Barefoot in Suburbia

Homeschooling & Special Needs, Inspired by the Montessori Way

Our Halloween Celebration October 31, 2010

Since the kids don’t go trick or treating due to allergies, we always throw them a Halloween party at home, filled with all of the costumes and unhealthy goodness that every child enjoys on Halloween. 😉  This party’s been a couple months in the making…we decided this year to make sure our party was eco-friendly and as healthy as it can be (well, as healthy as a party can be when you’re indulging in chocolate and treats! 😉 ).  All of our decorations had to be made from materials from our recycling bin or be things that either had been reused from previous Halloweens or could be reused for future Halloweens.  And above all, the kids had to have fun, of course!

So, on to the pictures….

Jedi attacking his pumpkin. Apparently he is a little knife happy sometimes. Should I be worried?

Bug getting ready to paint her pumpkin. I think it might be bigger than she is!

Monkey loved her pumpkin and didn't want to carve it. She chose to paint it (but we'll dissect it and take the seeds out to roast in a few days. 😀 )

The girls painting their pumpkins

The painted pumpkins in the back (Monkey's is red, Bug's is blue), then Jedi's pumpkin, my "food chain fishes", and Dave's traditional jack-o-lantern face

Dirt Pudding...homemade coconut milk chocolate pudding with chocolate cookie crumbs and gummy worms. All of our food was dairy/gluten/egg/nut free due to allergies, and free of refined sugars/artificial dyes/artificial flavors due to behavior issues. And as much as possible, we tried to get things made close to home (the produce and meat was)

Chocolate couldrons--chocolate cups with yogurt (plain with fresh squeezed orange juice & orange zest) and a chocolate covered pretzel "stirring stick"

Ghost & Pumpkin chips made of corn tortillas, olive oil, & himilayan sea salt with a pumpkin dip made with one of the poor pumpkins that didn't fare well the night before.

Jack-o-lantern oranges filled with banana slices & orange segments

Faux peanut butter cups made of sunbutter & allergen free chocolate chips

Vampire teeth made of apple slices & broken jagged banana chips

Blood punch, made with an organic super fruit & veggie juice, SoDelicious coconut water sorbet, organic lemon lime soda, & ice cubes made in a jack-o-lantern muffin pan

Worms. Made with an organic beef hot dog & a homemade BBQ sauce

Sloppy Joe Jack-o-Lantern pie

The food spread

Ghost made of cheesecloth

The party room...it's not very often you see a 7 month old house covered in massive spider webs. 😉

The haunted houses the kids painted, and the signs Jedi made

One of Jedi's toilet paper roll bats

The digging pit. A huge bucket filled with sand, fake spiders, and fake skeleton bones

What's Halloween without some candy goodness?

Hunting for the hidden candy

Dr. Claw (Jedi) as the party DJ

Bug & Monkey tossing beanbags into the pumpkin pail

Feeling the items in the mystery box--a bunch of squishy toy snakes & frogs, some fake spiders, ears of corn, etc.

Digging in the pit

Jedi looking for bones blindfolded

 

Take the Green Halloween Pledge! October 28, 2010

Filed under: Saving the Earth — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 7:40 pm
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This year, our family took the Green Halloween pledge.  We made the choice to celebrate Halloween in an eco-friendly way…it’s healthier for us and for our planet!  Some of the things we did this year are:

-All of the costume parts were either handmade and bought from Etsy, bought from our local consignment store, or pieced together from things we had at home.  Plus, some of the components were bought with future use in mind (for example, the girls’ hats for their costume were bought with the intent of also being winter hats!)

-The kids used reusable containers for their trick or treating at the zoo.

-Our pumpkins were bought from a local farm, and most of them are going to be painted instead of carved, so the insides can be used for soups.  The ones that are carved will have the seeds roasted for snacks and the outer part composted.

-The kids are making all of the decorations for our party with things from our recycling bin (pictures to come!)

-The food at the party is all organic, with most of it locally grown.

-The candy we’re giving out to the kids at their party is all organic, free of artificial colors/flavors, preservatives, and refined sugar.

-Any decorations for the party that aren’t made from recycled materials are at least reusable…no paper plates, paper streamers, latex balloons, etc.

