Category Archives: This and That

Hive Talking

Hives on LegOn Saturday, Gohan came and told me that he had broken out in a rash. As there was nothing on his face at the time, I didn’t expect much. Then he lifted his pants leg and I was amazed to see raised, red splotches all over it. The rash was also on his arms, chest, and back. I had never seen a rash like this before! It was late at night and I had to put Dora to bed, so Mr. Mo had to take Gohan to Urgent Care. I don’t know if all moms are like this, but I just don’t like it when I am not there to talk to the doctor myself. It always seems that important things don’t get relayed to me, our household doctor, or the professional doctors, if I don’t go to an appointment. The urgent care doctors diagnosed the rash as hives. We have no idea what caused them, as he had not eaten anything new, we had not changed any detergents, etc. Not to mention that Gohan has never had allergies before, though they certainly run on all sides of our families. He was given prednisone and told to take Benadryl at maximum strength every six hours.Hives on BackThese photos don’t even do the hives justice, as I took these them early in the outbreak. Things would get much, much worse, to the point that no part of his body was spared. He even had hives in his ears and they caused him to run a fever, which I didn’t even know could happen! It would be a full 24 hours before he started to experience any relief, at which point, he fell fast asleep on the couch! Sleeping After HivesWe will be seeing the pediatrician tomorrow for a follow-up appointment. I don’t know if they are going to want him to be tested for allergies or just wait and see if this ever happens again or what. He never had any trouble breathing, thank goodness. Needless to say, this kind of threw things out of whack this week. He is still exhausted and itchy, even tonight and I am still on edge, for fear that they will come back or his breathing will get bad.

I hope this post finds you all feeling well and allergy-free!


Labels: This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

They Are Retiring Google Reader?!?!


Well, I had been expecting Feed Burner to be retired soon, but not Google Reader (July 1, 2013 will be the doomsday for all us Google Reader lovers). I guess Google is trying to force people to read blog posts in G+???? Any thoughts? I guess I’ll have to figure out a new way to read my blog subscriptions…. Where/how do you read your blog subscriptions?


Labels: This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Ode to My Little Pony

Your show is most great,
but I must admit that as of late,
I grow quite weary
of your series,
because though glossy may be your tail and mane,
your presence is driving me quite insane.

See, though I might like a pony,
I am no brony.
My little girl
however, loves you so much, it makes me want to hurl.

So young she is,
that she is no reading whiz.
so research your plot
must I, as I learn of places like Canterlot,
Fillydelphia and Ponyville.

How weak grows my will
as background characters I must investigate
and I dare not hesitate,
for even if a line they never speak,
my daughter is not meek.
Her tears and cries
are not pleasant to the eyes.

Games I must play
Whether I be Sunny Rays or Fluttershy,
Twilight Sparkle or Pinkie Pie,
my daughter likes it best,
when I play with her and the rest.

Labels: This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Are the Powers That Would Be Trying to Tell Her Something?

UW Shooting

Secunda is still debating which major she wants to pursue. She keeps bouncing back and forth between interior design and linguistics. So she went with some friends to tour the University of Washington here in Seattle. While she was there, I received a text from her reassuring me that if I had heard about the shooting, she was fine! It ends up that there was a shooting outside the university bookstore. The shooter was caught very quickly and no one was hurt, but the picture above was taken by one of her friends. For this to happen so shortly after the seemingly illogical behavior of the professor at the university she just was essentially “forced” to drop out of, we’ve all begun to half-jokingly wonder if the universe isn’t trying to tell her that university isn’t the path she should be following right now.

Labels: This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–Where We’ll Be Going With Montessori From Here

Blue and Red Bars 2

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! Mine was pretty horrible. I’ll spare you the details, but the Thursday night before Thanksgiving was the worst night of my entire life. I spent much of it under the belief that Mr. Mo was dead. Fortunately, he did not die, but the experience was incredibly traumatic. I spent most of the week recovering physically and emotionally from the it and I’m not sure that I’ll ever be the same.

