Photos from 2014-2015 part two

These guys are sprites that my son created in Gimp

Some Gimp editing, digital art, and in-game character design.

Hands on  stuff-cookie day, building stuff, pottery.

Art exploration-Escher, sand design candle holder, Tangrams,3-Doodler, Magic Sand

Trips- Akron Zoo show, Kalahari, Metroparks, Food Bank, Christmas party, Nursing Home, Art show, Pet store, New York vacation

Gem Store tour, sledding, Stan Hywet, Lake Erie NBTS Day

Cedar Point

More Kalahari

Great apps and books


One of a Kind Pets, Outdoors, Science, Tea Time

Art, Spelling, building, life lessons

K’Nex Frisbees

The kids and I tried out another one of the K’Nex building ideas…Frisbees! It had been awhile since we last used the K’Nex and we went through the same painful 5-10 minute learning curve again. After everyone remembered/figured out how to pick the sizes and shapes that would work for what they wanted, things got smoother. Each of us made three designs and then we took them outside to see how far each could be thrown. We took guesses as to which one would win the longest throw.

Based on our totally unscientific study including 1 throw each by whomever made it, the football shape won.

I tried to rally them into a few more throws to really test it out, but the neighbor came out and got chatty and we called it a day.

Thrift Store Finds

I haven’t done much thrift shopping since moving back to Ohio. This week I decided to remedy that. I hit the local store with a friend looking for new tea cups for our Tuesday Tea Times and whatever else might be there. It was fun and I got good stuff!

2 new cups

2 puzzles, one of which we put together right away.

It was missing 3 pieces. The other puzzle was still shrink wrapped, so I assume they will all be there.

Fun fact- it never occurred to me to check how many pieces were in a “1,000 piece puzzle”. Apparently, not necessarily a thousand! This one would have had 1,008.

I also picked up a set of double nines dominoes, which I thought was missing a piece (due to the empty space in the case). Some checking at home revealed it was indeed a full set.

My daughter and I played to a hundred. She shredded me with a score of 220 to 29. The last round was a doozy. The pips going up to nine makes for potentially large scores and difficult point counting.

More Doll Stuff

Here are the most recent doll things my daughter has been working on.

First up is a campground she made. She sawed a branch in half and then used hot glue to attach greenery to make the trees. She cut holes in a shoebox she painted to help hold them upright. Then she added rocks, sticks, and other details. She made sleeping bags out of duck tape.

Next she made a dresser for her dollhouse using cardboard, pretty papers, hot glue, wooden beads, and trim. It came out pretty amazing! The bottles are made from pony beads.

She made this couch from a base of Jello boxes and TP roll tubes. She added fabric and foam to cover it up.

She has begun work on a vending machine. She cut out tons of pictures from the circulars to use and arranged the ones she wanted for this project.

She liked that this one matched the mints she bought.


My son always has a bunch of game ideas marinating inside his head. The other night he came up with ideas for a card game and I took notes as fast as he could talk.

His concept originally was based on the game “Ant War” where you use food resources to buy stuff and grow your colony. He thought someone should make a spider version. (This was after watching a Magic School Bus video on spiders) Then as we talked, it morphed into a battle card game with arthropods, still retaining the food as currency idea. Some arthropods collect food, some steal things, and some paralyze or kill other arthropods. Hazards can wipe out your food supply or kill your guys. He had items that did different things as well. The game ends using a mechanic from the game “Gubs”. During regular play, there are letter cards mixed into the deck. When you have drawn all the letters, the game immediately ends. In this version, the letters spell “PARTY”. The player with the most arthropod points still in play wins. The Golden Tarantula is special and worth 5 points, all others are worth 1 point.

Yesterday, we play tested his idea using spare playing cards and Sharpies. We built the decks and played through an entire game. We learned a great deal and decided to get rid of items and any arthropods that used them. We also whittled down the food supply as it is constantly “spent” and can be recycled by shuffling. We also lowered the number of really strong arthropods. There were some that kinda ruled the game (I am looking at you, millipede). In the end, we purposefully got it down to 108 cards (2 full decks) for printing reasons.

After a few more rounds of testing, he will decide what kind of art is going to go on these and create the cards using Gimp. The decks will be printed on real playing cards through Artscow.

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.

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.

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.

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.