Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Palisades at Plymouth Colony

     The Tindle kids have been studying early explorers this school  year and now we are heading into the colonial period of America.  This week we focused on the voyage of the Mayflower and the establishment of the Plymouth colony.  They really enjoyed learning about Captain Myles Standish, Governors Carver and Bradford and of course their alliance with Chief Massasoit.  What really grabbed my three boys' attention though, was the interaction between Plymouth colony and Chief Canonicus.  Apparently Canonicus sent Plymouth a  quiver full of arrows, daring the settlers to a fight. In response, Governor Bradford returned the quiver but loaded it full of powder and ball shot. This frightened Canonicus so much that he refused to even touch the quiver.   The boys loved the story and it was a great illustration of using wisdom to solve big problems.

The settlers did not stop with a simple gesture to protect themselves.  They also spent time and energy on defense by building large wooden walls around their settlement.  They were constantly on guard and aware that attack could come at any time.

Inspired by this illustration, the kids decided to build their own palisades.

They used magazine pages and glue sticks to create their logs. 

The four of them worked quickly and mom helped some, so there was quite a pile of building material after about thirty minutes.

Then they got to work with the glue guns. My kids love working with the hot glue guns so any project that allows them to do so is a big hit.  I love the glue guns too, work is so much faster and easier when we use them. 

Our palisades came together much faster than the settlers' did but still it is a work in progress.  The walls are all built. There are hinged gates as well as some windows.  The builders are currently in the process of creating the buildings and individuals to inhabit the settlement.  I think Legos are going to be a huge player in that process. There have already been discussions of spray painting the fort so that it is more realistic, we'll see. 

I love a good project and the kids are so excited about this one.  It is terrific to see them really think about what the palisades were for.  They are very concerned about getting all the gaps covered so that arrows could not penetrate the walls, they also want to make sure that the gates are defended so that attack will be difficult there.  I'm sure these were some of the same thoughts that were running through the Plymouth colonialists minds as they built their walls. 

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Guts of a Pencil Sharpener

Our pencil sharpener bit the dust this week. This is a bad thing because we sharpen about twelve pencils a day around here. We are currently handling this task with a cheapo hand sharpener from Walmart, not satisfactory. Erik decided to break into the contraption and see if it could be repaired. No luck. Erik wasn't able to fix it so we got to tinker with it. Woo Hoo!

I love a good hands on project! The kids were all over this one; they pulled the pieces apart, probed, poked and observed. We've done some work with electrical circuits and simple machines before so they were pretty good at identifying the different mechanisms and figuring out what their function was.

Here, Carter has found the switch that is activated when a pencil is inserted into the sharpener. You can see how it closes the electrical circuit.

This motor actually had two switches on it though. One that is depressed by the pencil, another is depressed by a slide in tray that catches the pencil shavings. The kids found both, tinkered a way to depress both and the motor went wild. We were all thrilled.

Here, they were attempting to rebuild the gear box. I don't think we quite got all the pieces in the right place but I loved how their minds were whirring away during this project. They were so engrossed and pulled up tons of information that we haven't covered in over a year. We all got a bit grimy from the grease and this exploration took up a good portion of our morning but it was worth it. We gleaned a great review session and all of us will always remember what a pencil sharpener's guts look like. Bonus: we now have a motor, a couple of cool switches and power sources to add to our electrical gizmo collection.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Go Play in the Mud!

Okay, so we're a little weird around here but it is a happy weird.  Case in point, we just had seven tons of dirt delivered to our backyard.  The clerk at earth works asked us, the delivery guy asked us, our neighbors asked us, my sister asked us, even the kids asked us, "What is all that dirt for?" The answer... to play in. 

When I was a kid, my dad decided he wanted to build a swimming pool.  First step, order a truck full of dirt.  Well dad got the first step taken care of, he just never went beyond that. I'm so grateful he didn't.  We had a very small yard but with that pile of dirt and my sweet mothers blessing, well, let's just say we made excellent use of the vertical space. My sister, brother and I would play for hours.  We built tunnels for hotwheels, acted out epic battles with Gi Joe infantry and Barbie Nurses and baked up a ton and a half of mud pie delicacies.  Literally, best toy ever! 
Now it is time for the next generation to take a turn.  As soon as these kids heard that the dirt was specifically for them, they scaled the mountain. 
They ran for buckets of water, I ran for swim clothes to help contain the mess.  It didn't take long at all for them to figure out how to make a mudslide.  What followed was both absolutely common place and legendary, these kids hit that dirt and didn't let up.  They dug, they hoed, they watered, they slid, they rubbed, they built, they created; in short, they had a fantastic time! 

