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I think EVERY kid should try this!!

I never really look too much into the links on the Google Home page… but last night something caught my eye. It said “Be a maker, a creator, an innovator. Get started now with an Hour of Code.” underneath a cool picture of Grace Hopper (an amazingly smart woman in the field of Computer science (and the Navy) when woman weren’t really in the work force never mind a man dominated field like Computer Science). My interest was piqued – I want to be a maker, creator, and innovator  (isn’t that what I’ve been learning in a Million Little Ways).  And to my pleasant surprise it is everything that I hold dear lately (well except God and my family).  In comes THE HOUR OF CODE – This week is Computer Science Education week and in honor of that they are encouraging everybody – really everybody to know that they can learn to code, they can learn to create computer programs and understand the process.
Check out this video –

But the real fun begins when the kids get to use visual coding to get an angry bird through a maze. There are 20 levels that get harder and harder… it took me a couple of tries to get through level 20! But even the youngest of kids can get through the first 3 levels and they will have so much fun!  If you want to give it a try go here for puzzle number 1 .There will be a video with a little introduction again (but don’t be put off they are goign to explain the challenge) to coding but then a young girl (yay!) will show you how to go through the challenge. When the video is over, just click the x in the upper right hand corner and you’ll see the puzzle. There is a new video for each puzzle to give you a little tutorial… to be honest the robotics kids and I just xed out of the videos quickly and tried the puzzles on our own.

Timing was perfect. I help teach a robotics class on Mondays after school and even though the class is mostly boys, my girls love to be a part of it and help. Today it was like a party for everyone. Each kid went through the coding challenges, helped each other out and laughed the whole time. They would run their program and see how they got stuck in a loop as their character spun around and around. They learned more in that hour about programming (very important in Robotics) then I had taught them previously. But don’t get me wrong this isn’t for just kids interested in robotics – this is for all kids!!!!!! My 6-year-old loved it. Any kid that plays mindcraft will love it, any kid that loves video games or apps will love it… (and to be honest these days that’s most kids – and even if you’ve stayed off technology this long, this you’ll want to see!) Programming teaches kids to break down problems into small doable parts, it teaches kids to think about the journey and the end result. It teaches kids that they are powerful, as powerful as their imaginations… please, please try it, do it with them, you’ll be amazed when they learn to do it quicker than you can. If you check it out please let me know in the comments, share it on facebook, spread the word. If you are having trouble navigating the Hour of Code website let me know and I’ll help in anyway I can.
hourofcode IMG_6430 IMG_6431(Note pictures weren’t staged… they really played for over an hour… you won’t be disappointed.)

Things I learned in November…

1. The rainbow loom can come apart and you can change the direction of the middle row. If you don’t have a child from ages 5-11 then you might not know what I’m talking about, but my once pretend and building play oriented two girls now spend their break time from homeschooling making bracelet after bracelet. We were watching one of  Ashley’s video‘s (she is the 10-year-old guru of rainbow loom bracelet making) and we couldn’t figure out what we were doing wrong, we couldn’t get it to work. Seriously I was an engineer why can’t I do this??? Then we realized it came apart… I’m happy to say that I’m the one that figured it out and my daughters were ecstatic… but I’m not happy to say that it took me almost an hour. By the way if you are going to get your child a loom for the holidays.. get the real deal rainbow loom, my dad bought the girls the crazy loom (the one you get at toys r us) so they could each have one… it really isn’t as good and can’t do as many things, so they still take turns with the rainbow loom. Also my favorite bracelet is the nautique… it looks like chevron and I love the one my girls made.
rainbow loom bracelets2. You can make your own fonts for free… and it’s easy. Sassy Pants (age 6) is reading up a storm and I love it, but we are still doing several sight words a week. I saw that Moffat Girls (this woman is amazing!) had made a crack the code for sight words with pictures of an object of the sound of the letter (ie. apple for a, bat for b, cat for c, etc!) But I couldn’t use hers because we are working with a different set of sight words and it seemed like inserting in pictures for each letter of five words a week would be hard… but then I found Fontstruct. I created alpha code to use with the girls. The best thing is that it’s a font so I just choose it in Word and type the sight words (you have to hold the shift button down because I only made capital letters) and instantly I have a worksheet. Here is an example of our last sight word list ( sightwordbreakthecode2 ). You can download the font here. Put this file into your fonts folder – well just follow these directions. So you have to draw the font with little squares so the pictures aren’t great… the Y is a picture of a yo-yo even though it doesn’t look like it and the M is an envelope (Mail) but neither were a great choice, but what’s done is done. Remember to get the letters to print out you must have cap locks on or use the shift key. I hope you like it.

