Thursday, January 28, 2016

Flute Recital #2

Kate had her second recital this weekend at the New Music School.  (She would tell you it's her THIRD RECITAL MAMA! since she played for her class during show-and-tell).

She was the first one to play and this time she played two songs. The first was Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Twinkle twinkle from Lisa on Vimeo.

The second was a combo of Ode to Joy for one round and then Ode to Joy with Octaves for the next round.
Ode to Joy from Lisa on Vimeo.

Lucy is progressing nicely on the piano. She is working with both hands now and since I haven't posted a video of her playing lately, I thought I'd include it here.
Playing with both hands from Lisa on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Parent/Child Night

Last week was Parent/Child night at school. Last semester I paired up with Lucy and Kate with Len so this semester we switched. Both girls were very excited to show us around the classroom, heading for their favorite works.

Kate got out the multiplication board to show me how "easy" it is for her now. In case you aren't familiar with how Montessori materials work, her equation was 6x3=x? She marks the 6 at the top so she knows how many columns she needs. Next she puts the number 3 on the side so she knows how many rows she needs. Then she fills in with beads and counts how many she has to solve for x.
Lucy was showing Len how to do addition with the materials. The beads are put into strings by number count (the blue strands are 9 beads, for example).  If her equation is 6+9=x? then she pulls out the 6 strand and the 9 strand and counts how many beads she has in total.
The genius of this way of learning is that you get a sense of proportion, volume, scale, etc. instead of just memorizing abstract numbers.

Kate has also started learning division. In the example below, her equation was 42/7=x? She places 7 large markers at the top and then fills in with beads until she reaches 42 beads. The answer will then be the number along the left side.
English was next. She writes out the ending sound, in this case it was "ONG".
Then she turns over the paper with the beginning letter sounds and looks at a book with pictures depicting the word. When she thinks she knows the word, she writes it next to the original sound and double-checks her work with the paper that is turned over.
It is in this way that Montessori materials are self-correcting. The child knows immediately whether her work is correct and if not, can easily see it and fix it.

Lucy, meanwhile, got out the ribbon board. She is the only one in their class that can tie a bow (and thus, shoes!).
She tied the entire frame!
Kate moved on to the Chinese section where she matched up objects with their cards, then read the pinyin/characters and said the names of the objects in Chinese to me.
She went back to math (her favorite subject) to show me how she is learning her multiples. Here she is working on the multiple of 6. The long strand has 6 purple beads followed by a chain, followed by 6 purple beads, followed by a chain, etc. She had to count in sections of 6 and then find the numerical marker to place on the chain, marking off each multiple (6, 12, 18, etc).

Lastly was circle time. Qiongwei lăoshī led them in several Chinese songs including their favorite kung fu song.

Soon it was time to say Zàijiàn!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Love Letter, Month 72

Dear Kate,

You are now 72 months old--6 years!
Your birthday FINALLY got here and I thought we might make it without a meltdown but alas, 'twas not to be. As soon as it was time to get dressed, the fireworks began, ostensibly over clothes and hair but I do think it's just that the build-up is too much to manage and it manifests through sensory issues.
As these things do, the storm passed just prior to everyone's arrival and the party went on without a hitch. You, in fact, enjoyed it immensely! We had an animal educator come with various creatures. Your favorites were the fat-tailed gecko, the snake and the chinchilla.

Early winter is always a hard season for you since you have to wade through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Lucy's birthday and Christmas in order to get to YOUR birthday. I really do hope (since this will be the case FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE) that you can find a way to be present for each celebration, enjoying it while it lasts before leaping ahead to the next event. It will make you ever-so-much-happier. And if it doesn't, at least it will make those around you happier.

December was full of Christmas activities and a visit from Nana. We started out our adventures by riding the CTA Holiday Train downtown to see the Macy's windows and pickup donuts for Nana's birthday celebration.

You made her a lovely card this year.
You really enjoyed making Christmas cookies!
But not so much letting me take pictures of your cookie dough face...

After opening the present Charlie the Elf left for you (a nightgown) and setting out cookies, milk and carrots, Christmas day was upon us finally.
Your most fervent desire was fulfilled when you found a metal detector waiting for you under the tree from Santa.
You wasted no time getting dressed after the last of the presents were unwrapped so we could try out your detector at the beach.
This was the Christmas (and birthday) of science and geology gifts much to your delight. You asked for and received several different kits that allow you to excavate for bones, crystals and geodes; a microscope for looking at things underwater as well as a telescope for the starry sky (although we'll have to get out of the city to use it!).
Lucy gifted you with your very own tool kit since you have been coveting hers for a while.
Art projects were your next favorite activity. You painted bowls with Nana (yours are on the left)

And she also helped you make a potholder.

Nana and I got to join you for lunch at school right before Christmas break. Your teachers gave us a card with all of your classmates.
This month, Daddy and I got to help you celebrate your birthday at school.

I surprised you by taking you and Lucy home early so we could go sledding on what turned out to be a frigid afternoon with wind chills in the negatives. You made 6-7 good runs down the hill before agreeing that going home for hot chocolate was a better idea.
So. You are six now and I can hardly believe it. I think you feel that way sometimes too. You told me the other night as I was tucking you into bed that you wished you could stay a baby forever. You said it was because you missed just being able to stay home with me, to stay in your jammies and play and read.

Oh honey, you will feel that way at various times in your life...I do and I'm MUCH older than you. But think of everything you would miss: eating roasted duck, digging for buried treasure, exploring new lands, reading books with chapters (and without pictures), riding horses...the world is vast and wonderful and ready for you to discover it.

But every now and then you can take a day off, stay in your jammies and hang out with your mama. I won't mind.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Kate's 6th birthday in pictures

My friend Jo got in some more photography practice at Kate's birthday party. I must say, if you're looking to have someone photograph your kid's party, you should call Jo (especially before she starts charging professional rates--seriously, contact me and I will put you two in touch). She's unobtrusive, on time and gets some really great shots, leaving you free to enjoy the party. I'll let her pictures do the rest of the talking on her behalf.

 Kate's theme this year was Wild Kratts, a PBS show about the Kratt brothers who educate about all kinds of creatures. To that end, I hired Sue's Party Animals to come with some live creatures to teach us about.

Waiting in an-ti--ci---pa------tion.
First to come out a combo rat/hamster.

Next was a parakeet.


Various types of lizards (geckos I think)

Jo's son, Ben, practicing taking photos just like his mama!

A corn snake came next.

The snake was very popular with Lucy who was the only kid, at first, to want it draped around her neck.

Kate was a bit more tense about it...

The guinea pigs were very popular. When they came out, Lucy, who still had the snake around her neck, tossed the dangling snake's tail around her neck like a scarf and reached out for the hamster. I was truly hoping the snake was not hungry.

The hedgehog, because of his spines, was not passed around but everyone got to feel him. For the record, he felt like a very coarse hairbrush.

The chinchilla was also a favorite--so soft!

Soon it was time for cake!

Six years old...hard to believe.

 I thought this was an interesting shot since it was not posed. She snapped it at just the right moment.
One happy little girl and her happy mama.
It started to snow about halfway through the party much to everyone's delight.
Reunited with their former classmate, Scarlette, who is now in first grade.

Len draped Lucy's fake snake around his neck. That made him VERY popular.

Time for the party favors...some Wild Kratt's activity sheets and animal masks.

And that was that! Another party in the books.


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