Barefoot in Suburbia

Homeschooling & Special Needs, Inspired by the Montessori Way

Field Trip Friday: Apple Picking September 26, 2010

Filed under: Field trips,Preschool,Toddler learning — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 4:33 pm
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This week, we managed to have some 90 degree days, and some 60 degree days.  That can only mean one thing…it’s Autumn and time for apple picking!  We actually went twice this past week…once with just the girls as a part of a homeschool group field trip, and once this weekend with Jedi now that he was feeling a bit better.

Listening to the lecture by the farmer. He was talking about the Liberty apple and the parts of the apple. He also talked a bit about grafting the new apple species at his orchard.

Into the orchard....


The trees were really really full!

My two little ones picking apples

Monkey reaching high

Bug running with the apple she snuck a taste of

My two cuties

Helping to make the apple cider

The final step of making the cider

The delicious cider the kids made

Bug on the way home, sleeping with her snack

Jedi, joining in on day 2


Sunday on Safari September 12, 2010

Filed under: Exploring Nature,Field trips — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 9:09 pm
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Today, we took the kids to a place in central Ohio called The Wilds.  If you haven’t been there yet, you’re missing out!  This was our second time going this season, and we want to make one more trip there next month.  It never disappoints!  We got to take an air conditioned bus through over 500 acres (they have 10,000 acres total, but not all is available to the public).   It is the largest wildlife conservation centers in the United States and one of the largest in the world.   During the trip, we got to see some awesome animals up close and personal!

The view from the visitor's center

Bactrian Deer, native to central Asia and parts of the middle east

American Bison, native to North was actually kind of amusing to watch the rhino chase the bison. Don't see that every day...

More bison

An adult and baby Southern White Rhino, native to southern Africa.

We got fantastic views of the white rhinos, and one kept coming really close to our bus

At one point, he started running right towards us!

Eld's Deer, native to south and southeast Asia

Scimitar-horned onyx, formerly native to north Africa. It was extinct in the wild until 2007 when The Wilds send one of theirs to Tunisia as part of a reintroduction project

Bitty Bug relaxing in the mid-sized carnivore conservation area

Jedi making goofy faces outside of the cheetah area

Monkey taking a few minutes to sit down after watching the cheetahs

Cheetahs, native to sub-saharan Africa and northern Iran

Przewalski's Wild Horse, native to Europe and parts of Asia. They were extinct at one point, but were reintroduced to Mongolia and China in recent years

Giraffes, native to Africa

A honeybee pollinating the flowers--you can even see his pollen sack!


More Przewalkski wild horses


The kids walking on the trail

Various Ohio Native plants

More giraffes

Indochina Sika Deer, native to Vietnam and China, but likely extinct in the wild

Bactrian Camels, native to Mongolia

More camels

Persian Onagers, native to Iran


Field Trip Friday: The ice cream factory! September 3, 2010

Filed under: Field trips — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 10:00 pm
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Jedi’s 1st grade class went on a field trip last week to the Velvet Ice Cream factory, and we went along as chaperones.  We thought it’d be fun to see how ice cream is made (nevermind the fact that we’re a family of *4* dairy allergic people.  But, they had sorbet there, so all’s good. 😀 )

The tour started out with a huge water wheel and then continued to a little “school house” where the students heard a lecture about how ice cream is made.  Then everyone went to the viewing window to see the workers making and packaging the ice cream.  I didn’t get a lot of pictures of the inside of the factory itself because of the way the machines were positioned.  Finally, everyone went outside to enjoy the beautiful grounds and sample some treats.

The huge water wheel.

The pond on the factory grounds. It was absolutely gorgeous!

Jedi & Monkey watching the ice cream being made

Some of the machines

Another view of the pond

The water fowl hanging around the edge of the pond

Bitty Bug walking around towards the playground

Some of the ducks and/or geese laid their eggs in the worst possible place...right next to the sidewalk near the entrance. I tried to keep the kids from touching the eggs, but I suspect that the eggs are abandoned--we never once saw any bird go near them.

