One of our favourite games is a game my older kids and I made up when they were younger. We call it “The Money Game”, for lack of anything better. We basically get out our bucket of loose change, divide it randomly into piles in front of each player and then offer fair deals to one another. “I’ll trade you two dimes and a nickle for a quarter.” If it is a fair deal we trade, if it isn’t we suggest what a fair deal might be. Sometimes to switch things up a bit we try to get the most or least number of coins possible in our pile, or see how many different ways we can come up with a dollar. It’s a simple game, but easy and effective….and most importantly the kids love it. I can’t say I understand why, but suspect it might just be their fascination with money or the hands on nature of the game. In any case it really doesn’t matter as it gives them a reason to count, skip count, and add.
My newly planted garden is needing a little extra TLC while it gets established and no one seems eager to water it. I stumbled across another blog yesterday and it was just the inspiration I needed.
yellow duct tape
a black sharpie marker
scissors to cut the tape
some left over plant tags
the garden hose with sprayer
I wrote out the alphabet in both upper and lower case on the duct tape and strategically placed them throughout the garden on the plant tags and on the wall behind. The kids got on their hats we have a fun putting out the fires in our little spelling/letter-recognition game, plus my garden gets some much needed water. Win/Win. Can’t wait to play again tomorrow!
I’m not one for a lot of bling, but I am always looking for fun hands-on ways to get the kids interested in things. This morning we made “Glitter Bags” for the younger kids. The kids just write on them using their finger so they are very tactile and versatile. We tested them out for spelling and math. We made ours using large zip lock bags and glitter glue. I had a bottle that cracked, so this was a timely project. I’ve seen other examples on the Internet using glitter and hair gel too.
Up until this point I have resisted the idea of a “classroom” in our home, preferring instead to utilize the kitchen table or other areas in our house. The challenge I have had is that as the kids get older they tend to take on projects that last for multiple days or even weeks. These inevitably end up taking up valuable real-estate in key areas of the house, often ending up in my craft room. There are days when I really need my creative outlet to keep my sanity, so I have re-worked things for the coming “school year”. With the kids now requiring less play space I figured it was time to designate a special learning zone. It is not intended to be used exclusively for homeschooling, as learning can obviously happen anywhere and the area can be used for playing games, etc. too.
After moving our Tomas the Tank Engine Train Table we re-purposed and moved in a couple of small folding tables from other areas in our house and before long the space was really starting to take shape. A white board and easel from upstairs, a basket to store books we are currently using, a timer (The kids often like to do things for a set amount of time thanks to “The Fly Lady“), combined with the existing book shelves and we were off to the races! The best part is it hasn’t cost me a dime….at least not so far. Resisting the temptation to call this area our “classroom” the kids and I came up with our very own alternative name, the “Cranium Corner”. I’m hoping the space will be well utilized in the coming year and that over time we can tweak things a bit to maximize the potential it has.
One fun new addition we have added is our “treat basket” I filled small mason jars with small candies and with suggestions from the kids I labeled each jar with a subject. When the kids have completed a task they get a candy. It isn’t that they require bribery to do their work, but it does help “sweeten” the deal and keeps thing fun.
My youngest two LOVE to have stories read to them. It is a great motivator to them, so I’m trying to capitalize on this by basing a portion of our homeschooling curriculum on the Magic Tree House series, by Mary Pope Osborne. I really love the series. They are easy to read and inspire the kids to explore many educational topics. We’re starting with book number one, Dinosaurs Before Dark. So far it is really going well. The kids beg me to read more to them when I go to stop ❤
I’ve been able to quickly pull together some great activities from our home library to go along with the book. I’m keeping a binder for both the kids with related activity sheets. So far they have had a colouring sheet, a math game, and a cut out model of a pteranodon. I’ll keep you posted on our progress as we follow Jack and Annie on their many adventures.
