Barefoot in Suburbia

Homeschooling & Special Needs, Inspired by the Montessori Way

Posts are coming… September 27, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 2:24 am

This week’s posts will be a little late.  The kids decided to play hide-and-go-seek with my USB cord to connect the camera to the computer.  I’m just not as good at this game as they think I should be…the cord’s been missing for a few days.


2nd grade week in review September 19, 2011

Art:  Both of Jedi’s art lessons this week involved clay.  In the first lesson, he used clay to make a seal…a raised object on a textured slab of clay.  Jedi made a giraffe.  In the second lesson, Jedi learned about art on pottery.  In order to do this, first he made a clay pot, and then he painted some figures on it in black paint.

Jedi's clay seal--he put a giraffe as his seal.


Working on his pinch pot. Once it dried, he painted small figures on it.


Math: In math, we continued our work on the addition table, this time working on doubles (2 + 2, 4 + 4, etc.) and near doubles (2 + 3, 4 + 5, etc.).  We also worked on odd & even numbers.

Working on his addition table


Working on "odd" and "even". The tiles helped him to see what happens when you add an odd number to an odd number, an even number to an even number, and an odd number to an even number.


Life Science: This week, we finished our unit on worms.  We used one of our composing words and conducted experiments with him to see if worms like light or dark (by covering half of a pan with foil and leaving half open to see what side he preferred), sweetness (by putting some ice cream on the pan and seeing how the worm responded), chemicals (by putting some vinegar near the worm), hot or cold (by putting a warm towel and a cool towel under him and seeing which one he preferred), and smooth or rough (by putting a piece of sandpaper on the tray).  For each test, except for the vinegar, the worm had half of his body on the control and half on the experimental part.  We then observed which direction the worm went–towards the control or towards the experiment.  We found out the worm liked dark, cool, rough, and sweet.  And did NOT like vinegar.

Jedi's worm for the test


Testing if the worm likes light or dark


Using sandpaper to test if the worm likes smooth or rough


Geography: In order to test how animals survive in arctic climates, we filled a bowl of ice water.  Jedi placed one hand in the ice water to see how it felt (he didn’t keep it in very long!)  With his other hand, we put a plastic bag on his hand, and then filled another plastic bag with shortening.  We then put that 2nd bag over his bagged hand and molded the fat layer around his hand.  Then, he stuck his hand in the ice water and didn’t feel any of the cold!

Jedi's hand in a bag of shortening. He then dipped his wrapped hand and his unwrapped hand into the ice water to see what each felt like.


History: This week, we began our work on ancient India & the Indus Valley.  The big thing that Jedi learned was that villagers in Ancient Egypt could use the sea and rivers to trade with the villagers in Ancient India.  We also learned about Mohenjo-Daro and the fact that the city perished with no known reason.

English: Jedi continued his daily journaling.  He also worked on words ending in ‘ng’ and ‘nk’.

Chemistry: We began learning about the periodic table this week in chemistry.  Jedi used marshmallows to make the first 10 elements on the periodic table–pink marshmallows were protons, large white ones were neutrons, and small white ones were electrons.

Using small white marshmallows, large white marshmallows, and large pink marshmallows to form the protons, neutrons, and electrons of the first 10 elements in the periodic table.


Close-up of a few of the elements


Montessori Monday

Bitty Bug is 2 years 8 months old.  Monkey is 4 years 7 months old

Here is a review of Bug & Monkey’s week in the Montessori room.

Bug working with her rainbow stacker


Bug working with a screwdriver


Bug building the pink tower


Jedi giving Monkey a geography lesson. Monkey wanted to know where Ohio, Vietnam, Russia, and Antarctica were.


Bug working on the natural objects & cards matching


Bug using toaster tongs to transfer pom poms to a mini muffin tin


Bug using a spoon to transfer shells from one bowl to the other


Pouring sand from one pitcher to the other


Monkey polishing shoes. To do this work, I laid out several different brushes (a soft tooth brush, a stiffer brush, and then a very stiff nail brush).


Bug polishing shoes. Because regular shoe polish is highly toxic, I wanted an all natural solution that is safe for skin and in case a little one accidentally got some in her mouth. I mixed 2 parts lemon juice with one part olive oil for a super safe shoe polish.


Pouring the water in the little bowl to rinse the dirt off the shoes. The girls *loved* the shoe polishing work. They now have some very clean looking shoes. 🙂 I think they worked on just that one work for hours!