Montessori Wooden Counters and Cards

Also, Secunda has moved back in with us. She was attending an out-of-state school to study to become an ASL interpreter. She has always gotten “A’s” in her ASL classes from the various professors at the college here and she was receiving “A’s” in all of her other classes, but she was practically failing ASL at the new university. She had tried speaking with the professor and getting tutoring and everything that she could think of, all to no avail. In fact, if anything, her efforts earned her an even lower grade (24% on the midterm, for which she studied her heart out). Unfortunately, there were no grading rubrics and the grading was very subjective, so there wasn’t a lot that could be done immediately to fight the grade. She is filing a grievance against the professor, but in the interim, there was no point in continuing at the university, because this one class was a “make it or break it” class for the program that she was in. She could not move forth with her studies if she did not receive a “B” or higher. Anything less than a “B” would mean attending at least one extra year of university, meanwhile paying “out of state” tuition prices. So she is back here and going to attend a local college and major in interior design instead! It is a bit disconcerting that one person had the power to completely derail her life’s goals and dreams, but she has recovered from the ordeal fairly well.

Pink Tower 4

But, how does this all relate to Montessori, you ask? Well, we had to give up my office/Dora’s homeschooling room, so that Secunda could have a room to sleep in. So now our living room/dining room is Gohan/Dora’s homeschooling room and Dora’s play room (Dora currently sleeps in our bedroom and does not have a bedroom of her own to store toys in). So space is at a premium around here with five adults, one teenager, one preschooler, one dog, and two cats. I have already had to get rid of some of the larger, less-used Montessori materials. So I am having to do some deep reflection on how to proceed with Dora’s homeschooling from this point onwards. I am determined to make Montessori work for math. At the moment, I still have room for all of the culture materials that we already owned (culture in Montessori covers science and social studies). If I keep the math materials in check and limit any new culture materials purchases, I should be able to stick to Montessori for culture. In regards to practical life, we really have already reached a point where Dora is using real materials to do real work for the most part. So I will probably get rid of our remaining practical life materials, which are for teaching wood working skills. I will then try to make more of an effort to include woodworking into our regular work and have Dora use the real tools and wood in our garage (we do have a good kids tool set left over from Gohan). I might even start taking Dora to the local Home Depot and Lowe’s kids’ classes. Finally, I had already determined that the Montessori method is not a good match for Dora for language arts, which is actually proving to be fortunate, as there just is not room for those materials.

Constructive Triangle Work 1

Anyway, through all of the chaos of the last two weeks, we did manage to get some work done. Dora suddenly decided that she wanted to work with the constructive triangles. She barreled through all the boxes, only slowing down when we got to the blue constructive triangles. She had a lot of trouble with these until I got out the rectangle box of constructive triangles to model how the triangles could go together to form shapes.

Constructive Triangle Work 2

As you can see in the photos at the top and in the middle of this post, Dora has also continued to work with the red and blue rods, wooden counters, and pink tower.

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Labels: Montessori, Summer, This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff


I’m going to be taking a blogging vacation until after Thanksgiving. Secunda is home for the holiday and Mr. Mo will be taking the week off. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving | Thanksgiving | Forward this Picture

Labels: This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–Light Table Exploration

Light Table Work 21

A couple of weeks back, I was very excited to see that Constructive Playthings was carrying a translucent block set. As soon as I saw the picture of the set, I knew it was the set I had been looking for! I had seen the translucent block set last February on another blog. After seeing it, I really, really, really wanted that block set (for Dora, of course)! The only problem was that I could not find it anywhere in the United States and with exchange rates and shipping the set would have cost $250+ U.S. to purchase from a European vendor. Now, Constructive Playthings has the set for $80! (No, I am not an affiliate for Constructive Playthings). As soon as the set arrived, I ripped open the box and got out the light table and mirrors so that I could check it out Dora could explore with it. Honestly, I had more fun photographing the set than Dora did playing with it, but she did like it, a lot.