2. Girl engineers are awesome and I’m always excited about them. My husband and I have been helping at a local school that is starting a VEX robotics team. We have been having a lot of fun and I take my two girls every time. Unfortunately the whole team is boys, just perpetuating the stereotype that girls aren’t interested in engineering. However, an all girls FRC Team came with their amazing robot to show our team all of the cool things you do in robotics and it was amazing. My girls were enthralled and when they boys saw the robot do a chin up and shoot our frisbees they were amazed. It confirmed my feelings lately that encouraging girls in math, science and engineering is something very near and dear to my heart. I have to admit I was a little bit proud when my 8-year-old asked the team question after question.
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3. I love the card game golf ( I learned two days ago). It’s awesome, easy to learn quick and can be played by my 6 and 8 year old. It will replace our Phase 10 days!
GolfHere is the best explanation I could find, but we played that one-eyed jacks are 0 and two-eyed jacks are 10 but they still cancel each other out. It sounds complicated but is pretty simple when you are playing. As both a teacher and an engineer I think it’s really great to play strategy games with your kids, it helps them think ahead and try and hold several factors and thoughts in their heads at once. It also helps them develop thinking patterns and strategies that may help them in other projects. (We also love blockers, checkers, connect four and blokus and we can’t wait until the get a little older and play Settlers of Cattan and Bonanza).

4. I have learned that I can’t really blog and get stuff done and this makes me sad, I’m up to hearing ideas besides staying up really late like tonight.

5. I love making presents… I learn it every month… it’s my happy place and I hope that I don’t ever stop doing it. I made this pillow and little tiny princesses for my little niece. Lil Blue Boo is so awesome and made a free print out that you can use for a box o princesses… but mine were extra tiny so they are in a minimason jar and I had to set my printer to multiple so it made the print out half the size. I also made her a shirt and a chevron L pillow. I think if I had more time this is what I’d like to do, but I’d have to figure out my own craft not copy one.
IMG_6228DSC_0617[1]DSC_0638[1]5. I learned that I really love young adult literature and the somewhat cheesy movies they inspire. Since I don’t have too much time to read nonadoption related books I listen to them on my phone while running. Audible.com is an awesome Christmas gift to give to any runner’s in your family. I agree with Emily F. I think even though the actor that plays Peeta seems amazingly sweet and adorable, he was supposed to be blonde and bulky…  (Throw huge bags of flour bulky!) I did really like Catching Fire though and going with a big bunch of my friends helps.

6. Kristen Bell can sing. I loved Veronica Mars, and I will go on record saying it was the best tv show of all time. If you have room on your netflix que… give it a try you won’t be disappointed by the quick sassy humor and the thought provoking mysteries to solve. But Kristen never sang in it… but here she is in a Disney movie singing her little heart out and she pretty much rocks. And that group of girls and I will be first in line to see the Veronica Mars movie!!!!

7. There are so many amazing advent ideas out there so this might not be helpful but this year I bought Truth in the Tinsel because I’m really learning this month and the past several that my girls want my time not really for me to set up elaborate activities. It is worth the money to have someone else set it up and enjoy the time together and enjoy the Word of God together.

