2015-2016 Homeschool Curriculum

 

***11th Grade:***

Bible:

Her Hand In Marriage

Consider the Lilies

Bible embedded in American History

Easy Peasy Bible Level 3

EFCA Bible  Quizzing – Memorizing Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon

Math:

Pre-Calculus with Ask Dr. Callahan, text College Algebra, 7th edition

Music:

Continue with piano, handbells and beginning ukulele

Easy Peasy Music Appreciation

Art:

“Art Class” by See the Light

CM style Art appreciation with home made Art cards

Science:

Apologia Anatomy and Physiology/Human Body, Anatomy coloring book (Kaplan)

Biology CLEP

American History and Literature:

Exploring American Government by Notgrass with the addition of the following books:

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Lakota Woman, 1984, Fahrenheit 451,Animal Farm, The Great Gatsby, The Grapes of Wrath, One Flew Over the Cockoos Nest, The Last of the Mohicans, I Will Fight No More Forever, Miracle in the Hills, Kisses for Katie, The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne), Narrative of the Life of David Crockett (David Crockett), Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (Frederick Douglass), Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Harriet Beecher Stowe), Co. Aytch (Sam Watkins), Little Women (Louisa May Alcott), Humorous Stories and Sketches (Mark Twain),  In His Steps (Charles Sheldon), Up From Slavery (Booker T. Washington), Mama’s Bank Account (Kathryn Forbes), Christy (Catherine Marshall), To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee), The Giver (Lois Lowry)

College Courses at the University of Northwestern:

History of Western Civilization

Old Testament Archaeology

English Composition and Grammar I

Human Growth and Development

Lifetime Fitness and Wellness

Spanish

Spanish 3 with Instant Immersion

Extra-Curricular

4H, Bible Quizzing, Awana Leader in Training (One night per week), Karate assistant instructor (one night per week), Special Olympics Bowling Coach (fall only), Sunday school

 

***8th Grade (Autism):***

Bible:

Easy Peasy Bible 3

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Growing in Wisdom (Marylyn Boyer)

EFCA Bible  Quizzing – Memorizing Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon

Music

Easy Peasy Music Appreciation, piano 

Art

Art Class  (See the Light)

American History Through Art (Visual Manna)

Art Appreciation (CM style with home made Art cards 

Physical Education:

DAPE (Developmentally Adapted Physical Education) one hour per week at public middle school

Physical Therapy (in clinic twice per week, in home twice per week)

Wii Fit

Language Arts:

Literature in American History Menus, Beyond Five in a Row, New American Cursive – book 2, G.U.M. Drops 3, All About Spelling 2, Story Cubes, Story Starters, copywork from American History Menus, Write From Early Modern History

Math:

Finish Saxon Math 3, tons of math games and file folder activities, start Easy Peasy Math 4, Times Tales, Math Mammoth Division, Saxon 4 Intermediate with Adaptations workbook, Life of Fred elementary books Farming – Jellybeans

Life Skills

Cooking, Model Me Kids, Individual Therapy, In Home Skills Worker, Occupational therapy, Speech therapy, Saying One Thing, Meaning Another (Super Duper Publications)

 Science

Easy Peasy Physical Science, Bridges, Electricity, Snap Circuits, Magnetism, topics from American History Menus, The Quark Chronicles – Botany

History

American History Menus 

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Extra-Curricular:

 4H, Bible Quizzing, Special Olympics Bowling, Autism Camp

  

***5th Grade (Autism):*** 

Bible:

Easy Peasy Bible 3

Growing in Wisdom (Marylin Boyer)

Heroines of the Past

Music:

Easy Peasy Music Appreciation, piano, ukulele 

Art

Art Class  (See the Light)

American History Through Art (Visual Manna)

Art Appreciation (CM style with home made Art cards) 

Art and Architecture (Hillyer)

Physical Education

DAPE (Developmentally Adapted Physical Education) two hours per week at public intermediate school

Physical Therapy (in clinic twice per week, in home twice per week)

Wii Fit

Language Arts:

