Ohio: Invention Museum


Cromwell Dixon’s Sky-Cycle is about a young boy who wants to do something BIG!  He tries many different things and keeps failing.  Along the way he is teased for his failures, but he never gives up, and his Mom always believes in him.


Eventually he fulfills his ambition and builds his big invention.


This went perfectly with my discovery from the Teacher’s Guide to “B is for Buckeye” (I may not have access to the books, but I can read the teacher’s guides to get ideas), Ohio has an inventors’ museum.


What else can you do with a museum like that, but try to  invent something.  This time however I wanted my kids who tend to jump straight into the making to concentrate more on the process.




First they drew what they needed to make their invention.  I had originally planned on working with recyclables, but it was not a good day for that, so we used Legos.  Princess literally traced every Lego piece she intended to use.  Which rather amused me.


Then they wrote what it will do.  My boys created variations on flying machines.  I’m not sure what Princess’ did.



And finally they created their inventions.


Which I found out required many guns and soldiers.  Then more soldiers.


I love my boys.

I’m gonna link this over at A Mommy’s Adventures for stART.

learning laboratory at mama smiles Shibley Smiles

History: Fountain of Youth

learning laboratory at mama smiles
How many of you saw the most recent Pirates of the Caribbean film with the Fountain of Youth?
I did, and found the lore included in it very interesting and amusing.  Not to mention that I loved the ending with the Spaniards coming in and destroying it declaring, “Only God can grant eternity.”  AWESOME!
Well this past week we read about Ponce de Leon, and of course I associate him with the Fountain of Youth.  That was one of the big things he did as an explorer, he looked for the Fountain of Youth in Florida.

As a matter of fact there is an archeological park in Saint Augustine, Florida that claims to be the ACTUAL Fountain of Youth.  When Jeff and I visited there, pre-kids our hotel was right next to it, but for various reasons we didn’t make it to that park (too busy exploring the fort, one of the few forts to of never been taken in battle, or any of the other sites there).

After reading about Ponce de Leon, I challenged the kids to design what the Fountain looked like out of Legos.

Up at the top is Batman’s which looks more fountainy, here on the left is Superman’s.  He said the fountain was near a battle, so it needed soldiers to protect it.  Princess’ fountain was more on the theoretical side.  I’m sure there’s a fountain in there somewhere amongst all of those bricks.

Rhode Island: Nathaniel Greene

So, one of the famous people from Rhode Island is Nathaniel Greene, Revolutionary war hero and general.  My library had NOTHING on him.  Or nothing that is age appropriate, so I made something up.

I took no pictures of us working on this because I was busy reading, and it would just be pictures of heads looking down.  But, I have a nifty printable, and a short Lego battle totally unrelated to him to share with you:
Nathaniel Greene Rhode Island(function() { var scribd = document.createElement(“script”); scribd.type = “text/javascript”; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = “http://www.scribd.com/javascripts/embed_code/inject.js”; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })();

The Battle of Fort Ticonderoga as enacted by Legos!
The British soldiers thought they were safe in their fort, so they all went to sleep in their beds.  Or bent over like they are bowing because that amused my boys.

The American soldiers attacked and took the fort with no shots fired.

Then came a scene of general carnage and destruction so horrible no pictures could be taken.  Or if you followed the real history they looted the cannons and took them down to Boston through an amazing feat of engineering.

Oh, I forgot to say.  I’m linking this up to All Things Beautiful and their geography/history linkie.

Bible Alive: Nehemiah and someone else

It’s not coming to me as I write this title, but hopefully it will before I get done writing this post.  Otherwise I’ll just keep saying “someone else,” which I’m going to shorten to SE.


We went to our old standby for our Bible/history lessons: LEGOS!




SE went to the king and said, “The temple in Jerusalem is broken down.  I ask permission to fix it.”







Not only did the king grant him permission, but he offered to give them their supplies.





So, the Israelites set out to rebuild their temple.  They encountered many problems as they struggled to rebuild the temple and the walls.





They decided to carry weapons as they built and each person was assigned a specific part of the wall to rebuild.



And eventually the walls were rebuilt.


Yep, that’s it.  I think Ezra might be SE. 

