Ideas and Inspiration

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 This was an incredibly busy month for us. We had lots of fun, but I am really glad the month’s  over! I know I’ve missed out on recording quite a bit of what the kids did at home on their own since I had so much to do myself without them and couldn’t keep up with what they were doing at the same time.

Some highlights from the month include: a day trip to Great America, a 5 day trip to Kansas City, Missouri for a family wedding that I was a bridesmaid in, lots of Minecraft building, a 3 day Star Wars Lego camp, and a 5 day Vacation Bible School where I was the Bible teacher for all 5 groups throughout the day.


Books – Together

Inkheart -finally finished this!

Read more sections from Chicago History for Kids

Coyote in Love with a Star

The Potowatami 

The Giver - The kids and I LOVE this book! We’ve had hours of discussion based on the themes from this book.

Alexa’s Reading List

A Series of Unfortunate Events: Bk #3 The Wide Window

Bk #4 The Miserable Mill 

Bk #5 The Austere Academy 


Jared’s Reading List

Ranger’s Apprentice Bk 1: The Ruins of Gorlan - still reading this with me out loud

Darth Vadar and the Lost Command Star Wars Books Volumes 1-5



 Episodes of Jackie Chan Adventures

Episodes of My Little Pony Friendship is Magic

Episodes of Master Chef and 24

An episode of Monk

Episodes of The 100

Episodes of Lego Chima

The Haunted Mansion

The Lego Movie


Muzzy Spanish

Oscar’s Oaisis

George of the Jungle II

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

The Dragon Pearl


Games/Puzzles/Kits/Activity Books

*Besides his regular assignments each week, Jared spent quite a lot of time on his own playing in Minecraft this month. He also spent many extra hours designing his building and sculptures than was required.

Minecraft Homeschool- 7 Wonders of the World -

This month the class focused on Architecture. They started with exploring unusual buildings of the world. Then they moved on to tall buildings. We read several very interesting articles about record breaking skyscrapers currently being built or planned in China and Saudi Arabia. Then we watched a YouTube video featuring a Google street view walk through of the tallest building in the world to date – the Bahj Kalifia in Dubai.

In the Minecraft environment the assignments were: 

-to build one of three buildings – either the Bahj Kalifia in Dubai, or Sky City or Kingdom Tower – two buildings that will beat out the current record winner for tallest building in the world.

-watched the 5 part series Could You Be an Architect? on YouTube and then looked at 3 hotels built in unique locations around the world. Then the kids had to design their own hotel in a unique location and design an activity for the guests at their hotel to do

-looked at several building that are considered beautiful and then had to create a their own beautiful building

-They had to create a Minecraft work of sculpture of pixel art for a contest where the other students vote on their top 5 favorite sculptures or painting from each class.



Sequential Spelling Book 1 Lessons 99-100

Editor in Chief series by The Critical Thinking Co – Beginning 1- and did Mini Review Lesson 1-2 & Lesson 3&4

Lego Star Wars Camp -  This was a 3 day long camp at a local college. I’m putting this here because, on the first day of class,  the kids had to do quite a bit of script writing. They learned new terminology: characters, props, dialogue, scenes. Then they spent the next three 2 hour and 45 min long sessions filming their video. 

I was so proud of the hard work they put into creating this little two minute film. It was not easy for them and stretched them creatively. Both kids said they’d like to do this again in the future. In case you’re interested, here’s the YouTube link to the film they created.

Marvelous Math 

Life of Fred: Jelly Beans Lesson 2-5


Travel: Kansas City, Missouri

We spent 5 days in Kansas City Missouri at the end of the month for a family wedding. I was a bridesmaid so didn’t spend as much time with Steve and the kids as I would have liked, but I was so happy to be a part of the wedding.

The kids, as usual, did a great job traveling. We caravanned with Steve’s brother and two of his kids on the way down, stopping for food and ice cream along the way. On the night we arrived, I went to a Bachelorette party while the kids stayed back and played with their cousins.

The next day we helped set up the church and gym for the reception. The kids were a big help setting up chairs and tables. That night was the rehearsal and dinner.

Steve’s 93 year old grandmother slipped and fractured her hip at 3 in the morning the night before the wedding as she was getting herself a glass of juice. I was the only one to hear her cry out and moan, so thankfully I was able to wake up Steve and his aunt. She was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and had emergency surgery soon afterwards. She’s doing fine now, but I think it will be a long road to recovery.

