Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Patch Blanket

Sport joined Cub Scouts last year and I was disappointed to learn they no longer use the sash to show off all of their hard earned patches. The sash has been replaced by a big red brag vest. I quickly realized two things about the brag vest:

1) The boys hardly ever wear them.
2) At some point they will become too small and a loving mom will have to spend a lot of time removing patches from one vest and sewing them back on another, larger, one. I knew that wasn't going to happen here so Sport and I decided to go a different route.

We picked up a navy blue fleece blanket from Anna's Linens for a mere $3. I had hoped to get a red, but they were out of stock and Sport went for blue. Then I picked up a package of Steam-A-Seam2 from Hobby Lobby.


I traced around each patch on one side of the Steam-A-Seam paper, cut them out and laid them out on the blanket. Once I found a layout I liked, I removed the backing from each side of the Steam-A-Seam and ironed the patches onto the blanket. I placed a towel on top of the patches before ironing so as not to damage the blanket.

Here's the "finished" product...


Adding on new patches will be a cinch. This patch blanket works for me because Sport will easily be able to show off all of his hard-earned patches and I don't have to worry about him outgrowing his blanket anytime soon. To find out what works for others, head over to We Are That Family's Works For Me Wednesday.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Quiz Bowling

One of the great things about homeschooling is kids don't always have to put pencil to paper when test time comes around. I typically make up an "official" science test for Sport at the end of each unit, but with other subjects, I tend to be a little more relaxed.

It probably goes without saying that Sport likes sports! Last year, early on in our homeschooling career he came up with a bowling game that allowed me to quiz him on pretty much any topic. We actually ended up using this as a form of assessment quite often. Here's how it goes:

I would take about 10 index cards and write questions on each one (math problems, social studies questions related to the continent we were studying, spelling words...). Then I would lay them out face down like bowling pins (1 on the first row, 2 on the second row, 3 cards on the third row, and 4 on the final row). He would stand about 5 feet away and roll a tennis ball toward the cards. We had a mat designed to go under a sleeping bag on camping trips that we would use for our ally, but it's not necessary. If the tennis ball rolled over any cards I would pick those up and call out the questions. If he answered correctly, the card was set aside. If incorrect, the card went back into the line-up for a second chance. I found this game was not only fun, but it gave me a great opportunity to find out how much he really knew. He was much more forthcoming with information when he could talk about it rather than being forced to write it down. It was also easy to dig a little deeper by keeping the conversation going and turning the question from one card into two or three.

Today we're going to break out the tennis ball and bowling alley mat again for the first time this year. I know he and Spice will be thrilled. We're wrapping up a short science unit on sound and musical instruments so I felt it would be easier to do a bowling quiz rather than make up a written exam. Spice hates to be left out of the fun so I always make her a hodge podge of questions.

Here's a look at their tests for today...

Sport (3rd grade):
-How does the shape of our ears help us hear?
-Why does a guitar have a hollow body?
-Give an example of a percussion instrument and a wind instrument.
-How does sound travel?
-What word tells the measurement of the number of waves that go by each second?
-What is pitch?
-How does the length of a wind instrument affect its pitch?
-What is a vibration?
-How does an echo work?
-Why is it louder when you clap your palms together rather than the backs of your hands?

Spice (age 4):
-What month is it?
-What is another word for autumn?
-What is 9-1?
-Spell the word how.
-What saint is known as the "Little Flower"?
-What is 5-2?
-Who were the first man and woman?
-Who is George Washington?
-Read this word...they.
-Would you like to have lived in colonial times? Why?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Swap Party

Tired of the accent pillows on your couch and wishing for something different to spice things up again? Need new to you outfits for the kids, but don't feel like forking over a fortune to buy a whole new wardrobe? Call up some of your friends and have a swap party! A few weeks ago many of the moms in my homeschool group did just that and boy was it fun!

We took a week or two to look around our houses, go through closets, clear off the curriculum shelves, and gather up all those gently used items we liked too much to toss, but not enough to keep in our homes any longer, brought it all to one central location and let the trading begin. I for one walked away with a carload of steals and deals, including 2 large cubbies for storing homeschool/craft supplies in my craft room, a tape recorder and headphones for our listening center, and enough gorgeous dresses and shoes to keep Spice looking good for the next year or two. Here's a small sampling...


Our swap had very few rules. In fact, I think there were only 2: bring stuff you don't want anymore and if you want to sell it instead of trade, put a price tag on it. Oh and of course there's always that unspoken rule when women get together: Bring food!

It was a very successful evening, although a little too short for most of us. If you plan to have a swap, make sure to set aside enough time for everyone to arrive and display their wares, time for all swappers to "window shop", and of course time for all the actual swapping. Don't forget about the need to socialize and munch too. We had very few rules, but you may want to draw numbers to see who goes first or assign points for items based on their trade value.

Depending on the size of your group and the space available, you may also want to limit the swap to certain types of items - clothing, homeschool materials, kiddie items, holiday decorations... The Nester recently hosted a housewares swap in her home. (Oh how I would have loved to attend that one!)

HAving a swap party worked for me. To find out what works for others, head over to We Are That Family's Works For Me Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cheap and Easy Enchiladas

If you polled each member of our family about our favorite meal these bean and cheese enchiladas would come out the clear winner. Every week as I sit down to plan out our menu I ask for suggestions and this is always the first one out of Sport or Spice's mouth. I found this recipe in Family Circle magazine many years ago. Not only is it delicious, it's also cheap and easy.


1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp each of salt and cumin powder
2-1/2 cups shredded cheese (I use whatever's in the fridge)
2 cans enchilada sauce
8 small flour tortillas

Mix beans, chili powder, cumin, and salt in a bowl. Mash beans and add 1-1/2 cups of cheese and 1 cup enchilada sauce. Mix well. Cover the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish with enchilada sauce. Brush one side of a tortilla with sauce and add 1/4 cup of the bean mixture. Roll up and place in dish seam side down. Repeat with remaining tortillas and beans. Pour any leftover sauce on top and top with remaining cheese. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

Last week, I opted not to brush each tortilla with sauce (because I'm lazy like that) and just poured some sauce in the bottom of the dish then poured the rest of the sauce over the top of the tortillas. Can't say it tasted any different, but it did save time. I usually serve this with yellow rice and/or guacamole with chips.

This post is being linked to Balancing Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday. Head over there for more great recipes.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy Constitution Day

It's the 222nd birthday of our U.S. Constitution! It was on this day in 1787 that our founding fathers signed one of the most important and enduring documents in history. I have to admit I got a little misty-eyed during some of the videos and books Sport, Spice, and I used in school this afternoon. I think some...no many...no most of our current leaders would do well to spend some time today reading the Constitution and thinking about the ideals this country was founded on so many years ago, but I guess that's a whole different post. So I'll simply leave you with two classic videos we watched today. Enjoy!

School House Rock: Preamble

Barney Fife and the Preamble to the Constitution

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hairbows and Legos

This week's Works For Me Wednesday theme is about organization. Two things that were beginning to take over our house were Spice's hairbows and Sport's Legos. So here's how we got them under control.

For the hairbows (and other hair accessories), I found this idea on MeckMom.com.


MeckMom has lots of great tips. She originally called for using a shoe organizer for this purpose, but I found this all-purpose organizer at Dollar Tree and used it instead 'cuz I'm cheap. It's a little smaller than a shoe organizer would be, but it works for us. I added ribbons at the top to make it hang lower on the door so Spice would be able to reach almost everything, then we sorted all of the accessories by color. This is much easier than scrounging through a drawer stuffed full of bows, and Spice likes being able to find the right color pocket and reach right in and grab what she wants. Can't get much better organizing help than this for a buck.

Unfortunately, the Lego problem could not be solved for a buck, but after searching stores and the web for ideas for quite awhile, we found something that Sport and I are both happy with. This tool box came from Lowe's and was about $20. It's made by Stanley and has about 50 storage compartments intended for sorting nails, screws.... We spent hours, no DAYS, sorting Legos by type. Before this, we had all of the bricks sorted by color in cigar boxes we found at the local recycling center. This worked well for awhile, but the amount of Legos eventually outgrew the boxes. I found several "Lego Masters" online who store their pieces by type rather than color. The theory is it's much easier to find a red 1x1 brick in a pile of multicolored 1x1 bricks than it is in a pile of red bricks of all different sizes. Anyway, this box is cool because it can be completely unfolded giving easy access to every storage compartment at once and, it can be folded up when not in use (not like that ever happens around here) or to move from room to room. Sport and I like to call it his "briefcase" since he would love to one day head off to work at the Lego factory.

Posted by Picasa

To find out what works for others, head over to We Are That Family for Works For Me Wednesday.