Barefoot in Suburbia

Homeschooling & Special Needs, Inspired by the Montessori Way

Field Trip: The Works Science & History Museum January 31, 2012

Last week, we decided to play hooky from homeschooling on Friday and meet up with a friend at The Works Science and History Museum in Newark, Ohio.  We used to go to this museum all of the time when we lived in Newark, but since we moved a ways away two years ago, we haven’t been there very often.  It’s a small museum, but the kids love it!  Usually we stay on the main level with all of the science stations, but this time, the kids also wanted to venture upstairs to the area of the museum that talks about the county’s history.

Monkey trying to balance on the skateboard.


Monkey and her new friends. 😉


Bug tossing marbles into the hole.


When the sign said to hang, Monkey had her own interpretation of it....


Bug making a car.


Racing her car.


Jedi building a car.


Bug working with magnets.


Monkey and Jedi with the snap circuits. Jedi was trying to show her how to make a fan.


Monkey and Bug decided to go to the toddler area and pretend to paint a fence.


Monkey with the glow writer.


Jedi loved the lasers!


Here, Jedi was jumping and tossing little felt circles onto the velcro strips.


Playing magnet tug of war with a friend.


Bug making the ball balance on the air stream.


Jedi and his friend trying to make the rings spin on the platform (which was spinning in the opposite direction.)


Monkey and the light table.


Jedi looking at the samples of flint.


Bug playing with the wooden boat. This was in the area about the canals in the county.


The kids loved looking at all of the artifacts from early Ohio!


A life-sized replica of an old factory.


Replica of a mastodon's foot!


Jedi's Week in Review

Filed under: Geography & Culture,Lower Elementary — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 5:27 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Here are pictures of Jedi’s week of homeschooling (after Monday’s focus on Vietnam and Tet of course).

We worked on several different painting projects last week. The first was blending tempura paint while the paint was still on the palette instead of blending it on the paper.


He decided to do a painting of Mario and some explosions.


The second painting project was blending the paint while on the paper to make a sunset.


After painting the sunset, Jedi added an entire alien invasion scene. 🙂


In science, Jedi learned about reptiles. Here, he's studying the skeleton of a venomous snake.


Studying a snake skin


Jedi was trying to compare the skin with the skeleton.


Studying basic facts about Vietnam--the language, main religion, population, type of government, etc.


In Ancient History, Jedi learned about the Philistines and made a replica of a Hearth Room.


Jedi also did his daily journaling for handwriting, as well as continued to work on vowel sounds and blends in spelling.  In math, he began learning about basic subtraction.



Montessori Monday

Montessori Monday

Last week, we primarily focused on our study of Vietnam and the Lunar New Year.  But, there were a few other activities that the girls worked on that I haven’t blogged about yet.  So, here’s the rest of the girls’ week in review!

Bug cutting her banana for breakfast one morning. She LOVES cutting her own bananas!


Monkey is really in a math sensitive period right now, and in particular, addition. So, she has asked for me to put out as many addition things as I can. Here she is making equations with numeral cards and bowls of marbles.


Close-up of her equation


Bug loved working with the penguin math set from All Things Wonderful: Bug and Monkey both used this work--Bug counted the penguins and tried to match the numeral cards with the number of penguins she had go swimming in the pond.


With Monkey, I read the story problems that were included with the math kit, and Monkey acted them out with the mini penguins and came up with the answers. She loved this!


Bug sorting objects by shape.


Monkey with the addition board


Monkey and Bug making pinch pots out of real clay


Monkey pinching the clay


The girls also did a science experiment this week to see if plants could drink water. Celery sitting in a bowl of water and blue food coloring.


They were amazed to wake up the next morning and see that the celery had "drank" the blue water!



Montessori Monday…on Wednesday January 25, 2012

Montessori Monday
Almost caught up!  A couple days late, here is the week in review for the girls!  This week, our primary focus was on ancient things–pyramids, fossils, dinosaurs, cave paintings, etc.


Monkey was working with the beads to make the pyramid.


Using a magnifying glass to look at fossils


Sorting dinosaurs


Matching fossils to the guide


Excavating replicas of fossils


Monkey and Bug excavating the fossils


Bug using tongs to carry the fossils from the bowl to the matching picture


Monkey and her sorted dinosaurs


Bug using the brush to get sand off the fossil


Using dinosaurs and sandpaper numerals to count dinosaurs


The dinosaurs on the numbers


Fingerpainting, cave style. We crumpled brown paper to resemble uneven cave walls, and then Bug used her finger to paint a design in red paint. Before she did, we looked at pictures of cave paintings in Jedi's history book.


