Saturday, August 20, 2011

Relevant...to Whom?

Hello all!

Am finally back to blogging after an unexpected hiatus.

As I had mentioned in my previous post, my laptop crashed and had to be repaired in Kentucky of all places. This would not be odd, if say, we lived in or near Kentucky, but struck me as odd since we live in Florida.
But alas, that is what Best Buy decided to do to get my laptop up and running so that was that.
Am HAPPY to have my laptop back!!!
You do not realize how dependent you are on it until it is gone for a few weeks.

Yes, we did have a very old, outdated computer that I could have tried hard to be patient and use but it works much more slowly (think snail speed) and does not have all of the bells and whistles or software that my laptop has so it really did not work well for me to try to use as a stand-in for my tried and true...

The upside to being without a laptop is that it allowed me to spend more time with my family and friends doing things in real life versus online...
A few weeks ago, had traveled to Pennsylvania and helped to co-host a lovely bridal shower for my soon-to-be-sis-in-law. It was the first time I was ever away from Dear Hubby and the boys for an entire weekend!  My laptop actually crashed while I was out of town so Dear Hubby had to break this news to me upon my return.
As far as the bridal shower and the time spent getting to know my soon-to-be-sister-in-law's family  was a great time. We are all looking forward to the upcoming wedding.
Here is one of the bouquets from the shower. Some of the flowers were from my parents' back yard. They turned out very pretty.
My sister came up with the neat idea to do them.
When I returned from PA, the boys had been coming up with some of their own ideas.
The boys decided that they each wanted to do their own summer camps...they wanted to be the director of their own camps...

So, Little Bro came up with the idea of Cotton Eye Joe Camp.

Who is Cotton Eye Joe? 
Well, he is a couple of things...a character in part of a computer game called Carnival Games: Monkey See, Monkey Do as well as a character in a funky country, folksy, catchy sort of ditty...

While I was out of town, Little Bro had seen an ad on T.V. about Cotton Eye Joe and he loved it! 
It was actually an ad for either a Wii or an X-Box video game, gaming systems that we don't have, but it inspired him. The theme of the game is about about carnival games.

So, he decided that we should make and play carnival games, draw Cotton Eye Joe, dance to the Cotton Eye Joe song, and have Cotton Eye Joe snacks.
Little Bro planned out the whole day the night before, during bedtime, of course!

We had to watch the You Tube Cotton Eye Joe video on my iPhone, dance to the song, then Little Bro suggested to Big Bro that they should jump on their bouncy balls to the song. 

We then were encouraged to make up our own dance.
Little Bro suggested that we really give it our all and "move all over the place!!!"

Then, we had to draw the monkey from the video clip. 
This was to be our idea of what the monkey looks like to us. Here are Big Bro's and Little Bro's renditions. I did one, but am not including it, as theirs are so cute so I would rather show you theirs:

Cotton Eye Joe, the Carnival Monkey,  by Big Bro
 
Cotton Eye Joe...he's a funny monkey! by Little Bro

Following our own interpretations of the monkey, Little Bro gave us a drawing lesson. 
He did it almost spot on as how the boys do their art lessons with their l'atelierista / Reggio Emilia inspired art teacher.

Part of Little Bro's Cotton Eye Joe art lesson: "He is to look like a real performing monkey who wears a fez on his head."

We needed to be sure to give our monkey five fingers on each hand and a curly tail. Little Bro pretty much wanted us to focus on the real features of the monkey, much as they would do when doing Montessori three part cards about parts of the animal. 
Following our morning work, he asked me if I would make some parts of the monkey cards for shelf work for the next day...

As we were enjoying Cotton Eye Joe Camp, at some point, Dear Pup started to bark, as he wanted to be a part of the fun...
I got out of my seat to go deal with the dog and as I did, Little Bro gently suggested that I go focus on my work and take it seriously. 
Explained to him that Dear Pup did not realize that summer camp was going on at the moment and needed to go outside. 
So Little Bro patted my back and gave me a kiss and said "I understand...thank you."
Quickly took care of Dear Pup and then, came right back to be a part of Cotton Eye Joe Camp. 
Little Bro then asked how we felt about dressing up like Cotton Eye Joe. He made us bow ties and mustaches and told us that we would have to use our imaginations for the rest of the costumes.

We wore our bow ties and mustaches. 

