Archive | August, 2011

Hop On Pop!

30 Aug

As I mentioned in this post, I will be documenting our homeschool progress in the “learn” section.

Here’s what we did today. First, we read, “Hop on Pop""” by Dr. Seuss.  We briefly talked about what a list was and what purpose it served.  He explained to me that a list was “Like when I have to do my chores and I can’t remember what to do, I just look at the list and I know that I have to scrub the toilet and throw away the trash.”  I taught him how to number the items on his list.  Next, I had him write down all the words he remembered from the book.  Since it wasn’t a lesson on memory, I let him spend one minute looking through the book when he couldn’t remember any more after about 10 words.  This also provided information about how he writes his numbers, what numbers he knows, consistency with his letters and that I need to remind him to write lower case letters!!!!  I always stress to my kids that they need to spend more time writing in lower case because when you read, most letters you see are in lower case.  But, if you buy anything or see anything with an alphabet theme…it’s always in CAPS!  Why????Okay.  Back to the lesson.  Next, he selected five colored pencils.  I had him go through and circle by color, all the words that rhyme.  He didn’t do this part all on his own.  We had discussions as we went about why a certain word did or didn’t rhyme.Then, I drew out the graph you see here.  He graphed the number of rhyming words per color group.  I don’t know what I was thinking, but I shouldn’t have put a row of zeros.  It got confusing when he knew that there were only two words in a group, but there were three blocks to color.   On the same page, I just made notes about things he said that demonstrated knowledge or information regarding any of the concepts relating to the lesson.When we finished, he had “free play” with play doh.  After a while, I had him see what kind of patterns he could come up with, using the colors he had.  This is what he did.In order to keep the small person occupied, I gave her two colors to work with.  I only used two colors to reinforce color recognition.  I made this pattern and then I grouped them with her by color.I asked her to show me the blue.Then the orange.She figured out how the stamps worked and had a great time with them.  These tools are a Melissa & Doug set and I love them.Pictures are such an efficient way to document this stuff.

Just as we were finishing, her cousin came over to play!  They have a love-hate relationship, so getting this picture was great!  Usually, they are hugging because they are apologizing.


Learn Posts = Homeschool Posts

30 Aug

Well, if you haven’t figured it out yet, the new space I’m working on is for a kindergarten home school station.  I am home schooling my son for kindergarten.  It’s very common in Hawai’i to attend a private school.  The age cutoffs for private schools are different from the public schools.  So, if he went to public school, he would attend kindergarten, or at his age, Jr. Kindergarten.  My soap box on the Jr. K is a-whole-nother post which won’t ever happen.  Anyway, he will be testing for private school this year, so I decided that instead of sending him to public school, I would take a stab at home schooling.  I know it’s only been a couple of days, but I am totally excited and he’s an amazing student.  He just eats up everything I throw at him.  I love it so far.  Everyone always says, “we’ll see in a month.”  But I really think it’s going to be great.  He’s a part of an actual school, but they only check in twice a month.  In addition to testing and assessments, I am required to keep a portfolio of his progress.  I decided that I would use the “learn” section of this blog to maintain his portfolio.  It’s also a great way for me to document the lessons we are doing.  Hopefully those of you in the home school world find something useful around here.

New Blue “Numbered Cubbies” With Labels Instead

27 Aug

As I mentioned in another post, I am working on a new space in our home.  In that post, I talked about making labels.  It was to go on these new blue cubbies.   Inspired by the “numbered cubbies” over at Ana White, I loosely followed this tutorial.  I say “loosely” because I didn’t use her dimensions or plans, but “my design” is really, “her design” which was inspired by Pottery Barn.  I needed mine to be specifically sized for the space and for the components that would be housed in here.  So, I just used 36″ pieces.  I used 3/4″ lumber for the back and bottom because I knew that’s where I needed the strength, but I used a 1/2″ board for the front piece to keep the shelf as lightweight as possible.  I used my Oh-So-Wonderful Kreg Jig to make pocket holes to attach the side pieces to the base.  I had to make the pocket holes on the bottom going both ways.  One side to attach the front boards and the opposite direction to attach the back.  I’m sure I did more than I needed, but I tend to overdo any of the “supports.”  I think it’s an illness I got from my dad and my brother.Here are the front and back boards attached to the bottom.
Now, for the dividers, I used my awesome sister’s miter saw to cut the pieces. I just used the first piece as the guide for the next and it went really quick.Then, I cut the angles on each of the dividers. See how perfect it looks?It turns out, I was using the shorter bottom board as my guide.  So, it wasn’t so perfect after all.  Darn it.When I actually mounted them onto the correct piece, you will see that the front board is actually taller than the bottom of the angled cut because I used the wrong board as the guide.  It bugged me really bad at first, but I’m over it and I think that I’m the only one that really notices.  Well, and now you.  Don’t judge please 🙂  I really love them. 
Here’s a little tip.  For cleaning a saw, I always use a brush.  To help me go quicker and deeper, I used a hair dryer and the brush.  It helped me get the dust out of almost every nook and cranny.
The inspiration cubbies are numbered, but I needed more function, so I did labels.  As it turned out, I ended up doing something completely different on the labels than I planned.  I really wanted to use wood.  Plus, cutting up those other labels would just be a pain.  I do think they’re fun to look at though.  I didn’t want to saw anything this time, so I just grabbed a strip of balsa wood for $3.00.  It’s so soft that I cut it with scissors.I think it would’ve been a cleaner cut with a good exacto knife.  I just cut them to the size I wanted and painted them black. 
When I was at the store, the very artsy looking guy that was helping me told me that I should use a silver paint pen instead of a white one.  He said that it has more contrast on the black.  I said okay, but I also bought the white because I doubted.  I did this little test to see which stood out best.The artsy-fartsy guy was right.  He was probably thinking “stupid lady…don’t believe me…spend another three bucks.”  The white words in the picture above are actually two coats of the white.  I remember using those paint pens as a child.  My mom always used them and they were always running.  Sometimes the tips would fall out.  After the first few words I realized they had improved the pen over the years.  Well, half way through, the tip fell out and paint was coming out everywhere.  Thankfully, I grabbed a silver Sharpie for a buck.  Turns out, I should’ve only bought that Sharpie and saved myself from those still imperfect paint pens.  Betcha can’t tell which ones I wrote with the Sharpie.I decided to mount the labels with magnets (how nifty!) so that we could switch them around when we needed to.  I had the “keeper of the shelves” mount the magnets.
Tip: It can be hard to make the labels line up because the magnets “jump” when they’re not lined up with their magnetic parts and “land” away from where you wanted it by about 1/4″.  Just mount the magnet to the shelf, then attach the opposite side.  Next, add the glue to the back of the top magnet and mount the label in exactly the place that you want it.  In this pic, the magnet isn’t centered on the label, but rather it’s in the spot that will “magnetize” perfectly while still being lined up with the other labels on the shelf.

One more thing.  I really like the “distressed look,” but I’m a little burned out by the “painted then sanded” to make it look distressed look.  Maybe I see it so often that it looks faux.  I had originally painted these brown, but they didn’t look fun.  It looked too matchy with the room and I wanted it to look “kindergarten.”  Last night, after I already mounted it onto the wall, I mixed some blue paint (blue with cream) and painted it again.  I’m really glad that the brown was underneath because it helped me to achieve the look I wanted.  There are a couple of things I did to give it the distressed look that I liked.  For starters, I mixed new paint every time I ran out.  Make that four times.  So each time I mixed it, the shade was a little different and adding variety.  If I was short on paint, I just made sure to evenly disperse it throughout the cubbies.  Then, with each new color mix, I’d cover the areas I missed.  To give it that distressed look without sanding it down, I did two things.  First, I didn’t cover it perfectly.  I left a few tiny streaks and edges unpainted.  Then, I went with a damp cloth while the paint was still wet and I wiped off a few spots here and there so that the brown would show through and it would look aged.It came out better than I anticipated.  It was very scary for me to go with this bright blue (I’m usually pretty neutral), but I’m glad I did and I love it!  I can’t wait till all the supplies I’ve ordered arrive and the cubbies will be filled!

Back To School!

26 Aug

I’m so tired.  I got up early today to take my kids BACK TO SCHOOL!!!!!!!Whooooo!  In a nutshell, they had an awesome day.  They are both so excited about their class.  They were arguing over who had the “best first day of school.”  I’m so glad.  I’m super excited for this year.  I’m usually not this excited for school to start, but they were starting to be REALLY bored (translation: fighting constantly and just plain causing trouble!) and were dying to go back.  They wanted to hurry and get to bed so that the night would go by quickly and they’d be at school again.This is going to be an amazing year.  I can tell!  By the way, she loves her new t-shirt 🙂 !

Love Note T-shirt With Bleach

25 Aug

Bleaching designs on to t-shirts is really popular right now thanks to the Clorox Bleach Gel Pen.  I decided I’d try it on a t-shirt for my daughter’s first day of school.  It has a thick and thin side.  I used the thin side to write my words.  I laid out the t-shirt with a bag in the middle to protect the back side.  If I had thought far enough ahead, I would have done both sides.  Oh well.  Anyway, You have to be careful because if the “mix” is not gel-like enough, you’ll get spurts of liquid-like bleach and bubbles.  Just look at the lower lines and you can tell.  If you write it pretty thick and keep shaking the pen to keep the mix from separating, writing is pretty easy.  I let it sit for about five minutes total.  You can tell I wrote from the bottom up because the bottom ones are whiter.  When you’re done, just rinse it well.  I laid mine flat in the sink and used my sprayer to get the bleach off really fast.  It reminded me of those commercials where they take the Tide and compare it to another “leading brand.”  They use the sprayer and when the detergent is removed, only the Tide side is clean.  It was really fun seeing the design come out.  At first, I worried that I didn’t let the top sit long enough, but after it went through the dryer, it really brightened up a lot.I think she’ll love it.  She always appreciates personalized sentiments like this.  It’s a great way to let her know all day long how much she’s loved!

Baby Soft Blocks and Tutorial Link

23 Aug

Today we celebrated my niece’s first birthday.  I’ve always wanted to sew soft blocks, but thought it would be complicated.  As I was digging through fabric to find something to make for her, I found a charm pack (pre-cut 5″ squares that includes one of each fabric in a line).I thought that since all the cutting work was done, it shouldn’t be too hard.  So, I went for it.  The fact that M-A-R-Y only has four letters kind of sealed the deal.I loosely followed this tutorial.  They were really fun to make and they whip up pretty quickly.

I don’t like how “round” they are.  I need to come up with a solution for that problem.  I’m thinking it’s going to take a lot more hand-stitching if I do this with firm square shaped foam because it’s going to require a big opening.  Any suggestions??I did generally work straight through.  This is what happens when you work straight through.She did manage to get a dish and feed herself a quality meal.Final tip:  If you don’t have fiberfill because you are “a quilter now” and only buy cotton batting by the roll, I got a great suggestion (thanks, mom) to use an old pillow for fill.

Plastic Apple Containers and Lego

22 Aug

This is an old pic, but I still love this idea.  I remember when Costco first starting packing their apples in these large plastic containers.  I knew it was usable, but storing these would be a pain.  I was very glad when I started finding handy ways to use this.  Anyway, I use this for mixing paint when the kids are painting, but I came across this pic tonight.These little compartments were perfect for a lego project my son was working on.  It made finding the pieces he needed a lot easier.  And, when he took a break, he stored the parts that were completed in the center and we put the container on a shelf…safe from the then crawling person.  I’m thinking up some great games for toddlers with this thing.  What can you come up with?