Monday, November 19, 2012


At the start of every lesson in Saxon K, we revise the pattern of the month. This is currently an AB pattern with green and orange.

Nicholas immediately memorised the idea of a green-orange pattern. He could recite it over and over, but struggled at first to reproduce it. The pattern revision in Saxon is restricted to colouring the next square in the right colour for the pattern. This wouldn't have been enough for Nikki.

We do three exercises to revise the pattern. First, I printed out a table with 6 columns and 13 rows. This is our pattern sheet, as the pattern changes after 12 lessons. I coloured the first row in as a reminder of our pattern and numbered the other rows 1-12.  This is also how I keep track of which lesson we are on.

Nikki colours in one row every lesson - spot the one where I helped him! He rarely makes mistakes (usually when he's not paying attention to which pen he is holding or which square he is colouring).

We then have a handful of linking cubes in green and orange that he makes a tower with - this one gets skipped sometimes because he struggles to link the cubes on his own. He then separates the linking cubes and sets out 'garages' in a green-orange pattern, in front of which he 'parks' his green and orange transport counters. This is, of course, the best bit.

When I was choosing the vehicles, I picked them out at random. I didn't want there to be a clear set of all the same/all different - I wanted the focus to be on the colour for this activity.

Linking to Montessori Mondays

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Not Another Maths Program!

Yes, I have found yet another maths program that I have started using with Nikki.

If we do Little Math it takes all of 2 minutes and he just isn't all that interested in doing JG dot work at the moment. Because of his current temperament I am not giving him Montessori materials - he would just throw them or find a way to destroy them - and after reading some reviews of the later books in this series (and after finding the teacher's book at a real bargain price) I decided to try out Saxon Math level K.

We are now on lesson 7 of 112 and Nikki is really loving it. In fact, I would say as a maths program for 5-6 year olds it is probably too repetitive and boring. The early lessons focus a lot on playing and getting familiar with the materials. It takes almost the first month to get to counting to ten using 1-to-1 correspondence.

We are not following the lesson schedule - so far Nikki has been happy to do a lesson every day rather than the planned 3 lessons a week. It is very repetitive, which I really think he needs at his age, but each lesson builds on the ones before and the material is covered slightly differently each time (eg. counting out 5 bears rather than 5 cubes).

I am actually quite impressed with the topics covered - every day we practice a sequence (right now it is an AB colour pattern) and we're supposed to do a calendar discussion but I skip that as we already have our morning calendar time. In lesson 5 we drew a pictograph of the boys and girls in our family - Nikki is so proud of his 'family graph'.

It looks like every new thing we learn will be re-visited often in later lessons - I can see the word graph in six of the first 24 lesson titles, for example. This should make sure that he gets a thorough understanding, rather than forgetting the topic when it's done and having to re-learn it again later.

We are really enjoying the lessons right now. They are fully planned and scripted. I generally follow the text as a guide rather than simply reading the script, because I want to make sure I am focused on Nikki rather than the book. In all, using the manipulatives to practice our pattern and covering the day's lesson takes around 10-15 minutes. Sometimes it is even less. Most importantly, Nikki loves his maths time. 

Reading Bear

We have been using a new site for reading - Reading Bear. It is comprehensive, simple and free!


It teaches how to slowly sound out the letters and blend the sounds to read the words. There are fifty lessons, each covering a different phonics sound/rule, from CVC through to multi-syllable words.

We have been using it for only the last week or so (he's seen four of the short-vowel presentations twice) and already Nikki is reading independently!!!

Ok, so he still has to sound out each letter first, and they are only CVC words, and he has known all the letter sounds for months, but I still think that with maybe 10 minutes 'work' each day it is tremendous progress! Now that he has finally figured out how to put the sounds together, I hope this program will really help with my target of getting him reading simple books on his own by age 4.

The only single flaw I can see in Reading Bear is that it is American and thus the short 'o' sound sounds more like 'ah' and they teach words like 'gas' and 'pants' rather than 'petrol' and 'trousers'. Not really a major worry as the sound can be turned off and Nikki recognises that a picture of a pair of trousers is not the same as his underwear so I can easily explain the language differences when they come up.

This is the first time he saw the word got. We haven't done the short o words because he wants the voice over but I won't let him have it because the accent when sounding out is so different to how I have taught him. He worked it out all by himself!

Linking to Montessori Mondays

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Back again!

Has it really been three weeks?! After our two weeks of Russian/birthday madness, we went away for the half term holiday. Ok, so we've been back ten days now but I just haven't been in the mood for blogging. It has been a nightmare of re-training routines and discipline and failing to get the little temper tantrum to sleep in his own bed!!!

So, I'm tired and losing control of my temper far too often and generally struggling to return to the calm Montessori atmosphere of six weeks ago. It almost doesn't seem worth it as I can't imagine the routine-less Christmas period having any kind of positive effect...

Enough. Tomorrow (because I am too sleepy right now) I will post all about the progress we have made the last couple of weeks - some very exciting news!