Tinker Crate (Kiwi Crate)

Summer is half over here…. We are always looking for things to do that are fun…  My little one really doesn’t like to leave the house much, so anIMG_4768 y activities we can do at home are even better.

This summer we’ve added Tinker Crate to our list!  It’s a subscription service and has an activity each month as well as some learning activities.  This month includes a lava lamp, last month we got to build a levitating pencil holder.  We learned all about magnets, their poles, attraction, and More!IMG_4759

The kit came with a magazine with other activities to try, an instruction sheet with directions and the parts for the levitating pencil holder.  The age range really started at 9 for the kit we were building but my little one – 7 years old, got a lot out of it!

This was a great way to extend the science from the school year.  Kiwi Crate has younger crates as well as a Doodle Crate that I’m looking at signing up for.  There is even a koala crate for ages 3 to 4 years old!

I can’t wait to try our lava lamp!

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Space and Rocket Center – Huntville (Earthcam)

Last November we visited the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville.

Rocket Center
Before going we checked out their site. They have lots of fun things you can do – including camps.  My oldest went to space camp around 2005 and the camps are still going strong.

Their website includes resources for education, what activities are going on today, and even directions and pricing.  Did I mention the IMAX has movies that include Robots right now (some of the camps include robots also.)

While checking out the site I noticed they have a new EarthKAM Image Gallery.  Looking at the images, it is interesting to try to identify what the image is looking at.  – There is also a folder called Annotated Images that includes the images marked with well known locations.

Search the Sally Ride EarthKAM Image Gallery or Image Collections to see annotated and composite photos, as well as our all-time favorite Sally Ride EarthKAM images.

Images can be downloaded and also printed on Shutterfly.

We have visited the Space and Rocket Center before, but I’m always amazed by how large the rockets are.




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Science Night at the School

Our local grade school just held a science night.  We go to all the nights, math, science, art night!  Art night the parking lot is packed!  Not so for math and science.  Art night the kids preform and their items are on display whereas math and science night include hands on science and math activities.  For science night, we got to do activities that included volume, cars and coefficient of drag using a fan with racing matchbox cars, arches, and engineering and building an aluminum foil boat.  The nice thing was that there were no lines, all the activities were open to try.  The kids that did come were having a GREAT time.  The question is how to get more kids to attend?  Was it because there were no scripted activities like performances that the students were included in?   No pictures  or papers hanging on the walls to check out how our students have done?

The other thought I had was if there had been a large turn out, would everyone have enjoyed it as much?  The activities were all hands on.  A large turn out would have required waiting at each table.  I know we tend to avoid activities where we will have a lot of standing around waiting around and waiting our turn.

What’s a good way to get a better turn out?  Are there activities for larger groups at one time?  All in all though we enjoyed science night ourselves, but we were very disappointed with the low turn out – just for what it says about the general publics thoughts on science in general.

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Traveling during School: Pull out of school?

IMG_9114 IMG_9126 IMG_9130We travel for conferences off and on and have always enjoyed taking our boys.  We always try to include lots of educational activities, but we also have included fun too!  My favorite is to look for what museums are in the area and any sites that tie into historical events that we remember.  Then I ask anyone we know that is in the area.  We seem to have friends in most areas…..  Announcing a pending trip (with no dates for safety) on social media can sometimes get some great suggestions. – Weigh the safety of letting people know when your house will be empty and check your privacy settings if you go this route.

Our school requires a form that tells where we are going, the educational benefit, and when.  It then goes on to the school board to approve, but counts as days attended.

Our latest trip included the Parthenon in Nashville!  The Parthenon is a recreation of the actual Parthenon in Greece and holds an art museum.  It was built for a fair a few years after the end of the Civil War.  One room includes maps of the original fairground and some of the pamphlets.  All the additional buildings were built to only last 6 months. There were also rides – you can still see the lakes that went along with the water rides.  The area around the Parthenon is now a park and seems to always have people and activities going on around.

The downstairs during our latest trip included an exhibit of mixed media art centered around Grimms Fairy Tales.  For my youngest, it wasn’t as interesting as it would have been when he gets to be older, but we did have a discussion about some of the fairy tales.  The fishmonger’s wife that is shown carrying a magic fish, Cinderella, and more!  The upper floor includes a huge statue of Athena.  The older kids had to take a picture with the statue.  For the older kids, this was a great chance to look up and compare with the original Parthenon in Greece.  The art exhibit of fairy tales was a good chance to discuss some of the fairy tales with my little one.

We also used the visit to the Parthenon as a chance to discuss Greek Mythology.

Things to study tied in with the Parthenon:

  • Greek Mythology
  • Art  (It is an Art Museum)
  • History – Civil War – Some of the exhibits at the Centennial Exposition included reenactments of the Battle of Gettysburg.
  • History – The Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition was an exposition staged between May 1 and October 31 of 1897 in Nashville. It celebrated the 100th anniversary of Tennessee‘s entry into the union in 1796, although it was a year late.
  • Grimms Fairy Tales – The season’s exhibit

Nashville does have several other educational places to visit, including several centered around the history of country music and the music recording business.   We’ve visited everything from the Adventure Science Center to the Zoo also.

Nashville for us is a day trip in many cases, but taking a day off school to explore a museum or go with us to a conference and explore the nearby sites is a great chance to expand on the school’s curriculum.  If we were homeschooling, we would spend even more time exploring sites!


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Limiting Camera Usage (IPhone) – Protecting your Child



iphone ScreenOn your iPhone – or your child’s device, there are a lot of settings you can change and options to limit apps! As kids get older or even with my youngest using features like in-app purchases (and who hasn’t accidently hit a link once in a while and had to stop it). I’ve even bought the wrong book once with one click buying… now turned off on my own phone. As features and purchases become easier to use, it becomes easier to spend money.

Apps now can send pictures and video in and easier than ever way, data is used constantly. For preteens and teens, sharing pictures and texts is a standard daily event – who makes a phone call anymore?

To set restrictions and turn off access, the settings can be accessed through the settings choice on your device.  Choosing Celluar you can find a choice for cellular data use and limit which apps use the data plan.







To set up restrictions on what your device can do without a special code (separate from purchases)

  • General
  • Restrictions
  • Enable Restrictions
  • (Do not forget the code you set)


IMG_3108Restrictions is directly below Autolock.  If you lose or forget your Restrictions passcode, you’ll need to erase your device and then set it up as a new device to remove the Restrictions passcode. Restoring the device using a backup won’t remove the passcode. – So be careful setting a passcode for restrictions.





Some things you can restrict:

Apps and features

  • Safari
  • Camera (also disables FaceTime)
  • FaceTime
  • iTunes Store
  • Apple Music
  • Apple Music Radio
  • Apple Music Connect (replaces Connect tab with Playlists)
  • iBooks Store
  • In-App Purchases
  • Siri
  • AirDrop
  • CarPlay (available only with iPhone 5 or later)
  • Installing apps
  • Deleting apps
  • Multiplayer games in Game Center
  • Adding Game Center friends

You can restrict access to YouTube in iOS 5 and earlier.

Changes to privacy settings that can be updated include:

  • Location Services
  • Contacts
  • Calendars
  • Reminders
  • Photos
  • Share My Location
  • Bluetooth sharing
  • Microphone
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Advertising

You can also prevent changes to settings, including:

  • Accounts (Such as Facebook)
  • Cellular Data Use
  • Find My Friends
  • Volume limit
  • Cellular data use



Choose ON to set the restrictions to on and you will be asked for a 4 digit lock code (It will need to be entered twice).  Once set the settings will be shown to allow you to restrict apps and accounts on the device. IMG_3109








Walking through the restrictions, allows settings to be set for nearly everything on the device.




Facebook – allow changes




IMG_3110 Devices can even be restricted to not allow location sharing, use of the camera and microphone and more.  The use of camera and microphone can even be limited per app.

Restrictions gives us a wide variety of controls over our teens and pre-teens devices in the event you want your child to have a device, but not use social media, not use up your data plan, or even just not listen to explicit songs and videos.

















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