Barefoot in Suburbia

Homeschooling & Special Needs, Inspired by the Montessori Way

Montessori Monday December 5, 2011

 

This will be our last school related set of posts for 2011.  We start our school year in June and work through most of the summer and fall so that we can take an extended winter break.  We are actually leaving for a trip to Florida, Mexico, Honduras, and Belize–we are so excited to have the opportunity to do that!  And of course, we’ll take the holidays off school as well.  We may do a little bit between Christmas and New Years, but Jedi has 600 hours of school completed already for the year, so we’re well ahead of schedule.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we’re completely done with learning.  We started doing the Teach Your Child to Read In 100 Easy Lessons with Monkey–it seems to be working a lot better than the Montessori methods with her autism.  We do that every single day of the week, and so we’re going to continue it even while on vacation.  I also still have work on the shelves, so while we’re home, there is plenty that we can do together (I recently moved our school room up to our formal living room so that we’re not in the basement during the cold part of the year.  It’s actually nice to have the school shelves up on our main living levels because we can do even more schoolwork throughout the day.

Here are some pictures from Bug & Monkey’s week in the schoolroom.

This was Bug's favorite work of the week--decorating a mini tree!

 

She did this work for hours!

 

The girls painting

 

Monkey really enjoys working with numbers, so we pulled out this work for her.

 

Practicing her M and S writing

 

Bug working with the wooden nativity

 

The clothespins had sparkly pom poms on them. Bug used these to decorate the felt tree

 

Using tweezers to put yellow yarn (hay) into the toilet paper roll manger.

 

Adding the clothespin "baby Jesus"

 

Monkey working with the Christmas Story cards

 

Holy Family 3 part cards

 

Close-up of the cards

 

Lacing Snowman

 

Using a spoon to scoop stars from one cup to the other

 

Bug working with the Christmas Story character cards

 

Gluing pom pom decorations to the paper tree

 

Monkey working with the Teen Board

 

We also celebrated our 100th day at homeschool by making 100-piece-trailmix. Each kid put 10 pieces of 10 different foods in their snack bowl--banana slices, marshmellows, popcorn, raisins, fruit nuggets, pretzels, dried cranberries, chocolate chips, pumpkin seeds, and cereal

 

Jedi making his trail mix

 

We have 2 Christmas trees in our house--a big one that is our main tree and this little tiny tree we had one year while living in an apartment waiting for our house to be built. The kids have free reign over decorating the little tree

 

Monkey using the Fisher Price nativity

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Allergen free holiday treats December 22, 2010

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

 

Toddler Tuesday, plus a Child of God Advent activity December 14, 2010

Tot School  

Bitty Bug is 23 months old

As I started writing this blog post, I realized that a  month from today, my little Bitty Bug will be a great big 2 year old.  It’s hard to believe!  Well, I guess it’s just hard to believe it’s already been 2 years since she was born…it’s not really all that hard to believe that she’ll be entering the famous “2’s” stage.  She’s been a spunky, curious child with a fierce independent streak and a cute smile she uses to get herself out of trouble on a daily hourly basis.  She started out as the quiet baby who never cried…it’s hard to believe that it’s almost 2 years since we started to wonder how she would fit in to our wild crazy house because she was always so calm and quiet.  Turns out she was just spending her time observing and taking it all in because now she is the perfect fit! 

I don’t think I’ve ever found a more curious child either.  She notices *everything* and she can spend a long time just looking at a tiny bean or pebble or shell she finds…feeling it, looking at the shape and colors, and yes, sometimes even giving it a little lick. 😉  We constantly have to bring out new things for her to explore because she craves it.  She is a fun one to teach!

In addition to the regular Montessori work, I’m also posting a picture of Bug doing an advent activity (I didn’t get many pictures of them working with the advent stuff this week, so I didn’t want to forget to post the one I managed to get a picture of!)

Here is Bug looking at all of the winter matching cards

She found a match!

She also did a fantastic job with sorting seeds. Although she also wanted to sit there and hold each individual seed in her hand. 😉

Working with her new latch board. She really loved playing peekaboo with the animals behind each door! Obviously some of the latches were really difficult for her, but she did seem to understand a couple of the more basic ones.

Using little tongs to transfer yellow yarn (hay) into the toilet paper roll manger.

Then, when the manger was filled with hay, she put the little clothespin Jesus in it.

Beautiful little Bitty Bug ready for grandma and grandpa to come over for a Christmas gathering

Except less than an hour later, Little Miss fell asleep waiting for them. Isn't she just so sweet....

