Barefoot in Suburbia

Homeschooling & Special Needs, Inspired by the Montessori Way

Toddler Tuesday July 24, 2011


Bitty Bug is 2 years 6 months old

Bug working with the Sleeping Beauty felt board.


Hammering two pegs together (not sure why she's doing this...she just decided it would be fun, and it's good eye-hand coordination!)


Trying to figure out the shape cone


Making a of Bug's favorite activities.


Watercolor painting with Monkey (notice Monkey's painting....she called it "Snowman Statue of Liberty"...very creative!)


Bug wanted to use the sandpaper letters.


Using the smelling bottles.


Bug loves playing with these little Friendship Club people


And she also wanted me to take this picture. This is how Bug enjoys spending most of her time. Little goober!

As always, comments are welcome, either here or on our facebook page.  Let me know you’re reading along!


Montessori Monday (a little bit early)

Monkey is 4 years 5 months old

Since we’ll be out again Monday & Tuesday, I’m getting this week’s posts out a little early. 🙂


The "A" tray--I have the sandpaper letters, some pipe cleaner letters, an apple, and a worksheet. I just wanted to see what things Monkey liked--she loved the worksheet (but didn't really seem to understand what to do even after I explained it to her), but the rest of it she didn't really get into. So, this lasted about a day with her. 🙂


Playing a card game where you match the capital and lower case letters.


She's so proud of her matches!


Painting with watercolors. This was her all time favorite activity of the week--she did it for several hours this week!


Practicing her writing


Using the mini peg board


Stringing large buttons on a shoestring


Using the spindle box...Monkey's getting very good at this!


Bug & Monkey making strawberry & blackberry skewers for dinner


Bug helping to make strawberry cake


Monkey, Jedi, & Bug all helping to bake the cake.


Using the sandpaper numbers & beads.


As always, comments are welcome, either here or on our facebook page.  Let me know you’re reading along!


2nd Grade Week in Review July 22, 2011

Yes, I realize it’s not yet the end of the week, but Fridays are usually light days for school–mainly just wrap-ups.  Since tomorrow will be another day of business and travel, I thought I’d get this post done early…then Montessori Monday & Toddler Tuesday can be written ahead of time and posted on the right day.


This week we decided to start using a 12 box workbox system for Jedi. He seems to love the organization, and he loves being able to see exactly what he has to do and how many things he has left to do. Each box has a number and a subject--when he's done with each box, he moves the number card over to that chart that's hanging from the wall. The boxes alternate between subjects that are more difficult or not as fun for Jedi with things he really enjoys or quick fun assignments.


Science:  In Life Science this week, Jedi learned about the circulatory & the respiratory system.  The first lab involved him using corn syrup, red hots, white beans, & lentils to represent the parts of blood (corn syrup was plasma, red hots were red blood cells, white beans were white blood cells, and lentils were platelets).  He was able to see that blood is not smooth red liquid and instead is composed of many parts.

For the second lab, we took a long cardboard tube to represent a giant’s trachea.  Then we drew pictures of a nose for the top of the trachea, lungs and heart for the bottom of the trachea, and a foot  below the organs to represent the body using energy.  Jedi then started at the nose and carried red pieces (oxygenated blood) of paper to the lungs, to the heart, and then to the foot.  At the foot, he exchanged the oxygenated blood for carbon dioxide (since the exercising giant used up the oxygen), carried it back to the lungs, heart, and out the nose, exchanging it for another red piece.  Jedi *loved* this full body lab!

Filling out the hypotheses sheet for his life science lab.


Mixing his "blood"


Jedi's model of human blood.



The giant's respiratory system.


In Chemistry, Jedi learned that everything was made of atoms and that atoms were very small.  To illustrate this, we filled a balloon with water, one with cinnamon, one with lemon extract, and one with peppermint extract.  Jedi smelled each balloon and found out that cinnamon, lemon, and peppermint all have atoms small enough to fit through the holes of the balloon and were able to be smelled.

Jedi making his hypotheses before his chemistry lab.


The girls smelling the balloons.

Music: Jedi learned about Haydn & his “Surprise Symphony”.  Jedi really enjoyed listening to the symphony and trying to relax during it (if you haven’t heard it, go listen to it!  Haydn attempted to remedy the fact that people were sleeping during his slower movements!).  Jedi also continued his piano lessons.

Practicing one of his new songs.

Geography: This week, we learned about our neighbors to the north, Canada.  During this study, Jedi watched a 30 minute video of Inuit life in Northern Canada–he was very interested in the fact that the Inuit family built igloos in the video!

