Thursday, October 21, 2010

Adena Montessori: BUYER BEWARE!

     I Have To Let You Know
Here is my review for my experience so far with Adena Montessori. 
Have you ordered from them?  What was you experience like?  How long ago was that?  
     I am VERY frustrated right now.  I don't usually do this ... and I am hesitant to post this comment but I feel obligated to let other teachers and mothers know about this.  I wanted to warn others about this company before you make the same mistake that I made.  BUYER BEWARE!!!!!!! The very low prices and sale caught my attention.  DO NOT BUY FROM THIS COMPANY! YOU WILL BE HIGHLY DISAPPOINTED WITH THE CUSTOMER SERVICE AND THE PRODUCTS.
     I recently made a purchase (after months of saving up the money) with Adena Montessori on September 24th. They didn't ship out the package until October 9th or 10th after I finally contacted them.  They were very quick to respond to product questions via e-mail to make a sale.  But, when it came to my questions about order status and concerns about my order; their response time took forever or didn't exist.  They were very generic and unsympathetic about my concerns.  One time they said that they just hired new workers.  The next time I spoke with someone they said they did not expect the number of orders that they received and that they were behind in shipping.
     Then, I received the wrong order in the mail on October 15th. I
have sent many e-mails and tried calling several times. They do
not answer their phones very often nor do they respond promptly to messages left or e-mails (usually the mailbox is full ... probably from others complaining about their purchase).  When you finally talk to someone they quickly dismiss your concerns and request that you send a detailed e-mail listing of all the materials you received in your packages instead of taking care of the order right there and then.  They get off the phone with you as quick as they possibly can and NEVER address your concerns thoroughly.  Joe said he would take care of the order on Monday after receiving my list.  Today (Thursday Oct. 21st), I received another message from them requesting that I must photograph the items and weigh the boxes they sent me.  I already listed the items for them and said that I would mail EVERYTHING back to them once/if they mailed me the correct order.  Several items that I did order that were included in the packages were either damaged or incomplete. The number cards on the Seguin boards boards did not fit the slots and the hundred board was scratched due to how they packaged the materials. I also ordered 81 unit beads and received only 50. I did receive 6 items that were NOT on my order. They are procrastinating for some reason.  I am hoping to get this mess straightened out soon.  Today October 21st, I requested a FULL REFUND INCLUDING SHIPPING.  I also asked for shipping labels for the order they sent me since it was their mistake and NOT my order.  But after reading reviews on other websites; I am expecting the worst. I still hope to get a refund!  I have so much going on here at the house and this situation has caused so much stress.  I just want to be done with them.  I want my money back and they get their products.  How hard is that.
     What a waste of precious time that could be spent with my daughter! I know how expensive lawyers can be ... probably more than the actual order.  We need to get this company shut down!  The reviews I read were almost exact to my review.  It seems as if they do the same things over and over to their customers.  Any review I have read that was not on their own website was NOT good.  Please help spread the word so that other mothers and teachers do not get scammed.  If you know anyone that uses Montessori materials at home or in the classroom; they should be aware of this company.  Thank you for your help!  There are better, more expensive companies to purchase from should you decide to use Montessori materials.    

Thanks and sorry I vented my frustrations to you all, Tracey

Friday, October 15, 2010

     Hi everyone!  We are keeping BUSY here, but before I do anything else today I must tell you about a giveaway that I just recently heard about.  There is an absolutely wonderful, positively perfect, very gracious giveaway at the Montessori Print Shop.  
     The giveway is for a Deluxe CD ROM (2 Disc Collection) that includes ALL PDF files ... that's right ALL PDF files listed in the store at that time.  There are other materials included on the CD Rom - go see what else is included in this giveaway.  The value for this giveaway is $589.32! WOW!!!!
     They sell products for a variety of subjects and topics.  So what are you waiting for ... take a break ... head over to the link provided above and check out all of the amazing materials available ... ones that YOU could possibly win.  Go check it out soon because Friday, October 22nd is the last day to submit a comment.  I already submitted mine ... Have you??? 
     What did you say ... you don't teach using the Montessori method ... that's okay ... go check out the products.  I am sure that even if you don't currently use Montessori materials you will be able to put some of the materials to good use in your classroom or at home with your children.  You may even know the perfect person that could use a giveaway like this (besides me of course - LOL).  God Bless You All and GOOD LUCK!!!!
Yours truly, Tracey

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

All About Me Unit (First Week)

WOW TIME FLIES BY.  Alyssa turns three in a month and a half!!

Just Another Apology
Okay ... I never did post my whale unit.  It was too disorganized and broken up over such a long period of time.  Hopefully some day I will have time to organize and post some of the whale ideas.  I just decided to start fresh with this unit which SHOULD HAVE BEEN POSTED ON SUNDAY.  A few of the changes made with  the blogger site slowed things down for me.  Not to mention a little slacking on my part.

