Barefoot in Suburbia

Homeschooling & Special Needs, Inspired by the Montessori Way

Science time…learning about Volcanoes May 4, 2011

Filed under: Geography & Culture,Preschool Learning,Toddler learning — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 1:09 am
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We are currently learning about volcanoes, and to help Monkey remember the different parts of a volcano, we decided to make a (safely) erupting volcano!

The volcano...we made it out of wire, clay, and acrylic paint.

In a small plastic paint cup, we put a tablespoon of baking soda, a tablespoon of dish soap, 5 drops of red food coloring, and 5 drops of yellow food coloring.

Next, we put the cup in the top of the volcano. Then, we added 2 tablespoons of white vinegar.

The beginning of the eruption....

The kids thought this was delightfully messy and fun!


Montessori Monday January 24, 2011

Monkey is 3 years 11.5 months old

Monkey was back in the school room full force this week!  I’m amazed at how much Monkey attempts to do each session.  Although equally surprising is that she doesn’t choose what I thought she’d want to choose…she’s not really into the pink tower or the knobbed cylinders anymore, for example–she liked them a lot a few months ago, but as she heads closer to 4 years old, she seems to be picking work that requries more attention to smaller details–for example, she *loves* the work with the minerals.  And while she was very much into learning letter sounds and writing her name before Christmas break, now she seems to be more into the math works.  Part of me wonders if it’s just the natural learning process to skip from one thing to another and then come back to something, like writing, that they were interested in earlier.  But part of me wonders if holiday breaks make one forget what they were so interested in before break.  if so, we’ll have to fix it next year so that we’re spreading the school year out more and only taking a couple days off at a time for breaks instead of two weeks.  It also might be why children in tradition school seem to lose a bit of progress with major breaks…

Here are some pictures of what Monkey’s been working on this week….

Continuing with our unit on minerals, I made some 3 part cards witht he names of all of the minerals. For this week, I only put out the control cards so Monkey can match the mineral with the picture, but later I'll put out the other parts of the set. On the back of the 3 part cards are descriptions of each mineral, what the mineral is used for, and whether the mineral is found in Ohio.

I put out a snowman lacing work this week as well. This work is courtesy of Musings of Me ( She comes up with the best themed units every month...I always look forward to what she comes up with!

We also worked on learning the parts of a fish this week, as we start our work on vertebrates.

We also worked on naming some animals that are vertebrates. I got out some of our animal x-rays so that Monkey can see what the backbones on various animals look like.

Bug so graciously let us use her light table for the x-ray work, which made for a really cool science lesson!

I *love* this entire book series--we have most of the series. I brought out the books that focused on vertebrates so the girls can see the bone structure of the animals.

Bug and Monkey looking through more of the science books.

This month, we are studying the art of John Constable. I printed out a few of his works, and then printed out some coloring sheets so that Monkey can color her own versions of John Constable's paintings.

We also worked on sorting which clothing items one would wear in each season. This is especially useful for my little one who thinks she doesn't really need to wear a coat when it's 10 degrees outside!


Welcome back! January 11, 2011

Welcome back to the new Barefoot in Suburbia montessori homeschooling blog!  It might take me awhile to archive some of the most popular posts, but my old site is still online.  So, until then, here are a few of the most popular posts!

A tour of our Montessori Homeschooling room as of 6/2010
Our Montessori Peace Table to help curb the fighting among the children
Our (successful) attempt at cooking cookies & hotdogs using solar power on a hot summer day.
Holy Family & Advent downloads
Homemade geo board
Cooking with Tots!
Snack Table

Click to go back to the original Barefoot in Suburbia Montessori blog


Tot School Tuesday August 31, 2010

Tot School

Bitty Bug is 19.5 months old

Since Monkey started her official homeschooling this past week, Bitty Bug got to join in.  She loves joining in Monkey’s work time!  Even though I have specific shelves set up for Bug, she doesn’t limit herself to those shelves.  In fact, she almost always chooses to work on something I’ve set out for Monkey.  One of the interesting things is that I’ve noticed she will put her own spin on the work, making it more age appropriate for a 1 1/2 year old.  It’s interesting to watch her adapt the work herself!

Bug did several things with the shells and bowls. Here, she is pouring them from one dish to another. She also would take them one by one, inspect them, and transfer them to the other dish.

Bug is more than excited about the life cycle of a butterfly figures. She didn't quite know what to do with them, but she knew what the caterpillar and butterfly were, since we have those living in the butterfly pavillion in the kitchen. She also loved just touching and exploring the different textures. **Warning: Obviously, that egg is small and round. I was standing within a foot of Bug when she was using this, watching her very carefully. Please use your discretion when allowing children under 3 to explore small objects. *

I found a bunch of wallets at a consignment store for $1 each, so I picked out a few of them. One had a zipper, one velcro, one a buckle, and one a clasp. She loved trying to open and close each one of them.

