Welcome to TwoCowgirls, the blog about our crazy life in Downtown Saint Paul!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

How To Start A DIY.org Club

Have you heard of DIY.org yet?  

I found out about this website recently when the Minnesota Homeschoolers Alliance posted a link to it on their Facebook page.  I'll be honest.  I have spend over 5 hours browsing the website.  I'm like a homeschool mom, obsessed!  It's already been written into my plan for next year.

Here's how it works:

  1. Students log on to DIY.org, and set up an account.  You child will choose an avatar and username, and then they're ready to get started!
  2. Have your child read about DIY.org's guidelines
  3. DIY.org has 111 (yes, one hundred eleven!!) skills that your student can choose from.  There is truly something for everyone.  If my child chose "Clothing Maker," as their topic, they might choose to do the "sew in a zipper" challenge.  When she clicks on it, there is a video that teaches all about it.  It's a great way for your child to learn about things that you might not know much about (Backend Dev, or Urban Designer, for example.  Huh?)
  4. Once they choose a topic that they're interested in, they complete challenges to learn all about it.  When they've completed 3 challenges, they earn a badge (either virtual, or you can purchase an actual physical badge for $4).  When they've completed 6 challenges, they achieve Master Skill Level.  To prove that they've completed each of the challenges, they post a picture of their accomplishment to the website.  
See, easy as 1, 2, 3, 4!

How do you turn all this awesomeness into a club?  It's very easy.  In fact, DIY.org has a guide for doing this!  

Here's what you do:

  1. Register your club
  2. Invite your friends!  Who will want to join?  Neighborhood friends, homeschool groups, groups of friends, 4-H groups, the possibilities are endless, really.  
  3. Pick meeting dates and locations.
  4. Plan lots of fun activities!  Adventures, workshops, gatherings are all fun things to incorporate into your DIY year.  Get ideas for your club by viewing the handbook.  Seriously, read it.  It has more information than I could possibly put here.
A Sample Club Plan:

This is the plan for a club that I'm starting for some of our homeschool friends.  We're going to meet every two months (contrary to the suggestion in the handbook, which suggests meeting weekly or monthly).  This will give the kids time to work independently at home during their school day, then meet up for activities.  This is what we're going to do:

All meetings will start with the kids sitting together and showing off what they've been working on, either by bringing in a physical object, demonstration, or photos.  

1st Meeting - September 3rd: All of the kids have probably been geocaching before.  We're going to take it a step further, and actually make a cache, hide it, and log it.  It'll be a fun challenge in cooperation.

2nd Meeting - November 5th: This will be our adventure month!  As it says in the manual, if the kids aren't a little uncomfortable, it's not a proper adventure ;)  For this one, the kids will arrive at our house downtown, where they'll receive the challenge to take the light rail to a specific destination.  This means budgeting, map reading, keeping track of everyone in the group, and getting from point A to point B, all while collaborating together.  The parents will tag along, but we'll be in the background as the kids do their thing!  Exciting!

3rd Meeting - January 7th:  Badge-a-palooza!  This month we'll meet up to work on the Yeti badge.  The kids will complete three challenges (make fire starters, cook stew, invent a snowball launcher), and receive the badge at the end of the day.  It's going to be so much fun!!

4th Meeting - March 4th:  Makers workshop!  The kids will dig deep into their imaginations, and utilize the tools in a "makers lab" to create anything they can dream up.  They'll have access to batteries, battery holders, wires, art supplies, gears, and so much more.  If they can dream it, they can make it!

5th Meeting - May 6th - The final meeting!  This is the month where we'll honor the kids that have reached "Master Skill" level in any topic(s) throughout the year.  They'll show off their work, we'll have a party, etc.  

The cost for these meetings will add up to about $35 per child over the course of the year.  

That sums it up!  Now to start recruiting... 

Do you DIY?  I'd love to hear all about it!

The Final Days of June

It's hard to believe that summer is 1/3 over!  Oh my goodness!

It's been so fun and relaxing so far.  Here's what we've been up to:

Train ride!  It was a double decker, and we rode on top!

Bud took the girls to Lowe's Build and Grow to make dragons.  Elise takes hers everywhere.

Working on their fairy island.  An ever changing project!

This means the girl is having fun!

Aunt Leslie's Daycamp.  We went to Fort Snelling state park.

A rainy day can't ruin their summer fun!

Taking a break from the Back to the 50's car show to enter a coloring contest

She's on a boat!

She's not on a boat

Taking the bus to her first sleep away camp!

Elise got her cousins all to herself while Millie was at camp.

Training wheels...but only for a couple more days.  

Craft camp at Michaels.  Not a good experience.  

Back from camp!  The girl hasn't stopped talking about camp yet!

Fun at the library

They made fairy gardens while I was sleeping.  

Millie's gone AGAIN.  Elise invited this one over for dinner.