Literature in American History Menus, Beyond Five in a Row, New American Cursive – book 3, G.U.M. Drops 4, All About Spelling 2, Story Cubes, Story Starters, copywork from American History Menus, Write from Early Modern History, Callie’s Contest of Courage and Literature Study Guide (New Millennium Girls), Creative Writing Made Easy and Isabel books (New Millennium Girls)

Math:

 Horizon Math 4 (J just informed me that she wants a “real” math book, which apparently means hardcover, copy your own problems type.  After completing the placement test, discovered she will need Saxon 6/5, which I can get used for quite a savings), tons of math games and file folder activities,  Easy Peasy Math 5, Times Tales, Math Mammoth Division, Life of Fred elementary books Farming – Jellybeans

Life Skills

Sewing, repairing and restoring sewing machines, 

 

Model Me Kids, Individual Therapy, In Home Skills Worker, Occupational therapy, Speech therapy, Saying One Thing, Meaning Another (Super Duper Publications) 

Science:

Easy Peasy Physical Science, Bridges, Electricity, Snap Circuits, Magnetism, topics from American History Menus

History:

American History Menus

Extra-Curricular

4H, Special Olympics Bowling, Autism Camp, Art Camp, Awana, Sunday School

 

 

 

2014-2015 Homeschool Curriculum

 

 

TENTH GRADE
homeschool curricula

World Geography: (Trail Guide to World Geography, Bold Believers, Abeka Geography, create geography notebook, geography activities with the littles)

Introduction to Psychology: (Carnegie Melon University open course, REA CLEP prep, CLEP exam in December)

Human Growth and Development: (Tufts University open course, The Developing Person through the Lifespan – Berger, Lifespan and Human Development REA CLEP prep, CLEP exam in June)

World History part 2: (Notgrass World History part 2, History of Western Civilization REA CLEP prep, CLEP exam for Western Civ. 1 in October)

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Geometry: (Jacob’s Geometry) and geometry games

Chemistry: (Apologia Chemistry, Elements photo cards, molecule kit, Knowledge Box lapbook)

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English 10 (honors):
Excellence in Literature II, Teaching the Classics discussions and story charts, Ultimate Grammar 11, weekly essays for World History, writing MLA style research paper, Summer reading: Canterbury Tales (Chaucer), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Tolkien), The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (Doyle). We will read the following books during the year (the unit corresponds to Exploring World History curriculum):

Unit 16: Robinson Crusoe (Daniel DeFoe); Unit 16a: Here I Stand (Roland Bainton); Unit 17: The Swiss Family Robinson (Johann Wyss); watch Luther movie; Unit 18: Walden (Henry David Thoreau); Unit 19: Pilgrim’s Progress (John Bunyan); Unit 20: The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas); Unit 21: A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens); Unit 22: Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) and watch movie; Unit 23: Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad); Unit 24: Till We Have Faces (C.S. Lewis); Unit 25: The Hiding Place (Corrie Ten Boom); Unit 26: Hamlet; Unit 27: Country of the Pointed Firs (Sarah Orne Jewett); Unit 28: Animal Farm (George Orwell); Unit 28a: 1984 (Orwell); Unit 29: Ivanhoe (Sir Walter Scott); Unit 29a: Jane Eyre (C. Bronte); Unit 30: The Importance of Being Earnest (Oscar Wilde) and watch movie; Unit 30a: The Abolition of Man (C. S. Lewis)

Spanish 2: Living Language Spanish; Complete Edition (includes text, workbooks, audio CDs and online learning). This is a switch from Rosetta Stone last year. I was not that impressed with Rosetta Stone for the price. There was some kind of glitch that required me to reinstall the software 1-3 times per month and losing all of the saved progress. The price point for Living Language is within our budget and had good reviews.

Bible 10: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist Curriculum,
I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Read Her Hand in Marriage, bible included in Notgrass World History, EFCA Bible Quizzing (memorize the book of Acts)

Music: (piano, handbells, composer studies to coordinate with history and geography)

Extra: Bible Quizzing, 4H, Karate (will earn black belt in November), Bright Lights, Sunday School, AWANA leader, VBS leader, get a part time job

 

FOURTH and SEVENTH grade

homeschool curricula (Autism)

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L and J do many subjects together including history, literature, art and geography.

