Kindergarten Home School Week 12: Monday

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Don’t let the big grin in the photo above fool you; it was one of those home school days that felt two steps forward, two steps back. But we got through it!

8.30-9: Letter Q/Quarters: After a workbook page focusing on letter Q, I seized the opportunity to play up q for quarters, since Travis still struggles with coin values. We reviewed the various denominations and then of course he wanted to play with all the coins in mommy’s wallet!

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9-9.30 History. His second workbook page focused on past and future. First Travis drew an imaginary future car. Then he had to write about how people used fire in the past.  I thought it might be fun to turn it into a mini lesson on the Oregon Trail, checking out his encyclopedia page on the American West and a video about cowboys, He wasn’t at all interested, leading to tantrums, meaning we switched gears and headed on to…

9.30-10: Math. After two Star Wars workbook pages about estimating, we estimated the number of dominoes in a pile. Travis provided remarkably adept at this for his first try. Since we had the dominoes out, we then played with them in two ways. First: could he make a math sentence about each one (i.e. 5+5=10, 6+2=8).

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Then we played War but with dominoes instead of cards. This part he enjoyed, and he grew very fast at tallying up the pips.

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10-10.30: Snack/recess. Much needed!

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We rolled balls downhill outside on a relatively chilly day, then detoured back inside to design a ball course. Could he lead a ball from the couch down to a box, without touching it?

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10.30-11: ELA. Travis wrote an ‘Over the Weekend’ sentence, the first time he’s done this class assignment in weeks. He also did 20 minutes on Lexia.

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11-11.30: Specials. For Art, he drew his self-portrait, a monthly classroom activity. We can’t believe this is the last one for kindergarten! He also watched a video about Buenos Noches/Buenos Dias in Spanish.

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11.30-1.30: Lunch/free play.

1.30-2: Class Zoom. He was reluctant to sit for this group session again today, and grew very angry by the end. I diverted his mood with…

2-2.30: Games. We played a board game (Zingo), and then played “what’s my rule?” If I sorted something from the craft bin, he had to guess the defining characteristic of each group. This was hard for him to grasp at first so I was proud he stuck with it.

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2.30-3: Exercise. We needed to get moving to shake out his bad mood. A little Star Wars yoga was in order.

3-3.30: Cooking. We made mole sauce for dinner to round out a unit on Mexico.

At story time tonight (A Second is a Hiccup), we made sure to locate the title and author on the front cover before reading, and then searched for sight words as we went through the story.

I’ve forgotten to mention a few recent reads, including: The Very Hungry Caterpillar; Where the Wild Things Are; Beautiful Oops; Castle: How it Works; and Separate is Never Equal.

The day was overly busy, since I was trying to balance requests from his teacher with lessons I thought he’d enjoy. Perhaps tomorrow we will aim for less-is-more.

Little Passports: Mexico

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We may not be able to travel right now, but Travis journeyed to Mexico this week thanks to Little Passports! He was thrilled when the package arrived, so we wasted no time setting off on the virtual journey. He added stickers to his map, suitcase, and passport as I read him “Sam and Sofia’s” letter from the country.

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The booklet was just shy of too advanced for a kindergartner. He was proud to solve a tricky maze, and enjoyed information about Mexican animals. Online activities included learning familiar Spanish phrases and completing a tricky dot-to-dot with points 1 through 85 of a Mexican landmark.

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The kit contained a D.I.Y. pinata; any activity that involved candy got a big thumbs up from Travis! The pinata was tricky to put together, so turned into more of a mommy project, following instructions to fold the cardboard cactus shape and glue on strips of provided tissue paper.

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We made beautiful flowers, too, by rolling tissue paper around a pencil tip, then removing from the pencil and pressing down to bend the “petals” outward.

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Travis proudly selected candy at the store to fill the cactus for a mini fiesta. Here he is gearing up for the big hit.

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Even little sister wanted a turn taking a whack.

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Candy! I loved that we did this on a random school night, without waiting for a special occasion, which made it feel extra fun for the kids.

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Further Activities:

Next up we followed instructions for Day of the Dead Masks. Mark a paper plate in such a way that it forms an 8-wedged pie, then draw cheek ovals on two of those pie pieces nearest the bottom. Cut out around the inner rim of the paper plate.