The basket of geometric solids--we worked on cylinder, pyramid, and prism


Using toaster tongs to build a tower of cubes


Bug using a funnel to pour water into a small necked jar


Monkey using the spindle box


Monkey was on a big counting kick last she is with the numerals & counters


Tet Trung Thu September 14, 2011

Monday, September 12th, was the Vietnamese holiday Tet Trung Thu, which is also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival.  Because Monkey is Vietnamese, we try to honor as many of the Vietnamese holidays as possible.  We also try to take that opportunity to teach her a little more about her birth culture.  Here’s how our family celebrated Tet Trung Thu this year….


Because of gluten, dairy, nut, and egg allergies, we can't order our mooncakes, and I have to adapt recipes to fit. But, here is my attempt at mooncakes this year. 🙂


The's tofutti cream cheese and then a cocoa powder & date paste. We ate them by the light of the harvest moon.


The kids making their papier mache masks (children in Vietnam wear special masks on Tet Trung Thu)


The masks waiting to dry


After the papier mache dried, the kids painted their masks with tempura paint.


The final products!


Making and decorating lanterns


Jedi doing a little woodworking and making a small wooden dragon


Jedi & Monkey with their dragons


Getting ready to have our own little parade around the neighborhood by moonlight


Bug, complete with some maracas (not sure why they grabbed those, but they were fun to have along!) and a princess costume (which is completely and utterly Bug at her finest...always in a princess dress.)


The beautiful harvest moon


Processing around the cul-de-sac


My cute little girls...


Remember that project I was working on during the camping trip?

Filed under: Nature Studies — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 8:13 pm

I mentioned in August that during our family camping trip to the lake, we ended up working on a very special project…before the weekend was over, we needed to find every letter of the alphabet in nature.


I finally got that project printed, mounted, and put in the school room!

The completed project, up on the school room wall.


A close-up


Nature Study: Praying Mantis

Filed under: Lower Elementary,Nature Studies,Preschool Learning,Toddler learning — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 4:10 pm

As the summer draws to a close, we find ourselves outside after dark quite a bit…mainly because we still have a lot of things to get done outdoors and it gets dark before 8:30 now!  Recently, we were working in the flower gardens getting them ready for fall planting.  While we were working, the kids were very excited to come across this little (or rather, not so little) one….


Pretty praying mantis walking across the flower bed.


She was really quite long too!


Monkey watching the praying mantis in a bucket (and hoping it doesn't jump up into her face...)



Montessori Monday September 12, 2011


Bitty Bug is 2 years 8 months old.  Monkey is 4 years 7 months old.

Most of this week’s work had to do with patriotism and September 11th, which I already posted about here:  So, I only have a few other pictures of Monkey and Bug’s week in review for the post this week…

Monkey working on dry pouring with sand


Bug hammering shapes into the cork board using tacks and a wooden hammer


Bug working with her shapes board.


For one of the last weeks of summer, I put a matching work using a card with a picture and a word on it, and then the actual object.


2nd Grade Week in Review

Art: This week, Jedi continued his unit on where art can be found….this time we learned about the art on the walls of pyramids and the floors of palaces.  The pyramid unit worked very well because we also were talking about pyramids for history!  Since we don’t have pyramids, we had to use long paper.  Jedi learned that in Egypt, those commissioned to paint the murals first created a grid out of red paint in order to be able to properly proportion the work.  So first, Jedi and I made a red grid on his paper.  Then he painted a mural…he chose to create a mural that depicts hiking.

The second artform was paintings on the floors of palaces.  I don’t have a palace here, nor do I want him painting on my floor ( 😉 ), so we choose a darker colored piece of construction paper and some soft pastels.  These palace floor paintings were usually of flowers or water, so Jedi chose to draw the lake he went camping and swimming at this summer.

Creating a mural similar to the mural paintings on the inside of pyramids


A closeup of his mural. He did a mural on hiking.


Doing his "floor painting" using dark construction paper and soft pastels.


Math:  In math, Jedi learned about adding 8 to a number.  He also began to learn about graphing by graphing the daily temperature.  This was also an exercise in estimation since the graph only had the 10’s labeled…Jedi had to learn to estimate the numbers in between that weren’t written on the graph.

Working on is addition table


Learning graphing by graphing the daily temperature


History: This week, we finished our unit on Ancient Egypt.  Jedi learned how pyramids were made, and wanted to make one of his own.  Jedi used legos in order to create his own mini-pyramid.

Jedi making a pyramid out of legos


Science: We moved from cnidaria last week to worms this week.  The weather was absolutely awful for going out and having an earthworm hunt, so we had to use our composting red worms from our indoor vermicomposter for most of our work this week.  Jedi created his own worm environment in a jar to see how long it would take for the worms to create soil.  The first layer in our jar was sand, followed by dirt, followed by oatmeal, followed by some scraps of fruit & veggies, followed by more sand, another layer of dirt, and another layer of oatmeal.  On top of that, we put some compost from our bin that had worm castings, red worms, and some red worm eggs.  Jedi got to see some very very tiny newly born worms, and the shiny eggs.  As of this morning (4 days after creating the habitat), the red worms have completely transformed the top two layers into castings!

