Category Archives: Preschool

Preschool at Home–Sense of Sight

Lightbox 2

Though the week started off a bit rough, it finished on a really good note in regards to homeschooling. Dora and I looked at the sense of sight this week and did some really fun projects. The biggest hit, hands down, was the light box. I had read about several bloggers using light boxes with younger kids, but had wondered if Dora would be too old to warrant the cost. Then a few other projects came up where a light box would be really beneficial for us to have, so I took the plunge and bought the Porta-Trace 10″ x 12″ Stainless Steel Lightbox with Two 8 watt, 5000°K. Lamps. Once it arrived, I realized that we didn’t have a lot of the fun stuff that I have seen other bloggers use with light boxes, because I am slowly, but surely, trying to purge our house of plastic. So first I brought over our marbles, which looked really cool and were just fun to roll around on the lightbox.

Lightbox 1

We did have some plastic color paddles left over from last year’s study of color, which worked really well with the light box. The colors came out really true with the light box, so when the paddles were held together, they blended perfectly. This really helped to cement Dora’s knowledge of mixing primary colors.

Lightbox 4

I also got out some acrylic gems that I have for collage work, as well as some wooden buttons. Dora felt that those needed to be studied with a magnifying glass.

Lightbox 9

Dora then asked for a pitcher and some glasses and ended up turning the experience into a light-filled pouring exercise!

Lightbox 10

Finally, we used the Haba Kaleidoscope Blocks. I just love the way Haba blocks are so consistently made. We have a variety of their sets, plus some of their marble runs and they all mix and match perfectly. After we played with the Haba blocks on the light table, we took a red, yellow, and green block and stacked them on the floor like a stop light. I then proceeded to shine a flashlight through the various colors while Dora drove her bus around and sometimes obeyed the “traffic signal”, while other times preferring to repeatedly “break the law” so her bus would be “put in jail” (which the bus would then proceed to crash out of – which I guess is what I deserve for building a bus-jail out of wooden blocks, what was I thinking?).

We were supposed to go to the eye doctor for our “fieldtrip”, but the exam had to be rescheduled, though we did go to two eye glass stores looking for glasses for Primo, where Dora begged me to buy her some glasses (little realizing that her wish may soon come true and she’ll have her first lesson in being careful about what you wish for). For our new literature selections this week, we read three books. Our first selection was Elmer by David McKee, which is all about being yourself. At first, I was little worried that it was going to be too preachy as several books with that theme are, but all of a sudden, a surprising and silly event occurred that had both Dora and I laughing. The book finished on a light-hearted note, reminding us all to be ourselves, without hitting us over the head with the message. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this was our favorite read-aloud for this “school” year, thus far.

 We also read Sight (Five Senses) from the senses series that we have been reading. Once again, the book conveyed the topic simply and enjoyably. Finally we read Spotted Yellow Frogs: Fold-out Fun with Patterns, Colors, 3-D Shapes, Animals for math, which is one of the weirdest books that I have ever read and that I can’t really recommend. I’ve decided that this whole “Living Math” approach to math is just not for us. Honestly, I’d rather use workbooks than read unenjoyable books in an effort to teach math. Many of the books that are recommended to teach math using a “Living Math” approach are either really hard to find (and sometimes very expensive as a result) or just not enjoyable. The author will decide to teach a math concept and write a book around the concept rather than have a story, from which a math concept evolves. In my mind, this difference is what distinguishes a book from being just a “book”, as opposed to literature. So I am just going to start sticking with using the Montessori approach to teaching math and if I find a book that looks good and happens to teach a math concept, great, but I’m not going to exert myself trying to find “Living Math” books anymore.

How about you? Have any of you used “Living Books” to teach math? If so, did it work well for you and if it did, do you have a good list of recommended books?

