Barefoot in Suburbia

Homeschooling & Special Needs, Inspired by the Montessori Way

Tot School Tuesday August 31, 2010

Tot School

Bitty Bug is 19.5 months old

Since Monkey started her official homeschooling this past week, Bitty Bug got to join in.  She loves joining in Monkey’s work time!  Even though I have specific shelves set up for Bug, she doesn’t limit herself to those shelves.  In fact, she almost always chooses to work on something I’ve set out for Monkey.  One of the interesting things is that I’ve noticed she will put her own spin on the work, making it more age appropriate for a 1 1/2 year old.  It’s interesting to watch her adapt the work herself!

Bug did several things with the shells and bowls. Here, she is pouring them from one dish to another. She also would take them one by one, inspect them, and transfer them to the other dish.

Bug is more than excited about the life cycle of a butterfly figures. She didn't quite know what to do with them, but she knew what the caterpillar and butterfly were, since we have those living in the butterfly pavillion in the kitchen. She also loved just touching and exploring the different textures. **Warning: Obviously, that egg is small and round. I was standing within a foot of Bug when she was using this, watching her very carefully. Please use your discretion when allowing children under 3 to explore small objects. *

I found a bunch of wallets at a consignment store for $1 each, so I picked out a few of them. One had a zipper, one velcro, one a buckle, and one a clasp. She loved trying to open and close each one of them.

Here, Bug is spooning the rubber pom poms into the small cups.

Bug really *really* wanted to do the pouring activity. As you can see, the first time she tried, was not a success. But, she was really surprised to see all of the rice fall out when she tried. We cleaned it up and she tried it again, and each time she spilled less and less!


Montessori Monday: 1st week of school! August 30, 2010

Monkey is 3 years 6 months old

While we’ve been doing some work in the Montessori room all summer, this week was our first official week.  Before this week, we were sort of testing the waters, allowing Monkey to use the basic materials in order to get her used to her new school room. 

The first week went fairly well.  Monkey stayed in the room for about 2 hours each day (before getting distracted and deciding she was done).  Unfortunately, Monkey knows the train table is right outside the school room, so she decides that she’s done with school and wants to play with the trains instead.  But for the most part, Monkey has been doing really well exploring the new work.

For zoology, Monkey just did the concrete introduction where she learned that there are 4 characteristics of animals: they need to eat, they need to drink, they need to breathe, and they need to reproduce.

In Practical Life, there was a colored rice pouring activity. Monkey did really well, and after the first time, she rarely ever spilled any!

She matched the blocks of the pink tower to the blocks on the paper.

Also in Practical Life, I put out a spooning work--here, she's spooning rubber pom poms into various cups.

For the whole hand part of Practical Life, Monkey transferred sea shells between dishes.

Monkey did a sweeping work, where she swept cloth leaves off the table into the dustpan

For botany, it was another concrete introduction presentation where she learned that plants need dirt, water, and air to live, and they reproduce with seeds. Of course, Monkey decided to mix all of it together to see if she could grow a plant too!

She did a sticker matching work, where she matched the stickers on the control card to the stickers on the small cards. The stickers differed in shape and color.

Monkey really enjoyed the things out for the butterfly life cycle. She was able to match the figures to the colored pictures, as well as figure out which stage our caterpillars were currently in.

This shape matching activity is a Melissa & Doug toy that she really enjoys playing with

For the Cubes & Cards activity, monkey matched foam cubes to the corresponding color on the paper. She did a really good job at matching all of the cubes!

Here she is, still working with the lifecycle of a butterfly figures. This time she's matching them to the uncolored sheets.

Monkey is assembling a flashlight while Bug is working with the lifecycle figures


What My Children are Reading this Week August 29, 2010

Filed under: Reading — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 9:02 pm

I’ve been forgetting to update the What My Child is Reading post for the past few weeks…hopefully I can get a bit better at that one!  Anyhow, here are a few of the books the kids are reading this week…

A Yoga Parade of Animals: A first fun picture book of yoga by Pauline Mainland

This book is a fantastic introduction to yoga for younger children.  Each pose is compared to an animal, which is pictured next to the picture of a child doing the pose.  There is also a detailed explaination of how to do each pose and the benefits of the pose.


