Doll Stuff

I have been posting about the stuff my daughter is working on for her dolls. She has recently made a few more things.

She made a carseat for a doll to ride in using cardboard, fabric, fleece, hot glue, ribbon, and a plastic gem.

She made a skateboard for them using foam, fabric, wooden skewers, and buttons. The wheels actually turn!
She also made a helmet using half of a plastic Easter egg and some foam.

She made some furniture and food. Some of these might be repeats.

She has watched a bunch of tutorials for making doll stuff on YouTube. One channel in particular, called MyFroggyStuff, has great videos:

Her Barbie is hanging out in style.

Here is her most recent work on the graffiti on the rooftop. The dolls are sisters and have been drawing funny things.

Easter is Coming

We have started to decorate the house and today my mom came to decorate eggs with the kids 🙂

Adding Sharpie.

Window decals.

We also played a game of Pictionary Jr. and a game of Pictionary: Bend A Clue with my mom. The first game is drawing based and the second is like charades but with the addition of a bendy tube to help you act things out. Both were lots of fun and she managed to be on the winning team both times!

Dollhouse Project

My daughter is continuing to move forward with her dollhouse project.

We got stuck for a moment today when she wanted to start on the wallpapers and floors and then realized that we hadn’t spray painted the outside of the house yet (nor did we own the spray paint to do so). We tried to come up with a good solution to replace the spray paint. She didn’t want the back of the house to be too bumpy and she was worried about the seams where the 3 boxes are joined. We settled on using the full size mailing labels we already own and she decided that they would make a great canvas for her dolls to do graffiti.

All of this did not go as smoothly as it sounds. Somewhere in there, she was bothered by the sticker labels not laying quite flat. She was pretty distressed. I encouraged her to take a break and eat something while I helped with the edges. She came back calmer and decided that if she didn’t like the way it looked she could just put the swimming pool over that spot.

She never did get to the walls and floors today, but she should be able to tackle that pretty easily on her own next time.

Number Jugglers

I have had this book since the kids were small. Today, I pulled it out and played a few of the games with my son.

The first game has a simple goal. Deal out cards and then try to make each of the numbers from 1-9 by using your cards. You can add, subtract, multiply, or divide in any order. You can use each card 1 time maximum in each equation. We started off with 10 cards. Too easy. 6 cards. Still too easy. Then 4 cards. Really easy except for making 1 of the numbers. I was about to give up when my son figured out the answer! See if you can get them all.

Then we played an even/ odd number game that we renamed unicorn or balls. Not quite as interesting.

I really like this book and plan on continuing with more of the games. As you progress through the book, there are lots of pre-algebra type skills…keeping equations balanced by doing the same thing (or an equivalent) to each side, dividing numbers by themselves to get a number 1 to work with, maintaining what you have by multiplying by 1. Good stuff.

There is also a book/card set called “Fraction Jugglers” that I plan on getting in the future.

Akron Zoo

Today was a bit chilly, but it turned out to be a perfect day for visiting the zoo with friends! The animals that were out were quite active and the girls spent considerable time at several of the exhibits, especially those for the lemurs and the sloth bear.

We were there at just the right time for the keepers to bring in food and toys!

Both girls took lots of video as the lemurs put on an acrobatics show.

We moved on to see other exhibits.

There should be a bat in the picture. It was pretty dark in there. We caught the bat exhibit while a keeper was spraying down one of the enclosures, so the bats in that area were flying around like crazy.

Colorful frog from the rainforest.

Here is the sloth bear. He put his nose up to the glass and seemed interested in the girls.

The lion was out today too.

We finished up at the penguins.

Inside the gift shop, my daughter noticed these carvings from rainforest nuts. My mom brought one back from the Panama Canal on her last vacation! It was neat to find them here.

Another Animal Game

Today we played another one of the games from the Coloretto line, “Zooloretto Wurfelspiel.” It is a multiplayer game that combines elements of Zahtzee and the original Coloretto. Players roll animal dice 2 at a time and then play them onto trucks located on a central board. On your turn, you may either roll the dice or take the dice off of 1 truck and then score them on your sheet. The object is to get points by collecting a certain number of each animal (from 1 alligator to 5 lions). If you are the player who collects that many first, you get a score bonus. If you collect too many animals, you take a 2 point penalty for each type. Coins can buy your way out of penalty points. Each group of coins collected negates one animal penalty.

This game is easy to learn and pretty light. Looking forward to playing it with more than 2 players.

Moving on to the Rainforest

The kids and I have decided to be done with learning about Japan for now. We are moving on to the 6th Magic Tree House book, “Afternoon on the Amazon.”

So far we have played two animal themed games. The first one is Zooloretto, a game about building your own zoo to maximize points.

My daughter beat me by quite a margin this time. For those with iPods or iPhones, this game is available as an app.

The second game, by the same maker, is called “Coloretto Amazonas.” In it, you score points by making sets of same colored unique animal cards while simultaneously losing cards that are duplicates. I found it to be a bit too luck based for my taste (especially compared to the original Coloretto) but maybe that changes when played with more than 2 players. My son enjoyed it and totally trounced me.

My daughter also drew a toucan from the “Draw, Write, Now!” Books.

We will be heading to the zoo this week to see the animals in person.


