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


Montessori Monday August 23, 2011

Monkey is 4 years 6 months old

One of the new things we had in the schoolroom this week, was a "please touch" table for objects found in nature. This week, I put out a bird theme--an owl pellet, some feathers, a replica of a barn owl skull, and some nests (one random one we found in a tree that had been abandoned, and the robin's nest that was featured a couple months back. We had to have the fence painted, so once the hatchlings left the nest, we had to remove it from the fenceline). I put some tweezers, a hand lens, and some other magnifiers in a bowl for the girls to use.


The nest and observation equipment


Owl pellet, replica of a bird egg, and feathers


The craft project this week was using tempura paint thickened with cornstarch. The kids then used popsicle sticks to swirl the paint. The paint is thick and doesn't dry flat to the paper, so it was nice and textured. The paint colors also didn't blend very easily, so there was a nice marbling effect.


Closeup of the final products


Scooping seashells from one bowl to the other


Using a sea sponge to transfer water from the round bowl to the square bowl


Dry pouring using seashells


Monkey transferring water using the sponge


Using the hand lens to observe the robin's nest


Working on her Letter A book

Using the parts of an elephant cards

Matching adult animals with their young


Bug & Monkey working together to make their own orange juice


Montessori Monday August 9, 2011

Monkey is 4 years 6 months old

This week has been a rather interesting week for Monkey, primarily outside of the schoolroom.  As you might remember, Monkey has been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder with Selective Mutism.  As you also might remember, we had noticed several cognitive difficulties popping up that were making learning difficult for her.  Well, this past week, we took her back to her former therapist (who happens to be Jedi’s autism therapist), and he has decided to have her assessed for an autism spectrum disorder as well.  If she does have a form of ASD, we would not be surprised, given how similar symptoms of RAD are to ASD.  What does make it surprising is that Monkey will not only have the exact same allergies as the other kids, but will also have the same developmental issues…keeping in mind, Monkey is not biologically related to our other children, this is quite interesting (and somewhat concerning…).  Anyhow, these evaluations should take several weeks, but hopefully we’ll have a better idea of how to help Monkey soon.

In the mean time, we’re doing a lot of trial and error with her.  Since Jedi has autism, we do have several resources under our belt to help academically, socially, and emotionally–it’s just a matter of pinning down what the exact issues are.

And on to what you really came to see….Monkey’s week in review.

Monkey looking at the "forest in a box" has various objects that you might find in the forest--bark, acorns, bird egg, cocoon, porcupine quill, etc.


Dot of her favorite activities!


Working on the alphabet puzzle


Working with the knobbed cylinder


Monkey begged to use clay this week, so I brought out the new tub. She *loved* it!


Zoo animal-themed pom poms for 1 to 1 transferring


Summer themed tonging exercise--moving the bugs/flowers/lizards from the fish tray to the vase


Monkey using the spoon to scoop rice


Working with the binomal cube--Monkey can do this really quickly now! We'll be bringing out the trinomial cube this week as a result.


Working with the tonging activity


Montessori in the kitchen...Bug washing tomatoes and Monkey cutting them up to make tomato sauce


Monkey cutting the tomatoes


Bug washing the tomatoes


As always, comments are welcome, either here or on our facebook page.  Let me know you’re reading along!


Montessori Monday/Toddler Tuesday February 8, 2011

 Tot School

Bitty Bug is 24 months old, Monkey is 4 years 0 months old

First off, the big news of the week is Monkey turned 4 years old this past week!  I can’t believe she’s already 4 years old…three was a pretty big year for her.  It was the year she started finally speaking, and she’s also grown so much…socially, emotionally, and physically.  She’s so proud to be a “big girl”!

I am doing another combined post this week because last week was another busy week outside of the school room.  Actually, the school room was being used as a storage room for a few days as we were rearranging furniture in various rooms so we could open up our office and turn it into a nursery for our future little one.  In the process, we decided to finally remove the temporary shelving we had in there (we had large metal shelves in there because I had them on hand).  This week we replaced them all with smaller bookshelves, which both look nicer and are easier for Bug & Monkey to work with!  I love them, and they were only $15 a piece at W*lmart (which is a store I don’t often shop at, but for such a big project, I needed a lot of shelves). 

Our new and improved school room!

The rest of the room (that one corner is going to have some book shelves over there for their books...we just don't have them up yet)

The shoe tying puzzle I put on the shelves this week

A Valentine's Day spooning exercise--red & white glass beads and heart shaped ice cube tray

Stars & tongs

Dry pouring glass beads and dishes

Bug working with the screwdriver work

Pin punching with the geometric cabinet


Tot School Tuesday January 12, 2011

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Tot School

Bitty Bug is 23.5 months old

I can’t believe this is my last Tot School post of Bug’s 1 year old year…she’ll be 2 years old later this week!  I can hardly believe it’s true (already!  Her last year of Tot School starts in a couple days…wow…).  It seems like just yesterday, she was a tiny little baby, born a month early, and struggling to even stay awake.  Now, she rarely sleeps, and she’s always running around exploring!

Here are some of the things Bug’s been working on this past week!

Bug loves these little puzzles--they're really great for traveling with, and they are just perfect for little hands! Bug loves to name all of the animals as she's putting the pieces in as well.

Working with her sequencing beads. She's getting really good at matching the colors!

Spooning the little glass stones

Working with one of the little puzzles I found in T@rget's dollar aisle

These are cute little figurines--they're called Friendship Club. Inside of the globe are a bunch of small figures representing people from every continent.

I found these figurines for the culture boxes, but Bug decided she wanted to match them to the figures on the back of the package.

Working with the animal puzzle. This puzzle was a lot harder than it looks...I'm really surprised that there was no good control of error that would help little ones be successful at this. I ended up taking a permenant marker and tracing the outline of all the pieces onto the tray to sort of help her out a bit.


Tot School Tuesday December 7, 2010

Tot School

Bitty Bug is 22.5 months old

Because Bitty Bug is almost 2 now, she really seems to be able to comprehend and get into the holidays.  It is so awesome to watch her fascination with the Christmas tree (and especially the train that runs around it!) and the Elf on the Shelf!  And yesterday was her first time seeing snow that she could remember (last year, she was just turning 1, and I don’t think she remembers the big blizzard from that time!).  She’s also just noticing the lights on people’s houses as we drive around in the evening.  Just seeing how big her eyes get when she sees a new holiday things is absolutely wonderful!  So of course, once I put some holiday work in the homeschool room, she naturally flocked straight to it!

Here is her December travel sensory bin for when we're waiting in waiting rooms--some white felt "snow", little penguins & snowmen, various Christmasy pom poms, gems, & pipe cleaners, and the usual assortment of scoops, chopsticks, and cups.

Also in our travelling bin...the book Everywhere Babies (which is one of her favorite books), some snowflake and igloo bocks, a polar bear and penguin Animalz toy, the white board (this always keeps her entertained for hours! She loves the white board!) and a couple wooden vehicles.

Bug was so thrilled every time she made the toy elephant "drink" the water!

Working on the animal puzzle

Using a spoon to transfer the glass beads

She loved the island landform tray--here, she's making a whale swim in it.

Playing with her beach sand tray

Bug was really intrigued by this! I demonstrated the first playdough ball "cherry" on the pie, and she did the 2nd one. I'm not sure she knows what cherry pie is (I don't even know that we've had it in years? Now I feel the need to go make a cherry pie!) but she thought it was funny!

Bug's favorite animal is an elephant, and one of her favorite things to do is bounce. So, when she came across this bouncing elephant in the basement this week, she couldn't be separated from it! She decided she was then going to bounce everywhere!


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.