June 2015 - momgineer

On the eve of your 9th birthday.

I am thinking about how it could be possible that my first baby will be 9 tomorrow. Wasn't it just yesterday you were small enough to carry, signing "more," and talking about the "me-at" (cat, combo of meow and cat) out the window? Weren't you just small enough to snuggle on my lap, and I would rest my head on yours feeling that soft baby hair?

These last few years have just flown by, and this birthday is bringing up lots of tears in me. Halfway to 18. Last single-digit year. Nine!

To my LEGO-loving, Mario World loving, book-loving kid who is the best playmate to his little brother I could ever imagine, you are the one who brought me through the big change of woman to mother. You have big emotions and I am in no hurry for you to grow up. Look how far you have come, from the days where you were up at 3:30 am for the day and just wouldn't nap, and the hours-long tantrums because you just didn't have the words to tell me what was going on inside that head of yours.

Here you are in 2007:
in 2008, with your new brother:
in 2009:
here you are just after turning 7:
and here you are just a few weeks ago, being goofy, which you never were as a toddler. You were always so serious! You have learned sarcasm, and started telling jokes you have made up. I see more smiles from you these days than I ever did when you were small. I know your little brother has a lot to do with that, as does reading silly books like Big Nate and Captain Underpants. My heart grows bigger because of you and this goofy grin, kid!
In just a few short years, I will be the one looking up to you (your legs grow longer every night, I'm sure of it!), and your sweet kid voice will be replaced by a deeper one. I am so lucky to be your mom, and to spend these days with you. xoxo

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Five for Friday June 26, 2015: The Bunny Rollercoaster

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for five for Friday! We had an interesting week around here. I will first, however, think calming thoughts and back to our visit to Diana's Bath in North Conway, NH, last week.


The bunny rollercoaster. This is not an amusement park ride, however an emotional rollercoaster that I've been experiencing all week. We returned from a lovely week in the White Mountains of New Hampshire last Sunday and of course the lawn needed to be mowed. Since I am still down an arm due to shoulder surgery, my husband mowed the yard as he was leaving for Texas early Monday morning. He sent me a message while he mowed that there was a baby bunny in the yard. The kids and I ran out to see it.

See how itty it is?
After some ooohs and ahhhs we chased it out of the yard so it wouldn't get mowed up (ew). Crisis #1 averted. We didn't see any baby bunnies on Monday or Tuesday, so Wednesday morning when I went out to turn on the pool filter and harvest the strawberries, I wasn't thinking about bunnies at all. It was quite a shock, when I *stepped* on one. I wasn't sure if the baby bunny was okay, but then it hopped around our compost bin and under the fence. They really are cute when they hop. Aside from being startled, I thought that would be the end of the bunny...but I didn't really think that would be the END of the bunny. I picked the strawberries and came inside. I happened to look out the front window to see a neighborhood cat walking by with SOMETHING in its mouth. "Oh no, that looks like a baby bunny!" I thought. I ran out the front door to get a closer look. Sure enough, hanging from this cat's mouth was a limp and lifeless baby bunny. Now, I can't be sure it was the same baby bunny, as the cat was coming from the opposite direction, but needless to say the guilt set in.
Can you see it? I don't know why I felt the need to get a photo.
So that was pretty upsetting, but eventually I felt relief for my poor garden. Now that all of our dogs are dead and gone, I don't have anyone keeping tabs on the garden critters! A rabbit can eat a LOT of garden. Between the local rabbits and groundhogs, I'm not sure how I manage to get anything at all. Fast forward to Thursday, as I go into the garden to pick the strawberries and snow peas, of course now I say out loud "Don't step on any baby bunnies. Don't step on ANY bunny!" over and over and sound like an insane person, which is okay, because I am. I am watching where I step very carefully and am finally convinced all is safe in the baby bunny department. I start picking the strawberries, which are tapering down in production but have spread outside their original box to a wild and crazy patch:

As I am moving the leaves aside to look for hidden berries, the leaves touching my left hand *ruffle* a lot. So, I jump up. What the heck? I yelled at my strawberry patch. I don't remember what I said, but a baby bunny hopped on out and under the fence. Apparently I need to update my mantra to include watching for hidden bunnies in the strawberry patch. At least I walked away with a few more delicious berries:

And that, my friends, was my bunny rollercoaster. I am hoping I don't see any more critters for awhile!
My husband was gone all week for work, so we spent a good deal of the week decompressing from our vacation. I uploaded the photos I took, and realized I can be just as immature as my 7 and almost 9-year old boys:

Yes, I told him to hold still right there so I could get a picture of him "with the fountain." Haha.

This fountain was right next to a giant outdoor chess board, which the boys enjoyed playing with. It's not my favorite game, but it's a pretty big deal in our house as my older son competes in lots of chess tournaments and they both attend chess classes and camps.

We are all a little goofy sometimes.
You can see more images of our trip over at my Instagram page!

Since we were home most of the week, the kids managed to create two new games: a board game and a card game, based on Sushi Go by Gamewright, but with a rock theme. They spent hours doing this and then even more hours playing the games!  They're calling this one "Ready, set, dig!"

Though my TpT To Do List is MILES long, this wasn't even on the list, but after updating my binder covers last week, I just had to make some FREE planner pages to go with them! 


Whether you are a teacher, homeschooler, or TpT seller, I hope you find these pages useful. You can either edit in a PDF reader, or you can print out and write in your information by hand:

The colors coordinate with these binder covers:


Have a great weekend, everyone!

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Wordless Wednesday: Morning hike

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Rainy day fun!

