Disney LEGO

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I figure this post should get a million views. Of course they’ll mostly be by kids between the ages of 5 and 10. Every kid into Disney and every kid into LEGO.

And every adult into either, as well.

DW and myself included.

Backstory first. Crash’s teacher emailed us last week to tell us what great job he did on his writing. He sat undistracted (major feat) for two and a half hours and wrote a play. His writing was neat. His writing was on the lines. We were so happy to hear this news! One thing he normally does’t like to do is write. He loves making up stories, of course, but to write it all down? You might as well ask him to wash the dishes.

We told him how proud we were of him to work that hard for that long and to do neat work was incredible. We praised him. After the boys were in bed, I had to go to our friendly, local Wal-Mart for kids Claritin (allergy season). While I was there, I popped over to the toy department and found some LEGO mini-figures. I picked up one for Crash for his hard work in school and I picked up one for Bang for whatever hard work he did. When I showed them to DW she noticed they were Disney and got all excited. Then I did, too.

LEGO has just released its first series of LEGO mine-figures!

The next morning, the boys opened their package to reveal that they had just earned the Cheshire Cat and the Genie. That morning, after DW dropped Crash and I off at school, she and Bang went back to the store to get more. Judging by feel, we think we’re missing just three characters.

The boys have to earn them, though. We’re mean like that. Crash woke up Sunday morning and cleaned up all the toys in the basement! Cha-ching! He’s been motivated!

DW just informed me that if I fix all the mistakes in this post I can earn one too! I hope I get Stitch.

Our hope is that when these characters are passed on to our grandkids, they’ll be worth more than what we paid for them. It’s Disney. It’s LEGO. We’ll at least have some fun with them until then!

IMG_0280Cheshire Cat, Genie, Maleficent, and Donald Duck –
the four who have been earned so far.

Note: Our minifigure collection is NOTHING compared to Tracey’s Funko collection

Trolls

In case you missed yesterday’s post about the war between the Bees and the Grass Goblins, check it out here. It’s a fun little story I made up for Bang while we were out playing in the backyard. It’s so fun playing with their imagination. And if any of you are artists and would like create the Grass Goblin from the story, that would be totally awesome and I would be totally grateful!

While yesterday’s story was purely fiction, today’s is true. As most of you know by now, Crash has a YouTube channel. He uses it share his Lego creations. I use it to show short clips of fun things we do. Anyway, he got his first troll last week. Whether it was an actual internet troll (not an under-the-bridge troll) or just a rude viewer, he got his first negative comment for this video – Building Lego Minifigures.

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Crash doesn’t know about these comments. While he does have an email address his comments get shipped to, he rarely checks it. I saw the email and deleted it. I will show him the comments. It’s definitely a learning experience. He hasn’t been swayed. He still wants to make more LEGO creations to make videos about. He currently has two waiting for me upload, as a matter of fact.

Part of me wants to delete the comments.

Part of me wants to respond them. I’m sorry their life has led them to be so low as to have to respond negatively to an eight year’s YouTube video about LEGO. They must be proud of themselves (note sarcasm).

Part of me want show them to Crash and allow him to decide what would be the right thing to do. Leave them as is, delete them, or allow him to respond as he sees fit. I don’t want him to get discouraged, but at the same time he needs to learn how to accept things like this.

It wasn’t until just now, during the writing of this post last night, while capturing the screen shot of the comments that I noticed how many views that video has. He’ll be stoked when I show him that stat!

If you were his parent, how would you handle these comments? Would you respond to them yourself? Would you delete them? Would you show them? Would you allow them to respond? Let me know in the comments below.

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photo credit: allposters.com

 

Teaching Subtraction

Last week we got a note from Crash’s teacher that he was having trouble in math. Apparently he was shutting down, not completing his work, not answering her questions. Unfortunately, she told us after the fact instead of when he was actually having trouble.

Anyway, I’m not here to rant about his teacher. I’m a teacher, too. Mistakes are made. I’ve made a few. Like that time I accidentally let a 5 year old go home on the bus instead of making him wait for his mom to come get him. It all worked out thankfully. I’m so sorry that happened.

