February 2014 - momgineer

3 Million Teachers Strong Sale at Teachers Pay Teachers!

Get your wishlists ready! I can't wait for the 3 Million Teachers Strong Sale February 27-28th.

If you have a TPT store and like this banner, feel free to download and use it yourself. =)
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Curling at home

Winter Olympics Fun with Curling

While I wait for my synthetic ice curling rink to magically appear in my basement (how can I make this happen?!), I thought it would be fun to try out something similar on the floor. This took me about 3 minutes to set up, and it's a lot of fun! Of course, there isn't sweeping, but it's a fast game to play and lots of fun.

DIY Curling Game 

What you need:
  • Tape (I used painter's tape and electrical tape)
  • Poker chips
  • A relatively smooth surface

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Purchase a Tabletop Curling Set

Another option is this GREAT tabletop curling game from Elite Sportz! The 'stones' glide really smoothly thanks to ball bearings in the plastic casing. There is no sweeping involved, either, so it's fast to set up and easy to play.


Looking for some winter sports STEM fun? Try this fast and slow sled activity:

Pin these curling ideas for later:

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Sweet surprise

This has nothing to do with homeschooling, but I made these for my husband and I just thought I'd share. Well, not *actually* share. Unless you want to come over. =)
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Pi Day Display or Bracelet

I thought I would post some pictures of the Pi Day craft included in my Pi Day Fun. You can obviously follow the same idea to make your own. Of course you can make Pi Day bracelets or necklaces with beads or dyed pasta but I thought this was a fun way to display pi up on a wall in a colorful way. There are two versions of this craft - the simple (numbers included near the dots) and more difficult (no numbers included near the dots). Here is the simpler version:

I thought it might be helpful to show a few of the dots filled in (use Do-a-dot Markers or Bingo Markers). Cut along dotted lines and then glue A-A, B-B, and C-C:

You will then have a long chain/line of dots. The numbers below tell you how many to dot in each color. Alternating colors makes it easy to see what the digits are.

If you want to make a longer chain, print out the second page of dots and as many copies of the third page as you want. The more "B" pages you print, the longer your chain can be. If you use one B page you will get to the digit 7 in pi: 3.1415926535897. To make the chain, connect A-A, and then B-B repeatedly until you run out of B chains, then finally connect the C-C piece. The chain on the left is just with the first sheet; the chain on the right is the pi chain representing 3.1415926535897. A fun way to make this a group activity is to give your students the Digits of Pi page and have a competition to see which team can make the longest correct chain in 20-30 minutes.

Can you tell the digits of pi by just looking at the left chain? 3.1 (blue) 4 (red) 1 (green) 5 (pink) 9 (blue) 2 (orange) 6 (green) 5 (red) 3 (pink).

I hope this clears up any confusion for anyone making the Pi Day craft! Still confused? Perhaps a simpler pi bracelet with pipe cleaners and beads is more up your alley:

Stringing beads: 3.14159

Done stringing: you have a bracelet!

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

LEGO Coordinates Game!

This is a quick and fun game to play with your LEGO lovers! It is also a great way to introduce the concept of coordinates.

What you need:
  • 15-20 of the same piece per color (we chose square)
  • Printable game board (download the pdf file or print the image below)
  • Dice, 2 (I used small wooden cubes): Label one with the letters A-F, and the other 1-6
Rules of play:

Roll the dice. Find the coordinate and place a brick in that square.
Get 4 in a row first to win (3 in a row for younger kids)! The pieces can be across, up and down, or diagonal. If you roll a coordinate you already rolled, skip your turn (or roll again, you decide which rules you like better).
The thing I love about this game is that if a space is occupied, you can just stack your piece on the piece that is already there! Red just won in the picture below:

Getting started.

Thanks to Kimberly Geswein for the font!
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

A day in our homeschooling life (7.5 and almost 6yo)

5:30 - 6am: Wake up time. The kids used to eat right after waking, but for the past six months or so they will play for a bit before breakfast. I get up and eat right away so I can get dressed and go to the gym or for a run. When I get home from the gym, they are magically fed, and most often dressed and ready to start in on the day. I am very thankful to my husband for this; especially after many years of hard/grumpy mornings, they are now quite pleasant. I often come home and find elaborate structures built around my living room, or a story in progress (these are all pictures from the last week or two):

A domino tower.
I know. That's a lot of cars and angry birds. Mostly bought with their own money.
7:45 - 8am: I return from gym/run, and get out some kind of morning work for the kids. Once I get them started on it, I go shower and get dressed. It often looks like this:

9-10am: The kids continue to work on everything from math to handwriting, spelling, reading, or First Language Lessons. This is our only formal "school" time each day. It happens on weekends, during the summer, and on most holidays. Sometimes we do science experiments or geography. I think if they were further apart in age I would have to structure our day more, but there is a lot of overlap since they are only 21 months apart.

