Saturday 14 April 2018

"Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick."

As much as I adore LEGO, I wasn't 100% sold on the Brickheadz range when they first came out. They seemed too static and lack playability which really put me off. That was though until a couple of days back when Opeie decided that he wanted to spend some of his birthday money on the new Brickheadz Go brick me kit. He got home tore open the box, had a quick flick through the instructions and built himself and his doting dad. The instruction book is awesome, giving you all sorts of plans for various facial features and accessories. I was blown away with the characters that he built and I think he really did us both justice.
Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick.
Read more at: and accessories. I was absolutely blown away by what he built and I think he really did us both justice.

Opeie's creations have completely changed my view on these fun builds and I'm now hooked. we've ordered the parts we need to build lots more so watch this space.

Wednesday 11 April 2018

"There's a bright spot in every dark cloud."

We used to be a really crafty family, always with the glue and the colourful card out making various things. Recently though the only time we seem to craft is when Opeie is creating awesome cards for his Pen pals. As the boys and I sat glue gunning for an hour this afternoon fixing one of our favourite creations, I realised that I had never actually written about it. 

Early last year one of my friends posted a video online of an amazing cloud lamp that lit up like a storm cloud. after seeing it in action I was hooked but the $3300 price tag wasn't at all appealing. It was one of those things though that I just couldn't get out of my head and I knew there must be a way of making a cheaper alternative that didn't break the bank. I did a little research and went shopping for supplies.

All I needed was some sphere paper lamp shades in various sizes, a bag of wadding, a glue gun, clear wire, a hook and LED strip lights, simple.

The light ended up being so simple to make and it was something that the boys could get involved in making too. Once the lamp shades were up we started hot gluing long pieces of the wadding to them, working around each one in a circular motion. once the three paper shades were covered we put the LED strip lights in each one. We then tied clear wire to each shade and hung them from a hook in the ceiling so it looked like the cloud was floating above the bed. It ended up being much more effective than i expected and only cost us around £15 (so a little cheaper than the one I spotted online😁).

To finish off the magic of the light we played the storm sound from the white noise app, turning the boys room in to a relaxing and magical place for reading.

Tuesday 10 April 2018

"Problems are hidden opportunities, and constraints can actually boost creativity."

When it comes to home-schooling, the learning never stops, but over the school holidays we definitely kick back and relax a little. The boys have had so much fun so far over the Easter period and it'll be sad when Seth goes back to school after this week. Ive been trying to get Opeie into a little coding recently and have borrowed books from the library and a BBC Micro:bit but he just hasn't shown any interest. I think part of it is because I want to have a go and learn with him but I didn't want to push it as thats the quickest way to put any child off an project.

Yesterdays activity, which I assumed would only last for a couple of hours ended up filling our whole day and in Opeie's words was 'One of the best Daddy-School days he's ever had'. Back in November we bought Seth a LEGO Boost kit for his birthday (Ok, so I was trying to get them both into coding) and with his obvious love of LEGO, it seemed like the perfect gift for Seth and something that Opeie may have been interested in at a later date. Seth sat and built it after his Birthday and had a little play but it ended up on a shelf untouched. So yesterday as the weather was awful and it was clear that we were not going anywhere, Opeie and I decided to have a play.

After learning the basics and working out what each of the commands does we began building a track out of LEGO so that we could work out the commands to get Vernie the robot to the finish line. For dramatic effect we used Opeie's Creator 3 in 1 robot (Which looks like it could be Vernie's child) and placed it at the end of the course. So Vernie had lost his child and needed to be programmed to get to them safely. One of the many thing I love about the boost is being able to key in the turning Degrees. We hadn't covered that yet so we drew a circle and I spent some time explaining Degrees and how the number we entered, would affect the robots movement. Seeing the actions in motion rather than just being on paper meant that this sank straight in with Opeie

It wasn't all movement that we needed to code though which made the activity even more fun. I placed the traffic cones (that come with the kit) across the track and Opeie stopped the robot at that point, recorded himself saying "Oh no! traffic comes, please can I have some help?" and also added that into the chain of commands followed by a 360° spin and flashing disco lights on the chest once they were moved.

Opeie's next obstruction was a Nexo Knights robot who was blocking his path. Opeie programmed his robot to stop and say hello and then recorded voice commands so that they could have a short conversation before high fiving and continuing along the route. Desperate to make use of the rocket launcher on his shoulder, Opeie built a LEGO target before adding in some coding to make Vernie stop and shoot it down. When the command for 360° spin didn't quite go around all the way (probably due to being on carpet), Opeie worked out how many more degrees he needed to turn and then added that into the line of coding too, which straightened up Vernie, keeping him on his path.

When Vernie finally made it to Vern Jr, Opeie had recorded an excited reunion piece to finish off our afternoon of LEGO fun. These are the sort of homeschooling activities that really reinforce our decision to teach Opeie ourselves and this is also another huge win for those amazing bricks, turning a dull and rainy day into a colourful learning adventure. 

Thursday 5 April 2018

Not settling for anything but the best!

I think I've raised a couple of LEGO snobs! Its important to have standards!

"The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough."

I love the build up to the boys birthdays, I get so excited about all the prepping. When I asked Opeie what he wanted to do for his birthday this year, that little beetle lover of mine wanted nothing more than to take his friends to the butterfly farm in Stratford-upon-avon, after a very exciting visit last year. Our previous visit was one of those days out that will stay with him for a long long time and that was all down to the interesting and very well educated staff. So it was no surprise really that he would want to go again and share the magic with his friends.

Our previous visit was a dreary and wet day but this time the sun was out and it was amazing to see the difference in the butterflies as they seemed so much more active with the sun shining through the roof. One of the things I love most about the butterfly farm is that the excitement begins as soon as you walk through the doors to the butterfly area. Within a minute each of the kids had a new friend land on them and that was pretty much all they needed to kick start an amazing visit.

One thing that always sticks out when visiting is the interesting and friendly staff that work there.  These guys are so full of amazing informative information and from a home education point of view this is priceless. Mark took us through all of the stages of a butterflies life cycle, pointed out lots of different types of butterflies and answered every question we could throw at him. This visit was a little more exciting too as the kids were able to handle the giant stick insects, millipede's and other fun creatures from the Mini beasts area.

I could spend hours at the butterfly farm, happily sat on a bench with a sketch book, doodling as people walk around in awe of all the beautiful butterflies fluttering by. Being able to bring Opeie's friends along too was a lovely experience for him as many of our visits to various places has just been the 2 of us, so it was nice to share the fun that we have with other Home-Ed children. If you are out for a day trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon then we cant recommend the Butterfly farm enough. I'm sure it wont be long before Opeie wants to visit again. Another truly amazing visit to a place that's full of magic.