Barefoot in Suburbia

Homeschooling & Special Needs, Inspired by the Montessori Way

Montessori Monday April 4, 2011

Monkey is 4 years 2 months old

This week, we decided to try something new.  For the past year, we’ve been using Karen Tyler’s Montessori albums.  However, with the addition of having to homeschool for 2nd grade too starting in the summer, I wanted to try something with a little more structure to it, so that I had things laid out for me daily.  I started using New Child Montessori, or rather, using it as a basis, but continuing with the Karen Tyler stuff (and just adding in my own personal touch as well).  I do love the New Child curriculum so far…it’s more of “Montessori-inspired unit studies” than pure Montessori, and for us, that’s fine.  It’s not like homeschooling is pure Montessori anyhow…LOL!

This past week, the focus was on reptiles of our home state, as well as the world.  We mainly concentrated on Ohio snakes and turtles, but we touched on crocodiles and komodo dragons as well. 🙂  Even Bitty Bug got into the lessons this week!  She loved the snakes!

One of the things I really like about our new curriculum (other than having the entire sequence laid out for me. LOL!) is the addition of a “circle time” and “yoga time”.  While we don’t follow the New Child schedule exactly (because it’s laid out like a traditional school day, which is just not necessary when you only have 2 children in the room!), we do add in the circle time date, weather, and story stuff, as well as the yoga time.  The yoga helps focus the girls, and the circle time gives me a chance to give the lessons before things get too crazy.  So, I’m really liking this program so far!

Here are some pictures from our week (Jedi was home on spring break this week as well!)

Using the metal insets

Big brother helping out!

Some of the books in the reading basket last week

More books in the reading basket

Snake shedding skin sequencing cards

Snakes of Ohio 3 part cards

Closeup of snake cards

Using a snake stencil

Decorating the spring tree (a branch we found on the ground outside, decorated in paper leaves and tissue paper blossoms)

The final product!

Matching and folding socks

Bitty Bug dressed for baking!

All three kids helping to make cupcakes

One of the best parts...licking the spoons!

I found these darling little silicone baking cups in the shape of flower pots, and we filled them with chocolate batter

And of course, we added green "grass" frosting and a gummy worm!

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Our Halloween Celebration October 31, 2010

Since the kids don’t go trick or treating due to allergies, we always throw them a Halloween party at home, filled with all of the costumes and unhealthy goodness that every child enjoys on Halloween. 😉  This party’s been a couple months in the making…we decided this year to make sure our party was eco-friendly and as healthy as it can be (well, as healthy as a party can be when you’re indulging in chocolate and treats! 😉 ).  All of our decorations had to be made from materials from our recycling bin or be things that either had been reused from previous Halloweens or could be reused for future Halloweens.  And above all, the kids had to have fun, of course!

So, on to the pictures….

Jedi attacking his pumpkin. Apparently he is a little knife happy sometimes. Should I be worried?

Bug getting ready to paint her pumpkin. I think it might be bigger than she is!

Monkey loved her pumpkin and didn't want to carve it. She chose to paint it (but we'll dissect it and take the seeds out to roast in a few days. 😀 )

The girls painting their pumpkins

The painted pumpkins in the back (Monkey's is red, Bug's is blue), then Jedi's pumpkin, my "food chain fishes", and Dave's traditional jack-o-lantern face

Dirt Pudding...homemade coconut milk chocolate pudding with chocolate cookie crumbs and gummy worms. All of our food was dairy/gluten/egg/nut free due to allergies, and free of refined sugars/artificial dyes/artificial flavors due to behavior issues. And as much as possible, we tried to get things made close to home (the produce and meat was)

Chocolate couldrons--chocolate cups with yogurt (plain with fresh squeezed orange juice & orange zest) and a chocolate covered pretzel "stirring stick"

Ghost & Pumpkin chips made of corn tortillas, olive oil, & himilayan sea salt with a pumpkin dip made with one of the poor pumpkins that didn't fare well the night before.

Jack-o-lantern oranges filled with banana slices & orange segments

Faux peanut butter cups made of sunbutter & allergen free chocolate chips

Vampire teeth made of apple slices & broken jagged banana chips

Blood punch, made with an organic super fruit & veggie juice, SoDelicious coconut water sorbet, organic lemon lime soda, & ice cubes made in a jack-o-lantern muffin pan

Worms. Made with an organic beef hot dog & a homemade BBQ sauce

Sloppy Joe Jack-o-Lantern pie

The food spread

Ghost made of cheesecloth

The party room...it's not very often you see a 7 month old house covered in massive spider webs. 😉

The haunted houses the kids painted, and the signs Jedi made

One of Jedi's toilet paper roll bats

The digging pit. A huge bucket filled with sand, fake spiders, and fake skeleton bones

What's Halloween without some candy goodness?