Disclosure: Several item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

I’m linking this post to The Play Academy at NurtureStore and…

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  For the Kids Friday   No Time For Flash Cards

Labels: Montessori, Preschool, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Preschool at Home–The Sense of Hearing

Snowpocalypse 2012 3

This week has been insane for us! Mr. Mo had to go to Whistler, Canada for a meeting for work. I know, I know, it is hard to feel sorry for someone who has to go to a ski resort for a meeting. This was really bad though, as a HUGE storm rolled into the area the very day he had to leave. Fortunately, he was able to get a ride with a co-worker that is very skilled in winter driving (he is even skilled at dodging all the bad winter drivers that reside in Seattle – majorly important here). Meanwhile, however, I was home alone with all five kids and a HUGE storm rolling. Did I mention that it was HUGE? We’re talking snopocalypse 2012 here! At first it was all pretty and nice and we played in the snow, made snowmen, snow slides, snow dogs, snow angels, etc. We even tormented Gohan and Primo by throwing snowballs at their windows, since they were poopyheads and wouldn’t come out and play in the snow. Then, the snow became not so fun. It turned to ice, not sure exactly how. Everything got covered in ice, then it snowed again, then things kind of melted, then things froze again. So we had ice on top of snow on top of ice on top of snow (got that?). In Seattle, that means “snowbound”. You know how it goes, I had no desire to go anywhere, but the minute I realized that we were snowbound, the cabin fever set in and the LONGEST day of my ENTIRE life started. Then Secunda and Tertia started arguing like they were preschoolers or something. Then the power went out. Ugh! Then Mr. Mo’s co-worker somehow managed to get Mr. Mo home from Canada. Then the power came back on. Yay! Then we learned that someone had totally hacked a bunch of Mr. Mo’s internet accounts. Boo!

Caitlin and Vivi in Snow 1

We were not entirely without homeschooling during the power outage and snopocalypse. We played tons of board games, read a lot of books, and I pulled out some of the Steve Spangler science items that I keep on hand just for emergencies such as this. We made giant jelly marbles, which we soaked in water that we had colored purple with some of the color fizzers. Secunda even went so far as to experiment with poking with the marbles with toothpicks and freezing them, which Dora found fascinating.

Jelly Marbles 1

Jelly Marbles 3

Jelly Marbles 4

Jelly Marbles 5

And because we didn’t have enough snow to keep us occupied, we also made Insta-snow.


As I mentioned last week, Dora and I started studying the five senses last week. The sense of smell didn’t go over so well last week, as I mentioned in my post about smelling bottles. This week, however, the book I ordered for the smell unit arrived and thankfully that went over very well. It was a scratch-n-sniff book, which I honestly had forgot even existed. It was called Little Bunny Follows His Nose, and was originally published in 1971. According to some reviewers, they’ve removed some of the best scents, but when I read this book to Dora, you would have thought I had just shown her the secret to eternal youth or something. She thought the book was the coolest thing since sliced bread. I read that book, many, many times this week. The reason the book went over so much better than the smelling bottles is that the scents in the book are very subtle, so no headaches for either of us.

Sound Cubes

This week, we also studied the sense of hearing. All in all, it was a good unit. We worked with sound cubes, which Dora loved and was quite skilled at matching. We read the Hearing (Five Senses) (last week, we read the sense of smell book from the series, which is entitled Smell (Five Senses)). These books are written at the perfect level to introduce Dora to the senses, there is one book for each sense. She has been really engaged by each one, thus far. In addition, we read/sang My Favorite Things, which we both really loved (seriously, how could anyone not enjoy singing that song?).  The book has the lyrics, which can just be read as a poem, assuming you can resist belting out your best imitation of Julie Andrews. Each page is beautifully illustrated with gentle drawings and now is one of my favorite things.

