Monday, April 13, 2015

ThinkFun Maker Studio...it really got Aidan's imagination spinning!

I have worked a few times with ThinkFun in the past and have REALLY enjoyed it.  Their games are fun, but also educational.  They just came out with a new kit and offered to send me one to review and play with.   

Aidan is in LOVE with building things and from his time in scouts when he was younger, I knew that this would be right up his alley.  I ALSO knew that Eric likes this kind of stuff and it would be some great father-son time. (I was right)

So here is a blurb about the sets straight from ThinkFun because, of course, they say it the best.
 
"About Maker Studio Construction Sets:
Designed by well-known maker/engineers for budding engineers (aged 7 to adult), Maker Studio sets transform recycled household objects into working, kinetic machines and contraptions. Each of the three sets (Gears, Propellers, or Winches) includes complete instructions for creating four amazing builds, as well as Engineering Challenges - encouraging young makers to experiment with friction, torque, propulsion and more. Suitable for anyone ages seven-to-adult who is ready to think “outside the brick” and start making."

I got the basic Maker Studio which was pretty cool.  Inside each box is:
Photo from the ThinkFun site.
  • 1 Spool
  • 2 Long Connectors, 3 Medium Connectors
  • 1 Large Gear, 1 Medium Gear
  • 2 Large Wheels, 2 Medium Wheels, 2 Small Wheels
  • 3 5.5" Rods, 3 1.5" Rods
  • 13 Hub Caps
  • 1 Hole Punch
  • 3 Rubber Bands
  • 10 Engineering Challenges
We did NOT use everything in the box.  Aidan saw the cards right away and wanted to make something straight from the card. I said no.  It was imagination time.

He decided on a boat, but we had to figure out how to tie in all the pieces obviously.  After looking at the boxes that we pulled from the recycling bin, the guys decided on a fishing boat. 
 
PICTURE TIME!!
Excited to begin!
Captain looking out the window

It floats!  The box was covered in packing tape to keep the water from degrading the box.

The crane Aidan built.
Aidan and Eric only used SOME of the pieces available, so they can build more now!  I really liked this set.  I enjoy how it encourages creativity as well as recycling.  All boxes were pulled from the recycling bin.  The yarn and tulle were from my craft room.  Nothing additional needed to be purchased.  No batteries are being used. Just good old fashioned brain power.

I am kind of looking forward to him taking this apart so we can build something else.  I would love to get in on the fun!

The ThinkFun Maker Studio can be purchased on their site for $19.99 You can check out more info there, see videos, as well as get the links to the other kits.

You can find ThinkFun on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!  You can also find this kit on Amazon

Thank you so much to ThinkFun for letting me try out this kit!  It was given to me for free for review purposes, but the fun had, opinions,  and creativity were all ours. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Eric won't let me get chickens so....

I expanded the garden. (By I, I mean Eric.  He did all the lugging. I directed.)


For the past few years we have had a raised bed. Kinda small.It is only 4'x8'.  The kids are kinda anti-everything,so it produced a decent amount for Eric and I.  The only issue we had last year was the squash grew GIANT and took over my garden.  Literally half of the area was for 2 squash plants.  TWO PLANTS.

This year we quickly made another bed with just concrete blocks, garden soil, cow manure, and a bit of top soil!  Took all of 20 minutes to throw together.  The hardest part was transporting everything to the backyard.  I guess....I mean....it LOOKED hard.

 I walked around, cleaned out the old garden and added some new soil to mix in.  When doing that, I noticed that my asparagus was taking off!  You have to let it grow for about 3 years before eating.  I have roughly 6 sprouts popping up.  This one is the biggest.  Well over a foot tall.


I also noticed that all my strawberry plants were back in bloom! There are even some little green berries on the plants!  Hopefully the birds will leave them alone this year.  I need to get some kind of netting.  They are just in pots on my porch railing.


Since I was on the ball this year I decided to start things from seeds. I found a new company Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and got together with a few friends and split an order.  That worked out wonderfully, because I really don't need 50 of one type of plant except carrots.  LOVE CARROTS.

I ended up getting 2 types of lettuce, horned melons, 2 types of cucumbers-slicing and pickling, 2 types of peppers, watermelon, broccoli, carrots, pattypan squash, crookneck squash, zucchini, beans, soy beans, peas....I really had way too much fun with it.

One thing I unfortunately learned about is growing "leggy" plants.

This is a "normal" seedling.  (Pattypan squash)  See how they are short and thick?


THIS is what happens when you don't have enough light. I started them inside and THOUGHT that the window was bright enough. Nope. I read all about it online. It can also be caused by too much water.  I know that wasn't the case for me so, I ripped them out and started them over.  The squash up top was just grown outside.  Well, I bring them in at night because it is still chilly out.  But you can tell that they are LOVING the sun.  Once your seedlings flop like that, they are kinda screwed.


This is my second growing of broccoli.  They all got leggy like the jelly melons up top.  Also-I did water them.  I forgot yesterday so they look much nicer now.

 I will try to post some updates this year!  I always seem to forget.  I have some interesting plants this year, so I can't wait to share their growth with you!  I am even going to attempt pickling AND sauce making. Let me know in the comments if you have a garden and if you are blogging about it.  I would love to check out everyone's hard work!