I figured every year teachers across the world do an "All About Me" and "Family" unit so why can't we.

Name Recognition (including family names)
Name Books We Read:
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
Tikki Tikki Tembo retold by Arlene Mosel
The Name Jar
My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits
I will post other books we read next week.  Sorry. 

Name Trains
I gave Alyssa index cards with her name and family names written on them.  She would choose a card, count the number of letters in the name, and build the name with snap blocks.  

Name Train Match (Next Day)
Alyssa pulled out a name block made the previous day.  She counted the blocks and matched them to the correct name card.  She even remembered that Uncle Hans name block was blue because it was his favorite color. 

Pocket Chart Name Scramble
I had an activity set-up for Alyssa to do the next day.  She has done this activity before with a cut up sentence strip but I wanted to review with different materials.  She came into the classroom and said, "Mommy you spelled my name wrong." I asked her what she was talking about and she took my hand leading me into my office.  She pointed to the pocket chart with scrambled letters.  I said "How did you know those were the letters in your name."  She chanted out the spelling of her name and I asked her if she could fix it for me.  So she placed the letters in the correct order.  I asked her to tell me how many consonants and vowels were in her name.  She pointed to the vowels, told me the letters, and showed me how many on her fingers.  She did the same thing for the consonants.  She hasn't learned about the tricky "y" yet.

Sorting Names By Number of Letters
I wrote the numbers three through seven on index cards.  Alyssa read and counted the number of letters in each name.  She sorted the name cards by how many letters they had in a pocket chart.  I thought that this activity would take her awhile, but she zipped through it while I talked to her daddy on the phone. 

Family Name Spelling
I bought an extra set of Melissa and Doug uppercase and lowercase letters at Ross.  I wanted her to be able to practice spelling family names with a capital letter first and use lowercase letters for the rest (since we talked about how all proper names begin with a capital letter).  She clipped the name cards on the fridge and spelled the names.  Before beginning the activity, I had her sort all the letters into two boxes: uppercase and lowercase.  

Crayon Name Rubbings
I cut up several pieces of paper while Alyssa pulled the uppercase and lowercase sandpaper letters in her name out of the storage box.  I showed her how to use a paper clip to clip the paper on the sandpaper letter (works fine motor skills at the same time).  She rubbed the side of a crayon along the paper.  She felt it occasionally so that she could feel the letter formation.  After all the letters were completed, we mixed up the letter in her name and she put them in the correct order.  I taught her how to use a Scrapbook Adhesive E-Z Runner Tool since she hates getting glue on her fingers.  She glued the letters of her name in order on black paper.  Then, she sang a name song.  I will probably have her paste her favorite things on the sheet or things she would like for her birthday next month.

Handwriting Without Tears: Letters in Name
She wanted to write her name all by herself, but she had trouble writing the "s" and "y" in her name.  We focused on those two letters for handwriting this week.  We used the Handwriting Without Tears letter sticks to build and trace the letters.  She built them first with the control card and then on the blue mat.  We also traced them using Lakeshore's Tactile Letters (I call them sandpaper letters) and she wrote them in the sand tray.  We also wrote them together on the dry erase board.  Now she is writing them pretty good ... she needs more practice and reminders of proper formation.  Her "y" is sideways, but she still has time to learn.

Name Puzzle
We mixed up the letters in her name and placed them upside-down.  She turned over the letters and put them in the puzzle frame in order as she spelled her name aloud.  Then, we did the name cheer "Give me an A" etc.  I found the in my name, not in my name chart at Hubbard's Cupboard.

Letters in My Name/Not In My Name Chart
We placed her name puzzle on top of the chart.  I gave her flat block alphabet tiles to sort the letters in her name and not in her name.  She did this activity rather quickly.  This was NOT her first time doing this activity, but both times she was able to complete the task in a short amount of time.  Go to Hubbard's Cupboard for a printable to use instead of creating a Venn diagram.

Venn Diagram Letters in my Name Comparison
I used two circle frames I had bought years ago at either Walmart or a craft store. I think it is supposed to be for sewing??  Anyways I have always used them as mini Venn Diagrams.  I also have copper ones.  I modeled this activity for her once.  Then, I gave Alyssa family name cards.  She chose two cards and set up the activity.  She sorted the letters in her name, the family name, both names, and any letters not found in either name went along the bottom of the Venn Diagram.

Clifford Eats Her Name
I placed a magnet on the tip of Clifford's nose as an alphabet review activity.  She attaches letters to his nose, tells me the name of the letter, the sound the letter makes, and a word associated with the letter.  But, before we did that she sorted the letters into two piles: vowels and consonants.  Then, Clifford ate each letter in her name as she spelled it aloud.  She decided to also put the letters in alphabetical order.  She spelled other words too.  I got the idea to put a magnet on Clifford's nose at Pre-K Pages (she got the idea from Dr. Jean).