For math we worked with the first tray of the geometric cabinet. I know, I know, all you Montessorians, the geometric cabinet is a sensorial work! In my mind, a lot of the sensorial work overlaps with math. Geometry is a math subject, so I am going to call some sensorial work “math work” for now on. And this is my domain, so I get to make the rules (ha ha! get the pun, it’s my “domain”, but it is also my “domain”, as in my web address! Aren’t I punny?). For you non-Montessorians, the geometric cabinet is a cabinet with six drawers of different shapes. The drawer we worked with was various sizes of circles and we just kind of introduced the drawer and discussed circles and Dora lined them up in order of smallest to biggest. Then we read 12 Ways to Get to 11, which is a highly reviewed book, but honestly I didn’t think it was that great. For one thing, counting to 11 gets old really fast, so I really didn’t want to do it on each two-page spread. Secondly I just found parts of it to be confusing. For instance, one two-page spread reads, “In the hen yard, five eggs, three cracking open, two beaks poking out, and one just hatched.” Which to me means that 3 out of 5 of the eggs are cracking open, two of which have a beak poking out, and one of which is hatched. Instead it means that there are five eggs, plus three cracking eggs, plus two eggs with beaks poking out, plus one just hatched egg, which equals 11 eggs in all. Anyway, the book just didn’t click with us. Dora didn’t even want to read it to begin with and I kind of had to bribe her to get her to let me read it to her.

Watercolor Painting 1

We art, Dora has been doing a lot of watercolor painting with Stockmar Watercolor Paints. I’m going to say that when these arrived, I had no idea how to mix them and there were no instructions. I did some research and really didn’t find much help on the internet. I finally just started mixing small amounts of the paints into jars of water until I achieved the desired concentration. These paints are very expensive, but as everyone will tell you, they will last forever, because you use so little of the actual paint to make a jar of paint. The jars and holder were a separate item. You could just use recycled jars or storage tubs that you already own to store your paints. You don’t throw them out every time you mix up a batch of paint, though I am unsure of how long they can be stored. I’ll try to post and update about how long we end up storing ours for. Even Secunda and Tertia have joined in on the fun with these paints. I personally have been frustrated with my inability to achieve the exact color I want by blending paints (like how hard is it to make brown?!?!), but I seem to be the only one feeling that way, so I think it is just me being a bit too OCD-ish.

Child Sized Masterpieces

Dora has also been playing with the Child-size Masterpiece cards a lot the last couple of months and is already on Level 3, Advanced!

Pike's Place Market 1

Our fieldtrip was supposed to be to go to a Seattle Symphony kids’ concert, but once Dora learned that we would be going to watch other people sing and dance, instead of other people watching her sing and dance, she wanted nothing to do with such audacity. Last week, however, we did go to Pike’s Place Market to try to smell a variety of smells. Unfortunately, the only one we really smelled was the fish market and they weren’t even throwing fish around (they are kind of famous for their fish throwing there, yep, one of Seattle’s claim to fame is that we have famous fish throwers, yep….). Honestly, I’ve never quite seen the appeal of Pike’s Place Market. It is like a giant farmer’s market, but inside. I find it kind of depressing and the parking borders on downright scary. They do have some quaint little shops, but whenever I have been there, the shops are too crowded for me to go in (we’re talking the middle of January here, so what it is like in the summer, I don’t know, maybe less crowded as everyone wants to be outside instead????). There was a used bookstore there that I really wanted to go into, but I just couldn’t get in without having to shove people aside. They had some really nice quality children’s classic books in their window though, so I gave some serious contemplation to forcing my way in, but neither Dora nor I are good in crowds.

And that, my dear readers is our week in a not-so-short synopsis. How was your week? I know a lot of other places that don’t usually get snow have been getting it, while places that usually get snow aren’t. Global warming/cooling/chaos I guess????

Disclosure: Several item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

I’m linking this post to The Play Academy at NurtureStore and…

Chestnut Grove Academy  Shibley Smiles Classified: Mom

    No Time For Flash Cards

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Labels: Montessori, Preschool, Things To Do Around Seattle, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–My Montessori Birthday

Pouring Bird SeedSince we were studying winter birds last week, I let Dora practice pouring bird seed for a practical life skills activity. She just loves pouring activities, which is nice, because there are not many things that she will do by herself for any length of time. I gave her an assortment of cups and bowls to pour into and pitchers to pour from.

