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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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



Letters and Numbers For Toddlers and Pre-K

Here are some letter and number activities that we enjoyed this week.


Counting bears (purchased used on Amazon) are a great activity and can be used in many different ways.  When I first introduced them to B, I only put out a few bears and only two colors.  Now, at 2 1/2 years old, he gets all of them.  And, yes, they go all over the place.  I think he enjoys the sounds of them falling and the feel of them as he mixed them around.  At this age, he enjoys when I have the bear “talk” to him.  He smiles and helps the bears find their “home” in the right color cup.  We count and sort the bears.  I ask him to hand me a certain number of bears or we see how many can ride the train or fit in the airplane.  We do basic addition – one yellow bear + two blue bears = ?  Although I also give him plenty of time to do whatever he wants with the bears, we usually do these activities together.


B also enjoyed pouring the alphabet into an empty orange juice container and opening and closing the lid.  A BIG hit was spelling out his name was magnet or wooden pieces.  And he does very well with sounding out the beginning of words and matching the letters.  I hold two objects, such as animals, in my hand ask which starts with a certain letter.  You can do this anywhere – like playing eye spy.  It’s a great game for the car or, in our case recently, the subway.

Happy Labor Day!


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Toddler Activities with Egg Cartons

It is especially fun to create toddler activities with recycled trash!  Cheap, homemade (of sorts) and DIY are some of my favorite descriptions for toddler activities.  So, egg cartons are perfect!  I keep a stack of different kinds of egg cartons in my craft cupboard.  They are great for sorting, counting, and art activities.  They are also great for holding small items and organizing your drawers or cupboards.  Ice cube trays also serve similar purposes.  Here are some basic activities with egg cartons but you can do so much more!  One-to-one correspondence activities such as placing wooden balls, puff balls or wiffle balls in cartons are early math activities.  You can also color code the egg baskets or assign numbers or letters.  You can use them for more complex sorting or use them as paint dishes.  I still remember uses egg cartons when I was in elementary school for painting projects.

Here is B (21 months old) is placing wooden balls in a 6-egg carton.  He did NOT like the activity with puff balls so try different materials and don’t get discouraged.  I usually have to introduce an activity several times before B wants to try it.  We counted each ball as he placed them in the carton.  I’ve seen other people write numbers or letters on the balls and in the cartons for a matching activity.  We’ll build up to that.


egg carton activities from forcingthebloom

egg carton activities from forcingthebloom












Here is B with a 12-egg carton.  He enjoyed filling it with wiffle balls.  No puff balls, please!  Maybe it’s boy thing?   A major part of the activity is taking the carton off the shelf and putting it back when B is done.  He knows he can’t get something new until he puts everything back.  The practice of moving things on and off the shelf helps with body control.

egg carton activities from forcingthebloom

egg carton activities from forcingthebloom












Here are some more ideas from other Montessori mamas using egg cartons !

Living Montessori Now  – Color Walk

Our Natural Journey  – Repurposing Egg Cartons

Kindergarten Basics – Upcycle Egg Cartons to Building Blocks + links to many other egg carton ideas!

Gift of Curiosity – Math with Egg Cartons + several other cool Montessori activities

Any other ideas?  How have you used your egg cartons?

We’ll revisit this theme again in the Spring!  Say, around Easter time!  You, me and that crazy Easter bunny.  This will be the first year B really gets to open Christmas presents and will understand the idea of an Easter egg hunt.  Can’t wait!  Have a Merry Christmas!!

Christmas Tree from forcingthebloom

Christmas Tree from forcingthebloom