Barefoot in Suburbia

Homeschooling & Special Needs, Inspired by the Montessori Way

FIAR: The Story About Ping June 21, 2012

Filed under: Kindergarten — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 9:58 am
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Last week, Monkey worked on The Story About Ping as part of the Five in a Row curriculum.  Truth be told, this was never one of my favorite children’s books.  The whole idea of a story where ducks get spanked being last (because there will always be one that is last!) never really sat well with me.  But, the unit ended up being a really fun one.

Monkey looked through this book on China, where the story took place.


Monkey also used chopsticks to transfer pom poms from one bowl to the other.


We discussed the technique the illustrator used in the book to draw the pictures. Then Monkey used similar techniques to color her own illustration from Ping.


We lined up a block for each of pings mother, father, 2 sisters, 3 brothers, 42 cousins, and himself. There were a LOT of ducks that lived in Ping’s boat!


We studied buoyancy by finding out what objects would sink and what objects would float.


Monkey working on sink vs. float


Monkey wanted to make a boat as well, so we took an empty milk carton and made a boat.


We also went camping this weekend and found some ducks to feed…the kids were still in their pjs when we found the ducks, but they still had a lot of fun feeding them!


Feeding the ducks early in the morning.



Week 2 in review

Filed under: In the kitchen,Kindergarten,Lower Elementary,Preschool — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 9:22 am

Monkey has been working on decoding simple 3 letter words using All About Reading. Here, she’s making some rhyming ice cream cones with the new words she was learning.

Monkey continued to work on learning a new capital letter each day. When I asked her how she wanted to do her letter of the day sheet, she chose finger painting.

In history, Jedi made some whole grain porridge, based on a medieval Roman recipe.  This was his first time using the stove, and he really enjoyed it.  Now he insists he wants to cook all the time!

Bug decided to do some flower arranging all on her own. She picked some white flowers out of my flower garden, and then picked the orange flowers out of her own garden bed. Then she asked to make a centerpiece for the table, so I gave her a glass of water to arrange the flowers in. Now every day she picks new flowers and arranges them!

In health, we talked about the brain. First the kids learned some basic anatomy of the brain. Then they did a couple exercises to show how the brain works. They tried to identify objects from a mystery bag to show how the brain helps us use our senses. Here, Jedi’s attempting to brush his teeth left handed to show how the brain’s signals are different from the dominant side and the non-dominant side of the body.

One of the projects they did in art was to listen to music and move their colored pencils on the paper according to the movement of the music. Jedi chose the Star Wars theme song and needless to say, the drawings were very animated!

In math, Monkey was learning how to make 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 by adding 1-5 to 5 (so for example, 6 is 5 and 1, 7 is 5 and 2, etc.). We used the bead bars to illustrate the concept.

Unbelievably, Bug *loves* worksheets. Here she’s matching rhyming words.

Bug really loves working with her tools too! She uses the bolt boards almost every day. She’s finally able to tighten and losen the bolts now.

Bug is practicing the pincher grasp by putting clothespins on the side of the basket.

In science, Jedi learned about arthropods and insects. Here, he’s using the hand lens to observe the differences in the bodies of various insects in acrylic.


Results of the germs experiment! June 14, 2012

Filed under: Kindergarten,Lower Elementary,Preschool — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 6:43 pm

I posted Monday that we were culturing germs on petri dishes as part of our FIAR unit on Madeline.  The results are in!

All 4 of our petri dishes, about 4 days after we cultured them.

Starting on the top row–this one is the foot one. The cleanest quadrant was Monkey’s on the top, then next to it is mine, on the bottom quadrant is Jedi (who had the most colorful germs), and then Bug’s (she was on antibiotics at the time, so I’m surprised she had many at all. 🙂 )

The other top row culture is antibacterial cream vs none–as you can see, there are a couple colonies in the “dirty” side and the antibiotic side is clear.

Directly underneath that dish is the toothpaste vs no toothpaste dish–you can see a ton of little white circular colonies on the side without toothpaste, and the side with toothpaste is clear (you can see the white streaks of toothpaste though. FWIW, it’s Dora the Explorer Colgate toothpaste. 🙂 It apparently kills germs. )

The last dish is the one we had the kids touch the sample on one side before washing their hands and again after washing with soap. It looks like we need to work on their handwashing skills because both sides had quite a few colonies on them.


Geography–USA June 13, 2012

Last week, we began our North America continent study.  We decided to start with the United States, since clearly that would be a familiar topic for the kids. 😉  As part of our study, the kids planned an entire meal with foods common in the United States, and then they had to help prepare that meal.

Bug and Monkey chopping vegetables and preparing the salad.


Jedi flipping the corn on the cob & hamburgers on the grill.


The meal they chose–hamburgers, pickles, corn on the cob, applesauce, and vegetable salad.


And of course, one mustn’t forget dessert! Jedi chose to make Boston Cream Pie since he was born in Massachusetts. He did a really good job and only needed a little help!