Some more birds


Field trip Friday, part 3 of 3 August 20, 2010

Filed under: Field trips — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 2:20 pm
The third trip this week was to the Slate Run Living Historic Farm at the Slate Run metropark. The farm is still completely functional and operates very similar to how it did over 100 years ago.  There is no running water or electricity on the farm, and it still raises animals and crops. Several times a year, they open the farm to children and allows them to assist with the farm chores to learn how children did their chores in 1880.

The kids shelling beans for the farmers to use in soup during the winter

Beating rugs with brooms

Washing laundry in the tub

Wringing the water out of the clothes

The root cellar

The woods next to the farm

A little farm inhabitant

A bunch of ducks

Combing the broom corn so that the farmers can make brooms out of it

Monkey taking leaves off the stalk to feed the cattle

Both kids gathering leaves for the cattle


One of the cows

The two month old bull calf

The horse

Getting the kernals off the dried corn so they can grind the corn

Pumping water

Helping the farmer make rope

The pig that the kids fed rotten apples and corn cobs to

Bug feeding a pig


The water the kids were pumping

Pumping more water


Bug decided that *this* was her favorite farm chore. 😉


Field trip Friday, part 2 of 3

Filed under: Field trips — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 1:54 pm
The second trip we went on this week was to the Natural Play Area at the Highbanks Metropark.  The Columbus metropark system created natural play areas as a way to expose children to the natural play that used to happen years ago, where kids were allowed to run through the woods, dig, climb trees, catch butterflies, and wade through streams & rivers.  We decided to go with some friends (from The Attached Mama blog: ).  It was a fantastic time!  Climbing trees wasn’t exactly on the menu this time (there was poison ivy that was taller than my children!) but we did play in the fields and then hiked through the woods down to the river for some creeking. 
What a fantastic resource for Central Ohioans!  Actually, the entire metropark system is.  So those of you in the area, take advantage of it–you already paid for it with your taxes!  (Well, maybe I didn’t…we don’t live in the same county as the parks.  But, I would have! 😉 )

Catching butterflies in the field

A huge burr I found by the trail

The entire crew running down the trail through the woods

And into the river they went! It didn't take them long to figure out how to get down to the water. 🙂

Even Bitty Bug was climbing rocks and looking for animals in the water!

Jedi caught a whole lot of these little water bugs

C**** and S***** wading through the river

I caught this cool crawfish. All of the kids loved looking at it!

The girls watching the crawfish swim in the little container

Minnows Jedi caught. He was so excited that he caught a bunch all at once!

Jedi and Bug taking a break

All three of my cuties after a morning of hiking


Field Trip Friday…part 1 of 3

Filed under: Field trips — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 1:40 pm

This week was a busy week of field trips, so I decided to just save them all for a Field Trip Friday post.  This week, we hit the Columbus Museum of Art, the Natural Play Area at the Highbanks Metropark, and the Slate Run Living Historic Farm at the Slate Run Metropark.  I’ll post each in it’s own separate post since there are quite a few pictures.

Part one is a brief recap of our trip to the Columbus Museum of Art.  The museum is undergoing major rennovations, so the majority of it is shut down.  During the rennovations, the museum is highlighting one collection at a time.  It also has free admission during most of the summer.  So we decided to take advantage of the opportunity to visit the museum for free, while not having the job of tackling a large art museum with 3 small kids. 

It turned out to be a great introduction to art museums for the kids.  The museum was featuring a collection of animal-related art, which is perfect for us!

Heading up to the creativity district in Columbus

Looking at one of the pieces, and then trying to put together the jigsaw puzzle of the art piece

Working on the puzzle

Jedi putting on a puppet show at the museum

Bug drawing in the children's area

The kids listening to information on the art pieces

My three little ones!

Jedi & Monkey

And Monkey & Bug relaxing at home after the trip


It’s been awhile! June 20, 2010

Goodness, I apologize for the lack of posts.  Things just got very busy around here, very fast.  Jedi’s out of school for the summer and our days have been filled with almost daily field trips, some Montessori stuff (it’s awesome to have Jedi home during the days to work in the room with Monkey and Bitty Bug!), and we’ve also been working a lot on landscaping.  Honestly, that’s been taking up a huge amount of time–there’s only a small window of time during the year to do new plantings, and with a newly built house, landscaping becomes quite the task!