Apples, Apples! by Salina Yoon

This board book is a good introduction to Autum for Bitty Bug, who really loves to point out the apples in any book or magazine she gets ahold of!  The book starts with a little girl picking apples off a tree, and then shows the apples being used in recipes by the girl and her friends.


In this book, as well as in the other books in the Pigeon series, the pigeon is having a conversation with the reader on every page.  In this book, Pigeon wants a puppy, and promises to take care of him.  But, his puppy might have been a big more than he bargained for.  This book is wonderful for kids who “just *have* to have a pet!” but may not quite be ready to care for the pet yet.


We love the Scaredy Squirrel series here!  I’m pretty sure that deep down inside, they are actually trying to portray Asperger’s Syndrome in Scaredy.  And if not, well, Melanie Watt must have taken a peek inside our life with Jedi (and even with Monkey).  We’ve read several books in this series, including Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend.  In this book, Scaredy would rather do anything than make a friend.  Making friends is a terrifying thought to him and he needs to be fully prepared in order to even leave his house to attempt to make a friend.  He’s prepared for the worst to happen, as he always is.  Instead of his worst fear coming true though, Scaredy is pleasantly surprised!


This book is a wonderfully heartwarming story about a little piglet who has done something to upset her father.  The little piglet is distressed that his father won’t love him anymore because of his mistake.  Piglet and Papa helps kids to understand that a parent never stops loving you just because you’re not perfect!


There Was a Coyote who Swallowed a Flea by Jennifer Ward

This book is a spin on There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly.  In this variation, a southwestern theme is introduced, with the Coyote swallowing everything from a bull to a cactus in an attempt to rid himself of the eaten flea.


Never, EVER Shout in a Zoo by Karma Wilson

This book is a comedy about a zoo gone crazy after a little girl shouts while visiting the zoo.  Little by little, one thing leads to another and the zoo becomes quite chaotic, all because of one little shout.  In the end, the little girl is in a predicament due to her shouting, and the only way out is to shout again!


Leaves! Leaves! Leaves! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

This book takes two little bears on a yearlong nature study about leaves.  The bears get to see how a leaf changes during every season.  From the first bud to the winter rotting of leaves, the baby bear gets to see the entire life cycle of a leaf, and also gets to see how the entire circle starts again once the leaf composts during the winter.  There is also a chart at the end of the book about the different types of leaves.


Outdoor Hour Challenge…Grasshoppers August 27, 2010

Filed under: Exploring Nature — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 9:35 am
Tags: , , , ,

This week, we got up close and personal with grasshoppers.  Actually, maybe they got up close and personal with us–it seemed like everywhere we turned this week, there were a few hopping around us.  Every evening, we’d always find a bunch of smaller grasshoppers on our front porch–they were always about an inch in length, grass green, with a red patch on the back legs.

But then we’d also get these big ones…

We were driving the other day and this not-so-little guy hitched a ride on our car. He rode on our windshield until we could pull over and study him!

He was a big one too...about 3" long. And apparently pretty good at holding on to the windshield of a moving car! The kids all loved watching him, until he hopped away--straight onto a windshield of another parked car!

This was another 2 1/2-3" long grasshopper I found while I was weeding the garden. He let us hold him on a blade of grass for his photo session...

Once we were done, we let him down. At first, he only hopped about 12" away. But then we watched him leap about 10" at a time! It's amazing how far something with such tiny legs can jump!


And not grasshopper related, but an update on our butterflies!

Earlier this week, the caterpillars formed their chrysalids. As of this morning, a couple of them had turned dark black, which means they will be emerging within the next 24 hours!


Tot School Tuesday: Cooking with Tots August 24, 2010

Filed under: Toddler learning — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 7:34 am
Tags: , , ,

Tot School

Bitty Bug is 19 months old

It never fails that the second I go into the kitchen to cook a meal, at least one child will be hopping up on the counter to help/ask for a snack/etc.  Bug’s really been getting in on the action lately, since she’s become proficient at climbing up the Learning Tower.  She usually always wants to help…and not just some fake help (I used to just give her a bowl with flour and water and had her mix it, even if I wasn’t using flour or water that day).  Now she wants to *really* help.  She notices now if you didn’t use what she “cooked” for the meal. 😉

This week, I was making some sauteed red potato slices with herbs, and it’s amazing how much of the process can be done by a toddler!  Sure, it takes longer (*cough* a lot longer….), but actually, it worked out well…she kept busy and I could prepare the rest of the meal without having to stop every 5 seconds because she wanted to be picked up/wanted to empty every cabinet in the kitchen/wanted to have a snack/etc.

