Friday, January 31, 2014

Farewell Australia!

It's been so nice learning about Australia and we've had a wonderful time trying yummy snacks, painting beautiful pictures, watching all our movies and reading tons of wonderful books but it's time to say good bye and move on. 



We started our day with math again.  All three boys had a color by number sheet.  The older two boys had a groundhog multiplication sheet where they solved the equations and then colored in the groundhog while Evan added and colored.  Evan's sheet was very tricky since most of the equations were with larger numbers.  I was impressed with how easily he was able to figure out 9+8 or 12 +3.  The older boys worked on their math minute for the five times tables and Ian was thrilled he manage to get them all today and earn yet another ice cream scoop.


While we were at the kitchen table we just kept plugging away at the day's work.  Evan and I played a sight word board game together-- I found this great pack of printable winter games.   While Evan and I played the older two boys had a sentence correction page.  I gave them two different sheets today so they could work together but they'd both have to work; and partly because I'm trying to "use up" our worksheets.  I'm trying really hard not to print any more worksheets off since I really want to get back to a more hands on method of learning. 


Once all our seat work was done we cuddled on the couch and read another 20 or so pages in The Last Gold Diggers.  We didn't want to put it down!  It's such a funny book.  We also read another couple of Stories from the Billabong as well as glance through and read a few snippets of  Australia and Oceania. 
 
The best part of our day was trying to make last Australian treat-- we made Hedgehog Slices

At least we attempted to anyway. 

We had to make a few substitutions (as best we could) and adjust the amounts called for in the recipe as well.  Hopefully they will taste as yummy as they smell!

We started by smashing some shortbread cookies.  I found some plain shortbread cookies by Murray at our local grocery store but wasn't sure how many packages or cookies we'd need.  We bought 1 but after reading the ingredient list I think we should have bought two; so we halved the rest of the recipe. 

Once the cookies were fairly crushed we melted a stick of butter and combined it with the cookies in a bowl. 

We added 1 tbsp. of cocoa, a half a can of sweetened condensed milk, a 1/2 cup of shredded coconut and a 1/2 cup of mini marshmallows.  Once all the ingredients were well combined we pressed it into a 7x11 Pyrex dish and put it in the fridge to harden.

 After an hour or so (which was really just after lunch for us) we heated up some chocolate frosting and poured it over the top of the cookie base and then set it back in the fridge to harden again. 

Once everything was cool and hardened we cut them into small bars and gave them a try.  They were quite yummy! 

Sugary and sweet; but very delicious. 

The boys loved them; even Alec who hates coconut thought these were very tasty. 

If I were to make them again I'd definitely increase the amount of shortbread cookies.   It was the perfect way to say goodbye to Australia.

He was a bit scared to try them since he knew he did not like coconut 

Arr! Finding Nemo makes my Dreams Come True!

I managed to get another three pages done for our Disney scrapbook.  I love how they ALL come out this time too! 

I used my Circuit machine to make this Finding Nemo page.  I thought the dark glittery blue paper was the perfect accent to give this page a little pop!  I cut Crush out at a size 4, Nemo, the words and the waves were all cut out at a size 2.  All the various seaweeds were cut at different sizes and I just tore a few sheets of brown paper to make the sand at the bottom.  I just LOVE this page-- even if it did take me a full hour!! 


Easy peasy, quick and simple-- my favorite kind of page!  I used some black and red Mickey paper for the background, mounted my photo on black paper and cut out the letters using my Circuit Keystone cartridge.  I pieced together Pirate Mickey.  I cut a plain black Mickey head out of the Mickey and Friends cartridge and then cut a red/pink striped 1/2 Mickey head out from the same cartridge.  Lying the stripped paper over the black I carefully cut the ears off an cut one into a fat 'w" shape to make the tied on the pirate hat.  I then rummaged around and found a gold jump ring that I used as a pirate earing in Mickey's left hand ear. So easy and adorable. 


