Tag: astronomy

Toilet Paper Solar system 

Age: 7, 10

Science Co-op Session 1 Week 6: Solar System


  • Book on Neil Armstrong
  • Toilet paper Solar system
  • Draw your own solar system

This is week 6 of our first co-op session.  I’m reaching a point where I procrastinate prepping night after night until the night before class.   Next week Eclectic Mama will do a rocket ship presentation.  Everyone is thankful that we’re doing a 6/7 week on 1 week off schooling routine.

I’m kicking myself that I did not do this type of schedule earlier.  It gives us so much more breathing room.

This week the focus is on the planets.   Given our limited time I thought the best thing to do is to get the kids to at least memorize all the planet names in both English and Chinese.  If they want to follow up, they can do that at home.


DIY Solar Oven

Age: 7 & 10

Science Session 1 week 5: The Sun


  • Picture book – 射向太陽的箭 Arrow to the Sun
  • Solar Eclipse Overview
  • DIY Solar Oven
  • Manga Encyclopedia – 星空大搜密 Secrets of the Sky

After the First Great Lesson and a quick overview of the moon, it time to focus on the sun this week.

I’m amazed we managed to pull off an interesting project for the children for this weeks focus on the sun. As the weeks progress it takes me longer and longer to prep for my science co-op.   I really need to plan it all out in the beginning.  Prepping takes a lot of effort and is easily side tracked by life.


Montessori’s First Great Lesson

Age: 7 & 10

Science Co-op Session 1 Week 4: Montessori First Great Lesson


  • First Great Lesson Presentation
  • Van Gogh Starry Night Art
  • Break
  • Moon Log

After 3 weeks of background presentations, this week was IT, the First Great Lesson.  This presentation was already done two school years ago, in Fall 2016.   I’ve never quite liked the lesson the way it was taught to me because I don’t have the best classroom management skills yet and dealing with kids who go off script when you show them the experiments while you’re busy telling the story throws me into a loop, and then I start rushing and things fall apart.

This year, I decided to change things up by using the story as told in The Deep Well of Time.  The author advocates telling the story by doing all the presentations in the weeks leading up to the lesson, then make the story an oral story, without reading from the book.  Alas, I could not memorize the whole story.  So I did read from the book, but tried to tell it as much as possible without reading straight.

The other thing I changed was to tell the story in English so that I’m not stumbling over words and shortening the whole story because I don’t have the words for them.  Thankfully, all the children in the co-op actually could benefit from more English exposure. (more…)

Flashlight Constellations and Marshmallow Constellations

BFSU: D5 – Time and the Earth’s Turning
Montessori: Days of the Week, Months of the Year, Astronomy – Constellations

Someone asked in a FB group a few weeks ago how our BFSU curriculum was going.  That comment finally spurred me into spending a day mapping the BFSU curriculum into Montessori curriculum.  I found out that my Montessori album covers some topics in the BFSU middle school curriculum.  But there are some topics covered is BFSU that are not in my Montessori album.



I was trying to figure out our semester’s curriculum after the First Great Lesson coming up next week.  For this week, I thought we’ll cover constellations since we’ve already done planets at home.  Totally random topic.

But in doing my research, I learned that the ancient Babylonians and Egyptians used the stars to tell time!  This just happens to fit what we’re studying next week in Chapter 7 of Story of the World  and last week’s co-op topic on Clocks and Time!



Unit Study: Moon 月球

A month overdue.  We’ve been done with the moon unit for a few weeks now.  Just found all the pics.  

At the beginning of elementary school year, a study on time is warranted, as you need to have the concept of time in order to study history.  In Montessori, the passage of time can be experienced in different ways in addition to learning how to tell time, which the kids both learned last year.

This year, I thought we would experience the passage of time by studying the moon.  This will kill two birds with one stone.  Astroboy will be learning the names of the phases of the moon as well.

We did this all in August and September.  Though the kids interest waned after a bit half way through, I’m still glad at least Astroboy now can tell me what waxing crescent is in Chinese.

Activity #1: Moon log

Rather than starting with learning the nomenclature, I thought we would start by keeping a moon log.  Partly because when I was researching the names of the moon, it was never as simple as the abstract pictures I saw on paper.   This would also give Astroboy a sense of the passage of time.

IMG_6732 copy

The moon log for Thumper included direction so that she can see that the moon travels if she observes the moon nightly.  It isn’t a requirement though because I wanted them to see that sometimes the moon comes out in the morning.

