Sunday, August 2, 2015

Electrical Engineering for Middle Schoolers

We found a perfect electronics kit to use when kids outgrow Snap Circuits.

Elenco 300-in-One Electronic Project Lab is an electronics kit designed for kids. Unlike Snap Circuits which contains electrical components mounted to plastic pieces which easily connect on a snap board, this kit contains actual electronic components which connect on what engineers call a bread board.

A book full of explanations and project ideas is the key to getting started. Kids begin by reading about the functions of electronic devices such as resistors and capacitors. Next they learn to determine the ratings of the devices by decoding the markings. Then the project fun begins.

The first few projects include step-by-step instructions for connecting all of the wires and devices as well as a schematic and wiring diagram. Later projects include only the items true technicians have available. In other words, the kids learn to read the schematics and wiring diagrams and no longer need the step-by-step instructions to complete the projects.

My son and I completed the first project together: creating a chirping bird sound. It was very challenging and very educational. He is 11 years old and for him, this kit was quite advanced. My current electronics exploration plan is to spend some time together revisiting the snap circuits and then proceed onto this kit.





Check out these great blogs full of educational activity ideas.

* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Rubber Band Loom iPhone Case

My daughter researched and created her own rubber band loom iPhone case and coin purse.

 My eight year old daughter loves creating with her rubber band loom, but honestly, I haven't had time to encourage her hobby. Therefore, she has advanced almost entirely on her own.


 She saw this tutorial and thought it would make a great gift for grandma. So she watched and followed the steps to create an iPhone case.


 While creating the case, she noted that the rubberbands looked a lot like knitting and purling does with yarn.

 Finished Case

After the iPhone case was complete, she expanded on her knowledge to create a coin purse for one of her friends.

I am continually amazed by what kids can accomplish when given time and space to follow their interests. They can be very focused and motivated.




Check out these great blogs full of educational activity ideas.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Custom Photo Album

My daughter assembled a photo album of creatively edited photos.

Earlier in the year she improved her computer skills by Photo Editing several images using gIMP. Phase 2 of her computer improvement skills plan was to put the edited images into an album. After exploring several options together, we decided to use iPhoto to create the album.

Stepping outside the comfort zone is extremely difficult for my daughter. She prefers to engage in activities which have a fairly predictable outcome. She loves to read books, dance, sew quilts and play the piano. Although some time in the past she learned these activities, now they are predictable. She continues to improve in all four, but the steps for improving are known and repeated. Getting her to explore new activities is a challenge.

Therefore, I was thrilled when after only a suggestion, the photo album creation idea was underway.

Because she was so motivated to complete this project, the results are outstanding. The photos are personal and each show her unique creativity.

A similar project could be completed by children with a wide range of interest areas. If you do or have done something similar, I would love to hear about it.



Here's a list of excellent blog hops to get even more educational activity ideas.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Scratch Art Klimt Swirl Trees

We made scratch art Gustav Klimt trees.

Gustav Klimt was an Austrian who painted in the Art Nouveau style of the late 1800's. He was influenced by the Byzantine churches of Venice and Ravenna which contain lots of gold within the artwork. His favorite subject was the female body and much of his work is not really appropriate for children..... but his Tree of Life, full of gold and swirls is a fun work for kids to imitate.

When I was a kid I remember enjoying creating my own scratch art paper, so we combined Gustav Klimt's Tree of Life with the scratch art style to create a fun and unique art project.


 First an entire sheet of paper was colored with wax crayons.

Next, the paper was completely covered with a black oil pastel.

Any sharp tool such as a toothpick or paper clip could be used to scratch off the black oil pastel revealing the colorful hidden background. We used the rounded end of paper clips.

After scratching thin lines with the rounded end of a paper clip, the lines were widened to show more of the background.




Check out these great blogs full of educational activity ideas.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Drawing Flowers like Georgia O'Keeffe

We used oil pastels to create flowers in the style of Georgia O'Keefe.

Georgia O'Keefe was an American artist who lived during the early 20th century. Many of her images were inspired by nature and contained lots of shading. Natural objects were often simplified and drawn very close up.

The book Georgia O'Keefe (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists) provides a good overview of Georgia O'Keefe for young children.