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Travis was so proud of his decorations!

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Tape to a craft stick for an instant fiesta mask.

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Next we headed outside for Sunshine Art, which was the bonus add-on for this country package. Arrange items on top of the provided plate and special blue-tinted paper, and then lay in the sunshine. You’ll have an image within two minutes!

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We played around with which items worked best. I had hoped Travis would get into the idea of putting together a whole collage, but he lost interested rather quickly.

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Next up was Aztec Guacamole. Travis was thrilled when I came home from the grocery store with 5 ripe avocados. We scooped the flesh into a bowl, and he was in charge of mashing!

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Add 1 chopped tomato, 1 small finely chopped red onion, 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro, the juice of 1 lime, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt. Serve with tortilla chips!

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Finally, he colored in the Mexican flag for our garland; this was by far the most intricate flag to date, and he was so proud!

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Who doesn’t love the thought of chocolate for dinner? Travis was quite excited when he learned we’d be making a chocolate sauce (mole); unfortunately we used red chilies that were very spicy. Look for mild red chilies for more kid-friendly results.

Mole Recipe (2)


  • 5 red chilies
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 5 ounces vegetable broth
  • 1 (3-ounce) dark chocolate bar, chopped
  1. Place the chilies, coriander, sesame seeds, almonds, and peppercorns in a mortar. Crush with a pestle. Transfer the spice mixture to a small skillet over medium heat and dry-fry for 1 minute. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and cocoa powder; cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes to the onion mixture, along with the spice mixture, cinnamon, sugar, and vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer, then continue to cook for 25 minutes.
  4. Transfer to a blender and process until smooth. Pour into a bowl and stir in the chocolate, stirring until melted. We served the sauce over vegan chick’n!

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Spice Painting

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Having recently enjoyed a sensory game where she smelled items from the pantry, I thought Veronika might like marrying that game to another favorite: Painting!

To set up, I set out white paint and then chose spices with scents across the board, from spicy to sweet to earthy and back again. Our lineup included:

  • cinnamon
  • black pepper
  • turmeric
  • paprika
  • ginger

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For each spice, I poured a little white paint into a paper cup and then tapped in some of the spice. It was hard to get the mixtures to turn out exactly as I wanted. Too little spice and they just looked like flecks in the white paint. Too much and it became too dry to spread.

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Of course Veronika wasn’t bothered about the consistency! I held each cup up to her nose and described what she was smelling. Cinnamon was sweet, paprika was spicy, and so on. Even though we could also smell the paint, she seemed to enjoy it!

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Then she began smearing the paints all over a piece of black paper (which I thought would look best against the white paint). Whoops, she managed to dump some spices out, too, before I screwed the lids back on tightly.

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Older kids can be more deliberate and careful with the activity, either making a guessing game out of it, or making brushstrokes of each paint on the paper and labeling them.

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It wasn’t long before Veronika tested out some of the spicy paint on her legs, too. Which meant it was time for clean up!

Canned Food Blocks for Toddlers

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I had a rather ridiculous number of food cans after this week’s grocery shop, and when Veronika spotted them on the ground, she trotted right over. An instant toy! She immediately wanted to build with them.

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At first it was simply a matter of building towers up and I loved watching her carefully balance the cans. There were two single-serve oatmeal containers as well, along with a smaller tomato paste can, and she zeroed in on these as perfect for the top of the tower.

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Her expression was so intent and serious as she worked.

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Then she took everything apart and started over.

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This kept her busy for a while, until one of the towers fell over and she realized that the cans could…roll!

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Well then of course we needed to go “bowling”. I grabbed a few empty plastic bottles from the recycle bin to be our pins, and our cans went rolling towards them.

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Honestly though, she was less interested in knocking pins down and more interested in just chasing around a rolling can or two.

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Soon this involved throwing. She was very proud of herself, so I didn’t stop her right away. Definitely only allow this part of the game over a padded surface, if you don’t want heavy cans thrown on your floor.

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One note of caution: From the moment she started building, I was worried about her little toes, and yes, one can did fall on her. In retrospect, I would have put shoes on at the beginning!

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Luckily we only had a brief moment of tears before Veronika was up and building again.

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