10 or 10:30-11:30am: After that, the kids will generally play, either imaginatively or games. Games are everything from chess and checkers, to Yahtzee, Yamslam, or Fluxx. I generally get some chores done during this time, like vacuuming/mopping, emptying the dishwasher, etc. I then make lunch (hot, every day). At 11:30 they can no longer wait a second more for lunch! If they are playing well I try to delay lunch. Of course, all this goes out the window if we are meeting up with friends or heading out to one of the many museums we frequent. We are so very fortunate to have access to a bunch of amazing museums.

12-1pm: Computer game time. This is the kids' screen time for the day. Even though it isn't always educational, this is when I get to sit down for a few minutes to eat lunch and check email. I might work a little as well.

1pm-3pm: If it's Tuesday, we're at music. If it's Thursday, the kids are at a farm program from 1-4 where they get to do fun things like milk a cow, collect eggs, make butter, and learn about the habits and habitats of local animals. Other days might be filled with a library, zoo, or museum trip, or a few hours of reading or listening to Story or the World or music, or painting. We don't follow a strict schedule but we do seem to get a lot done. I have a dedicated blog page for favorite curricula we have used. Here is a picture one of the kids took on one of their farm days 2 months ago:

3-5pm: More play time for the kids, and dinner planning for me. The kids will often help with chores in the afternoon. If it's nice outside, I will send them out for awhile while I prepare dinner. Some days my 7 year old will sign on to mathletics.com, duolingo, or do some geography quizzes on seterra.net. Other days my 5 year old will do some Reading Eggs, or they will both play a computer chess game together. The other day they played with slime for at least an hour.

5:30-6:30pm: Dinner and clean up! The kids and I usually eat around 5 or 5:30, and their dad is generally home sometime around 6. After the kids have eaten, they put away all of their toys and get their pajamas on, which they need to do by 6:30 or 6:45.

6:30-7:30pm: Stories. This is another one we stick to. My husband reads chapter books to our 7 year old and I read to my 5 year old. Right now they are reading the 4th Harry Potter book. I trade off reading with my 5 year old so that he gets some extra practice reading. We will often do I-Spy type books, and read nonfiction.

7:30 - 8pm: Kids brush teeth, get ready for bed, get songs sung to them, and go to sleep. The goal is that they are asleep at 8, though in the summer this tends to lean toward 8:30.

8-9pm: I catch up on email, work, and try to stay awake a little bit longer. We might watch Game of Thrones or House of Cards. Generally I don't last much past 9pm because my energy is really crappy. Reflecting on our day has made me realize that most of our time is about reading and play! That makes me terribly happy and grateful. I feel so lucky that my kids are curious, bright, and excited about learning, and they are often the ones pushing me to show them more, more, more. Last week after dinner my 7 year old begged me to "do more spelling" with him, and my 5 year old still just brings books over to me, and jumps up on my lap for a story. Lucky am I to have these kids who just want to learn all they can.

9-10pm: Somewhere in here I crash for the night. My husband has a whole night ahead of him since he needs a lot less sleep than I do to be a decent human being, but that is just the way it is.

Thanks to Simple Homeschool for the link up of a ton of amazing Day in the Life posts! Definitely check out these other homeschooling blogs!


momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Week in Review

We had a nice, quiet week this week! Yesterday was Valentine's Day and I made a few white and dark chocolate dipped strawberries, and gave the kids origami hearts:

The kids made even more flags, thanks to our Olympic medal tracking:

I confess I made Norway's flag. I am obsessed with the Norwegian curling pants.
Norway's curling pants are Mondrian-inspired! I wish I had a pair!

We had a LOT of snow this week! It is snowing again now. Most people are complaining about the weather, but my only complaint is that it's too icy to run. =) We did get to see (and knock down) dozens of icicles.
The boys all ice skated yesterday, too. I still need to get a pair of skates so I can join them, but they had a blast! I'm so glad I caught them high-fiving on the ice, though I did miss a sweet moment when they were hugging each other.

