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Mini Unit: Halloween 2013 (and spiders!)

Sorry for the delay! The camera was thrown on the floor in a fit of rage (not mine!)…so it took a bit to get some photos.

On our trays:

halloween clips fivehazelnuts

-clipping clothespins to the bucket

halloween eraser transfer fivehazelnuts

-Halloween eraser transfer

spider grid game+candy corn erasers

spider nomenclature from The Pinay Homeschooler

spider play doh fivehazelnuts

-spider play dough: black dough, sparkly pipe cleaners, googly eyes (as seen on Pinterest)

web fivehazelnuts

-trapping insects in a web (inspired by several posts around the web…no pun intended!)

bat nomenclature from Five Hazelnuts

-bat nomenclature (not as popular as last year, but since we had it already I put it out)

halloween sensory bin fivehazelnuts

Sensory Bin: I pulled out the bin from last year and made a new one at the last minute! Last year’s bin can be found here. The new one for Halloween contains purple water beads and giant googly eyes. (Pinterest)


Coming Home

For a variety of reasons, we have decided to bring our first grader home (from public school) for the remainder of the year (and perhaps longer).  It’s not an easy decision or a quick process.  Biding our time and playing by the rules until we’ve been “approved”.   So, for the moment we are at a stand-still as far as any fun/learning/exploring activities. But we are by no means bored or boring! Merely emotionally exhausted (and thrilled!) and taking it easy before launching into a new rhythm.

I had planned to share an Owl unit with you…but we haven’t even started.  Halloween/spiders post coming ASAP. Tomorrow? I hope. You may find something you want to try before Thursday!

Autumn Round-Up

A quick post to share all our trays/activities that have been popular this Autumn (many of these will remain available until Thanksgiving)…leaves, pumpkins, squirrels, acorns, etc.

Our Autumn activities from 2012 can be found here (no photos? hmm…) and pumpkins here.

On our trays:

fall punching tray

-paper punching (Fiskars punches in various Fall shapes+paper strips) (black for the squirrels as we’re in black squirrel country)

squirrel grid game fivehazelnuts

-squirrel grid game (a favorite from last year) from Pre-Kinders+acorn table scatter

fall lacing fivehazelnuts

-lacing cards (leaves, pumpkin, apple, scarecrow, acorn) from Scholastic

pumpkin and stickers fivehazelnuts

-stickers+foam pumpkin shapes (we will use these at Thanksgiving as placecards)

pumpkin life cycle fivehazelnuts

-pumpkin life cycle from Montessori For Everyone

parts of a pumpkin fivehazelnuts

-pumpkin nomenclature from Montessori Print Shop


1. Awesome Autumn by Bruce Goldstone

2. Pumpkin Day! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

3. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves by Lucille Colandro

4. Poppleton in Fall by Cynthia Rylant

5. Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead

6. Counting on Fall by Lizann Flatt

7. Fall Mixed Up by Bob Raczka

8. Why Do Leaves Change Color? by Betsy Maestro

9. Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic by Stephen Schnur

10. We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger

fall sensory bin five hazelnuts

Sensory Bin: beans as a base, acorn/pumpkin/leaves table scatter, silk leaves, plush squirrel, shovel, acorn colander from Target dollar spot, tiny squirrel replica (Schleich, I think).

Field Trip: Holden Arboretum

Linked to Montessori Monday at Living Montessori Now.

B is for Bear

On our trays:

-B is for Bear cutting and pasting (Animal ABCs)

Ravensburger Teddy  Mix & Match game (thrift store!)



-dressing bears from Melissa and Doug

DSCN8655-001 DSCN8654-001

Field Trip: Akron Zoo to see the new Grizzly Ridge exhibit

*This “letter-a-week” system is already NOT working for us! So, our alphabet posts will be sporadic (ie. if I don’t have another theme set up for the week, we will choose a letter/animal). I think Tiny Tornado will benefit from a more consistent letter study in a few months.

Apple Unit 2013

This Autumn we are using many of the same trays as last year, but I’ve also added a couple.

I have a special connection to apples and orchards as my grandfather owns an orchard in Oregon. It holds a very special place in my heart and I can only hope that my children will feel that as we carry on some apple traditions in our own home here in Ohio. Oregon next year?

On our trays:


-life cycle of an apple from Montessori For Everyone

-apple nomenclature from my NAMC manual (Montessori Print Shop carries this, too.) + apple + knife (apple dissection?)


-apple variety cards from MPS (we will be headed to the local orchard in search of as many of these varieties as we can find)


-pom pom transfer


-apple lacing card



– apple scented play doh  (we used apple fragrance oil for the scent…I was a little worried about skin contact, but it’s been just fine) inspired by this post from Fantastic Fun and Learning

-making applesauce

-making apple rings (using our new-ish dehydrator!)

-apple picking at Grandma’s

Sensory Bin: oats, sprinkle of cinnamon, apple scent, mini apples from craft store, scoop, apple-shaped colander from Target dollar spot, red pony beads  (inspired by this post)


*While they enjoyed the sensory bin…I did not. The mess was more than I could handle this week! Perhaps next year when they are older and less tempted to throw the oats? Or only use it when I am feeling extra patient?

Books: (new and old)

1. Apples by Gail Gibbons

2. How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman

3. Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington

4. Ducking for Apples by Lynne Berry

5. Apple by Nikkie McClure

6. Apple Cider Making Days by Ann Purmell

Last year’s apple studies can be found here.

Linked to Montessori Monday at Living Montessori Now.

*Please excuse the awful photos…camera won’t focus and I keep picking “bad light days”.  Time for a new point-and-shoot!

A is for Alligator

This year we are using Carisa’s Animal ABCs (1+1+1=1) with the goal of one letter a week until we run out. :)

We will continue to use Montessori materials where needed and expand a unit if we feel like it.  For example, this week Tiny Tornado (38m) and I worked on “A” and alligators…but we turned the whole week into reptiles for a bigger unit to do as a family.

On our trays:


caiman nomenclature from MPS + caiman replica from The Land Down Under TOOB by Safari  LTD.


-alligator vs. crocodile from Tarbiyah Homeschool (under Miles and Miles of Reptiles)…these are AWESOME!


-A is for Alligator cutting and pasting (create the A from alligators) from Animal ABCs (he’s learning to like these cut and paste projects, but I am unsure we will continue, maybe next year?)

-alligator lacing card (printed from Activity Village)

Gross Motor:  feed the alligator (tossing bean bags into the alligator swim ring)


1. Alligator Boy by Cynthia Rylant

2. Crocs! by David T. Greenberg

3. All About Alligators by Jim Arnosky

4. Bill and Pete by Tomie dePaola

5. Alligators and Crocodiles by Gail Gibbons

Sensory Bin: Alligators Alive TOOB from Safari LTD, rocks (vase filler)…super simple! But it was well-loved the last couple weeks.

*The nomenclature and sorting trays were not used much this week. We will be using them again for a future reptile unit when the kids have the desire!


With Kiffer in first grade at our local public elementary and Tiny Tornado catching up verbally but not ready for an out-of-the-home schooling experience…we are after schooling again this year.  The 2013-2014 school year will be different for us as we have moved and my husband has graduated and found a wonderful job that allows him to be home a week at a time.  That means more space to leave our materials out, more time for field trips, and more freedom to follow the interests of the kiddos. What else does this mean? Fewer themed weeks and MORE projects!

We will be using the Animal ABCs from Carisa at 1+1+1=1 for Tiny Tornado as a way to loosely structure our year.  So, for the most part the only themed units I will post here are the Animal ABCs and how we expand them to fit our older son’s interests and the occasional mini unit someone begs me for.