Sunday, November 29, 2015

Experimenting with Mylar Balloons

Did you know Mylar balloons will float after they seem to have lost all of their helium?

This is a fun experiment to try a few days after a birthday party.

Hold the balloon which no longer floats in the air over a heater or use a hair dryer to warm the helium inside the balloon.
 Bring the balloon outdoors and release it.

It should float up into the air and then come down once the air cools. My son's went up as high as the tree tops before falling. Remember this is an experiment. Wind could take the balloon far away and it may not be recoverable. If your child is young, you may want to try this experiment indoors.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Settlers of Catan - Strategy Game

Each game of The Settlers of Catan is unique and full of strategy sure to make competitive kids and adults think.

The idea is to be the first player to earn 10 points. The most common way to gain points is by building structures (small ports or large ports). Structures are purchased with resources such as sheep, wood, bricks, rocks, and wheat.

Resources are earned each time the dice are rolled. If a structure has been built on a rock quarry with a number 8 sitting atop the quarry, each time an 8 is rolled, the player owning the structures gets a rock resource. Since dice are incorporated into the game, a fair amount of statistical analysis as well as luck goes into winning the game.

There are many rules to the game and it's best to learn them by having no idea what's happening but being guided by an experienced player the first time through. My kids learned the game from a friend and insisted I play. I hated it the first time, but now am hooked. I want to play every night and am determined to beat my 14 year old daughter who can't seem to lose.

This game makes a great gift and is perfect for family time. Remember, Christmas is coming.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Mock Cable Chunky Yarn Hat

Although this hat appears to have cables, it actually does not. This chunky yarn hat was inspired by a pattern in the book One-Skein Wonders. It was super easy and knitted up in a short amount of time. The pattern in the book required thinner yarn and smaller needles. Since I planned to use chunky yarn with #10-16 needles, modifications were required.

To begin 90 stitches were cast on. This seems like a lot of stitches for a chunky yarn hat with number 10 needles, but each time a round 1 (detailed below) was completed, the number of stitches were reduced to 72. 

A series of slipped then passed over stitches coupled with yarn overs were used to achieve the cabled look without using a cable needle. The simple basic pattern of the hat was repeated over five stitches in groups of four rows;

round 1 - slip 1, k2, psso, p2
round 2 - k1, yo, k1, p2
round 3 - knit
round 4 - knit

Once the hat was six inches tall, the stitches were decreased as follows;
round 1 - (k10, k2 tog) 6 times - 66 stitches
round 2 - knit
round 3 - (k4, k2 tog) 11 times - 55 stitches
round 4 - purl
round 5 - (k3, k2 tog) 11 times - 44 stitches
round 6 - purl
round 7 - (k2, k2 tog) 11 times - 33 stitches
round 8 - purl
round 9 - (k1, k2 tog) 11 times - 22 stitches
round 10 - purl
round 11 (k2 tog) 11 times - 11 stitches

String yarn through remaining stitches and close up hat. Weave lose yarn ends into hat.

* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Christmas Gifts for Kids 2015

With Christmas on its way, I thought it would be fun to compile a list of books, games and activities that make great gifts for kids. So here it is. I hope it helps you get some gift ideas and makes the shopping a little easier.

Science Toys
Thames and Kosmos Air+Water Power Plus Science Kit (ages 7-12)
Thames & Kosmos Remote Control Machines (ages 7-12)
Snap Circuits SC-300 Electronics Discovery Kit (ages 4-11)
ALEX Toys Craft My Flower Press Kit (ages 4-12)
The World Record Paper Airplane Book (ages 6-11)
Syma S107/S107G R/C Helicopter with Gyro- Red (ages 7-18)
Elenco 300-in-One Electronic Project Lab (ages 12-18)

Lost Cities (ages 8-18)
Classic Farkel Game (ages 5-15)
Sumoku (ages 7-18)
Speed! (ages 4-12)
The Settlers of Catan (ages 7-18)
Bananagrams (ages 4-15)
Bicycle 3-Track Color Coded Wooden Cribbage Game (ages 5-18)

Katie Meets The Impressionists (ages 4-8)
The Toothpaste Millionaire (ages 6-12)
Oz, the Complete Paperback Collection: Oz, the Complete Collection, Volume 1; Oz, the Complete Collection, Volume 2; Oz, the Complete Collection, ... 4; Oz, the Complete Collection, Volume 5 (ages 6-12)
The 20th-Century Children's Book Treasury: Picture Books and Stories to Read Aloud (ages 4-12)
The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook (ages 5-10, best for girls)

Imagability Wedgits To Go 35 Piece Set (ages 3-10)
Magna-Tiles® Clear Colors 100 Piece Set (ages 3-10)

Harrisville Designs 7" Potholder (Traditional Size) Loom Kit (ages 5-10)
Hand Made Maple Drop Spindle With 2 oz Merino Wool Spinning Fiber Kit (ages 7-15)
Rainbow Loom 2.0 Bands with Metal Hook (ages 5-13)
Kumihimo Starter Kit: KumiLoom(TM) Disk/Bobbins/Booklet/Necklace Kit (ages 5-15)
Perler Beads 6,000 Count Bucket-Multi Mix (ages 3-10)
Clover Flower Large Yo-Yo Maker (ages 5-12)

Learning to Read
ThinkFun What's Gnu (ages 4-9)
LeapFrog: Letter Factory (ages 3-7)
LeapFrog: Talking Words Factory (ages 4-8)

Discovery Kids Talking USA Puzzle (ages 4-12)
State Quarter Map - Us State Quarter Collection (ages 8-13)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Quilting with Kids

Actually a better title for this post may be watching kids quilt. I am raising two girls that love to quilt and I do not have a quilting hobby. When my 13 year old daughter was about 6 years old I helped her create a very simple quilt similar to the one my 8 year old just finished (pictured below).

Not being a quilter myself, but only knowing a few basic sewing techniques, I read a book and helped her finish the quilt. Unfortunately, I was not familiar with many of the time saving quilting secrets or the proper techniques, but I was familiar with my daughter's abilities, and apparently created a quilter.

That was seven years ago. Since then she has completed eight quilts and is working on her ninth. She loves quilting and can't get enough.

Soon she will be taking her first quilting class and she is saving her money to purchase an embroidery sewing machine.

In addition, her hobby has inspired my 8 year old daughter to quilt. So far she has completed one quilt which took her over a year to finish.

She is proud of her accomplishment.

Since her quilt took so long to complete, I am now helping her with a quilted bag. It is started, but now sitting. She moved onto knitted slippers, a knitted scarf and other projects, but I think she will return to the quilted bag. She's not as focused as my older daughter, but just as crafty. Raising quilters, doesn't require parents to be experts or even have a quilting hobby. It just takes a little exposure. If kids enjoy it, they will continue on their own. If they don't enjoy it, they will find something else they like to do.

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