Showing posts from May, 2015

Math Circles on your Geo Board

During a Pinterest binge last week, I came across an interesting activity for teaching multiplication and skip-counting on KidsActivityBlog. The patterns created by connecting numbers across the circles really caught my eye and I figured my six year old would be interested too.

However, it's terrifically difficult to get him interested in worksheets, I wasn't sure that I could manage the activity outside (or that the weather would cooperate), and I always love to come up with ways to do something reusable. After a few moments of brainstorming, I thought of our Geo Board, currently languishing in the attic since I'd gotten tired of tripping over it on my son's bedroom floor some months before.

Of course, I did not want a square: I wanted a circle! More specifically, a circle with exactly 10 evenly spaced pegs around its circumference. This is not something you can achieve with a pure grid pattern - at least not at a size still useful for the rubber bands we own. Beside…

Reverse Applique T-shirt

I noticed a hole in one of my four-year-old's T-shirts a laundry cycle or two ago, and while contemplating whether to ignore it, throw out the shirt, or settle for a couple of ugly stitches, I remembered a technique I learned way back a couple of years BC (before children) called Reverse Applique. I learned it from the "Alabama Stitch Book," which I highly recommend - I borrowed my copy from the library!
In Reverse Applique, you tack a piece of contrasting fabric on the wrong side of your garment, stitch your pattern through both layers, and then carefully clip out the shape from the front of the garment.
Here's how I used the technique to replace the unsightly hole on my daughter's shirt with a much larger, but (and this is key) now decorative hole.

MaterialsGarment to decorate (must be non-fraying knit fabric - i.e. jersey knit) Scrap of fabric of similar weight and weave in a contrasting colorThread in a contrasting color to the base garment (sewing or quilti…

Lego Tip: Sort Bricks with a Salsa Tray

This one pretty much speaks for itself! My 6 year old son needs to sort his bricks when building a larger kits, but despite clearing out my plastics drawer, we haven't found anything we Really liked until I picked up this salsa tray from the local Dollar Tree. The rounded edges are especially nice for quickly moving pieces from slot to slot: when I'm helping I like to dump a whole bag into the center and just slide everything into the appropriate section. Of course, it's not very compact, but we usually have a shelf somewhere we can store it on in between building sessions.

Quick n' Dirty Doodlebot

Last week during a visit to the local science museum (OMSI), my middle daughter and I built a "doodlebot" out of a little stepper motor, a battery, a hunk of Styrofoam, and a few other things. My son had one of his idiosyncratic attacks of stranger worry and didn't do the project with us, but Grace and I had so much fun that I filed the project away as something to try at home. I immediately found plans for a "DoodleBot360" on Instructables, but as per usual I wanted to make it even simpler.

At its simplest, these "bots" consist of a platform that holds a pen just barely in contact with the surface, propelled by some sort of motor. So you should definitely use your imagination to come up with different recycleables to use as the platform and legs. For instance, I thought about using the legs from our "Cooties" game, and at OMSI they used toothpicks. Cardboard would be fine as a platform although it probably won't have as much holding po…