Lego Fun Build Day: Microbuildings

Yesterday ended up being an impromptu day off for my kids. The website where they stream their classes from was experiencing an outage, and it ended up being down most of the day. So instead of doing their classes, they decided to do the Lego Fun Build instead.

My kids LOVED this challenge. They definitely went above and beyond what they needed to and decided to build a micro-city. Their city has also changed multiple times since yesterday. I let them keep their micro-city built so that they could play with it again today. Their city today looks completely different from yesterday.

What is a microbuilding? You use the smallest Lego pieces you can to create a building. Everything about the building is tiny, the windows, the doors, the roof, the bricks.  And you have to add as much detail as possible using small Lego pieces.

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Corran built a one story house yesterday (with a flame coming from the chimney because he didn’t know how to build smoke), but then today, he added a second story to his house along with a balcony! He took out the flaming chimney. Corran also had a garden in front of his house with minifigures that functioned as statues.

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Matthias built a very nice one-story house yesterday. Today, he rebuilt it into a two-story house also. He has a very nice covered porch by his front door and green shutters upstairs. I kind of miss his little garden in the front yard though!

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Ian built quite a few microbuildings! The first picture is his house yesterday. He also built a gas station and a restaurant, which are in the second picture. The third picture is his two-story house that he built today. It looks like he is hiding a bag of treasure on top of his house!

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I wasn’t able to get great pictures of their microcity, but here is a picture of the Shark Mart. I’m not sure I could shop at a grocery store that had a huge shark on its roof!

Later, Thias built a skyscraper that had two stores in it: Costco and IKEA. I’m not really sure why they picked those two stores. Maybe they like them!

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Rhys built a microbuilding too. He put his microbuilding near the gas station and restaurant that Ian built. Gwen built a duck. It kept falling apart though so I wasn’t able to get pictures of it sadly.

I would highly recommend this as a fun build for kids! It lets them use their imagination and build their own little city if they want. It also doesn’t take up as much space as usual Lego builds since everything is on a small scale. Thanks for reading about our Lego Fun Build Day!

Next Week’s Build: Build a Farm

-Lynn

Lego Fun Build Day: Hot Air Balloon

A few days ago, Corran was reading through our blog (which I thought was pretty neat) and he asked why we don’t do the Lego Challenge Tuesday anymore. So I thought we’d start a Lego Fun Build Day; it won’t always be the same day every week, since our schedule can be unpredictable, but we will try to do one every week. These are just for fun builds and can be as creative or as simple as you want them to be.

To help me out with ideas for Lego Fun Build Day, I looked through this book:

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It truly is an Ideas book as it has no actual build instructions in it, but it is great to as the cover says, “Unlock the imagination.”

You can buy The Lego Ideas Book at Amazon.com for a little under $15.

I decided on the Hot Air Balloon Build because it looked fun and would be an easy and quick build for my boys. The book has some general instructions on how to build a hot air balloon. My boys’ creations looked nothing like what was in the book. But that’s okay. We’re trying to help them be creative!

The only two things that I required for their hot air balloon:

  1. It had to be hot air balloon-shaped (no square balloons!).
  2. It had to have a basket.

It is always interesting to me how different the boys’ builds are.

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My middle child, Ian, modified his hot air balloon a few times. He wanted to make sure a minifigure could fit in the basket, specifically Zane, from Ninjago. I’m not sure why he didn’t include Zane in his picture.  I thought he did a good job with his balloon.

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Matthias’s balloon looked the most hot air balloon-like. I liked his flame that he used in the basket. Something about Matthias’s Lego builds always makes me think of art for some reason. Sadly, no minifigures can ride in this balloon or they would burn up!

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Corran did not have much time to build his hot air balloon. He spent most of the afternoon working on his math problems and then he had to write a five paragraph essay for his World Studies class. His balloon looks like it is just the basket, but it does have a light inside for a flame. He said that his balloon looks more like the beginnings of a lighthouse or a hot dog stand. I’m just glad that he still wanted to build something even though it was almost dinnertime!

