Saturday, December 31, 2011

More favorite gifts

We just got home from out last Christmas celebration. My wonderful aunt bought the boys some fantastic gifts that have been on my wish list for a while.
I had the items on my Lakeshore Learning wish list but she was able to find everything at a local educational school.

Link n' Learn for counting, patterning, color sorting, whatever your heart desires

Learning Resources Prepared Slides. Bubby received two sets of these that include pollen, animal hair, insects, and more. They seems to be working really well on our microscope (Bubby also got a new microscope for Christmas, I'll share that later).

They each received two magnet wands. I've seen a really fun idea for a magnet sensory box and other activities I'm looking forward to trying. 

These are fantastic! They are made out of heavy duty plastic, come with a stand and screw on lids. It also has a small experiment guide to get you started with suggestions such as mixing colors and comparing liquids.I figure these will be fun for science experiments as well as simply playing.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Favorite Gifts

My boys recieved some incredible homemade gifts this year courtesy of their equally incredible cousins. I still have to get photos of those however.
In the meantime I thought I'd share a few of the purchased gifts that are getting much use so far.

405 piece Lego set. Both of the boys are loving their Legos. These are new for us. We have K'Nex which I love but they are difficult for either of the boys to put together. We also have Lincoln Logs but again, they tend to get knocked over easily. Monkey (3) is able to put the Legos together and take them apart without any problems, plus they are hardy enough that airplanes don't fall apart during battle. I live with two little boys and one grown boy, there are lots of battles.

I have to admit I was pretty skeptical about this one, but The Mister wanted it for himself as much as for the boys. It has turned out to be really fun. This set is the ground air version which has a helicopter and a ground gun. There are also sets with two trucks (these are on our list). It is working out well for our household since the boys can both control the ground piece while The Mister flies the helicopter. The only thing that I caution you on is the fact that the helicopter is rather hard to control and probably isn't the best choice for little ones, plus the battery doesn't last very long, though it is rechargeable.

We found these is small packages of ten which made perfect stocking stuffers. We've had these before and they are lots of fun. One small fizzy changes the color of the little's bath water. There is a chart on the back that shows you how to mix colors (built-in art lesson!).

This was a gift from a friend, I personally, am getting a little sick of hearing about it. Bubby is obsessed. It's a video game staring Lego figures, what's not to love?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Yep...I'm addicted

I'm signing up for more reading challenges. I've already been searching my bookshelves and put together a shelf for "to read" books. Can't wait to get started!

Caiti is hosting a 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die challenge. If you don't have the book with the list of books ;) don't worry, she includes a link so you can print the list online.

52 Books in 52 Weeks52 Books in 52 Weeks from Robin McCormack. There are a couple of side challenges to add a little more fun. The rules are simple, the only thing that doesn't count are children's books. Enjoy!

Award Winning Books Reading Challenge from Gathering Books. I'm shooting for a Silver Medal which is 11-25 Books. I'd love to go higher and hopefully I will, but I have a lot of reading to get to so I'm just keeping it real ;)

The Hopeful Librarian
From The Hopeful Librarian the Unread Book Challenge. I may finally get to some of the books that sit on our bookshelves always overlooked.

Historical Tapestry is hosting a Historical Fiction reading challenge and they include adult and ya fiction. Since this will tie in nicely with the Award Winning Book Challenge and many of the books the boys and I will be reading for the children's challenges I can't go wrong. I read a lot of historical fiction already so I'm going to shoot high and go for the Severe Bookaholism: 20 books level. Good luck readers!

My Overstuffed Bookshelf is hosting this fun challenge. I'm certain I read many more books than this. I guess we'll find out....
1) Shilo    2) Jacob Have I Loved     3) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes     4) The Hobbit     5) The Tale of Despereaux     6) The Scarlet Letter     7) Mrs. Dalloway     8) The Cricket in Times Square     9) Maniac Magee     10) Hot Six     11) Around The World in 80 Days     12) Serendipity
13) Seven Up   14) A Year in Provence   15) Tojour Provence     16) Under The Tuscan Sun     17) Dead Is The New Black     18) The Fiction Class     19) A Fine Line     20) Through The Looking Glass     21) The Wind in the Willow     22) Plum Lovin'     23) An Italian Journey     24) Charlotte's Web

Ok, and now I'm really done. Maybe...

Back to a normal schedule

I'm super excited to be getting back to our normal schedule next week. The Mister goes back to school and the boys and I will settle back into our studies.

We are kicking off our first two weeks with Five In A Row studies of The Glorious Flight. I already read through the book myself and put together some activities. I also scoured our own library for go along books and found some fun things to read. The Mister also picked up a paper airplane book a while back so we'll get to incorporate that.

We will also be using the Magic School Bus: Flight science kit to perform some basic science experiments. The kit comes with everything you need except a few basic household supplies. The only thing that they consider a "household supply" that we don't have, is a juice box, go figure.

 Magic School Bus: Soar Into Flight
I am putting together unit studies on different habitats and we will be focusing on one particular animal habitat every two weeks. Our first adventure will cover oceans and I've already put together some fun activities. Marine biology is a passion of mine so we have a huge collection of books in our personal library.
I found some fun printables on Enchanted Learning (more about that later), and I will most likely add in a few activities from the
You can find fun ocean activities on my Homeschool Resources page for Early Education Themes as well.

For The Glorious Flight we will also be reading some go along books. Locating England, Dover, France, and the English Channel on our maps. Coloring the Flag of France and the Flag of England.
I found a couple of printables introducing ordinals numbers using planes and Roman Numerals.  Homeschool Share also has a printable for labeling basic plane parts.

The Glorious Flight

Gingerbread Houses

This is our second year creating gingerbread houses and it's something that Bubby really enjoys. We are still using kits from the store but I figure the fun part is the decorating anyways.

This year I talked Bubby into this village with five small houses. Sadly, one of the houses became a dog snack between the put together and the decorate stage. But whatever...

Bubby and The Mister put all of the houses together one night so that the frosting could dry and hold everything together.

A couple of days later we decorated. It was pretty much a free for all. Monkey ate more candy that he actually put on his house.

Do not let the cuteness fool you! I'm pretty sure he's stealing candy from the house, not adding to it.

By the time we were done the table looked like this
but it cleaned up easily.

Here's the finished products!

 We don't claim to be artists, we just claim to have fun!

Wood burning - Est. sign

I am having a great time making gifts using the Purple Cows Sizzle. Wood burning has become some what of an obsession lately. I love how easy it is to create really cool things and it's easy to transport so I can do it while sitting on the floor watching Christmas movies :).

My dad, who is retired, runs a carburetor/alternator shop out of his home. He frequently has customers going in and out dropping off and picking up orders.

I've seen a wide variety of signs around blog land for "Enter last name here" "Est. enter date"
I decided to make a sign for my dad's shop.

I started with an end cut from a piece of flooring (green and free, go me!). I used SCAL to create the letters I wanted. I just picked a standard font but set it at "shadow pointy" and increased the thickness to beef up the letters a bit.

I transferred the letters to the wood by stenciling around them with pencil.

Once the letters were stenciled on I used the Sizzle to first trace around the letters making deeper darker cuts, then shaded the inside of each letter.

I set the Sizzle to high and used the universal tip for the entire project. I cut the edges of the letter using the tip of the blade, then used the long edge to shade the inside of each letter.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Oh boy....

I can see this turning into an addiction quickly. I also found this gem via On My Head and Reading. I never knew about reading challenges until now. Oh....I just had an idea...wouldn't it be fun to do a Five In A Row reading challenge, where people could link up the FIAR books and everything that goes along with it that they have been reading? Ideas ideas...


Mommy Wants to Read has a sign up. The goal is to read to a child for 10 minutes a day. Any child, related or not, any reading material counts. It looks like she plans on doing a once a month linkup for any that choose to take the challenge. Enjoy!

First Reading Challenge

I am officially signing up for my first reading challenge!

We read a ton of books anyways, so this will be a fun way to connect with others. I found this challenge via my sister's blog at On My Head and Reading.

There is a list of books to read for K-3 or 4-6 depending on your child's age. Each week there will be a linky open so you can link up the books you're read. 

On My Head and Reading

My sister just started her blog, On My Head and Reading: all of the books i've read and all of the books i want to read. You have to go check it out!
She kicked off her posts with some reading challenges that look like a lot of fun, I'll be linking up for sure.
She introduced me to Google Reader, started my list of dozens ok hundreds, of blogs to follow, shares my passion for decorating, crafting, scrapbooking, and educating my littles.
She homeschools her four children, two of which have joined the ranks of college students, is an avid reader herself, and cohomeschools (is that a word?) my boys while I'm at work so she's sure to have a wide variety of awesome posts!

I'm off to sign up for a few reading challenges myself....

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Wood Burning - Frame

My first wood burning activity was a bit of a leap since I've never tried wood burning before, but it turned out fantastic! I wanted to do a wood frame and decided on creating one for my niece's Christmas present.

She has always loved butterflies and I wanted to incorporate that into the frame.

It was SO easy!

 I found a set of butterfly images I wanted to use online and transferred them into SCAL. I resized them so they would fit the frame and cut them out of plain white cardstock.

Once I had all of my "stencils" cut out I started laying them around the frame in random patterns and tracing them with a plain ball point pen.

After I had my design set up I started in with the Sizzle. I completed the project in several sittings since it contained lots of details. I found that the high heat setting worked best. Since the images are fairly small with fine lines I used the Taper tip to complete everything.

I cut her name out of the picture for privacy reasons, but it runs along the bottom left of the frame. The lettering I traced from a standard scrapbooking stencil and then went over with the Sizzle using the Mini Flow tip to make it look bold.

I linked up to:
Sweetpeas and Bumblebees
The Thrifty Home

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wood burning

So about four months ago (better late then never right!?) the wonderful folks at Purple Cows sent me a Sizzle to try out. Now, this isn't our first project with it, unfortunately my first project, which is freaking awesome, is a gift and I can't show you until after Christmas. So for the time being....
Sizzle Dual Temp Craft Iron by Purple Cows

My husband's nursing class decided to have an ornament exchange at their Christmas party at the end of the quarter. Wood burning has recently been a big topic in our house because I finally tried out the Sizzle on wood and it is addicting! So easy and super fun. I have two more projects up my sleeve

We found a a Caduceus that we liked on Google
and I copied it into SCAL
Then we adjusted the size and used my Cricut to cut a stencil

Then the Mister used a piece of scrap cedar and cut the shape out with our jigsaw, traced the image onto the wood using a pencil and started burning.
Here's the final product, upside down because I am too lazy to go into Picassa and flip the picture.
He burned his initials, the school name, and year into the back. I bought some little tiny eye hooks for another project so he simply screwed one into the top of the ornament and voila!

Cheap (ok free) ornament for the exchange that has significant meaning to the recipient.