Bible Alive Tuesday or is it History: Fall of Jerusalem

Actually this was part of our history curriculum, so I’m also going to call it history.




My kids are rather enamored with acting out their history with Legos.  They ask to do it every single lesson.  Which doesn’t always work out.


But, this time it did, and I accidentally chose a Lego board that was perfect for his lesson.  I’ll say it was on purpose.



The Babylonians came to attack Jerusalem.


But, they didn’t know that Jerusalem had an interior water supply, so it was very hard to defeat them.


Finally they were successful in defeating part of Jerusalem, but they did not completely knock down the walls.  They carried off many of the Israelites to Babylon.


They attacked a second time, and more people were carried off, but they still did not successfully defeat Jerusalem.


Finally on the third try they were able to defeat and destroy Jerusalem.  They carried off all the treasure and kept it in their storehouses.


TA DA!  And that’s the story of the defeat of Jerusalem.


Now head on over to these buttons:

abc buttonPhotobucket

Hee hee, I like my new little table I set up for putting in buttons on my posts.  It makes it so easy because I just go to Tuesday and copy over the relevant ones, and then I went to Wednesday and copy over those.  So nice.

Field Trip: Mayborne Museum

And I’m sure I’ve spelled that wrong.  So, up in Waco is a very cool children’s museum called the Mayborn, hmmm upon looking at it more I’m fairly sure there is no “E” at the end.  Fairly sure.

And for about two more weeks, it has the coolest exhibit ever.  Can you guess what it was?

That’s right!


Okay, you may not think it’s the coolest exhibit ever, but I sure do.

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I mean who wouldn’t love an exhibit that has a haunted dungeon and a chance to build your own castle and break it with a catapult?
And did I mention the super cool Lego castles?

There was jousting.  Made more challenging by people who shall remain nameless, cough Princess cough, climbing under the jousting field.


There was cool dress up clothes (and I now have about 5 things added to my sewing list because they LOVED their knight outfits).

So, extra pictures taken to get the details right, check.

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And then we had to drive the cars, and TRY not to crash into each other.  And I had to take pictures of the cool garden idea they had, and then I thought wouldn’t this make a super cute bench?  And it’d be fairly easy to make, and then I could make some cute little vegetables to go in it.  Ummm, yes it’s very dangerous when I go to kid museums because I end up with a very long list of projects to make.

And while the kids had fun observing the typwriters and the old telephone exchange board, I found this:

Hobo alphabet, and thought it was way too cool, and remembered how it was used in the Kit Kittredge movie.  And wouldn’t it be fun to learn.

078079   080081
Then we got to the room about local American Indians, and the kids had to haul all of the drums into the Tipi (I learned today that’s the correct spelling).  And then very quickly they decided they needed privacy.  If the boys were older I’d have something to say about wanting privacy with a girl….. But, they’re five……….  Smile.
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And then we found the BUBBLE ROOM!

Who doesn’t want to encase themselves in a bubble?  I know both my friend and I had to try it out ourselves.

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And finally we had to make some music.  It was quite different…….  The hydraphone was mournful, and the giant piano was well mainly the noise of running kids.

At the end of it all my kids slept the whole way home, my friend’s daughter talked to us the whole way back.  I’m impressed she stayed awake the whole time.

History: Minoans


One of our history lessons this week, in addition to the Egypt and mummies lesson was about the Minoans, and the minotaur.  Well, my kids really liked this concept, and so we built ourselves a maze for our minotaur.

While yes we could have gotten the super cool Minotaurus game, which I’m sure we will someday soon.  I want to save that for a Christmas present, and I”m not quite convinced my kids are old enough yet.

So, we made our own.

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With much arguing about how to build this maze and what qualifies for something to be in the maze, and how the minotaur should look.

Finally, our first maze was built.  I say first because the kids decided we needed to build a second bigger one that took up most of the coffee table.

By the way, do you like our minotaur?  He’s in the middle (the lego guy with about 3 bricks on his head).

To follow up we watched the Disney Atlantis movie, because some theorize the disappearance of Crete is where Plato got the story of Atlantis from.

Here’s what the kids remembered about the Minoans:  The minotaur lived in a maze.  He was a bad guy.  He lived on Crete.  The king of the Minoans put him there.

