Barefoot in Suburbia

Homeschooling & Special Needs, Inspired by the Montessori Way

Toddler Tuesday April 26, 2011

Filed under: Toddler learning — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 12:59 pm
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Bitty Bug is 2 years 3 months old

With it being Easter weekend, Bug spent most of her time in the school room transferring easter eggs.  She loved that work!  I already posted pictures of that last week, so it’s not included in the pictures this week.  I’m pretty sure she spent hours working with those eggs–opening and closing them, matching the colors, and putting them in the egg carton.  It’s amazing to watch the level of concentration and the time a toddler can spend with just simple materials!   It surely goes against the stereotype that toddlers are always moving and can’t sit still.


Since it pretty much hasn't stopped raining in Central Ohio for over a week, we now become very very happy that we built our house with a huge front porch. Bug and Monkey love sitting on the porch playing with sidewalk chalk!

Bug loves transferring activities--water, rice, pom poms, it doesn't matter. Here, she's spooning rice into the smaller bowls.

She also worked with this little globe. Inside the globe are tiny little figurines representing various countries. She loved setting all the little people up!

She has no idea what the various letters are, but she enjoyed trying to match the letters to the spaces. Then I read the word to her while she pointed at the object.

She's still transferring rice!

I found this puzzle at a curriculum sale this past week and all three kids love it. You put the state in the correct spot, and it tells you the state, nickname of the state, capital, and a fact about the state.


Making homemade paper April 25, 2011

Filed under: Preschool Learning,Toddler learning — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 10:16 pm
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This project took on a dual purpose this week.  First, since we were studying China, making paper was appropriate, as paper was invented in China (according to the book Look What Came From China).  Second, because it was Earth Day, I wanted the kids to do something to reuse resources we already had in the house.

First, the girls ripped up some scrap paper that was in the recycling bin. Old bills, junk mail, used drawing paper, anything goes...

Then we filled the blender about half full of paper.

Then we added water until the blender was about 3/4 of the way full.

Then, we turned the blender on 'puree' for about 60 seconds

We tossed in a handful of grass--you can use grass, flower petals, or really anything that's somewhat flat.

After blending the grass on 'mix' for 30 seconds, we poured the mixture onto a window screen (we bought them in the frame from a home improvement store for very little money) and put the screen over a cookie sheet.

After letting it drip for an hour, I laid the screen on the towel, put a second screen over it, and then squeezed the paper with a towel on top too in order to get all the excess water out.

After letting it sit and dry for 24 hours, we had a perfect sheet of art paper (probably not good for pens, but good for paint or markers. 🙂 )



Montessori Monday

Monkey is 4 years 2 months old

Weekly theme: Asia (China, Korea, Vietnam)

New work on the shelves:

-Matching Chinese characters

-Children of Asia cards

-Asian native dress paper dolls

-Making homemade paper

-Using chopsticks

-Stamping with rubber stamps

-Putting Asian animals on the map

Figurines of children from Asia in their native dress

Children of Asia 3 part cards

Closeup of the cards

Matching Chinese characters

Native dress paper dolls

Chinese Tangrams--this was really really difficult for Monkey, but she loved trying it

Putting animals from Asia on the continent map

We learned how to say 'hello' in several Asian languanges

Using chopsticks to transfer red stars

The books in the book basket this week


Toddler Tuesday April 19, 2011

Filed under: Toddler learning — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 1:16 pm
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Bitty Bug is 2 years 3 months old

Here are a couple pictures of Bug working in the school room this week!

Bitty Bug is still loving the craft time. She worked very hard meticulously placing feathers on her cardinal!

She also loved working in the sensory bin. She was arranging flowers in the small flower pots for quite some time!

While this work was intended to be a tonging work, Bug decided that she wanted to work on opening & closing the eggs, and matching the halves together by colors. I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised...she has been on a huge color kick lately!

Here, Bug is attempting to thread the large buttons onto the shoelaces. This was still very hard for her to do, but she did actually get the string through the button holes!

Bug was really proud of herself when she finally learned to snip paper with scissors. She concentrated very hard on this work, and was so careful to keep her fingers out of the way. She was really impressed with the power she had to change the paper from a straight piece of paper, to a paper full of little cuts.