The first thing I had her do was wash the potatoes. I did the same set up I did a couple weeks back, giving her a bowl of potatoes, a bowl of water, a scrub brush, and a towel. She washed the entire bowl of potatoes herself!

Next, I did the chopping…Bug is not quite ready for chopping potatoes yet. 😉

Next, I gave Bug a pan and the cutting board full of potatoes. She put each potato clice in the pan (after examining each slice. LOL!)

I measured out some Earth Balance and some herbs and put them in cups for Bug. She then dumped each of the cups into the pan with the potato slices.

Finally, Bug stirred everything up so that I could put the pan on the stove and finish the process.

Bug *loved* helping make the potatoes (and ate every last slice on her plate afterwards. 😀 )  There were a lot of hidden learning items in just the simple exercise of letting a child cook with you…we counted the potatoes, Bug had to follow a process when she was washing the potatoes, she did transferring with a whole hand when she moved the potatoes to the various bowls, she used the pincher grasp for moving the slices to the pan, wrist turning with scrubbing, stirring, and dry pouring.  She also learned a little bit of independence and a whole lot of pride. 

And a random picture of Bug observing the caterpillars…

Watching the caterpillars climb up the side of the dish.


Montessori Monday–Our homeschool room! August 22, 2010

Filed under: Preschool — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 9:21 pm
Tags: ,

Monkey officially starts her homeschooling on Wednesday, so for this post, I wanted to share our (almost) finished Montessori room.  When we built our house earlier this year, we finished the basement, with the intent on using a quarter of the finished basement as a homeschooling room.  The space worked out wonderfully and it is exactly what we needed!  We can easily fit our three children in there and they work fairly harmonously, and we can likely fit 1-2 guest children as well (we have a few friends that also want to homeschool using Montessori ideas, and so we’d love to have them over to work too!)

The shelves are still bare because I need to get some things made and ready to be presented this week.  I don’t want to have them out tonight or they will likely end up on the floor by Wednesday…we have a toddler tornado that comes through here every now and then. 😉

Looking into the room from part of the play area. We started with just one table, but some of the work required more room, so we added a second table so that both girls (or one girl and Jedi when he's home from school) can work

The bead cabinet, red & blue rods, music cabinet, the calender, and the art work. The art was surprisingly inexpensive--a cheap wooden frame, construction paper mat, and postcards from our Art Museum. Each postcard has a different piece of artwork on it--I bought some extras so we can rotate the artwork out.

The sensorial and practical life shelves. Because we're working with a lot of material in a smallish space, we have to maximize storage. While I'd love to have some small kid friendly wooden shelves, we needed to be able to store what's not being used. So, the kids can use the work on the bottom two shelves, and the top two shelves are storage.

The flags of the world poster, rug basket, science shelf, language shelf, and math shelf

The little table peeking out on the side is our sensory bin. The white cabinet holds puzzles, supplies, and some of the work Monkey likely won't be working with this year.

The toddler work area

The presidents timeline poster, geography & culture shelf, and a random thematic shelf.

Close-up of the random shelf. I haven't quite figured out what to put here yet, so for now, it's for random thematic things. I have the life cyle of a butterfly, insect book, and a butterfly puzzle, since Monkey's currently enjoying raising our caterpillars

The map puzzles, globes, and culture boxes. I also have a bookshelf there--I still have to add some books to it.

And a birds eye view of the room.

And as promised, the picture from earlier in the week when Jedi & Monkey adapted Bug’s seashell work….

Jedi turned this into an abacus and was teaching Monkey how to add with it! Very creative adaptation!


Field trip Friday, part 3 of 3 August 20, 2010

Filed under: Field trips — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 2:20 pm
The third trip this week was to the Slate Run Living Historic Farm at the Slate Run metropark. The farm is still completely functional and operates very similar to how it did over 100 years ago.  There is no running water or electricity on the farm, and it still raises animals and crops. Several times a year, they open the farm to children and allows them to assist with the farm chores to learn how children did their chores in 1880.