History and Literature: We will be using the free literature based curriculum American History Menus.

Spelling: All About Spelling Level 1 and most likely will start level 2

Grammar: GUM Drops grade 3, games, copywork for American History Menus and Geography.

Handwriting: New American Cursive level 1, copywork

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Geography:  I am really excited about WorldWorld Geography.  Each weekend I will load a vintage, well-travelled suitcase with books, recipes, maps, notebooking pages and more for the country we will “visit” the upcoming week. On Monday morning the children will get to open the suitcase to see where we are “going” (they are already begging to start).  After learning about each country they will get a flag sticker for their passport.  In addition to library books we will be using Bold Believers, Expedition Earth, Trail Guide to World Geography, Uncle Josh’s maps, Christmas Around the World cards, Sea Bird, Montessori style geography cards, The Librarian Who Measured the Earth, and How to Make An Apple Pie and See the World.  We will do crafts, study animals from the country, cook native(ish) recipes and play games including Quick Pix and Map Tangle.

Music and Art: Artist and composer studies to correspond with history and geography, piano lessons, music therapy, free play with instruments and art projects with different mediums.

Science: We will be doing mostly hands on physical science with some animal studies to correspond with geography and nature studies to go along with history.  I plan on doing units on electricity, earth science and engineering including Knex bridges and A Child’s History of Architecture by Hillyer.

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Math: We all play a math game together at least four days a week (Quick Pix, Dino Math Tracks, Dino Dice, Math Wars, etc.).  I have created many file folder games to use for independent work and we use a lot of manipulatives and Montessori style activities like the the stamp game and geometry cards.  L is working at the beginning of Saxon Math 3, the repetition and slow pace are just what he needs.  J is just finishing Horizons 3 and will soon be in Horizons 4.

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Life Skills: I choose activities to work on from Contenders for the Faith (L) and Keepers at Home (J) whenever possible, the little badges are a great incentive.  How to Teach Life Skills to Kids with Autism has been a great resource for me.  L is currently working on tying his shoes, sweeping and using a microwave/kitchen safety.  J is learning to follow a schedule independently including doing her chores (folding laundry, watering plants and feeding the fish).

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During the week we work on increasing food tolerances through games and play food, and do activities for OT, PT and speech.  We also use and practice the Zones of Regulation and Superflex Social Thinking curricula every day.

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Bible: Memorizing verses to coordinate with copywork, history and science; BibleIs and watching Nest videos.  J will be memorizing some Psalms from a lighthouse themed Psalm book and Logan will be memorizing Acts and plans to join the junior Bible Quiz team.

Extra: Activities outside the home include 4H, Special Olympics, OT, Speech, therapeutic horse riding, PT, music therapy and play therapy.  L and J both have skills workers that come into our home each week for two hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Homeschool Rooms (2014-15)

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As usual, I reworked our school rooms over the summer. 

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I moved the piano that was along this wall and replaced it with this buffet this used to live in the kitchen.  One day I will have two Expedit (or Kallax I think they are called now) units along this wall.

DSCN7644 For now, the buffet will have to work. I have milk crates on top to hold L and J’s binders, with home-made games on top stored in scrapbook paper cases and large games in the cabinet portion of the buffet.

In the Trofast units are drawers for L and J to keep their personal workbooks, notebooks, etc. as well as OT supplies, scissors, colored pencils, fidgets, chewies and math supplies.  The white Target shelf has J’s weekly schedule on one side and holds larger items such as sorting trays, Montessori trays and therapy putty.

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On top of the Trofast units are Sterilite bins that hold the math manipulatives and sensory items we are currently using. Fine motor manipulatives and J’s token jar (we give her a token when she uses her words) are housed on the white shelf.