What I learned this month… what I do is art

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I love art. I might (in my own mind) consider myself a real artist, but I’ve never been paid so I’m thinking I’m just someone who enjoys painting, drawing, sewing, photography, building, and well any kind of creating. So it is easy for me to feel like that is my art, that is the art I do. And well that is it, the rest of my life is my life. My cooking (really less than par), my cleaning (even worse than the cooking), and my parenting and wifing (if that’s a word) and even my engineering are all really just my activities, how I’m spending my time. Then I started reading A Million Little Ways – uncover the art you were made to live by Emily Freeman. On a very high level it talks about that we are art (made and created by God) and we make art (not just my narrow definition of it.) Now usually I stay clear of such heady, deep books like that. I’m in a stage where I like to read practical books like The Connected Child and other adoption books. However, I am often taken by Emily on the Simple Mom podcast and subscribe to her blog and thought I should try it out. I was wrong about it not being practical. I’m not really sure how she does it, but she is really helping me uncover my art. She is showing me that “There are many ways, a million little ways, that Christ is formed in me and spills out of me into the world.” (p.29).

This is hard for an engineer like me. Even though I think of myself as creative and out of the box, I also put things into categories all the time. This is my work time, this is my play time, this is my time to be with my kids… etc. But I’m realizing that if I stop that, if I am fully present in what I’m doing if I pursue the things that God gave me passion about and pursue them in His ways, I’m creating art. So here is my art..
homeschoolI am a homeschooling mom now. I wasn’t before and I won’t be after this year. You see we are adopting and my two daughters go to an amazing, small, loving Christian school. It’s probably not expensive in the realm of private schools, but it is still a good percentage of our income. My husband and I chose together that I would homeschool the girls this year to save that money instead of starting a job. It is a pretty big change from staying home with a preschooler and one kid in school full-time, it takes away a lot of my free time, it often makes our house a disaster place, and it almost always leaves me pretty tired and a lot less patient by 3:30 pm. But lately I’ve been letting it be my passion. I love crafts and activities and fun. I love my daughters. I love reading with them. I love being outside with them. I love all of these things. These things bring me joy so I’ve decided to focus on them through out our day. We don’t worry about crossing every T and dotting every I, but we sometimes read for two hours in their bed before they’ve even changed, we frequent the park, we’ve cooked so many things (they’ve cooked so many things on their own, our watercolor paints now stay in our diningroom permanently… and so do our smiles. Somehow all the spelling gets learned, and we make sure we do the minimum… but don’t get me wrong they (we) are learning so much more. We learned about a whole bunch of presidents, had fun learning capitals, learned to embroider, charted our families favorite types of oatmeal cookies, made our Halloween costumes, are known by name at the library and get to do a quiet time together everyday. The laundry no longer gets put a way… I literally clean the clothes and put them on the guest bed and we pick out what we need.  I cook the same 5 things over and over, and well even though I try to keep the kitchen clean, the other rooms are proving entropy (tending toward disorder without the addition of outside energy)  to be true.  But that isn’t my art. The bond that I’m growing with my two girls is my art. Learning Amharic together as we prepare for their brother is our art, tickles and laughs are my art, letting them be more responsible is my art, and teaching them how to be a mom is my art. Even though my mom and I are growing closer as I become an adult, I lived with my dad as a child, I often grew up wondering if I’d even be able to be a good mom, there was pain and hurt there…  but it’s healing now. Jesus shows us that He fills us up and He comes out of us in a million little ways (in art)… even ways we didn’t ever think we’d be able to do, even ones we were never prepared for. Emily says – What if I look inside and I’m a hot mess? Then states… you are. I am a hot mess, but I’m a hot mess who is learning that Jesus is helping me find my passion and making art that is affecting the world even if it’s just starting with those in my home.