What are you doing to Green your Halloween?  Take the Green Halloween pledge here: http://www.holidayleds.com/green_halloween_pledge  (Holiday LEDs is giving away a $150 gift certificate to one lucky pledger!)

 

Just sharing a link… October 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 9:50 am

I came across this link today and I wanted to pass it on.  This has got to be the motherload of free Montessori downloads, and a fantastic resource for collaboration.

http://www.wikisori.org

There are free downloads in every area of a Montessori curriculum and lots of great information!

I hope some of you find the link useful! 😀

 

Tot School–a couple more pictures October 26, 2010

Filed under: Exploring Nature,Toddler learning — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 9:42 am
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I forgot to add a couple of pictures to the last post.  Last week at Monkey’s homeschool co-op, The Bug Lady came in to give a presentation to the older kids.  One of the co-op teachers invited Bug to come see the presentation as well since we were just playing in the nursery.  Now, here’s where she lived up to her blog-name….she *loved* the bugs.  Loved them.  The presenter made me hold a cockroach (yeah.  ew.), and Bitty Bug was all about petting the thing.  I’m pretty sure she would have taken it home as a pet if she would have been allowed to.  And then the tarantula came out, and she got really close to it (I wouldn’t let her pet the tarantula because she’s been known to grab spiders by the legs…I really didn’t want to upset the poor tarantula by having a curious toddler amputate it. 😉 )

And then…the snake came out.  Leave it to Bitty Bug to run right up to the thing and pet it.  Clearly this child has not developed any fear of nature what-s0-ever, which is probably a good thing.  The older kids in the room squealed and shrieked and stepped back a lot, and Bug was more afraid of the other kids shrieking than she was of the actual bugs and snakes. LOL!

She really liked this tarantula. Which means she's officially her brother's sister. Jedi wants a pet tarantula, and I think Bug would very willingly offer to pet-sit it.

Yep, she's petting a snake. She didn't get that trait from me, I can say that with a lot of certainty. 😉 I'm glad she has such a heart for nature though--it is a wonderful trait to have. Even if it means she's constantly bringing me spiders to me with her bare hands. And she does that a lot...

 

Tot School Tuesday

Filed under: Toddler learning — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 6:15 am
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Tot School

Bitty Bug is 21 months old

This week, Bug spent a lot of time soaking up the last of the nice days.  It seems like lately, summer has clashed with winter, with some days near the 80’s and 90’s and days where it was below freezing at night.  Thankfully the nice days have outnumbered the not-so-nice ones because Bug really loves getting outside to ride her plasma car around the neighborhood.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s her *favorite* activity….and she’s pretty fast too.  Of course, she rides it like a ride on toy and not like a plasma car (so she uses her feet for momentum), but she can get around the entire neighborhood pretty quickly!

Another thing Bug is finally getting into is puzzles.  Before this week, she didn’t really want anything to do with puzzles.  She didn’t understand them and didn’t care to try.  But, all of the sudden, this week she began to pull puzzles off the shelves and work with them! 

Working on her shapes puzzle. She was really happy when she finally figured out how the pieces go in (and she loved peeking at the picture of the pizza underneath the triangle!)

She also tried her hand at the butterfly puzzle. It was a bit hard for her, but she did like trying!

Spooning the glass beads

Bug's still loving the sensory bin!

Building a tower of blocks with Monkey

 

Montessori Monday October 24, 2010

Monkey is 3 years 8 months old

This week, we had another batch of new work out.  Monkey is really getting into the geography work now that the sandpaper globe and landform cards are out.  She is also really loving the pre-writing work.  She likes the pin punch work a lot!  She has really good control with the stylus and is so careful making the dots!

Another fun thing we got to do this week is make vanilla extract using fresh vanilla beans!  I poured the liquor into the jars, but both girls had fun putting the beans in the jars, and then shaking the mixture!

A new thing we put out this week is the yoga basket. It has a couple yoga mats in it, as well as some laminated pictures of children doing yoga poses. Monkey will get out 4-6 cards, lay them in a row, and then do the sequence, with a couple deep breaths during each pose.

Using the land form cards and the sandpaper globe

Coloring the world map (the water is colored blue and the land is colored brown). I colored a control card and laminated it so that she had something to make the world self-correcting.

