Monthly Archives: October 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up – October 29, 2010


  • Outside classes – swimming, PE, art, guitar, Hands-On Science, CSI, Musical Theatre, Chess, and Math Lab (all are going great!)

Language Arts –

  • Literature – We are so close to finishing The Graveyard Book! I hope we’ll finish it on Halloween, which would be very appropriate. The book has gotten very suspenseful and it is hard to put it down each day, but my voice gives out.
  • A Workbook for Dyslexics has been a bit more difficult this week. Several diphthongs were introduced very quickly. Gohan has been doing a great job of reading them, but struggling with spelling them. The sounds have been ou, ow, oi, oy, ew, ea, ee, ai, etc.
  • Growing with Grammar continues to go wonderfully! Yea!
  • Getty Dubay Italic – Gohan continues to do well with this program. We just ignore all of the sidebar notes and he just copies the actual handwriting exercises

  • Vocabulary – I believe I found a program and will post about next week.
  • Composition – We’re going to try using the free workbook and lessons from National Novel Writing Month’s Young Writers Program. They have workbooks for elementary, middle school, and high school.


  • Math – Singapore 6A – Standards Edition is still going okay. I still have the same gripe, that the workbook has problems that were never taught in the textbook. Gohan is doing fine, though, so we’re sticking it out for the rest of the year. I just have to teach him how to do some of the problems myself.
  • Science – Awakening Wonder is going fine. We did stop reading one of the extra books. It was another living book and just like with history, was leaving us bored to tears. Clearly, this is one of those “different strokes for different folks” things. We like the textbook, but don’t like the living books that so many people rave about. We are continuing with the “The Way Science Works”, which is another one of the extra books they assign. By extra, I mean, used in addition to the textbook, but I think you’re supposed to read them all. We do find some overlap though.
  • Social Studies – Gohan is doing well with The Trail Guide to World Geography. We tried to make a paper mache globe, but Mr. Mo let Dora play with it and that was the end of that. I am looking into incorporating Montessori pushpin maps into our lessons.





I’m linking this post to image

Labels: Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Tot Time Weekly Wrap-up October 29, 2010

I’m a day late in posting this, but poor Dora has come down with a cold. I didn’t even do a weekly wrap-up last week because she had oral surgery on Friday. So we’ve not had the most productive two weeks ever.
I still have been researching Montessori methods to use with her. I really love Waldorf materials, but she has made it 100% clear that Waldorf is not her style. I set out this beautiful rainbow arch set and she not only refused to play with them, but threw them all on the ground.

At the same time, I set out this Montessori open-close basket that I purchased from Montessori Services and she played with it for 30 minutes straight and requested it many times throughout the week.

As such, I’m going to start doing her wraps-ups by listing what she did for each Montessori category of activities. I will separate fieldtrips, cooking, and crafts.

Fieldtrip – Our field trip this was an indoor one due to the weather. We went to the children’s museum. Dora was very overwhelmed by it all and clung to me most of the time. She warmed up to it just when we had to leave. So I promised to take her again next week. The part that she loved was the vet clinic, where she “fed and nursed” all the “animals”.
Practical Life – This area is Dora’s favorite. She loves being able to do everything that I do. At the same time, it has unleashed some undesirable behavior. “Me did it!” is her new favorite expression, which actually means “Let me do it!”. I am all in favor of encouraging independence, but when I have to stand there while we’re in a hurry and she gets in and out of her car seat ten times over, it does begin to try my patience. Plus, being as we do not live in an actual Montessori classroom and we spend a good deal of time away from home, the environment is not always adequately prepared, so there are activities that she literally cannot do for safety reasons. She also does not always respect her belongings and I need to read up on how I should handle things like her throwing glass or ceramic dishes and breaking them. I will say that she is always quite sad about breaking her things, so maybe the behavior is self-correcting.

Her big newly acquired skills for the last two weeks has been cleaning her place at the table (wiping it down) and using a sweeper to clean the floor. Mr. Mo and I are so amazed at how well a sweeper works that we’re wondering why we didn’t buy one before. They do a great job of cleaning up cat hair, so Dora is really being a help! The one I purchased was from Montessori Services. It is lightweight and small enough that she can use it. In fact, the handle comes in three sections, so it can become longer or shorter, as needed. It seems like it might not be 100% as sturdy as I would like, but it may just be because it is so light. I will warn you that if you buy this, the little brush cleaner that clips on the bar cut Gohan’s finger quite deeply, so I threw that away.

