Forcing the Bloom

Happy, Healthy Mommy Blog


Taking School Outside

Do you ever take (home)school outside?  I’m curious how many homeschool families take their lessons outside and what that looks like to you.  What are some creative ways to have school outside?

I took B to a park and we had “lessons” of sorts with chalk.  We practiced colors, shapes, numbers, and letters.  He also loved drawing on the ground.  For a toddler who is WAY more interested in everything to do with SPORTS, his renewed interest in art was an added bonus.  I love seeing bigger kids artwork at the playground too!  I’ve seen alphabet trains, mazes, hopscotch, and cool animals.

We also talked about the season – AUTUMN.  We looked for leaves changing color and collected acorns.  We counted the acorns and delivered them to squirrels.

Beside chalk and nature walks, what are some other cool ideas for taking school outside?

Here are a few pictures of our “lessons” in the park and you can also check out the video entitled Art in the Park on my YouTube channel.

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Easy Q-Tip Cleaning and Math Activity for Toddlers

My rule for kid activities is always: quick and easy!


How many things can you do with q-tips?  It’s amazing.  My toddler enjoyed cleaning his toy cars with soapy water and q-tips.  These are very special cars to him and he meticulously cleaned and dried them.  For older children, you can let them polish silver pieces or shine shoes.  I remember I loved to shine my Dad’s shoes, even though I wasn’t very good at it.  He had NO idea that is a favorite Montessori activity.  For even littler children (under 2), you can give them clothes or sponges to practice cleaning.  We have also used toothbrushes in the past.

You can check out a video of this activity at my YouTube Channel, entitled Car Cleaning Activity.

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Here is an EASY MATH activity for children, toddlers and pre-k.  I picked up this neat ice-cube tray and noticed B was fascinated by it.  He discovered how to make ice (nice mini science lesson) and then we used it for a math activity.  B is putting one rabbit cracker into each cube.  He counts and adds the crackers, practicing one-to-one correspondence.  One in his mouth and one in the tray!  Do we ever have a “normal” snack?  No way!

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Sensorial and Practical Life Activities – Play-doh, Emery Boards, and Dried Beans!

Before I describe the activities B enjoyed this week, I would like to say that I usually do NOT put my toddler in our mobile chair.  We are just using it now since we are not at home.  I don’t recommend it.  B has been using a small table and chair since he was about one.  The table and chair promote independence and body control.  Anyway…

Here are three activities that B REALLY enjoyed this week.

1.)  In the first picture, B is playing with play-doh and dinosaurs.  When B gets bored with an activity, we add something new.  This time we added dinosaurs.  Instant imagination explosion!

2.)  In the next picture, B is putting all my emery boards back in the container that they came in.  It goes to show that you should always check your trash.  It’s probably worth an activity or two.

3.)  In the last picture B is playing with dried beans.  He actually asked for the beans.  In a prior post I showed how he likes to plow through them with his cars and bulldozers.  Here he simply enjoyed putting them in different containers and swirling them around his tray.  A bonus activity is picking them up off the floor and putting them in a container.

What is the most interesting sensorial (using the senses) activity you have tried with your kids?


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What’s Your Major?

If you were in  college today (assuming you are not) what would your major in?  Biology?  Philosophy?  English?  Art?  Computer Science?  Would you change your career path?  Try something new?  Do you have an interest you never imaged you’d have when you were 18?  What words of wisdom would you give your 18-year-old self?

Has parenthood sent you in a new trajectory?

This weekend I visited my brother-in-law.  He’s a freshman in college.  We watched his wet, cold football game.  A taste of fall.  Then we took a tour of the campus.  Tiny dorm rooms and large libraries (or computer labs).  We were pleasantly surprised by his focus on academic and mildly amused by his concern to find more social time (there did not seem to be enough).  He is majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Economics.  Ambitious.

Between rain drops my husband and I reminisced about our college days.  My husband declared he would like to go back and major in psychology.  I think what he really meant was that he would like to add that to his knowledge of computer science and business.  Still, he took me by surprise and got me thinking – What would I major in today?  I’m still thinking.  The only thing I can decide for sure is that I’m NOT as sure as I was when I was 18.