I hope you had a fabulous week! Though schools are off next week, we don't really a break from homeschooling. I am excited about a few new additions to our homeschooling resources, and will hopefully get to post about them soon!
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Today is Valentine's Day and that means PI DAY is only one month away! Are you planning a math-tastic celebration for Pi Day this year?

Get a jump on Pi Day with my Pi Day Freebie, and check out some activities I posted about a few years ago!


momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Flag Fun with LEGOs!

Build Flags of the World with LEGOs

My kiddo year old disappeared for awhile yesterday afternoon. I heard the sound of  LEGO digging, and when he emerged, he had made two flags out of LEGOs. We had just started tracking the Olympic medals in the morning, and he ran with the theme to create some adorable LEGO flags! He started with 5, but I had a feeling I would be seeing more of these over the next few weeks.

What is so great about these LEGO flags is that they can be really simple to make (see the flags on the left in the image below)! You can also get a little more creative and complicated, as with the ones above. Hopefully you can catch the details if you want to duplicate our flag designs.

This is especially fun to do while the Olympics are going on, but really any time you are learning about different countries around the world. Which flags would be the hardest to make with LEGOs? See what your kids come up with!

LEGO Pro tip - try buying LEGOs in bulk, either locally from craigslist or a similar-type Facebook group, or shop online at shopgoodwill.com and try to wait for a good deal. You'll have to wash and sort them (this can take awhile), but it's always been worth it for us. I aim for $5-7/pound but if you can tell there are a lot of good pieces in there, it might be worth more.

Looking for more LEGO activities or tips? Click below to go to

LEGO Tips and Activities

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoyed this LEGO geography activity!

Turn this activity into a learning opportunity

If you want to give this activity a more structured feel or use it in a classroom, I hope you will consider this resource I put together. Not only do students learn about another country and culture, they need to use critical thinking skills to create the flags. There are 36 flags and countries highlighted, though you can always create your own with this STEM Mats Activity for Flags:

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Wordless Wednesday: tracking Olympic medals!

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Game Review: Frog Juice

Frog Juice is a card game made by Gamewright. We have owned it for about a year now and it continues to get regular play. Recommended age is 8-12, but if your child has a good memory or is playing with someone else who can read, I think this game is wonderful for the 5-7 crowd as well. You need to be able to read the spell cards so you know which ingredients to add to your spell. However, there are only a handful of spells so last year my 4yo (not reading) was able to remember most of them, or ask for help from his brother or me. The math portion only goes up to 12, so it is not too cumbersome for your K or 1st grade students.
Image from Amazon
How does it work? You can collect ingredient cards by summing. For example, to collect to "Fair Maid" card above (number 12), you could combine a 7 and a 5 card, or a 9, 2, and 1 card from your hand and collect it from the center. You can also use a 12 card to pick up cards that sum to 12 from the center. In the end, you don't add the face value, but just count the number of ingredient cards you have. There are also fifteen power cards, which are worth one point each. If you get a witch card, you get to sweep up all the cards in the center!

When I first read the instructions, I thought it would be difficult to learn how to play. However, it really is straightforward and after playing through once your kids will remember how to play again in the future. This is one of those games that is helpful to play as you read the instructions for the first time. For classroom use I would suggest purchasing two sets of this game. The deck works best for two players, and well for three, but for four or more I suggest using two decks (combined).

In addition to this game being a ton of fun, you will get brought back to your youth occasionally when this happens:

I know you are glad the Spin Doctors are in your head. You're welcome.
Skills practiced: Math, reading, strategy
Mama Rating:4/5
Kid Rating:3.5/5
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

week in review: snow!

This week can be summed up by the sizable storm that came our way! I dug out some snow tunnels for the kids on Thursday, even though my arms were sore from over three hours of shoveling on Wednesday. We also did some sledding, which I think I always have more fun with than the kids.

Heading into the tunnels!
The above picture was while I was shoveling Wednesday. This was my second (of four!) times out to shovel. When I had *just* about finished clearing the driveway after this picture was taken, a plow came down the road and pushed a whole bunch of snow back to the end of the driveway. I may or may not have shouted after him, calling him a sweetheart, or possibly something less nice. =) I do love snow, though, and I got a killer upper body and cardio workout, so I'm not complaining too much. We don't get "snow days" since we homeschool. The kids still did their work, and they played inside while I shoveled outside.
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Top 5 Reasons We Homeschool

I thought I would share some of the reasons we decided to choose the homeschooling route.