Sensorial – The big thing she worked on for this area was the open-close basket. I did try to get her to work with her rainbow arch to explore color, but as I mentioned, that wasn’t happening. She did look at some color flashcards (by her choice) and we read Mouse Paint many times.

Math – I will need to review more about what I should be doing for this subject according to the Montessori method. We did play with these number cards and wooden numbers from Plan Toys. I like the numbers much better than the letters, because the cards have an actual, slightly-deeper, place for the number to go that keeps the number in place.

Language – She enjoyed playing with these free cards about leaves. I printed two sets and she matched them to each other. We also read some books that revolved around our leaf theme. Two books that stood out for us were Fletcher and the Falling Leaves, which has poor Fletcher trying to save his “sick tree”. In the end, Fletcher is in for a big surprise, which I will not spoil for you.


We also liked Autumn by Gerda Muller (board book version), which is a Waldorfy series that Dora does like. The books are wordless and each one shows kids doing things during one season and ends with a glimpse of the next season.


Culture – This week’s theme was leaves. In addition to reading books about leaves and playing with the matching cards, we played with these leaf dominoes from Activity Village. While getting the link for the dominoes, I just saw these really cute oak leaf ABC’s! We did the Outdoor Hour Challenge #5 from the 2010 Autumn series. This is the first challenge that she really participated in, as opposed to being along for the ride. She spent 1 1/2 hours in the rain, collecting leaves. She did have some issues with not realizing that some leaves were more desirable than others and I finally had to teach her to at least look for bugs on the leaves before she handed them to me. We found a large variety of leaves, though I was disappointed that we were not able to collect any oak leaves. I saw some while we were driving, but they were never in a good place to stop. I also learned a lot about why leaves change colors and why some years are more vibrant than others reading the Handbook of Nature Study to myself. It had never occurred to me that some years the leaves really are prettier than others, I always figured it was just my perception or that the weather made them appear brighter or duller.
Cooking – her cooking project for the week was to make pancakes with real maple syrup and we discussed the syrup, like leaves, comes from trees. For some reason, she thought that was hysterical. I tried to use the book, A Tree for All Seasons to help clarify things, but I think there is some abstract concept going on that she can’t understand.

Crafts – I used a microwave flower press to press the leaves she found. Let me tell you, that is very nice if you are looking for quick results. It does stink a bit though.


I used the book, Look What I Did with a Leaf for inspiration for her to see what sort of designs one can make with leaves.


Then we tried mounting them between wax paper and ironing the wax paper, which several websites suggested. First of all, it was really hard for me to even find wax paper to buy. I had to go to 4 different stores. Then the wax paper did not melt at all, so that was a bust. Finally, I had Dora arrange them between laminating sheets and I laminated the whole thing. I think it came out rather nice. I am going to make a black frame/matt to put around the whole thing and hang it in our window.

We also tried our hand at hammering leaves and flowers between pieces of paper. Dora was highly underwhelmed with the whole activity and using a hammer was very challenging for her.

I’m linking up to

Tot School  preschool corner image

Labels: Toddlers, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Mission of the Month–November 2010

Mama Jenn runs a monthly post called Mission of the Month. The idea is that moms focus on a personal goal for a month and that by publishing that goal on our blogs, we are more likely to get it done (else we have to blog that we didn’t get it done and that’s no fun).

Mission of the Month

Mission for November – This month I want to focus on nutrition. Since, Dora was born, I have gotten horrible about resorting to fast food or ordering pizza and the whole family is suffering nutritionally and financially as a result. Part of the problem is that Dora really is very high-maintenance. She’s not badly behaved, just very needy. Plus Mr. Mo works late and/or travels a lot, so it can be hard to get dinner on the table or make lunches for the next day. In addition, we live right next to four fast food and two pizza joints, which makes it so much easier to get take-out (note to self, next time we move, don’t live near fast food places).
So this month, I am hoping that we can keep fast food/pizza to no more than two meals/week. That might seem like a lot to other people, but I’d be very happy if we can keep it to that.
I’m real good at planning meals out when I buy groceries once a week, but then things happen and I’m running late or I’m too tired or Dora is clinging to my leg or… So I am trying to keep meal planning much simpler. Yogurt is fine for lunch and doesn’t require preparation. For dinner, if it comes to it, canned soup or peanut butter and jelly is better than fast food. I just need to remember that these simpler meals are options.
In addition, if something that I am doing is running late, I need to stop whatever it is and cook dinner. Else, I am giving whatever else that I am doing higher priority than our health and budget. So, some homeschool lessons make not get done, but I guess that I’ll be teaching the kids a more important life lesson by showing them that I do value nutrition and our budget.
Do you have any secrets to making sure dinner gets put on the table every night and that lunches eaten away from home are healthy? I’d love to hear about it. This is one area that I am really struggling with.