Watching the video


History: Jedi continued to learn about Ancient Mesopotamia.  He worked on his History Pocket and did several other hands on activities this week…making a Mesopotamian house out of Legos & writing a comic strip about the early life of Sargon.

Working on his History Pocket. Here, he is making a small ship going down the Euphrates River.


Trying to copy the Mesopotamian Floor Plan


The finished house!


Writing his comic strip. I had him choose one thing in his history chapter to draw, and he drew the abandonment and adoption of Sargon.


Spelling: Jedi worked on learning to alphabetize letters.  He already knew how to do it, but it takes almost 10 minutes to order the entire alphabet.  He continued to practice doing it more quickly.  He also learned to differentiate between consonants and vowels.  Finally, we worked on him writing the letter after I dictated the sound of that letter (so the reverse of what we’ve been working on).

Alphabetizing his letter tiles.


English: This week, Jedi learned about homophones and synonyms.

Math:  We worked on naming place values from the abacus, 100-bead tiles, & 1000 bead cubes.

Naming place values out to the 1000s place.


Art: This week, Jedi used soft pastels to create a work that he later matted for display.  He also used watercolor crayons to paint an experience that he had.

Using soft pastels


US History: Continuing his learning on the Statue of Liberty, Jedi designed and then created a clay sculpture of the Statue of Liberty…next week when the clay is dry, he’ll paint it.

Working on his sculpture.

His finished sculpture.


Health: This week, Jedi worked on finding various ways to resolve conflict.  He used his puppet that he sewed to act out various conflicts and brainstorm ways to work through the conflict without violences.


Solar Powered Cooking! July 21, 2011

With heat indices in Ohio getting up past 110 degrees, I was recently reminded of our big solar powered cooking experiment from last year.  For those that are new to the blog, I wanted to bring this back up.  It’s on my former blog, so here’s the link:


Enjoy!!!  What things have you made using only the power of the sun?


Montessori Monday July 18, 2011

Monkey is 4 years 5 months old

This was a week where we started to evaluate whether Montessori is truly right for Monkey.  While it does seem to be working very well for the non-academic subjects, it’s becoming more and more clear that she’s getting frustrated with the more academic areas.  Monkey has a few special needs that make it difficult for her, and recently we’ve started to notice that those issues also make things more difficult academically.  Earlier in the year, you might have remembered the difficulties we had with Monkey learning colors.  We’re also seeing the same difficulties arise in learning letters and letter sounds.  We have been working on the same couple letter sounds for a year, and she still hasn’t made the connection (and can’t name the letter either).  She’s getting very frustrated because she wants to read, but after a year of trying to learn letter sounds, she can’t name any.  For example, she’s been working on A for a long time.  And even 2 minutes after the lesson, she still can’t tell you what sound A makes, or a word that begins with A, or recognize the letter A even if that is the only letter we’ve worked on that day.  We’ve even tried Starfall, and after watching the whole letter A presentation, she still couldn’t name the song.  We are in the process of having these issues evaluated (we’re not jumping the gun…she has known speech, language, sensory, social, and behavior issues.  If a typical 4 1/2 year old couldn’t recognize the letter A, we wouldn’t be concerned (although a 4 year old who still couldn’t recognize it even after being given lessons in several different ways on it would raise red flags to me).  But knowing her history and the difficulty we’ve had, it’s something we have to get evaluated to know how to proceed).  So, over the next couple weeks, we will be trying different things to see if there is something that might help her.

Monkey working with the pressure cylinders and Bug working with the smelling bottles.


Monkey working with the power of 2 cube...she loves this cube!


Working with the Geo Board. Monkey loves making shapes with the geo board!


Using the summer sensory bin.


It was also a special week for Bug…she tested for her white belt with orange stripe at Tang Soo Do!

Awesome roundhouse kick!


Flying front kick!


She passed!


2nd grade week in review

I’m a couple days behind with this post–it was a very busy weekend, and time got away from me.  So, here’s Jedi’s week in review:

Art: This week, Jedi learned about painting live subjects and painting still life.  He did one with oil pastels and 1 with watercolor crayons.  For his live subject, he painted a picture of General Grievous in the movie Star Wars.  For his still life, he colored a picture of his breakfast.

Using oil pastels


His finished life picture--a scene of General Grievous from Star Wars


Health: Last week in Health, Jedi learned that families can help meet the needs of the members of the family.  He learned ways each member of the family helps him, and ways he can help each member of the family with needs.