Starting to use the metal insets. She didn't want to sit up at the table to do it though, which is something she should probably work towards doing soon. But for now this was her writing pose of choice.

Monkey really liked working with the spelling toy I put down on the shelves. We've had this one for quite awhile, but it was packed up when we moved, and it took a long time for me to unpack it again! She really enjoyed working with it though, so it will stay out on the shelves for now.

The ingredients for vanilla sugar and vanilla extract (yeah, not sure there are too many homeschoolers that get to work with vodka and rum during lessons. 😉 But, the end product will be really good, I'm sure!

Bug putting the vanilla bean into the jar of sugar.

Shaking the jar.

Putting the beans into the liquor for extract.

More beans going into the jars of liquor.

 

Field Trip: The Pumpkin Patch

Filed under: Family updates,Field trips — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 8:48 pm
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This week, we headed to the pumpkin farm in Ohio so the kids can play at the farm’s playground, run through the corn maze, and of course, pick pumpkins.  The kids had a blast!  It was a pretty chilly day (and of course, today was near 80…go figure!) but perfect weather to be out picking pumpkins!

Some unexpected visitors at the pumpkin farm...

Playing on the airplane teeter totter. Jedi *loved* this thing--he probably spent 2/3 of his time flying the plane. Then again, he also has been saying for months now that he wants to be a pilot....

Jedi, the human hamster....

Monkey running out of the spooky tunnel

Now, what child with autism *doesn't* like to make corn angels? LOL! Seriously, Jedi was all about this. He was laying in it, swimming in it, burrowing through it. I can't say I'm surprised...

Monkey and Bug digging in the corn

Bug driving a train

Sweet little Bitty Bug, heading into the corn maze

Lovin' the swing!

Gorgeous full moon!

Bug used the giant hamster wheel as a slide--her dad would push it, and she'd slide in it. She loved it!

Monkey in front of the pumpkin tree

Picking out her pumpkin

Clearly loving her time at the pumpkin farm!

Attempting to carry a pumpkin that's a bit too big for her.

Whoa, all three kids in one picture, looking in the same direction! A rarity, for sure!

The beautiful sunset we came home to...

 

Outdoor Hour Challenge–Autumn Leaves, plus another safari trip October 20, 2010

Filed under: Exploring Nature,Field trips — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 8:25 am
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This week’s nature study was on autumn leaves.  Of course, if you’re in central Ohio in the middle of October, there is no better nature study than that!  Not only were we able to observe the changing foliage everywhere we went, but it made for a really good trip down to The Wilds, the nature conservation safari we’ve been to multiple times this year.  This visit did not disappoint.  The animals may not have been as active as they were during other parts of the season, but there were quite a few good encounters, and of course, the beautiful scenery that just can’t be found anywhere else!

The leaves are just past peak this week in Ohio, with last week's neon orange and bright reds turning into more muted colors.

The leaves are still a beautiful orange, although some have begun to drop from the trees.

More foliage

 

And all of the rest of the pictures are from The Wilds.  Be warned, there are a lot.  But there are some foliage pictures from The Wilds mixed in, so it counts. 😉

Zebras

A zebra with a background of Ohio autumn foliage...bet you don't see that everyday!

The difference between horns and antlers--horns are permenant and hollow inside, antlers are temporary and solid.

Giraffe at sunset

Some wildflowers

More giraffes

Beautiful autumn leaves

More foliage

Another giraffe

More foliage

Rhino

Little baby rhino

White tailed deer

Gorgeous fall day!

This creepy not-so-little guy was climbing up the side of a building by the carnivore conservation center

Bitty Bug and her daddy

These trees have already dropped most of their leaves

Trumpeter Swan

Bug feeding the catfish

Camels

Autumn in Ohio

Beautiful foliage near the entrance

 

Tot School Tuesday, plus Montessori-To-Go October 18, 2010

Filed under: Toddler learning — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 8:34 pm
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Tot School

Bitty Bug is 21 months old

Poor Bitty Bug hasn’t felt well recently…as you might remember, she has Selective IgA Deficiency, and from October through April, she’s pretty much sick every 2 weeks on the dot.  This week, she had her first illness in quite a while…nothing bad–just a little cold.  However, a cold for her is worse than a cold for most people, and as a result, we haven’t gotten too many pictures of her this week.  She’s still wanting to do her tot school activities, but she just looks too miserable to have pictures taken.   She is still the same spunky Bug though…she’s so used to being sick half the year that it very rarely ever slows her down anymore.   But, we did get a couple of her this week…

Bug was rather amused by the spider work. She used both the tongs and her fingers to transfer the little plastic spiders into the muffin tin. She was very interested in the spiders, as she loves to pick up real spiders!