I also presented the zipper dressing frame to Dora. She knows how to unzip, but even then, needs to be reminded to hold the fabric if the zipper snags at all. I was hoping that she would really take to the dressing frames as she seems to have very little interest in learning to dress herself. Unfortunately, she had zero interest in the dressing frame. I guess I am supposed to take this as a sign that this is not the appropriate sensitive period for her and put the frames away for awhile. Sigh, adhering to one’s philosophic principles can be frustrating at times.

Vivi's First Attempt With Insets

Dora caught me opening the package with the metal insets in it and then insisted on working with them. I was amazed at how well she was able to do the work. Above is a photo of her very first attempts with using the insets. On the left, you can see where she used the outer frame of the inset to trace a near-perfect oval. On the right, she used the inset, itself, and you can see at the top, the point where she had to figure out how to navigate around her hand that was holding the inset. Her solution was to let go of it, which caused the inset to move around. Obviously, we’ll need to work on that.

Homeschool - Playroom 3

How did we afford all of these new Montessori materials, you ask? I’m glad you asked! This year for my birthday (I’m now 43, if you must know), I asked for Montessori supplies for Dora. I’ve become extremely passionate about the Montessori method of education. It is ironic, because I actually attended a public school Montessori kindergarten way back in the 70’s. My parents were so underwhelmed by the school, they pulled me out of public school and sent me to private school until they were able to move to an area with better schools. I well remembered the school and agreed with their assessment, so had never, for even a moment, in the last nineteen years, considered using Montessori methods in our homeschool. Then I started reading blogs and finding fun activities to do with Dora and wouldn’t you know it, they were Montessori inspired? So I did some research and have come to the conclusion that the school I attended just did a really, really, really bad job of implementing the Montessori method.

Every time I find myself saying, “Well, I like it all, except for this or that…” I end up realizing that the only parts of the Montessori method that I don’t like are the ones that I don’t understand. For instance, using all the beads in math seemed silly to me, until I started reading more about them. Now, I realize that these materials will help Dora to not only learn her math facts, but to be able to do things such as truly visualize quantities and many other math concepts (by visualizing quantities, I mean that if she sees a group of four marbles, she doesn’t need to count each marble to know that there are four).

At this point, my only complaints with the Montessori method are that I didn’t use it with my older children, and that it is so hard to find resources that teach me how to implement the method. I have neither the time, nor the funds, nor the desire, to become a certified Montessori teacher. I just want a crash course in the basics to use with Dora. I learn a lot from reading other blogs and I have found a few books that are helpful, but thus far I haven’t found the perfect guide for me. So many of the books are either geared towards convincing parents that Montessori works or helping parents make Montessori supplies at home or are written for parents of babies/toddlers. I have many of the real supplies, even if they aren’t the fanciest version, but I just need to know how to use them. Thus far the most helpful book that I have found has been Basic Montessori: Learning Activities For Under-Fives.

As always, I am linking this post to the one of the best Montessori blogs out there (if not THE best), Living Montessori Now, from whom I have learned so much.

Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

Labels: Montessori, Preschool
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Preschool at Home–Winter Birds

Bird Treats

We kind of, sort of, studied winter birds this week. We made some bird treats using suet, peanut butter, and bird seed. Don’t they just look yummy! (That is sarcasm, in case it wasn’t obvious. If you’ve never worked with suet before, it is rendered beef fat and for some reason it is the “thing” to put into bird treats, though I doubt you will ever find these birds eating cows in the wild. Anyway, the stuff is greasier than anything that I ever worked with before. I had to wash my hands about 25 times to get it off of them. Then I had to clip all of my nails super short as the stuff had worked it’s way under my nails. Then I realized that my hands still had some suet on them, so I washed them about 10 more times. So I highly recommend using rubber gloves if you are going to work with it.) Unfortunately, there do not appear to be any winter birds in the area, so the treats remain untouched. I have been informed by a friend that if you want to feed birds that winter over, you need to start feeding them before winter sets in, so that they know where food is. I guess we may have to take our treats down to the duck pond that is right by our house (not even squirrels seem to be investigating our trees).