I had some Dreams Come True paper and I set it on it's side.  I mounted the large photo on white and set it on the paper just right so it didn't cover up any of the words.  I then used all the photos we took around the world showcase and cut them into small circles.  I mounted each photo on a slightly larger white circle and wrote my journaling around the edges of photos using a light blue marker. 

Linking Up With:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

How'd I miss that??

 I was cleaning my craft room the other day and came across a few scrapbook pages from our trip to Disney from two years ago.  I decided to put the pages in their album; only to discover I had no Disney album from that trip!  I have no idea how that happened but after a quick visit to Shutterfly and a few weeks waiting for my photos to come in I am now scrapping Disney like crazy! 

I put the pictures from this year's trip on hold and am trying to focus on these older pictures.  I ordered several 8x10 photographs, a bunch of 5x7's and a lot of 4x6's as well.  I started wherever inspiration struck. 

Nuts about Chip and Dale
For this Nuts about Chip and Dale page I used some acorn paper I had gotten in a fall scrapbooking paper pack, some plain brown paper and a few leftover Chip and Dale stickers.  I used my Cricut to cut out the letters and though you can't see them well in the photograph I do love how it came out. Cute and whimsical!  

Magic Carpets of Aladdin
I used my Cricut for this entire page.  Using the Dreams Come True cartridge I cut out the Jasmine frame in a size 7 and it ended up being perfect for my photo.  I then cut out Jasmine and Aladdin in a size 6 (using all the layers and details in the cartridge).

Port Orleans
 For this photo I bought a New Orleans sticker pack by Jolee's and combined those with some varying shades of green paper.  I took the little packet included in our room brochure (along with the map of our hotel) and attached it to the corner of the page.  I'm always looking for ways to include our park and hotel maps since I think it's such a great thing to look back on. Disney's always changing and it's nice to freeze frame those moments in time. 

Meeting Goofy and Pluto at Animal Kingdom
Using my Disney paper pack I turned the paper sideways, mounted the pictures on coordinating cardstock and used my Cricut to cut out the title using the Mickey and Friends cartridge.  I adhered a little sticker of Pluto and his dog house to the corner and added a few paw prints too.

Over In a flash

It seems like our school day was over before it even started.



The older boys played a multiplication game called Polar Products that I printed off the teachers pay teachers sight.  They had no problem at all with this quick game and asked me to save it so they could play again another day.  That's when I know they really enjoyed something we're working on/with; then they ask me to save it!

Polar Products game

While they were working on this, I had Evan working on, what I thought, was an addition game with penguins.  After reading the directions I realized it was basically a roll and cover sheet-- but he LOVED the addition of the penguins.  He had them talking, skipping over ice floes, swimming between ice floes and so much more.  Who knew a few pictures of penguins would make math so fun!
Big dice and penguins make math fun!

Once math was over the older boys did a word search paper on arctic animals and Evan read me another small printable sight word book called Winter Is Here!

Evan also worked on a color by sight word family sheet.  Next thing I knew they were all done and schoolwork was all finished.  It was light a flash of lightening today-- here and gone before I really even realized it!  I don't even think the work lasted an hour today.

Word family coloring
I don't stress when our days are shorter than usual because homschooling doesn't always need to take a lot of time.

Sometimes those lessons go really well and we finish up quickly because no one needs help or added time.

Sometimes we don't have a lot planned so our days are nice and short.

But they are always learning so that's OK!

We finished up our day by reading a few more sections of The Last Gold Diggers and a few more short stories from Stories of the Billabong.  We also glanced a book called An Australian Outback Food Chain. We talked about predators and prey, photosynthesis, adaptations, carrion, and much more as we looked through parts of this book.  Alec is very interested in food chains and put the book up in his room so that he can read it cover to cover at his leisure. 
   
I can drill facts, spelling words and grammar components all I want but it won't ever really stick until it becomes meaningful for them.  I kind of like that school didn't take much time today and now they're free to unschool!

That's where the real learning happens. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Finding balance

I feel like homeschooling has been going remarkably well lately!  The boys are all attentive and willing to work.  They really seem to enjoy that we've found our way back to a more traditional approach to learning and seem relieved that I've taken over planning and implementing lessons. 

 I enjoy planning lessons and watching them learn so I don't mind continuing to do so.  I love that we've been tackling so many subjects a day and feel like we're learning a lot.  

But it really dawned on me today that all this comes at an expense.   

The more time I spend planning and implementing lessons the less time I have for the house, for my health/me, and for my hobbies.  While I don't mind putting my children first I do have a problem with ALWAYS putting my children first.  



I just think I'm a happier, nicer person and a better mom when I feel like I have some time to myself.  


  • The past year I worked really hard to drop a few clothing sizes and I'm finding that really hard to maintain; I'm constantly interrupted during workouts (if I can even find the time to workout!)
  • I'm skipping meals because I don't have (don't make?) time to sit down and eat
  • I'm tired and feeling kind of apathetic about almost everything (since I'm going to bed later and later and getting up earlier and earlier!).  
  • I feel like the house always looks dirty lately because I don't ever have the time to clean it anymore!  
  • I can't remember the last time I sat down in my craft room to craft anything.  I have pictures piling up and tons of ideas about scrapbook pages I'd like to make but can't seem to find any time to do anything.  
All this dawned on me in one of those "aha!" kind of moments today (well, yesterday now) when I shouted at poor Evan, who happened to be the third interruption in my measly 15 minute workout this morning.  As I sat there inwardly griping that I can't even have a measly 15 minutes to myself, I began to think back over the past year and wonder what had changed. 

 I used to work out every day for an hour! 

 I used to scrapbook one or two pages a day. 

 I used to have a nice dinner prepared every night for dinner and I used to have a clean house. 

 What had changed?  

If anything the kids have gotten more self- sufficient and helpful so I should have more time to myself-- not less.

So as I completed my workout (after apologizing to Evan), I realized it was all the school work we've been doing.  

Planning has taken up a huge chunk of my time and since they're all dependent on me now for most every subject school is also taking a bit more of my time each day.  

It's not the boys' fault either; I find so many great ideas and get so gung ho on trying them all out that I just keep cramming more and more into our days.  

I think we probably need to scale back but I can't figure out how to do that (in other words I want it all!).  

I'm a perfectionist by nature and so it's hard for me to find that balance of "good enough" or "that's fine" without going over the top.  

Unfortunately, this perfectionist attitude applies to every area of my life.  I get immersed into projects to the exclusion of everything else.  I have real difficulty finding balance-- in anything! 


 So I decided I needed to figure out how I was going to balance my needs with that of the kids, my husband, my hobbies, my house, etc. 

Short of cloning myself I didn't come up with any bright and shining solutions either.

  • We need a schedule (not lesson plans but a loose daily schedule).
  • Everyone needs to pitch in and help out more.
  • Start school later and do housework, exercising, "other" things done first when I still have energy.
  • Scale back our school day to include math, reading, language arts and just one other subject. 
  • Try to cover multiple subjects at once.  

I decided the best solution was to try and come up with some sort of schedule.

We've really enjoyed not having any sort of schedule these past two years of homeschooling but I think I'm finally ready to get back to a more set system like we used to have.

OUR NEW DAILY SCHEDULE: 

So today I woke early (I went to bed early last night!) and immediately got my workout in before the boys were even awake.

I sat down to eat breakfast and then quickly went to the computer to check Facebook, Pinterest, E-mail, etc.  I set a timer for myself and when my time was up I got up and started tackling the housework.

 I found this great printable cleaning calendar on Pinterest.  I had used this in the past and I really like it.  I'm not sure why I stopped following it.  It's not the perfect schedule for me but it works pretty well and I like the idea of spending less than a hour a day on housework while still maintaining everything.  Today's job was the toilets and tubs.

When I started cleaning, I told myself we'd start school at 10 whether I was done or not (and I was!).

I've been trying to start school earlier most days and realized I spend a lot of time waiting around for the boys to be ready.  Instead of fighting to have them ready early we'll start school later and then that give me plenty of time to get things done in the morning without feeling guilty that we aren't starting school. 

I got my cleaning done, spent about 30 minutes in my craft room and even got the boys to clean a few dishes for me.

I warned them last night that they are going to have to start pitching in even more around here.  I'm only one person and can't do everything myself; if they want to continue to homeschool they have to help out.  They all agreed.   

They were anxious to start school and I didn't feel distracted by all the other things I thought still needed to be done.  Seriously, why have I not thought of this before?


OUR SCHOOL DAY: 

Math: 
We dug right into our math work.  The boys seem to like starting with math.  Evan had another odd/even coloring igloo paper while Ian chose to work on a roll and cover multiplication sheet.  Alec wanted to play Knock It Off again just like they did yesterday (using the 5's times tables) but Ian really did not want to play so I offered to play with Alec instead.  We had a great time and after the first roll I commented that Alec was fast in answering 5x8 is 40.  He told me he noticed a pattern with the five times tables.  He told me that he noticed the answer always starts out with half of the number being multiplied by 5 (if this confused you as it did me I'll explain the way he did--- 5 x 8 is four--ty.  5 times 4 starts with a two-- twenty, 5x 12 is six- ty.)  I love that he has found his own patterns in math!!   Ian immediately caught on and he was excited too.  They then each tried their math minute for the five's time tables and did really well too.  Another day or so and I'm sure they'll have mastered those facts too!

Language Arts: 
The younger boys wanted to go play but Ian wanted to finish all his schoolwork for the day.  While the younger boys played with Evan's new Lego set, Ian wrote a rebus story using this printout for the pictures and worked on some winter analogies.  He did a great job with both of these assignments!  I think it's one of the longest stories I've ever gotten him to write for me and he used proper punctuation and spelling!

Evan worked some more on his sight words paper.  Today I handed him some rubber letter stamps and ink pads.  He stamped the words as he struggled to read them to me.

Sight word stamping

Alec worked on his analogy page and then I worked with both boys on writing up their rebus stories.

 Evan dictated his story to me but this time I asked him how to spell a few of the sight words for me as I was writing-- again he struggled.  He can read emergent reader stories pretty well since he quickly finds the patterns in the stories, uses the pictures to help him read and memorizes them absurdly fast yet he really struggles so much to learn any basic sight words.  I'm hopping that by continually plugging away at them he'll eventually start to make those connections.

Alec wrote a two page story!  They all had so much fun making these rebus stories.  Alec was cracking himself up making up his story.  We'll definitely have to try and find more of these; or at least a series of pictures that they can cut up and make stories out of!
Our rebus stories

Alec laughing as he works out his story

  
Reading: 
I found this printable easy reader for Evan and so today he read Winter Animals to me. We all settled in to read today's stories.  We're starting a new chapter book called The Last Gold Diggers.  I though Ian would really like this book since it was about finding gold but I knew Alec would like the story too since it takes place in Australia.  We read a chapter or two (it's hard to tell as it's not really set up as chapters; it's a series of letters written from a grandfather to his grandson and it's hilarious!).  We also read Edward the Emu (the prequel to yesterday's story) and a book simply called Australia.  (See how I used reading time to cover geography too?!)

Geography/ Craft Project: 
To finish up today the older two boys did an art project for Australia.  We made the Sydney Opera House!

 The boys started by painting a sky and waterline on some watercolor paper.  They drew a light pencil line and then used green and blue watercolors to make a sky and the ocean.        

Once they were dry we used paper plates to cut out the shapes of the opera house and glued them in place using regular school glue (this was the hardest step for all of us!).  We used cheap paper plates and cut out crescent shapes-- looking at a picture of the Sydney Opera house while doing so.

Ian decided that he was done once he had all that in place but Alec wanted to add some fireworks to his picture and so he took out the glitter glue/paint pens and drew some fireworks.  I got the idea from Kids Crafts and even offered to find blue cellophane or star stickers so we could make our pictures just like theirs but the boys didn't want to.

They really love painting the best. 

Working on our opera houses
completed paintings


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

These Boys Are On Fire!

Not literally, of course,  but I was just amazed when again today Alec passed another multiplication minute.  He chose to try his hand at the 10's times tables (and with a minor malfunction of the timer had to do it twice).  He barely made it; but he did!  He was so proud of himself too!  All 21 problems in 1 minute! 



They're really on their way to mastering these facts and I'm so proud of how hard both the boys are working.  Once they were done their math minute they played another Knock It Off game-- this time they used the 12 sided dice and multiplied everything by 5.  There was some bickering but mostly I just ignored it and they were laughing by the end since they, once again, tied one another!  We love these free printable math games that focus on multiplication facts. 

While they were playing their math game, Evan and I were playing the mitten memory game again.  He really was so excited when he saw me bring out those cards.  I definitely noticed a huge difference in his ability during this game from the last time we played.  We did not need any counters at all and he figured out all the answers by adding on. 



 We finished Odd and the Frost Giants--  have I mentioned just how much we LOVED this book? It's fantastic!  The boys have already convinced me to let them watch Thor now but I have to say I've seen the movie and it is NOTHING at all like the book.  Other than having three of the same main characters there are no other similarities.. at all.   It's just a great cute story and my boys are using it as an excuse to watch a non- school movie on a school day.  I'm letting them do it too! 


We finished up our read aloud time by listening to Edwina the Emu.  Another cute story about an Emu mom who goes looking for a job.  It was quite funny (but I think a bit too young for Ian to really enjoy). 
    
The boys went to watch the Mighty Ducks 2 and I got ready for lunch.  After lunch, Ian was kind enough to make a double batch of waffle batter for us to cook up for dinner tonight after karate.  We worked together to clean the kitchen and then the kids went to play.  Ian went outside for a bit and the other two boys locked themselves in Evan's room.  Evan ended up leaving for a sleep over and the other boys settled in to watch Miracle until it was time to get ready for karate.
   
Ian was so excited to attend his first class with his orange belt.  The boys have all been working so hard on karate and know so many Korean terms.  I can't believe everything they've learned by starting karate.  I often think they've been at it for years instead of just a few months.  I love the self- discipline they've learned, the manners they've picked up on and the focus and drive they've displayed.  Karate isn't always easy but they always give it their all.  They're learning that this focus helps them achieve more than they thought possible and it's carrying over into all other aspects of their lives.  It's wonderful! 



Monday, January 27, 2014

Lamingtons; An Australian treat Made the American Way

Today we had hoped to learn a bit more about Australia and enjoy another fun snack from the land down under.



I read aloud a few more chapters from Odd and The Frost Giants and then we read Are We There Yet?  and a short story or two from Stories of the Billabong.  Are We There Yet? was such a cute story about an Australian family traveling all around Australia for a few months.  The boys and I really enjoyed it.  We listened to a few videos on Youtube so that we could hear the didgeridoo.  We enjoyed this one and this one
  
We made an American Version of Lamingtons, an Australian snack, that we thought sounded yummy.

 From the books we've read and the recipes we consulted Lamingtons are basically yellow cake squares that have been dipped in chocolate and covered with coconut.

To make our Lamingtons a bit more simple for the boys to make we decided to make yellow cupcakes, top them with chocolate frosting and sprinkle with coconut.  While not authentic, I figure they will still give us a good idea of what Lamingtons taste like.


  
The boys enjoyed them but aren't a big fan of coconut so more often than not they picked the coconut off!

 We continued on with our school day and started composing a letter for our Worldwide Culture Exchange. We're swapping a box of goodies with a family from England and so we wrote them a letter telling them about our town, state and region.  We'll be picking up some goodies to put in the box as well.

For math today the boys all had a roll and cover sheet.  Evan added sums up to 12 and the older two boys had worksheets that multiplied up to products of 72 (we have 9 and even 12 sided dice so we can practice ALL our facts this way!).  After they were finished the older boys went on to do a math minute.  I was nervous for them since we haven't attempted a math minute in almost a week! Alec passed his two times tables with several seconds to spare and Ian managed to get 14 of the 21 facts for the five's times tables.  I was very proud of them!


 Evan had another sight words sheet and I let him choose how he wanted to work with those sight words.  I told him he could spell them out with magnet tiles, write them, stamp them using my stamps and ink, write them in shaving cream-- pretty much anything he wanted and yet he choose to use the magnets since it's easiest!

While he worked on those the older two boys had a sentence correction sheet

Once all the boys were done I had one last language arts project-- we separated the common nouns from the proper nouns after we had a quick discussion on what they were.  Alec seemed to pick up on this distinction pretty quickly but Ian and Evan struggled a bit more.  I told them we'd keep working on it.

Once their work was done they ran off to play.  It was another fun filled day!

Linking Up With:
Tots and Me

Friday, January 24, 2014

10 ways to teach when you're sick!

Ugh! I can't remember the last time a cold kicked my butt this badly.  I know it's "just a cold" since I pretty much only have that stuffy head feeling but it's just pounding and hanging in there and ultimately wearing me out!

My kids have been sweetly taking care of me and one another.  They're helping each other with breakfast, with toys and with the computer, trying to leave me to rest and tiptoeing around me so they don't make my headache worse.  It's really so adorably sweet to see.
   
We may have to take a bit more time to finish off our Australia unit before diving into Russia and the Olympics (I'm realizing we may not get to them before the Olympics even start), but that's OK and part of the beauty of homeschooling.
   
 Our schedule is so incredibly flexible that I don't have to stress out about it.  As long as the kids are happy with what we're doing and what we're learning then everything it just fine.  Part of the reason why I homeschool year round is so that we can give into these fits and spurts of learning, I don't have to worry about down time when we're schooling fairly regularly throughout the year.  Sure, I feel bad that the older boys haven't done their timed math facts in a few days and I hate it that Evan hasn't read to anyone in as many days but we'll pick up next week where we left off and everyone will be that much more gung ho to start again. 




I did have a lot of ideas of projects and things that the boys could have done without me these past few days (I just decided at the last minute to give them free reign of the days instead).  If you homeschool and flounder over what to do when you're feeling under the weather try a few of these ideas:


1.  review sheets-- any kind of worksheet that reviews past concepts learned would be great for them to work on independently while  under the weather.  In our case  Evan's would include anything with adding dice, dot to dots and alphabet letters.  For the older boys that would include their cursive books, math sheets on adding and subtracting (1, 2, or 3 digit numbers), multiplication facts up to the 6 times tables, etc.  It's a great, easy, way for them to work on writing and math skills on their own. 


2.  "Playing" with school supplies-- My boys love when I pull out our pattern blocks, fraction tiles, mini scales, magnifying glasses and other "school" supplies.  When I don't give them a guideline for using these tools they find new uses for them and relate to them in ways that are uniquely their own.  Learning is happening on it's own and they're working on math and science concepts.

3.  Watching movies or TV shows-- educational ones like Magic School Bus, Mythbusters, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Liberty's Kids, Drive Thru History, etc. are great for those days when I'm not up to teaching and we could have used them on a day like today.  If you have a really good internet connection there are tons of free sites to listen to kids books being read aloud, full length episodes of many of the kids shows are available too (I know I have a lot of them on my Pinterest boards but I can't think of any off the top of my head-- sorry!)

4.  Allowing video games-- again educational ones like Stack the States, Chess, Word Monkey, etc.   I have a whole 8 1/2 x 11 inch piece of paper with all the educational computer, Kindle, and DS games listed that they are allowed to play during the school day.  I could have enforced that rule today to ensure that they were continuing to learn.  We have tons of games that build math and reading skills as well as games like Stack the States or the Oregon trail that work on social studies, history and geography too. 

5.  Puzzles-- a great way to get kids problem solving and using their brain when you're under the weather!  We have everything from simple kids wooden puzzles to more complex adult- like jigsaw puzzles.  If I asked them they'd happily pull some from the shelf and get to work.



6.  Board Games or card games-- there are a few that they could play on their own but I'm not feeling so miserable I couldn't participate in a few QUIET board games. They enjoy playing memory, war and flip 10 and could play on their own.  We enjoy the Scrambled States of America Game, Sorry sliders, Yahtzee, etc.

Playing Flip 10 using Uno cards
7.  Lego Sets-- They love their Lego sets and I'm sure if I made them turn off the TV and other assorted screens today that they'd end up turning to their Lego sets and they'd be building away.


8.  Blocks/ Toys-- we have lots of creative toys that the boys could play quietly on their own or together.  My boys are particularly found of Structure, Jovo, and Clicks blocks, Gears-- we have a huge variety of toys that encourage free building, problem solving and various hands on math concepts. 

9.  Simple Art projects-- My boys are old enough that they can clean up after themselves when playing with very simple art supplies-- they could use their color by number books or hidden animal books with their markers, they could pull out the play- doh bin and assorted toys to go with it, they could work with watercolors, brushes and paper, they could draw, sculpt, mold and color. 


10.  Read independently-- my older boys could read to themselves or read stories out loud to their younger brother for reading practice.  They probably wouldn't willing choose to read independently but if I asked them to please practice on their own they would.

Linking Up With:

   homemaking frugal mommas friday 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lego Day

Ian and Evan had both ordered a new (LARGE) Lego set over the weekend and were thrilled when my husband came walking in with them last night around dinnertime.  It was so quiet in our house last night it was unbelievable.  By bedtime (2 hours later), Ian had completely finished putting his whole set together.  Evan had made huge strides in his set too.  As soon as he woke this morning he asked me if he could finish putting his set together.  Ian helped and within an hour or so they had everything completed.

Just in time for our homeschool group Lego day! 


   
The boys were all invited to bring a Lego creation to show, but Evan chose not to bring anything since he was afraid they might break while traveling.  Ian brought his whole entire new Coast Guard set to show and Alec decided to bring a few Ninjago sets.
   
To start our Lego day, everyone gets into a big circle and introduces themselves.  We must have had closet to 30 kids today and so many new faces too.  It was wonderful! 

Once the kids introduced themselves they could show off what they had brought from home and then those toys get put away.  The mom who runs Lego day brings a HUGE bin of Lego's for everyone to use and share.  That way we don't have to worry about lost/ missing pieces or anyone special Lego sets getting ruined.


The first activity required everyone to grab any 5 pieces and build something using just those five pieces.  They only  have so long to pick the five pieces and so long to build; that makes it quite a challenge for some kids.  After building they reconvene on the floor and share what they created.


 For the second challenge children were given slips of paper with a word on it and they had to build that word.  The younger kids received noun/words like pencil, table, etc. while the older kids received harder words like hope, sadness, faith, etc.  For the second challenge they couldn't tell anyone what their word was (unless they were talking to an adult and asking for help), they could use as many pieces as they needed and they had quite a bit of time.  When everyone was just about finished they had to show their creating and everyone would try to guess what it represented (sort of like Lego charades!). 



For the final challenge the kids were broken into two large teams and they had to build the tallest tower in the time allotted.   I was surprised when Ian decided to sit this challenge out as well but he told me it gets to hard to work in such large groups with such a diverse range of ages.  The teams worked very  hard and had to problem solve solutions for making the towers tall but sturdy.  The team that ended up winning actually had to re- build their tower at least a half dozen times since it kept breaking.  Most of us moms were surprised it stayed up at the end of the challenge.  The other team had a very sturdy tower but they were about an inch or two too short. 

team 1

team 2

comparing the buildings

  I love Lego day since it teaches the kids so much about creativity, team work, cooperation, problem solving, etc.  We ended the day with a mini birthday party for one of the boys and the kids just loved getting cupcakes and singing (at the top of their lungs!).