Things I learned in September…

  1. Homeschooling two kids is not the same thing as being a stay-at-home mom of preschoolers so you can’t have the same commitmtent level or you will crack and start crying during the Science Explorer’s class you teach. Too many committments and productivity does not equal happiness.
  2. Learning to say no to commitments that are good but not the best is an incredible skill that you should cherish. I have yet to learn this and desire it so much. It is hard being a person who doesn’t want to disappoint, but nobody really wants you to do a bad job, so learn to say no. (see learned thing number 1)
  3. I am not good at picking out hair color. It said medium brown! I just wanted it to be my natural color without gray. Vain, I know but I thought it would be fun before my husband and I went to a wedding this weekend. It’s black. I look goth with my very pale skin… don’t get me wrong I have nothing against goth… I’m just not cool enough to pull it off!
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  4. Just because something has been done a zillion times and it’s not really pinworthy doesn’t mean your kids aren’t going to absolutely love it. We put a rose in blue dye… it turned to this in less than four hours… we were all amazed!IMG_5386 IMG_5395
  5. The more time I spend with my kids the more creative I am at getting them to spend time together away from me… two “activities” this week…. make your own lunch… take my camera and surprise me with pictures outside… each yielded me with an hour of free time.
    IMG_5431 IMG_5430 IMG_5409 IMG_5407 IMG_5406 IMG_5405 IMG_5404 IMG_5401
  6. We have too much stuff.
  7. I love my husband. Alpha marriage is a fun course that gives us a kid free night and a free dinner… We’ve only been once but we’re sold.
  8. I am getting old and parts of me don’t heal as quickly as they use to. I started a new work out plan… it involved these push ups that you then move into a one armed T type move.
    133765_288108461294484_870649159_o My shoulder now aches and hurts and can’t move.. it’s been like this for almost two weeks… remember when we were 20 and aches healed the next day?
  9. It doesn’t matter how many times you read a Bible passage, you really can always find something new… this week I read Ephesians 3:1-13 everyday… it took me until Wednesday to really see and try to figure out 10 was something totally new to me…  Is it our job as the church to make known the joy of salvation through Jesus to the heavenly realm… I have no idea but I’ve been thinking about it for days now.

10His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Homeschool Week 2 – What we did

My husband had off a bit this week so we went on some fun adventures, but learned while we played.
sightseeingWe feed the giraffes at our local zoo that are leaving and collected leaves at the zoo. They are seriously the biggest around. Then we spent all day in Philadelphia and went to see the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and some other places. We saw a chair that George Washington really sat in! We learned so much about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and enjoyed being together. We did top it off with a little trip to the Smith Memorial Playground which is a must if you have kids from 0-10!
homeschoolweek2Sassy Pants (age 5) made number bonds and worked on some math (We got the idea from the STEM Mom) and we used her ballerina pack from 1 plus 1 plus 1 equals 1. We played Blockers ( I love this game and even kids about 4 can play with help). We also worked on our two digit number names and our place value game again.
hsweek2cWe continued on our sight words and I made both girls a scratch off for sight words and spelling words. It was pretty much the easiest thing to do with lots of excited squeals. I used this tutorial to make it and I saved the rest of the formula in a baggie so I can do it again.
hsweek2bI always feel bad that Sassy Pants (age 5) gets more fun activities and Miss Thing (age 8) has more plan old work so we were doing a little experiment with Phototropism. Our pants grow towards the window so we turned them around and looked at them twice a day to watch them face the window again. It really only took 2.5 days for them to fully turn, and it might have been quicker if it wasn’t so cloudy!
hsweek2dHere is the Sight Word book we used this week. She can read it now, but it took a little while… I made it too hard. Here is the file (minibookweek2) and here is what it looks like:minibookweek2picturesRemember to cut and fold to get it to be a little minibook.

First Week of homeschool

I devour the internet… I know everyone does. But as you can tell by the name of my blog, I love learning new things. The engineer in me always wants to have the most efficient and best proven way of doing – well everything. This make me a sure candidate for pinterest addiction… you can see my 13,000 pins here. The great thing about homeschooling is that there is so much information out there to do fun and exciting things, but the sad thing is that homeschooling takes a lot of planning… I can’t really do everything.

I’m going to try to post a little bit about what we did the previous week that was fun and worked well. We use Calvert homeschooling curriculum for Third Grade and Kindergarten. I get most of my ideas from 1 plus 1 plus 1 equals 1 since she uses Calvert too and I love Confessions of a Homeschooler and Homeschool Creations. And random pins from the web.