The kids shelling beans for the farmers to use in soup during the winter

Beating rugs with brooms

Washing laundry in the tub

Wringing the water out of the clothes

The root cellar

The woods next to the farm

A little farm inhabitant

A bunch of ducks

Combing the broom corn so that the farmers can make brooms out of it

Monkey taking leaves off the stalk to feed the cattle

Both kids gathering leaves for the cattle


One of the cows

The two month old bull calf

The horse

Getting the kernals off the dried corn so they can grind the corn

Pumping water

Helping the farmer make rope

The pig that the kids fed rotten apples and corn cobs to

Bug feeding a pig


The water the kids were pumping

Pumping more water


Bug decided that *this* was her favorite farm chore. 😉


Field trip Friday, part 2 of 3

Filed under: Field trips — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 1:54 pm
The second trip we went on this week was to the Natural Play Area at the Highbanks Metropark.  The Columbus metropark system created natural play areas as a way to expose children to the natural play that used to happen years ago, where kids were allowed to run through the woods, dig, climb trees, catch butterflies, and wade through streams & rivers.  We decided to go with some friends (from The Attached Mama blog: ).  It was a fantastic time!  Climbing trees wasn’t exactly on the menu this time (there was poison ivy that was taller than my children!) but we did play in the fields and then hiked through the woods down to the river for some creeking. 
What a fantastic resource for Central Ohioans!  Actually, the entire metropark system is.  So those of you in the area, take advantage of it–you already paid for it with your taxes!  (Well, maybe I didn’t…we don’t live in the same county as the parks.  But, I would have! 😉 )

Catching butterflies in the field

A huge burr I found by the trail

The entire crew running down the trail through the woods

And into the river they went! It didn't take them long to figure out how to get down to the water. 🙂

Even Bitty Bug was climbing rocks and looking for animals in the water!

Jedi caught a whole lot of these little water bugs

C**** and S***** wading through the river

I caught this cool crawfish. All of the kids loved looking at it!

The girls watching the crawfish swim in the little container

Minnows Jedi caught. He was so excited that he caught a bunch all at once!

Jedi and Bug taking a break

All three of my cuties after a morning of hiking


Field Trip Friday…part 1 of 3

Filed under: Field trips — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 1:40 pm

This week was a busy week of field trips, so I decided to just save them all for a Field Trip Friday post.  This week, we hit the Columbus Museum of Art, the Natural Play Area at the Highbanks Metropark, and the Slate Run Living Historic Farm at the Slate Run Metropark.  I’ll post each in it’s own separate post since there are quite a few pictures.

Part one is a brief recap of our trip to the Columbus Museum of Art.  The museum is undergoing major rennovations, so the majority of it is shut down.  During the rennovations, the museum is highlighting one collection at a time.  It also has free admission during most of the summer.  So we decided to take advantage of the opportunity to visit the museum for free, while not having the job of tackling a large art museum with 3 small kids. 

It turned out to be a great introduction to art museums for the kids.  The museum was featuring a collection of animal-related art, which is perfect for us!

Heading up to the creativity district in Columbus

Looking at one of the pieces, and then trying to put together the jigsaw puzzle of the art piece

Working on the puzzle

Jedi putting on a puppet show at the museum

Bug drawing in the children's area

The kids listening to information on the art pieces

My three little ones!

Jedi & Monkey

And Monkey & Bug relaxing at home after the trip


Camp pictures part 2 August 18, 2010

Filed under: Exploring Nature,Family updates,Field trips — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 7:22 am

Beautiful sunset

Roasting marshmellows and hot dogs

Bug, really enjoying camp food (they had grilled veggies and chicken right before this, so we packed in the vitamins before this part. But really, they just liked this part. LOL!)

The little guy that was crawling on our tent the next morning

The minnows swimming around

Bug collecting rocks on an early morning walk

Jedi, all excited about the "fuzzy rock" (moss on the boulder)

Some seeds in the pine tree

Monkey and Jedi playing with the caterpillar

Bug, deciding to swim on her early morning walk...still in her PJs!

Monkey, looking at the trees

Hiking through the woods

Deer tracks!

Some cool seed pods

And on a completely different note…friends and family know about our other son, but visitors might not.  Almost 5 years ago, our second oldest child passed away (September 7th, 2005).  Each year around his birthday, we raise some caterpillars (painted lady butterflies) and release the butterflies on his birthday.  Right after we got home from camping, the caterpillars had arrived in our mailbox!

The caterpillars on day 1


Another view of the caterpillars