Thursday, October 25

Link Love #3 ~ keepin' little hands busy

I have always loved making things with my hands. I remember my mother teaching my sister and me how to sew when we were very young. The first thing I made was a pillow. Soon I moved onto making heart shaped pillows with a single ribbon sewn and tied in a bow on the front. I remember giving one to a lady who was visiting us and she took it with her back to India where she was a missionary. I thought it was so neat that something I made was in India.

I think it is important that children’s hands have something to build, stack, mush, organize, dig, pour, balance, etc. That is one of the things I loved about my childhood: the environment my parents intentionally provided for us. My parents had a very modest income as they served the church and our community but they made sure that we had what we needed and my parents were very resourceful and creative with the rest. For building blocks, my father cut up two-by-fours into small, medium, large and triangular blocks and all five of us kids played with them for hours and hours and hours. I am not kidding. I remember going to the basement with my siblings to play blocks. Peter, my oldest brother, was in charge of dividing the blocks evenly between the siblings when we played Town. Those blocks were used for marble runs, castles, mazes, obstacle courses and countless other purposes that kept us entertained.

We also spent a lot of time building, drawing, cutting, painting, creating and using our imagination. Television was very limited until we got older. I think this is a major reason why all of my siblings are very creative in one way or another.

I love getting inspiration from these websites that help me think of new ways to keep my boys hands busy. They encourage me to do something fun, simple or challenging with the kids.

Take a look and see if you get inspired to make something too!

Made by joel has some really cute ideas to do with your kids. My boys and I made the zip line a while back and loved it!

The long thread has some really great ideas too.  I plan on doing this with the kids soon!

Tinkerlab has a whole section on fun science stuff for kids.

Check out this cute sewing basket over at inner child fun!!!

Make has some cool things to build with older children.

And for some brainy play, check out E is for Explore

My mom and dad and my siblings.  I am on my mother's lap.  There are a lot of little hands to keep busy!

Saturday, October 13

Link Love #2 ~ Scratch!

Our top favorite site is Scratch!

“Scratch is a programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art -- and share your creations on the web.
As young people create and share Scratch projects, they learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively.”

It is Free to download and associated with MIT Media Lab. You can check out their website here! I like the fact that there are no bugs or pop-up windows on their site.

Within the first hour of playing around with Scratch, my then six and eight-year-olds were making their own animations. Brilliant! My boys are lucky because they have friends and cousins who are older than them and have shown them a lot of helpful hints and such. But even with out that, your kids (and you too) can figure it out by trial and error. They even have tutorials on the site as well. There is also a page set up specifically for educators!

It is really fun! I have played around with it and made my own little animations as well.

My kids don’t upload their creations to the site yet, as I think they are a bit young for that.  But they do build and create their own games and stories and could spend hours on them; if I let them.

My nine-year-old is now making his own games with Scratch. And they are fun and hard to win. When I play one of his latest games he has updated or tweaked, he is so sweet and changes the level to “easy” so I can play it.

The best way I can describe Scratch is that it is a super fun way of learning programming language but in an easy way using bricks to build it!

Check it out and tell me what you think!

Friday, October 5

Link Love #1 ~ LEGO® fun

Having three boys stretches me. It stretches me to grow beyond my circle of interests and I love it. I often peruse the internet to find videos or websites that take them to the next step in the things they are interested in. They love what I find and share with them. It inspires them (and me) to think out of the box, to build something or it merely starts turning another gear in the back of their growing brains and it shows up in a completely different way than I expected. They are sponges and soak up everything at this age and I try to take full advantage of it!

Over the next week or two I’ll share some links that the boys and I really like. So check back and if you see something you like, pass it on to a friend. I think the more collaborative parents can be the better it is for all of us! 

We Loooove LEGO®!!!

The boys often check the LEGO® website to play games and check for new products.

Some other cool things on the LEGO® website are:

~ You can download any LEGO® building directions for free here! This has come in handy many times as we have picked up a box or two of LEGO® at yard sales and didn't have the directions to go with them.

~ If your LEGO® set is missing some pieces you can order the pieces here!

~ You can sign the kids up for the LEGO® Club where they receive a free magazine every other month.

If you have a reluctant reader who loves LEGO® I would encourage you to check out some LEGO® beginner reader books at your local library. If they don’t have them, ask the librarian if they could order them.

Also, my boys look forward to getting the LEGO® magazine and read the entire magazine from front to back. They get stuck on some words but their desire to read the whole magazine has really helped their reading skills.

We bought a couple Power Functions motors and the kids love them. We plan on buying more as their ideas keep expanding on what they can build next. These are great for budding engineers.

There are also LEGO® leagues for kids to join where the missions is

“…to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.”

You can even start your very own LEGO® club!

We love LEGO® contraptions and really like this video:

and this LEGO® loom machine is cool too

Also, we have had our share of LEGO® themed birthday parties. Here are two links that have inspired me in one way or another!

LEGO® Party #1

LEGO® Party #2

I hope you enjoyed these links!

Have fun!!

Monday, October 1


I had the chance to hang out with my almost-nine-year-old niece this week and we painted our nails together. It was fun. My husband strongly dislikes the smell of finger nail polish so I rarely do my own nails. Also, being a mother doesn’t allow much down time for painting nails either. So, since I was at her house, I jumped at the chance!

She used a light-purple, crackle-polish over a bright orange. I used her Hello Kitty nail polish and painted my fingers in fun, rainbow colors. I topped it off with some glittery nail polish. I couldn’t stop smiling at how silly my nails looked, but it was fun spending time with her.

Note to self:

Skip the green Hello Kitty fingernail polish next time. I think it has permanently stained my ring-finger nails.

(I found out you can buff your nails or soak your nails in lemon juice or hydrogen peroxide to get the stain off. I buffered my nails and the stain came off just fine!)