The final result of Jedi’s cake baking! Not bad for 8 years old and only having minimal help! It was delicious…I think this kid has a future in the kitchen. 🙂



FIAR: Madeline

Filed under: In the kitchen,Kindergarten — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 10:35 am
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This week, Monkey began using the curriculum Five in a Row.  We wanted to start with a familiar story (and, honestly, I waited too long to reserve Ping…I ended up trapped in the library’s waiting list for a couple weeks! LOL!)  So, we started with Madeline, and Monkey really enjoyed it (Bug did too…she ended up sitting in on Monkey’s lessons because she loves the story so much!).

We ended up doing most of the activities in the FIAR manual, but obviously I couldn’t take pictures of them all since a lot of it was verbal.  Here are a few pictures I was able to take from the unit though!

I found a copy of a coloring sheet of Madeline and her schoolmates. I printed it out, and Monkey colored all of the friends before cutting them out. Then she used them to practice her addition facts.

We also learned about ways to divide 12. The author divides the 12 little girls into 2 straight lines. We worked on what it would look like if there were 3, 4, and 6 straight lines.

The girls in Madeline also broke their bread every night. Bug and Monkey decided to make their own bread. Here, Monkey is cutting zucchini for zucchini bread.

Mixing the bread dough.

The final product–mini zucchini applesauce loaves.

At the end of the book, Miss Clavel says “Thank the Lord you are well”. We talked about germs and ways we can stay healthy. To reinforce the concept of germs, we took 4 agar-prepped petri dishes. In the first one, we touched half with our hands, and then touched it again after using soap to wash our hands. In the next dish, we swabbed the inside of our mouths and spread it all over the petri dish. Then in half, we spread some toothpaste to see if toothpaste kills germs in the mouth. The third dish, we swabbed our skin and put it all over the petri dish. Then in half, we used antibacterial cream. In the 4th dish, we split the dish into 4 parts. Each of us swabbed our feet and swiped the swab into one of the 4 quadrants to see which person has the germiest feet. 😉 Stay tuned a couple days until we find out the results (we have to let the dishes culture!)


First week, in review

Last week was our first week back into the schoolroom.  The kids all transitioned back into the homeschooling routine really easily…thank goodness for shorter (but more frequent!) breaks than the traditional school year.  There was no summer brain drain, no problems getting them to do their work, etc.

Monkey was very excited to get started, as it was going to be her first day of kindergarten!  Although, by the end of the first day, she was very disappointed that she did not learn to read full out chapter books on the first day…she only learned 4 words. 😉

Here are some pictures from the kids’ first week.  This year, I’ll probably just try to combine a sample from all three kids into the same post.  Occasionally, I’ll pull out one specific project and do a more in-depth post later on in the week.  I will probably separate out the Five in a Row stuff too, just so that all of the books have their projects in one area.  I just learned last year that it was too difficult keeping up with a weekly post about each child’s work.

The day before we started schooling for the year, I gave Jedi a project that would require him to think. He does really well after focusing on a project, like a big lego kit. I think that kind of concentration really helps clear his mind and regulate his body and mind. Since his latest obsession is Titanic, I got him a model of the ship to put together.


He did really well! It took him just over a day, and he put it together with very little adult help!


Bug working on a “parts of an insect” puzzle.


The three kids worked on “texture painting”. Because we were also studying the United States in geography, I gave them red and blue paint. The red paint had kosher salt mixed in and the blue paint had gold glitter mixed in!


Monkey working on her first 4 reading words. She’s matching the words with the pictures.


Bug with her drawing of me. 🙂 If you look really closely, she also independently wrote (and spelled!) “mom”!


Bug looking at the insects in acrylic


Bug working on the pink tower.


In science, Monkey’s working on classifying and using senses to make observations. Here, she was sorting pictures of beans from biggest to smallest.


Bug, proud of her pink tower!


Jedi working on a texture collage….using found materials and scraps to create a collage or picture.


Bug and Monkey trying to figure out how many number rods tall they are. 🙂 Monkey is the tallest plus the smallest rod tall. Bug is the 2nd to the tallest rod tall.


Arranging the number rods longest to shortest.


Bug using various magnets to pick up iron filings and little iron pellets.


Each of the kids asked for garden beds this year so that they could garden along with me. So, I built each of the three kids a raised bed garden. They chose what to put in the gardens (they also mixed the various soil components). Bug’s here watering her garden!


Monkey using popsicle sticks to create triangles and quadrilaterals.


Bug looking at insect x-rays on her light table.


Later this week, I’ll have a post up for Monkey’s first week using Five in a Row.  I’ll also have a geography post up.



Combustion & Volcanoes…AKA: Last day of school! April 27, 2012

Filed under: Lower Elementary — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 11:20 am
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Today was our last official day of school for the 2011-2012 school year!  True to our family and style of homeschooling, we thought it best to explode stuff and start other things on fire. 😉

Jedi was learning about Pompeii in history the past week.  He read about it in his history book and watched a documentary on it.  So, to celebrate the last day of school, we decided to use a city lego minifigures and erupt a volcano, of course!

Jedi with his city of minifigures. There is an antacid tablet, some baking soda, and some dish soap in the chambers behind the volcano. In his hands is a measuring cup with white vinegar and red food coloring.