A quick dance in the sprinkler and a half load of laundry and the mess is gone, til tomorrow.  I'm sure, that there will be times that I get sick of the laundry and the footprints through the house. I'm human. But so are they and I want them to experience it all; so kids, you have my permission to "Go play in the mud!"

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Best thing in the truck...

Today, we got a delivery from our local Menards.  It was a nice big truck full of wonderful things for our house.  We got some flooring, some insulation and an energy efficient washer and dryer *Pause for excited squeal: we went from FORTY FIVE gallons of water to FIVE to TWENTY gallons, WOOHOO* Okay, I'm back.  Here's a pic of our truck and one of our great delivery guys...

See good stuff... By the way, the delivery guy was insulted when I told him I was taking a shot of all the swag as a before pic for the blog. He only agreed to let me snap the photo, when I told him I would tell the world he was a great delivery guy. I swear, these attention craving delivery guys. Back to the point, sorry.

With all that cool stuff, the best thing by far was...
That's right! The best thing in the truck was the box that the washer came in. Because that is how we roll here in Casa Tindle. 
We added a little bit of this...

The kids did some of this...

and created the cubby of their dreams.  I hope they are prepared to defend it.

It looks like the Tombots are gearing up for attack! 

** If you are wondering why I took the time to flip through ALL of Picnik's super cool options, it's simple, I am in Hyper-Avoidance Mode.  Avoiding what you say?  Duh. The truck load of DIY home improvement work that is now residing in my garage.  I'm going to dodge that bullet as long as I can... now where is my sewing machine?

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summer Projects: Library Bags

My family loves the public library.  I began taking my children to story hour when they were still wearing diapers.  We all love to read and we all love sitting in and amongst all of those books.  Up to this point, I have always held every body's library cards and we've kept borrowed books on a shelf in our living room.  This made things fast and easy for me but the kids were missing out on an opportunity for independence.  When they began asking to check books out themselves, I figured it was time to change things up. We headed to Walmart and picked up some Tulip Fabric spray and a couple packs of canvas bags.  I used my Silhouette SD to cut some stencils from freezer paper and ironed them to the bags.
The kids each sprayed over the top of the stencil. I encouraged them to only use two colors to avoid the dreaded "muddy" look. One of my sons saw that as a challenge to his creative powers, so he dutifully took on three colors and managed a very cool blended effect. After the bags we're sprayed, we peeled off the freezer paper to reveal the design.  The kids loved this part!  

 If you try this project, I recommend that you spray lightly and have some paper towels on hand to dab up excess paint. We were able to achieve some pretty fun effects with just the four colors included in the pack of Tulips that we purchased. 
Each kid also made a boondoggle with a key ring to hook onto their bag and hold their library card. Now they can check books out, carry them home and store them in their bags until our next trip to the library. Judging by this smile, I think the new system will be a success! Thanks for reading. LT

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Spanish for Kids: Colors

Team Tindle is studying Spanish as a second language this year. This is a new thing for all of us and we are doing our best, slowly moving through a new vocabulary. This week the kids are working on their Spanish numbers and colors. I decided to throw in an art activity to help cement the new words.
I gave each kid a sheet of paper and asked them to divide the paper into sections using tape. We used colored masking tape but I would recommend using painters tape if you do this project.  Once that was done, the kids used colored pencils to fill in each section with a different color.When they finished up their coloring, the kids began labeling each section with their newly acquired vocabulary words.

Then we peeled back the tape, very slowly and carefully. This made the different sections really pop. The kids loved the reveal!

Here is James, showing off his Spanish/Art homework. I'd say this simple activity was a success.  The kids all explored with their new Spanish words and each of them really likes their final product.

For more information on teaching Spanish to children visit Spanish Town.  It is a free site, featuring monthly segments of vocabulary for the early elementary grades.  Each new word can be played as an audio file, which has really helped me teach my kids accurate pronunciation.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cave in Rock / Southern Illinois

Team Tindle has been gone on summer break.  We've enjoyed ourselves but it is time to get back to work.  We started school last week and are reestablishing our routines.  To get the blog up and running again, I thought I would share a video I made during one of our trips this summer.  This is filmed at Cave in Rock, one of Southern Illinois' many natural attractions.  We spent a morning there playing on the rock formations and exploring the cave. Be patient with me, I am new to video editing and I'm afraid it is a little rough. I hope you still enjoy it! 

Thanks for visiting!