Barefoot in Suburbia

Homeschooling & Special Needs, Inspired by the Montessori Way

Montessori Monday March 19, 2012

Montessori Monday


First off, thank you to all who replied last week.  You gave me some good things to think about.  As a result, I have some new blog post ideas swirling around in my head. 🙂  Look for them actually in print on here soon. 😉

Bug and Monkey have been really busy busy this past week, both in the school room and outside.  The weather in central Ohio has been absolutely gorgeous lately, so I’ve been able to just keep the back door open and let the kids go outside any time they want.  Bug is already starting to get a little tan from being outside so much!  You really can’t beat mid to high 70’s, sunny, with a light breeze…before the first day of spring!  There have been a lot of bubbles blown, mud pies made, and puddles hopped in. 🙂

Here are some pictures of some of the other things the girls have been working on.

Bug and Monkey using little plastic animals to make footprints in the flour.


Animal tracks crayon rubbings


The kids traced an outline of a bat with white pencil. Then they used the pin punch to punch holes in the outline.


The kids also learned about beavers and beaver dams. Here, Monkey is looking at a picture of a beaver dam and making her own out of brown paper strips and glue.


The final product!


Matching rubber animal track replicas to the picture. We also named all of the animals. Because we always look for tracks in our neighborhood when we're walking, the kids could easily name some of the birds, the deer, and the coyote. 🙂


Learning about what seeds need to grow. Here, Monkey and Bug were working on sprouting bean sprout seeds.


Working on rhyming words.


Monkey has been *begging* to start having circle time (I think she learned about it from Blue's Clues. LOL!) So, I picked up this really awesome pocket chart from Lakeshore Learning. The kids especially love finding the appropriate clothing for the weather and doing math problems with the gumballs. Bug works on counting and sorting, Monkey works on addition, and Jedi works on multiplication.


Putting pipe cleaner shamrocks into a spice jar.


Learning the colors of the rainbow.


And stacking the rainbow into a tower!


Stringing colored beads onto the rainbow pipe cleaners


Sorting using the leaves of a shamrock


Hole punching with the shamrock


I put some yellow and blue food coloring in some shaving cream to work on color matching. They also used the shaving cream to paint shamrocks.


Monkey has some touch aversions, so she started by putting her hand in a bag to mix the shaving cream.


She took her hand out of the bag to paint with the shaving cream, but she wasn't exactly thrilled about it.





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.



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!


2nd Grade Week in Review January 9, 2012

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



Vacation Recap #6: Misc. Ship Pictures December 23, 2011

Filed under: Field Trip,Nature Studies,Preschool Learning,Toddler learning — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 5:27 am

Since 2 1/2 days of our 7 day trip were spent on the ship, my last vacation post is just a miscellaneous selection of pictures from on the ship.

Monkey and a giant towel elephant


One of the activities for kids that the ship had was a "make your own stuffed animal" workshop. All three kids loved it!


Monkey busy stuffing her bear


Bug with her cat


Monkey with her bear


Jedi with his moose


Formal night #1


Family picture on formal night


Jedi on formal night


Monkey being a goofball!


Towel animal...frog


Bug with the towel elephant. Every night a new towel animal was left in the room by the room stewards. The kids LOVED these!


Towel pig


The kids on formal night #2


Chilling at dinner time


Handsome little man


I love her "sweet" face


Bug really really enjoyed this view....


This is what Bug was looking at...the huge atrium


Towel turtle


Towel Sloth



Vacation Recap #5: Costa Maya, Mexico

Costa Maya was the final port of call for the ship.  And, I’m pretty sure that Costa Maya was also the favorite port of everyone in our family.  It had such a rich culture, beautiful beaches, a fun shopping experience, and a wonderful tour guide!  We couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the trip!


Our ship, the Carnival Dream, at sunrise in Costa Maya


We were in port by 7 AM (which was only 6 AM in Mexico) so we got to see the sun rise


The water was a bit rough though


The cruise port


Bug by the fountain


Beautiful morning!


We found a huge lookout tower and decided to climb it to get a good look at the surrounding city


It was a tall staircase!


My three little goofballs!


Feeding a baby tiger--he was there as part of a fundraising effort to raise money for a wildlife preserve/rescue


Isn't he precious?


Mexican flag waiving in the breeze


Once we were done exploring the port, we got on the tour bus for a tour of the city and an afternoon at the beach. Here is one of the several roadside restaurants we found.


Some little cottages


We stopped off at a small fishing village for exploring and shopping


Some of the handpainted items inside the main shopping area


One of the local restaurants


A building being constructed....we decided not to get too close. 😉

Some brightly colored blankets


After some shopping, the kids decided to hit the first of two beaches we visited


She's always happiest at the beach


Jedi and Monkey


The water calmed down a bit after the morning waves


Daddy with his baby girl


The kids were having so much fun!


After a bit of time on the beach, we boarded the tour bus to head to a private resort for some snacks and more beach time. Here, the water was a bit rougher, but the kids had fun chasing the waves


Digging a giant hole


The waves were getting pretty high


Bug decided to go pick up some shells....


...then quickly changed her mind


She did find a coconut she was pretty proud of


Afterwards, we headed back to the port


The kids loved this guy



Together, they decided to stage this. Everyone around us was cracking up laughing


Bug wanted a doll from every port--from bottom to top it is the doll from Belize, Cozumel, Honduras, and Costa Maya...and then a very happy Bug.