One of the bows Little Bro drew for us to wear for Cotton Eye Joe dress up.
Then, it was announced that after we put away our work, it was snack time. 
Little Bro set up everything for us so that we could make snack for ourselves.
His snack selection: waffles, Triscuits, water, and Popsicles. 

Snack Time!

All in all, it was an awesome day!

Following Cotton Eye Joe Camp, Big Bro decided to try his hand at conducting two summer camps, one of which was Amazon Rain Forest Camp.
He pulled out books from our shelves about rain forests. 
He went through our three part cards and found rain forest animals. 
Big Bro then worked at reading some of the books aloud to Little Bro and to me. 
He set up a shelf work for Little Bro, a rain forest work with some rain forest Toob animals and people from Safari Ltd. 
Some rain forest friends

Big Bro put the shelf work out along with a flannel board to be the background and cut out shapes to be the different layers of the rain forest. For an art project, he got out some stained glass art pages about animals from the rain forest. We colored in the animals and then looked at them through the sunlight.

We read a few books about Poison Dart Frogs and then, we looked at and discussed some photos of blow guns made by Amazon tribal people. 

Big Bro had originally thought that making a blow gun would be fun but instead settled in on the idea that spit balls would suffice to demonstrate how blow guns work without being dangerous.

He then decided that to really feel like they were from the rain forest, they should paint themselves as the various tribes do in the rain forest. 
Painting themselves with washable marker in an attempt to look like indigenous people of the Amazon Rain forest.
He got out a washable marker and he and Little Bro decorated themselves with the marker to look like the way the Amazonian tribal peoples do in the nonfiction books we had read. 

For snack, he decided that we should make his favorite noodles. He laid out the noodles along with a card to remind everyone that that was going to be for snack during his camp. Super cute!!!

The boys have learned so much and have had a blast doing their learning in this very hands on, child directed summer camp fun sort of way! 

All in all, it has been a fabulous last few weeks!

Well, as I was getting geared up to write my first back from my hiatus post and finally had some time to get caught up on reading both blogs and websites that inspire me, I happened to come across one that normally has Sunrise Learning Lab listed in its blog roll. Noticed that Sunrise Learning Lab was missing in action from this company's blog roll so I contacted this business owner / blog writer to ask if was an oversight or what was up...
Well, I got a reply back with an explanation that as a business owner, she had to make difficult choices and that her decision to remove my blog was "solely based on economics, online traffic numbers, and meeting the needs of customers. Unfortunately it meant deleting some posts, and also removing some blogs on my blog roll that were no longer relevant to Montessori. Some of the blogs...originally listed have left the idea of the Montessori method"...
Could respect this reason, if this was the case, but it is not. I have not left the idea of Montessori. 
I just embrace additional topics that reflect our lives here. My blog reflects what is real, not just what would be in a Montessori catalog.

Sunrise Learning Lab does go beyond Montessori in the topics and in the scope, but 
IT IS RELEVANT to Montessorians and other readers as my blog wholeheartedly embraces the key tenet of Dr. Maria Montessori:  Truly respecting and following the child. 

Sunrise Learning Lab's original purpose was to give me a voice so that I could share with those close to me about how things work in our day-to-day, how things are with respect to Montessori inspired homeschooling and with life here in Florida. My goal was to work at living, loving, and learning in the Sunshine State, whereby we homeschool every morning and then take in the sunshine every afternoon. 

Below is the statement I made as part of my Full Disclosure Statement and it has been the same statement for well over a year and a half now...

Sunrise Learning Lab was initially created to be able to share with family and close friends about the joy of homeschooling…the day to day of our lives.
As time has progressed, in addition to just being an online diary of our day-to-day, it has also become a blog to encourage others primarily in the realm of homeschooling or early childhood / elementary education, including educational materials, printables, arts and crafts ideas, recipes, field trips, travel destinations designed for children, co-op information, and coupons, discounts, and reviews that would help moms save money on items for their children, etc.

We do embrace the philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori but we also from time to time embrace some other methods in the mix. This is not out of not wanting to be contrary or contradictory to  Montessori; rather, it is through trying to meet the individual needs of my sons that sometimes other things work well in the mix, such as Reggio Emilia / Malaguzzi inspired play based learning, block play, and art as well as activities that invoke sensory integration, higher order thinking, and brain based learning. 