Bug loved coloring her haunted house with the markers. (She calls it a "ha-house". 😉 )

Perhaps Bug is actually part monkey... She frequently scales the fridge. Not quite sure why she does it, but she does. She's quite the goofball!

 

The next few pictures are of the Montessori-To-Go box I made Bug.  Because her brother and sister are both special needs children, we have a weekly therapy session that takes about 4 hours–the first hour is Monkey’s appointment and the  rest of the time involves a couple appointments for Jedi.  Poor Bug spends a lot of that time in the waiting room looking fairly bored.  There are other kids who are in the waiting room for part of the time she’s there, but they’re all quite a bit older than her and she doesn’t really understand what they’re playing.  So, I decided to make her a traveling tot school to keep her entertained.  It’s a bit big for carrying around to restaurants and brief appointments obviously, but it has to keep her busy for a good 3-4 hours at a time.  (Of course, I have smaller pouches in there that can easily be taken out for restaurant trips or anyplace a large box isn’t practical!).  The kit only weights about 4-5 lbs though, so it’s not really too heavy to carry.

This is the box when everything's stashed away in it. It's just a regular plastic box--a little bigger than a plastic shoebox, but one can use a plastic shoebox too. The size is due to the fact it will double as a sensory bin.

How everything looks with the lid open. On the bottom is a white board, then a bag of sensory materials (this time it's assorted beans & lentils), one pouch for sensory bin items and another pouch for small Montessori activities, and a book. The purple pouch contains several activities, and it's easy enough to grab for shorter waits.

Another view of everything that was stashed in the box.

The sensory bin. This time it's autumn themed, with lentils, plastic acorns, silk leaves, spiders, chopsticks, a little shovel, some scoops & tongs, a spoon, etc.

The other activities--a white board so she can color without using a ton of paper--she likes to only put a mark or two on each paper. There is also a set of buttons/shoelace to thread, some clothes pins to put on the rim of some sorting cups, and some cubes to sort by color.

 

Montessori Monday

Monkey is 3 years 8 months old

Monkey had a busy time in her homeschool room this week!  She seems to be getting into a good routine and almost every day she asks to go down and do her school work.  She usually stays in her homeschool room for 2-3 hours a day, but sometimes she’s been down there for longer than that.  Some days it’s hard to get her to want to stop for the day so we can get to an appointment!

Using the hammering shapes work--the child hammers little shapes into the cork with a wooden hammer (the nails are actually tacks)

Jedi hammering nails into a pumpkin

Monkey hammering nails into a pumpkin. She *loved* this work. The pumpkin now has 3 days worth of nails in it--she seems to come back to this work almost daily!

Sorting purple bats, white skulls, and black spiders into separate cups.

Using tongs to put a black spider into each section of the pan.

Using tweezers to get the corn off the cob and transfer it to the dish.

Using foam pumpkins and pumpkin patch pictures to count. Each patch has a different number written on it and monkey puts down the number of pumpkins written on the patch.

Using the Power of 2 cube. Monkey was *really* fast at this! She got the concept very quickly.

Putting the geometric solids on their bases. She was very interested in the fact that some shapes would fit on more than one base--for example, the pyramid can fit on the triangle base and the square base!

Putting clothespins on the rim of a basket.

Jedi & Monkey painting haunted houses in preparation for their Halloween party

This is a cross between ecology and tonging. The blue paper represents water and the green paper represents land. The little flower pot is a "trash can". I put a bunch of small pieces of foil and paper on top of the "land" and "water" and monkey used the tongs to clean up all of the "litter".

Using the Parts of a Tree puzzle and comparing it to the 3 part cards.

Using the world map continent pieces to do pin punching. She easily took the stylus and put "dots" on the paper around the perimeter of the continent.