Montessori Monday April 18, 2011

Monkey is 4 years 2 months old

This week, there are a lot of pictures to post, so I’ll just let those tell the story, instead of coming up with an opening commentary.  I will say that our unit last week was ‘eggs’…and it’s amazing what 2 egg-allergic kids can still learn about eggs without ever touching an egg. LOL!

As part of the oil spill project we did last week, I also put out various shells and sea life pieces for the kids to explore.

Working with the metal insets

As part of the egg unit, we wanted to learn about hatching chicken eggs. However, it probably isn't the best idea to raise a chicken egg in our basement or keep a chicken outside in our suburban backyard (that has coyotes and deed restrictions against keeping chickens!). So, this is the next best thing we could has a different egg you break open for every day of the 22 day cycle of a chicken egg. Each day, you see what's going on inside the egg.

The box for the Chick Life Cycle kit in case anyone out there wants to learn about chickens but can't really raise them in their backyard!

The chart I have on our white board to show the kids when we should expect our egg to "hatch"

Tonging easter eggs into a carton

Parts of an egg 3 part cards

Putting red and black feathers on a black line drawing of the cardinal (Ohio's state bird)

Some of the books we used this week

Decorating paper easter eggs to hang on the spring tree

Putting the eggs on the tree

Egg on the tree

Tonging the eggs

The girls also made egg shaped jello jigglers (and of course, Monkey hated them because she doesn't eat anything squishy. Oops.)

Mixing the water and mix

Pouring the mix

Cleaning the spill

Making a red clay bowl with white eggs

Bug decided to stack all her eggs up into one big tower

Monkey wanted her eggs all different sizes

All of the bowls of eggs, waiting to go to the oven to harden


Teaching about protecting the earth–Oil Spills April 14, 2011

Filed under: Nature Studies — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 5:26 pm
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I wanted to get this lesson posted before next week’s Montessori Monday post in case anyone wanted to use it for their Earth Day activities.  Obviously, Earth Day is a big deal in our house, although we try to be gentle on the earth every day.  But, we do try to incorporate some of the bigger lessons on protecting the earth.  Today, we talked about pollution, and in particular, we discussed oil spills.  In order to bring home the point about how oil harms the animals who depend on clean water, we created our own mini (and contained!) oil spill…

To do this experiment, you will need a bowl of water, a smaller bowl of dish soap & water (we used 7th Gener*tion, but any kind should work), a small bowl of cooking oil mixed with cocoa powder, and some feathers. To make this more realistic, you can use bird feathers, but we used simple crafting feathers and they worked fine.

First, put a feather in a bowl of clean water. Then attempt to dry off the feather. The feather should easily dry and return to normal shape because bird's feathers are waterproof. This is how they can swim in the water and not get cold. Second, dump the oil/cocoa powder mixture into the water (do not mix it up!). Put a different feather in the water. Notice how the feather instantly becomes coated, oily, and matted. When you attempt to dry the feather, it just sticks together and gets harder to work with. This is why oil spills are dangerous to birds--when the feathers are coated in oil, they are no longer waterproof and can't protect the birds from the cold. Next, take the oil covered feather and wash it off in the soapy water. Notice that the feather becomes clean and less oily again, although it never returns back to it's original self.

Here is a comparison of all 4 feathers--the first is the feather without being dipped in anything. The second is the feather after going in the clean water. The third is the feather dipped in oil and then wiped off. The fourth is the feather that was cleaned in the dish water.


Toddler Tuesday April 12, 2011

Filed under: Toddler learning — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 2:47 am
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Bitty Bug is 2 years 2 months old

Like Monkey, Bitty Bug is really into the nature-based lessons.  And even more than that, she’s into the crafts that go along with the nature-based lessons!  I swear, I’ve never seen a happier kid in the world than Bug is when you put a bottle of glue in her hand.  This kid’s in heaven when she’s working on a craft project!  She definitely takes after her big brother (who frequently likes to remind people that he is an artist. LOL!).  Most of my pictures of Bug for the week involve her doing some type of craft project…

The supplies for making birds nests. A bowl for the nest form, paper and string for the nest material, and little white pom poms for the eggs.

Bug and Monkey working on their nests.