I stumbled upon an amazing website while reading about project based homeschooling. It is called

The website (and the app that goes with it) contains hundreds of different DIY projects for kids to do to earn virtual badges. In each area, there are specifications for earning the badge and photos or videos of projects done by other kids. Not only can you learn how to do something new, but after you complete it, you share your work via photos and videos! Our kids pointed out how many of the things we had already done. I thought it might be neat to start from scratch and see how many we can do. It will definitely be in my back pocket for a rainy day!

I read a funny one about programming called “How to Train Your Robot.” The kids and I tried it out and had a bunch of fun with it. I want to try it again sometime 🙂

Our initial symbols were quite simple. I can see us adding more over time.

K’Nex Cars

I found some great free resources for K’Nex online and printed off a bunch of neat ideas and reference materials.
I grabbed a variety of challenge cards to try out with the kids and perhaps some of the other homeschoolers we know.

I got out our box of parts and began to tinker. Both kids joined in and my son began building a motorized car while my daughter worked on finding all the body parts for the people. There was a bit of trial and error involved, but my son taught me a few things about how the wheels worked with the other parts. He made a working car and it was fast! My daughter decided to make one too and see which could go faster. Hers included a seat for mini figures. Much trial and error and a bit of frustration came with her effort as well, but in the end she persevered and had a great working car! My son’s was faster. The kids are trying to figure out if it is because of the difference in tire size or weight or drag from the seat contraption. After they raced them successfully, they moved on to building ramps and obstacles.

Some of the worksheets are math related.

Some of the printouts were challenges with multiple levels.

I am looking forward to trying more things out.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

J. is leaving for a business trip to Vegas today. My daughter made him this card.

In the spirit of the day, the kids wore green and ate green frosted cupcakes.

We also did some easy science experiments from a kit we had around. I thought the rainbow crystals one was appropriate 🙂

Here they are a day later. The colors definitely mixed a bit.

We also “grew” polymer worms in a special solution.

Then we topped off our holidayness with a Brainpop movie about St. Patrick’s Day.

Computer Games and Creativity

My son is still really enjoying creating things in games. He spent a bunch of time making characters and armor in Scribblenauts Unlimitted and showed me how all the steps of the process worked.

When you design parts, like a helmet, you can then combine them into your larger creations. You can also share your designs with other people online.

He has also been creating characters and games in Little Big Planet 2. He designed 3 different levels for a multiplayer battle game he created. We played together until my thumb gave out, lol.

Project Based Homeschooling

I have been reading lots about project based homeschooling on the Camp Creek Blog, through the forums online, and in this fabulous book.

The idea is to help your kids learn to plan and carry out longer term projects on topics of their own choosing. I have always tried to set things up around here so that the kids could have access to stuff and to me to do projects, but this concept takes it a bit further. The author recommends purposefully setting aside time for project work instead of letting it be just whenever the mood strikes. The idea is that by making yourself available at set times, your child will come to see that you value their work and are there to support them. You take notes and help them remember what they want to accomplish and get needed materials, all while giving them full reign over design choices and the ability to make mistakes and change things, etc, They do not have to work on the project during the set time, but you need to be available and encourage them.

While we are not yet fully using the author’s system, we definitely have a start. My daughter gave away one of the shelf units in her room to make space for a dollhouse she wanted to make.

Originally she planned on 3 levels with stairs, doors, and 2 bathrooms, etc.

I helped her find boxes and I cut doors where she wanted. The rest was all her for awhile.

After struggling with the design she had on paper (and yes, there were frustrated tears), she calmed down and decided the stairs were unnecessary and so was the attic. The rooftop would become a hangout with a pool instead.

After completing the 3 lower rooms, she decided that she really didn’t need another bathroom upstairs. She looked at what she had and decided that even the lower floor bathroom could be cut in half to make an art studio with space for an easel and instruments. She also came up with a way to divide the boxes into upstairs/ downstairs halves without using her original hot glue plan. I helped by cutting slits and sliding a length if cardboard across the span of the rooms.

At this point, she started thinking about the walls and floors. We made a plan to pick up scrapbook paper for her to use. She also decided to use some blank full size mailing label sheets to design stickers for the walls.

She created several windows, light fixtures, and other accessories and dug out some additional stickers she had from an old doll house kit.

We made a trip to the craft store and picked out papers.

She chose a bunch of patterns for the rooms. She then moved on to another part of her project. She decided there were too many bedrooms and that the family needed pet stuff. She started construction on kitty furniture and toys and dug up some toy kitties to join the family.

At this point she paused work on the house to branch off, making other stickers and doll clothing and belongings.

Recent Games

I got an unusual game in the mail last week and I like it very much. It is a Lego Pirate version of Shanghien made available by the cards’ designer on Artscow.

My daughter and I have played a bunch of times. I love that she is old enough to play dirty against me!

Everyone in the family played a bit of 2-player Blokus.

I love the way the shapes are made and how they fit right into the game board. The little grooved squares make it easy to count up points too 🙂

Japan continued

The kids and I continued learning about Japan this week.
I found some basic info about Japan online.

We learned a bit about Yen after reading a story about a boy who moves to Japan with his family.

The kids learned about the types of writing in Japan and tried out their names.

We had dinner with my parents and they shared stories from their visits to Japan and showed us some of the things they brought back.