Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sound of Music Cake

M-girl turned 10 (TEN) on Monday. Months ago she asked for a Sound of Music cake and I was unsure of how to accomplish that.   Then, I had an idea for crafty, not piped.

I baked a bowl cake (as I did for N-boy's Hobbit Cake). I used the internet, my printer, and laminator. I found a picture of Maria and images of her favorite things. I printed them, laminated, and cut them out. I used icing as glue to hold the little pics to the cake board. Maria is taped to a wood skewer. Piped some words in pink, and voilĂ , done.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

School Disguised as Gifts: Logic Card Games

Last week, I wrote some about the individual Logic Games we've given our children.  These are games they can do on their own.

We also love games that we can play together, and a lot of those are logic games.  There is a sense where most games have logic built in, but some games it is purely logic.  I'm going to split these into categories and today share some of our favorite Logic Card Games.  One other thing, we haven't given these only to our children, but to family and friends:

SET is a great game for thinking skills.  In it, you determine what makes three matching (or non-matching) cards a set.  The game goes fast and wild.  We've had 10 people around a table trying to figure out what the set was and groaning when it is found.  Fun for individual play or for big groups.

Swish is a blast. The cards are clear except for a ring or a ball of different colors in different places. Your goal is to get the right colored ball in the right colored hoop in the right position on the card.  It can take many cards to get the sequence right, but your goal is to get the most cards you can.  You can flip and flop and turn cards around.  It forces the player to mentally visualize which cards go together.  R-girl is particularly good at this visual-spatial form of logic.

Blink is a fast and furious card game.  I am the family champion.  I like Blink.  Here, you try to match color, shape, or number and get rid of your half of the deck of cards first. 

Finally, have you considered purchasing fun playing cards for your kids? My family is big on traditional card games like Solitaire, Rummy, and Euchre. (Lots and lots of Euchre, we taught M-girl and N-boy while we were on vacation)  I'm considering these for Christmas this year: Butterflies (for M-girl who loves butterflies); Night Sky (for N-boy who loves space things), and Water Lillies (for R-girl who says she wants to be an artist).  There are lots of others out there, look to see what your family is into!

Are there logic card games your family loves? I'm considering Dutch Blitz for this year, but would love some other ideas!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wednesdays with Words: In Former Times

More from CS Harris's Sebastian St. Cyr novels.  She has an impressive ability to select words from the period to introduce the novel.  While the series has  those not-so-subtle anti-religion themes which are annoying (and only vaguely plot-necessary), the character development and mysteries are both quite good.

As the series has developed, I like how historically sensitive Harris has been - including a discussion of the choices she's made and the true history she's included. She doesn't change the outcomes of history, but has her characters being involved and influences. The maturation of the series is something I find fascinating.  There are only two more books (and one expected early next year) and maybe I'll start reading something else for you all :)

Book 7 in the series, When Maidens Mourn, brings to the forefront the Regency Period's burgeoning interest in archaeology and the ever-present interest in all things Arthur.  Harris's epigraphs here include The Lady of Shalott (3 year old Alfred is a character in the book, his author-created cousin is the victim who was found dead in a boat) and from Sir Walter Scott, The Fortunes of Nigel:

The place at which he stopped was no more than a mound, partly surrounded by a ditch, from which it derived the name of Camel Moat.  A few hewn stones there were, which had escaped the fate of many others ... vestiges, just sufficient to show that "here in former times the hand of man had been."
Reminds me of Ozymandias, in a way, which M-girl had to memorize in grammar this year.  

What are you reading this week?

Wordless Wednesday: Vacation Pics

Thursday, October 09, 2014

School Disguised as Gifts: Logic Toys

Another type of gift we like to give our children are individual play logic games. I like that they can take these to quiet time and work through them with no interference (or help) and struggle to solve the problems.

Some samples we've given throughout the years are:

Kanoodle/Lonpos: In this game, your child learns to fit differently shaped pieces into place either in two dimensions (flat) or as three dimensions (a pyramid)  The booklet gives the beginning of the puzzle and the child has to complete it.  It is contained in one handy, self contained travel box that fits perfectly into a stocking.

There are a number of permutations of this game: IQ Twist, IQ Fit, Lonpos Cosmic Creatures.  Fun for all!

There are fun sequential spatial awareness games, too.  R-girl is particularly good at these.  We've enjoyed Animalogic and Rush Hour. When they were younger, they LOVED the Richard Scarry Busy Town game.

Finally, the most completely self-contained, hours of entertainment until you hear marbles in your sleep toy are the Perplexus mazes.  The children still love these even though they've solved them over and over.  M-girl is sad that she doesn't have one of her own.  We own the Original and Rookie and I foresee others coming into our collection.

I've made all these links to Amazon, but that is solely because it is convenient; these are not affiliate links.

For more ideas in this series (this is only week 2), see the School Disguised as Gifts tag.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Wednesdays with Words: Go and Catch

I'm back to reading Sebastian St. Cyr novels.  I took a month off because I was really disconcerted by the anti-religion slant of the books, but as I thought about it, I realized that Harris isn't so much anti-religion as anti-hypocrisy.  She never once censures characters whose actions match their profession, rather lashes out at those who just talk about things - and often talk about them in judgmental ways. Yes, her main character professes to be atheistic, except when he doesn't.

So, I brought 3 books on vacation.  I finished book #3, Why Mermaids Sing on Monday.  On Tuesday I read half of book 5, What Remains of Heaven, before realizing it wasn't the next book (major spoilers there!) and went back to read most of book 4, Where Serpents Sleep.   Somewhat disappointing because I was really enjoying the mystery in book 5.

Anyway, I thought I'd include the John Donne poem, Go and Catch a Falling Star, that is the inspiration for the murder done in book #3 for you all today.  Poetry isn't my strong suit, but there are some interesting images here.  St. Cyr is supposed to be more of a poetic turn of mind than his deceased older brothers, which leads to his father's disappointment that he's the heir.  In the series, this is the first inkling of that, in my opinion.

Go and catch a falling star

By John Donne
Go and catch a falling star,
    Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
    Or who cleft the devil's foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
            And find
            What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.

If thou be'st born to strange sights,
    Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights,
    Till age snow white hairs on thee,
Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me,
All strange wonders that befell thee,
            And swear,
            No where
Lives a woman true, and fair.

If thou find'st one, let me know,
    Such a pilgrimage were sweet;
Yet do not, I would not go,
    Though at next door we might meet;
Though she were true, when you met her,
And last, till you write your letter,
            Yet she
            Will be
False, ere I come, to two, or three.

What are you reading this week?

Wordless Wednesday: At the Beach