Pixel Art

My son is back into game design mode and has been looking at pixel art creation for sprites. He does a fair amount of creating in Scratch and Minecraft, but was wanting to try something new. I found a free app called Pixel’d by Disney that is easy to use and can make stop motion animations with the touch of a frame button between drawings. It has a nice zoom feature and lots of brush sizes and colors.

That is the same design, just zoomed out.

Even More Games

Here are some more games we played recently:

Castle Panic is a cooperative game where you work together to stop monsters from destroying your castle. You battle monsters by playing cards that target their location on the board, for example an archer card that is blue does 1 point damage to 1 monster in the blue “archer” ring. At the end of each turn, all monsters move one ring toward the castle and you add more monsters. It is a monster onslaught until the very end. There are also special boss cards that do really bad things, hazards that may or may not, and hero cards with extra abilities. My son and I played this for the first time since Colorado and had a good time. We won, but it was close!

Flip Out is a card game that uses special holders and double-sided color cards. The goal is to flip, swap, and trade cards (yours and your opponent’s) until you can collect sets of 4 or more cards of the same color in a row on a side that you can see. Those cards are replaced from the draw pile and play continues. Most cards collected at the end wins.

The picture shows more “Apples to Apples”, but on the table are strips of paper tape for a game that my son made up using crazybones. We used tape to mark scoring regions (both positive and negative points). the basic game has each player take turns sliding 3 crazybones of their color down the table trying to score the most points. You can knock your piece or other players’ pieces off the table. Rounds are scored when everyone has slid their 3 crazybones. We played 5 rounds and high score won. We also added in three special crazybones to make the game more interesting. At the beginning of each round, you slide the 3 special crazybones into place. The biggest crazybone makes that space negative if it isn’t already. However, if that piece gets knocked over during play, that space becomes double whatever it was originally. The 2 smaller crazybones do nothing unless knocked over; then they add 10 points to that region’s score.

We played when the grandparents were here and had a blast!

We also played Outburst and the kids loved it! It is basically a game where you name a category and everyone shouts out answers that match it, trying to guess all 10 in a reasonable amount of time.

We figured out most of the answers. Our version is older- 1992, so it was interesting to see what answers were there.

Games Again

We have been shifting our schedule a bit to allow more time for games when it isn’t say, 1:00 in the morning!

This has meant more opportunities to play with family and friends.

Here are some games we have been playing lately:

Gulo Gulo is a cute tile game that requires nimble fingers to pluck colored wooden eggs out of a nest without knocking over an alarm. I like this one because adults tend to have sausage fingers when grabbing the tiny eggs and the kids like laughing at our expense 🙂

Alpha Animals is a cute game, but a bit too easy for my kids. The goal is to name an animal in a specific category (mammal, bird, amphibian or reptile, etc) that starts with the letter your piece is on. Apparently, we know waaaayyyy too many animals. We had to change up the rules so everyone would get a turn.

Apples to Apples is always a winner.

Gubs is one of our newer games. You try to have the most Gubs on the table by the time the letters G,U, and B are drawn from the deck. I would like to claim it is a luck based game because my daughter keeps bearing me soundly, but there is some strategy.

Gobblet. I played this against one of the kids at the Kalahari and it prompted me to pull it out again. This is a cool variant on Tic Tac Toe. Each player gets three stacks of 4 nested pieces which start upside-down with the largest cup on top of each stack. From there, you can either play from one if your stacks to an empty space OR you can move a piece already on the board to an empty space or use it to “gobble” an opponent’s piece and wind up covering it. There is a special rule allowing “gobbling” with one of your stacked pieces if the other person has 3 in a row. 4 in a row wins.

Quarto is another 4-in-a-row game. This time each player starts with 8 pieces that have many attributes. Tall/short, Round/square, Hollow/solid, and Brown/tan.

Each turn, your OPPONENT picks a piece for you to play. First person to play a piece that makes four in a row of ANY attribute wins.

Love this game!

Pikomino is a push your luck dice game where you try to earn worms from the BBQ by rolling sets of numbers on the dice that add up to high totals. You roll multiple times, pulling out a “set” of the same number each time you roll. You go “bust” if you roll all numbers you have already pulled out. This makes you put back your most recently earned tile and turns over the highest scoring worm still on the BBQ. The tiles you earn go in front of you in a stack, newest on top. Stealing tiles from opponents is possible if you roll the exact number of the top tile they have. Game ends when all the tiles are gone from the BBQ.