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Montessori Moments

What are your Montessori moments this week?  Here are some of ours.  Of course, you can have more categories such as fine motor skills, memory, geography, or science.  Below are just a few we are working on – Sensorial, Art, Practical Life Skills, Language, and Math.


Playing with dried beans and sand.  Usually some sort of vehicle is also involved.  Dirt has also been a big hit recently too.  We find a dirt pile under a trees and B plays contentedly for a long time usually digging, scooping, sweeping, etc.

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How many things can you paint with?  Brushes, marbles, cars, sponges, empty paper towel rolls?  Here B made a painting with q-tips.  He enjoyed folding the paper in half and making a reflection.  He REALLY loved displaying his art and showing Daddy.  We asked him what he made and he responded, “Ducks!”











Typically practice life skills activities in our home include cutting fruit, buttering bread, making smoothies, vacuuming, etc.  Some toys can utilize practice life skills as well.  This  jeep and drill toy lets B practice taking the screws and bolts on and off.  Very entertaining.











B liked this phonics game.  I put a variety of objects in a bin and he had to decide which cup they should go in – the “A”, “B”, or “C” cup – based on the beginning sounds.  The apple piece and bagel were eating and he insisted the cap go back on the bottle, but otherwise he understood the game and had fun.

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B enjoyed putting my cut out numbers in order from 1 to 10.  He can count higher but we are working on mastering order (when the numbers are out of order) and value.  We also count everything and enjoy playing with shapes.

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Simple Sketches = Endless Learning

My toddler loves my quick, crayon sketches and they are a great tool for learning.  Yes, that’s MY drawing – not his.  He’s only 2!  If your kids are older, you can use their drawings.









Sequencing, Early Math, One-to-One Correspondence 

Our conversations about the sketches I draw usually sound like the dialogue from “When You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”  He asks me to draw trains or a race track.  And then he needs a parking lot (simple lines with numbers) for the cars after they race or a station for the train passengers.  I’ll ask him to “park” his race car on a certain number.  I’ll say, “You parked 6 cars!  What if two drive away?  Then how many do you have?”  He’ll answer without thinking about it – “Four!”

Language, Geography, Memory 

And then, as with the train picture above, he’ll need shapes or dinosaurs to go on each car.  Then we’ll talk about who is first, last, and in the middle.  We’ll talk about  how we get on and off the train.  I can see him thinking about our recent train rides.  He’ll ask me to draw people at the station and we’ll count the people that I draw.  Then he’ll pick a place on the wall map for the passengers to visit.  Then he pulls out his animals to see which animal lives in that part of the world.  Then he’ll want to know about the weather there and what the animals eat.  And then the animals will need a train to ride or maybe a race track to race on.  And then…it goes on and on!


Of course, I REAL train ride with the grandparents is more fun than a sketch!



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Learning Patterns – Early Math

PATTERNS – Early math for toddler and pre-k kids









Patterns are a great activity for toddlers and pre-k kids.  This is a beginning math concept and be use introduced along with sorting and matching.  B (2 1/2 years old) sort of gets the concept but we are still working on mastery.  This week he enjoyed a few patterns with wooden shapes.  Then he spent quite awhile playing with the shapes and eventually driving his cars around the shapes.  Are you teaching patterns?  How do you demonstrate this concept?

Here B is helping me finish the patterns made with wooden shapes and counting bears.  Of course, you could use just about ANYTHING – pom poms, stickers, foam pieces, etc.

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Here are some other great resources for pattern ideas.  As you will see, you can get very creative and advanced with these pattern games!



The Activity Mom

The Imagination Tree


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Labor Day Weekend












What did you see and explore this weekend?  Hot?  Cool?  Beach?  Mountains?  Picnic?  Movies?

We took a boat ride around Manhattan one day and a long subway ride to the beach another day.  One day was spent mainly in the bookstore and watching movies while trying to stay dry and cool.

What I find amazing about NYC:  Diversity – of people, languages, cultures, and activities!