Thursday, March 27, 2014

Creative Computer Projects for Kids

Yes, my kids LOVE  Poptropica, and all those "other" kids games and sites out there.  I don't mind them playing those games in moderation, but would prefer to have them use the computer in a little more "educational" way.  I've stumbled on a few "creative" computer projects that allow my children to have fun, as well as use their imaginations and creativity. Here are just a few geared towards ages 8 and up that we like:

1. Tagxedo {} or Wordle {}~ Both of these websites allow you to create super cute word art with your own words or websites. I have my children make these using their spelling words, but they usually go back and spend a significant amount of time creating their own word art masterpieces using their likes, friends names or in the case of my 13 year old, One Direction Songs.  

2. PicMonkey {}~ I absolutely LOVE this online photo editing site.    My 9 year old was complaining about his computer lesson one day. I had just finished making a Halloween photo, so I mentioned to him that he too could create a zombie or a vampire. After showing him around a few minutes, he was hooked.  Below is his creation. If you want to learn how to use Picmonkey, there are so many tutorials out there!  {HERE} is a list of a few.

3. Picasa Picture Collages ~ I love to scrapbook, but I'm HORRIBLE at making time for it.  Now that we have digital photos, I have hundreds of thousands of photos just waiting for something to be done with them. My children were in the same boat until I showed them Picasa Picture Collages.  Google Picasa is a free download and organizes your photos.  To create a collage just pin the photos you want in the tray and click on create and collage. My children can now make their own easy scrapbooks using this great tool.  Now at least their personal photos are organized and ready to print. 

4. Windows Movie Maker ~ If you have Windows, you more than likely have Movie Maker. Honestly, I have no idea how to use it.  My daughter discovered it and my oldest three  (9, 11 and 13) have gotten pretty good at it.  My boys use it mainly to create Lego stop start animations. They take pictures of their Lego creations and move them a little bit with each photo. Afterwards, they put all the photos in Movie Maker to create a movie. My daughter uses it to create and edit home movies, photo movies, and music videos. {HERE} is her recent creation.... which by the way, would be a great project.  Create a song from a book like the artist did in What Does the Fox Say?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Pinewood Derby Printables

I've been scouring the internet for Pinewood Derby decoration ideas.  While there are several out there, I didn't find many printables. Our pack budget is pretty much nil, so decorating this year needs to be practically nothing.  I pinned a few ideas I found {HERE} and decided to create my own printables.  I don't think we will be using the wraps and the cupcake toppers for our event, but the rest should be fairly inexpensive.  I can print the four signs at home and the food tents will be customized and then printed at a photo printing place.  Since it's 2 per 4x6, I should be able to have them printed for about $2.00.  I'm hoping to print the pit passes as well because I think the boys would LOVE it!  I will print those at the photo printing place as well and then punch two holes and create a necklace with yarn. The rest of the decorations will come from flags the troop already has and simple black plastic table cloths.  Our derby is on Saturday, so I'll post the finished products next week. I'm sharing my work with you and would love to see how you use them. Hope you enjoy the printables!  Go {HERE} to download. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Because today is a fun holiday, we are breaking away from our normal school routine and having a bit o' Irish fun! I thought I'd share what we are doing . 

Read Aloud: We checked out Magic Tree House Leprechaun in Late Winter from OverDrive

YouTube Videos: History of St. Patrick 
Destination Ireland (map work after watching this)

(My kids liked Famous Fat Dave and the Bet You Didn't Know ~ watch out for ratings)

Writing: We learned about Limericks 

(My middle schoolers read more out of the 
Usborne Science Encyclopedia)

Preschool Activities: I thought these Montessori Trays from li vie est belle were amazing! I had my daughter sort my messy extras bag and create a rainbow.  

Math:  Well, they didn't get out of their normal routine there... sorry kiddos. But had I been on top of things, the younger would have made a graph using Lucky Charms. 

For More Amazing Ideas Check Out free HomeSchool Deals

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Board Game Storage

We knew that when we moved into our home, we would have to get a little creative with organization.  Having 8 people share a 1577sq/ft home can get a little tight. One of the areas that needed a little help was with our endless collection of board games.  Board games can take up a LOT of space.  We used to shelve our games on 3 bookshelves in our sunroom out of sight from visitors.  Our new home is pretty open with very few walls, so unless I wanted everyone to see the messy disarray of games, I needed a new idea.  I had seen the dollar store basket organization ideas float around the internet and so my new "game closet" idea began. 

We have a coat closet in the hallway (I live in south TX... who needs a coat closet). I decided this was going to be the place. I removed the rod and placed a cheap plastic shelf inside. It was the perfect fit.  I then scoured our dollar stores for the cute turquoise baskets everyone was finding.  I really had to look high and low.  After searching several stores, I finally purchased 10 green ones (since I think everyone else looks on Pinterest and took the turquoise ones) for this project.  Then the real work began.  I literally took apart EVERY single game.  I placed all the pieces and instructions into gallon zip lock bags.  Most of the games fit perfectly... for some, even the boards fit.  For those games in which the instructions were on the box itself, I cut the box up. Next I placed the games into the baskets.  The kiddie games were placed near the bottom for easy access and the kids-may-not-touch-without-permission-games strategically positioned at the very top. 

I labeled each of the baskets and then made a master list of where each game is located.  (the B indicates a board goes with the game)

All of the large boards are on the shelf next to the baskets. 

We've been using this system for over a year now and it has worked pretty well.  I've had to clean out the closet maybe twice due to a 3 year old deciding to play more than one game at a time, but I've been pretty happy with this system. And what's great is, whenever we add a new game to our collection, I just write it in..... and when I get to it, I'll print out a new list. I just love when an idea works!