Thursday, January 29, 2015

Unstructured Art with Vibrant Liquid Watercolors

If you are looking for exceptional, vibrant watercolors -- try Colorations liquid watercolors. After discovering them online at Discount School Supply, I splurged and bought a ton of colors. That first shipment has lasted over 2 years!!!

The pages are rippled a bit...just plain copy paper. As much as we paint, it's not cost-effective to use watercolor paper very often. 

Intense saturation with liquid watercolors via
Vibrant, bold rainbow and splatters

Intense, saturated liquid watercolors - homeschool unstructured art - via
Gorgeous green stripes

I know...the cake/pot watercolors are easy, cheap, and convenient. But they usually are so low in saturation! Especially these opalescent ones. 

Pale opalescent cake watercolors - via
These are so light, barely visible in finished artwork.
Madeline still loves to experiment with them.

For projects where a light wash is desired, dilute the liquid watercolors with as much water as desired. Bonus, your watercolors last a long time that way ;)

The kids love rich, saturated color. So we mainly use the watercolors as-is, right out of the bottle.

Using plastic condiment containers makes setup easy. Usually, I try to fill the little containers about one (1) centimeter high.

These watercolors have lots of pigment! Just a small amount gives intense, saturated color. One centimeter high of 5-6 colors will easily yield 5-6 paintings on 8.5" x 11" paper.

Reusable liquid watercolor storage - via
Most times, there is nothing left to save!

Cleanup is a breeze. Rinse your containers with water and reuse them next time. These plastic containers (originally purchased over 2 years ago) are still in great shape.

Last painting session, a little green was left over. No problem.

How to store leftover liquid watercolor paint - via
Too precious to throw your paint.

Simply pop on the lid and use for the next art session! You might need to add a bit of water before painting to reconstitute if any evaporation occurs.

Now go rock out some watercolors!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

First Lego League/ What Is It Really Like?

Your child LOVES Lego bricks and building. Is First Lego League right for them? Are they ready to jump into robotics?

Madeline and I have now completed our first season (me as coach, her as team member). Like any awesome program, it requires a serious commitment. Preparation is essential. 'Winging it' is not an option. Season details are released in late August and qualifier competitions begin in early December.

As a homeschool team, we elected to meet once weekly for two hours. School teams often meet more frequently because the kids are already at school. Our team members reside in different areas of Dallas and have different homeschooling schedules, so meeting more than once a week wasn't feasible for us.

What I did not predict was the intensity and how challenged the kids would be. Or how incredible the kids felt as they began seeing the robot complete missions!

Plus, who doesn't love robots? EV3 First Lego League Competition Bot
EV3 Competition Robot - Monkey Bot 1

No doubt the robots are cool! Not only did Madeline's team have to come up with a solution to solve each mission module, the team had to choose a game strategy.

Choose missions far away or close to base? Attempt multiple missions in one programming block or a single mission? Change out specialty attachments or design an attachment to do multiple tasks?

After critically thinking about point values, students start to work programming and designing attachments. It's all about math - angles and decimal values! And lots of trial and error to fine tune programs.

With only 2:30 (two minutes, thirty seconds) to run programs and earn points, the pressure is on!

First Lego League Qualifier Robot Game 2014 - via
Getting ready for the robot game.

First Lego League Robot Game 2014 - View from the Stands via
View from the stands.
Each team competes in three robot games and is ranked according to their top score.

FLL Qualifier 2014 - Robot Game Standings via
At Super Qualifier, we were in the top 10 through 2 rounds of the robot game.
We finished a proud 11th with a score of 150 points.

First Lego League Qualifier 2014 - via
Cheering from the stands!

Teams present their game strategy, robot/attachment design, and programming for judging.

Each season, a themed community challenge/problem is issued. Teams research the topic thoroughly and develop an innovative solution. But that's only the first part.

The second part is sharing your solution! Teams create a presentation to showcase their solution - then share with both their local community (prior to competition) and the judges (at competition).


First Lego League Core Values Trophy 2014 - via
Raising the trophy as the Core Values Winner at qualifier.

The motto of FLL is to have fun! That also means being a good sport. Teams are encouraged to share information, make friends, and act as professional colleagues.

What you learn is more important that what you win. It's a positive, supportive environment!

Teamwork is key. During Core Values judging, teams show how they work together. Respect, cooperation, and gracious professionalism are evaluated.

In addition to the closed doors judging session, judges assess how teams interact with one another in the pit (area where teams wait between rounds) and in other public areas.

Pins at First Lego League Qualifier - via
This Batman-uniformed team was super nice and qualified for regionals. Way to go!

Pins for other teams - First Lego League Qualifier 2014 - via
Having something to trade, like pins, is a great icebreaker.

Building with other teams - First Lego League Qualifier 2014 - via
Games/Lego bricks help the team pass time between rounds + they can play with other teams.

Our first year experience was overwhelmingly positive! There is a huge learning curve and we were lucky to have the guidance of a fifth year team. We met at a small scrimmage and they were so kind to take us under their wing ;)

Though we didn't qualify for regionals, two of the teams we scrimmaged with did qualify. We are thrilled for them and plan to cheer them on during their robot game. In Dallas, the regional championship is February 14th at Parish Episcopal.

Interested in participating next season? Check the US First website to see where your local FLL regional championship will be held for a sneak peek. The robot game is open to the public. Judging sessions are closed door, only team members are admitted.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Library Loot/ Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, The Mysterious Benedict Society, Wings of Fire, and Seven Wonders Reading List: Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, Mysterious Benedct Society, Seven Wonders: The Colossus Rises, Seven Wonders: Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Seven Ancient Wonders of the World

Such good library loot this week! Madeline is gobbling up the Seven Wonders and Wings of Fire series. In the Seven Wonders, each book involves a globe trotting adventure to one of the seven ancient wonders of the world. To learn more about these places, we are reading Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The highly original and creative Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes quickly caught my attention. A blind orphan thief? Three pairs of stolen magic eyes? On my short list!!!!

Because we Madeline loved The Mysterious Benedict Society, how could we pass up Mr. Benedict's Book of Perplexing Puzzles, Elusive Enigmas, and Curious Conundrums? The name alone is intriguing. 

Happy reading! 

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week from Claire's blog. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.