DSCN7639 Along the opposite wall is a bookcase that houses our books for the upcoming year as well as small educational games, flashcards, Montessori cards and All About Spelling materials.  The teal bins were brown last year, I painted them with some acrylic paint to spruce them up a little.

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I used scraps of fabric to decoupage a shoe box to hold our 3×5 cards as well as boxes for spelling.  The little square boxes are “micro boxes” from Rainbow Resource.

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Next to the bookcase is another new addition – a 2×3 Expedit!  The right side holds books I use daily – geography books, teacher’s manuals, art resources and L and J’s mini offices.  C’s binders and textbooks are on the left.  The plastic bins are just ice cube bins decoupaged with more scraps of fabric.  They are perfect for holding “slouchy” books.

   DSCN7648  On top of the Expedit are basic supplies like pens, pencils and white-out as well as my black spinny thing Office Apprentice.  I keep all of my upcoming printables, clear covers and file folder games in the center.  Each file folder has a color coded sticker and letter so we can easily find the right zipper pouch (currently hanging from a tension rod under the buffet) containing cards and game pieces.

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I built two new art ledges to display the masterpieces.

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The table is where most “together” work happens.  On the wall I have a mini ledge to hold our spelling board out of the way and a pocket chart I made to display art cards for our artist studies.  On the table is a fidget basket and white board marker holder made from a plastic tub, toilet paper rolls and decoupaged fabric.

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My favorite new addition to the room is my DIY map rail/pocket chart system.  I purchased a wooden dowel ($1) and closet rod holders ($3) from a hardware store.  I cut the dowel to size and painted everything black.  Maps and posters can be hung with curtain clips; pocket charts with book rings.  The dowel pops right out to change charts quickly.  Above that is simply a yard stick (painted black) with velcro attached and screwed to the wall.  Right now it holds out USA markable map.  I love how easy it is to take the map off for mapping work and then stick it right back up.  On the door is our Calendar Connections pocket chart simply held on with magnetic hooks.  See how I made the pocket charts here. 

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In the dining room I have an Expedit turned bench that holds our speech resources, social skills games and bird watching guides/binoculars.

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In the hallway and on the fridge are their daily PEC schedules, chore sticks and L’s weekly schedule.

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Downstairs we have a large room that serves as a sensory room, art room, play room, physical therapy room and homeschool storage.  One end has a reading nook with a giant whiteboard and the other end features a crash pit.  See more about the  Sensory Room on my blog.

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Along one long wall are 3 cabinets for games and art supplies as well as several more bookshelves.

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To help keep things organized and easy to find, I have a color coding system for fiction books.  Nonfiction books are organized by theme.  I decorated white magazine boxes with clip art and fabric.  It’s super easy to find books and put them away.

         

Sensory Hot Dog

 

 

The idea for the Sensory Hotdog came from a Southpaw product found here.  L and J both like deep pressure, it is calming and helps them get organized, especially before tasks like writing or math.  If you don’t mind using bedroom pillows or couch cushions, they work just as well.  I did mind having our pillows on the floor, however I was not willing to spend $300-$500 to remedy the situation.  So, I made our hotdog for about $35 and it was super easy.

I bought 5 yards of  thick, but soft, khaki fabric for the “bun”.  I simply folded the fabric in half and sewed around three sides, then turned right side out.  Next I sewed a double fold hem on the fourth side and sewed one long seam down the middle to create the top and bottom of the bun.  Last I sewed Velcro on the open ends so the filling can be removed and the cover can be washed.  I stuffed one side of the bun with two body pillows, the other side i filled with chunks of high density foam and polyfill stuffing.

For the ketchup and mustard I just sewed long tubes and filled with a mixture of polyfill and poly pellets – they weigh about 8 pounds each. I used a green mottled fabric to sew two random blob shapes for relish which I filled with smaller foam chunks and a little bit of poly pellets – the relish weighs about 4 pounds each.

 We already had body sox for the children (hotdogs).

 

 

 

 

 

 

DIY Sensory Room

 

 We have had sensory areas throughout our home for many years but longed for a “real” sensory room.  The cost of setting up my dream room from Snoezelen was many thousands of dollars and would clearly never happen.  I spent hours pouring through websites, catalogs and Pinterest for ideas and eventually came up with a list of our “must haves”.  Next I determined what I could make myself, how to replicate some sensory items with items that were similar in effect (but with a much smaller price tag), and what I would need to purchase.  I researched products and prices all over the globe!  Nearly every product was much more expensive through special needs catalogs/suppliers than it was anywhere else (toy stores, teacher supply stores, Amazon, pet stores, etc.).

Another consideration was that our room still had to serve as a physical therapy room, play room and homeschool room so the sensory items had to fit into the space without taking over.    

 

 This is our reading nook.  The white board is made from a piece of shower board, the fabric organizer holds the markers.  I made a blanket and furry pillow to provide different textures.

The lights are outdoor Christmas globes that we have had for several years but never used.  I tied leftover white tulle together and wrapped it around the globes to soften the light.

The chandelier adds some sparkle, especially when other lights are on in the room.  I used fishing line to attach beads to a  metal base (which held lotion received as a Christmas gift last year). 

We have swing hooks attached to the ceiling beams at each end of the room so at least two people can swing at the same time.  This is a Currambera Hammock Swing Lounger.  It’s very soft and supportive with a weight limit of 300 pounds so it can hold two people (the colors are really fun too!).

 

Just to the right of the reading nook I added an LED color changing bulb.  There is a remote control making it very interactive.  You can choose one specific color, fading colors of different speeds or even flashing and strobe light effects.  I hung a paper lantern from the dollar store over the bulb to soften and diffuse the light.

 I hung a white sheet over a large bookcase, to reduce visual clutter and serve as a screen for lighting effects.  I installed blacklights ($12 each from Menards) to both sides

 as well as the ceiling in front of the bookcase.  This provides plenty of light for our sensory table.

 I found a bag of random wooden items (beads, blocks, craft sticks, etc.) for $2 and painted everything in a variety of florescent paint colors.  I also added inexpensive items as I found them such as random fluorescent KNEX parts ($.50), jelly bracelets ($1), pony beads ($3), pipe cleaners ($2), and a number of Glo Fish aquarium accessories from the local pet store.

I made a large Lite Brite with a scrap of peg board, duct tape and pool noodles.  The “pegs” are simply fluorescent pipe cleaners cut into thirds.   

Of course the sensory table is fun with the lights on, too.

 

Most sensory rooms feature lighting effects.  There are projectors, rotators and wheels required putting the cost well over $1,500!  This is way out of our price range, plus I wanted something portable so it could be used in the bathroom (J will not take a bath, but she will go in a sensory tub – I’ll post on that another time) and bedrooms as well.  Our solution is the Aurora.  There are no wheels to change and it was a grand total of $15.55 including the adapter!  The colors can be changed, steady, fading slowly or changing quickly.  The lights have a very soothing wave like movement.  It can powered with an adapter or with batteries.  The Aurora works in a small room or large room, covering the walls and ceiling.  The photos above show some of the different settings on our white screen (sheet). 

 Our top priority for our sensory room was a bubble tube column.  The cost for a bubble column corner (mirrors, column and platform) was a minimum of $3,800 – again, that was out of the question!  

I figured out how to make a bubble tube, mostly using aquariumaquariumaquariumaquarium supplies.  However, the cost of the acrylic cylinder alone was cost prohibitive.  I did find some portable bubble columns that were more affordable but they were also pretty small.  Finally, I discovered Sensamart when I ordered some of their chewies through a different catalog.  I checked out their website and found this amazing bubble column for only $119.  At over 4 feet tall and 4″ in diameter it’s the perfect size for our space.  The colors fade gently and the bubble speed is adjustable.    

 Acrylic mirrors were much more expensive than I imagined they would be.  I purchased one large mirror and attached it to the wall, it was very thin and at $50, still more than I wanted to spend.  So, for the other side of the corner, I attached mirror trays with Command Velcro strips.  The trays were only $22 for a set of six and are very sturdy.  We can also remove them to use with the light table and other projects. 

 I built the padded bubble column platform myself for just under $13.  See the tutorial here.  It’s very comfortable, padded and the perfect size for our space while still roomy enough for two.

 Next to the bubble tube is our crash pit.  I was super excited to discover A K Athletics.  They offer affordable crash pits, gym mats and other foam products in custom colors.  We chose a purple crash pit, 60″ x 60″.  The pit has a full floor mat which makes it very sturdy, more shock absorbent and allows  the pit to be moved easily.  Every once in a while I slide it out into the middle of the room and let the children crash into it from the trapeze bar or buoy swing.

 Cloud Nine is L’s favorite activity at occupational therapy.  Again, it was not in the budget.  Also, it wasn’t the right size and I really didn’t like the grey colored cover.  So I waited until just before Halloween when this ultra soft teal velour was on sale at Hancock Fabrics for only $2.30 a yard. I purchased nine yards and made a cover to fit the crash pit, then stuffed it with chunks of high density foam.  The bottom has a velcro opening so the foam can be refilled or removed for washing.

 More Command Velcro strips on the walls allow for hanging panels (like the latches board).  I can easily change the panels without damaging the wall.

I also added glow in the dark stars from the dollar store and self-adhesive mirror circles around the room to reflect the lights.

Above the crash pit is my favorite light feature.  I found LED rope lights on clearance at Walmart for $6.  I bought two sets and attached them to the ceiling beams with the included clips.  I found 20 yards of blue shimmer fabric at the thrift store for $4!  I folded it in half and hung it over the rope lights.  I made the light blocking curtain from leftover fabric from another project.

The crash pit in action! 

We saw a linelite shower here.  However, at $225 it was another out of budget item.  I made my own budget friendly version for $25 using a thick piece of rigid foam cut into a circle and then attaching fluorescent parachute cord.

     

 The little glowing eggs in the photos are Oggz.  They slowly change colors and can be moved and carried around the house.  It comes with a charging base so there are no batteries to replace.

   

 The glowing round balls are swimming pool toys purchased at Walmart for $2.50 each.  The colors slowly change or can be set to a steady glow of one color.  They float in water which makes a nice addition to water play in the sensory table.

Swinging… 

 There is still plenty of space in the middle of the room for physical therapy, obstacle courses, playing in the Sensory Hot Dog (above)…

 and playing with the Lego and Activity table (tutorial here).

DIY Bubble Column Platform

 

When designing our sensory room I knew I wanted a platform for the bubble column.  The primary reason – to keep it from tipping over, secondly for a comfortable place to sit or curl up and enjoy the bubbles.  I looked at many platforms online and in catalogs but I couldn’t find one that would work for us.  They were all too expensive, the wrong size/shape and were covered in white (or institutional blue) vinyl.  Sensory wise, my kiddos prefer soft fabrics and typically don’t like the feel or “coldness” of vinyl.  I didn’t like white – I wanted a darker color that would kind of disappear in low lighting.  And I am personally sick of the institutional blue color that every special needs or therapy product seems to come in.  So, I decided to make a platform myself…

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I used scrap wood (2×6’s) to build a frame.  I added support in the middle so the platform would be sturdy and not bounce; and left an area in the back (bottom right in the photo) to hold the base of the bubble column and allow for the electrical cord to go through.

I used wood screws to attach a sheet of plywood on top of the base (ours was 29.5″ inches square).  Next, I marked where the column would need to go through the platform and drilled a one inch hole in the middle.  Then I could get the jigsaw blade inside the circle and cut it out.  I did a dry fit over the bubble column to check placement and size.  I wanted to have a little room around the column to allow for upholstering but not so much space that things would get dropped into the crevice.  I did have to enlarge my first cut to get just the right fit. Then I sanded all the edges and rounded the corners a bit.  I also wrapped the cut out for the column in duct tape to prevent the bubble column from getting scratched.

While it would have been easier to have one large piece of high density foam to use for the cushion, I had several smaller pieces that came as packing material for the crash pit.  Since thick, quality foam is quite expensive I decided to use what we already had available (“free” generally wins at our house).  I used a little tacky glue to attempt to hold the foam in place after I had it cut and arranged.  However, that did NOT work.

I wrapped the top and sides of the platform in quilt batting and attached it with my upholstery stapler which did keep the foam in place.

I found some soft knit fabric and Walmart  for $1.50 a yard!  I love the gold flecks.  Because it is thinner than upholstery fabric, I folded it in half and sewed around the edges creating a two-ply fabric before securing it with the upholstery stapler.

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Figuring out how the finish the hole for the column took a little thought…

I poked a hole in the center of the circle, then cut towards the edge making four triangle flaps.  I cut a piece of thick black felt into four equal rectangles, then sewed the long edge of each rectangle to the knit fabric, creating a four flaps.  Once the flaps were each tucked inside, none of the wood or foam was visible.

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I positioned the bubble column where I wanted it, lifted the platform over the top and plugged in the motor.

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Finished!

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Plenty of room to sit (photo taken before I added the mirrors)
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Two children can fit on the platform…

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Mirrors in the corner add so much!  Unbreakable acrylic mirrors are expensive as well, so I bought one large mirror for the wall and attached three mirrored trays (with Command Velcro strips) to the bookcase side of the corner.  They were only $5 each and I can take them down to use with the light table, building blocks, symetry, etc.

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My 15 year old even has plenty of room to sit…

Cost Breakdown:

wood scraps for frame: free (on hand)

plywood top: $8.00

foam for seat: free

batting: on hand

fabric: $4.50

felt: on hand

Total cost: $12.50!

Pretty amazing, especially considering that to purchase a platform would be at least $600, and would still not be in the color or fabric that we wanted.

Easy DIY Reversible Lego Activity Table with Storage

I wanted a reversible Lego and activity table for my children.  I looked at new and used tables but could not find any that would work for us.  The new tables were too expensive, most were flimsy, too small, too short and lacked storage.  So, I designed and built my own table.  The children love to play on it and I am in love with the storage!   Legos are great for building, fine motor skills, creative play, etc. but my kiddos NEVER wanted to put away or take apart ANY of their creations.  So, we moved the Legos off the dining room table when it was time to eat, moved them off the couch when we wanted to sit and I basically spent hours (well, it seemed like it) moving Legos around every day.  Now we can put the finished creations in the table when it’s time to use the table for something else (light box time, playdo, puzzles, etc.).  Also, we never had a good place to keep our light box before.

Supply List:

  • 2′ x 4′ plywood 3/4″
  • 2′ x 4′ hardboard or 1/4″ plywood
  • (2) 1×8 at 4′ feet length each
  • (2) 1×8 at 2′ length each
  • (1) 2 foot long 2×2
  • (4) 1×2 at 2′ length each (or one board 8′ long)
  • (4) 1×2 at 4′ length each (or 2 8′ boards)
  • wood screws
  • wood glue
  • wood filler
  • (2) handles (optional)
  • primer
  • paint
  • polyurethane
  • chalk board paint
  • (8) Lego baseplates 10″ x 10″
  • Loctite for plastic
  • *Optional: wood for legs or pre-finished legs in desired length

Tools Needed:

  • screwdriver
  • drill
  • sander and sandpaper
  • saw (power or hand)
  • tape measure
  • square
  • paint brush
  • paint roller

**All joints are made by applying wood glue, pre-drilling countersink holes and then screwing together with wood screws.  Use the longest screw possible without going all the way through the second piece of wood.  I used screws in three sizes for this project: 3/4″, 1 1/4″ and 2″.  i prefer to use screws with square drilling points since they don’t strip as easily as the standard heads.

1. Build a rectangle shaped box with the 2×8’s.  For strength, alternate boards so they attach at the end on the right, and on a side on the left (see photo); using a carpenter’s square to check each corner.

2. Cut 3/4″ off of the end of each of four 1×2’s.  These will be the furring strips to support the bottom of the storage compartment.  Line up each piece so it is flush with the outside of the box.  Overlap previous joints (like building with Legos) to increase strength and attach.

