Saturday, September 20, 2014

Lego Room Makeover: Our Storage Solution


I have to admit it.  LEGOs make me crazy.  Well, LEGOs themselves don't make me crazy, but the mess associated with them does. Those of you who have LEGO-crazed children may identify?  Or at least you might know what it's like to step on one of those cute little mini-figures in the middle of the night?

I'm not sure which one hurts most:  the pain or the insanity.  Oh, how I have racked my brain to come up with a plan for these thousands of LEGOs that litter the floors of our home!

To add to the dilemma, we have a child who is growing into a man. Imagine how ludicrous it looks to have him building LEGOs at a table meant for toddlers. But... we haven't really known how to approach a bedroom re-design. What if he drops his interest in LEGOs? Or perhaps he really will pursue a career in LEGO design and becomes a genuine Master Builder? In an effort to make a not-so-cute-and-cuddly LEGO room that can grow with him, we opted for a different kind of design.

After I researched and pieced together my ideas (with the help of my fabulous husband!), Stephen ended up with a workshop in his bedroom.

(Now Gary is feeling a bit jealous.)



So, what do we have here?  First, two Gladiator Tool Cabinets,* along with a coordinating 8-foot maple workbench and super duper power strip that keeps the LEGOs from sliding behind the workbench.


Inside the cabinets, we have several Sterilite containers to store LEGOs by theme (e.g., Star Wars). Twelve Sterilite Large Clip Box (3.2" deep) with Blue Aquarium Latches will fit in each cabinet (although there is enough room on each shelf to use a 3.2" container stacked on top of a deeper 6.2" container).


Our 11-year-old prefers to sort his LEGOs by theme when he can determine which pieces belong to which sets. When he can't, we sort them by color with Akro-Mils 30230 Plastic Storage Stacking Hanging Akro Bin, 11-Inch by 5-Inch by 5-Inch, Black, Case of 12, which hangs on two Akro-Mils 30148 48-Inch Steel Rails for Mounting AkroBins.


These are so fantastic! The boys easily lift off the baskets to set on the workbench while they are building a LEGO creation. (And even though it's just as easy to hang them back up, I can't say it's as easy to make it a habit to do so.)


I found these great LEGO blueprint-style posters for a bit of inspiration.
And a set of metal barstools for sitting at the new LEGO workstation.


But, our son is not limited in his construct-something toys...


He also enjoys his K'nex motorized creations, like this Giant 6' Double Ferris Wheel he built for the county fair this year. Fortunately, K'nex building supplies are much easier to sort than LEGOs. 



The K'nex pieces are set up in his "chest of drawers," which is a Craftsman tool chest that we bought each of the boys a few years ago instead of investing in regular furniture. 

So what does the rest of his room look like?

His formerly ocean-themed room still includes a Titanic that looms over his new study area.


We kept the bunk bed so the boys can still use the top bunk to climb up and fiddle with the model train that circles through their rooms.


Well, maybe it doesn't look quite like this anymore. But this is what it would look like if he actually cleaned up his room. Evidently, a bedroom redesign doesn't fix that problem!

Nevertheless... finally, we have a storage solution that works for all of us!


...and the minifigures lived happily ever after.

For reference, here's a list of what we used in this LEGO room makeover:

Akro-Mils 30230 Plastic Storage Stacking Hanging Akro Bin, 11-Inch by 5-Inch by 5-Inch, Black, Case of 12
Akro-Mils 30148 48-Inch Steel Rail for Mounting AkroBins, Grey
Gladiator GAGB28FDYG Full Door Gear Box EZ RTA*
Gladiator GAWB08MTZG 8-Feet Adjustable Height Maple Work Bench
Gladiator GAAC68PSXG Powerstrip for 6-Feet or 8-Feet Work Bench
Metal Bar Stools Set of 2 Vintage Antique Style Counter Bar Stool French Black
LEGO POSTER Toy Building Construction Blocks 1961 US Patent Poster Print 18" x 24" Legos Gift Chalkboard Reproduction The Lego Movie
LEGO MINIFIGURE Poster Toy Building Construction Blocks 1979 US Patent Poster Print 18" x 24" Mini Figure Gift Chalkboard Reproduction The Lego Movie
LEGO MINIFIGURE Poster Toy Building Construction Blocks 1979 Patent Poster Print 18" x 24" MiniFig Gift Blackboard Isometric Drawing Reproduction The Lego Movie

*There are two negative reviews for these cabinets on Amazon, but this exact same model is rated highly rated on HomeDepot.com. We encountered no problems during assembly. The cabinets are not flimsy and will hold more than just shop towels (but we have not tested their durability with heavy equipment).

This post contains affiliate links.  Please read our full disclosure policy for more information.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Cycle 3 Week 8 Weekly Link-Up

The Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Weekly Link-up is a place for bloggers to share their ideas and activities with other CC parents and tutors for each week during Cycle 3 (2014-2015 school year). Unlike most weekly link-ups, this link-up will not be organized according to date but will be organized according to the week of CC. As such, these weekly link-ups will remain open for several months to accommodate for all the different schedules implemented by various CC Communities.  


This Link-Up is for Cycle 3:  Week 8

If you are looking for a different week, click here.


If you are looking for the Cycle 2 Weekly Link-Up, click here.
If you are looking for the Cycle 1 Weekly Link-Up, click here.


For bloggers who'd like a button, just copy and
paste the following html code into your webpage.

Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood

<a href="http://www.halfahundredacrewood.com/search/label/CLASSICAL%20CONVERSATIONS%20CYCLE%203%20WEEKLY%20LINK-UP" target="_self"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8xi8bDwVCGU/U0VOzqTjmfI/AAAAAAAAI6I/h-ImkCVhRn8/s1600/CC-weekly-link-up.png" alt="Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood" width="225" height="225" /></a>

Would you like to participate? 
For bloggers:  Feel free to share either 1) your plans for the week listed above or 2) what you did for this particular week of CC. When submitting your entry, please include the name of your blog or blog post and link directly to your post for the week noted in the post heading (so we can find it!) rather than to your entire blog. Also please link back to this page in your blog post so that your readers can check others' websites who are participating as well.  My hope is that this link-up encourages a feeling of community and friendship in the CC blogging world.

For non-bloggers:  Bookmark or pin this page and remember to visit the fabulous Cycle 3 blog entries that will be posted in the near future - all kinds of ideas for supplementing Classical Conversations. Check back often to see if others have submitted their ideas!

Bloggers:  By participating in this link-up, you agree that you will not post the words (in text, audio, or video format) of the history, science, timeline, or other specific wording found within the Foundations Guide in your blog post. You also agree to not post links to youtube videos, on-line Quizlet flashcards, or other material containing memory work sentences from the Foundations Guide.  Please do not post any material you have downloaded from CC Connected if it is not your own creation. You may include a reference to a specific file you have found useful by stating the name of the file so that it may be searched on CC Connected. This website strives to maintain the highest degree of integrity in honoring copyrights owned by Classical Conversations (or any other person or company, for that matter). Thank you for being honorable and trustworthy in your participation in this link-up!

This link-up is intended to be used with the Foundations Guide 4th Edition.  

For those receiving this in your email inbox, just click on the heading of this post to access the "Add Your Link" button or to access links that have been submitted. (But be patient, as it will take some time for bloggers to get their posts written and their links up!)

This will help all of us to easily find the ideas others have shared for each week of Classical Conversations! Thank you for participating!


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Time for a reality check


Here we are, the week of the big performance. Everything else has fallen by the wayside while Stephen works in the cotton fields as a silhouette slave...


...and David dances the nights away as a southern plantation "party guest."


As a glimpse of what it might have been like escaping on the Underground Railroad in 1851, this play has brought tears to my eyes a number of times, even in its roughest form. Powerful.

We've managed to read a few selections over the past week(s) although we've "fallen behind" on most everything else.  (How do you "fall behind" when you homeschool, anyway?)


As part of his independent reading, Stephen finally finished up the Minute Boys of Bunker Hill. Pictured next to it is The Minute Boys of Lexington, which he read earlier this school year. Both are great historical adventures with underlying virtuous themes of bravery, determination, and loyalty.

David's independent reading included Revolutionary War on Wednesday, and his read-aloud-to-Mom book was Thomas Jefferson's Feast. Although we enjoyed Mr. Revere and I last week, we can't say the same about Ben and Me, which is surprising since Ben and Me is the more popular of the two. I just couldn't tolerate the silly mouse taking credit for all of Franklin's work and making him seem like a buffoon. Call me immature, but it was killing me! (I preferred the snooty British horse.)

Our FAVORITE book this week was Where Was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May? which motivated David so much that he immediately stood up and mimicked Patrick Henry's famous speech. I lack the photo of this spontaneous moment, but just picture him shouting "Give me liberty or give me death!" as he plunges an imaginary letter opener into his heart. {It motivated me to fight for the cause of liberty, too!}  Speaking of liberty, we were also hoping to watch a few Liberty's Kids episodes this week but didn't get around to it. {Liberty's Kids - The Complete Series is currently $5 on Amazon.}

Totally unrelated to Cycle 3 (but a welcome review of Cycle 2 geography), we played 10 Days in Europe about 10 times this week. I love this game because it has helped me so much with European geography, and it takes less than 30 minutes to play.


Concluding our American Revolution Study, we played the games Liberty at Last and Battle Blitz!  Both gave us a chance to review several weeks of memory work. The Liberty at Last gameboard features a timeline of the American Revolution, and Battle Blitz! focuses on the order and location of battles fought in the war.



 



GIVEAWAY!!!  Did you know that we have a giveaway for the American Revolution Study by Homeschool in the Woods, which includes these games? Click here to enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of that post.

Reality Check!

We're just a few weeks into the school year, and I already feel it's time for a much-needed reality check... because I really want you to know that I am a bona fide, plain-jane mom who is completely unimpressive in real life. 

Please know that when I write words and post photos here, I am capturing family memories. I don't want to capture the not-so-pleasant memories because my children read through these memories over and over again. So here I reflect on "whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable... excellent or praiseworthy." (Philippians 4:8) 


I beg you: please do not ever compare our seemingly lovely, edited memories to your unedited reality.  It's an unfair comparison, and it breaks my heart when I discover that someone has done this very thing. In fact, when I hear someone is discouraged by something I've posted, it devastates me more than any criticism I might receive. It is only through lots of prayer and God's grace (and my husband's constant encouragement) that this website still exists. I came dangerously close to shutting it down this summer. (Postpartum + devastation = overreaction. But for anyone who offered a note of encouragement during those critical months, thank you from the depths of my heart. Seriously. Your words mattered a lot.)

Okay. Without further ado, here's a dose of our current reality for you:
  1. We're halfway through Gary's time away in Brazil. My eyebrow started twitching on Sunday.  Let's just say I miss him a lot. 
  2. These past couple of weeks, when we come home from play practice (around 2pm or so), we do not tackle our regular schoolwork. Being in this play constitutes as school work in my book - and it really is exhausting! Plus, we're listening to Adventures in Odyssey and memory work in the car (sometimes), and we're reading some stories together in the evenings. That counts as a school day, doesn't it?
  3. This means that I've combined Essentials writing assignments. Stephen loves the fact that he only has to write two papers instead of three or four this month. He'd rather do laundry than write a paper. (I'd rather write a paper than do laundry. He wants us to simply exchange responsibilities, which can be tempting at times, like right now. See #8.)
  4. I'm considering skipping a week or two of our reading plan so that we can read those books during Christmas break. {I liked it when that accidentally happened during my first trimester lethargy with Isaac last year. It ended up being a great way for us to revisit our memory work later in the year.} We are "behind schedule" on many things like music appreciation... and science.
  5. Yes, I could kick myself really hard right now. I've not gathered enough energy or motivation to conduct even the simplest of science experiments with the boys. And science is even a family favorite. It is the ONE THING I said I wanted to be more intentional about this year.  *sigh*
  6. I'm getting better at meal planning. Well, maybe not the "planning" part of meal planning. At least we're not having cereal for supper every night. We've exchanged cereal for peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and the occasional Stouffer's frozen family meal. That's better, right? (If not, please don't tell me. I feel very domestic and successful right now.)
  7. Our house is a MESS. If you drop by to visit, please say that you're coming to see us and not our house.
  8. Laundry is piled sky high on top of the dryer. See #7.
  9. While the boys possess many good qualities, they struggle with laziness and selfishness and arguing and other nonsense (just like me). 
  10. Lately, every time David says a prayer, it includes "...and help MomMom to be more patient..." Levi has caught on and is now praying the same thing. I keep reminding them that they also need to pray "...and help us to be more obedient." 
It's certainly not picture-perfect around here, but at least I have my coffee to keep me awake (sort of) and the occasional coke-a-day-to-keep-the-psychiatrist-away. I promise I'll eventually get rid of these really bad habits... eventually... right after I finish eating all the chocolate in our house... and as soon as Isaac starts sleeping through the night.


This post contains affiliate links.  Please read our full disclosure policy for more information.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

American Revolution Study and a Giveaway!


Once upon a time, I intensely disliked the study of history. I could hardly bear the thought of cracking open a history textbook. One thousand other things beckoned me to come hither - to spend my time with things more pleasant. As a homeschool mom, I had to overcome my fear of history boredom, for I witnessed early on that we had a young one who tended to perk up at the sight or sound of anything historical. Fortunately for me (and for him), most of our significant history studies have come from reading "living books" and completing fascinating studies by Brimwood Press... and Homeschool in the Woods.

When I gave our sixth grader an option of completing any special projects of his choosing this year, he asked for a) history, and b) the Time Travelers series from Homeschool in the Woods. These American history studies are the preferred favorite of our family's enthusiastic historian, Stephen (age 11).


Recommended for grades 3-8, The American Revolution offers an in-depth, hands-on learning experience comprised of 25 lessons that can spread across 5-10 weeks (or more). The study covers the politics and conflicts that launched our nation, including Colonial beginnings, the French & Indian War, problems leading up to the revolution, the Continental Congress, General Washington, women of the war, specific battles, important persons who fought for the cause of liberty, and more.  As part of this study, we investigated important documents such as the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution, which has tied in well with our memory work the first few weeks of this school year (weeks two through five, to be exact) and will tie into our memory work once again at the end of this school year.

While younger students would need more assistance with the projects, older students like Stephen are able to handle the majority of the unit study independently, which is the reason our family has been able to incorporate this into our school day. (Stephen is almost always the reason we embark on history studies as a family. He coordinates projects and readings. It's his passion. His passion is my blessing.)


Each lesson contains readings (text provided) and projects (detailed instructions provided), many of which are completed and stored away to include in a lapbook at the end of the study.  The advantage of this set-up is that you are slowly and steadily working through the projects over several weeks, and in the end you have an organized display (in lapbook format) of everything that has been completed.


This American Revolution Study begins with Jamestown, for which you can build a paper model replica.  {You can build this paper model for free by downloading the American Revolution sample!}


The study also includes factfile cards for learning vocabulary, people, and places,


a Battles of Revolution Map,



dioramas and other 3-dimensional projects,


and copywork pages featuring famous quotes from our founding fathers.


Other projects and activities include (but are not limited to):
  • 11 Lap Book Projects, including pop-ups and layered books on things such as George vs George comparison, Whig vs. Tory comparison, pie book of tax acts, tea troubles, women of the war, and important figures
  • Mitchell's Map
  • Shadow Puppet Play
  • "The Daily Bugle" Newspaper 
  • Franklin's experiments: music of glass, optics
  • Candle Dipping
  • Make a Haversack
  • Cut a 5-Pointed Star
  • Make a Colonial Flag Floorcloth
  • Colonial Recipes
  • Miniature Soldiers
  • Notebooking Activities
  • Accordion Timeline with Timeline Figures (photo at the top of this post)
  • "Tribute to the Revolution" Party
But our family favorites are definitely the file folder games!

In Taxation Frustration, we experienced the unfair taxes that were placed on the colonists, and we also worked with shillings and other units of money that were used during that time period.

Liberty at Last was a timeline-style game played with a die.  When we rolled a certain number, we drew a card, read the card, and proceeded to that point on the timeline.  This was a great visual to place various events in order, and it was a great review of the events and people of the American Revolution.

In Battle Blitz! we drew trivia-style cards to review the events/people/places/battles of the American Revolution. As we went around the board, we reviewed the order in which the battles were fought and were able to locate the place of those battles on the gameboard map.  

Let me just take a moment here to say:  The games in this study made for an incredible review of all we had learned. (Actually, to be honest, it was only a review for Stephen. The rest of us were learning by playing the game. But... it's remarkable that we could learn so much simply by playing the games!)

This study includes many projects that we did not complete. When we do a Homeschool in the Woods study, we pick and choose what is best suited for our family (or specifically, what's best suited for Stephen). Hence, we reduce the writing workload significantly (because he already has writing assignments in his Essentials of the English Language class). While history is his favorite subject, I can't say the same for writing.


This means we did not complete all the writing within the lapbook, nor did we do the newspaper writing assignments or copywork (because we use Prescripts for penmanship practice). This gives us something to come back to later to review, and review is an important part of our family's somewhat eclectically classical method of learning. 

We also don't necessarily complete one lesson in a day. Sometimes we spend several days (or weeks) parked in a certain lesson; sometimes we skip around and complete projects out of order. The American Revolution includes a variety of activities so that you can custom-fit the study to the needs and wishes of your family.

The only drawback to the Homeschool in the Woods studies are that they are only offered in digital format (via CD-ROM or download). This means there's a time investment involved as you follow detailed instructions on how to print on white paper, colored paper, white card stock, and colored card stock. I usually print everything up front, which (I think) takes about an hour or so. (I always forget to time how long it takes!) But because Stephen loves these studies so much, it's worth the time and effort. 

For this reason, I implore anyone reading this review to download and try the free sample(s) so you can determine if it is a good fit for you and your family. Click here to download the free American Revolution Sample, to view additional photos of completed projects, and to download the entire scope and sequence of this study! 

A final note:  Just as soon as Stephen wrapped up his study of the American Revolution, he pulled out The Early 19th Century Study... on a Saturday... as one thousand other things beckon him to come hither. I'm thankful for a child who stretches us beyond what I would normally plan to do, and I'm thankful for Homeschool in the Woods for making it all the more enjoyable.

----------------

Perhaps you're curious to try this out, but you still aren't sure?  Well...


...we have one free digital download of The American Revolution Time Travelers Unit Study to give away here at Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood!  So, why not enter this giveaway (via the Rafflecopter form below) for a chance to win it?!

Click here to enter this Rafflecopter giveaway!

Thank you to everyone who shares or comments on this post, and thank you to the Pak family of Homeschool in the Woods for providing this giveaway!

To see other Homeschool in the Woods Studies we've completed:
Benjamin Franklin Unit Study (for grades K-2)
Renaissance & Reformation by Homeschool in the Woods

We received this product in exchange for a review. The opinions expressed herein are my own and have not been influenced by any outside source. 


Cycle 3 Week 7 Weekly Link-Up

The Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Weekly Link-up is a place for bloggers to share their ideas and activities with other CC parents and tutors for each week during Cycle 3 (2014-2015 school year). Unlike most weekly link-ups, this link-up will not be organized according to date but will be organized according to the week of CC. As such, these weekly link-ups will remain open for several months to accommodate for all the different schedules implemented by various CC Communities.  


This Link-Up is for Cycle 3:  Week 7

If you are looking for a different week, click here.


If you are looking for the Cycle 2 Weekly Link-Up, click here.
If you are looking for the Cycle 1 Weekly Link-Up, click here.


For bloggers who'd like a button, just copy and
paste the following html code into your webpage.

Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood

<a href="http://www.halfahundredacrewood.com/search/label/CLASSICAL%20CONVERSATIONS%20CYCLE%203%20WEEKLY%20LINK-UP" target="_self"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8xi8bDwVCGU/U0VOzqTjmfI/AAAAAAAAI6I/h-ImkCVhRn8/s1600/CC-weekly-link-up.png" alt="Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood" width="225" height="225" /></a>

Would you like to participate? 
For bloggers:  Feel free to share either 1) your plans for the week listed above or 2) what you did for this particular week of CC. When submitting your entry, please include the name of your blog or blog post and link directly to your post for the week noted in the post heading (so we can find it!) rather than to your entire blog. Also please link back to this page in your blog post so that your readers can check others' websites who are participating as well.  My hope is that this link-up encourages a feeling of community and friendship in the CC blogging world.

For non-bloggers:  Bookmark or pin this page and remember to visit the fabulous Cycle 3 blog entries that will be posted in the near future - all kinds of ideas for supplementing Classical Conversations. Check back often to see if others have submitted their ideas!

Bloggers:  By participating in this link-up, you agree that you will not post the words (in text, audio, or video format) of the history, science, timeline, or other specific wording found within the Foundations Guide in your blog post. You also agree to not post links to youtube videos, on-line Quizlet flashcards, or other material containing memory work sentences from the Foundations Guide.  Please do not post any material you have downloaded from CC Connected if it is not your own creation. You may include a reference to a specific file you have found useful by stating the name of the file so that it may be searched on CC Connected. This website strives to maintain the highest degree of integrity in honoring copyrights owned by Classical Conversations (or any other person or company, for that matter). Thank you for being honorable and trustworthy in your participation in this link-up!

This link-up is intended to be used with the Foundations Guide 4th Edition.  

For those receiving this in your email inbox, just click on the heading of this post to access the "Add Your Link" button or to access links that have been submitted. (But be patient, as it will take some time for bloggers to get their posts written and their links up!)

This will help all of us to easily find the ideas others have shared for each week of Classical Conversations! Thank you for participating!