Tracing Name
About a year ago I found a website that allowed you to type in whatever words you wanted and they made tracing sheets for you.  Still looking for that website ... anyone know what I am talking about.  I typed in Alyssa's name a long time ago, but she was too young for the activity.  I came across the sheet the other day.  Alyssa really enjoyed tracing her name.  It was (I think) the first time she had ever used it before.   

Telephone Number (mom's cell)
Lacing Mom's Cell Phone Number
She already knows my cell phone number by heart, but we still did activities to reinforce it.  The original idea was to make a telephone number bracelet that I saw in a magazine at the doctor's office.  But, I couldn't find the right number beads.  So ... this is what we did instead.  I bought colorful number beads from Hobby Lobby.  I asked Alyssa to sort them by number in her spindle box while I organized the office and her school materials.  As you can see she was multi-tasking.  Her daddy called from New Mexico and wanted to talk to her.  She told him she was too busy to talk.  Daddy was really bummed since he left for a two week trip and wanted to talk to her before heading into an area without reception.  She decided to talk to him on speaker phone as she worked. Then, I asked her to pull out the number beads for my cell phone number and place them in order.  Once she completed that task ... she laced the numbers on a string in order.  Then, she had a conversation with me on a pretend phone. Don't worry that is not my real cell phone number in the last photo (it is just an example).

Telephone Number Graph
I gave her a phone number graph chart from one of my favorite websites.  I will get it for you soon ... I promise.  First she built my cell phone number with number tiles.  She messed up the first time coloring in the numbers on the graph because she didn't have a nap and was very tired.  So, we tried it again the next day after a nap.  She did GREAT!  She colored in each box correctly.  We also used number beads and cut and paste numbers that she glued on with a Q-tip (glue in a bottle lid).  I love how focused she is when writing her name.  She has been working hard this week. She even looked at the first "s"on her name and wrote it correctly the second time. The cut and paste numbers for this activity came from the Do2Learn website.  They also have a telephone and cell phone template to use.  We will be using the cell phone one next week.  

Birthday Making Words
I put the letters to spell the word "birthday" in our pocket chart (all mixed up).  Alyssa's task was to make 5-10 words using the letters in the word.  I knew that she wouldn't figure out the mystery word since it is from a second or third grade kit, so I modeled my thinking aloud as I made the mystery word for her.  She told me how many vowels and consonants were in the word.  Alyssa has already memorized the five basic vowels thanks to a wonderful song from the Kinder conference I attended.  More on that later!

Self and Family Portraits
She drew herself on the board.  Then, she drew her family and her extended family (including a dear friend of mind that attends the same church).  She even wrote mom, dad, and Alyssa on the board.  She asked for help with the "s's and y's" because she was not confident writing them herself at the time.  She also drew and labeled a picture of a cat.

Sight Word "CLAP" game
I wrote sight words on hand die cuts from Dollar Tree.  When she flips over a "CLAP" card she has to sing "If You're Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands."  I think I had 6-7 "clap" cards.  I used the primer list of sight words.  You could also have your child put one or all her earned cards back in the pile (depends on what your purpose is).  We have done it all three ways.  We take turns and she helps me read my cards.  
Other Songs To Use: "Open, Shut Them" or any hand song

Measure Me!
I used yarn to measure different parts of her body and she did the same for me.  I put little sticky tabs on the yarn labeling each body part.  She placed the strings in order from longest to shortest.  Then, I gave her a string (her finger length) and asked her to find and categorize items that were longer than or shorter than her finger.   I probably should have given her the objects first.  This activity was done close to bedtime (without a nap again).  But, I figured each day I would give her either a string to search for items to categorize or I would give her the items to compare and sort.

Learning Link Height   
She connected learning links to match a string showing how tall she was.  She did not like these math manipulatives until now, because they frustrated her.  So, I showed her different ways to carefully (calmly) attach the links to each other.  She started to focus and worked her fine motor skills as she matched the length of the links to her height.  Then, we hung it up on the wall.

Living and Non-Living
First, we discuss the characteristics of living and non-living things.  
Then, we sang an "Are You Living" song.  The song words were found at the Georgia Department of Education website.  I am having trouble finding where exactly I found it.    
Finally, she sorted living and non-living pictures from a CD I bought from Kidsparkz.

Sequencing Lifecycle
She used puzzle pieces to sequence human growth or changes.

Body Parts and Vocabulary Card Pocket Chart Match
First, we did a three-period vocabulary lesson with the cards.  Then,  we used them for a matching activity.  She matched the pictures first and then the words to the control card.  She used a pointer to read aloud the words too.  These cards were from the Montessori Print Shop.    