To create flowers we began with one of our lightest color oil pastels by drawing one five petal flower.

Parts of additional flowers were added behind our main flower.

Next a main color was chosen for the flowers. (Red in the above example.) The lightest oil pastel in the finished flower was used to create shading around the edges of the flowers.


The process was continued by choosing a slightly darker shade and coloring inside the first color.


After adding several more colors of increasing darkness, the flowers were filled.

Using fingers, the colors were smeared to blend them together.

At the center of the flower, a dark color was used to create the male and female parts of the flowers. Then a contrasting set of colors was chosen for the background. Beginning with the lightest color, the background was filled in the same way as the flowers.

Finished drawing by my 8 year old daughter

My finished drawing

Finished drawing by my 13 year old daughter.




 

Check out these great blogs full of educational activity ideas.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Paracord Bracelets

Paracord is a type of versatile nylon cord popular with the military and with survivalists. Woven into bracelets and belts, soldiers and civilians can unravel the cable if and when it is needed. Recently, crafters have discovered paracord which has increased its popularity. My daughter likes paracord more for the crafting/fashion aspect, but even for her, it may come in handy.


The book Paracord Fusion Ties - Volume 1: Straps, Slip Knots, Falls, Bars, and Bundles is a good place to get started constructing paracord strips. It begins at the basic level and is full of color photos to make understanding the steps easier.

There are many different ways the cords can be woven together to create wider strips which can be worn as belts and bracelets.




For more craft projects please check out our Arts and Crafts page.






Check out these great blogs full of educational activity ideas.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Custom Knit American Baby Hats

I created two very different red, white and blue baby hats.

The patterns were created using stitches detailed in All about Knitting. The first hat was very simple and a joy to knit. The second hat was difficult and I couldn't wait to finish.

The stitch used in this hat is called Three Color Tweed. It was created by knitting two stitches and then slipping one. In some rows the yarn was held in front of the slipped stitches and in other rows the yarn was held in the back of the slipped stitches. In addition, the stitches were offset in each row so that some were knit 2, slip 1 and other rows were knit 1, slip 1, knit 1. Since each row was knit using only one color the hat progressed rather quickly.

Here's the pattern:
sport weight yarn, #4 round needles
Cast on 120 stitches
place stitch marker and join into a circle
Row Color
1-B-knit
2-W-sl 1,k2 *sl 1 wyib, k2* k1
3-W-k3 *sl 1 wyif, k2* k1
4-R- *k2, sl 1 wyib*k1
5-R-k1 *sl 1 wyif, k2*
6-B-k1 *sl 1 wyib, k2*
7-B- *k2, sl 1 wyif* K1
repeat rows 2-7 until hat is 5.5 inches tall

decrease
beginning on row
7 - B-(*k2,sl 1 wyif* 3 times, k2 tog, sl 1 wyif - place a stitch marker) repeat until round is complete
1 - W- (*sl 1 wyib, k2* 2 times, k2 tog) repeat until round is complete
2 - W- follow pattern
3 - R- (*k2, sl 1 wyib* 2 times, k1, k2 tog, sl 1 wyib) repeat
4 - R- (k1 *sl 1 wyif, k2* 2 times, k2 tog) repeat
5 - B- (k1 *sl 1 wyib, k2* sl 1 wyib, k1, k2 tog) repeat 
6 - B- (k2, sl 1 wyif, k1, k2 tog, sl 1 wyif) repeat

slip yarn through remaining stitches and weave in loose yarn ends


wyib (with yarn in back)
wyif (with yarn in front)
*repeat sections within stars*


This hat was created with a combination of knit twill stitches, knit cable stitches and purl stitches. Since at the bottom of the hat three colors were used in one row, it was extremely difficult. All of the white stitches were purled, all of the blue and red were knit throughout the entire hat. The red stitches were created using a crossed rib stitch which means when there were two stitches together, the second one was knit, then the first and they were slipped off the needle together. I really enjoyed the cross stitch rib, but cabling the blue stitches was no fun at all. Therefore, after a while, the hat was reduced to two colors.

Creating unique patterns is a lot of fun. Sometimes it works well, and other time not so well. Have you created your own knitting patterns? How has it worked?






Check out these great blogs full of educational activity ideas.

* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children. 
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