Admittedly there aren’t many families with as much LEGO as we have. Believe it or not we didn’t have any back in 2006 when we started up our FIRST LEGO League team, but over the years we have accumulated quite a collection! With this year’s challenge being released on Friday it is time to get our robotics room in order. Yes it’s true we have a large room in our house dedicated to robotics, but that’s another story and I’ll save it for another day.
For ease of use the team has found it best to have their inventory sorted by type. We use the bins that come with many of the LEGO education kits. We have found they are very strong, stack beautifully and the trays are perfect to organizing all those small parts. We have purchased several additional bins as well, but unfortunately they don’t come with the handy trays.
When we are doing a big sorting session like the one today we find it easiest to lay out all the boxes, separating out the trays and just move around with a small box in hand, sorting into the various containers. The majority of the year we keep two large boxes on the table, one labeled “keep”, where we store chunks of LEGO that have interesting designs we’d like to keep for inspiration, and another for LEGO ready to be “put away”. The storage bins are all labelled and so are the different tray sections, so this helps us easily locate the pieces we are looking for when putting away LEGO or searching for a piece for their new robot design.
Sorting all our LEGO is a big job, so the whole family pitches in to help out. Wish us luck as we have a lot to do before Friday!
Every year we host a “Cardboard Boat Race” in our swimming pool. It’s lots of fun, promotes teamwork, and gets the creative juices flowing as the kids and their friends design and build their seaworthy vessels. This year we had three boats attempt to make the journey across the pool, but only one managed to make it there and back. Remarkably it was able to carry three passengers.
Cardboard (the bigger the better)
A Box Cutter
Bathing Suit/Towel for the boat captain….just in case
PFD for non-swimmers
The rules are simple….work with your team to construct your board using only cardboard and duct tape. This year we limited the amount of duct tape used and teams were only allowed to use it to cover seams and reinforce stress points. We start off by having each boat cross one length of the pool one at a time. Boats that successfully make the passing can then have a race off to determine the ultimate winner.
No matter how successful , it really is a great summer activity and is sure to get everyone laughing.
Once in a while we like to go on a family “Bike-Hike” and today was the perfect weather for just such an occasion. Those of us that weren’t at work, loaded up the bikes on the bike rack and headed to our favorite trail, which follows an old railway line. We covered a lot of territory, so we were pretty tuckered out when we got back to the suburban, but not too tired to enjoy a dip in the pool to cool off when we got home. We were thinking of setting a goal for ourselves and visiting the trail again in each season to see how things change and experience the joys of all the different things summer, fall, winter and spring have to offer, so stay tuned…
I know it is still a few years off, but in June, when I started seeing all the grad pictures on my friends Facebook walls, it occurred to me it would be nice to have a bit of a garden in the backyard to use as a backdrop for my kids. This is the perfect time of year to start something like this as all the garden centers are clearing out their inventory, so the prices are great! My dad and my boys did most of the heavy work for me…..for which I am very grateful. They removed the sod and tilled the soil. My husband then added a load of top soil.
The kids all helped choose the plants, we chose some upright cedars that will grow nice and tall, hopefully blocking out our neighbor’s house completely. We chose a few dwarf globe shaped cedars for the front of the bed to add continuity. In between we planed some of my favorites, roses, hydrangea and a few specimens I haven’t had the thrill of having before. It doesn’t look like much yet, but hopefully it will fill in a bit over the next couple years….in time for their graduation.
Today a friend that lives just down the road gave the kids a bit of a canoeing lesson. He used to spend his summers taking kids on canoe camp outs, so had lots of great tips to share and the all essential equipment, like a canoe! (It’s a little hard to go canoeing without one.) We headed off to a beautiful reservoir a short walk from our house. The younger ones really appreciated the chance to be in a boat as it isn’t something they get to do very often and the older kids were grateful to have finally navigated to the rendezvous point…..they took the scenic root 🙂
It’s great to have such wonderful neighbours! Afterwards the fun continued with swimming back at our house and a friendly game of Risk.