Find out what other homeschoolers were up to last week, by clicking here!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Beginning of Summer

Summer is in full swing!  I feel sooooo much better about things.  It has been good for me to turn my brain "off" and relax, wrap up tasks I've been meaning to do, visit with friends casually, etc.  Here's what we've been up to so far:

Lady's as tall as Millie now!
Painting rocks by the creek.
This was on her bucket list.

Digging a hole.  Finding clay.  Fun with friends!

Playing with neighborhood friends.  Making a fairy island.

All set up for the 4-H carnival!  Ring toss.

Millie working on er 4-H county fair project with a good friend.

City kids waiting for the bus. This picture makes me sad.

Aspiring Viking

Fun in the fountains!

Watching the trains roll through
A train!  A train!

Tried rollerskating for her first time at a birthday party!

Aunt Leslie's Daycamp, day 1.  So much fun!!
That sums up our summer so far.  We have so much fun planned, I can hardly stand it.

Am I the only one that gets pleasure from staring at my calendar?  I loooove my calendar.  Wanna see her?  Here she is:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Summer Bucket List - 2014

The summer is just beginning!  It's going to be a great one.  Here's what we came up with as a family, to put on our official "Bucket List" for Summer 2014:

o   Dance with Bud at 9 nights of music
o   Go to Craguns
o   Catch fireflies at the farm
o   Play in Grandma Suzie’s neighborhood
o   Make cookies
o   Have a lemonade stand
o   Sleep in the tent
o   Lay on the beach
o   Play in the woods
o   Have a picnic dinner
o   Get and play with fireworks
o   Canoe at Taylors Falls
o   Go on a kayaking date
o   Cocktails on a patio with friends
o   Go on a hike
o   Do a ranger program at two state parks
o   Go geocaching 
o   Make crafts
o   Go to the state fair
o   Start an herb garden
o   Go to gooseberry falls
o   Climb rocks at Taylors Falls
o   Go on a family bike ride
o   Spend the day at Oliver Kelly Farm
o   Boat tour in Duluth
o   Play in the creek at Mears Park
o   Go to the Black Dog playground
o   Walk at the quaking bog
o   Paper trail game
o   Cartwheels in the grass
o   Go to the Eagle Center in Wabasha
o   Read outside
o   Go to a parade
o   Get ice cream in Marine in St. Croix
o   Go star gazing

I'll check in mid-way through the summer to make sure we're staying on track.  It all seems pretty doable!  

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Free Range Summer

The problem with living in a condo in Downtown St. Paul, is that every single outing has to be intentional.  If they kids want to play outdoors, I have to come with them, sit with them, monitor them, and essentially stifle their childhood urges to run, play, and explore independently.

It's not that I don't want to spend time with my kids, I just feel that they should have the opportunity to have lazy summer days to play with friends, start a pick up game of kickball, build castles out of logs, run and play with other kids, and do things that "regular" kids get to do in the summer (without mom looking over their shoulders at all times).

This year, we're going to do something a bit different.

It's called our Free Range Summer.  

Since moving isn't an option right now,  a backyard isn't going "come to us." Instead, we're going to "come to the backyard"!  We're going to spend time in a designated neighborhood as often as possible.  I'll stay out of their way, and they'll run around and have the childhood I had hoped for them.

While they're doing that, I'll read, work on my lesson plans, jog, and soak up the sun.

I can't wait!

Side note:  I stumbled upon this article this morning on Facebook.  It's fabulously written, and expresses exactly what I feel about the "Free Range Summer."  All parents should read it!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Farewell 4th Grade and Kindergarten! An Exit Interview.

It's finally the end of 4th grade and kindergarten!  We're welcoming summer time with very open arms.

As usual, before we officially concluded the end of the school year, I conducted an "exit interview" to find out what the kids thought of the school year.  Here's what I found out:

Millie (4th Grade)

What is something we did this year that you'll remember the rest of your life? Making so many friends and learning to dance.

What is something I could have done to make this year better? Moving and having a giant backyard.

What is something that was hard at the beginning of the year, that's easy now? Typing.

What is something you taught me this year? All about animals.

What do you want to be when you grow up? A farmer.

Elise (Kindergarten)

What is something we did this year that you'll remember the rest of your life? Reading.

What is something I could have done to make this year better? Play with me.

What is something that was hard at the beginning of the year, that's easy now? Reading.

What is something you taught me this year?  That my favorite food is fruit snacks.

What do you want to be when you grow up? A princess at Disney.


But, what about me?  Don't I get an exit interview?  I'll just say that this was the most challenging year yet.  In fact, if it was my first year homeschooling, it'd be my last.  I lost any and all  motivation a couple months ago, and really felt like a slacker towards the end.

My solution for this problem is to create a highly detailed schedule for next year.  I tried to "take it easy" this year, which does not fit my personality or teaching style at all.  So, I'm going to spend the summer prepping my plan for next year, taking it easy, and trying to relax away my guilt from this school year, away.

I kicked off my summer break by going on a weekend getaway with my 3 closest friends.  It was amazing.  We shopped, ate, explored, laughed until we cried, told (too many?) secrets, drank (too much?) wine, and had a blast.

Find out what other homeschoolers were up to this week, here!