School Projects

Fun Projects

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Last Quarter of Our Pond Study

Most of the blogs I regularly read appear to have a common theme this week: "Best of 2014" where each blogger posts a collection of favorite, or most visited, or most pinned posts from throughout the year.  These posts allow them to continue to post on their regular schedule but not have to really actually write a post.  Not me though.  You see I don't have a brand to promote, most of my posts get almost exactly the same number of visits, I don't think I get pinned much, and since I wrote each post I guess they are all my favorite so instead of a "Best of" list, I have to write an actual post today or else go without (which would be terrible for my schedule and my brand - if I had them).

However, we have kind of taken a break from making and doing since Christmas because we were all a little burned out.  The kids have been busy fighting over - er....PLAYING WITH.....- their new toys and I have been drinking extra coffee and purging toy boxes, so I have no new crafty production to post.  Instead, I will share the last few months' worth of Pond Study photos, since we finished up that year-long school project on December 27.

Our last quarter of study got a big chaotic.  We missed a few times because of other events on "Pond Day" and also because of sickness, so I am just going to lump the photos into months, rather then label them week by week.  Here we are way back in October, when the world was still mostly green:
In November we got some snow, and it looked like winter was settling in early.  I also made a little change in that I let the kids do their study on their own a few times.  They had to make their observations without my hints and they did better then I expected they would.  It also meant I had to give Ian charge of my camera.  They probably had a bit more fun with that then they should have, but he still managed to get a few "scientific record" shots of the pond.
And finally, December, when it warmed up again and all the ice and snow melted:
Overall I would say it was an excellent year-long science study.  The kids learned a lot about how one place changes from week to week and also about the long term cycles of the seasons.  They also learned about ice safety (when my foot went through "solid" ice), got an up close look at muddy water (when I fell in), learned about pond creatures (like leeches), and discovered wild-growing food (grapes).  I think we'll repeat it in a few years when we can do some more difficult activities like collecting specimens, identifying plant and critter species, and gathering weather data.  Until then, I need to come up with a new year-long study to start after the New Year.  Any ideas?

Happy science lessons everyone, and especially Happy Christmas Break and New Year!    

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Only Right and Proper Way to Frost a Cookie

Merry Christmas!  For my last post before Christmas, I thought I would share instructions on the "Only Right and Proper Way to Frost Sugar Cookies" for all you last minute bakers out there.  Also for all you do-it-all-way-in-advance bakers whose children already ate all the baked in advance treats so you have to make more at the last minute.  Either way, here goes:

Step One: Assemble 12 cousins (ages 9 and down) in one place, preferably under the supervision of 1 Grammie, 1 mommy, and 2-3 aunties.
Step 2: Provide cookies, frosting, sprinkles and other materials on large tables
Step 3:  Run away and hide, shield your eyes, or take a coffee break.
 Step 4: Come back later and admire the masterpieces,
 noticing in particular the sculptural heights that frosting can reach, as well as the total weight of sprinkles one sugar cookie can withstand.  (Pardon the blurry photos, documenting the master frosters doing their thing was high-speed work that wasn't well managed by my low-speed camera).
 Step 5: Clean up as fast as possible to minimize the number of cookies that DON'T make it home again.

And that's how it done.  If you don't believe me, just ask these two little experts - they'll fill you in.
 Merry Christmas and happy baking to everyone!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Busy Making

Since I am only about halfway through each of the projects I have in the works for Christmas, I thought I'd just do a quick photo dump to show what the kids have been making lately.

Christmas Decorations on Project Day:
Special notebooks for some of the special people in their lives:
But mostly lots and lots of presents:
Happy making everyone!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Carols Are Good For More Then Singing

A few years ago I signed up for an account on Pinterest.  One of my very first pins (which I have tried in vain to find) was a link on how to make a super-humongous but cheap black and white photo print at the office supply store Staples.  It seemed like a good idea, but considering the number of "pin-sasters" the come via Pinterest pins, I was a bit too skeptical - and cheap - to try.  Then, earlier this year, I encountered the idea again (sorry, don't remember which website), only this time it was how to make a really large faux-chalkboard print.  I was intrigued.  I have long been considering how to make a display of Christmas carols to hang above my piano and I thought "What if I had a really big sheet of music printed?"  So I tried it, and I am pleased to say it really worked! 
 I searched Google images for "free printable Christmas sheet music" and found a carol I liked,  Then I went to the Staples website (Office Max does it too, but their website wasn't working for me that day) and searched for "Engineering Prints".  I selected their largest size, 36"x48" ($7.79 plus shipping), uploaded my image, followed the very simple instructions, and ordered it.  It really was that easy!  

Now, you might be asking "what kind of quality is the print?" - which is a good question.  The website clearly says "not intended for reproducing photos" and looking at my print I can see why.  The blacks are black, but the edges are a bit blurry and there are some grayish patches in the white areas.  You can't really see them from a few feet away on my print, but on a photo they might be more noticeable.  I'd say stick with line drawings (like engineering prints!), bold lettering or sheet music.

After the print arrived, I decided I needed to dress it up just a bit, so I used a kitchen knife and cutting board to make slits in the paper (I'd recommend using a utility or craft knife, but I didn't have one handy, and the smell of garlic on the knife was just too wonderful to waste) and wove a Christmasy ribbon up the sides.  It had the added benefit of stiffening up the paper a bit for hanging.

And that is it - the easiest homemade Christmas decoration I ever made!  Thank you Pinterest.
Happy printing, everyone!