But this was about a kid’s grade. My kid’s. I know a kid’s mark in 3rd grade isn’t make or break, but if Crash is allowed to slack off now, he’s going to think he can slack off whenever he wants. He does it during chores. He’d rather sit and do nothing for a half hour than take the 5 minutes to get the chore done. He applies this thinking to math. He’s good at math. He’s always earned A’s in math. Why does he shut down then?

Subtracting threw him for a loop. Borrowing regrouping in particular.

[Enter] Teacher dad

I started working with him on borrowing regrouping and he started fighting it.

I won.

Then he said, “I don’t get it”. I knew he was getting it, he was completing problem after problem correctly. “What don’t you get” I asked. “Why does this number (the tens place) go down one but this number (the one’s place) goes up 10.”

IMG_0042BOOM.

This I can do. I ran to the basement and frantically searched the Lego bag . I found a bunch of those flat
1 x 10 pieces and some “one-ers” to fill it up and some extras. Yes. I made ones and rods, ones and 10 sticks. Now I could demonstrate visually why that happened.

After solving a few problems this way, he understood. He learned the lesson.

So did I.

He had been applying his chore attitude to math class.

Just because he’s not getting homework doesn’t mean he’s getting his work all done. Just because the teacher hasn’t sent home notes, made a phone call, sent an e-mail, doesn’t mean he’s getting his work all done.

Be sure to ask questions. Even more important, be sure to ask the right ones. My goal now is not just find out how his day went. My goal isn’t just to find out what he did in school. My goal now is ask if he understood it. Then I’ll make him prove it.

Boy is he gonna hate me for those 20 minutes I make him do math.

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Wasn’t Going to Write Today

Mine

I wasn’t going to write today. And really, I’m not writing that much. I didn’t schedule anything ahead of time and while I have plenty of drafts I could have used, I opted not to do anything.

DW is away tonight and won’t be back until tomorrow night. So after supper and before religion class, Crash made his next Lego build video for YouTube. It’s not much a build and he knows that. However, he just wanted to make a video. So a video we made. You can see his race car here.

It only 3 minutes, the length of an average song. While he was recording, Bang disappeared. To the basement! He never goes to the basement by himself without someone making noise. He says it’s too quiet down there. He returned with his own Lego build and wanted to make a video. I’m so glad I let him. So what if he’s only 4. You’ve got to watch this one all the way through. I promise it’ll make you smile.

(Night night babe. See you tomorrow)

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My little YouTuber is at ‘er again. He built a small Lego train engine for his little brother.

Lego train engine

First you take a green two-er flat thingy and you put it on the back, or the front facing this way. Then you take this circle piece and put right … ugh, it won’t go on right. Oh, I forgot, you put this flat four stud piece on first. Then put this piece here. Oops, I mean here.

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Following those directions you might get something that looks like this. Or you might get something entirely different. But that was just his first try. After that he realized he need to know what he was going to say, he needed names or at the very least a description of each piece as well as show it to the viewer. By take three he had it pretty much all figured out and was good to go. Since he’s building small things at the moment I’m trying to encourage him to be able to do it in one take. The less editing (or none) the better.

That’s about how the transcript went on the first couple tries. Between takes, he decided on a name for each piece, except one. An adapter like piece that allows you to build horizontally instead of vertically.

I know it’s not nice to tease. Fortunately, you can’t see or hear his mother and I giggling at him in the background. Crash has watched his share of YouTube videos to know the gist of what he’s doing. I do have to give him credit though. He’s significantly better in front of the camera than I am. Or at least than I remember being at that age.

Stay tuned. He has an elephant tutorial coming tomorrow!

 

Our Travels (continued…) (Days 10,11, and 12)

Thursday, July 30th

We had just spent a week with my parents and my brother and his family. Ten of us in the house. Twelve if you count my aunt and uncle (though they were sleeping at a friend’s house, not with us). It was an awesome week and it was great seeing people we hadn’t seen for 5 years. But today, it was time journey on. It was a bitter sweet departure. We’re going to greatly miss seeing and playing with everyone. Games of UNO, Sorry, and Shut the Box. The delicious food. Come to think of it, I completely forgot to mention their dog Brody. He’s a good dog. Almost never barks. Loves to snuggle. Fun to play with and take for walks (which, I think, my sister-in-law used to up her Fitbit step count so that I could never get more steps). Anyway, leaving was sad. However, we were headed to Virginia to see more friends so it was exciting at the same time.