Here is what we did this week (I’m doing this Monday before the girls wake up so there has been no editing to the photos!):
IMG_5147 IMG_5149 IMG_5165 IMG_5170 IMG_5180 IMG_5185 IMG_5212 The girls had to take tests on their computers for our Cyber School. We get the traditional Calvert Materials for free from the charter school and we have to send in tests every 20 days, but pretty much the rest of it is like traditional homeschooling. I made them write out what they wanted to eat for breakfast and lunch all week so I could plan. Sassy Pants (5 years old) did letters A-C and loved the Pattern Block Letters from Confessions of a homeschooler. My third grader was doing place value so I made up this little game where the place values from a million down were written on sentence strips and then each girl took turn saying how many cards they wanted… from 1 – 7. If Sassy pants picked 5, they’d each get 5 and try to make the biggest number they could and put it on the chart. Miss Thing (my 8-year-old) would have to say the number properly. The person with the most cards at the end took all the cards and we’d continue to play with the whole deck (we used uno cards without the specials like reverse and such). They loved it and wanted to play a couple of days in a row. Sassy Pants is almost 6 and so she can read about 20-30 sight words. So I am using these sight words with her every week and doing some activities with them. I use these sight word lists from Teachers Pay Teachers from Fanciful First grade – they’re free. I really like the words this list uses. So every week I’m going to make her a mini book that uses all the sight words. Here is the book I made her this first week. I drew the pictures and she colored them in.IMG_5180 IMG_5181 IMG_5182 IMG_5183 IMG_5184Here is the pdf of the file (sightwordbookweek1) if you’d like the book. Here’s a video on how to fold and cut to make your minibook. One of Miss Things activities was to write down and object from the house that starts with each of the consonant sounds – which is definitely a review. So we made it into a game. Both girls went upstairs found objects that had the beginning sound then Sassy Pants (5 years old) had to write the lower case letter on a small post it on the object. I then had to go up and find all of the objects. They loved it and it gave me 20 minutes to prepare lunch. SInce we belong to the Cyber school the girls get lots of fun resources. The school sent a Physical education bag with lots of fun toys in it so we played hopscotch and bowling one day for recess. I don’t hae a picture but I started a small blog for the girls through kidblog. I write all the lessons for the day and add fun websites and youtube videos for them. They love it. Kidblog is great and you can have a completely private page. I got the idea from 1 plus 1 plus 1 equals 1.
And that was our first week! It was amazing the first 2 days and not so much a tthe end of the week… but here goes for this week.

Things I’ve learned in July

Until I started doing this post month after month, I didn’t realize I was learning so much all the time. Here’s what’s been going on this month.

1. I learned the Russian Peasant Multiplication trick – How was I a middle school Math teacher and never learned this trick! It works for all the 6, 7, 8 ,9 and 10 times tables. Seriously this is amazing. You write 10-6 on your fingers on both hands and then… well it’s easy to do once you learn but it’s hard to explain, well hard for me… but check out the links below… it is seriously mind-blowing. Okay, I know you’re thinking really – how cool can it be… but if you are even slightly geeky you’ll love it… and if you are a full-blown geek like me you’ll be so annoyed you didn’t already know it and then spend the next 20 minutes figuring out why it works.
http://static.neatorama.com/images/2006-09/russian-multiplication.gif
http://swedishclassroomfun.blogspot.com/2011/02/russian-multiplication.html

2. I learned that young people are passionate. When I taught middle school math, there was a boy in my math class. He was tall and quiet. I was focused on teaching them all to love math, to know that they had the ability to do it they just had to believe. I never thought about what would he grow up to be. What would he be passionate about, how would he live his life. When they are in middle school you are just hoping to get them past the hormones enough to learn some things. I was running last week and there he was tall, full beard but still those same young, kind eyes. It was my student, now 23. We got to talking and what he said blew me away. He was leaving the next day to walk across the country. Walk, really? Why? You see Jay had heard an amazing testimony about a woman who had escaped from the sex trafficking. He became passionate about getting the word out, he began learning about the 27 million around the world in 161 countries that are in bondage. So Jay and his friend Shannon decided to go big. They want to raise awareness about the very real issue that is in our country. So I’m here to support check out – http://enditmovement.com/learn . https://www.facebook.com/joshuajayatlas?fref=ts , and http://www.timesherald.com/article/20130712/NEWS01/130719857/norristown-brothers-to-trek-across-country-to-bring-attention-to-human-trafficking . Never underestimate young people!student
3. I learned that the key to keeping your house clean is getting rid of stuff. Tsh from the Simple Mom has been saying it forever but the thrifty mom in me is always too afraid to part with stuff because I don’t want to rebuy it if we need it later. However,  I’ve come to terms with we won’t need it later. I keep wanting to save toys for our son for when he comes home, but I was reading that too many toys and flashy things cane be overstimulating… so why do I hold on to it. I went on a rampage and got rid of boxes and boxes of stuff.  Guess what? It really is easier to keep it clean when everything has a place and isn’t crammed in somewhere! In our defense the first two pictures were after we had lots of kids over to play, but then while the kids were gone I filled up about 3 boxes and two bags to give to charity.getridofstuff