Bird Puzzle

In addition to this messy craft project, we did a Montessori bird puzzle and Dora then insisted on not only doing all of the puzzles in the animal puzzle cabinet, but doing all of the puzzle activity cards that are labeled with the body parts’ names, some of which I didn’t even know how to pronounce! Finally, we finished the forest section of Maurice Pledger’s Animal World and are almost completely done with the book. We were supposed to go bird watching, but had to get some medical tests done instead. So no field trip this week, though we did go to our homeschool support group’s young kids’ park day.

Dora took one look at The Burgess Bird Book for Children and declared it “boring”. Nothing I said could induce her to give it a chance, so for our new literature selection for the week, we read poetry from The Classic Treasury of Children’s Poetry instead. She was not able to sit for some of the longer poems, but enjoyed many of the shorter ones, especially the ones that she had heard previously while watching Maurice Sendak’s Little Bear. It was like she thought the book had some magical ability to channel Little Bear or something. As soon as I read one of the poems that had been in Little Bear, she would sit up in a “I know that poem” way, and then her face would light up with joy and excitement when she realized it was from Little Bear.

Long Red Rods

For math, we read Anno’s Counting Book and played with the long red rods. Dora understood the concept of the long red rods, but since she did not line them up at the bottom, she was not really able to accurately compare the length of them all. In the above photo, she took them out of the stand, in order, and I lined up the first few, trying to demonstrate the process to her, but she just was not ready for that step yet. She did really enjoy working with the red rods, however, much more than the brown stairs or pink tower. In regards to Anno’s counting book, one thing that I really liked about the book was the way he managed to work the flow of the seasons into a wordless counting “story”.

Disclosure: Several item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

I’m linking this post to The Play Academy at NurtureStoreChestnut Grove Academy

 Favorite Resource This Week Science Sunday

For the Kids Fridayabc button Classified: Mom No Time For Flash Cards

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

Montessori Monday: Christmas Activities

Making Gum Drop Tree 2I got this great idea for a gumdrop tree from Chasing Cheerios. I liked that Dora got to work on her fine motor and practical life skills, while also enjoying a fun craft. I’m going to confess that Dora quickly tired of it. I , on the other hand, felt the need to finish mine and worked on it a bit at a time all day until I did.

Making Gum Drop Tree 1

We learned a couple of secrets to working with toothpicks and gumdrops, if you want to avoid being poked by the toothpick. Firstly, is to push the gum drops into the Styrofoam with something such as a wooden spoon, or as in Dora’s case, hammer it in with a wooden mallet. I, on the other hand, found it easier to break the toothpicks in half and put the broken/duller end into the gum drop.

Making Life Saver Ornaments 4

We also made these pretty Life Saver ornaments. We did learn that when the recipe calls for bagged Life Savers, they mean it. The rolled ones don’t melt for some reason.

As usual, I’m linking up to:


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

Preschool at Home–Gingerbread Theme

Gingerbread Workshop 1I’m really late in this weekly summary, but our weekend was insanely busy and this is the first chance I’ve had to get anything done on the computer. This week, we looked at gingerbread. We read a version of the Little Gingerbread Boy, plus watched the Little Bear episode where they make gingerbread cookies (Little Bear being one of the few shoes that Dora will watch). We went to a gingerbread house making workshop. Afterwards, I learned that you can now buy the gingerbread houses pre-assembled. Part of the reason I do this annual workshop is so that I don’t have to assemble a gingerbread house, so next year we just may buy a kit and do it at home. The gingerbread house above is one of the ones they had on display that are made by local companies.

Gingerbread Workshop 3

In addition, we went to Volunteer Park in Seattle to see their seasonal conservatory display.

Vollunteer Park 5

Vollunteer Park 2Vollunteer Park 8We also did some seasonal button art, using popsicle sticks to make ornaments and making Christmas trees on paper. If I was doing these again, I’d paint the popsicle sticks white and/or glittery and let them dry before doing the craft with Dora.