We did get to cross the Bay Bridge – a 4.2 mile long bridge across the Chesapeake Bay.

bay bridgeWhile that was fun for them, one of the highlights of our trip was about to happen. Crash had been waiting for this moment  since his birthday three weeks ago. The money he received was burning a hole in his pocket, but he knew good things were coming if he didn’t spend it. The LEGO store.

There was a bin full of Lego people pieces so you could customize your own characters. Crash built three. Bang fell in love with a train set. He sat and stared at it for a solid five minutes. He held the box and checked it all out. He loved it. His disappointment was heartbreaking when we told it cost $200 and he couldn’t get it. He did settle on a construction site with a wrecking crane, front loader and dump truck which made him nearly as happy. Crash also got a Lego Minecraft creativity set. It only took an hour to get out of there.

Four hours later were in the town DW and I lived it when a) we met and b) where Crash lived when he was born. We got checked into our hotel room (which had a leaky air conditioner so they moved us to another room) we contacted a friend to let her know we were in town. She’s the mother of Crash’s first BFF. He was only about 3 months old when they met at the YMCA’s child watch program where DW worked at the time. After a year they had developed a good friendship and loved seeing each other. They would dance and squeal when the other would finally show up in the Child Watch room. Crash was two when moved away from that town. We had gone back for a visit when he was three. Now five years later they were reunited.

They picked up right where they left off like not a day had passed. It was amazing to watch them together again. After a quick meet up in our hotel room we out for supper at a wicked awesome burger joint. As we were sitting there catching up, the heaven opened up and it poured buckets. Here in Canada, we get hard rains like that, but they only last 20 minutes. Here in Virginia, it wasn’t letting up. Come time to leave and we hightailed it across the street and through the parking lot to our truck. Shin deep water running down the road. A lost flip flop. Kids laughing hysterically. It was AWESOME!

IMG_2630We went back to their house and met their chickens (who all have names, but I couldn’t begin to tell you what they are). There’s one over on the left. They also have two dogs, a koi fish pond, a tree house, and an owl house. Sitting outside chatting after sunset, I realized I had forgotten all the night sounds. Cicadas. Crickets. Frogs. Birds. We ended up staying until about 10pm and the kids crashed hard that night. They fell asleep in seconds.

Friday, July 31

The hotel had free continental breakfast. It was a good spread, too. Bang fell in love with the pancake maker (he still talks about it). Just push the OK button, wait a minute and it “poops out two pancakes”. Afterward, we toured around town. We saw our old house. We saw the boat wharf, the school I taught at for six years. We stopped by the YMCA where DW used to work and got to see some former colleagues. From there it was off to lunch at a sandwich shop that makes the most delicious subs and sandwiches. We were sad to learn that the lady who began the shop has Alzheimer’s and her son had moved to Baltimore while her daughter kept the shop running.

From there it was back to hotel to go swimming. It was an outdoor pool. The thing about outdoor pools in the South is that they tend to get warm. This one was like bath water. But getting out felt nice when the breeze caught you when you were wet. A former colleague of mine, and great friend of ours, stopped by. It was great to play catch up with her. Though, thanks to Facebook, it was pretty easy. By then, Liz was off work and DW met her at a nail salon for mani/pedis. Then to a Mexican restaurant for supper. By now, I’m thinking if my kids never see another nugget and fry, I’ll be okay with that. Then we hit up the carnival hoping to see some former students. While I did see a couple, the highlight was the Ferris Wheel. Crash wanted to ride with his BFF and of course Bang wanted to join them. At first, DW was a bit worried about sending the 4 year old with his brother. However, it was Crash who ended up a bit scared by the rocking motion of the car. Bang had his hands in the air screaming with excitement. Then we spent the rest of the evening at Crash’s BFF’s house. We only stayed until 11pm.