4. I learned that when restaurants are opening they have a “soft” opening before their grand opening. Really it is a chance for the kitchen and staff to get out all the bugs before the real deal grand opening… what does that mean for me and you? Free food. Yup a Red Robin opened up in our neighborhood and my friend sent me to their website and lo and behold a place to make a reservation to eat there – FOR FREE! We just paid the tip – it was fabulous. The next day was free Chick-fil-A day where you get free food for dressing up like a cow.freefood5. I learned that you don’t have to pay a lot for a lot of fun- just do some research.learnedfreethingsIn order from left to right and then down…
I found a neighboring borough does a 7 week tennis camp from 9-12 Monday through Thursday for $125. That is a 105 hours at about $1.20 an hour. If you have more than one kid it’s $165 per family. It’s crazy cheap, amazingly fun and my daughter gets a great workout. It definitely pays to be open to any kind of camp and sometimes you find a diamond in the rough.
VBS – Vacation Bible School is really free camp for kids. I always help at our church’s VBS and I’m usually exhausted by then end so I send my kids to a friend’s VBS and it is awesome. The kids meet new friends and I get a bit of free time to catch up on some homeschooling preparation.
Local parks – This is an amazing water spray park near us. It’s a township park that is completely free. It was about a 30 minute drive – totally worth it!
Memberships – Even though it is crowded in the summer we take complete advantage of all of our membership to a local children’s museum and try to visit all the closest ones that are reciprocal.
State Parks – This is a state park about 1 hour from us, it has a huge lake that actually has fun little waves, a beach and there are even fish that swim by you. There is no cost to get in to the park. If you pack a lunch you are good for the day.
Community Garden – We joined our local community garden (for free) and we’ve been going 2 or 3 times a week tending to it and eating the fruit of our labor. It’s really a wonderful experience.
We haven’t gone yet this summer but we love our kid’s bowl free passes.

6. I learned that sometimes the simplest are the best. My younger daughter and I found these cute peanut butter oatmeal natural do treats for our sweet dog who turned 10 on July 4th. We mixed and rolled out and cut out little treats and put them in a cute container and gave her some. At the same time I finished the peanut butter container and for the first time in the 9 years we’ve had her decided to give her the container. She licked it for over an hour and since it was a big jar she could pretty much get her whole face in there. It was pretty much a free kong toy. She licked it clean which made it really easy to recycle (I really dislike cleaning out jars to recycle!). It was a win win win… and it turns out she liked it way better then the treats we made her.dogtreats7. Lastly, I finally learned how to take those cool sparkler pictures –
Must be in manual mode, Choose shutter speed make it very slow, and hold the camera super duper still!!!  Note to self and others. The person with the sparkler must write their name backwards!
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New Mission Out Today!

Have you joined the Engineering Spies? Girls and boys ages 4-12 and really any age will enjoy all these challenges as they solve open ended problems for their friends the spy puffs… and if that wasn’t enough each mission solved will win them a prize and notoriety. explanationwebGetting Started

Mission 1
Mission 2
Mission 3
Mission 4
Mission 5

Princess Camp

Last summer while Miss Thing (8 years old) was in drama camp, I wanted to do something for Sassy Pants to get her reacquainted with her preschool buddies (Sassy pants is as shy as she is sassy). So we planned a three-day princess camp. Sassy Pants and I probed pinterest. We decided to have each day centered around a different princess (Rapunzel, Tiana, and Ariel.) For the Rapunzel day we focused on art stuff since Rapunzel was a great painter, Tiana we focused on food, and Ariel was a fun water day.  pcpreworkThere was definitely some prep work. We made these adorable cone piñata towers using these instructions. I also made each girl a Rapunzel hair piece for them to decorate and wear. I found that wrapping the yarn around my foot and hand I could wrap it enough times and make it long enough to be Rapunzelesque. I then tied a hair band around the loop and tied a knot, cut the one end and braided. After I got in a groove it only took me about 45 minutes to do all 8 Rapunzel braids. Then the girls and I made frog prince salt dough. We made a simple salt dough recipe and then used this adorable sandwich cutter to cut it out. As you can see, my girls were more than willing to test it out.

The Rapunzel Day was my favorite. The girls were just so excited to all be together it was a whole three hours of giggles and laughs. We met from 9:30-12:30 so I made the girls a snack each day. On the first day I cut paper plates to look like palettes and then put rainbow fruit on it. The girls each shared and traded for what they liked best. In the Rapunzel movie Rapunzel makes Pascal, her chameleon, a dress. I had each girl bring a Barbie type doll and we watercolored onto a mini coffee filter to make skirts. I cut out the hole in the middle and taped the skirts after they were dry while the girls had their snack. The I facepainted each girl and they played dress up for a while. Next they had the tower treats and then they decorated their long pink braids with flowers like the little girls did for Rapunzel in the movie. Day 1 done! pcday1rapunzelDay 2 was our cooking with Tiana day. First the girls colored in princess pictures as we waited for everyone to get there. Then we played the frog jump. We won these little frogs in a Burger King kids meal and I had the girls race jumping them along. Then I had set up an egg hunt and the girls looked for the eggs in the bedrooms upstairs. I put little bits of the cookie recipe in each egg and we all came together to figure out what it said.  After that, I broke the girls in half. Half painted their salt dough frog princes while the other half baked mixed and baked snow white sugar cookies… I know why snow white? The were the only princess cutters I had (by the way the Williams and Sonoma Cookie cutters are awesome.) After everyone finished both tasks the girls made friendship mix. I learned about this from my awesome friend Melissa. Each girl brought something in and they pour it into a big bowl and mix it up. We had twizzlers, teddy grahams, chocolate chips, marshmallows and goldfish… surprisingly it worked. I had made cupcakes before this and they were all done cooking and the girls were able to decorate them. Not the healthiest day!pcday2tianaOur last day was Ariel day. We had a fun and wet day outside. We played hot potato with water balloons. We tried to make giant bubbles. The girls played on the playground and we used chalk to draw fish and then the girls threw water balloons at them to try to erase them. We spent most of the time in the kid carwash that we had made earlier that summer. They were beat by 11 so I put on the Ariel movie while they ate Swedish fish and goldfish. pcday3arielThe whole camp was a lot of work, it was such a blessing to Sassy pants that it was totally worth it.

Great Audio Books for girls 5 – 9

My daughters can talk. I think I’ve said it before, and well since I’ve been known to talk more than my fair share, I can’t really blame them. Sometimes though when we are in the car it is nonstop yap yap yap, which I love and which I can only take so much of. Two years ago when we homeschooled I discovered the joy of the audio book for the car. We listen to them as we travel from one place to the next often staying longer in the car to get to a good stopping point before we disembark. When it is a really good Listen to (that’s what we call them) we bring the CD in the house and put it in the DVD player and listen to it while we hang out in the living room or eat lunch.

It wasn’t intentional but almost all of our books that we love has the main character or one of the main characters as a girl. Yay girl power. Here are our top favorites and little bit about each of them.
Top Young Girl Audiobooks According to us
Audiobooks

  1. The Penderwicks  by Jeanne Birdsall- I picked this up on a whim at our library during TV turnoff week. It is so well written that I found myself wanting to get in the car and drive places just to hear it. Finally we just listened to it for 3 hours straight one night to finish it.  There are 3 Penderwick books and we listened to them out-of-order . We heard the Penderwicks of Gardam Street (2), then The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale (1), and finally The Penderwicks at Point Moulette (3).  The girls and I agree that the second one The Penderwicks of Gardam Street is the best. The story is of 4 sisters and their Dad and their adventures in life. Out of all the Listen tos this one seems like it is for older kids. The mom dies of cancer (even though it’s only talked about briefly I thought it was important in case that is a sensitive subject at the moment), and the oldest sister does like a boy in the books (my daughters loved this part as I tried to say ewww, they just laughed, but at least we could talk about it together, and finally the part that I liked least is that the one sister Sky (who is otherwise awesome) has a horrible habit of saying I’m going to murder you and a couple of things like that (The girls and I talked about it and worked through it). However even with this I must give this my recommendation, especially if your daughter is between 8-12 I think she’ll adore these three books.
  2. Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funk – This book is tom boy all over. Igraine lives in a family of powerful wizards, but she wants to be a knight. This book really shows her amazing conviction, her smarts, and her stubbornness. It was sweet, funny, and exciting. I also loved her relationship with her brother.
  3. Anne of Green Gables – I know classic right? I hadn’t read it as a kid, but we’ve listen to it twice already and really all of them in the series are good. What Anne lacks in reservation she more than makes up for in passion for life. Her spark grows and grows as she gets older, but her sass and hot headedness wane. It’s a beautiful story. It is also a wonderful story of adoption where hearts are knit together.
  4. Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry – Oh my – where was she was I was a kid? She is a leading lady that isn’t know for her beauty or strength but for her amazing storytelling and wit. This should be required reading for every second grade girl!
  5. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Series by Betty MacDonald – These stories are old, but not old-fashioned. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle gets kids, she really understands them. She is loving and kind but shows always cures them of a certain problem usually by giving them what they wanted so bad that they realize they don’t want it. I like some of these short stories better than others, but they are always interesting, and there is nothing scary in them so my kids love it. Plus I love talking with my girls about the cures and behavior. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle totally uses love and logic… I love it.
  6. The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett – This one we’ve also listened to twice. My girls love it when Colin gets stronger. I think of it like Anne of Green Gables in that it is a story of redemption through love and friendship. It is a great listen to because the kids paint pictures of the moor and the garden in their heads. I love it.
  7. The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler – I liked this, but it was a little bit older. I think we were definitely ready for it and my youngest loves mermaids so it was fun to see a story about a girl who is also one. Emily’s character is quite ordinary in the beginning but discovers that she is really extraordinary. The discovery doesn’t change the way she feels about herself and she is still a bit insecure (a great way to talk about self-esteem with your girls) but in the end she is brave and true to who she is. I think I liked this as much as the girls.
  8. The Ramona Series – We’ve listen to some and read others. Beverly Clearly does a great job of growing Ramona up in these books and I encourage you to read them in order to the end. They are not my favorite, because I can’t stand all of her tantrums and naughtiness in the beginning but my girls loved it – so I think it’s a win.
  9. Ivy and Bean – My girls and I go back and forth about these. I like them a bit because the girls are so fun and creative, but also a fair amount of naughty. I loved the one book we just read that had my girls learning all about global warming and starting to think about how little people can solve big problems, but in the same book I was completely annoyed when the girls played the game “orphan” and dragged each other around by the wrists… not cool! But alas they are the perfect reading material for a second grader with not too many words and an exciting plot.
  10. Melonhead by Katy Kelly – This is not a girl book, or even a book for girls. It is all boy, but you know me there shouldn’t be things just for boys or just for girls. This is a book about a boy doing such exciting type things like climbing roofs and trees and inventing stuff and some potty humor… but that is exactly what my daughters loved about it. They loved how Melonhead acted, they loved his ideas, and being the engineers that they are they loved his inventions. They didn’t love when he got in trouble… but it was a good way to show that some ideas shouldn’t be executed. It’s also a great chance to laugh about potty humor.

We also want to read these.
A little Princess, Esperanza Rising , Fiona Thorn and the Carapacem Spell ,All-of-a-Kind Family ,Rebecca and the Strangest Garden on Earth, The Catnapping Mystery,The Ordinary Princess ,Violet Mackerel, Anna Hibiscus, Clementine,  Marty McGuire,  Piper Reed, Naughtiest Girl Collection, Thea Stilton (we’ve read 1 and liked it),  Rickshaw Girl , and Sophie Simon Solves Them All