Blog, She Wrote Top Ten Posts for 2013

Blog, She Wrote: Top Ten for 2013It’s been a great blogging year for Blog, She Wrote. In January we moved from Blogger to WordPress and streamlined our look and organization. I’m still working on some of that, but I’ve tried more than ever to create relevant content for you all.

Most Popular Blog, She Wrote Posts for 2013

Blog, She Wrote: Top Ten Toys for Open Ended Play

Top Ten Toys for Open Ended Play– This is my ultimate list of long lasting toys for creative play. We love the things on this list. Do you enjoy any of the same things?

Blog, She Wrote: Life of Fred {Homeschool Math}

Life of Fred {Homeschool Math}– This post is very popular! Enjoy a look at how we use Life of Fred math from elementary through high school and why.

Blog, She Wrote: Organizing Your Homeschool Library

Organizing Your Homeschool Library– This is an older post that is still viewed often. I need to update this post to show our new home’s arrangement, but the basic organization is the same.

Blog, She Wrote: Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew}

Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew!}– This was part of my five day series on Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool. Full of ideas, projects, how to mentor are all there. Have a look.

Blog, She Wrote: Ten Things That Make a Great Homeschool Day

Ten Things That Make a Great Homeschool Day– I love this post. It shares the elements that make a joyful and productive day of homeschooling in our home. Among my favorites are reading, projecting, and collaborating. What makes a great day in your homeschool?

Blog, She Wrote: Adventure Box Themes

Adventure Box Themes– The first in a series of Adventure Box ideas in a ten day Hopscotch Series. This one features a video on exactly what Adventure Boxes are and how they can pour into your kids’ passions.

Blog, She Wrote: Working with a Bright, Occasionally Motivated High Schooler

Working with a Bright & Occasionally Very Motivated High Schooler: Tips & Tricks– The details on how we work with our high schooler to set goals and help him to see them through. I tried to share how we work with a student who isn’t always ideally motivated. I bet a lot of us have smart kids who like to sit back some.

Blog, She Wrote: Summer Fun Close to Home

Our {Close to Home} Summer Bucket List– Otherwise known as how to have fun close to home in the summer! We were grounded from traveling when my husband fell and had a severe sprain in his ankle which resulted in five large blood clots in his leg. We aimed to enjoy our time near to home and it was a fabulous summer.

Blog, She Wrote: Robin Cam

Robin Cam– Does anyone remember our robin cam from the spring? Dan set up a camera to capture the nesting season for a pair of robins who set up camp in a potted plant we were given as an encouragement when Dan was injured. Right on the table on our back porch we got an up close look. The videos are still viewable if you’d like to do a little spring dreaming. Just go from the bottom up to see the series.

Blog, She Wrote: Our Learning Environment

Our Learning Spaces: A Tour– The title says it all. This is the grand tour of our homeschool spaces. This post makes me smile.

Thank you for being a reader at Blog, She Wrote. If you’ve never taken the time to subscribe, please do so now and enjoy Blog, She Wrote in your inbox.

Happy 2014! I can’t wait to share more practical homeschooling advice and encouragement in the coming year.

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10 (or so) Best Tinkering Gifts for Your Inventor

10 Best Tinkering Gifts for Your Inventor

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It’s that time of year when parents everywhere are looking for gift ideas for Christmas. Inventors can be hard to buy for especially when they are young and still have big ideas! Enjoy a look at some of the best tinkering materials we’ve found for our young scientists and inventors.

Electronic Gifts for Your Inventor

Snap Circuits– These are snap together electric circuits with many maps to build and tons of add ons. These circuits are easy to use and easy to please since the connections are rock solid. We have an oscilloscope interface for our computer along with the alternative energy kit. Don’t miss out on Snap Circuits Green.

Old Electronics– What engineer doesn’t like to take things apart to see how they work? We have a pile of old machines we remove the power cord from so that our inquisitive 8yo can enjoy how things go together and what their components look like.

Arduino– (for middle and high school) these are microcontroller kits which you can add sensors to and enjoy. J8 cannot wait to get his…shhh…

Raspberry Pi– (for middle and high school) card sized Linnux computer you can program and use.

Blog, She Wrote: 10 Best Tinkering Gifts for Your Inventor

Books for Your Inventor

Cool Stuff and How It Works– (and the 2.0 version) This book is full of fun gadgets and tells how the technology works. From LED lights to LCD screens, this book has all the good stuff.

The New Way Things Work– a huge encyclopedia of items and drawings sure to keep your tinkerer involved.

The Unofficial LEGO Mindstorms Inventor’s Guide– full of robots to build and programs to run them.

NXT Power Programming: Robotics in C– Great guide on programming in C with your Mindstorms Kit. J8 adores this book and is sad he can’t program in C during FLL.

Advanced NXT: The DaVinci Inventions Book– another great book using Mindstorms.

C++ Programming in Easy Steps– Inventors like to be fiddlers at the computer too. J8 has read this one cover to cover and writes his own code.

Beginning C++ through Game Programming– another book our inventor loves.

Building Essentials for Your Inventor

Keva Planks– love these plank blocks that allow you to build complex structures. The more the better!

Erector Sets– The best part about these sets are the tools kids get to use!

LEGO Contraptions Books– Technic pieces you can use with regular bricks to build machines from the book.

Physics for Your Inventor

Solar Kit– large pieces which are similar to LEGO technic pieces which you can build lots of solar vehicles. This holds great interest at our house because we have a large array of solar panels on our roof and we do a lot with real time monitoring of our energy usage.

Deluxe Physics Kit– this is an advanced physics kit teaching all sort of concepts in physics using technic type pieces.

Blog, She Wrote: 10 Best Tinkering Gifts for Your Inventor

Robotics for Your Inventor

LEGO Mindstorms NXT & EV3– NXT has just been upgraded to EV3 with the release having been late summer this year. While we plan to get an EV3 kit at some point, we are heavily invested in NXT and we’ll continue to use it. Our family is a long time FIRST LEGO League family with Dan coaching and running a JR FLL event annually. Our kids participate on teams and they play at home. This has been a great investment for our family.

Remote Control Machines– this is a great kit for building machines and powering them with the remote control. A nice one for elementary aged kids and up because the pieces are larger than LEGO Technic pieces and there is no programming involved.

Blog, She Wrote: 10 Best Tinkering Gifts for Your Inventor

Other Necessities for An Inventor

Don’t forget some of the most important items for any inventor that cannot be bought.

Workspace– a place for your inventor to have ongoing projects and his work all around him.

Time– Inventors at any age need the time to tinker. Leave some margin in your routine for those explorable moments.

christmas-gift-listsVisit other iHN Bloggers to enjoy other Christmas Gift Lists.

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Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew!}

One of the things I’m asked about the most with R13 being such an accomplished seamstress and designer is, how do I get my child started with sewing- especially if I can’t sew?

In years past, women learned to sew from their mothers and grandmothers. It was a skill you left home with ready to use when it was your turn to mend or sew new garments. In the last probably 20 years or more, not only are girls not learning it at home as much, but even school systems have been removing sewing from their home economics/family and consumer science programs. Although it may still happen, it is not a major part of the curriculum any longer. When I was in middle school, sewing was still half of any portion of home economics we had for the year. By the time I taught in a middle school in the same school system 8 years later, the sewing machines had been sold and it was no longer part of what had become Family and Consumer Sciences.

What does that mean for us today? It means that more often than not, a child who wants to learn to sew may not be able to learn from his mom!

This week, I’ll be sharing ways to teach sewing at home even if mom doesn’t sew!

Blog She Wrote: Teaching Sewing Whether or Not YOU Sew

Supplies to have on hand when you are teaching sewing:

  • fabric scissors– these are sharp and designated for fabric only. Dull scissors are difficult to use and chew up fabric. R13 likes a pair for cutting fabric and another pair for trimming that she wears around her neck. You almost never see her without them on when she is working on a project.
  • pins & pin cushion– you’ll need pins to hold fabric together before you stitch. We like the kind with the balls on the ends. They are much easier to see! The pin cushion keeps those pins in one place.
  • thread– we use Guterman thread because it behaves well in our sewing machines. As you get more experience, you’ll know what kind you prefer.
  • fabric markers– just for fun! They add dimension to any project and you’ll want items kids can use on their own as they are still gaining skills. We like the Crayola fabric markers.
  • measuring tape– you’ll want this for measuring fabric. You might choose to use a pattern or your kids might come up with something on their own. Either way, you’ll want to measure to see the dimensions as you get started.
  • needles & a needle book– needles are a must have for hand sewing and the needle book makes a great first project. I’ll be sharing projects, patterns and places to find them on Friday.
  • fabric– you’ll want to keep your budding sewer in plenty of fabric. Fat quarters are a great way to stock up on more than one pattern of fabric quickly. Stores like JoAnn’s often have sales on fat quarters.
  • doodads– things like rick rack and buttons to encourage creativity and skills.
  • sewing machine– depending on whether or not you want to teach machine sewing. Most folks do what to machine sew and stepping out to make that investment can be confusing. Tomorrow I’ll be writing about sewing machines- how they work and what to look for in a good machine. It’s one of those things that is hard for a mom who doesn’t sew, but kids are sometimes super interested in it. You’ll want to know what’s happening!

Blog She Wrote: Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew}

Where do I purchase sewing supplies?

  • JoAnn Fabrics– or another fabric/sewing chain store. JoAnn’s has frequent sales and a coupon program. If you sign up for their flyer, it’ll come with 50% coupons.
  • Michael’s, AC Moore, and Hobby Lobby– are all general crafts stores with good coupons. Although they carry some sewing supplies, you will not find a full selection at any of these stores.
  • Sewing Shop– along with quilting shops are fairly high priced, but they are generally helpful to new sewing enthusiasts and carry high quality supplies
  • Second Hand Sewing Shop– these are shops with used fabric and doodads and sometimes they offer classes. We have found some really great fabric, books, and other supplies at ours.

A note on supplies: Initially you may be tempted to go conservative on the cost for supplies. Just keep in mind that good quality supplies will make the job of learning the skill easier. you don’t want to add frustration to a project by providing super cheap materials that are more difficult to work with. A finicky sewing machine, for example, can be very discouraging! I’ve seen people quit early on because of a bad machine.

Blog She Wrote: Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew}

Be available as a mentor and a facilitator to your new sewing student:

This could happen in a variety of ways with different resources both of which I’ll be sharing later in the week. For now, know that part of teaching sewing at home is allowing your student time to learn and to manage her projects- especially if you are inexperienced and can’t always show the way exactly.

A good mentor means showing your child that learning doesn’t stop…by everyday immersion in a life that celebrates learning interesting things and doing challenging, meaningful work. – Lori Pickert, Project Based Homeschooling

You might choose to learn with your child or you can help make it happen. Being a mentor means being a guide to something your child wants to learn. The great thing in this situation is that your child is coming to you with an interest. Just think of the intrinsic interest and motivation already at play!  I’ll be writing about ways to mentor on Thursday.

Blog She Wrote: Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew}

Provide a designated space for your sewing student to work in:

As with any great project or learning experience, environment is key. If your student needs to fish out lots of materials and find and clear a spot for her work every time she has the time or inclination to sew, you are going to lose valuable momentum. I know we don’t all have the space for every project out there, but see if you can dedicate some space all her own to work on projects. Whatever those projects might be.

Seeing work in progress and be able to immerse in the challenge without having to worry about cleaning up is so essential to going deeper in your work.

Remember that if you want your student to be in control and to lead the way in her endeavor to learn to sew, then the materials she needs for the job need to be at the ready. You’ll want to keep tabs on safety, but you’ll be on hand to mentor anyway. Workspace is about making the project/learning activity accessible. I could make a long list of things my kids have ownership over in their learning and all of them involve us relinquishing control over workspace. We’ve worked to carve out spots for our kids to engage in what matters the most to them.

Blog She Wrote: Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew}

Sewing is a wonderful skill and many of us don’t have much, if any, experience in this art. If you have a child asking to sew and you don’t have the knowledge, then this series is for you!

Join me for the rest of the Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool {Whether or Not You Sew} series when I’ll be writing about:

  • Finding and Using a Sewing Machine
  • The Process of Learning to Sew
  • Finding Mentors with More Expertise
  • Beginner Projects & Project Resources

Please join the iHomeschool Network on a Hopscotch June 10-14, 2013 for some great topics from other homeschool bloggers!

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