Barefoot in Suburbia

Homeschooling & Special Needs, Inspired by the Montessori Way

Week 2 in review June 21, 2012

Filed under: In the kitchen,Kindergarten,Lower Elementary,Preschool — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 9:22 am

Monkey has been working on decoding simple 3 letter words using All About Reading. Here, she’s making some rhyming ice cream cones with the new words she was learning.

Monkey continued to work on learning a new capital letter each day. When I asked her how she wanted to do her letter of the day sheet, she chose finger painting.

In history, Jedi made some whole grain porridge, based on a medieval Roman recipe.  This was his first time using the stove, and he really enjoyed it.  Now he insists he wants to cook all the time!

Bug decided to do some flower arranging all on her own. She picked some white flowers out of my flower garden, and then picked the orange flowers out of her own garden bed. Then she asked to make a centerpiece for the table, so I gave her a glass of water to arrange the flowers in. Now every day she picks new flowers and arranges them!

In health, we talked about the brain. First the kids learned some basic anatomy of the brain. Then they did a couple exercises to show how the brain works. They tried to identify objects from a mystery bag to show how the brain helps us use our senses. Here, Jedi’s attempting to brush his teeth left handed to show how the brain’s signals are different from the dominant side and the non-dominant side of the body.

One of the projects they did in art was to listen to music and move their colored pencils on the paper according to the movement of the music. Jedi chose the Star Wars theme song and needless to say, the drawings were very animated!

In math, Monkey was learning how to make 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 by adding 1-5 to 5 (so for example, 6 is 5 and 1, 7 is 5 and 2, etc.). We used the bead bars to illustrate the concept.

Unbelievably, Bug *loves* worksheets. Here she’s matching rhyming words.

Bug really loves working with her tools too! She uses the bolt boards almost every day. She’s finally able to tighten and losen the bolts now.

Bug is practicing the pincher grasp by putting clothespins on the side of the basket.

In science, Jedi learned about arthropods and insects. Here, he’s using the hand lens to observe the differences in the bodies of various insects in acrylic.


Geography–USA June 13, 2012

Last week, we began our North America continent study.  We decided to start with the United States, since clearly that would be a familiar topic for the kids. 😉  As part of our study, the kids planned an entire meal with foods common in the United States, and then they had to help prepare that meal.

Bug and Monkey chopping vegetables and preparing the salad.


Jedi flipping the corn on the cob & hamburgers on the grill.


The meal they chose–hamburgers, pickles, corn on the cob, applesauce, and vegetable salad.


And of course, one mustn’t forget dessert! Jedi chose to make Boston Cream Pie since he was born in Massachusetts. He did a really good job and only needed a little help!


The final result of Jedi’s cake baking! Not bad for 8 years old and only having minimal help! It was delicious…I think this kid has a future in the kitchen. 🙂



FIAR: Madeline

Filed under: In the kitchen,Kindergarten — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 10:35 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

This week, Monkey began using the curriculum Five in a Row.  We wanted to start with a familiar story (and, honestly, I waited too long to reserve Ping…I ended up trapped in the library’s waiting list for a couple weeks! LOL!)  So, we started with Madeline, and Monkey really enjoyed it (Bug did too…she ended up sitting in on Monkey’s lessons because she loves the story so much!).

We ended up doing most of the activities in the FIAR manual, but obviously I couldn’t take pictures of them all since a lot of it was verbal.  Here are a few pictures I was able to take from the unit though!

I found a copy of a coloring sheet of Madeline and her schoolmates. I printed it out, and Monkey colored all of the friends before cutting them out. Then she used them to practice her addition facts.

We also learned about ways to divide 12. The author divides the 12 little girls into 2 straight lines. We worked on what it would look like if there were 3, 4, and 6 straight lines.

The girls in Madeline also broke their bread every night. Bug and Monkey decided to make their own bread. Here, Monkey is cutting zucchini for zucchini bread.

Mixing the bread dough.

The final product–mini zucchini applesauce loaves.