Next week’s Lego Fun Build: Microbuildings!

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Lego Mindstorms: Banner Print3r Bot

This is a repost of our Lego Mindstorms: Banner Print3r Bot build. I wanted to make it more clear and added a few more tips and pictures. I hope it helps out anyone building this right now!

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Since the Lego Mindcub3r took so long to build and get working, the kids played with it for more than a few days. It wasn’t until last week that we decided it was time to take the Mindcub3r apart and build a new bot to play with. Josh gave us a few options, and I decided we would try the Banner Print3r bot.

The Banner Print3r bot can draw or write on a cash register/calculator paper roll using a standard Sharpie marker. If you have a washable marker though that works as well as and is the same size as a Sharpie, I’d recommend using that.  We didn’t have any cash register paper rolls and I didn’t feel like taking all the kids to Staples, so I ordered a 12-pack off Amazon. At first, I thought I had bought too much paper, but it ended up being a good thing. We are already using our second cash register paper roll!

Since this is a monster post (1500 words!), I am going to place the rest of it under a read more.

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Paver Snowmen/Gingerbread Men

A republish from last year. This was a fun project to do, and getting out last years project brings back good memories. 

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The only place I was able to find the correct shaped pavers was Home Depot.  The pavers were only 67 cents each so they make for a cheap project.  I also bought a can of white and light brown spray paint.  We had all of the materials we used for decorating on hand.

First we put the paver on a box in the drive way and spray painted them white for snowmen and brown for gingerbread.  The pavers were already sort of brown, but were unevenly colored.  They needed to be painted for a better look.

The spray paint dried within minutes and we were able to decorate our pavers.  We used acrylic paint, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, cotton balls, and ribbons.  I was also able to fashion some hats out of scrap wood.  Each child was able to decorate in their own way.

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Our 11 year old’s snowmen and gingerbread man
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Our 8 year old’s gingerbread and snowman
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Our 6 year old’s snowman, alien, and cyclops. I could see myself making something like this as a child.
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Our 4 year old is really into black. Not a traditional snowman color.
 

These were easy and quick decorations that we will be using as decorations for family.  I also learned that the combination of gorilla glue and acrylic paint is VERY hard to clean off your hands.

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-Joshua

 

Lego Adventures Series 1: The Race

We want to incorporate more creative writing into our kids’ homeschooling, so Josh and I decided to have our boys write or create a Lego Adventure every week based on a theme that we give them. We love what they do with the Lego Mindstorms, but we know how important writing and creative thinking will be later on when they are in college and then in the workforce. Writing is one of their weaknesses, and what better way to strengthen their writing skills than by letting them play with Legos?

This week’s theme is The Race. It could be any kind of race, not limited to just vehicles or race cars. They were to build a scene out of Legos and then write a story based on that scene. All four of our school-age children built a scene, but since Rhys (our kindergartener) doesn’t know how to read yet, we didn’t require him to write a story.

We also want to get our kids more involved in the blog. I think that since they know this is going on the Internet, they will work pretty hard on these Lego Adventures!

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First, we have Rhys’ race scene. He thinks linearly so his race is in one line on the baseplate. I LOVE his little cat though! Isn’t it cute?

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Somehow, Ian wrote two stories to go with his race scene. His scene was rather elaborate, but he is still working on his writing skills. I did not make any corrections so his stories may be difficult to understand.

I will post his original story and then his second story.

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Ian is scared the big race is coming. The best racers are coming to race. You can be 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. 2 Zanes are winning. Ninjas are coming. The big race is starting.ianrace2

Since Zane destroyed the ghost mech so he destroyed the ninjacopter so he built this. He’s Airjitzu now thouh. It’s been a long time since rebooted.ianrace3

then he combinded them to the ghost copter! then he added a simble (symbol).ianrace4

Now He’s Fighting. Airjitzu Zane flyer came to help. Zane was flying in the ninjacopter the (then) it brock. Then ghost mech fell on it. Then he went to fight. he won

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Matthias built a different kind of race: an eating contest!

The Eating Contest

by Matthias

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Today is the day of the eating contest. The participants are Matthias, the Mandalorian, and Cole. They will be eating two loaves of bread, three apples, three carrots, two pizzas, one chicken leg, a hamburger, a fish, and a bun. The prize will be a slurpee.

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Matthias started first and devoured his two loaves of bread.

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Then he slowly ate the two pizzas.

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After that Matthias ate his chicken leg. He took a sip of his coffee then gobbled his hamburger. Then he ate his fish.

“Ugh.”, said Matthias. He was full. He just could not eat any more.

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So then the Mandalorian started. He likes bread so he ate it fast. So he moved on to round 2.

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Then he ate his chicken leg. But when he ate his fish he threw up because he is allergic.

Cole started next. He devoured all his food except for the bun.

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So Cole won the eating contest and he won the slurpee.

THE END

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Corran’s story is reminiscent of a Mario Kart race. I also laughed through most of it because it was hilarious. In a good way.

The Race

by Corran

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On the day of the big race, Pig Guy was scared. He would be racing against the best racers in Lego Town, like the Silence and Minion-with-a-hot-dog-in-his-hand-riding-on-a-pig. At least he had his trusty apple. Oh, and a new, fast motorcycle. The racers would have to race around a track around Lego Town, through the beach, and then back to where they started.

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When the horn sounded to call the racers to the starting positions, he went to get his motorcycle to his position. The light was red then turned green, and everybody was off! The first portion of the race was easy, just three laps around the park.

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Pig Guy’s motorcycle was pretty fast, but the ninja’s car was right behind!

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In the meanwhile, Minion-with-a-hot-dog-in-his-hand-riding-on-a-pig’s pig had wandered somewhere to find some carrots, so he was out of the race. The AT-AT driver’s AT-AT was kind of slow, but it could shoot lasers. The Silence had a fast Speedor, and he could shoot lightning. The ninjas were, well, a car full of ninjas.

As Pig Guy was about to round into the park, the Silence tried to bump him! Pig Guy’s motorcycle jumped over the curb and into a thorn-bush. As Pig Guy crawled out of the bush and dragged his motorcycle back on the road, the Silence finished his three laps around the park. Pig Guy would have to drive very fast to catch up. When he started driving again, he looked at his fuel gauge. It was almost empty! Pig Guy had forgotten to fill up his fuel tank. Just when his motorcycle was about to give out, he noticed a hose hanging off the AT-AT in front of him. When he took it and stuck into his motorcycle, he stole the AT-AT’s fuel!

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Now he was back in the race.

The next part of the race was over the old bridge. Pig Guy had almost caught up with the ninjas, but the Silence was still far ahead. When Pig Guy started to drive across the bridge, it started to rock. The ninjas slowed down so that they wouldn’t fall off, and Pig Guy was able to catch up with them! He plucked a thorn out of his arm, and leaned over to stick it into the ninjas’ tire. When it popped, the ninjas flew off the bridge! Now it was just Pig Guy and the Silence.

For the final section of the race, they had to race across the Beach. It was starting to get dark, and Pig Guy couldn’t see very well. He could see crabs scuttling across the sand. In the distance, he could see the Silence. Suddenly the Silence got stuck on a stretch of wet sand! Now Pig Guy could catch up! As Pig Guy came next to the Silence, the Silence blasted him with lightning! Then he pulled away from Pig Guy. Pig Guy couldn’t see very well from the lightning. Coming up soon he could see the finishing line. If he didn’t do something then the Silence would win. Pulling his arm back, he threw his apple as hard as he could. It knocked the Silence off his Speedor, and Pig Guy was able to zoom by him. He had won!

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Note: I know Pig Guy cheated to win the race, but that is literally what Mario Kart is like!

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If you read this whole post, thanks so much for reading! My boys had fun creating these for us. I’m sure your kids will too!

-Lynn

Lego Mindstorms: Wack3m Robot

For the longest time, I could not figure out where the programming for the robots on the Lego Mindstorms website were! I feel very silly now, but in case there is anyone else out there who could easily find the build instructions on the website but did not know where to download that particular robot’s program, here is how to find the programs for the “official” Lego Mindstorms robots.

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To access the programs for the Mindstorms robots, download the EV3 Programming software under the Downloads tab. I tried using the app for accessing the programs, but I did not see a way to look at the “extra” robots on the app, only the 5 that come with the Mindstorms kit.

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Once you have downloaded the software and opened it, the screen will look something like this. On the screen are the 5 starter robots. If you look at the 3 tabs near the bottom of the screen, one tab says MORE ROBOTS. Click that to change the options at the bottom of the screen.

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It was like a revelation once I clicked that MORE ROBOTS tab. Two of the robots we had built were there: the PRINT3R bot and EV3D4. For this build, we went with the WACK3M bot. It’s an arcade-style bot that lets you play whack-a-mole.

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Once you click on WACK3M, the screen changes to the Mindstorms programming environment. This particular build had onscreen instructions for actually building the robot and even let you run a few short programs to test your robot in the middle of your build, just to make sure you have each part running correctly.

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In the above pic, Thias is building one  of the units for the WACK3M bot using the Mindstorms software. Usually, he builds them using the iPad, but I think this way might have been quite a bit easier.

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In the upper right corner, you click the arrows to take you through each page of instructions.

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Once you are done with your build, you can look at the programming. This one was working as is of course, so my kids went straight to playing.

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The two-tired “wand” Thias is holding acts as your hammer for the game. All my kids loved the hammer and kept using it NOT as a hammer for the game.

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Here is a pic of the completed bot. This was a pretty smooth build and my boys had few issues with it. They weren’t quite as fascinated with it as they were with the MindCub3r bot though. They did like that it told them their scores related to their reaction times.

All my kids were able to play with this bot though, so that made it a good build for multiple ages to try. They were all so crowded around it that I never got a good video of it working!

-Lynn

 

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First Day of School!

 

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Yesterday was our first day of school! It went pretty well as first days go, even though there were the usual questions such as “Mommy, where are my ____?” or “I can’t find _______.” Sometimes, I had more than one child asking me for help. This is our third year homeschooling but it is my first year homeschooling four children. As I expected, my kindergartener needed the most help. He even threw a fit ten minutes before his last class ended because, “He didn’t want to do school anymore.” Ha!

Our newest addition to help with homeschool organization is this locker unit that we found at Homegoods. The boys (and my baby girl) love it and actually put away all their school books and supplies in it when they are finished with classes.

I wanted to give my youngest homeschooler a lot of references during his class, so I put together this bulletin board with a calendar (which is also helpful to my older boys! They no longer ask me what the date is.) and put up this set of manuscript letters for when he begins writing.

Since we do not have a dedicated homeschool room, I scatter the kids around the living area to keep them from distracting each other. My 7th grader is at the dining table by himself. He may eventually get a desk in the office area if I can ever get it cleaned up enough for two people to sit in!

My 4th grader and 2nd grader sit at a folding table in front of the fireplace, facing away from the TV. So far, they’ve been doing well! No excessive messing around or talking. Hopefully, it will stay that way.

My kindergartener is at the TV and his baby sister tags along to watch his classes with him. He only has 3 classes, so he is done by noon.

For after school fun, I put together an after school box with coloring books and crafts. We also have board games out, a small chalkboard, and an electronics discovery kit called Snap Circuits. So far, they’ve played with the chalkboard and the Snap Circuits.

We use BJU Press streaming video for our main curriculum. It has worked well for us for the past two years!

-Lynn