I do plan on starting up posting again, at least a few times a week!  We’ve been going on so many great trips and enjoying the outdoors, and it’d be nice to document those as well!  In the past few weeks, the kids have pet flamingos at the zoo, came face to face with zebras and giraffes at a safari animal conservation center, went strawberry picking, visited farmer’s markets, and went to the lake (for swimming…but they also observed minnows and shells). 

We’ve been doing quite a bit in the montessori room as well.  One of the big things we’ve been trying to work on with Monkey is colors–she has a very hard time identifying the names of the colors, but she can sort them just fine.  I’m not quite sure how to help her with this (she has some processing issues that make understanding words a bit difficult for her.  She’s always had delays in speech & language because of her selective mutism and other special needs, and verbal processing is one of the last things she’s developing).  I did get her a “colors of nature” work where she sorts various animal figures and plant figures into the primary colors.  She does pretty well with this (and Bitty Bug joined in…she hasn’t quite gotten it yet, but it’s interesting to watch her none-the-less.  She definitely doesn’t sort, but she does carefully observe each piece–more on that in a second…).  I do have to research some ideas on helping her get the names of the colors as well…three part nomenclature cards won’t quite work yet as she’s not ready for letter identification just yet.  If there are other Montessorians out there who have worked with children who have processing issues, or if you have an idea for me, please do let me know!

Back to Bitty Bug and her little things obsession.  This child *loves* tiny things.  She will pick up every rock, shell, piece of carpet fuzz, you name it.  And then she will observe every single inch of it.  It is really quite interesting to watch.  She enjoys going to the lake for this very reason…there are so many tiny little pebbles and shells for her to pick up and observe.  She definitely will have an eye for detail, that’s for sure! 

And here are a few pictures from the past few weeks…


We’re back on Monday! April 15, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 9:40 am

The school room is finally unpacked and so I’m taking the rest of the week to finish unpacking other rooms and doing some lesson planning. The plan is to have Monkey in the school room on Monday morning.

I’m also starting a Montessori training course next month as well–it’s a year long course but covers all of the Montessori things from ages 2-6…so perfect for my younger two! I’m looking forward to seeing what the course has to offer!

Anyhow, stay tuned for next week…we’ll be back! (Actually, we’ve still been doing things on our official hiatus…we went to a geological museum, a farm, and a science class on turtles. So, it’s been a lot of field trips while our lives have been packed in boxes! 🙂 )


Nature class day March 11, 2010

Filed under: Exploring Nature,Family updates,Field trips,Preschool — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 8:35 pm
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Two Thursdays a month, Monkey has a nature science class at our local arboretum, so in addition to our normal Montessori stuff, we went to her class as well.  The class today was about Owls.  The teacher read a couple stories about owls and then showed all the kids what is inside of an owl pellet.  They also got to pet a stuffed owl (not a stuffed toy…a real owl that was stuffed after it died.  Kind of gross, but she thought it was soft. LOL!).  Then they made an owl puppet by coloring a paper with an owl face on it, then cutting it out and gluing it to a brown paper bag.  Monkey actually did really well with this.  Usually she avoids going near any of the other kids (due to her RAD), but she really wanted some of the crayons, so she actually sat in the circle.

After the class, Monkey, Bitty Bug and I went out for a brief nature walk in the arboretum.  It’s still a bit (ok, a lot) muddy out, so we had to cut it short when the baby fell in the mud and got wet.  She insists on walking everywhere, but isn’t very steady walking in the mud.