Saturday, August 1st

I’ll keep this day short. It was mostly spent driving. We left at around 10 and headed for Pennsylvania to visit one more friend. My other best friend from high school and his family. Anyway, we were expecting to get there at about 2. Because of ridiculous traffic going around D.C. and Baltimore and stopping for a late lunch we didn’t get in until 4.  This would be the last place we’d visit before heading home. *Side note* Before leaving Canada, I had seen a picture they had posted of a small river and waterfall where they had taken their two girls to play and swim. I had asked how far from them it was and when she told me 20 minutes I knew I had to take Crash and Bang. I’ll write about this secluded, hidden little spot next time. But for now, I suppose I can show you what it looks like:

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Fostering Creativity

Imagination is more important than knowledge
~ Albert Einstein

That quote, along with Einstein’s picture, have adorned my classroom wall every year I’ve had my own classroom. Even as a math and science teacher I always encouraged students to be creative, use their imagination, play the “what if” game. I do the same with my own two kids.

Ever since Crash was born (7 years ago) I’ve allowed his imagination to run wildly free. We would play made up games of Max and the Wild Things – we’d show our terrible claws, roll our terrible eyes, gnash our terrible teeth and roar our terrible roars. We’d find pictures in the clouds, the moon, and the stars. We’d make up stories and go on adventures in the backyard. Which brings me to the first TV show he took an interest in… The Backyardigans. If you’ve never heard of them, here they are:nickelodeons-the-backyardigansIt is about a group of friends who travel through both time and space to adventure in their (you guessed it) backyard. For added fun, each episode is set to different genre of music. So much imagination for us to emulate! Boxes become race cars and space ships and submarines. Bang is following in his footsteps. He tags along with his big brother to go on adventures in the backyard. Though now it might involve being chased by zombies or pretending they are ninjas. But no matter what they’re pretending, they’ll always be my wild things.

Anyway, this thought process was sparked when a friend of mine posed the question on Facebook, “Why are Legos sold in sets? What happened to a random collection of bricks and letting the kids build what they want”? Or something to that effect. Here are my two answers…

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The photo on the left was built by Crash for Bang. Bang loves diggers and this digger improved 10 fold with the addition of the claw. The photo on the right is roughly 6 or so “sets” of legos. They got built according their instructions. Then disassembled a couple days later to be rebuilt as God knows what. One particular morning when the stars aligned they played quietly together for quite some time. When I came to find out what they were up to (when they’re quiet, they’re up to something) they had built a Lego playground. I wish I had gotten a picture of it before it was dismantled.

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.
~ T.E. Lawrence

There are so many ways to foster creativity. By far the easiest is to read, read, read. While reading alone is a good step, take it one more step and discuss the reading and put yourself or your kids into the story. If “Hey dad, watch this” is the kid’s equivalent to “Hold my beer” then “Hey dad, what if…” is equivalent to “Lets do shots”! Once the hard liquor comes out who knows where the rest of the night is going. Once the what if’s start there is no predicting where the story goes. Don’t be shy. Play the game with them. Heck, be the one to start it. It can make an ordinary day extraordinary!

Imagination isn’t simply about being creative. It’s about thinking differently. It’s about exploring the possibilities, the methods of making those dreams a reality. Imagine what would have happened had Edison not improved the light bulb, if Neil Armstrong had not stepped on the moon, if Steve Jobs had not created Apple, or if your favorite author had not put pen to paper. I just discovered the dad I want to be when I read about the dad who hacked Donkey Kong. His daughter wanted to play as the princess so she could save Mario. Dad took that “what if” and made it real. Amazing. Of course, it helped that he was a game designer and capable of such miracles. Lastly, most importantly, is my favorite dreamer, my DW. A friend asked her if it would be possible to build a new playground for our community. We had but one very poor, slightly dangerous playground. She imagined a playground that far exceeded anyone’s expectations and one year after lighting the spark, 500 community members came together and made the dream come true. Check out the video to see the dream become a reality.

Is imagination important to you? How do you foster creativity?