Monkey will.not.fingerpaint. So, she was happy that I had left a brush on the easel for her.


Bug *loves* fingerpainting though. 🙂 She wanted extra stuff to paint.


Jedi's week in review

Filed under: Lower Elementary,Nature Studies — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 8:18 pm

Last week, Jedi spent most of his time working on a mineral identification project for earth science.  He had 6 minerals out of his 15-mineral kit that I wanted him to identify using several tests.  He did a really good job with doing the tests!

Using a hand lens to look at the physical characteristics of each mineral.


Using the streak test to see what color streak each mineral leaves on the streak plate.


This mineral left a grey streak.


Using various objects to determine the hardness of each mineral by seeing if each item could scratch the mineral. He used his fingernail, a copper penny, steel nail, piece of glass, the streak plate, and a piece of sandpaper.


Testing the luster of each mineral.


Checking to see which minerals were magnetic.


The final results of the minerals were: feldspar, magnetite, mica, pyrite, quartz crystal, and talc.

Along with mineral identification, he also did daily journaling, as usual.  He also worked on his spelling and math, as well as finished up his unit on Ancient Egypt.  Finally, he did some work on the periodic table with identifying how many energy levels each element has.



Chúc mung nam moi! Welcome to the Year of the Dragon! January 24, 2012

Filed under: Geography & Culture,Lower Elementary,Preschool Learning — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 6:11 pm
Tags: , , ,

I’m a bit late with my blog posts this week–I had laser surgery on my eyes late last week and my vision isn’t quite up to where it should be right now, so it’s hard to sit at the computer.  I’m hoping to catch up with all 3 posts today or tomorrow though!

Most people have heard that yesterday was “Chinese New Year” since erroneously, that’s what the vast majority of media outlets call the Lunar New Year.  What would surprise many people is that the Lunar New Year is not just “Chinese New Year”–many Asian countries celebrate the Lunar New Year!  It’s certainly not exclusive to China.  Since Monkey is Vietnamese-American, we celebrate the Lunar New Year using Vietnamese traditions.  In Vietnam, the new year is called Tet Nguyên Dán, or Tet for short.  Obviously, it’s difficult to replicate Tet without being in Vietnam, or at the very least, without having a strong background in Vietnamese culture.  But, each year, we add a little more to our family Tet celebration as the kids get older.

This year, we decided to take a day of school to learn more about Vietnamese culture and Tet, which is what we did yesterday.  Throughout the week, we’ll also focus a bit more on the country, as well as some of the Tet traditions.  Here is a review of what we did yesterday…

On Tet, trays of whole fruit are laid out--oranges are usually a big part of the tray. Also, Mut, dried and candied fruit, is usually eaten.


I pulled out some of our Vietnamese books from our home library so the kids can read them.


Jedi reading the girls the book Ten Mice for Tet


Playing some of the Vietnamese instruments


Learning the different signs of the Asian zodiac


Looking at some pictures from Vietnam


I brought out some of the lacquered items we picked up in Vietnam


The kids always love looking at the dong (Vietnamese currency)


Monkey playing with the dragonfly toy


All of the kids played B?u cua ca cop. Bau cua ca cop is a game that children and adults will play during Tet. You place bets on the game board as to which animal (or gord) will be rolled on the dice. I didn't have a game board, so I made my own from various pictures I found online.


The kids read How the Tiger Got His Stripes, a Vietnamese folktale. Then they colored a picture from the book.


Probably the thing the kids looked forward to most--lì xi. Red envelopes with "lucky money" are given to children by adults.


We decorated the dinner table with large faux cherry blossom branches.


In the Vietnamese tradition, celebrating Tet is referred to as "an Tet", or "eating Tet". Food is an important part of the Tet celebration. Here is our feast...we have some crispy spring rolls, Singapore noodles, various cakes and treats, Mut, Bánh chung, and Bánh tet chuoi. Our Bánh ch?ng and Bánh tet chuoi didn't come out like it should this year because we were missing a key ingredient--banana leaves! (By the time we figured out that we had run out, it was too late to get more...parchment paper isn't an effective solution. 😉 )


Chúc mung nam moi!!  (Happy New Year!)  An khang thinh vuong (wishing you security, good health, and prosperity!)



Montessori Monday January 16, 2012

Montessori Monday

Last week, Bitty Bug celebrated her 3rd birthday!  She’s not so bitty anymore…she’s officially ready to graduate from ‘tot school’ and now she is old enough to start the 3 year Montessori “Children’s House” cycle.  Now granted, she’s already worked on a lot of the works with Monkey, but now she’s all “official”. 😉

Here are some pictures of what the girls worked on last week.