Vacation Recap #4: Belize City, Belize

The third port of call on our trip was to Belize.  Belize was very interesting–as the only Central American country where the official language is English, all of the signs were easy to understand (although kind of funny because the English in Belize is slightly different than the English in Ohio. 😀 )  In Belize, we boarded a bus to take a tour of Belize City before heading off to the Belize Zoo for the afternoon.

One thing about the Belize Zoo is that it’s not like a typical American zoo.  All of the animals in the zoo are native to the country and were rescued due to injury, death of a parent, poachers, or people who illegally purchase the animals as pets.  So, the zoo was a great way to learn about Belize’s native animals.

The other interesting thing is that if you’re used to the cages and barriers of an American zoo, you  have to be pretty careful in Belize.  The  cages are a lot less…thick?  Many of the animals were able to reach right through the cage, and there are no barriers between the cages and the guests.  Watching little fingers to make sure there aren’t any near the puma’s cage was a pretty big task for the day. 🙂

Belize, from the cruise ship. It was raining at this point, and the ship also has to anchor a few miles from shore. So, we had to take a tender in, which was an interesting ride--it was pouring rain and windy, so the poor little boat was being tossed around!


This cracked me up...a tiny shed acting as an immigration office.


Some houses in Belize


These were some of the houses in the area of town where teachers and lawyers tend to live




Jedi and Bug on the tour bus


One of the grocery stores in Belize City


This was a huge church where some middle school kids were doing cross country practice on the sidewalk


Bikes in the rain


Small markets and restaurants near a park


This reminded me so much of our time in Vietnam....people just working on the sidewalk quietly while the hustle of city life surrounded them


The channel that separates the two parts of the city


Jedi and the Boa Constrictor


Dave wanted to hold it as well




Spider monkey waving hi


Pretty native flowers


This was a really unique looking bird!


This bird was just gorgeous!




I couldn't believe how close we could come to this one!


I think this is the Gibnut


Jedi trying to see how the wingspan would compare with his own size


An alligator


But found an alligator to ride on




After the trip, the kids found a playground to play on for a couple minutes


Vacation Recap #3: Roatan, Honduras

Our next stop on our trip was Roatan, Honduras.  For this port, we chose not to go on the cruise excursion and instead we hired a private tour guide.  This proved to be quite the adventure–we were able to see a ton of things that are not available on cruise excursions.  We were also able to eat from a cute little local restaurant (although with Bug’s FPIES, even though we ordered something that should have been safe for her, she had a serious FPIES immune reaction to her meal).  But, I had the most delightful garlic fish, and the fish was caught right on the island that day!  We are not the type of travelers that enjoy sitting in the typical tourist destinations.  We love to see the culture, the day-to-day life, and experience the local cuisine and customs.  Our tour gave us that, and a lot more!

Our tour guide, Ann, from Victor Bodden’s tour company (Bodden Tours) was fantastic!  She was really patient with the kids and it was a pleasure having her show us beautiful Honduras!  And it was extra nice that her van was air-conditioned!  That was very much appreciated. 🙂

Beautiful Honduras early in the morning


We started off on the Mahogany Bay end of Roatan, but we ended up seeing most of Roatan by the end of the day.


Some music being played at the cruise port


I tried to take a lot of pictures of the "real life" aspect of Roatan


Look at this gorgeous view!! We did learn a very important lesson though..........always keep both feet on the dirt. The tour guide and our family went up to a deck that overlooked a very very steep cliff down to that beautiful ocean. I was holding Bug and the board we were standing on collapsed (it must have rotted out from underneath). Thank God all that resulted was a lot of bruises on foot had gone all the way through the board though. For the first time ever, I think I was thankful for my "childbirthing hips" which stopped Bug and I from falling all the way through. LOL!!! But hey, it was an amazing view, and a little adventure to boot!


There were some beautiful vacation properties and villas along the ocean


This was another gorgeous view of the ocean.


There is so much green in Honduras! Beautiful!

One of our stops that day was to Victor Bodden's Monkey Business. This place was so much fun!!! You actually got to go in the cages with the capuchin monkeys. This was probably the highlight of the day!


Bug wasn't fond of the monkey climbing on her head, so she very willingly let the employee hold her.


There were also parrots and macaws to hold.


This little guy was so friendly!


Monkey wasn't too fond of any animal that attempted to touch her.


Jedi and his bird


These are my new little buddies!


I love the monkey's face.... "Holy cow, this person's short!"


This little guy was a pickpocket


Toucan Sam


After playing with the monkeys and birds, we went for lunch. Here was the restaurant we ate at--the food was delicious, even though poor Bug had an allergic reaction to it. I'm glad we were able to eat in a local restaurant though, but we did learn not to have any more meals off the ship with Bug.


Beans & rice, garlic fish, & fried plantains.


After lunch, we took some backpacks full of school supplies to a local orphanage. The kids at the orphanage were all boys around Jedi's was fun to watch them all play soccer in the yard, even if my kids were too shy to join in.


The boys at the orphanage teaching another tourist (from a different tour group) how to play soccer.


At the end of the day, Ann took the kids and I to the beach, while Dave went ziplining through the jungle!


A warm day, beautiful white sand, and a gorgeous blue sea...what's not to like?