Though it would have pleased me to no end if both kids remember to look for the moon every night, it doesn’t happen.  Thankfully I’ve gone through this once 2 years ago and now I just remind them and don’t get mad about it.  However, they do marvel at the moon whenever they do happen to catch a glimpse.


Elementary Nomenclature cards

After 2 days of looking through the 3000 characters, I decided to switch course and start on my solar system nomenclature cards.   I just kept thinking that we ought to be learning nomenclature through actual learning of knowledge rather than reading.  But, I do know exactly how I am going to choose the next 100 words.  I just need to actually choose them and then make up sentences.

I’ve been torn about nomenclature.  Many teachers tell me their kids don’t actually like doing them past 1st grade.  But it IS the thing made most often and sold online.  It’s easy to make and concrete.  But I want those concrete use of vocabulary.  Also, why make cards if the kids can just get their information in little books I find for them?  But recently I’ve been going on and on about the importance of using your hands to learn.  And nomenclature cards will do that since the kids are moving cards around to match.

Nomenclature cards?

In primary, nomenclature cards are also called 3-part cards.  There is the control-of-error card, which has a picture and then the word.  That card is “cut” up into 2 cards so the kids can match it to the master card.  The kids are not expected to read the words, it’s a matching game.

In elementary, this gets extended into an additional card which has the definitions of the words.  Before the child can read, the teacher reads the definitions during the presentation.  There is also the master booklet, which again provides a control of error.  It is how you don’t have to do the activity with the child after presentation.  They check to see if they match things right themselves.  If they can read, they can now do this matching.  It is supposedly also what you do first, reading the booklet with the child. But in training, they have never presented it this way to us.  So I’m not sure.

One thing I realized in thinking about nomenclature cards again is how short the information is.  It’s not there to teach everything.  It’s there to invoke the child’s interest in said subject so that they want to learn more and research it themselves.  On top of that, because the information is short, it is easier for the lower elementary child to read.  They don’t necessarily have to find all that information in a huge encyclopedia.  I know for sure Thumper hates that, reading tiny fonts in books.  That’s yet another reason I decided to go ahead with making these cards.

Apparently a second level of difficulty for elementary children is to cut up these sentences.  I guess it is a good grammar exercise and makes you think about what you’re reading.  We’re not there yet.

Solar System Cards

When I was making cards for my school, I railed against bilingual cards.  If a child is stronger in English, then they will cheat by reading the English when matching.  However, in presenting at home, I realized that I had a problem now,  I don’t know the words in Chinese!  I couldn’t present them myself when we get to the definition part.

So here’s my version, which will allow both Elementary and Primary to use since I’m way too lazy to make a second set for Astroboy.

Primary Nomenclature

Primary Nomenclature
Primary Nomenclature

The primary nomenclature will have:

  1. Master card,
  2. Picture
  3. Label, Chinese only
  4. Optional English label in cursive (I didn’t take a pic of that)

I could have made a master card that has both cursive English and Chinese in it but that is just way too many versions to keep track of.  It would also be confusing in the classroom for us.

Elementary Nomenclature

The elementary nomenclature will have:

Elementary Nomenclature
Elementary Nomenclature
  1. Booklet with master card and master definition.  The master card is bilingual.
  2. Picture
  3. Label, Chinese only
  4. Label, English in print
  5. Definition, Chinese only, with zhuyin
  6. Definition, Chinese only, label word missing, with zhuyin (no picture)

For elementary, given that Thumper is bilingual, I added the English into the booklet.  But I didn’t put them together in the label part because I wanted her to think about the translation other than just read them together in one label card.  I also added the a second definition card, with the main vocabulary word missing so they can guess.  Again something I’m not seeing in ETC Montessori or Montessori Research and Development.  But I saw it in training.  It’s a good way to really make the kids recall their knowledge.  This can be used in lieu of the definition card with the vocabulary word written in.  It could be the higher level of difficulty.

I accidentally printed my cards out before I made one more change.  When I visited a school in Taiwan, I saw how the teachers were making cards where the zhuyin is selective.  They told me that the children were using zhuyin as a crutch.  I plan to make all the first 500 Sagebook words to be without zhuyin.  And if I can figure it out, actually make the zhuyin go left to right instead of top to bottom.  This helps the eyes track when they read.

I’m theorizing that having to read the cards carefully, and having to think while she matches, having to use her hands while learning, Thumper will really learn her solar systems.  When she did her glue and paste of the solar system chart 2 weeks ago for fun, she didn’t recognize her planets anymore even though I know she learned it in primary.

But for now, these cards will do. Spent all morning cutting.  Now off to laminate!