion of the world like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam and Christianity are found here. The Sikhs, the Zoroastrians, the Jews (living in India since 600 B.C.), the people of Bahai faith, all are found in India in substantial numbers.
There is no such thing as the Indian language. There are over 200 languages in India (almost 1600, if you include dialects), with about twenty of them being very prominent ones. The Indian currency is printed in 15 languages.
Then there is diversity in clothing and attire, food habits, culture and customs to name a few.
It is such a complex nation, it is referred to as a sub-continent.
But the main theme of this culture is the unity which absorbs all the diversities. India is a perfect example of Unity in Diversity. Indians are bound by common cultural heritage and share basic human values. The rich and varied heritage happens to be one of the many sources of pride of the nation.



Print one or all three images for letter A! I had a hard time restricting myself to one, so I posted all three!

All images are from Wikipedia unless specified otherwise.

Leave me a comment if you want to read about something specific for a letter. 
And I would love to read if you have something similar for a country!!

You might also like this post, which talks about a tradition in which we celebrate baby's first taste of rice...

Monday, January 26, 2015

Human Conductor Of Electricity

My boys are in love with the Energy Stick from Steve Spangler Science!

It's a plastic tube about 7 inch long, and it has colored LED lights inside the tube. It also has two electrodes on either side of the tube. 
When these two electrodes are touched at the same time and the circuit is complete, the tube buzzes and lights up.

I love the fact that it requires no setup, it's a great visual  (and noisy - it's a bit surprising in its buzzing loudness and flashing lights!) aid, and very hands-on.
Energy Stick in the dark
It's a great simple tool to teach the kids the basics of electricity. like open and closed circuit, difference between conductors and insulators.

My 5 year old loves it - he understands that if mom, him, and his brother are all holding hands and holding the electrodes of the tube, the circuit or path is complete. He understands that instead of touching his brother's hand, if he touches his shirt, the tube will not light up because the shirt did not let the electrons pass through :)

 So water conducts electricity. Hmm, so is it a good idea to touch electric sockets with wet hands?

Metals like steel also conducts electricity, or, they are conductors.

But legos (with which we cannot part even for a few minutes) are plastic, and they are insulators.

What else could you test? 

The first graders in Batman's class loved it, they got a real  "charge" out of it. Try it with 24 kids and see the hilarious results when they find out that they are all "electric"!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Montessori Object Boxes

Both my superheroes have used their Montessori Phonetic/Alphabet Box extensively.

Please see my post about Phonetic Boxes for toddlers here.  

You might think - why objects? Pictures work as well, and they are not nearly as expensive!

I personally think that the tactile experience of handling the three dimensional objects, and seeing miniature replicas of the everyday objects makes it more fun for the kiddos, and makes language work more exciting. And the possibilities with them are endless - you can extend them and get lots of mileage out of them. 

To sum it up, it makes language work more fun and exciting!

Back to the boxes.
Initially, I had a few letters in each box. And I introduced the letters in this order, according to one Montessori Album.
r a m f
b i t g
p o n l
h u s c
d e x q y
z v w j k

The object box is introduced as a Phonetic Object Box, for the kiddos to learn the sounds associated with all the letters. That means short vowel sounds, and hard sounds for c and g. 
My kids always manage to sneak in their toys, which is great! It shows that they understand Angry Bird starts with "a", or Dora and Diego start with "d", and McQueen starts with "m". 

These pictures were taken when Spiderman was already confident of his sounds. After working on a few letters at a time, I  combined all letters from A to M in one box, and letters N to Z in another box. 

And for both Spiderman and Batman, I would ask them to sort all 13 letters at a time once they were conversant with it. I know my kids have the attention span for it. You will know your kids and students the best. So decide accordingly.

They had tons of fun playing with all the miniatures, their toys, speculating about the origin of some of the toys (wasn't this from the goody bag from xyz's birthday etc), and of course, reviewing the beginning sounds.

So they now know their beginning sounds. What next? The same collection can be used for tons of things. 

  • Extend them. Create sensory bins with them - something simple, like just plain white rice, with some or all the letters and one or more objects corresponding to each letter can make the whole experience different and playful and fun!
  • Use then for pre-reading activities. Take a peek here.
  • Use the same objects and work on ending sounds.
  • Middle sounds are harder to identify for beginners. So pair the objects with the same middle sounds. Start with 10 objects, with one pair for each vowel (short) sound. Line up one of the pairs, and ask them to find the matching pair.
  • Rhyming Words - you probably already have quite a few pair. See bank and tank in the picture. If you are working on the pink series, look for objects like pen - hen - men, lid - kid, mop - top, bed - red (a piece of felt works). You can find more pictures here
  • Use them with moveable alphabets for Pink, Blue and Green Series work.
  • Use them to introduce blends and digraphs and diphthongs. See my post here.
  • Extend them to teach doubles - vowels or consonants. I had an apple for a, book and ball for letter b, egg for e, green for letter g - you see where I am going.
  • For syllable count - ask the kids to sort them in 1 syllable, 2 syllable, 3 syllable words etc.
  • Work on compound words - for example, if you have a butterfly, or ladybug, or football in the collection, the kiddos can identify the components. Or if you have a pin, wheel, cow and boy, they can come up with the compound words - pinwheel and cowboy!
  • Once the kiddos have mastered the short sounds, use and extend the object boxes and go hunting for long vowel sounds in your collection. Have grapes for g? Teach them about the silent e in it, and how a says its name.
  • Similarly, extend and use them object boxes for soft c and g sounds.  
  • If you look at the pictures here, you will see I have car, feather - use them to teach about r controlled vowels. 
  • Use it for singular / plural work. For kids working on the pink series, instead of giving them the labels, you can get them to spell the words using moveable alphabet. If they can spell pen, pens is easy-peasy for them!
  • For Montessori grammar work - you can start with noun and article box. You already have everything you need. And if you have farm animals, you are all set for Montessori Grammar Farm.
And they are not just limited to language work. Use them to count and categorize. 
Use them for math work.

They can be used to introduce the kids to living and non-living things, or perhaps natural and man-made, soft or hard, sink or float etc.

For older kids:
  • Present them a few things from your collection, and ask them to compose a story with the those elements. The results can be quite hilarious.
  • Provide the objects (nouns), and ask them to write down adjectives.  
  • Categories for older kids: magnetic or non-magnetic, conductive or non-conductive, vertebrates or non-vertebrates.
Even more fun might be to give a collection to the kids, and ask them to categorize it. 
Having two boys, I always have lots of transportation themed stuff. You could extend use them for Land/Air/Water Unit with vehicles and animals.
I also had quite a few animals. With one or two toobs of animals, I was able to do a categorization of the major habitats - grassland, desert, ocean, forest, polar-regions. 

Here's a picture of Spiderman working on the pink series work with me...


Great places for scoring miniature objects: 
Motessori Services
Tubes like the Safari Toobs 
 Hobby Lobby
Factory Direct Craft
Michaels, Dollar Store, stores that sell doll-house miniatures, other craft stores
Etsy stores like HighPie 
Toy bins at home (you will be surprised at how much you have at home already)

For more ideas on the objects, how to use them, where to get them etc, please follow my Pinterest board: Montessori Language Arts with Objects

As you can tell, I love object boxes, and would love to hear how you are using them! Leave me a comment, or a link.