Poor minifigures.... 😉


We also had to finish up the last of our chemistry today…the lesson on combustion!  Now, Jedi is sort of the Mr. Krabs of the household…he loves money a lot.  He even has to pick up every penny he finds.  He was a little stressed out when I told him I was going to start some money on fire.  He was willing to try it because it was my own money and not his own. 😉

I filled a dish with 1/2 cup of 91% rubbing alcohol, 1/2 cup of water, and 1/4 tsp of salt.  Then I dropped the bills in the dish for about 5 minutes to soak.  During that time, I went to wash my hands (it’s VERY important that there is no trace of rubbing alcohol on your hands for this!)

After the soaking, I picked up the bills with metal tongs and lit it on fire!

Money on fire!


Jedi was very relieved to learn the following:

-Alcohol burns very fast–a couple seconds and it was over.

-The alcohol burns faster than the water evaporates, so the bill stays wet and safe.

-The bill is not paper–it’s cotton.  Therefore, the bill does not get damaged in the experiment.


And with that, Jedi now moves up to 3rd grade, Monkey moves up to kindergarten, and Bitty Bug moves up to preschool.  We’re taking all of May off school, and we’ll be back in the school room the first week of June!



Health curriculum April 24, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 9:41 am

After a lot of searching, I finally came across a health curriculum I want to use with the kids too.  As most of you know, our family has a lot of food allergies, requiring us to avoid a lot of mainstream food options.  We’ve also gone a bit further and cut out a lot of processed foods (except for, of course, peeps at Easter.  Those I can’t give up. LOL!).  We try to eat clean about 80% of the time.  Today I saw an ad for Nutrition 101: Choose Life! in a homeschool mailer and I’m pretty sure I’m ordering it for the kids.  It focuses on each of the body’s symptoms and the nutrients needed to help those systems work.  There appear to be a lot of hands-on activities aimed at getting kids to want to eat healthy.  They are anti-processed foods and pro-Omega 3’s and clean eating!  There is also quite a bit on the importance of de-stressing, exercise, and sleeping.  I look forward to actually getting it into my hands and see if it’s really as great as it looks!

So, I wanted to pass the info on to anyone else who is looking for a more clean eating slant on their health curriculum for the year:

Nutrition 101


2012-2013 Curriculum Choices! April 21, 2012

Filed under: Kindergarten,Lower Elementary,Preschool — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 8:06 pm

Our 2011-2012 school year is quickly winding down–this coming week is our last full week of school before the kids take a break until the first week of June.  As the year is winding down, I’m starting to gather next year’s curriculum supplies.  Tonight, I finished with the last few choices!  It looks like next year will look like the following:

Preschool–Bitty Bug

-Continue with New Child Montessori .  This is primarily what we used for Monkey, and now Bitty Bug will start 2 years of preschool with it.

All About Reading, Pre-1 (Both Bug and Monkey are currently working through it, so they’ll finish it up this year.)

Art for the Montessori Classroom

-A geography & culture curriculum I’m writing.


Five in a Row

Rightstart Math Level A

-A science curriculum I’m writing that incorporates all of the state standards (I could not find a solid science curriculum appropriate for Jedi and Monkey that had real solid science and a lot of hands-on activities, other than the one Jedi did this past year…and he finished all 3 levels in one year!)

-The above mentioned geography & culture curriculum.

All About Reading–Pre-1 and then Level 1 (once she starts Level 1, she’ll also do All About Spelling Level 1 )

Kindergarten Electives, as we have time for them

Art for the Montessori Classroom

Rosetta Stone, Vietnamese, along with some Vietnamese videos, books, & children’s songs

-Confession of a Homeschooler’s “World’s Greatest Artists

-Some beginning piano

-Confession of a Homeschooler’s “Road Trip USA

Third Grade–Jedi

Rightstart Math Level D

-The above mentioned science curriculum.

-The above mentioned geography & culture curriculum.

All About Spelling Level 3, and working with his intervention specialist

History Odyssey, Level 1 Middle Ages

Voyages in English, 3rd grade

Daily Warm Ups–Language Skills

Electives, as we have time for them

Art for the Montessori Classroom

Rosetta Stone, Vietnamese or Spanish, depending on which one he wants to learn

-Confession of a Homeschooler’s “World’s Greatest Artists

-Some beginning piano

-Confession of a Homeschooler’s “Road Trip USA


The kids will also all continue with their PSR (Catholic religious education) and Homeschool Co-Op classes.  Jedi will continue with Tang Soo Do three times a week and Monkey will be doing pre-competitive gymnastics (as well as Tang Soo Do if she still has time.  She also said she wants to do cheerleading, swimming, and girl scouts.  LOL!!  Not sure she’ll have time for all of that though. 😉 )

We also have some really awesome field trips lined up for next year too!


It sounds like it will be another busy year. 🙂


Almost set back up! April 20, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 9:52 am

I’m still tinkering around with some of the settings, but I’ve almost gotten everything moved back to this site! 🙂  There should be some new posts coming soon!

I added formatting for iPad and mobile devices, so if something’s not working correctly, let me know. 🙂