Although I cannot speak for Dr. Maria Montessori herself, if she were alive, I do not think that if she had a blog roll, that she would just drop me from it because I happened to take time off from blogging because my laptop crashed, as well as because I spent time with my family.
Also do not think that she would get upset if I went with the flow when my sons proposed their own ideas for their own summer camp days here and there, nor would she mind if I took my boys to the pool or to the beach for the day instead of having a regular Montessori work period. 

It is summer after all, so if anyone else has found my blog to be IRRELEVANT specifically to Montessori, well...

I have spent quality time with my family instead of being tied down to my desk to type blog posts about various Montessori extensions to go with the pink tower and broad stairs. 

Please understand that this is my blog and while I want you as my readers to enjoy it, I am not going to put on something fake to supposedly show you a picture-perfect setting for either a 3-6 classroom or a 6-9 classroom just to supposedly be RELEVANT to Montessori. 

That is absurd!

Instead, I invite any and all readers to look at some of what we have been up to and to think about how awesome it is to take the key tenet of Montessori, to follow the child,  and to embrace it day in and day out, whereby child led learning is your way of life, not just during a scheduled work period.

For the record, if you are a Montessori purist, please be aware that I have some upcoming posts on non-Montessori topics including:

Autism awareness / support for the autism community plus ways you can give, sensory integration, profoundly gifted children, mommy time, art and active exploration in nature, shopping for something decent to wear to a Northern wedding when you live in South Florida, and so on...

So if that makes you SQUEAMISH that I am going to have other things thrown into the mix other than Montessori, I hope that you will still try to bear with me and read and see what I have to share...

Thanks to those of you who do and who will continue to embrace Sunrise Learning Lab for the blog that IT IS...

And if my numbers slip due to not having a daily post, especially in the summer, that will have to be that. I do enjoy blogging but blogging is not what drives my life. Also feel that there is much more to life than just sharing about Montessori.

My goal is for my sons to grow to have a greater love and appreciation for the world and its people.
My blog is a window into our world and my attempt to share what happens in our lives.

Life happens,  so when it works in for me to thoughtfully reflect and share, then I choose to share with you...


"Nuff said"...hope that you will find my posts to be relevant to you in some way.



5 comments:

Stephanie said...

Colleen, I'm sorry that happened! I love the way you show us all the ways you homeschool and live with your family! I have done a lot of thinking this summer and I think that we as homeschoolers are in a unique position to give our kids what they need at each moment. I love montessori and I think that it is wonderful! However there is value in other things as well. Thanks for sharing and keeping it real!

Mommy Moment said...

Colleen,

It's so great to read everything you have been up to. Looks like the boys are having so much fun learning. The body painting reminded me of recently taking our girls to the rainforest cafe for the first time.
I'm sorry you were taken off the blog role, I do not understand why.

Hugs to you! Keep doing what you are doing, you are amazing!

Smiles,
Jody

Nicole said...

Ehh numbers shumumbers! What's important is that your blog is a lovely record of your boys' education. :) We use (as you know) other methods besides Montessori as well and I for one am thankful that we have that option. You are a great mama and teacher - keep it up!

Sandra said...

Colleen,

don't you ever forget that you are doing fantastic job. I like your blog not only because I can always find great ideas, but exactly because it is a real-life blog, unlike some Montessori blogs that looks so fake. If they could make me believe those mamas are doing impeccable Montessori education and their kids are poster-children for Monte Edu, they could only make me feel less good in educating my child. When I want some lessons in "how-to" Montessori, I reach for my Montessori books and not "wanna-look-oh-so-smart" blogs.
I love your blog. I love that you are a real family, with ups and downs and I love that you are NOT Montessorian who would label yourself as the "right" one, yet you ARE following your children. And you are incorporating bits and pieces from other philosophies as well what makes perfect educational mix that works best for your family. And that's what what is the MOST important in all this story. Your children and their well being. I know I'm repeating some of the things you already said in this post, but I just have to. I have to let you know that there are other people who are following your blog and who shares your opinion. And I will always follow your blog, no matter what - hm..I can give up only if you publicly ban me, and even then, I think I would secretly sneak in ;)

Martianne said...

Amen, Sister!!!!!!! Well-documented sharing of your family's learning, fun and explorations. Polite, but real and well-said response to the unnamed blogroll person making "difficult" (and dare I say, ridiculous and self-absorbed decisions). And, THANK YOU for being real, being eclectic, embracing all that is good and turning your cheek as best as you can to all that is foolish, negative or energy-sucking.

Keep following those children and, PLEASE, keep sharing as you do. :)

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