Setting up his composting jar.


Worms on top of the composting jar.


The finished jar.


English/Spelling: This week, we worked on the endings ‘ck’, ‘sk’, ‘k’, and double letters like ‘ss’.  Jedi also did daily journal writing.  We also started working on more non-fiction reading comprehension because that is an area Jedi is having some trouble in.  To go along with the 9/11 theme we were working on this week, I found a passage in our reading comprehension workbook that talked about the Statue of Liberty.

Jedi working on some non-fiction reading comprehension. This passage was on the Statue of Liberty.


Misc.: Also this week, all three kids started their homeschool co-op classes.  The kids go once a week to a co-op with a bunch of other area homeschooling families.  Jedi got to pick his classes from the list of available classes…he chose gym, Flat Stanley (a geography & literature class), Art Around The World (an art & geography class), and Picture Books (literature, art, and creative writing).  Bug and Monkey are doing a Geography & Culture class as well as a “mommy and me” music class.  Monkey is also doing a “seasonal fun preschool play” class.  All three were excited for their first day…especially since they all got to carry backpacks.  Apparently that’s a big deal when you’re homeschooled. LOL!

Bug, Jedi, & Monkey ready for the first day of homeschool co-op.




Teaching young children about 9/11/01 September 7, 2011

Even though we don’t have cable television anymore, hearing about the September 11th attacks is practically unavoidable, as it should be.  For those of us who lived through them, it was a scary and confusing time.  For those who are just hearing about it now, it can be just as scary and confusing!  Our children’s first major exposure to the facts about 9/11/01 happened this summer when we visited New York and saw the twin towers memorial under construction, the altered skyline, and the memorials under construction on the New Jersey side.  Ever since then, Jedi has been very curious about what happened.

However, teaching about the events in a way that is not scary to the children is a large task…especially when two of those children are special needs children who see the world in a very different light.  I spent several hours pouring over materials and previewing videos, and then being disappointed when almost everything I found would have been too scary or graphic for young children.  I was going to teach about September 11th, no matter what I found though.  😉  Here is a review of our activities from this week…

Our unit this week covered a variety of themes in order to incorporate all three of our children.


The first theme was flags/patriotism:

In the preschool area, I painted some popsicle sticks to make a United States flag puzzle for the girls to put together.


Monkey putting together the flag puzzle.


Jedi began learning about the meaning behind the Pledge of Allegiance. I found a picture rubric illustrating each word of the pledge. Here, Jedi's also working on the definitions of major words in the pledge (such as "allegiance", "pledge", and "liberty")


The second theme was heroes, both local and those involved with saving lives on 9/11:

Bug and Monkey using watercolor paints to paint pictures for local fire fighters.


Still painting...


Jedi writing a thank you note to a local fire fighter


The packet we sent to the local fire department thanking them for keeping the community safe.


The third theme was diversity & tolerance:

Cultural diversity and tolerance is something our family really believes is important...especially since Monkey has a different birth culture than the rest of us. We discussed that one of the bad things that came out of 9/11 is a decreased tolerance for people of particular religions and cultures. We talked about how every person has value and is important, and how diversity is a good thing. We also talked about how tolerance and compassion is important in making peace.


The fourth theme was the actual events that took place:

The most kid-friendly coverage of the events of September 11th that we found was done by Nick News this year. The episode explained the events in a non-graphic, sensitive, and easy-to-understand way, focusing on answering questions children might have about the events. The video can be found here:


Finally, we are planning on planting an oak tree in our backyard–an Oak Tree has been named the official national tree of the United States. 🙂




Around the World–Australia September 6, 2011




This week, we finished our unit on Australia.  The first week of our 2 week unit is usually our “academic” week and the 2nd week of each unit is usually our “fun” unit.  So, this week was the fun week!


All of the kids watched several short videos on the Great Barrier Reef. They enjoyed taking a virtual tour and learning all about the different animals that can be found in the reef. They also watched a documentary about life in Australia.


Monkey washing potatoes for our Australian meal--meat pie!


Jedi scrubbing and peeling carrots for the pie


Monkey mixing the pie crust


Jedi cutting potatoes


Bug helping out!


Here is what the meat pie looked like before we put on the top crust.


Jedi's painting--he learned about the traditional Aborigine style for painting, using a lot of dots and lines surrounding the items in the picture. Then he attempted to replicate the style.