Bug was absolutely thrilled that the easel made it's way upstairs this week! This girl loves to paint!


Bug also used the tea set to practice pouring water.


Monkey also loved painting! She wanted to paint faces.


Monkey had a BIG week in the school room last week. First, after learning the "t" sound (making her repertoire "a", "e", "s", "m", and "t"), she learned to read her first sentence--"meet Sam at mass". She was so proud of herself!


And then later this week, she started learning how to read her very first book--the "Mat" book from the Bob Books set.


Monkey working with the "5 beads" to learn counting by 5's.


Monkey went above and beyond with the beads though. While I was making lunch, I saw that she was making her own math problems (she had just watched Jedi doing math). She would write the numbers on a piece of paper, add the beads to the paper, and then answer the problem. So, I heard her saying things like "8 beads plus 1 bead equals....9 beads!" She made up a ton of math problems.


Bug working with the magneatos


Pin punching with the metal insets


The girls also worked on "heavy vs light". Using their meta & wooden scale from their toy kitchen, they tried balancing the scale by putting different toys and objects in each bowl.


The girls LOVED excavating toys out of blocks of ice. They used salt, chisels, hammers, and spoons to see if they could free the toys.


Monkey using a hammer and chisel to get the toys out.


Jedi's week in review

For art, Jedi learned about Michelangelo. To learn about sculpting, Jedi carved a face in an apple. After treating it with salt and lemon juice, we let it sit for the week. We have another week to go before it's fully dehydrated. After that, Jedi will use his new "shrunken head" to create a sculpture of a person (I'm pretty sure he said he wanted to do Darth Maul.)


One of Jedi's greatest school moments last week--he is adding 4 digit numbers! For those that remember, when Jedi left his private school, we had him tested by his psychologist to see where he was academically. For math, he was at the early kindergarten level and couldn't even add single digit numbers. Now, after just 6 months of homeschooling, he's on target for 2nd grade, adding 4 digit numbers!


In geography, we continued our 2 week unit on the United States. Jedi read about the lifestyle of children in various parts of the United States--he was amazed to see how different children live, even in our own country!


In science, Jedi was learning about amphibians. The first part of the week, he learned about the life cycle of the frog, and how the metamorphosis process differs from that of the butterfly.


Close-up of the models he used to observe the differences.


Jedi worked on making a metamorphosis wheel, with complete metamorphosis on one side (butterfly) and incomplete metamorphosis on the other side (frog).


For the second part of the week, Jedi learned that amphibians can hear even without ears. We tried a few different experiments to learn how animals like salamanders can hear with their legs. First, we used a slinky to demonstrate how sound waves compress and expand as they move. Then, we showed how sound travels better in some substances than through the air (by lightly tapping on a table and having the other person attempt to hear the tapping through the air, and then by putting his head down on the table...we repeated the experiment on the floor as well.)


To demonstrate how sound moves, we also did to experiments with the metal pan. First, we filled it with water, and then added single drops to the center to show the waves radiating out. Then we dumped the water out, flipped the pan over, and added salt to the pan. When we tapped on the pan, Jedi was able to see how the salt bounced and moved.


Jedi filled out the map of the United States, trying to name all 50 states. (He can't do it without looking at a map yet, obviously, but it was good practice for him to be able to take information from the big map and transfer it to the smaller map)


Jedi also learned more about the Washington Monument as part of his lesson on the geography of the United States. Since he visited the Washington Monument in October, it was good to re-visit the information he learned about it in October.


We also continued our work on ancient Egypt. Since the girls did a work where they excavated small toys out of a block of ice, Jedi wanted to do it too. So, we put some sand and the Egyptian figurines in a block of ice and Jedi worked on being an archaeologist, excavating the artifacts. Yes, the real mummies weren't buried in ice, but it was still a fun work.


After everything was excavated.


We had our first winter storm this year last week, and the kids really enjoyed school by the fireplace!


Montessori Monday January 9, 2012

Montessori Monday

It’s a pretty big week for Miss Bitty Bug–in a week, she turns 3…officially out of “tot school” and into the preschool age.  I can’t believe my little Bug is no longer able to do the Tot School blog hop!  And in just under a month, Monkey turns 5–almost kindergarten aged!  It’s an exciting time for the girls…but now mama’s missing the itty bitty stage–all my itty bitties are now big kids!

The girls enjoyed their first week back to the school room!  Here is their week in review….

The locks and keys work was put back on the shelves--both girls still love this work!


I used cotton balls to look like snowballs. Monkey loved using the tongs for this work, but Bug really just wanted to use her hands.


Bug got this for Christmas, so we put it on the work shelves. She loves this puzzle!


I brought back on the flag popsicle sticks puzzle as part of our World Geography unit on the United States


Bug making a torn paper collage. She loves tearing paper and gluing, so this was a big hit!


Bug using measuring cups and lentils to learn about volume.


Monkey working with the beads


Bug loved this work--using white tempura paint and glitter to fingerpaint a snowy scene


She was really getting into her fingerpainting!


Monkey? She HATES anything that gets her hands messy. She gave it a valiant effort, but hated every second of it. I'm not sure why she even chose it knowing how aversive it is to her, but she did. I think she really just wanted to get to the glitter part. 🙂


I did this work with Bug--gingerbread and gumdrop counting (this was from Musing of Me's kit from last winter)

Monkey with her 100 chain!


Bug playing with the figurines on the geography shelf




2nd Grade Week in Review

We’re finally back after taking almost all of December off homeschooling.  As you might remember, we worked through the summer so that we could take an extended winter break because of our planned vacation.  We had logged in over 600 hours out of the required 900 hours, so we decided to take the rest of the month off as a reward for the kids working so hard this school year. 🙂  The kids enjoyed their month off, but it was good to get back in the schoolroom.

As you might expect, getting a child with autism to get back into the school routine was not an easy task.  The first couple days were really rough–a lot of frustration and tears on his part for various reasons.  He thought the math and spelling were too hard, the watercolor paints mixed on his paper (he really really hates when paint mixes colors), etc.  But, by the middle of the week, he was back into his routine and doing well again.  Today, we were finishing up a science project and he kept repeating how he was really loving the science stuff and that homeschooling is great because he gets to do so much science.

Here are the pictures of Jedi’s week in review.

Meet George--Jedi's new betta. We needed a fish for one of the science lessons, and so George was purchased.


Pretty little guy


Jedi labeling the parts of a fish


Jedi measuring the difference between body temperature in a cold blooded animal and a warm blooded animal (the fish vs himself). He also weighed George by weighing him in a cup of water, and then weighing the cup of water without a fish. Now that George's role as a science project is over, he currently happily resides on the school shelves by Jedi's fire bellied toads.


Finishing his unit on fish, Jedi learned how fish float and swim. He put an empty glass eye dropper into a plastic bottle of water (it floated). The second time, he filled the eye dropper completely with water and put it in the bottle (it sank). The third time, he filled it halfway with water--it only sank a little. Then if you squeeze the bottle, increasing the water pressure inside the dropper, the dropper sinks. This experiment helped simulate the fish's air bladder.

This week, we began our two week unit on the United States for World Geography. I filled the top of the shelves with various objects that represent America--some art, postcards and flash cards of monuments, Native American figurines, pioneer figurines, cowboy/western figurines, a bowl of American animals, a flag, and a deck of US animals.


Jedi doing a watercolor portrait of his sister. He was studying Van Gogh, although after his meltdown over mixed paint, we had to do an impromptu lesson on Picasso.


In health, Jedi learned about good habits. He had to choose one habit he wanted to change, keep track of it for a week, and reward himself if he met his goal. His goal that he chose was to eat 2-4 servings of fruit a day. After the week, he was averaging three pieces a day, so he earned his chosen award--30 minutes with MarioKart. 🙂


In math, Jedi learned to tell time on a clock to the minute. He did really well with this!


Reading about Mount Rushmore. He also watched a short documentary on how Mount Rushmore was made. Surprisingly, he loved the documentary!


Jedi also learned about Old Faithful. After reading about it, he watched the live webcam. He was thrilled that 30 minutes into it, the eruption happened!


Learning to add 4 digit numbers, pseudo-Montessori style (with symbols representing the ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands)


Close-up of his work. Keep in mind that this was the same kid who was testing *2 years* behind in math at the beginning of the school year! Look how far he's come in just a few months of homeschooling!


Jedi reading to his sisters

Jedi measuring the weights of food substances in different forms (water vs ice, grapes vs grape juice, powdered sugar vs brown sugar)


In Earth Science, Jedi learned about the layers of the Earth. To reinforce the parts, he made us a "cross-section of the Earth" pizza--crust (the pizza crust), mantle (the white area), outer core (yellow area), and inner core (tomatoes).


The other things Jedi did that don’t have pictures:

Handwriting: Daily journaling

World History: Ancient Egypt–King Tut, the Middle Kingdom, and the New Kingdom

Geography: The map, flag, and geography of the US