Here, Bug is spooning the rubber pom poms into the small cups.

Bug really *really* wanted to do the pouring activity. As you can see, the first time she tried, was not a success. But, she was really surprised to see all of the rice fall out when she tried. We cleaned it up and she tried it again, and each time she spilled less and less!


Montessori Monday: 1st week of school! August 30, 2010

Monkey is 3 years 6 months old

While we’ve been doing some work in the Montessori room all summer, this week was our first official week.  Before this week, we were sort of testing the waters, allowing Monkey to use the basic materials in order to get her used to her new school room. 

The first week went fairly well.  Monkey stayed in the room for about 2 hours each day (before getting distracted and deciding she was done).  Unfortunately, Monkey knows the train table is right outside the school room, so she decides that she’s done with school and wants to play with the trains instead.  But for the most part, Monkey has been doing really well exploring the new work.

For zoology, Monkey just did the concrete introduction where she learned that there are 4 characteristics of animals: they need to eat, they need to drink, they need to breathe, and they need to reproduce.

In Practical Life, there was a colored rice pouring activity. Monkey did really well, and after the first time, she rarely ever spilled any!

She matched the blocks of the pink tower to the blocks on the paper.

Also in Practical Life, I put out a spooning work--here, she's spooning rubber pom poms into various cups.

For the whole hand part of Practical Life, Monkey transferred sea shells between dishes.

Monkey did a sweeping work, where she swept cloth leaves off the table into the dustpan

For botany, it was another concrete introduction presentation where she learned that plants need dirt, water, and air to live, and they reproduce with seeds. Of course, Monkey decided to mix all of it together to see if she could grow a plant too!

She did a sticker matching work, where she matched the stickers on the control card to the stickers on the small cards. The stickers differed in shape and color.

Monkey really enjoyed the things out for the butterfly life cycle. She was able to match the figures to the colored pictures, as well as figure out which stage our caterpillars were currently in.

This shape matching activity is a Melissa & Doug toy that she really enjoys playing with

For the Cubes & Cards activity, monkey matched foam cubes to the corresponding color on the paper. She did a really good job at matching all of the cubes!

Here she is, still working with the lifecycle of a butterfly figures. This time she's matching them to the uncolored sheets.

Monkey is assembling a flashlight while Bug is working with the lifecycle figures


Fun with Science…solar powered cooking! July 7, 2010

Filed under: In the kitchen,Preschool,Saving the Earth,Toddler learning — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 3:06 pm

It’s been really hot in Ohio lately, with the heat indices close to 100 degrees for the past several days.  Yesterday, Jedi asked if it was hot enough to fry bacon on the sidewalk.  And of course, when someone asks a question like that in our house, it becomes a science experiment!

So, we tried three separate foods to see if we could cook them using solar power–bacon, hot dogs, and chocolate chip cookies!

For the hot dog, we cut one side out of a milk carton, and lined it with some foil, shiny side up, in an arch shape. Then we put some hot dogs in it (with slits cut in them to let steam escape...not sure if we needed to do it, but why not. LOL!)

Hot dogs in their solar powered cooker.

For the bacon, we lined a cast iron pan with foil, shiny side up, and then layed the strips of bacon in it.

Bacon ready to be cooked

We set both things in the driveway to cook.

My car thermometer says it is 88 degrees out for our experiment. It's also sunny with a few clouds, and it's 1 PM.

For the cookies, I used a gluten free vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe (since we don't eat eggs, gluten, or dairy).

Cookies ready to go out to the car.

I put the cookies on the dashboard of the car, and opened the shield to the moonroof so that more sun can come in (I left the actual moon roof closed though)

While the cookies were baking, we looked at the bacon and hot dogs. After 20 minutes, both were pretty hot. I did take them in and finish them off on the stovetop for one minute just to make sure they were safe for the kids to eat. 😉 )

After 60 minutes, the cookies had expanded and were starting to firm up.

At the 2 hour mark...the cookies are DONE! They are firm, warm, and taste delicious! (And my car smells awesome now too. 😉 )

Even the bottom of the cookies got a little brown. Actually, for gluten free vegan cookies, these actually baked up better than in the oven. Usually they fall right apart coming off the pan when they come out of the oven, but these were firm right off the pan. I've used this recipe a lot in the oven, so I was pretty familiar with the results using non-solar methods to cook.)


So, there you have it…it’s so hot in Ohio these days, you can cook bacon, hot dogs, and cookies (and maybe it’s a good time to remind y’all not to leave pets and kids in the car these days.  After all, it was only 88 degrees, and the car still got hot enough to bake cookies!).  And these were pretty energy efficient cookies…no electricity at all!