So, the next day was pretty hectic to say the least. I needed to leave early for the church which left Steve is charge of getting the kids ready for the wedding. After the ceremony and a cake reception in the gym, we headed to a park to have a dinner cookout. We all had a great time! The kids played at the park, there was a short volleyball game and lots of great conversation.

The next day all the cousins went to Krispy Kreme in the morning to watch them make the donuts- and of course to buy some! Then there was church, picking up ribs for lunch, and an afternoon at the hospital with grandma. At night we played cards and hung out. Then the next morning it was a long ride home, unpacking, starting laundry and getting ready for Steve’s cousin and his new wife to arrive the next day.


At Home Fun

Inside: Jared showing me new Lego Club magazine and catalogs, Playdough and dinosaurs, pretend store

Helping get ready to leave on our trip and for company coming- cleaning up dog poop, straightening, vacuuming and dusting, cleaning windows, packing

Outside: One afternoon Steve put out the pool and kids played in there with Steve and Jessy.

Playing Jessy lion chase, making pretend animals homes


Out of the House Activities

Weekly: Library Visits, Grocery Shopping, Church, Gymnastics

Pool with Grammy three different afternoons – they usually also go to the park next door to the pool to play tennis. Jared helped cut down tree limbs for money.

4th of July - We started of the day at a parade three blocks from our house. They kids got more candy thrown at them from people in the floats than they get on Halloween! Then family came over in afternoon and hung out. Jared created Kick me signs he put on everyone, which then inspired the uncles to create their own Kick me signs back :) There was also  basketball and football play, too.

After dinner we walked over to a kids’ party at local park next to where they light off the village fire works. It turns out there wasn’t much to see:  a tight rope for the kids to walk across, face painting, root beer floats. We walked back home and watched the fireworks from our front lawn.

Vacation Bible School - ( 5 days from 9-12) This year I wasn’t a group leader in Jared and Alexa’s group. They’re getting to the age where they’re fine without me being there, so I decided to be the Bible teacher for all the groups- something I liked a lot better!

The theme was International Spy academy- perfect for Jared’s spy obsession! Every day the kids learned a new “spy technique.” Some things we did: made prints of our fingerprints and studied the three different types of prints, looked at 5 dollar bills and talked about how to tell a real bill from a fake, discussed how to find clues, and worked in teams to crack codes. Of course I would also tell one Bible story during this time, too and we’d learn a new Bible verse every day, too.

During the other time periods of the day the kids also did:

Crafts: I Spy bottle, Morse code, briefcase out of a pizza bottle, collage, a Trinity necklace

Games: Spiderweb, Obstacle course, Water Balloons, regular balloon game

Workbook Time: Learned new verses, coloring pages


At the end of each day, everyone gathered in the auditorium to sing songs and watch a skit.

K-9 Dog Demonstration- This free program put on by our summer’s library reading program was so interesting! Several police officers came in to talk about how they acquire police dogs and the training that takes place. They brought in several dogs and demonstrated some training techniques they used. Then the kids could come up and pet them afterwards. Alexa, who loves dogs, really enjoyed this program.

Dinner at Uncle & Aunt’s House - We went over to Steve’s sister’s house for dinner one evening with the kids. When the adults were talking, the kids sat talking with us to for a little while and then played games on the Wii. Alexa also spent about a half hour with her aunt playing Final Fantasy- a game they both are pretty obsessed with!

Great America - Every year the kids and I earn free tickets to come here through the Read to Succeed program. We had a great day weather wise.

Family bike rides and walks – We rode to a park close to home one evening played tag for awhile.

Alexa’s eye appointment – No more eye patch!

Birthday party for Andy - We met at my Mom’s house to celebrate my brother’s birthday. Wd had a BBQ and then Steve and the kids played on the slip and slide in the back yard, we took the dogs for a walk around the neighborhood (Jessy had her first experience seeing a horse), and just hung out talking.

Taking Jessy to the Vet – Jessy developed a growth on her eye. Thankfully, it was just an eye infection that cleared up with antibiotics.

Having family stay at our home for 5 nights- Steve’s cousin married this month and, because they didn’t have a lot of money for their honeymoon, they stayed at our house for 5 nights while they visited Chicago.

We were able to hang out with them quite a bit while they were there- taking several bike rides, going out to eat, hanging out talking and even going down to Fullerton Ave Beach to watch them participate in a volleyball tournament.


On the Computer, Kindle, DS, or Wii

Kindle: Plants vs. Zombies II, 

PC Games/,,,

DS: Pokemon Conquest, Final Fantasy ( watching lots of walk through videos on YouTube)

Wii: Lego Star Wars

Photo Credit: gordsam

What were some of your favorite activities from July?

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