3. Now flip the box over so that the furring you just added is on the bottom.

4. Use a jigsaw or handsaw to cut the hardboard so that it fits snugly inside the box (mine is 23 1/4″ x 47 1/4″).  *Covering the area to be cut with masking tape prevents chipping of hardboard, plywood, etc..  Attach board to furring strips.  Avoid using screws in the four corners if you plan to attach legs later.

5. Cut the 2×2 into four 4.5″ pieces (these will be the supports to line up the upper furring strips and will also provide a place to attach optional legs later).

6. Attach one support in each corner.

7. Cut each of the two remaining four foot 1×2’s into lengths of 47 1/2″. Attach vertically to the inside of the box (one on each side) resting on the supports placed in step 6. Cut the remaining two foot 1×2’s into lengths of 21 3/4″ and attach as shown.

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8. Fill all screw holes with wood filler and allow to dry.

9. Check the fit of the plywood top now. It should be large enough so that it overhangs and rests on the furring strips, but there also needs to room to easily lift it up without scraping the sides of the table (Remember that primer, paint and poly will add additional width). I needed to sand down about 1/16″ on one end. Next, mark the center of the table top and drill holes to attach a handle on each long side, about 1″ from the edge (be certain the handle will clear the furring strips when inside of the table). Attach one handle on the side for the Lego plates, flip the top over and attach a handle on the chalkboard side. *Alternately, you could drill finger holes and skip adding handles.

10. Sand the entire piece thoroughly, paying special attention to joints.  I also semi-rounded every side of every board (inside, outside and corners) to ensure there would be no sharp edges anywhere.

11. At this point you can add leg hardware if desired. There are too many styles and sizes of legs to list here. I chose to use a plate system (4 plates at $1.56 each). Once the plates are installed you simply screw in the legs of your choice. The plates I selected are 2 1/2″ square so I attached an additional 1×2 to the bottom of each end of the table. This provided a 3″ square area to attach the plates.

 

13. Paint entire piece.  I painted the chalkboard side of the top first since it requires three coats and at least 3 days for curing. 

I used a scissors to poke four holes on the bottom of a cardboard box and used that to hold the legs in place while drying.

14.  Apply 3 coats of polyurethane to the base, allowing each coat to dry and sanding lightly (I use a sanding sponge for this) in between coats.  Do not apply poly to the table top at this point.  You will not apply poly to the chalkboard side at all, applying poly to any exposed areas on the Lego side should be done after attaching the Lego plates to ensure adhesion.

15. Apply felt bumpers to the top of the furring strips that support the table top.  This will prevent scratching.

16. Arrange Lego plates as desired on table top.  **Very important: use Lego bricks to connect each plate to the others.  This will give you the correct spacing so that lego structures can be built and secured anywhere on the table.  Use Loctite for plastic to adhere the plates and either clamp until dry or place heavy items such as books on top of the plates.

*If you have younger children and want to start with Duplos, I recommend attaching the Duplo plates with Command velcro strips.  This will hold the plates securely but still allow you to remove them and switch to Legos in the future.

17. Screw in the legs, insert the top and you are finished!

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 The legs are 21″.  This makes the table the perfect height to work with our fit balls, chairs, stools or just standing.

The purple chair used to look like this.  I found it at the thrift store for $2.75 and primed and painted it while I was working on the table.

Cost:

Lumber, screws and wooden legs were $46.  I used aspen, you could use pine and cut the cost dramatically.

Lego plates were $4.99 each from Amazon, I used 8 for a total of $40.  If you use fewer base plates or already have the plates, your cost will be less.

I needed to purchase chalk board paint ($13), primer (Zissner 123 $11) and paint (Valspar enamel in Sugar Plum $14).  I do have quite a bit of paint leftover for future projects.  Again, if you already have the paint you need it will reduce the cost of the project.

Total: $124

Time:

One afternoon to build the table, 5 days for priming, painting, applying poly and curing/drying.  *It was in the 50’s when I started and snowing by the time it was finished!  Cold temperatures increase drying time.