Saturday, September 23, 2017

Structural Engineering Projects for Kids

My son built a model building frame and learned about structures.

As a follow up to our Bridge Unit Study (scroll down to see lessons) we read the book Art of Construction and completed many of the activities. Like the book Bridges: Amazing Structures to Design, Build and Test, which we used for our bridge study, the Art of Construction contained lessons which are part of structural engineering. The books did contain some overlap, but were both worth studying.

 The above photo shows the beginning of a building frame model. Studying the book teaches how differences in structural member cross section affects the strength. Kids learn these concepts by reading about them and then performing simple experiments with paper.




If you have a budding engineer, or a student who enjoys hands-on technical projects, this is a great book. The book Bridges: Amazing Structures to Design, Build and Test, is written for a slightly younger audience, upper elementary to middle school, and a better place to start. I would recommend Art of Construction for any student who enjoyed Bridges or middle school and up.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Fabric Stenciling Project for Kids

We used shaving cream and ink to create stenciled and tie dye style shirts.

Our TSC Designs inks and stencils were purchased as a kit at a local quilt show, but all the same products are available on their website.

 TSC Fabric Inks

 Collection of stencils

First fill a plate or tray with shaving cream.

 Next, use a dropper to place drops of ink on the shaving cream.

 With a Q-tip or a toothpick, swirl the ink through the shaving cream.

 Take a t-shirt or some fabric and smoosh it into the shaving cream.


 Lift the fabric out and scrape off the shaving cream.

 Another method is to use a sponge to stamp the design onto the fabric with a stencil.

 When finished, the fabric needs to be left to dry and then ironed to set the dye.

This project was fun and a little messy. It was a great way to spend a sunny afternoon outdoors. The book from TSC Designs has complete instructions and a few more ideas on ways to use the ink. Have Fun!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Austrailan Dot Painting for Kids

We created an Australian dot painting.

Dot painting is interesting because it is both an ancient and modern art form. Dating back thousands of years, some native aboriginal people used dot painting in conjunction with story telling to explain belief systems. Many traditions incorporated symbols to represent common story subjects such as trails, campfires and people. However, native people did not paint exclusively with dots. Different regions of Australian natives had different art traditions.

In more recent times, dot painting has become recognizable as a native art form. Although the last natives to paint in the traditional way died out in the 1960's, descendants have carried on and changed the art. Dot painting is a very popular souvenir and many artists have taken notice.

This video is a good introduction to dot painting.


In creating our dot paintings, the kids had to incorporate a minimum of three traditional symbols and tell a story of a recent experience.


Curved U-shapes indicate men.

Concentric circles are symbols of camp sites, and wavy lines indicate a journey.

Short and tall lines indicate children and adults.







Welcome back to school. Art class rocks!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Game for Learning United States Geography

Last spring at a homeschooling convention I did a little bartering and I'm sure glad I did. The game Snapshots Across America is an engaging way for kids to learn about the United States and a few attractions in each one.

To win the game players must visit seven tourist attractions by driving their car, traveling by train, ocean liner, river boat, lake ship or airplane to destinations.

Other players can ruin a vacation by playing a weather card such as tornadoes in the midwest.

Each destination card has a representative photo and short description of the attraction. From Niagara Falls to Revolutionary War sites to volcanoes in Hawaii a player can travel all around the US.

This game was created by a homeschooling family to teach geography, and they did a great job. The cards are bright. The game sparks a travel interest. It's fun to see where else you can travel and there is even a little strategy involved in being the first player to visit seven destinations.

If you are planning a vacation, this game may even give you some new ideas. We have been playing about once per week in conjunction with reading about US history. This game is a wonderful supplement to any geography curriculum and would make a nice gift.




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