Matching feathers by color

Doing crayon rubbings of feathers


Montessori Monday

Monkey is 4 years 2 months old

This past week, we ended up doing several different nature studies as our main focus–we hit owls, birds, and insects!  Monkey loves learning about nature, so she really is drawn to nature-based activities.  Although, halfway through the “grosser” parts of the lessons, she decides to pretend things are a bit too gross.  She had me fooled thinking she wouldn’t touch the owl pellets, since she was walking around the room saying “I’m *not* touching owl puke!” over and over again.  Until I looked over and she was totally engrossed in dissecting her pellet and trying to match the bones to her bone chart!

Here are a few pictures from this week’s lessons…

Sorting animal cards into "feathers" or "fur", depending on their external body covering

Birds of Ohio 3 part cards

Close-up of the Birds of Ohio 3 part cards

Using the shoe tying puzzle

We added a bird and a nest to our spring tree!

Sorting birds into "birds that primarily walk on land", "birds that fly", and "birds that go in the water"

Working with the sandpaper letters

Feathers of various birds

Our Birds of Ohio and Owls of Ohio guidebook, and the Owls of Ohio soundtrack, all from our Department of Natural Resources

We also dissected owl pellets this week, and tried to figure out what animal the owls ate.

The replica of an owl's skull I had the kids observe

A couple of the books on the reading shelves for the insect unit

Insect X-Rays and matching cards

Lifecycle of a Bee and various insects in acrylic


Toddler Tuesday April 5, 2011

Bitty Bug is 2 years 2 months old

As I mentioned yesterday, we did a unit on snakes and other reptiles last week.  Bitty Bug didn’t want to sit and listen to the stories, so I assumed she just wasn’t paying attention.  Imagine my surprise when a few days later, she was reciting simple facts she must have overheard from the books I was reading!  It just goes to show you that toddlers are always learning, and for better or worse they are *always* listening ( 😉 LOL!)

Here are some pictures from Bug’s learning this week….

Bug really likes working with these beads! She works on them for a long time almost every session.

While Monkey was using the metal insets for pre-writing practice, Bug was using them to practice her shape naming, shape matching, and pincher grasp skills.

Building towers with the knobless cylinders

Bug also really really loves to do this, and she will often do it independently. She loves taking this book about bunnies matching colors of paint, and put the color tablets on the correct colors in the book.

She even decided to put a black tablet on the black type!

Pouring glass pebbles between multiple cups


Montessori Monday April 4, 2011

Monkey is 4 years 2 months old

This week, we decided to try something new.  For the past year, we’ve been using Karen Tyler’s Montessori albums.  However, with the addition of having to homeschool for 2nd grade too starting in the summer, I wanted to try something with a little more structure to it, so that I had things laid out for me daily.  I started using New Child Montessori, or rather, using it as a basis, but continuing with the Karen Tyler stuff (and just adding in my own personal touch as well).  I do love the New Child curriculum so far…it’s more of “Montessori-inspired unit studies” than pure Montessori, and for us, that’s fine.  It’s not like homeschooling is pure Montessori anyhow…LOL!

This past week, the focus was on reptiles of our home state, as well as the world.  We mainly concentrated on Ohio snakes and turtles, but we touched on crocodiles and komodo dragons as well. 🙂  Even Bitty Bug got into the lessons this week!  She loved the snakes!

One of the things I really like about our new curriculum (other than having the entire sequence laid out for me. LOL!) is the addition of a “circle time” and “yoga time”.  While we don’t follow the New Child schedule exactly (because it’s laid out like a traditional school day, which is just not necessary when you only have 2 children in the room!), we do add in the circle time date, weather, and story stuff, as well as the yoga time.  The yoga helps focus the girls, and the circle time gives me a chance to give the lessons before things get too crazy.  So, I’m really liking this program so far!

Here are some pictures from our week (Jedi was home on spring break this week as well!)

Using the metal insets

Big brother helping out!

Some of the books in the reading basket last week

More books in the reading basket

Snake shedding skin sequencing cards

Snakes of Ohio 3 part cards

Closeup of snake cards

Using a snake stencil

Decorating the spring tree (a branch we found on the ground outside, decorated in paper leaves and tissue paper blossoms)

The final product!

Matching and folding socks

Bitty Bug dressed for baking!

All three kids helping to make cupcakes

One of the best parts...licking the spoons!

I found these darling little silicone baking cups in the shape of flower pots, and we filled them with chocolate batter

And of course, we added green "grass" frosting and a gummy worm!