Light Table Work 20

Light Table Work 22

I also brought out some of our Steve Spangler Colorful Growing Orbs, which I also had fun photographing Dora also had fun playing play with. (I’m not affiliated with Steve Spangler either, though if he feels like sending me a goody box, I would be glad to play with everything have my daughter work with all of the materials.)

Light Table Work 11

Light Table Work 16

Dora even took the blocks and orbs off of the light table to explore some more (after I finished having fun photography them, of course). Dora even did a lot of transferring work with the orbs, which it ends up make an excellent tea party snack (little did you know!). It also ends up that if you stick them in a miniature vase, they make a really funny sound as they go through the neck of the bottle (a sound that leaves immature people, such as myself, laughing in hysterics – no, it did not sound like a fart, I’m not that immature, it just sounded really, really funny, you can even ask Dora, if you don’t believe me).

Light Table Work 7

Light Table Work 9

All in all, I was very happy with the amount of sensory work that I, I mean Dora, did with these items. They will make a wonderful addition to our play things come this winter, when the weather gets gloomy and the days get short. I can hardly wait! (Note to Santa, I’d like to add “a large light table that I don’t have to share” to my Christmas list.)

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Labels: Montessori, This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–Knobless Cylinder Pattern Cards

Knobbed Cyliner Work 1
This week was a “meh” week in our homeschool. So we didn’t do much Montessori work. The one thing that we did quite a bit of, was working with knobless cylinders pattern cards. The pattern cards that we own are from ETC Montessori, who I am not affiliated with. I do not print and laminate materials anymore, partly because my laminator broke, and partly because I’m sick of doing it. So I buy my materials pre-laminated or do without, which means we don’t have a lot of paper materials. These cards were a good investment though. Another reason I couldn’t have printed these is that they are 11” x 17”. Previously, I tried a .pdf set of knobless cylinder pattern cards that printed on regular printer paper and felt that the printouts were too crowded as they did not have enough room to fit more than two sets of cylinders on one card. The 11” x 17” advanced cards use all four sets of cylinders on one card.
Knobbed Cyliner Work 2
I am not sure what is up with Dora in regards to sensorial materials. She seems to think that she can’t do the work, but then is 100% capable of doing the work, once I can convince her to do it. She even has fun once she stops crying that she can’t do it. I feel like an ogre and tell her she only needs to try the activity. I’d even just skip it all, as she’s only four, after all, except that she asks to homeschool! I’m not sure why we have to have so many dramatics about it. Has anyone else dealt with this with their child? If so, what did you do to change the atmosphere in your homeschool?
Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Labels: Montessori, Summer, This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–Geometric Cabinet, Teen Boards, and More Montessori Math

Geometric Tray #2 - 2

For the first time ever, Dora wanted to work with the geometric cabinet. The geometric cabinet is actually considered a sensorial material in Montessori education. It teaches visual discrimination, while also working on the pincer grasp, and introducing children to geometric terms. Dora has not wanted anything to do with the geometric cabinet, until this week. She breezed through the first drawer, but had some problems with the second drawer, as illustrated in the  photo above (she doesn’t understand why I don’t want her just to force pieces into their spaces, my method seems so fussy and time consuming!). Even after struggling with the second drawer, she wanted to do more, so I brought out the third drawer, which was pretty challenging for her. We only worked with putting the pieces back into their spaces and using general terms (for instance, I used the term “triangle” for all of second drawer, instead of terms such as “isosceles triangle” or “obtuse triangle”).

Geometric Tray #3 - 1

It took a bit of encouragement on my part,

Teen Boards

but Dora finally agreed to work with the teen boards. I used the beads in conjunction with the boards, as this was really an introduction lesson (I had presented the teen boards to her before, but she totally forgot everything, since she has not wanted to work with them in so long). She grasped the pattern of the teen boards, but I’m still not sure she understands the “one and ten makes eleven” concept (I don’t want to give the impression that I am worried about it or pushing her to learn it quicker). 

