Saturday, August 10, 2013

How to : A Travel Lego Box

It's a good thing that my kids like building and creating with Legos because we have about 300 pounds of those FOOT OUCHIES. With our trip coming up SUPER SOON, I wanted to be able to bring some for Sam, and fill some of those HOURS on the plane. 

I considered bringing one of our Lego Simple Machines kits. They're educational, but expensive. If one of those parts got lost enroute, replacing it would be a frustration (especially since I can't FIND the kits on-line anymore).

So, I improvised.

I found a see-through green 8 inch x 4 inch x 1 inch plastic box with 5 sections and an attached, latching lid. The PERFECT SIZE to slip into a backpack! It used to hold fishing lures from a kid's fishing pole kit we got YEARS ago. It's been bouncing around the house every since, used for holding beads, hair pretties, and STUFF.

Searching through the Lego totes, I found flat pieces in gray, green and blue. I used these pieces to make a road and parking area (gray), grassy places (green) and a lake (blue) on top of the lid. Hot Glue worked awesome to attach the pieces! I did have to cut (with kitchen scissors) on long green piece to fit 2 sections.

FYI: Make sure the glue does not spread out beyond the edges of each piece as you want them to fit SNUGLY next to one another.

I then searched for a "car chassis", a Lego piece with wheels, and specialized pieces that I thought Sam would like to build a vehicle. I included levers, windows, a wheel and boat rudder (and he could make a boat for the water too), red and clear single "bump" Legos (for headlights), antennas, and 2 Mini-Figures, and then threw in a number of varies sized bricks. All these I fit inside the box. And for now they're organized!

FYI: Don't forget a Mini-Figure or two for more imaginative play.

Voila! A Travel Lego Box with things we had lying around the house. And if a piece goes missing? No biggie! (No laughing at my QUICK build to try out the box's top! LOL And yes, that red-and-yellow THING in the lake IS a sailboat...)

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Homeschool Mother's Journal: The One Before We Go North

In My Life This Week
It was a VERY SLOW week for us. A week spent bike riding, taking the dogs for a walk, chasing ducks back into our yard, playing Minecraft, watching shows on Netflix, and reading.

Oh, and I finished shopping for our trip north and have piles of clothing and shoes scattered around my bedroom. I'll be stuffing suitcases soon.

Things We Worked On
Jake and I removed the metal tub "pond" from the run this week. Our Princess Pekins decided that they were NOT going to swim in it. :sigh: Our plan was to put the old sandbox back in, but we cracked it in the process. What to do now? Ah-ha! I decided to flip over the lid to the sand box! It has a "shallow depth" ledge around the top and a deeper middle! Perfect in case another hen ends up in the pond and struggles to get out. (Poor Big Rhodie! We're thankful we found her in time as she was utterly exhausted.)

What's Cooking?
I made a BIG pot of alphabet soup this week. (Find the recipe here.) I tweaked it just a TEENY TINY bit. :wink: I cooked up a 1/2 pound of ground turkey (because it needed using) with oil, garlic and onion, and then everything else I added right into the same pot. No cooking the pasta or the potatoes separately. Who wants to do any more dishes than they have too, right? Oh, and I didn't exactly measure anything out either..and I used frozen veggies. But the result was a GREAT soup, served with homemade bread!

Photo Source

People & Places
• Lake Swimming • B__ A__ Director Meeting•

Homeschool Happenings
Jake and I met with the director of the new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) high school he'll be attending this year for 9th grade. Although the building's remodel is a LONG way from completed, the director answered our questions and showed us around. B__ A__ should be a GREAT fit for Jake!

And Sam continued to learn lawn care. Soon, he'll be able to take over all the mowing and weed whacking. He's QUITE serious mowing...unless I ask him to stop and smile! LOL

I'm Thankful For...
...Amazon for replacing my Kindle Fire for charger port issues again. They're awesome! Now, we'll have our Kindle for our trip! (But will we have time to read?)

My Favorite Thing

Something to Share

As ALWAYS, linking up to these WONDERFUL blogs:
Homegrown Learners photo 79396fe0-1f8b-44f8-a90e-f8ca7bfa801e_zpsa74bcc3b.jpgHip Homeschool Hop Button

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Planning for a New Year: Portfolios and Work Folders

Maine requires that homeschoolers either do standardized testing or portfolio reviews with a certified teacher at the end of each school year. I've always chosen to keep portfolios, and after 9 completed years of homeschooling I have a shelf full of them.

Why portfolios?

Portfolios are a GREAT way to have a visual record on our school year that we can look back on as the kids get older. Beyond the Math tests and handwriting samples, portfolios can include photos and reminders of all those WONDERFUL field trips and awards achieved throughout the year. Portfolios can be as unique as the family that creates them.

Getting Started

Every year the kids choose a color for their portfolio, notebooks and work folders. Color coordinating supplies to each student makes grabbing the right ones quick and easy for everyone.This year Cati has chosen green and Sam has chosen blue. (This will be challenge for me because in years past Cati has ALWAYS been blue and Sam orange or yellow.)

Supplies Needed

To start the year, I purchase a 2" binder (with the clear sleeves in the front, spine and back), a couple paper folders and at least one composition notebook. (We notebook some of our subjects, but this year only science will follow this method.) I also buy divider sheets with tabs. Our subjects are organized into Language Arts, Math, Science, History, and Extras. A hole-punch comes in handy. I also jot down quick notes on Post-its to add to papers or pictures or awards.

Before the Year Begins

I start off by hole-punching and adding our Letter of Intent to Homeschool to the binder - it's another one of those things that Maine requires of homeschoolers - followed by an attendance sheet. (I like Donna Young's FREE attendance sheets here. This website is also GREAT for LOTS of other printables so DEFINITELY check it out.) 

And then I photocopy the TABLE OF CONTENTS from the textbooks we'll be using or a LISTING OF CHAPTERS/UNITS. I LOVE doing this for each of our main subject areas! 

Why the Table of Contents? Chapters?

Besides putting those table of contents in our portfolios to show the work we've accomplished, they're GREAT for these things:

  • A quick glance shows a portfolio assessor what skills and subject areas were covered and learned during the year
  • Bringing these lists to the library is an easy way to find additional books and movies for upcoming studies
  • Supplementing book learning with Netflix moves and field trips can be planned using the table of contents or chapter lists
  • Notes and plans can be jotted down on the photocopies as a "planner" or to mark areas that need additional work or were learning successes
  • Chapters and units can be visually divided into semesters, quarters or any other "period of time" that you use in your homeschool

What about Work Folders and Notebooks?

The other 2 organizational pieces of our homeschool studies are notebooks and folders. We're only part-time Charlotte Mason learners, but one WONDERFUL, effective way for us to learn is NOTEBOOKING. (You can learn more about Charlotte Mason and notebooking here and here.) This year we'll only be notebooking our Life Science. I prefer composition notebooks over generic one subjects because the pages are less likely to rip out over the course of a whole school year, and the kids think they're cooler. You can even get them in colors now!

Our work folders are cheap, paper ones. Plastic would certainly last longer, but I was able to get 20 of these last year at Staples during their sales for FREE. Until I run out, we're using these! Inside our work folders I placed a seasonal reading log (that you can find here) , mini flip books that supplement our book learning, Spelling Power Daily Test Sheet and Learning Steps (slipped into a plastic page protector to be reused over and over), a few sheets of graph and lined writing paper, and any additional print-outs I'd like them to do. (You'll see a Who Am I sheet in the photo. That's for our first day back to place in the back sleeve of our portfolios. Find the sheet here.)

How are you planning for a new year?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Homeschool Mother's Journal: Planning, Packing, Printing, and Playing

In My Life This Week
AUGUST?! Really? Huh. Sometimes it TOTALLY amazes me how quickly time flies. Does it for you? Summer vacation ends in just a few weeks! A Great Balancing Act cracks open the new curricula on September 4th, bright and early. But before that, we're heading off to ALASKA with Mimi and Pop.

In the meantime, we continue to enjoy our LAZY DAYS OF SUMMER; swimming at the lake, reading books, riding bikes, chasing chickens, watching the weeds take over the garden. All too soon these days will be over and Autumn will be here (which I'm kind of looking forward too actually).

This week we had a PERFECT storm blow in for watching weather, dark, fast moving clouds, but little thunder and lightning. Sam and I sat outside and watched the clouds change shade and color over the trees and felt the flutter of a breeze turn into gusts...and then finally ran inside when the sky "let loose" and "rivers" of rain raced down the path from the house to the coop and run.

Things I'm Working On
Packing tips and tricks? It's not often that I have to pack for a vacation. I think I've got a good "handle on it", but if you've got a suggestion...

What's Cooking?
One of my kids' FAVORITE sides is RAMEN NOODLE-BROCCOLI COLE SLAW from (Want the recipe? Click here.) It's sweet, crunchy and filled with broccoli, seeds and nuts. (FYI: Instead of 3/4 c oil I used 1/4 c oil + 1/2 c water, and instead of 1/2 c sugar I used 1/3 c. I also chose unsalted seeds and nuts.)

Photo Credit

People & Places
• Portland Sea Dogs Baseball Game • Rec Lunch and Lake • Band Camp and Concert 

In Our Homeschool
I finished up some loose ends, printed out some activities and wall posters, sent in our letter of intent with our portfolio assessments, and finished up my supply shopping.

I  taped together a 3 x 3 U.S. outline map and hung it in our school room (i.e. diningroom). Instead of a wall timeline, the kids will fill out the map as we study US History from NROC. (You can find the maps here and the NROC curriculum here.) And I tacked up posters for continents and oceans from here, parts of speech mini posters from here, a calender (which I slipped ito a plastic page protector to reuse) from here, and a Roman numerals "cheat sheet" from here. But then I ran out of computer paper. Grrr!

Once I had paper and ink again, I printed out stuff for our portfolios as well: My Vocabulary Flip Book and seasonal reading logs. Stay tuned for a post on how I get our portfolios and work folders ready for a new year.

My Cati and the other summer band camp kids gave a WONDERFUL concert. Being in jazz band has sure renewed her interest in continuing to play the clarinet! 

Sam, Mr. Fix-it, reattached my hand rail to the stairs. Would you believe that we took it down 7 years ago to paint and it's been leaning against my bedroom wall ever since? Jake also fixed the trimmed around the back door. It's AWESOME to have such capable kids to help me out.

I'm Grateful For

Something to Share
This has been happening to me a lot lately. Although decluttering and reorganizing is AWESOME, the downside it being able to find things afterward.

As ALWAYS, linking up to these WONDERFUL blogs:
Homegrown Learners photo 79396fe0-1f8b-44f8-a90e-f8ca7bfa801e_zpsa74bcc3b.jpgThis Week @ Great Peace AcademyHip Homeschool Hop Button