Hunting for the hidden candy

Dr. Claw (Jedi) as the party DJ

Bug & Monkey tossing beanbags into the pumpkin pail

Feeling the items in the mystery box--a bunch of squishy toy snakes & frogs, some fake spiders, ears of corn, etc.

Digging in the pit

Jedi looking for bones blindfolded

 

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
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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!

 

Tot School Tuesday September 20, 2010

Tot School

Bitty Bug is 20 months old

Bitty Bug continued to attempt to do everything Monkey did this week, as usual.  Only now she’s starting to get even more verbal and persistant about it.  Things did not work out well the day she wanted to try the eyedroppers and colored water and it was not an option for her.  Little Miss decided that she was going to be very vocal about her disappointment.  But, things changed when I brought out the scrubbing baby work.  I don’t think Bug could have been happier with the world at that point.  Give this child some water, a bar of soap, and a doll and you just found a way to entertain her for a very long time.  Apparently she loves to scrub things.  I might have to put that talent to good use one day… 😉

I tossed the extra sand from Monkey's primitive map drawing work into the sensory bin. Bug had a blast making animals hide in it!

Bug also wanted to explore the use of glue sticks this week. The purple color of the glue stick sort of made it hard for her to realize that it's not a marker. She never did figure out that she needed to actually stick something to it. LOL! But, she had fun running the glue stick over paper and making designs with it.

Playing with the clock puzzle. She liked turning the arms far more than she liked putting the pieces into the correct holes though!

Scrubbing one of her baby dolls

While Monkey was planting seeds, Bug was using the little shovel to scoop dirt and transfer it into various containers. She thought this was a fun work (although it was a bit messy of course!)

Using a funnel to transfer sand between the bottle and the pitcher

Using the knobbed cylinder block #1. She actually did pretty well with getting all of the cylinders back in the correct place

Bug also helped us to make cookies this week. Or rather, she stole the cookie dough while the rest of us were mixing and had a little feast. She really loved her job the most!

 

Random Recipe Post: Gluten/dairy/egg free zucchini+ muffins August 10, 2010

Filed under: In the kitchen — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 9:26 pm
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I just came up with a new recipe that I wanted to remember (and share with those that are cooking allergen free as well).  I have been using domatas living flour for my gluten free all purpose flour, but I recently decided to embark on making my own flour combinations in an attempt to get some more whole grains into our diet–that’s usually a bit tougher when one is gluten free.  I’m really pleased with how this turned out, considering it’s my first try not only soaking grains, but milling my own gluten free blend.   The kids tried them, and gave them a big thumbs up, so I’ll definitely be making this again!  (If you don’t have any inclination to grind and soak, feel free to substitute the flour blend for your favorite non-soaked all purpose flour blend…even gluten full if so desired.  If you use gluten free but don’t soak, don’t add the lemon juice, and drop the liquids down to 1/4 cup of milk.  If you use glutened flour, use the same accomodations for gluten free, plus drop the xanthan gum.)

Gluten/dairy/egg free soaked whole grain zucchini, carrot, & banana muffins (yes, that’s a mouthful, but it is really good!) 

The finished product!

Ingredients:

2/3 cup freshly ground brown rice flour

2/3 cup freshly ground sorghum flour

2/3 cup freshly ground tapioca flour

2 tablespoons olive oil (or whatever your favorite oil is)

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup + 1/6 cup SoDelicious vanilla coconut milk beverage (or whatever your dairy free milk of choice is)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 overripe medium banana

1 1/2 cup shredded zucchini & carrot (I used 1 medium zucchini & 1/2 medium carrot)

3/4 cup sucanant (or dry sweetener of your choice)

3/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp baking powder

2 tsp xanthan gum

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp celtic sea salt (divided)

Soaking:

Combine all three flours into a food processor to make sure they are well blended.  Weigh and measure 10 ounces of flour.  Combine the flour with the milk, lemon juice, and applesauce.  Stir until well blended (your mix should be like a thick batter).  Cover with plastic wrap and a towel, and let sit for 8 hours or overnight.

Making the muffins:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a dozen muffin cups.

In your food processor, shred the carrots & zucchini.  Measure out 1 1/2 cups and set aside in a bowl.  Mix with 1/2 tsp of salt and let sit for 10 minutes while you prepare the rest of the batter.

Mix the banana into the batter.

In another bowl, mix together the cinnamon, sucanant 1/2 tsp salt, baking soda, baking powder, & xanthan gum.  Add to the batter and mix well. 

Gently squeeze the vegetables to remove excess water.  Gently fold the vegetables into the batter.

Fill each muffin cup 2/3 of the way full.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.