Top 5 Reasons We Homeschool:

5.Our schedule: Though this is commonly stated as a reason people homeschool, I don't think ours is just another run-of-the-mill story. We aren't staying up until midnight and sleeping in until 10, though I know that is what works for many families. The kids are early risers. They generally do most of their "school work" before the neighborhood kids are even hanging up their backpacks at school. We generally do some morning work every morning, whether it's a weekday, weekend, holiday, or summer. The routine suits us.

4. Cost: I am fairly convinced a school that would meet the needs of my children would cost a small fortune. While I could likely find work to pay for it in dollars, I'm not sure I could ever justify the cost to the family in other ways. We spend a fair amount on homeschooling resources and programs, but it's a fraction of the cost of a private education.

3. Me: I love my kids. As a child, I always dreamed of being a mom. I don't want to spend any less time with these kids than I do, especially in these young years. I know all too well how quickly they are passing. We are strong in our attachment, and our style of parenting just naturally extends to homeschooling. Of course it is nice (and necessary!) to get a break from them, but I would miss them so much if they weren't here most of the day!

2. Kids: If you have met my kids, you would know what I meant. When my oldest would melt down for hours on end, I knew it was the right choice for any possible teacher he would have. When he was doing multiplication before he could speak in sentences, I knew it was the right choice for him as well. Due to both of their personalities and abilities, I don't doubt it was the right choice for both them and our local school. I can't even imagine how long it would take them to decompress after a day of "real" school, not to mention the emotional recovery time to process the "socialization" that non-homeschoolers think they are missing out on (read: bullying, etc.).

1. Time: Though this might be similar to "schedule," I feel like it deserved its own spot. There is always time for play. Lots and lots of imaginative play is happening here. There was a time when I didn't think imaginative play would ever happen. Now it happens in full force, complete with can't-step-anywhere-due-to-all-the-toys floors. The language blossoming I've witnessed is just astounding, as both narrate their stories while expressing emotions, navigating sticky situations, and resolving conflicts.

If the kids want to play for four hours, and read recreationally for three hours, they can. More importantly, they DO. My family is made up of introverts. We need time to ourselves or we are miserable. This often means staying home all day, or all week. That is fine by me, and fine by them. We need time to recover from social events, outings, and classes.

I don't have enough pictures of the kids and me together, but I thought I'd share this one from summer. We had just come in from swimming in the pool, and apparently there was some craziness going on:

Do you homeschool? What was the most important factor in your decision?
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

wordless wednesday: dominoes

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Winter Olympics Activities

I have found a few freebies, crafts, and videos worthy of sharing to help you celebrate the Winter Olympics. I am excited to do this first one with my kids! Activity village has a "Learn to Draw" series that looks super fun:

NBC Learning has some videos all about the science and engineering of the Winter Olympics Games! You can get a close up look at Heath Calhoun's mono ski, and learn about the physics of figure skating. Definitely check these out! They are just about 5 minutes; long enough to learn something but not so long they lose your attention.


This craft was just way too cute to not share! Create your own Olympic ice skates! How sweet would these be hanging in your windows? Rhinestones and Pine Cones shares her tutorial here:


There is also a 100+ page download at Free Homeschooling Deals. I think it might be fun to keep track of all the medals with some of the pages they have provided!

How will you be bringing the Olympic Games into your classroom or homeschool room? I think we will have our own mini games at home:
  • Speed skating: Racing on our wood floors in socks
  • Curling: I will make a painter's tape ring on the floor and we can slide bean bags into the center
  • Figure skating: I see lots of spinning around in circles ungracefully and falling on our arses 
  • Hockey: We have mini hockey sticks as well as an air hockey table, so I think we will do both!
  • Bobsled: Well, we have snow. We have sleds. We can use our imaginations and pretend we are going 50x faster than we actually are.
  • Skiing/Snowboarding: I don't ski or snowboard since I got injured just about every time I tried to snowboard. I think we will skip this one, but perhaps we will instead make mini skis or snowboards and race them down our super cool racing ramp! Here is our super cool racing ramp, that my handy husband built for a LEGO party almost 2 years ago, and the kids racing pompoms with straws... I mean, here they are exercising their orofacial muscles to strengthen their speech:

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!