Button Ornament

Button Trees

I haven’t talked much about Dora’s math recently. In the last few weeks, we’ve started using “Living Books” for math as she seems to hate ALL workbooks and traditional math manipulatives. This week we read How Many Snails?, which was a bit too advanced for her. Previously, we have really enjoyed What Comes in 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s? and Teddy Bear Counting.

I’ve also been doing some Montessori math work with her, such as these wooden cards and counters that I bought from Kid Advance Montessori. I have decided to stick with these two approaches, Living Math books and Montessori math materials, for teaching Dora math for the time being. This is all very new for me as I have not used either method to teach math, or any subject for that matter, to any of my other kids. Dora just seems to naturally respond to a Montessori/Charlotte Mason approach, however, while my other kids have preferred more traditional learning tools or unit studies. Of course, Dora is only three, so who knows what we’ll be doing three years from now.

Wooden Cards and Counters

Disclosure: Several item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

I’m linking this post to The Play Academy at NurtureStoreFootprints in the Butter’s Reading Aloud Challenge, and…

Chestnut Grove Academy

Shibley SmilesChestnut Grove Academy Field Trip Friday Blog Hop Favorite Resource This Week Science Sunday

Tots and Me For the Kids Fridayabc button Classified: Mom No Time For Flash Cards

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

Montessori Monday–Introducing the Real Deal

imageAs I mentioned in my previous post, I’m making a commitment to doing things the Montessori way with Dora. This has been something that I have not rushed into, I’ve spent about 18 months researching ideas and experimenting with cheap and/or homemade “Montessori” materials. I finally decided that I was serious enough about it, that it was time to take the plunge and invest in some of the true Montessori materials. I ordered from Kid Advance Montessori, because they seem to offer good quality at reasonable prices. I know that I could have spent many times more money and gotten great quality, but I won’t be using these materials in a school setting for years on end, so I settled for good quality instead.

Pink Tower

Of course, Dora was right by my side while I tried to discretely open and  store the materials, so I had to bring out some of them right away. The first two that I decided to use were the brown stairs and pink tower. Both items are designed to develop sensorial discrimination skills. Dora already knows how to build towers with toy cardboard towers, but having the pink tower cubes be all the same color greatly challenged her. She didn’t quite know what to make of them. She liked watching others build the tower, but never dove in and tried it herself.

Brown Stairs

Similarly, she was challenged by the uniform coloring of the brown stairs. She did take to the brown stairs much more, however, as she then could walk on them. I’m sure that Maria Montessori is rolling over in her grave as I type that sentence, but I did allow Dora to “climb” the stairs and I must say that it is nice that these learning materials aren’t so delicate that I had to say “no”. She would not have understood the point of stairs that she could not walk on, though I did attempt to redirect her behavior by having some of her dolls “walk” up the stairs first and I did draw the line at anyone heavier than Dora walking “up” the stairs.

As I do every Monday, I am linking this post to Living Montessori Now, which continues to play a mentor role in my finding my way towards a Montessori lifestyle.

Labels: Montessori, Preschool
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–Making Fresh-Squeezed Orange Juice

Making Orange Juice 2

Our practical life activity last week was making fresh-squeezed orange juice. I had planned to tie that in with a craft to make some orange slice Christmas ornaments, but am afraid that did not happen. Still, Dora was so excited about making fresh-squeezed orange juice. Clearly, she had not realized that juice actually came from fruit before this adventure. She really wanted us to make all sorts of juices afterwards and it was hard to explain to her why we couldn’t make apple juice and so forth with this particular juicer. She gave everyone samples of the juice and what can I say? Fresh-squeezed juice really is best!

As usual, I will be linking this post to the best site for answers to everything Montessori, Living Montessori Now.

Labels: Montessori, Preschool
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Preschool at Home–Reindeer Theme

Reindeer Festival 1

Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet, not only have I not been blogging much, but I’ve not even been reading many blogs this week. I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed this school year and Thanksgiving break just wasn’t long enough for me. So I’ve been in kind of a “meh” mood.

Reindeer Festival 2

Anyway, what did we do this week? We studied reindeer, sort of. We did go visit and feed reindeer at our local zoo’s Reindeer Festival. We also saw Santa and told him from a very safe distance that we want a baseball bat for Christmas. Santa seemed mighty confused by this girly girl, all dressed in pink, asking for a baseball bat, but I tried to reassure him that I was sure that he and his elves could handle this seeming contradiction.

We did not read The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett, as I had hoped to do, because Dora became obsessed with The Mitten, which is also by Jan Brett and now refuses to read any other Jan Brett book. The Mitten is a cute book and I enjoyed reading it more with Dora, because last year I read a review that discussed all that was going on in the side mitten cutouts. I really hadn’t paid that much attention to them before and did not realize that they showed what animal would be next on the right side, while showing what the boy is currently doing on the left side. In fact, the cutouts are what have caused Dora to become obsessed with the book in the first place.

Gingerbread Cookies

I had also hoped to read Gingerbread Baby, which is also by Jan Brett, but as I mentioned Dora won’t read any other Jan Brett books. We did make gingerbread cookies, however, using this gingerbread cookie recipe. I have to say that I think that these are the best gingerbread cookies that I have ever had! They are very soft and chewy, which is how I like my cookies. They have a good ginger/molasses taste without being too overwhelming for my kids. We had planned to decorate them with frosting, but Dora decided that she wanted to use milk chocolate chips and pearl sprinkles instead and I have to say that the chocolate/molasses combination was quite tasty.

Glitter Paint Ornaments 5

In addition, we made some Christmas ornaments using empty glass balls and Martha Stewart brand acrylic paints, both of which I purchased at Michael’s. I got the original idea from this post over at Educating Lucy, where they used nail polish instead of paint. We didn’t have nail polish and we first tried using tempera paints as the using the words “Dora” and “acrylic” in one sentence makes me extremely nervous. The tempera paints did not work very well, so I bought some more ornaments and the glittery acrylics and my house and sanity are still intact (well, that is assuming that I would known that I was insane, if I was insane, I’m not sure how that works…). The ornaments did come out quite nice and colorful, as Dora chose some very colorful paints (i.e. not the colors I would have chosen Smile).

Finally, my mother-in-law arrived today and Dora just cannot get enough of her Grandma, who will only be here for three days. So Dora may be a bit sad next week, as she still hasn’t recovered from my parents having the audacity of returning to their house after visiting us in October.

How about at your house? Have you been doing any interesting crafts for any of the holidays? Which holidays do you celebrate? Dora’s hairdresser comes from a very mixed heritage and told me  that her family celebrates HanuChristWanza!

Disclosure: Several item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

I’m linking this post to The Play Academy at NurtureStoreFootprints in the Butter’s Reading Aloud Challenge, and…

Chestnut Grove Academy

Shibley SmilesChestnut Grove Academy Field Trip Friday Blog Hop Favorite Resource This Week Science Sunday

Tots and Me For the Kids Fridayabc button Classified: Mom No Time For Flash Cards

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

Preschool at Home–Studying Corn

In honor of Thanksgiving, we studied corn this week. For science, we used this “From Seed to Plant Specimen Center” from Lakeshore Learning. Dora really enjoyed trying to figure out which seed, leaf, and fruit/vegetable went together. If you buy this set, do yourself a favor and somehow mark the leaves so that you know which one is which. They come in little baggies that are labeled, but if you take them all out of the baggies without marking them in some way, some of them are hard to figure out. The seeds are very easy to identify, as are the fruit/vegetable cards, which are color-coded anyway. It took a large group effort for us to match all of the leaves though.
Corn Art
For our art project, we made corn prints with bubble wrap. We cut the bubble wrap into a corn cob shape, which Dora then painted. We placed a piece of paper on top of the painted bubble wrap and used a rolling pin to make a to fully press the paper onto the bubble wrap. Later, I made some corn leaves, which Dora glued onto the corn prints.
Our literature focus this week was The Littlest Pilgrim, which is not a Thanksgiving book, per se. This book had been highly recommended to me, but I was quite disappointed. While the book is not offensive per se, it teaches a lesson that is contrary to what I believe and to how I am raising Dora. The book is about a little girl, named Mini, who is the littlest pilgrim in her village. Each two page spread discusses all of the things that she is too little to do. At the end, she learns that the one thing that she is not too little to do is make friends. I found this to be rather disappointing. I am spending so much effort using Montessori methods and materials to help Dora learn the skills to be as independent and capable as possible and this book teaches that little children aren’t capable of doing anything useful. So this book will be added to our donation pile. 
Fire Station TourFor our fieldtrip, we did not go anywhere corn-related. Our local homeschool group had scheduled a tour of a fire station, so we joined them for that. Originally, the tour had been advertised as being for ages 8-10, then it seemed like only younger children were going, so I signed Dora up. Unfortunately, the change in age range was not communicated to the fire station instructor, so the instruction level was at a much higher level than was really appropriate for Dora. She did really well, behavior-wise, and with attempting to answer questions. She did, however, get a bit confused. The whole afternoon after the tour, I had to check every single door to see if it was hot before I was allowed to open it! When we finally were able to go see the fire equipment, it was very impressive, but the whole area was a bit much for Dora. When I tried to put her in the fire truck to have a turn, she totally freaked out. Then she asked to go back in it and freaked out again. I couldn’t even get a picture of her in the truck. We actually had to leave at that point, because she was just wore out from being over-stimulated.
H Basket
In other areas, we continue to work through our alphabet baskets and are on the letter “H”. In case you missed a previous post about this, I fill a basket with objects that begin with our letter of the week, a capital and lowercase sandpaper letter, and a Leapfrog Magnetic Alphabet letter. We then discuss the sound the letter makes in relation to the objects, listen to Leapfrog pronounce the letter, and finger trace the sandpaper letters. We also continue to use Handwriting Without Tear’s wooden letter pieces, play dough letter set, and chalkboard.
Art Display 2
I’ve started putting out art prints from Child Size Masterpieces of Steps 1, 2, 3 – Level 1 Easy. I’m going to start implementing all of the elements from the curriculum soon, but for now am just putting out one print in a clear acrylic frame every couple of weeks. Dora has been very interested in all of the prints, except for the one I put out last week, which was a modern art piece (the photo above is from several weeks ago).
Our School Shelves
In addition, I’ve been setting out one music tray a week, with themed instruments. Dora already goes to a Kindermusik class every week, so we don’t a super lot with these instruments, but I like for her to explore some different concepts in addition to what they teach in class sometimes. For this week, I set out a tray of instruments that are all played by shaking them – a woodpecker, maracas, and a tambourine.
Finally, you may note that there is a globe on her shelves. That is brand new. I absolutely love the way Montessori geography objects are all colored exactly the same way, no matter what the object is (i.e. Asia is always yellow, whether it’s a globe, map puzzle, wall map, etc.). So I have just started the most basic geography introduction, by putting out the globe and showing her where we live.
Dora has been doing lots of math also, but that is a separate post unto itself. I’ll try to post about some of it next week. We are going to be taking all of next week off from homeschooling, just because we’re homeschoolers, so we can. I actually have rather mixed feelings about Thanksgiving and we usually do not make a big fuss about it around here, other than enjoying Mr. Mo being home for an extra two days (this year he is working on a Christmas-release product, so we will consider ourselves lucky if we even see him over Thanksgiving, but he will be taking three weeks off at Christmas and for part of January!).
What about you? Do you celebrate Thanksgiving and if so, how?
Disclosure: Several item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.
I’m linking this post to The Play Academy at NurtureStoreFootprints in the Butter’s Reading Aloud Challenge, and…

Chestnut Grove Academy
Shibley SmilesChestnut Grove Academy Field Trip Friday Blog Hop Favorite Resource This Week Science Sunday
Tots and Me

Labels: Language Arts, Literature, Montessori, Preschool, Science, Social Studies
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff