Kindergarten Home School Week 9: Monday

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The first thing to note about the day is how Travis needed me. Beyond all the school lessons I had planned, he wanted me in his games every time there was “recess” or “free play”, reminding me how sorely he misses interaction with other kids. It is hard to be there not just as a teacher and mom and chef, but also as playmate! Luckily, the constant need for my attention was woven through with lots of fun, and here’s what we did:

9-9.30: Letter F/Food. After completing a workbook page on letter F with a focus on food, we set up a restaurant!

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Using an old play set, Travis thought it was just a riot to be my waiter, including menus to look at and guest checks to fill out.

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This doubled as our math lesson for the day because everything had prices. If my check was $28, which bills did he need?

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We also had an adorable waitress, when she wasn’t busy with math of her own.

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9.30-10: Letter G/Games. After a workbook page on letter G, we switched over to a game of “golf”.

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I had hoped for this to count as his P.E. for the day, but it was short-lived. He much preferred selecting a board game. Taking the time to sit and play a few rounds together really mattered to him.

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10-10.30: Snack/free play.

10.30-11: ELA. Travis did about 20 minutes on Lexia. Little sister learned about emotions!

11-11.30: Science. Our encyclopedia page today was about magnets, prompting me to pull out an old magnet set. It turned out to be the hit of the day! Travis wanted to go through all of the experiment cards, plus just had exuberant fun with the set.

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11.30-1.30: Lunch/free play.

1.30-2: Zoom. From now on his teacher will lead the class in circle time songs every Monday. It was really hard for Travis to sit still for this; he’s out of practice when it comes to following teacher rules. Something to work on…

2-2.30: Writing. Travis opted to do a few pages in his Star Wars book instead of writing an “Over the Weekend…” assignment.

2.30-3: Spanish. This week’s silly video was his teacher asking her niece what foods she likes and doesn’t like. Travis then went through the food from our earlier restaurant play and gave a big thumbs up “si me gusta!” or thumbs down “no me gusta!” to each one.

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Lessons ended there, and it was time to make a batch of homemade lemonade. Too rainy for a walk, so we’ll need our exercise and sunshine tomorrow!

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His bedtime story was the non-fiction Wild Ideas.


DIY Abacus for Toddlers

DIY Abacus (5)

This giant version of a classic abacus is a great way to get toddlers thinking about counting, long before they are aware of concepts like addition and subtraction. To set up, you simply need any object that your toddler can slide along a string, as well as a sturdy stool or chair. Tie a string to one leg of the stool with a secure knot, then add whatever items you’ll be sliding.

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First, I tried out large wooden beads on one string and pipe cleaners looped into circles on a second. Tie the other end of the strings securely to the stool. But Veronika wanted to grab these big items off so much that this version was short-lived!

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I moved on to a second version, this time stringing small pony beads onto the string. Now, Veronika loved sliding the beads back and forth!

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She already mimics counting up to about 5, so I showed her how to slide and count. “One, two, three!” she parroted.


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Of course, being a toddler, she also just loved the way the strings dangled on the stool, and enjoyed solo time twisting the beads around.

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This was a great way to keep her busy – and make her feel included! – for part of home school. Other ideas for threading include large buttons or straws cut into pieces.

Orange Pineapple Smoothie

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This tropical smoothie is a great way to start the day with an extra vitamin C boost, perfect for keeping those little immune systems strong!


  • 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1 small banana, peeled and sliced
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

Orange Pineapple Smoothie (1)

Homemade Potato Man

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We don’t own a classic Mr. Potato Head doll, but the toy is great for so many reasons. Of course there’s the pure silliness of mixing and matching the facial features, but Mr. Potato is also a teaching tool for the names of facial features and for emotions. With an extra potato in the fridge, today I made Veronika this silly homemade version!

To start, I drew two faces on the potato with permanent marker: one side of his face was happy and the other was sad. Veronika wanted to add a few pen marks of her own.

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Poke two toothpicks into the sides of the potato as arms, then use hot glue to add pom poms to the tips, covering up the sharp points. You can also add pom poms or even buttons on top for a hat! Two wiggle eyes completed the look.

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If you want to get more detailed, draw other features with permanent marker, too. Finally, I sliced a bit off the bottom so Mr. Potato could stand upright. Now I presented him to Veronika, and she was smitten!

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She loved that his expression changed whenever she turned him around, and this was a great way to talk about emotions. “Mr. Potato is feeling sad,” I told her… and oh no she pouted her lip in sympathy until we turned him to his smile.

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We also pointed to all his features, rattling off a vocab list of eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. She loved finding these and then touching the corresponding part on me.

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And then she just loved playing with him as an “action figure”! Have you ever made toys out of food? Please share in the comments!

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Cling Wrap Painting

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Veronika loves to smoosh her fingers through paint, and today I found a way to make that smooshing a part of the process, minus the mess!

To start, cover your work surface and lay down sheets of white paper. Set out plastic cups filled with paint, and add a plastic spoon in each cup.

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I showed her how to use the spoons to dribble paint onto the paper. Veronika liked making both big blobs and using the edge of the spoon more like a paintbrush.

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When each page was filled with enough splotches and blobs (and just when her hands were itching to get messy in the paint!) I laid a piece of cling wrap over the paper. Make sure the paper is completely covered.

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Now use your hands to smooth over the paint.

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The blobs will squish and flatten in a fun sensory way. You’ll get some color mixing, too! I pointed out to her where our blues and yellows had made green, or where red and blue had mashed together for purple.

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Lift up the cling wrap and set the painting aside to dry completely before displaying your little one’s art.

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This was a novel painting method, and her hands even stayed (mostly!) clean.

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