I printed the bible verse poster "I am wonderfully made." Psalm 139:14 from Preschool Corner.  It was the Cubbies Jumper Bear Hug 6 verse.  First, I read it ... then we read it together ... and finally she read it.  I also wrote the verse on a sentence strip and cut each word apart.  Alyssa put the memory verse words in order by memory.

Poetry or Nursery Rhymes
The rhyme we used was "There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe." First, I read the nursery rhyme ... then we read it together and finally she read it using a pointer and wearing sunglass.
The show and find sequence cards, poem, and idea were found at the Prekinders website.  I recited the rhyme and paused at the appropriate parts.  Alyssa picked up the correct card.
Last of all, she used the same cards to sequence the rhyme as she recited the nursery rhyme.  I hope that made sense.

Spanish and Sign Language
She can now count to ten in Spanish and she knows several body parts in Spanish.  We won a Little Pim Counting DVD from their website and it worked in great with our unit (mentions many body parts).  She watched it several times the first week we received it.  She also continues to review her sign language cards.  I placed a sign language alphabet border cards in binder.  She flips through them and signs the letters.  She even tells me a word that starts with that letter.    

Music and Movement
Hokey Pokey
Heads Shoulder Knees and Toes
If You're Happy and You Know It
More songs to come next week (ran out of time and wanted to post this)

Fine Motor Skills (Needs Improvement Areas)
She used safety scissors to cut Playdoh and paper.  We definitely need to do more of this.  I get so nervous when we do.  I would hate to see her cut herself by accident.  Other fine motor activities were mentioned in previous activities.
Sight Word Phrase Reading
She puts on her glasses and grabs a mini pointer to read phrases in a Mary Kay "flipbook" binder.  I tried to sell Mary Kay almost ten years ago without any success.  I kept certain items just in case.
I saved the mirrors and this presentation binder thing.  I will eventually work on fluency and use a timer with this activity.

Reading With Witch Fingers
I bought witch fingers in the Halloween section of Babies R Us for reading (kind of like the martian fingers they sell to teachers).  This was something new for her and she loved reading with them.  She read MANY books fluently (on her own) this week.  A friend gave her a stack of books written by Margaret Hillert and she read all of them fluently.  The book levels range from 1.2-1.8.  Other books she reads are Bob books, Clifford books, and a bunch of picture books - too many to list.   

She practiced typing sight words and flipped them over to type the sentences.  Then, she started to type the alphabet.  

Frontline Phonics
I purchased this program from an Ebay seller at a reasonable price (mainly for the 53 readers included in the package).  I am currently using the program as a REVIEW for Alyssa until I can purchase something more appropriate for her reading level.  So far it has been too easy for her.  I add in a few short activities to supplement the program.  The workbook was written in so instead of creating new sheets I use ones I find online or I have her point to or place a marker on the item that does NOT start with the sound we are studying.  Below are two pictures of her finding items around the house that start with the /m/ sound.  I wrote each word on an index card for her.  She watched as I wrote them and we talked about letter formation for several words.  I found the tracing sheets online for the lower and uppercase Mm's.  I also enlarged the story from the letter A teaching lesson and asked Alyssa to highlight all the letter A's.  We only reviewed the letters M and A that week.  We will work up to reviewing one per day since it is a new program.  I added in the glasses and pointer to make it a little more fun for her.  I watch her carefully any time she is tracing a sheet so that she uses correct formation.  I don't want to encourage bad habits.      

She pointed to and sang the numbers on the 100's chart.
She loves singing and dancing.  Here is a picture of her making up her own songs to sing. 

Half Price Book Store Deals
All About Spelling Level 1 Teacher Manual (WOW!!!)
Words Their Way (YES!!!)
Month-by-Month Reading and Writing for Kindergarten (Yah!)
Phonemic Awareness in Young Children (Wowsers!)
Senses Primary Unit

Target Deals 
Foam Clock
Flashcards (a variety)
Animal Figurines
Book Bins (primary colored)
Step Stools (Potty, Sink, and Light Access)
Beginning Sound Workbook
Alphabet Pop-Up Animal Cards (not in dollar area, see book area)

Cork Board (fine motor)
Dora Spiral Notebook, spirals (writing and math journals)
Body Part and Senses Puzzles
Five Senses and Season books
Mini Calendar Scrapbook and Number Sticker Pieces

Dollar Tree Deals
Hand Die Cuts
Library Pockets
Sequencing Workbook

Big Lots Deal
Gumball Machine

MORE TO COME NEXT WEEK! (I always plan too much...)
To see more tot school visit Carisa's blog 1+1+1=1 and for preschool ideas visit Jolanthe's Preschool Corner blog.

Thanks for visiting, Tracey