At home, Monkey worked on several things.  I left out the paper snipping since she loved it so much.  She needs more practice in the dry pouring, but she was bored with the rice and seeds, so this time I put in some Shamrock Confetti for St. Patrick’s Day.  She thought that was pretty fun, even though she made a mess with it the first time being a little over-excited about the confetti. 🙂

For color matching and sorting, I put out some flower shaped foam pieces in spring colors.  She did this perfectly!  For tonging, I put the spring colored pom poms out for her.  I also kept out the yellow knobless cylinders, the color books, and sink vs float.  I’ve been changing the items in the sink vs float…she was very interested in the fact that a pipe cleaner crumbled into a ball will sink, but a pipe cleaner stretched out into a line will float!  Actually, Jedi came home and was amazed by that too–he said the pipe cleaner ball was so light that he thought it would float.  He tried a cotton ball, which sank too.  We decided that’s why you shouldn’t wear cotton swim suits…the cotton ball absorbed so much water that it was really heavy!

Next week, we’ll be a bit “homeschool lite” because we’re starting the moving process!  It should take us about 2 weeks to get in the house and start unpacking enough that we can continue with school.  We will still be doing stuff of course, but probably not as much.


Field trip day! March 4, 2010

Filed under: Field trips — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 12:05 am

Today was a busy day for Monkey.  I put out a whole line of work for her, plus we took a field trip with a local homeschooling group to the arboretum to watch maple syrup being made.  Bitty Bug came with us, and I think that probably made the experience not as good as it could have been for Monkey.  First, Monkey and Bitty Bug were the youngest two kids and second, it was freezing cold!  Monkey was fine with the cold and in fact, she just really wanted to play in the snow, but it was hard for her to concentrate on what the tour leader was saying since the tour leader was teaching at a 2-3rd grade level and not a preschool one.  I went through the stations with Monkey and repeated what the leader had said, but only in words a preschooler would know.  She seemed to understand that a lot better.  However, Bitty Bug was throwing a huge fit the entire time.  She wanted to get down and play and run the opposite way of the group–ever since she’s learned to run, she’s wanted to do it everywhere.  When I didn’t let her continue to run away (we’re in the middle of the woods at this point), she started throwing a tantrum.  It was well after nap time, so we had to leave before the end of the tour.  Monkey was a bit disappointed that she wouldn’t get to taste the fresh made syrup because we left early, but Bitty Bug’s tantrums were kind of disruptive to the other kids.  For what we were able to see, it was interesting though.  I think we want to try more field trips in contained areas though, like museums, where Bitty Bug can have fun too. 🙂

As for work in the Montessori area, I kept out the cotton ball transfer work, the pumpkin seed pouring work, the Pink Tower, the Brown Stairs, and the reading basket with maple syrup books in it.  I also added a work where Monkey could sort foam pieces by shape (I used winter-themed shapes), a letter A made out of construction paper with some pictures of things that start with A so she can make an A collage, and a setup with a small loaf of bread, a knife, cutting board, plate, dairy free butter, strawberry preserves, and two spreaders so she could prepare her breakfast. 

Monkey *loved* the idea of preparing her own breakfast.  She ran to the table and started doing this right away.  She had a little difficulty cutting the bread, but for the most part, she did fairly well.  By the end, she had just cut most of the way through and then ripped the last little bit off.  She did well spreading the toppings on the bread, but had trouble with the fact that you have to split the toppings–if you used all the butter for one piece of bread, there wasn’t any left for the other slices.  She ended up having one slice with butter, one with jelly, and one plain.  LOL!

The “A” collage was an ok experience for her.  I want her to have a letter collage for each letter of the alphabet by the end, but she’s really having a hard time with letter recognition and sounds, so I’m not sure how much she got out of it.  She enjoyed taping the pictures to the letter A though.  We just have to keep going over what all the pictures are so that she figures out that Asparagus, Alphabet, Apple, Art, and Arm start with the “a” or “ah” sounds.

She was excited to see the pouring and transferring wor still there and worked with both of them for a little while.  She also attempted the pink tower today too.  She was able to get the first four blocks in the correct order, but then mixed up the smaller ones.  After the tower fell over because it wasn’t balanced, she started to put the blocks in the right order.  That self-correcting aspect of the work was really useful today!

She did not choose the brown stairs or reading basket today.