Spelling: Jedi mastered the remaining single letter sounds this week.

Math: Jedi started solving basic math problems.  He was supposed to be doing it without the abacus, but he was having a difficult time with that and we allowed him to use it.  It seems like he has a very difficult time doing basic math facts in his head but was fine using the abacus.

Using the abacus to solve math problems.


Geography: We discussed ancient Mesopotamia and early forms of writing.  As a project, Jedi made cuneiform writing out of clay.  He realized that it was a lot harder to do than it looked…and a lot more time consuming than writing with the english letters.

Using clay to write in cuneiform.


Working on his history pocket of Ancient Mesopotamia.


Geography: We began our unit on Canada last week.  We talked about Niagara Falls, and also discussed how Canadians can speak both English and French, and that the language is determined by the area of Canada.

US History: Jedi continued to learn more about the Statue of Liberty.  We researched some simple facts about the statue, and Jedi began to design the clay replica of the statue that he wants to make.


Learning on Vacation July 13, 2011

As you all know, last week, we were not in the school room.  We took a week off of all schooling to attend the Catalyst Foundation’s Vietnamese Culture Camp in New York.  Since Monkey is adopted from Vietnam, we decided that it would be good to attend the camp and meet others who were also adopted from Vietnam.  We had a wonderful time, and are so thankful to have the opportunity to meet some wonderful new friends, and the awesome counselors who have become excellent role models for our little one.

But just because we weren’t in the school room, that doesn’t mean the kids didn’t spend the week learning!

They did nature studies.... Creeking at the waterfall we found during a hike up one of the mountains in the Catskills of New York.


They played games with the other kids....


They learned to speak some Vietnamese (numbers, animals, basic greetings) along with learning some of the legends and myths from Vietnam.


They made a lot of new friends from all over the world!


They learned to cook Vietnamese Salad Rolls & Vietnamese Bun Cha.


Bug enjoyed destroying her salad roll. 😉


They participated in a culture show where they had to get on stage and say some words in Vietnamese.


They made some new friends and had a lot of fun with them!


All three kids had fun at culture camp with new friends.


After Culture Camp, we drove from New York to New Jersey for a brief American History lesson. They got to see the early stages of one of the 9/11 memorials.


They also got to see the New York city skyline


...and learned about what happened on September 11th and why the United States was looking for Osama bin Laden.


They all got to ride a ferry to Liberty Island


...and were able to see Ellis Island. We talked about what it means to be an American Citizen. This was an important lesson for our family, considering one of our children immigrated to the United States.


Finally, the kids were able to visit the Statue of Liberty.


It was a beautiful day...perfect for teaching the kids about the gift of freedom!


Find us on Facebook! July 12, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 1:02 pm

I finally started a facebook page to compliment the blog and offer the chance for a more back-and-forth type of exchange.  Feel free to join us on facebook.  I will still have our weekly posts, but the facebook page will have bits and pieces that might not make the blog.  Please feel free to comment, ask questions, make suggests, or otherwise join in the conversation!


Toddler Tuesday July 5, 2011


Bitty Bug is 2 years 5 months old


Bug still loves all art projects, so I set up a 'firework painting' station. To make the fireworks, she dipped the big puffballs into the paint.


Bug making fireworks


Putting pipe cleaners in the holes of a spice jar


Bug still loves working with these beads!


Playing with the Russian dolls


Using the tongs to put the fireworks in the cookie tin


Working with the shapes board


Bug wanted to join Jedi for some outdoor sketching.




Montessori Monday July 4, 2011



Monkey is 4 years 5 months old

This weekend has been incredibly busy with 4th of July fun, and so we’re taking the afternoon off of craziness to just relax a bit.  So, while the Strawberry & Blueberry Shortcake Cupcakes are baking in the oven (gluten, dairy, and egg free of course!), here is Monkey’s learning week in review!

Of course, like many of my US-based readers, we had our Red, White, & Blue work out this week in honor of Independence Day. Here are the red glittery stars for tonging.

I added the red, white, and blue glass beads for dry pouring.

Beads for making patriotic bracelets

These rubber pom poms look like fireworks, and made another good tonging work.

Monkey making a bracelet

Pin punching the Russia puzzle piece

Working on the sandpaper letters & letter sounds

Monkey then decided that she wanted to copy the sandpaper letters onto paper

Using the smelling bottles

Jedi helping Monkey with the binomial cube