 

Montessori Monday December 13, 2010

Jedi is 7 years 0 months old, Monkey is 3 years 10 months old, Bitty Bug is 22.5 months old

Last week was one of those incredibly busy weeks, as those early weeks in December tend to be.  We had holiday visitors over this weekend, Tang Soo Do belt testing for Jedi and me (Monkey is doing her belt testing on Wednesday), and some sharp winter weather has hit Ohio hard. 

Jedi was home from school today because of the winter weather (you might remember that Jedi isn’t homeschooled at this current point, as it is not the best arrangement for him.  Sometime in the future he might be though!  He does attend an awesome Montessori school though).  So, Jedi decided he wanted to come join us today, even though the work is geared towards preschool and toddler…he took the work and made his own extensions though!  It’s nice when he’s home and decides to work with the girls because he gives the unique experience of the only person in the house who has actually completed the first three year cycle of Montessori work!

Here are some pictures from this past week:

I put out a keys and locks work this week.  I tried to find 4 different colored locks with matching keys because I had originally intended for Bug to work with this.  But Monkey loved it a lot!

Jedi working with the Lake and Island landform trays

With one of the continent boxes

Monkey also decided to work with the continent boxes

Transferring foam snowflakes with tongs

Monkey and Bug sorting seeds (I have sunflower and pumpkin seeds, mung beans, and white beans on the tray)

Using the winter matching cards

Musings of Me has this darling large gingerbread figure on her site, and I printed it, cut it out, laminated it, and punched holes around the perimeter of it to make a Christmas lacing work. Here's the link to her whole gingerbread curriculum: http://thoughtsofesme.blogspot.com/2010/11/gingerbread.html

This is another wonderful work from Musings of Me--Christmas shapes! Monkey would take a card that had a Christmas object on it, and then use various shapes to replicate the picture.

Can you tell I've been busy with my printer and laminator this week? I also downloaded Musings of Me's holiday patterning cards. Monkey still has a bit of a hard time with patterns, but she really enjoys trying them.

And the gingerbread counting work (can you guess where I got it from? I think here is a good place to say THANK YOU to Musings of Me for putting up an awesome free gingerbread themed Montessori unit! Monkey worked with it a ton this week (and Jedi's currently lacing the large gingerbread as I'm typing this!)

Using the Melissa & Doug bead sequencing set. I really really like this work. It makes Monkey think, a lot--especially since there is no set pattern. She really has to look at the card and concentrate on finding the right shape and color.

 

Montessori Monday December 5, 2010

Monkey is 3 years 10 months old

This week, Monkey jumped right back into things after a couple light weeks due to the holidays and illness.  She was really happy to get back into things as well!  I had quite a few new holiday-themed work out this week too.

Monkey and Jedi opening the day's door on the Lego advent calender. We don't usually do the themed ones, but Jedi is really into legos, and we couldn't resist having a new lego creation to build every day in December!

Using a spoon to transfer red, green, clear, and blue glass beads

Trying to feel which baric tablet is heavier and which one is lighter

Exploring the thermic tablets and sorting them by material

I put out three different types of boards that use screwdrivers. Monkey really loved working with these!

Another of the boards

Sorting Christmas buttons by color

Using the fraction skittles. She had actually used these in her homeschool co-op class, so she went straight to it.

This was a new work that I just purchased. Every numeral tablet is broken into a puzzle where the number of pieces equals the numeral in the tablet. This work is really interesting, but the first thing monkey did was tip the entire thing over without knowing what was inside. So, we spent a good hour putting all the pieces back together! Jedi tipped it over too on another day (nope, my kids don't wait for help with anything! LOL!) and even he found it really challenging, and he's 7. This might be something that goes back in storage for another year or two...we'll see if monkey wants to work with it this week, and if not, I'll put it up until she's a bit older.

Working with the spindle rods. Monkey really really was interested in these this week, so we worked on them a lot!

Working with the peg board

Monkey loves mixing colored water into new colors! She did this one a lot.

I also introduced the landform trays this week. Or rather, one landform tray. We worked on "island" this week. She loved making the fish go in the water and the animals on the land!

Decorating the mini Christmas tree. She loved this one too! She actually didn't want to take it apart again, but Bug wanted to work with it too, so we couldn't keep the mini tree decorated. It was a very popular work with the girls.

A clothes pin work. I glued shimmery foam balls to the end of clothes pins, and then cut a Christmas tree shape out of green felt. In order to decorate the tree, Monkey had to practice opening and closing the clothespins.

The December sensory bin...white felt strips, red/green/white pom poms, foam snowflakes, little penguin and snowman figurines, some clear red/green/clear "gems", red/green/gold pipe cleaners, and some more of the shimmery foam balls.