For more history and geography ideas head over to Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn.

Guess where I got to go?


They put in a Lego store up at the mall near my in-laws.  Can I just say this was SOOOOOOOOOOOO much fun!

There was an area where you could put together your own set of Lego guys, and then the entire back wall was filled up with different types of Legos that you could build your own set by filling up a cup.  And you could buy Star Wars Lego guys on magnets.

IT WAS AWESOME!  I’m not a big fan of shopping, I have to admit, but I happily spent a good half hour in that store just wandering around looking at all of the different sets they had.  Sigh, so happy.

And having stopped by there turned out to be very fortuitous because after that Superman slipped and we went to the ER, and it was very handy to have a thing full of Legos for his brother and sister to play with while waiting.

More about Legos

works for me wednesday

My kids have all been working very hard at keeping their rooms clean and their beds made. Each week if they’ve done that every day they get $2, one for the bed and one for the room. They’ve been saving for a month, and they proudly went out and bought their first Lego sets (sadly I didn’t get pictures of them buying, and thankfully we had a very understanding cashier at Wal-Mart). We got home and spent a long time putting it all together. Every one’s been asking lots of great questions about my Lego organization. Hopefully I’ll answer them all, so here goes:

1. Where did I get my drawers?
You can get a very similar one, if not the same at Home Depot. I’ve also seen similar at Lowe’s, Joanns, probably Michaels, heck probably even Wal-Mart. It’s part of the garage storage at the home improvement stores, at Joann’s it’s part of their general storage area. I’m sure there’s also a version at Container Store. I haven’t seen anything like it at Ikea’s yet.

2. What do I do with sets?
I break them up and put them in the drawers. In the long run it actually does make it easier to find the right piece because you always know it’s in this drawer. I do let them keep some things put together and in a small box, that’s just self defense for the whining.

3. What do I do with the instruction books.
I ALWAYS save them. I also save the backs of the boxes. Usually the backs will have pictures of different ways you could put it together. This is a great problem solving activity, because you have to figure out how to put together the picture with no directions. They go in a small tote bag that’s on the side table.

Here’s how they currently look in my family room from left to right:

The large bases store between the TV table and the wall.

The lego drawers are under the table. The kids don’t like this arrangement as much, but they can be pulled out if need be.

The bag of instructions on the other side of the coffee table. This is the same bag the instructions were in for me as a kid. I’m pretty much stealing my Lego organization straight from what my Mom did (only slightly simpler, it’s not by color). Sigh, I just noticed the empty soda can…..

And when I went to get the pictures, my sons who had come down about 5 minutes earlier complaining about being awake were asleep.

Superman on his favorite spot on the couch.

Batman stumbled in to cry at me, and then I told him to go sleep on my bed. He apparently took my advice.

Legos and how we play with them

I’ve mentioned before my love of Legos and how happy I am my kids have gotten big enough to use the little Legos, well now let me post for you what we do with our legos that makes it work for me.


Step 1: Sort them out into different types of pieces with pictures of what is in the drawer. We had a similar sort of thing growing up but it was divided much more. I didn’t want to overwhelm my preschool kids. So it’s divided by number of spaces or what it is supposed to do. That’s the first step to making Legos work with preschoolers.


Steps 2 and 3: I have a designated Lego play area. We lay out a blanket on the floor, all Legos are to stay on the blanket. Step 3 is have a large board to play on. The one I have I found at the local toy store, it’s a Duplo board on one side and a Lego board on the other and is AWESOME!

Actually, I do have one step before this. They have to ask to play with them, most of their toys they can get out whenever, but toys that take a while to pick up or have lots of small parts (and Legos fit both these categories) need to be asked before they get it out or they can’t play with it. This ensures a couple of things: 1. I know they’re playing with it 2. I can make sure there is time to pick it up before the next activity 3. less lost pieces.

Step 4: Make them put away the Legos at the end, and put them away in the right drawers. For my kids this is not an independent activity yet, but I think it will be in a few weeks.

For anyone who’s interested here’s my lego label pictures. I printed it out on normal paper and ran it through my sticker maker, but you could also print it on sticker paper or just tape it on the drawers.

Lego Label Pictures