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.

Tea Time

We are at week three with our Tea Time and Poetry or as my daughter calls it- Poetreets! The kids helped me pick up special cookies for this week and we had one of their friends and my mom join us 🙂 My mom even brought strawberries and a new mug to share.

We picked fresh flowers from the yard and added a candle to the table this week.

My son read the camel story from “Just So Stories” to get us started and then we moved on to the poetry and chatting. It is really neat to hear the conversations that the poems spark. I an really enjoying these tea times and I am glad I found Brave Writer!

Some of this week’s books:

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.

Back to the Rain Forest part 2

When we visited the Rain Forest at the Zoo, we bought a venus fly trap in the gift shop. The kids picked out a perfect spot for it when we got home and proceeded to try to “trick” it into eating dropped ants. While they were doing that, I pulled up some web pages about venus fly traps and discovered their ploy would probably not work.

The venus fly trap got moved to a sunnier location near other flowering plants after our reading. It also caught two new insects the first day. Unfortunately, it kept getting tipped over in rain storms and some of the stems broke off. Kind-of fortunately, the trap’s seal is broken after it detaches from the main plant, so we were able to peek inside to see what it had caught…a huge ant!

Back to the Rain Forest part 1

In an effort to finish up our final theme for the school year, we did some Rain Forest things this past month.

We watched many videos on Discovery Streaming and on Netflix, including the Magic School Bus, a documentary on deep inside the Amazon Rain Forest, and others about different indigenous people and animals and the layers of the Rain Forest.

We visited the Rain Forest at the Cleveland Zoo to see the plants and animals up close. The kids played “Where’s Waldo” searching for the camouflaged animals. We got to see the many adaptations the plants use for living in very shallow soil and we got to ooh and ahh at the acrobatics of some of the animals.

The kids each picked a rain forest animal to take home (stuffed).

We bought a coloring book of animals to enjoy.

The kids made notes of some of the things they learned using the iPad app Notability.

We read some magazines and a choose your own adventure about the Rain Forest.

We looked at a jungle sticker book about plants and animals and picked out the ones we had seen at the zoo.

We made a Pandora Station to listen to some of the sounds of the rain forest. The kids liked the mixture of tribal singing with techno in this “Deep Forest” album.

Our First Tuesday Tea and Poetry

I have been slowly gathering up supplies for our first “Tuesday Tea and Poetry” day in the tradition of the Brave Writer Lifestyle. Lots of books have been purchased and we are continuing to gather tea cups and fancy dishes as we come across them in thrift stores or on other outings.

Today, my son helped me get everything set up while his sister was playing with a friend. He was very excited and thought we should call it “Fancy Day!” We used an old quilt for a tablecloth and brought in flowers. We put out snacks and books and then let the girls in on the surprise. They had been on their way outside to play, but agreed to try it out.

Success! From the moment we started reading, they loved every minute! We took turns sharing and listening. We heard poems about a drumstick, a werewolf, William Tell, a man with clothes made out of food and dead animals, summertime and a baby cow, pranks played on a dad, and more. My son surprised me the most. I wasn’t sure how he would like it, but he seemed to enjoy it best of all and wanted to stay and read stories when we were done.

So he did read to me – “Just So Stories” by Rudyard Kipling. He has listened to the audio book many times (all 3 1/2 hours of it) and he liked reading the first story and poem to me in his fancy, expressive voice with a bit of a Brittish accent.

Everyone is looking forward to next week! I will need to dig up a stash of special snacks.

More Playing With Words

I have been thinking about our year of homeschooling and what we liked/ didn’t like/ might want to add etc. for next year.

One thing I am hoping will work well for us is “Tuesday Tea and Poetry” as described in the Brave Writer lifestyle. Basically you gather together to eat yummy snacks and share poetry each week. I have some poetry books around and am on the hunt to add more to make this an easy thing to do.

My daughter and I have also begun to hunt for unique tea cups and plates to serve our special tea and snacks.

Our local thrift store yielded the cute yellow flowered cup for $0.59.

In addition to reading poetry together, I want to explore different styles and methods of writing poetry. One idea that caught my eye was using cut up magazines to play with words.

I started to cut pages today with my daughter and she was instantly engaged and wanting to produce her own work!

Beginning to sort:

A poem for her brother who was born on Halloween:

A few others. The first is about moving and selling your house. Obviously the later ones are about flying and animals.

First EZ Pattern

That is “Elizabeth Zimmerman” for non- knitters. She was an interesting knitter with a brain for unique knitting instructions… No line by line help here! She expects you to think and try things out and personalize them for your own use.

I have been reading her books and itching to try one out. I decided I would cast on for a Tomten jacket for a friend’s doll. She loves orange so I picked that and some accent colors and set to work. This pattern was fun and easily adjusted as I knit. I learned a few new techniques that I will definitely use again like garter stitch short rows (to make the back slightly longer than the front) and attached I-cord trim. It was quick and fun to make! I am already ready to start a new EZ design.

Dance Recital

My daughter performed in a recital at the local theater with her hip hop class. She had a bit of stage fright the night before, but we talked through everything that could possibly go wrong and how it would be ok no matter what. Good thing we did as 3 of the 10 dancers didn’t make it, including the boy who was supposed to act goofy and get the others to leave the ballet line and join in with hip hop dance. Luckily one of the girls offered to fill in, the others switched their places around, and the show went on! She had a blast and is really excited that she will be going to a week of dance camp in June.

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.

Arthro-Party!

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.

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.