Well, spring finally arrived! It rained *all* day yesterday, so I was thankful I had a new card game waiting for us to play. This one was an instant hit, which is no surprise as my kids seem to love just about every Gamewright game we have tried. The best part of this game is that even when you think you might be ahead, you could be wrong. The strategy is complex. You might think you will score big, only to lose a lot of points at the end or finish out with useless cards. The images on the cards are so adorable that you will want to snuggle the sushi! The educational factor is low (basic addition), but it's a lot of fun and fast-paced.

A fun little game and a great one to pass 10-15 minutes. You do need a score sheet as you play three rounds, however there is no reason you couldn't just play one round instead and not keep score
Please note: this is not an affiliate link, and I did not receive anything for this review. I purchased this game and just wanted to share our thoughts on it!
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

LEGO tip of the day!

My son is rebuilding his LEGO Tower Bridge and it reminded me of how useful this tip has been in our lives, so I thought I would share it with you (though I'm guessing I have before). This chip and dip tray I got from a Target bin years ago has been so incredibly useful to us over the years! Save your sanity by keeping all of the pieces sorted while building a set. This is particularly useful when building a large set that might take days to complete.

We use this tray for fine motor sorting as well. Do you have any LEGO tips that have made your life easier? I will try to share some more of ours as well over the next few weeks. Find other LEGO ideas here.
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Wordless Wednesday: piano, garden, rainbow

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Long overdue update to a resource!

I have had this on my To-Do list for ages.I finally got a chance  to work on updating Polygon Bingo, which was one of my first resources I listed on Teachers pay Teachers. If you already own it (or my geometery units for K&1 or 2&3), you'll want to download for the update. I have included black and white cards, follow up activities (with names of polygons), and spinners! Before, you had to roll dice to get the number and color of the polygon to cover. That worked well for us, but my kids enjoy using spinners SO much more! There are two versions of spinners - one with the number of sides, and the other with odd/even number of sides, to make the BINGO game go faster.


This might seem like a simple skill, but counting up the sides on a polygon can be challenging. You need to make sure you keep track of where you start counting! The skill comes in handy later on when working with things like area and perimeter, so it's great to get in all the practice you can. Plus, you get to say "nonagon," which is just fun. Make sure you listen to this in the background while playing Polygon bingo.

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Storm the Castle: Mini Weapons and More

It's been awhile since I linked up for Five for Friday! I am finally feeling much more like myself after surgery 5 weeks ago so I'm excited to link up this week with Doodle Bugs Teaching.


Come storm the castle with us! We have been project-based learning after being inspired by Keva's trebuchet project, which led me to find this great book by John Austin at our local library. Now my kids, with the help of their dad (since I am still unable to do much with my dominant arm/hand), have been building mini weapons of mass destruction! Most of the weapons in the picture are directly from the book, except for the Lego catapult and the cannon which I machined in college. All of the weapon building has inspired tons of fun creative play, as well as creating mini castles to knock down (made from TP tubes and index cards).

I can't believe it's June. It's a little hard for me to believe we are at the end of yet another year of homeschooling. We just kind of fell backwards into it, but it really does seem to make sense for our family. The kids want to keep homeschooling for another year, so next year I will be homeschooling a fourth and second grader for our fifth official year as homeschoolers. You'd think I'd know what I'm doing at this point, but really every day is different, not to mention I won't be doing the same "second grade" year with kid #2 as I did with kid #1. This is one of the perks and challenges of being a homeschooling parent. You get to come up with an individualized curriculum for each child. The drawback? You are the only one you can rely on to get it done.

I'm still not quite ready to call it done, and I still need to make the photo yearbook I've made every year so far, but we are definitely heading into our transition to the next year. We typically do more traditional schoolwork in the summer because we are actually home more instead of traveling to all of their homeschool classes! Both kids actually just started their new math courses, and I'm hoping they will power through them before September because it seems like there is never time to get to everything, especially with all the playing and extra classes.

Spring brought flowers in my strawberry garden! We are now harvesting strawberries daily, which has always been part of our homeschooling curriculum. The kids harvest, count, and weigh the strawberries, and then we track the harvest on a spreadsheet and graph. This year they will be learning some basics of using spreadsheets and how to make the graphs themselves. In the past I have always done it, but I am happy to pass the torch onto them. How many strawberries have we picked so far? 170 in the past week, about 1.5 kg. It's easier to talk about averages, ranges, metric and imperial conversions, etc. when it's in relation to something so sweet!

Another fun math activity we worked on this week was Sideways Arithmetic from Wayside School by Louis Sachar. I think kids who aren't very into math might find this book a frustrating or tiring. Even my brain was feeling a bit stretched by working through some of the problems with my third grader (or maybe it's my aging brain). These problems start with addition and then work into more challenging problems, replacing numbers 1:1 with letters and ending up with valid math problems. It's a book I hung onto from my own childhood because I loved it so much. It's better to read after reading other Wayside School stories, because you'll already know the characters, but be forewarned: this is not a relax-on-a-hammock type of book. You will need to engage your brain in these tough logic problems!

I have recently completed two new All About Me resources. I'm really excited about these, and I hope your inner geek loves them too! Math About Me will get you talking about various number systems, mathematical expressions, and breaking out your rulers and tape measures. There are six different options (because who doesn't love options) for all levels of math abilities. I have included "Maths About Me" pages as well for all my friends not in North America. I've been working on ideas for Science About Me for months, and finally had the chance to organize them and put the banners together. Get into genetic traits, body systems, weather, and more with this fun activity!



momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!