Montessori Wooden Counters and Cards

She also worked with the wooden counters and cards. She knows most of her number symbols, but is confusing the pairs “2” & “5” and “6” & “9”, which seems pretty age appropriate. She is easily able to count, with one-to-one correspondence, up to ten. 

Spindle Rods

She also worked with the spindle box some. The spindle box is easier than the wooden counters and cards, however, as two being next to one and so forth gives her some guidance, so she doesn’t confuse the symbols.

Red and Blue Number Bars

I also gave her the very first introductory presentation to the blue and red counting bars. She was much more interested in these than the long red rods. I could see that the gears were spinning in her head when I showed her these rods. Clearly, they presented a new concept to her, though I am not sure what it was (I didn’t show her that the one rod with the nine rod equals the ten rod or anything of that sort).  

Completed Color Box 4 Grading

Finally, we completed grading all of color box 4. Honestly, this gave me a headache! I have always had good vision, but maybe my color discrepancy skills aren’t what they should be, because I had a really hard time sorting the browns and purples. I cannot imagine doing color box 3, which has seven grades of each color! Of course, I didn’t buy the highest quality color tablets, so maybe that was part of the problem… The color variances look more obvious in this picture than they did when we were working with them.

It was a good week overall in regards to Dora’s using the Montessori materials. It is all beginning to click with her and she is asking to use the materials on the weekends too! I really enjoy seeing her make the connections between one activity and another. I doubt I will ever give any thought to switching to a different method of teaching math until she is in middle school. I really wish I had used the Montessori method with Gohan. I greatly suspect that if he had been taught with Montessori materials from the beginning, it would have saved him a lot of frustration. As is, I am giving great consideration to buying the fraction circles for him. He has memorized how to work with fractions, but the fraction word problems in pre-algebra are tripping him up. He is not understanding when he is supposed to multiply or divide with fractions. For instance,   if he got a problem that said, “Johnny took 2/3 of the apples and Mary took 3/4 of Johnny’s apples, what fraction of the apples does Mary have now?” he would not know if he should multiply or divide the fractions. When I was in pre-algebra, I was just taught that the word “of” means to multiply when working with fractions. So, I’d know that in order to solve the above problem, I’d multiply 2/3 x 3/4, just because of the word “of”. That is not exactly a true understanding of what is happening and I’d like for Gohan to have a better understanding of how fractions work.

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Labels: Math, Montessori, Summer, This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–Color Box 4 and Teen Bead Hanger

Color Box 4

When I first started looking into using the Montessori method with Dora, she already knew most of her colors, so the first color box, which consist of just red, yellow, and blue, was definitely too remedial for her. I also suspected that the second color box, which consists of 11 pairs of basic color tiles, would be too easy for her and we wouldn’t get much use out of it. Yet, I felt that color box 3, which has seven shades of nine colors, which the child grades in order of darkest to lightest, would prove to be too difficult for her. Color box 4, on the other hand, only has four shades of eight colors, but also has a matching tile for each tile for a total of 64 tiles. I felt that given our limited budget, color box 4 was the best bang for our buck. A couple of months ago, I tried having Dora grade just one set of colors and that was way too hard for her. So this week, I presented her a tray with two shades of several colors. I went with the most extreme shades, darkest vs. lightest. She was able to do this tray fairly easily. In a few weeks, I will add a middle shade and see if we can’t slowly, but surely build up to grading the whole box. I have found that proper lighting is very important for this work. In some rooms of our house, it is impossible to tell some of the shades apart from each other.

Teen Bead Bar Hanger

Dora has also started choosing to work on more math work! She completed the teen bead hanger many times and has it down pat now. I’m not sure if she has memorized the order or if she truly understands the idea of “10 and 1 make 11”. I’ve been encouraging her to try the teen boards, which I think would help to cement the knowledge, but thus far she is resisting my efforts. She also continues to love to do the hundreds board, up until 20.

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Labels: Math, Montessori, Summer, This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff