Barefoot in Suburbia

Homeschooling & Special Needs, Inspired by the Montessori Way

Happy Thanksgiving! November 23, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 4:44 pm

From our home to yours, have a very wonderful Thanksgiving weekend (for my United States readers).  I hope your weekend is full of family, fun, and delicious food.

For my international readers, of course I wish you all a wonderful weekend as well.  I love all of my readers, both here and on Barefoot in Suburbia’s facebook page.  Whether you are here because you know our family, you are interested in Montessori, you are homeschooling your children, or you are parenting special needs children, I am very thankful to have gotten to know all of you.



Jedi's week (or 4) in review

First off, a huge happy 8th birthday to Jedi…I can’t believe that 8 years ago, Jedi was just a little tiny 6 lb 15 oz button of a baby.  Today, he is a wild, creative, spunky young man who loves Star Wars, reading, science, Mario Bros., and working with his Snap Circuits.  Happy birthday sweet baby boy…we love you!

And, since I’m like a month behind on Jedi’s posts, here’s just an overview of the major things he’s done over the past month…


In earth science, Jedi learned how most of Earth is made of water. We played a game where we tossed the globe ball back and forth, and calculated the percentage of time our right index finger was pointing to water. It turned out we only landed on land less than 30% of our throws!


In art, Jedi learned that calendars and magazines feature artwork as well. He made a calendar that counted down to his birthday.


In life science, we learned about arthropods and insects. Here, Jedi's observing the body structure of a pillbug.


Jedi also experimented with balloons to see if air takes up space and has mass.


In art, he also learned about how some artists painted on church walls and ceilings. To help reinforce the idea, we covered posterboard with plaster, and then Jedi painted a mini mural


In geography, Jedi learned about Stonehenge. I made some sand dough (clay with added sand for texture) and he recreated stonehenge. And then Bug recreated the destruction of Stonehenge when she flattened the entire thing when Jedi was at martial arts.


Observing insects in acrylic


Jedi working with the geo board


Jedi's geo board creation


Jedi also raised caterpillars to see the life cycle of a butterfly up close (this is the third time this year we've done this...he loves it so much). Unfortunately we had to travel during the last part of the life cycle so we couldn't wait until they laid new eggs.


Since we are going on vacation to central America next month, Jedi began learning about the countries we will be visiting (Mexico, Honduras, and Belize)


At our homeschool co-op, they had an "interest fair" during the end-of-the-session showcase. Jedi wanted to do a project on Mohenjo-Daro, which is one of his favorite things he learned about. Here, he's putting his posterboard together on the various things he learned.


Jedi then made some clay bricks and glued them to a diagram to illustrate the ruins of the city


Jedi at the interest fair with his project--ruins, the posterboard, and his 2 reports he wrote and typed (one on what Mohenjo-Daro was, and one about what he thinks happened to the city)


Jedi's new obsession--Snap Circuits. Well, not new--he's had them since he was 4. But over the past month, he's been working with them non-stop--even inventing new creations that weren't in the manual!


Montessori Monday November 22, 2011


Yes, I realize I still have a blog post list a mile long to catch up on.  But, like most of you, this time of year is extremely busy.  As you know, we just got home from Washington DC a few weeks ago.  This weekend, we were in Kentucky visiting family, and later this week, we’ll be up near Cleveland visiting more family.  Then a couple weeks after that, we’ll be out of the country, and shortly after we return, we’ll be in Michigan visiting another set of family.  When we are home, homeschooling and the 15+ hours a week of autism therapies take over, leaving very little blogging time.  So, while part 1 of Jedi’s cake is baking in the oven (he turns 8 years old on Wednesday!), I am attempting to chip away at the ever-growing blogging list. 🙂

Here is a review of some of the things Bug and Monkey have done in the Montessori room.  Most of it is Thanksgiving themed. 🙂

Monkey and Bug gluing feathers onto a turkey


The finished product!


Matching colored buttons to turkeys of different colors


This work is good for both naming colors and fine motor--each colored feather has a space on the turkey.


I made this felt cornucopia last year and brought it back out. The girls still love taking all of the foods out and stuffing them back in!


Bug working on the 3 part sequencing cards

Bug and Monkey hammering with the cork & shapes work


And just like any other meal, Thanksgiving dinner can easily involve kids of all ages in the prepwork. Here, Bug (age 2) and Jedi (age 7) are using knives (butter knives) to cut bread cubes for stuffing.


This was Bug's favorite job--mashing the sweet potatoes! She loved doing this work and was very disappointed when it was time to stop smashing and start cooking them!


Washington DC Day 3: White House & Monuments November 15, 2011

Day 3 was probably the best day of the entire trip.  In the morning, the kids and I were able to tour the East Wing of the White House.  Since 9/11, the number of tours of the White House has been limited.  You also have to go through background checks and a lot of security checkpoints to do the tour.  We were so excited to be able to get tickets (thanks to Mr. Tiberi and his diligent staff!).  The kids and I loved being inside the White House, with all of it’s history.  We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, but we were allowed to use our cell phones and get a picture by the front entrance.  We were able to see several rooms in the White House (and items such as Abraham Lincoln’s China pattern were on display!), peek through the windows at the garden, and stand in the exact spot that President Obama gives his addresses.

After dark, we joined my husband for a walking tour of the many monuments in DC.  They are absolutely gorgeous at night, all lit up.

The kids and I in front of the White House following our tour. Thank goodness my cell phone was being nice and taking crisp pictures that day!


The front of the White House


Up close to the White House--this is where we left after the tour.


Proof we were there--our brochures we received at the beginning of the tour, and the kids' ranger badges!

We couldn't take pictures, so we just bought postcards of the rooms we were in.


Washington Monument


The World War II Memorial with the Lincoln Memorial in the background


The lights & water at the World War II Memorial were beautiful!


God Bless our troops! This was carved into the walls at the World War II Memorial.


Lincoln Memorial


Jedi and President Lincoln


Korean War Memorial


While we were there, there were only two other people. They were a couple from Korea who are now US citizens. Every week, they lay new flowers on the memorial. They also hand out flags to anyone who was there. The kids loved the Korean flags and were very interested in learning from the couple.


Haunting carvings at the Korean War memorial.


My very favorite of all of the DC memorials--the brand new Martin Luther King Jr. memorial. Not only do I absolutely love Dr. King, but his memorial was very well done. It was gorgeous and powerful and really symbolizes what Dr. King means to the country and world.


All around the memorial were famous quotes by Dr. King.


Another beautiful quote.


One of my favorite quotes, from a true hero.


Still so relevant today...


In the next few days, I’ll get the pictures up from the museum portion of our trip.  And I think I have like 3 weeks worth of posts for Jedi and the girls to put up on here!


Washington DC Day 2: National Zoo

On day 2, we hopped on the metro bus down to the Smithsonian National Zoo.  Jedi, Monkey, my husband, and I have been there once before, but this was Bug’s first time.  While she did manage to sleep through most of it, she did get to see her favorite animal–an elephant.  She was so excited to see them so close-up!

This little guy kept splashing around! The kids loved him!


Beautiful peacock


Jedi getting a lesson from a zookeeper about feathers


Bug admiring a feather


Bug's favorite--an elephant!


One walked right under the boardwalk! Bug was thrilled!


Monkey on a panda


A gorgeous Giant Panda




Cheetah pretty close to us


Cute little meerkat


Jedi's favorite...the jellyfish!



Washington DC Day 1

I have pictures from a few weeks ago when we did work in the homeschool room, but I’ll post them in a few days.  Last week, we were in Washington DC (my husband was doing some training for work, and we decided to tag along).  We had a lot of things lined up for the week, so I have quite a few posts coming with pictures.

Day 1 was very interesting.  We are pretty rural kind of people so being smack in the middle of a big city and needing to navigate it is pretty interesting.  Add in the fact that the GPS on my phone wasn’t working well, so I was going at it old fashioned (walking without a GPS!  LOL!), and we’re going to call it an adventure!

So, before I get to the pictures…a little riddle.  Take 2 kids with autism and plop them in the middle of Washington DC right where all the fun is.    Now, tell me what they thought was the most interesting part…..the part the couldn’t stop talking about….the part they OBSESSED about, begging our tour guide to let them see it one more time…..  Wait for it…..



The escalators.  Yep.  The older two were absolutely obsessed with escalators (so lucky for them, we encountered them a lot–on the metro, in the Capitol building, etc.).  Goofy kids!

Anyhow….  Day 1, we went to the  National Botanic Gardens, the Supreme Court building, and then our state representative had one of his staffers, Abby, give us a tour of the Capitol building (we even got to sit in the Representatives’ Gallery…we weren’t allowed to take pictures in it, and there were no Representatives in it, but it was still very very awesome.  This is the room that is on CSPAN a lot, and it is the one where the State of the Union address is given each year.)


The capitol building from the street


Supreme Court building


The kids in front of the Capitol


Beautiful Washington DC in the fall


There are several carved replicas of DC buildings at the National Botanic Gardens


Bug loved looking at the replicas!


Pitcher Plant


One of the statues at the pool in back of the Capitol

The kids climbing the Capitol steps (they actually didn't go into the Capitol from here. We had to go across the street to our state representative's office and from there, we got to take a really cool underground tunnel into the Capitol!)


Jedi found the Ohio office! Huge thank you to Mr. Tiberi's staff for setting up a really awesome tour for us!


Inside the old Supreme Court chambers before the Supreme Court moved from the Capitol to its own building


This is what is inside of that huge dome!


Monkey going up the stairs at the Supreme Court--almost all the stairs in any DC office building seemed to be marble! Beautiful, but I bet it's pretty slick in the winter!


If you look carefully, you can see the justices inside the chambers talking!

A gorgeous spiral staircase at the Supreme Court building


Barefoot in Suburbia nominated! November 7, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 10:05 pm

Barefoot in Suburbia was nominated as the best special needs homeschooling blog!  I am so honored to once again be nominated in the homeschool blog awards.

Please vote here for your favorite: .  You can vote once per person in your home (even babies!) up to 5 times. 🙂


Montessori Monday November 1, 2011


Heeey, made it under the wire this week! 😉  But at least I am posting Montessori Monday on the right day this week…

This past week has been a whirlwind at our house.  Both Jedi and Monkey are in the middle of their IEP process, and so there are a lot of appointments, meetings, and evaluations going on.  Monkey had an occupational therapy evaluation this past week as part of her autism diagnosis and we learned a lot of really interesting things…a lot of it gave us some insight into some of the difficulties Monkey’s been having.  We still have a few more questions, but at least now, we’re on a good path.  It is forcing us to look ahead to next fall when Monkey starts kindergarten.  We will likely be transitioning out of the pure Montessori-based homeschooling and get into a little more structure, simply because we not only need to accurately assess where Monkey is due to some deficits and difficulties she has, but she needs a bit more structure.  So, if anyone out there has a really good kindergarten curriculum, let me know!  We need it to have a strong multi-sensory and hands-on approach (as little verbal information as possible since one of her main deficits is auditory processing).  We are also Roman Catholic, and so if the curriculum is not secular, we’d like it to at least be Catholic-friendly. 🙂  Let me know any suggestions you might have!

And on to the review of Monkey and Bitty Bug’s week!

One of Bug and Monkey's favorite works--using tweezers to pluck the kernels off of the Indian Corn


Using the dot markers to make orange, yellow, and red "leaves" on the coffee filter tree


The girls using watercolor paints


Matching the mineral to the card


I found these cute little bead sets at Mich@els. Bug and Monkey loved stringing the Halloween beads onto the elastic to make their own necklaces!


This clay is some black sand clay I made for Jedi to use for one of his projects. Monkey took the rest, pretended to knead it into a loaf of bread, and then practiced her cutting.


Bug beading her necklace