Labels: This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Free Election Day Vocabulary Lesson


I happened to stumble on this free Election Day vocabulary lesson on Learning Page. Learning Page has lots of great printables and worksheets. Membership is required, but it is free.

Labels: Freebies, Homeschooling in the Mainstream, Printables, Social Studies, Spelling and Vocabulary
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

A B See Photo Meme – J is for Japanese Gardens



Labels: Things To Do Around Seattle, Wordless Wednesday
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Free Asperger’s Syndrome Alert Card

Medical Symbol

Many parents of children with Asperger’s Syndrome end up homeschooling, simply for the fact that public school can be sheer torture for kids with Asperger’s. As our kids with Asperger’s Syndrome grow up, however, they do need to leave the nest, at least sometimes. Unfortunately, sometimes people with Asperger’s Syndrome find themselves in less than ideal situations. Medical emergencies occur, law enforcement personnel ask questions of innocent bystanders, and things can just go horribly wrong. As anyone who knows anything about Asperger’s will tell you, stress can aggravate certain behaviors in people with Asperger’s Syndrome. Someone who normally could converse quite well and make excellent eye contact, may suddenly not be able to communicate and may come across as shifty-eyed due to lack of eye contact. There have even been extreme cases where a person with Asperger’s has ended up confessing to crimes he didn’t commit just so the police would leave him alone or put into a psychiatric ward just because he behaved “abnormally”.

With all of this in mind, I recently read that it was good for such individuals to carry cards that identify their disability, inform strangers what to expect, and protect the person legally. I wanted to get one of these cards for Primo, but couldn’t find one made for the U.S. that wasn’t ridiculously overpriced (I actually should say that the cards I found weren’t overpriced, so much as I didn’t need 100 of them).

So I made my own card and thought I’d post it online for others to use. Feel free to download and edit it all you want for personal and/or other forms of non-commercial use. Please feel free to let me know if you have any problems with downloading or editing this.

Autism Alert Card - Blank copy

Labels: Apps, Blogging Business, Freebies, Printables, Special Education
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Limited Time – Free Downloadable Halloween Recipes for Kids

Enjoy our free halloween recipes

Labels: Freebies
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Review of Home School Astronomy Curriculum





After I posted recently about Home School Astronomy, several readers wrote to ask me to post a review of the curriculum. Gohan is not currently studying astronomy at home, and does so much science between all of his classes and work at home, I couldn’t bring myself to ask him to do any more science right now. Being the dedicated blogger that I am, however, I took it upon myself to review the curriculum with myself as a student. I should note that I do love astronomy and seeing “cool” things in the sky, but have never studied it formally, even a little bit. Somehow, I managed to make it through a full public school and university education without any Earth Science at all. So, I was actually a good test subject for this curriculum, despite my…. ahem… advanced age.

Home School Astronomy sent me a copy of “The Mighty Sun and the Cooking of Mercury” to review. The presentation is done in PowerPoint, which I actually have very little experience with. If you do not own PowerPoint, Microsoft has a free version that you can download. Click here for the PowerPoint 2007 viewer and here for the PowerPoint 2010 viewer.

The presentation uses very high quality photos that are mostly from NASA and ESA. The text is presented on screen, though the parent has a separate script to read. The text is presented in a way that is easy to read, despite sharing the screen with the image. Either the font color contrasts the image so that it stands out or the image is shifted to accommodate the text.

The information is presented with lots of interesting trivia tidbits thrown in, which also really help to put things in perspective. Some such tidbits are:

Mercury is only about 3,000 miles in diameter (meaning ‘measured across the center). That’s only about as far as the East coast of the United States to the West Coast.

Solar tornadoes spin jets of fire and gas near the poles of the Sun and are as wide as North America. They are thousands of miles high and spin thousands of times the speed of tornadoes here on Earth.

All the nuclear bombs in the world could blow up on the surface of the sun and we wouldn’t even notice.

Pretty amazing stuff!

There currently are a total of eleven presentations, though “Tour the Solar System” appears to be more of simplified, all-in-one presentation. Each presentation costs $9.95 for a download or $11.95 for a CD. Home School Astronomy suggests this as one possible schedule:

Monday: Complete the warm up activity and talk about this week’s lesson.

Tuesday: Show the presentation on your computer and read the script along with the show. Start on the discussion questions.