At the end of the book, Miss Clavel says “Thank the Lord you are well”. We talked about germs and ways we can stay healthy. To reinforce the concept of germs, we took 4 agar-prepped petri dishes. In the first one, we touched half with our hands, and then touched it again after using soap to wash our hands. In the next dish, we swabbed the inside of our mouths and spread it all over the petri dish. Then in half, we spread some toothpaste to see if toothpaste kills germs in the mouth. The third dish, we swabbed our skin and put it all over the petri dish. Then in half, we used antibacterial cream. In the 4th dish, we split the dish into 4 parts. Each of us swabbed our feet and swiped the swab into one of the 4 quadrants to see which person has the germiest feet. 😉 Stay tuned a couple days until we find out the results (we have to let the dishes culture!)


Allergen free holiday treats December 22, 2010

Filed under: In the kitchen — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 10:50 am
Tags: ,

Being allergen free around the holidays can be tough, especially for kids.  Everywhere they go, they see fabulous holiday treats…chocolates and baked goods and other sugary goods.  In our house, we are gluten, dairy, egg, nut, and shellfish free, which generally makes most conventionial holiday treats off limits for us.  However, I do try to keep a few things on hand that are easy to take with us to gatherings and events. 

Our go-to recipe is a “safe” version of Rice Krispie treats–instead of rice krispies, we use Envirokids Koala Crisp cereal and Earth Balance spread for the butter.  These freeze very well, so we can make them ahead of time and keep them in the freezer to pull out during special events.

Another easy recipe is for chocolate covered cherries.  This is so simple, but the kids love it!  All you have to do is melt a pack of chocolate chips (we use Enjoy Life allergen free chocolate chips).  Then, dip maraschino cherries into the chocolate and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  (If you are dye free, we found some fantastic organic jarred maraschino cherries at our local health food store).  Then just put in the fridge until they firm up.

Our all time favorite treat recipe is for chocolate covered marshmellows.  We use these a lot during Easter and Christmas to replace the conventional chocolate covered marshmellow eggs & santas that seem to fill the store candy aisles this time of year. To make these treats:

Melt one bag of chocolate chips mixed with 1/4 cup of butter substitute (we used Enjoy Life chocolate chips and Earth Balance spread).  If you like flavored chocolate, you can add a few drops of extract–vanilla, orange, or peppermint all work well.

Coat the bottom of each cup in a silicone muffin pan with chocolate.  We *love* using Wilton silicone holiday themed muffin pans to make shaped treats. 

Place one marshmellow in each cup, on top of the layer of chocolate.  We have used conventional marshmellows and vegan corn syrup & dye free marshmellows and both have worked out really well.  We usually cut the marshmellow in half.

Then, fill the cup all of the way to the top with melted chocolate, covering the marshmellow.

Put in the fridge for a couple hours until the chocolate is completely hard.  The treats can then just be peeled right out of the silicone pans.  Store the treats in an airtight container in the fridge.

Chocolate covered marshmellows


Montessori Monday December 20, 2010

Filed under: Exploring Nature,In the kitchen,Preschool — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 4:12 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Jedi is 7 years 0 months old, Monkey is 3 years 10 months old, Bitty Bug is 23 months old

As we head into the week of Christmas, our time in the school room has been reduced as we replace it with more “real life” things.  That is one of the benefits of homeschooling…when holidays come around, we get to slow down a little with homeschooling, but we more than make up for it with “life school”–real life work in the kitchen, etc.  We’ve had a lot of fun this week making cookies, playing in the snow, and preparing for Christmas!

Here, Monkey is working on a shapes puzzle...when put together, all of the shapes make a house.

It's always entertaining when Jedi joins us for homeschooling. He was attempting to reinact the part of Charlie Brown Christmas where one ornament goes on the tree and bends the tree over. Unfortnately, this tree wasn't the bendy type...

Hammering golf tees into clay

Monkey giving it a shot

Working in the winter sensory bin

Helping to decorate cookies

Bug also came over to help with the cookies

Jedi working on his pan of cookies

Playing in the snow

Jedi's been waiting all year to make a snow angel!

Jedi teaching Monkey how to make snow angels

On the sled

Bug really wanted to try the sled, but then wasn't too fond of it once she got in

One of my favorite pictures of my three little ones (we were trying to take a picture for their Aunt Samantha to thank her for the Christmas gifts.) I think this is one of the few I have of all of them looking at the camera smiling at the same time!


Montessori Monday October 24, 2010

Monkey is 3 years 8 months old

This week, we had another batch of new work out.  Monkey is really getting into the geography work now that the sandpaper globe and landform cards are out.  She is also really loving the pre-writing work.  She likes the pin punch work a lot!  She has really good control with the stylus and is so careful making the dots!

Another fun thing we got to do this week is make vanilla extract using fresh vanilla beans!  I poured the liquor into the jars, but both girls had fun putting the beans in the jars, and then shaking the mixture!

A new thing we put out this week is the yoga basket. It has a couple yoga mats in it, as well as some laminated pictures of children doing yoga poses. Monkey will get out 4-6 cards, lay them in a row, and then do the sequence, with a couple deep breaths during each pose.

Using the land form cards and the sandpaper globe

Coloring the world map (the water is colored blue and the land is colored brown). I colored a control card and laminated it so that she had something to make the world self-correcting.

Starting to use the metal insets. She didn't want to sit up at the table to do it though, which is something she should probably work towards doing soon. But for now this was her writing pose of choice.

Monkey really liked working with the spelling toy I put down on the shelves. We've had this one for quite awhile, but it was packed up when we moved, and it took a long time for me to unpack it again! She really enjoyed working with it though, so it will stay out on the shelves for now.

The ingredients for vanilla sugar and vanilla extract (yeah, not sure there are too many homeschoolers that get to work with vodka and rum during lessons. 😉 But, the end product will be really good, I'm sure!

Bug putting the vanilla bean into the jar of sugar.

Shaking the jar.

Putting the beans into the liquor for extract.

More beans going into the jars of liquor.


Catching Up part 1….Tet Trung Thu! September 26, 2010

Filed under: Family updates,In the kitchen,Preschool,Toddler learning — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 4:09 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I have two posts to catch up on today….Field Trip Friday and Tet Trung Thu.  I’ll start with Tet Trung Thu…

Tet Trung Thu and the Chinese Autumn Moon festival fall on the same day.  Tet Trung Thu is the Vietnamese Harvest Moon Festival.  It’s actually a day to celebrate children, who have to show great patience during the harvest season while the parents work.  Typically, during Tet Trung Thu, Vietnamese children are given small gifts, they make lanterns and march in a parade with them, they can make masks out of baskets and other material, and they eat mooncakes.   Obviously, that is a very overly-simplified summary of the holiday. 😉 

We don’t have a local Tet Trung Thu festival in our part of Ohio, so we celebrated at home.  Jedi was sick all last week, so we also had to account for the fact that one of the three kiddos was resting most of the week.

Since we have quite a few allergies, we couldn't order mooncakes and had to make them ourselves. Traditionally, Vietnamese mooncakes have a salted egg yolk in the center to represent the moon. Since we are egg-allergic, I used a ball of tofutti dairy free cream cheese as the center. Surrounding the cream cheese, I wrapped some sweet red bean paste.

The pastry dough is then wrapped around the ball of red bean paste/cream cheese. I then put the entire ball in the mould, and pressed it into the square shape.

This is what the mooncakes looked like after baking


This one was still hot when I cut it open. The other ones, we let sit for 24 hours, and the filling was a lot less goey that way.

What's a little baking without also licking the bowl. Monkey and Bitty Big cleaning up the bowl. 😀

Aaand, since the dough is like 50% sugar, they really enjoyed it. LOL!

Here is the big pile of things Monkey worked on during her school week for Tet Trung Thu (I'll post pictures of her working on it for Montessori Monday). There are two different types of lanterns, some basket masks, and some dragon puppets (my examples and her work are both in there). There's also our Vietnamese Sing & Learn book/CD that we listened to (there is a song for Tet Trung Thu on it)

Everyone out (in their PJ's... 😉 ) with their lanterns and our lion puppet having a little parade around the neighborhood. Since we're the only ones that live in the neighborhood at the moment, they could be as loud as they wanted! They liked that!