Sumoko is a number game similar in play to Bananagrams and the like. In this game, you roll a die to start things off. The whole game is then based on multiples of that number. We picked “5” instead of rolling because I thought it would be easiest to try out. All rows and columns must add up to a multiple of the number for that game. The tiles all need to be different colors, but not different numbers. Play tiles, draw more tiles to replace them. Play until you run out. We didn’t play for score, just using up tiles. My daughter was amazingly good at this and kept suggesting better moves for me.

Japan and Ninjas

We are moving on to book 5 in the Magic Tree House books and will be exploring things relating to Japan.

We started off reading a few books and magazines.

My son beat me at a game called “Number Ninjas”. While trying to verify a game rule, we stumbled upon a video game of the same name.

It got hard pretty fast.

We watched “Between the Folds”, a documentary on fantastic Origami artists. My jaw dropped several times. It is simply astounding what they can do with a square of paper!

My daughter and I tried our hands at origami and made boats and balloons.

We listened to Japanese stories on Tales to Go.

The kids love the “Mythical Monsters” book so much, I bough a Japanese Yokai book that is similar plus a guide to Ninja and Samurai.

Only in Japan do they come up with monsters who eat the scum off your bathtub! What a way to get kids to help with cleaning 🙂

Next up is a visit to the art museum and sampling Japanese foods.

Last post for pirates and maps

We are finishing up our month of pirates and will be moving on to Japan and ninjas next.

Our last 2 activities were a map worksheet and a boardgame.

The game is called Catan Jr.
My son and I played it twice before realizing I had neglected to read the proper rules about placing ships. The first time through, we also played on the 3 or 4 player side of the map by accident. All my pictures shown how to play the wrong way- in the real game, ships can only go on the dotted “route” lines.

We had fun anyway and will try again by the rules sometime.

After figuring out the real rules, I grabbed an app that is a tutorial for the full game of Settlers of Catan. It has been almost 10 years since I played and I think the kids are old enough to try out the regular version.


We just got back from the annual homeschool gathering at the Kalahari Waterpark. It was busier than ever for us with both kids attending lots of stuff.

Swimming in the wave pool.

Carnival with face paint and hairspray. Zombie tag was that night as well.

Playing in the room. The kids took turned being “stuck” in the trash can until the other kids tipped them over so they could get out, lol.

Minecraft funshop.

Monday was the opening speaker. my son and I went and we met several people there, including the family who ran this funshop.

Hula hooping funshop.

Gangnam Style Just Dance funshop.

Lots of water slides! Everyone has done the toilet bowl ride now but me.

Henna night.

The marketplace. My daughter sold over 25 of her things and both kids eagerly supported the other vendors!

Birthday party for a friend 🙂

The dance. It was dark, lol.

We also had lots of good food, visited the arcade, played games, and hung out with wonderful friends.

Can’t wait to do it again.

Here are 2 more pictures from the sale:

Akron Zoo

The kids were feeling a bit disconnected just after New Year’s. We had gone through bouts of sickness for everyone, our sleep was off kilter, and lots of solo video time was happening. The kids decided to come up with a solution to encourage us to try more stuff together. My son even thought up an app for a randomized selector of ideas to pick from. His idea was great…so great, it already existed!

We found an app called Wheel of What and each kid made up a wheel of stuff we could do together.

The app lets you customize the colors and how many categories as you go 🙂

The first big event was “go to the zoo”, so we did.

This little penguin followed my daughter around.

The baby snow leopards were curled up with their mom.

The octopus was huge!

This bird made such wailing pitiful crying noises, we tried to look up if that was normal.

No word on the crying sounds…

Ice skim on the water.

Lego Land

One of the big reasons we went to Florida was to check out Lego Land. It was ridiculously expensive, but it was a perfect fit for our kids. The Lego structures everywhere you look are fantastic and the rides, especially the coasters, were just right for our kids’ thrill-seeking level as well as their waiting in line tolerance level. The lines were incredibly short!

Mini- land was incredibly detailed and cool. The food was pretty good. We could have easily stayed a few more hours to see more, but the park closes at 5:00 in the winter.


The kids walked with my parents to a nearby bird rescue and learned all about how the birds are cared for before release. They loved it! They got to watch the feedings and decided they would help the wild birds too.

They first went to a nearby park with my step-mom and had a marvelous time hand feeding the birds who swooped down, but soon came back out of food. They reloaded and went back to the park, but the birds there were not so interested the second time around.

Later, we headed to the beach to see if the seagulls would be hungry. Yep!

Bird guide


“There are corpses everywhere!”, “It’s a giant graveyard!”

That is what my kids had to say the first day we hit the beach in Florida as a family this year. And they were right. Lucky for me, corpses and the circle of life didn’t seem to bug them too much!

Huge clam shells

Horseshoe Crab remains



Part of a stingray


Bones and shell keepsakes

More shells being sorted

Sea shell guide from the condo