Wednesday: Review the presentation (it’s fun, the children won’t protest). Finish the discussion questions.

Thursday & Friday: Work on cross curricular activities as desired.

This seems like a reasonable schedule for a high school student. If I was using it for a middle school student, I would probably stretch it out over two weeks. The vocabulary is a bit advanced for elementary school children.

The cross curricular activities are to be done on your own. The suggested activity for “The Mighty Sun and the Cooking of Mercury” is:

Where is solar energy being used in your state? Does your state offer incentives for businesses and private home owners to switch to solar energy? How much would it cost to switch to solar energy at your house and how much money could be saved on your electric bill?

The only complaint that I have is that I would have liked some audio. Given that Gohan has dyslexia and I am trying to find ways for him to be able to do his school work on his own, I would have liked to have the text narrated in addition to appearing on the screen. Even for non-dyslexic students, I think the presentation would be improved with some audio, even if it was just some background music.

Other than the lack of audio, I found Home School Astronomy’s presentation to be interesting and informative. With the current number of presentations, I think it would need some fleshing out to qualify as a full, stand-alone high school curriculum, but it would make a great supplement for high school students or full curriculum for middle school students.

Labels: Astronomy, Science
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Halloween Craft Round-Up

Here is my final Halloween craft round-up, in case you have any time to fit in any more craft projects before Sunday. These are all projects that you can make with or for your kids.

imageMy all time favorite Halloween craft project this year is this glowing Trick-Or-Treat bag from Holidash. Not only does it look cool and glow sticks light up the inside of the bag for your kids, plus it provides a wonderful safety feature in that the glowing bag will make your kids that much more visible to motorists. image



Meanwhile, Pink and Green Mama made this cute and simple Halloween game that everyone can play. It is kind of like Cooties, but the better older version of Cooties. The game is not only simple to play, but simple to make also.




This year, I have personally enjoyed a lot of the jack-o-lantern alternatives that I have seen, such as painting pumpkins black or silver, making silhouettes with pumpkins, etc. This alternative is my favorite for the season. Painted gourds! They look like ghosts and there is no carving involved!



Here is a simple project that kids and adults can enjoy – ghost finger puppets that are made from simple molds of your fingers. What better way to personalize a decoration! You can make new ones each year to document how your kids hands grow over the years.




Counting Coconuts has directions to make these adorable little yarn pumpkins. She put them in her October sensory tub. Since I am new to the whole Montessori thing, I’ve never done a sensory tub before, but am planning to start with a Thanksgiving sensory tub and hope to make some of these for it.




This project is a big one, but can be a work in progress that happens over multiple years.  Melissa at Veranda Interiors converted a doll house into a haunted house! Is that a cool idea or what?!?! It’s a bit late for us to tackle this one this year, but hopefully next year we can try it. It seems like it would make a wonderful family keepsake to pass down through the generations.



Finally, Martha Stewart has directions for making a bat piñata. Really, what better time to have a decoration full of candy than Halloween, when kids are already getting loaded up on lots of sugar? (okay, that was sarcasm) Seriously, though, this piñata is pretty darn cool looking and making piñatas is lots of fun for kids, as is breaking piñatas. So maybe fill it with sugar-free gum, stickers, and toys instead?




Labels: Arts and Crafts, High School, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Halloween Printables Round-Up

I apologize for being a bit AWOL last week. Dora had to have oral surgery, so I needed to spend my time meeting her needs. I have been a bit slack about doing a craft or printable round-up and not for lack of great printables and crafts to post about. So here is a final Halloween printables round up.

imageBusy Bee Kids Printables has free Halloween Mad Libs, which are such a fun way to work on parts of speech.

Cute and Crafty by Victoria has these adorable free Halloween bookmarks. image

image And Classroom  Jr. has some fun Halloween-themed worksheets for preschoolers.

Along the Way has a seek and find cards for your October sensory tub. image

imageMeanwhile Gwenny Penny has these fun set of paper dolls for kids to dress up for Halloween.

imageAnd Printables4Kids has a Halloween Decoder puzzle to keep young minds active despite a candy-induced stupor

Fun_with_Pumpkins_Directions copy123 Learn has a free Fun With Pumpkins lapbook that you can download (scroll to the bottom of the page).

halloween_ejdr-12School Express has a Halloween-themed unit that you can download. If you don’t subscribe to their newsletter, I highly recommend it as they have a free downloadable unit every week.

Labels: Apps, Blogging Business, Holidays, Printables
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff