Category Archives: Wrapping Up Our Week

The Homeschool Mother’s Journal–We Finally Make Some Melted Crayon Art

Melted Crayons Bird

In my life this week… it looks like Mr. Mo has a new job. It is at the same large company that he has worked for the last 15 years, but it is a better position on a project that he is passionate about. He hasn’t officially been given the job as his prospective boss has been out of town, but the group has already given him loads of work to do, so we’re taking that as a positive sign that he has the job. Unfortunately, he has to finish up his current project at the same time, so he is being pulled in two directions at once. Were it me in the same situation, I’d probably implode or something, but Mr. Mo handles stress fairly well.

Bird Template

In our homeschool this week… Dora and I did the final vertebrate craft project that I forgot to do last week. This one was about birds. It was one of those melty-crayon projects that was all the rage on Pinterest last spring. I finally just got around to doing one. I cut out a bird template on black cardstock. Then I needed to temporarily affix it to our background paper somehow. I admit that this part of the project temporarily flummoxed me. How does one temporarily attach paper to paper and have a good seal, but not have the adhesive stick out beyond the template? I’m sure there are some wonderful temporary adhesives that I could have gone out and bought, but I did not feel like dealing with that, so I rolled up loops of painter’s tape to make “double-sided” painter’s tape and used that. Were I to do this again, I would get a better temporary sealant.

Bird Template With Painter's Tape for Temporary Adhesion

We then used glue tape to attach unwrapped crayons all around the bird in a rainbow pattern, of course. We opted to use any and all crayons that we don’t use anymore, including broken, soy, and beeswax crayons (beeswax crayons are really hard to melt, so I don’t recommend them). At this point I would like to point out the real reason this is not a good preschooler project, Dora unwrapped one, yes count them, one, crayon and I unwrapped the rest. Unwrapping that many crayons takes forever and leaves tons of crayon wax under your nails!

Bird Template With Crayons Before Melting

We then blow-dried the crayons with our hair dryer on the hottest setting. I know that the people on Pinterest use heat guns, but I don’t have one of those either. The hair dryer worked fine, though it may have taken longer than a heat gun would have (I wouldn’t know, having never used a heat gun and not being really sure what a heat gun is for). Unfortunately, some of the crayon seeped under our bird stencil, which is why I would use a better temporary adhesive, were I to do this again.

Bird Template With Crayons While Melting the Crayons

I am inspired by… Charlotte Mason. Not to sound like a broken record, and no, I am not abandoning Montessori, but after reading Charlotte Mason’s books this week, I took Dora on a nature walk. Dora was not really interested in much and was being a bit whinny. I followed some of Charlotte Mason’s advice and said, “What was that I just heard?” Dora looked at me like I was crazy. So I said, “I think I just heard an interesting bird sound.” Suddenly Dora started really listening to what was going on around us, for the first time in her life! She spent about 15 minutes listening to the various bird calls, none of which I could identify BTW, because I have never made any attempts to learn about nature, until just recently.

Rainy Day Leaves

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… We did the usual drama, music and co-op classes. We also went on two nature walks. Then today Dora and I went to Remlinger Farms with some great friends (we even got to meet their Grandma, who Dora started calling “Grandma” also). We had a blast at the park and a blast seeing our friends and to top it all off, we got to take home two new pumpkins! Tomorrow, we’re supposed to go on a tour of our local fire station. Plus Secunda is home from college this weekend.

Remlinger Farms 2

Remlinger Farms 1Remlinger Farms 3I’m reading… The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (wait a minute, did you just do a double take!?!? You should have!). Yes, the book is by the J.K. Rowling of the Harry Potter fame! I’m only on chapter 6, as I just started it, but so far, it is excellent. It is a murder mystery that takes place in an English village. I wouldn’t go so far as to call the book a cozy, as there is a bit too much sex and profanity for that, but it is heading in a cozy-ish direction. It’s definitely a book for adults, not children or tweens (perhaps teens???).

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

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Nature Study, Things To Do Around Seattle, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

The Homeschool Mother’s Journal–A Week of Bat Guano

In my life this week… I spent a good portion of the week with my hands in bat guano (AKA bat poop). True story! Why in the world would I do that, you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked! This summer has been a very dry summer in the Pacific Northwest. Almost all of the perennials that I planted in the spring were fried, despite my best efforts. I decided that I am getting a bit tired of the vicious cycle of buying new plants every spring and then having them fried every summer. So I decided that I am going to experiment with planting more native-ish seeds in the fall and see if I can’t get my plants to survive heat waves by having more established root systems. Anywhoo… long story short, I really wanted to enrich my soil to improve the chances of my experiment working, so I found some awesome compost that has bat guano, chicken manure, and worm castings (that would be worm poop!) in it. You’d think I would have worn gloves to work with the stuff, wouldn’t ya? Well, a normal person would have and I had the best of intentions, but I just have this thing about working with my bare hands… I guess I feel like I make a better connection with the soil or some other esoteric something or other…. I can’t really explain it. I pretty much only wear gloves to protect myself from prickles and bugs.

Fish Diorama

In our homeschool this week… Dora and I finished up her study of vertebrates this week, by studying fish. We labeled the parts of the fish on a Montessori puzzle, read some fish books, and made this fish diorama by using two painted paper plates and  Saran Wrap for the “window”.

Issaquah Salmon Hatchery 2

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… On Monday, Gohan had drama and Dora had music class. Tuesday, they both had co-op. Wednesday found us at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery (that blurry little thing in the photo above was a Coho fry, which was smaller than my pinky and jumping after a tiny little bug – it took 75 photos, shot non-stop, to get this image!). Thursday we attended our first Park Day with our local homeschool group and had a blast. Friday will find Dora and I had a Tiny Tots Symphony concert.

Issaquah Salmon Hatchery 1

Issaquah Salmon Hatchery 3

Issaquah Salmon Hatchery 4My favorite thing this week was… That the weather turned more fall-ish. I know a lot of people have been loving the extended summer that we have been having, but I’ve not been enjoying it at all. I LOVE autumn! It is my absolute favorite season! As is, we lost out on a lot of fall color, due to this wacky weather. A lot of leaves just went straight from green to brown.

What’s working/not working for us… So far, Gohan’s homeschooling is going really well. We’re using Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra and I honestly don’t care if some people consider it to be “light”, which I’m not sure if I even agree with, it works for him and that’s what is important.

Charlotte Mason

Questions/thoughts I have… Should I try to incorporate more of a Charlotte Mason approach into Dora’s homeschooling, she clearly learns really well from “living” books, yet there are many aspects of the Charlotte Mason approach that I do not like, such as dictation and memorization, not to mention that we are what would could be considered “secular humanists”.

Needle Felted Pumpkin

Things I’m working on… I’m needle felting some pumpkins, using the wool and directions from Bear Creek Design. So far, so good! Needle felting seems to be a fiber art that I am actually competent at! I find it incredibly relaxing to do in the evenings (especially while playing My Little Ponies!).

I’m grateful for… Mr. Mo, I couldn’t ask for a better husband!

A photo, video, link, or quote to share… Dora grew her own pumpkin this year!

Garden Pumpkin 2

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Labels: Arts and Crafts, Science, Things To Do Around Seattle, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

A Week of Flower Studies

Botanical Gardens 18
This week Dora and I studied flowers. The book we read for this unit was a lovely book, called Jack’s Garden, which is a take off of the Jack’s House rhyme. The book is beautifully illustrated and teaches about all of the elements that go into a healthy garden, such as seeds, soil, water, insects, etc. Framing the illustrations are more drawings, which are close-ups of the things being discussed on that particular page.
Jack's Garden 2
We used a Montessori flower puzzle and labels to discuss the parts of the flower.
Flower Puzzle
We then used this Guidecraft Flower Match Garden Patch set to study sorting and patterning. I was a little disappointed with this set, because the magnets that hold the leaves/stems in place do not work very well, so the leaves and stems just slide down.

Flower Garden Sorting Set

Of course, Dora planted some flowers of her own, in pots she picked out, using these seed mixes from Imagination Childhood
Flower Planting
Then we made paper flowers with Klutz’s Chicken Socks Make Your Own Paper Flowers kit. You could easily do this yourself with colorful paper, coffee filters, muffin liners, tissues, etc.. Tipnut has directions for making all sorts of paper flowers.Paper Flowers
Finally, we went to the Bellevue Botanical Garden. We didn’t see much of the gardens because Dora was obsessed with the small waterfall near the entrance of the park. She would take any fallen flower she could find and throw it in the waterfall and try to make it go all the way down to the pond at the other end. As you can see in the photo below, she began to test the boundaries by sticking her toes deeper and deeper into the waterfall. Eventually, she soaked her feet such that we had to go home.
Botanical Gardens 5
The gift shop, which Dora thought was a toy shop, but actually specialized in $30+ delicate glass figurines, had two ceramic figures that I thought were so funny, I just had to share them.
Botanical Gardens 11 Botanical Gardens 12
Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.
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: Arts and Crafts, Literature, Nature Study, Science, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Weekly Wrap-Up – Ladybugs and Middle School Montessori Methods

Ladybugs 1

I’ve decided that I’m going to try doing more of a general wrap-up on Fridays that includes both Dora and Gohan, rather than trying to do two separate posts like I have been doing for some time. As Dora is getting older and I am incorporating Montessori into out lives, their “schooling” isn’t as separate as it once was.

Ladybug and Butterfly Puzzles

Dora did focus on ladybugs this week. Our ladybugs arrived when our worms did, but were already hatched. They are still in the larva stage, but I expect them to go into the pupa stage sometime this week. We’ve had many more of the larvae survive this time. Last year, when we tried this, the larvae were very cannibalistic and ate each other, such that only two lived. I also brought out the insect puzzles that we have, which are only a butterfly and ladybug. I am hesitant to buy more, since Dora is so fearful of insects. In fact, we had planned to go to the Seattle Bug Safari, which is an insect zoo that I have never been to, but Dora was too scared to go. She now is comfortable with the three sets of insects that we are currently raising, so I’m very glad that we did this unit, which has allowed her to somewhat get over her complete terror of bugs.

In fact, we read Ladybug Girl this week and Dora is totally enthralled with Ladybug Girl. We went to the bookstore and bought two more books in the series, plus the last remaining Ladybug Girl doll. Jacky Davis and David Soman, the authors and illustrator, really have captured the spirit and personality of girls in this age group. Ladybug Girl is an excellent and realistic hero role model for young girls.

Ladybug Fingerprint Art

For our craft, we made finger print lady bugs on a “branch” background. Dora really enjoyed this activity, especially adding the details to the ladybugs.


Meanwhile, I am still trying to transition to more of a Montessori method with Gohan. Missing all of the Montessori foundation, is providing and added challenge, but I am going to try to use as many of the Montessori principles as I can. I find it interesting that in many ways, Maria Montessori, a developer of school curriculum and philosophy, was also one of the first unschoolers. While she believed in presenting a prepared environment and in having teachers present concepts to children, she did not believe in forcing children to do anything. Montessori students were free to learn what they wanted, when they wanted. Obviously, she was not an unschooler as homeschooled unschoolers are, in that living and learning were still took place in two separate environments, but certainly she was more of an unschooler than I am. So I am currently struggling with how much control over his own education that I am willing to give Gohan. Were I to completely absolve him of any school responsibilities and trust him to learn as he saw fit, he assures me that he would spend the day on Skype, chatting and gaming with his friends. I am not comfortable with such a schedule, so I am still assigning him some work.

He is currently working through the ETC pre-algebra cards. The cards are very basic and only require about 10 minutes of work from him. Yet, I find that they almost always result in serving as conversation starters for Gohan and I. As a result, he is actually learning more and having greater understanding, than when he was working through the textbook.

I have come up with what I hope is a good solution for the language arts conundrum that I found myself facing. I honestly believe that the best way to learn composition, vocabulary, and grammar is to read good literature. Yet, though Gohan is now reading, he is still not up to reading super challenging books. I finally decided that I will continue to have him read one book of his choice, but I am also going to have him start listening to audio books of higher quality literature. I will allow him to select this literature also, but he will only be able to chose from a list of about 25 books. We will then come back to grammar, composition, and vocabulary studies when he is in 10th and/or 11th grade, in order to finish preparing for the SAT and college.

That is a brief glimpse of our week? What about your week? Anyone else going through an educational approach identity crises right now?

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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.


Labels: Language Arts, Math, Montessori, Science, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Preschool at Home–Sense of Touch

Transluscent Putty 4

We ended up spending a lot more time at home this week than we usually do. Part of this was, because Dora has suddenly started refusing to go to any of her activities. So I am just canceling them as clearly she is feeling that she needs more time at home. It is only on the days that we are home for most of the day that she really starts exploring the materials/toys that we have at home. Of course, conversely, if we are home too much, she becomes bored. It is a precarious balance. Anyway, this week we studied touch. I had tons of “fun” stuff to do. The only problem was that Dora did not like the feel of any of my “fun” activities. We tried working with fabric matching and touch boards, which she hated (she wouldn’t even touch the touch boards at all after the first time). We made doughs, slime, and clays galore and she hated them all. Then yesterday I saw this post about making transparent silly putty at Play at Home Mom to play with on light boxes and I knew that we had to try it! I had been looking for liquid starch for a very long time and having so much trouble finding it. Today I went to several stores and was just about to give up, when I tried one last store and they had it! The putty was an absolute success! It looked so cool and Dora loved playing with it. It was not too gooey for her at all. Yay! She spent most of the time making designs by putting beads into it. Meanwhile, Tertia just HAD to try to blow bubbles in it like Play at Home Mom’s son did.


For a craft activity, we tried our hand at embossing with a set from Allison’s Montessori. I had never done embossing before and am not sure I was doing it right. Dora decided that she preferred using the designs as stencils and using a puncher with them instead anyway.

KidsQuest 1

We went to one of our local children’s museums, which had lots of activities for Dora to explore her sense of touch with.

For literature, we read three good books. We read Pat the Bunny, which I somehow missed buying for her when she was younger. Despite it being aimed at somewhat younger children, she really enjoyed the book and I ended up reading it far too many times this week.

We also read Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On, with cut out holes for the eyes. Dora insisted on poking a finger through every single eye on every single page.

Finally, we read the last in our series of senses books, Touch (Five Senses). Interestingly, she has been going over to the science shelf and asking me to reread the other senses books and I just finally started paying attention to the last page of each book, which has a medical type drawing of the body part involved with a LOT of details. I pointed out the pictures and described the details and Dora was fascinated by it all. I guess it really must have made an impression on her, because suddenly her imaginary friend, Ana, has started having some very strange “health problems”. I had planned to not go into more of the human body with her after we finished the five senses, but her obvious curiosity about the subject, combined with some of the health issues that she has been dealing with lately, have made me feel that I owe it to her to cover more of the body’s systems.

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

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.

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Labels: Montessori, Preschool, Things To Do Around Seattle, Wrapping Up Our Week
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.

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

The Homeschool Mother’s Journal–January 6th

Steam Boat Experiment

In my life this week…We started back with our normal schedule on Monday, though Mr. Mo took this week off work, so things weren’t quite back to normal. My asthma set me back some with jogging, ends up that it is the mold that is doing me in. I finally had to stop my allergy shots as I was having too adverse of reactions to them. So this week, I started trying to jog shorter distances (2.75 miles), more frequently, and my lungs were much happier. I will slowly build back up to where I was, distance-wise and then hopefully build up to a full 10K 3-4/week. It may be that I will just always have to take things a bit easier in the fall/early winter because of mold. I didn’t know this before, but it ends up that fall’s leaves are a big source of mold.

What’s working/not working for us… I have been very bad about writing wrap-ups for Gohan this year, so I’m writing his first this week. The subject that has been the most interesting lately, as far as I am concerned anyway, has been Physical Science. We’re using the Advanced Version of Exploration Education’s Physical Science. Overall, we’ve been very happy with this program. The lessons are very clear. The program comes with almost all the lab materials, except for a couple of common household items (these are really “common” household items, not like the ridiculous items some companies consider “common”). My only complaint is that I wish they had divided the lesson up a bit more evenly. Some of the labs end up taking us two weeks to complete. I wish they had broken them up more, had the student do smaller parts over the course of several lessons. The only other snag we have hit is that we got really excited playing with the car after Gohan made it and it broke. Then it ends up that it is called for in many of the other experiments, which we have therefore not been able to do. Most recently, Gohan has been studying machines and heat exchange. The above picture if from one of the experiments using a steam boat that he made.

We have finally settled on Saxon Algebra 1/2 for Gohan and it is proving to be a much better fit for him than any of the other math curriculums that we have looked at this year. While he grasps the concepts easily enough, he still struggles with mechanics of multiplication and division with long digits. Obviously, this is his learning disability rearing it’s ugly head. Up until last year, it had seemed that he had escaped without it affecting his math, but we were not so lucky. He completely understands how to set up the problems, even the really advanced ones, but then just has these big “brain farts”.

MP900442459[1]Speaking of his learning disabilities, we’re looking into getting him an IEP with the local junior high. I would like to know what they would offer him in regards to services. We’re mostly looking into supplementing what we’re doing already, but we are also contemplating sending him to school fulltime next year. Our reasons for contemplating school for him are twofold, one he has been a bit uncooperative and antisocial since I pulled him out of the ALE. He misses his old friends, but this is a non-negotiable issue for me, so we’ve been butting heads some. Once we begin the IEP process, the ALE will no longer be an option as the ALE was in a different district, which will not accept interdistrict transfer students with IEP’s. Secondly, I’m not sure that I am able to fully meet his needs right now. Dora is a very high maintenance child and Primo has needed much more of my help, in regards to transitioning to the adult world, than I had expected. I do think that Gohan may have some trouble, socially, if he went to public school as he would be a special ed. student., plus he is very unathletic. So we will need to spend a lot of time weighing the pros and cons. He is currently open to the idea. The IEP process will definitely help to clarify exactly what our options are.

While working through the IEP process, we will be still plowing ahead with language arts to the best of our abilities. I have switched up his curriculum again, though I think we are pretty set at this point as have been using these since early November. Gohan just finished reading the latest book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Cabin Fever and is using the following:

Gohan decided that he just didn’t want to study Japanese anymore and I do not require a foreign language until 9th grade in our homsechool, so he is not doing Mango Japanese anymore.

He really despised doing the art projects for Meet the Masters, so we are using The Usborne Book of Art to do a more traditional art history/appreciation course. We have been doing this since November and he has been a much happier kid ever since. Finally he is still happily reading Cartoon History of the Universe 1 Vol. 1-7 and not so happily doing some work on his History Odyssey Timeline.


Outside of the home, he continues to take a homeschool drama class and Taekwondo/Arnis. He also plays in two separate Yu-Gi-Oh leagues. So he is outside the home for about 12 hours a week, which I guess isn’t terrible. It just is that almost all of his time not spent doing bookwork, chores, or attending these things is spent on his computer, Skyping with friends. They play games, chat, make video collaborations, etc. So he is being productive and socializing, and does see most of these friends once a month at a “Game Night”, which is hosted at each other’s houses, but I would love to see him try to extend his social network a bit more. At this point in time, he is resisting 100%. We try to allow our children to make as many decisions as possible in regards to their life and education, though we obviously are not extreme unschoolers and do have certain limits. Still, we do not believe in making him attend things that he doesn’t want to attend or in limiting computer time as long as his schoolwork and chores are done and he gets in a reasonable amount of exercise. This doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t waste spend a large amount of energy worrying about my children’s’ choices. I figure I’ll stop worrying one day, once I’m in my grave.

I’m reading…The February issue of Ellery Queen. I got behind on my Ellery Queen reading, which I do love and just finished December’s issue. It was bit weird to read so many Christmas stories right after Christmas. February’s issue is timely for me as Mr. Mo and I just saw the most recent Sherlock Holmes movie and the first story in Ellery Queen is a Sherlock Holmes’ pastiche. Between the movie and the pastiche, I’ve decided to devote 2012 to catching up on Sherlock Holmes and filling in some of the gaps of my knowledge about him.

I’m cooking…Nothing this week. Secunda and Mr. Mo went on an Atkins diet and Secunda did all the dinner cooking as as result. As a wannabe-tarian, there is no way that I am cooking for an Atkins diet. When Mr. Mo goes on Atkins diets, which is usually every January, he eats things like pork rinds, big hunks of meat, etc.. Blech! Secunda decided today that and Atkins diet is not for, so I will be back to cooking again next week. To tell you the truth, it will be worth it as Secunda believes that there is no such thing as too spicy of food or using too many dishes to cook.

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.

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Labels: Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Welcome 2012, Health Issues, and Chicken Butts

I kind of fell off the face of the Earth for the last couple of weeks, blogging-wise, but things got really hectic with the holidays and then I just wanted to be able to relax and not worry about blogging. Over the last two weeks, we did what much of America did, we celebrated Christmas and New Year’s. We also celebrated both my and Gohan’s birthdays. There really was nothing remarkable about our celebrations, there were pretty much like everyone else’s. I guess one thing that stands out is that we had Chinese takeout for our Christmas dinner.

Unfortunately, over the last two weeks, Dora also had two seemingly unrelated health issues come up. They may both turn out to be nothing, or they may turn out to be big things. I will blog more about them, once more tests have been completed and I have more answers.

Another wonderful issue that has arisen with Dora is that she has learned to ask “Guess what?” and when one responds, “What?”, she retorts with, “Chicken butt!” I have no one, but myself, to blame. My husband has often used the “Chicken butt” line in our household, but I was unaware that it was something that anyone, but he and his childhood friends said, until I saw a stuffed chicken in a catalog that says the whole spiel. Of course, I had to get it for him! Well, he is on vacation or he would have already taken it to work to torment his co-workers with. Instead, Dora has become obsessed with the thing and the expression. The worst of it is that I fall for it every time! Yes, I am gullible to the nth degree, but her voice is just so innocent and there is not even a hint of a smile, when she nonchalantly asks, “Mom, guess what?” She also has the timing and spacing down perfectly. She doesn’t ask it often enough that I’m prepared for it, but she asks often enough that it is getting darn annoying.

Anyway, that is a brief summary of the last two weeks. We started back with homeschooling today. How about you? Did you do anything special over the holidays?

Labels: Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff