Friday, May 31, 2013

Summer Fun Day 6 - Drinking Straw Giggle Flutes and Voice Boxes

We continued working on our problem solving skills with a two-in-one project from the Science Toy Maker.

The first part of the project involves turning a drinking straw into a reed instrument by flattening one end between your front teeth (click here for the Science Toy Maker's video tips and instructions)...

...and then cutting the corners off of the flattened part, to form a reed.

When you blow through the end with the reed, it should produce sound (something like a duck call).  Practice makes perfect.

Taping another straw to the (non-cut) end...

...will produce a lower toned instrument.  The longer the "flute" the lower the sound.

We like to call these giggle flutes, because they make us giggle - except for the Man of the House, who finds the  musical cacophony of multiple giggle flutes strangely unsettling to downright annoying.  There's really no accounting for musical taste.

But, the best part of the project comes when you add a balloon to the reed end of the flute (you can tape it on, or just hold your fingers around it to keep the air from escaping).

Blow up the balloon, through the straw, and let it "play" the flute for you as you release the air back through the straw.

Then, by placing the open end of the straw into your mouth, you can shape the sound into words, and say cool things like, "I am a robot.  My name is Bob."

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Summer Fun Day 5 - Pom-Pom Creatures

A pile of pom-poms, a few scraps of felt, googly eyes, school glue, and no "help" from Mom.

Sometimes simple summer fun really can mean...

...simple summer FUN.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Summer Fun Day 4 - Sudoku Floor Puzzles

I thought I was giving the children a pretty simple challenge yesterday, with our 4x4 Sudoku sugar cookies. However, when a couple of the puzzles proved to be surprisingly difficult, even for the older children, I decided our logic skills could use more practice.

So, this morning, inspired by a large sidewalk chalk pattern puzzle I'd seen over at The Usual Mayhem, but forced inside by the threat of rain, I taped out a 4'x4' Sudoku grid on the living floor, using masking and painter's tape to mark off the squares.  Neither tape is very sticky, and can be pulled back up from the carpeting without any trouble.

I cut eight sheets of construction paper (two pieces each of four different colors) into fourths.  Then, I placed some of the paper pieces into the grid, using tape donuts to secure them, following the pattern of an online puzzle.

I taped the rectangular pieces of paper into the grid vertically.  Then as the children used the rest of the pieces to solve the puzzle, they could place their pieces in horizontally, making it easy to spot the original pieces, that could not be moved within the grid.

Once all of the children had solved each puzzle, I re-positioned the taped pieces (masking tape can be pealed from and re-stuck to the back of construction paper a number of times) for the next puzzle.  And, I left plenty of enough room on the floor to expand the grid for more difficult puzzles, as the children's deductive skills improved.

It's amazing how much easier it is to solve the puzzles in the larger, hands on, format.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Summer Fun Day 3 - Sugar Cookie Sudoku

It's been quite a while since we've had a sugar cookie snacktivity.  So, when the children interrupted me, seconds after I'd sat down to work the Sudoku puzzle from the penny ads, to ask if I couldn't possibly be persuaded to mix up a batch of cookies for them, I thought - why not?  Actually, first I thought - why don't you make your own cookies? Then, I remembered the freshly cleaned kitchen, and thought better of it.  

Really, there was no reason we couldn't all have our way.  The children could have cookies, and I could include them in some puzzling fun.

So, I mixed up a batch chocolate sugar cookie dough (click here for the recipe), rolled it out about 1/4'' thick, and used a paper template to cut 4''x4'' squares...

...scoring the unbaked cookies into quarters...

...and then twelfths, with a butter knife...

...before pressing the candy pieces into the squares, following the pattern of a few simple Sudoku puzzles from Essential Kids, substituting one color of candy for each of the four numbers used in their puzzles.

 After the cookies were baked and cooled, I marked the division of the fourths with frosting, and placed sufficient candy pieces with each cookie...

 ...for the children to use to solve the puzzles, explaining to them that there should be one of each of the four colored candies in each horizontal and vertical row, as well as in each of the four larger squares.

Then once they solved the puzzles, I gave them frosting to pipe on to hold their candies in place, saving their solutions for posterity...

...or at least until after dinner.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Summer Fun Day 2 - Impromptu, Old Fashioned, Summer Picnic

How do you turn a regular old backyard lunch into a super fun, old fashioned, summer, family picnic?

First, dress the part by searching through the closets for the most "old fashioned" attire you can pull together.

Second, add some pizzazz to the preparation of the food.  "Old fashioned" sounds wholesome and healthy, so don't forget the fruits and vegetables.  Then again, a summer picnic calls for a touch of a treat, so don't discourage your mother if she happens to offer to mix up a quick sheet cake for dessert, or suggests Kool-Aid instead of water.

***Cake mixes, and packages of unsweetened Kool-Aid are two more of the "must have" items on our summer boredom buster supply list, though generally the powdered drink mixes are used as art or science supplies, rather than for drinking, making a pitcher of Kool-Aid a rare treat*** 

Finally, leave time after lunch for a few "old fashioned" family games.  A stretchy cotton headband, or two can come in handy for a three legged race...

...or a quick game of blind man's bluff.

And, if you can manage to time things just right, so that a summer squall brings the whole shebang to a hectic, snatch-and-run finish, so much the better.

And yes, we know, as this is only May, technically our summer squall was really a spring shower, and we should still have a few weeks left inside, sweating over schoolwork, but it is after all...

...great to be a homeschooler.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Summer Fun Day 1 - Toilet Paper Tube Playhouse

We kicked off our summer fun on this on again off again, rainy, long weekend with an indoor project.

1 large pile of empty toilet paper tubes (somewhere around 200), that I'd been saving up for a rainy day, a couple of rolls inexpensive masking tape, the tail end of our freezer paper (you can buy it by the roll in most grocery stores - it's a "must have" in our boredom buster supplies), a few children, a smidge of creativity (and Disney's Swiss Family Robinson playing in the background for inspiration), and just like that - we had the makings for a perfect afternoon.

Summer, when every child can be a homeschooler :)