What is a Maker? Can my child be one?

What Is A Maker?
Have you ever heard someone use the term “Maker” and didn’t know what they were referring to? Simply put, a Maker is someone who makes something. Easy enough, right? There’s a little more involved. Specifically, they combine the Arts, Technology, and Engineering to make whatever they put their minds to. The movement is really starting to get off the ground here in Colorado with makerspaces opening as quickly as lemonade stands during the heat of summer.

What Is A Makerspace?
Then you ask, so what then is a Makerspace? Think of your garage, but bigger and with more equipment and tools and technology than you can pack into your space. It can have workspaces, laser burners, 3D printers, silk screen machines, firing kiln, pottery wheels, sewing machines, and the list goes on. If you have an idea, you can usually make it at a Makerspace.

Can My Child Be A Maker?
Can you child make things? Then, yes, absolutely! Some Makerspaces may have a minimum age restriction due to the nature of the equipment, but children as young as 2 or 3 can be Makers. All they need is an idea and the material to make it. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. My 4-year-old recently made a machine out of a crayon box. You’ll have to ask her what it does, but it took a lot of effort on her part and she was pretty pleased with her creation. There’s an online Maker Camp now available as well so that you can make things from the comfort of your couch or dining room table.

Where Can I Find A Makerspace?
Check you local listings for makerspaces if you live outside Colorado. If you want information for Colorado, I have a list of makerspaces along the Front Range for you check out. Usually, there is a monthly fee associated with using the equipment of the makerspace and being a part of the club. The recently opened BLDG 61 in Boulder, however, is free and open to all ages thanks to its association with the Boulder Public Library.

Maker Books To Get You Started
The synopsis for these books were taken from Amazon and are affiliate links. There is no additional cost to you. I am supported by a small portion of the seller’s profits in return for advertising.

Making Makers
This is a book for parents and educators. It builds the case for why it is crucial to encourage today’s youth to be makers. The Maker Movement history is introduced as well as practical advice for getting kids started in making. For those who are already familiar with the Maker Movement, this book provides information about many of the “big names” of the movement and their stories that make them so passionate about making.

Make: Electronics
Burn things out, mess things up-that’s how you learn. Make: Electronics begins with the basics. You’ll see for yourself how components work–and what happens when they don’t. You’ll short out a battery and overheat an LED. You’ll also open up a potentiometer and a relay to see what’s inside. No other book gives you such an opportunity to learn from real-life experiences. Ultimately, you will build gadgets that have lasting value, and you’ll have a complete understanding of how they work. From capacitors to transistors to microcontrollers–it’s all here.

Cardboard Box Book
Don’t throw away that box! Why not turn it into something amazing instead? This creative book shows kids that by using easy-to-find art and craft materials, the ideas, templates and stickers included in the book, and most importantly, a ton of imagination, simple cardboard boxes can be transformed into a robot costume, a princess castle, a circus, and so much more!

The Most Magnificent Thing
This book offers a perfect example of the rewards of perseverance and creativity. The girl’s frustration and anger are vividly depicted in the detailed art, and the story offers good options for dealing honestly with these feelings, while at the same time reassuring children that it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s likely to light up the imaginations of youngsters eager to create their own inventions and is a great tie-in to learning about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Kondi is determined to make a galimoto — a toy vehicle made of wires. His brother laughs at the idea, but all day Kondi goes about gathering up the wire he needs. By nightfall, his wonderful galimoto is ready for the village children to play with in the light of the moon.

Rosie Revere, Engineer
Rosie may seem quiet during the day, but at night she’s a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer. When her great-great-aunt Rose (Rosie the Riveter) comes for a visit and mentions her one unfinished goal–to fly–Rosie sets to work building a contraption to make her aunt’s dream come true. But when her contraption doesn’t fl y but rather hovers for a moment and then crashes, Rosie deems the invention a failure. On the contrary, Aunt Rose insists that Rosie’s contraption was a raging success. You can only truly fail, she explains, if you quit.

You can also check out The Instructables. They have a reservoir full of ideas of things to make.

Happy Making!

Second Grade Curriculum Picks

*This post contains affiliate links.

Second Grade is on the horizon for my little guy! After quite a bit of research and homeschool book reading, I’ve finally come away with our second grade curriculum picks that my little man will get to do. Here they are:

The Core
These contain the core of our subjects. These are done four days a week, normally taking about 2-3 hours every morning.

Bible Study Guide for all Ages
I used this program in Kindergarten and First Grade and he has really loved it so we’re continuing it this year. It takes about 30-45 minutes to do a lesson, but they’re a joy to do and they are easy to use. Little Man reads the text and follows the instructions for each section. The application for each story is also there so he knows how to relate to the story.

Spelling You See
We are using Level B: Jack and Jill this year. Part 1 uses nursery rhymes that he copies as well as a list of words that I read off in order to learn to spell. Part 2 drops the list of phonetic words and focuses on nursery rhyme copywork and dictation. Vowel chunks, tricky Y guy, blends and others are highlighted at this stage and the child learns by repetition and phonetic deduction.

Growing With Grammar
Growing with Grammar Level 2, starts introducing the initial sentence writing fundamentals as he begins to write more. Capitalization, punctuation, beginning parts of speech, all lay the ground work for good writing practice. The workbooks have the spirals at the top which is great for both left and right-handed writers. There’s enough practice to get the hang of it without being too repetitive.

Singapore Math
(US Edition)
Praised for the way it teaches you to really understand math concepts, instead of by rote flash card memorization of math facts, Singapore Math teaches you how to think rather than what to think. It uses mental math so that you can do math problems in your head, quickly. It’s workbook oriented, but uses visuals and real-word scenarios to make a connection to everyday life.

The Electives
The electives cover foreign language, art, social studies and science. These are fit into our day as a normal part of life. There’s no set time or schedule to sit down and “study.” Homeschool is life learning and these are incorporated into our life.

Getting Started with Spanish
This last year, the kids’ Spanish learning has really taken off. While they are not yet responding with a lot of Spanish, they are starting to understand a lot of what I’m saying to them. I am taking an online college course to be able to learn the language and using it orally with them. It’s the most “organic” way to learn a language. In addition, I am adding in a book called “Getting Started with Spanish”. It is introducing simple words like la, el, niña, hermano, mujer, etc. and it does it in very short, easy-to-remember lessons.

Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids
This is an amazing DVD program for kids (and myself)! My kids are picking up Spanish very quickly just by listening to the dialog between the kids in the film. It’s funny, bite-size, and relevant. Well worth the cost to buy this amazing program!

The Boys’ Doodle Book
This is a fantastic doodling book that gets boys interested in drawing more than stick figures and basic landscapes. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong in that, but it encourages the drawing of castles, cars, ships, bugs, rockets, and creative thoughts. (There is also a Girl’s version!)

The ultimate unit study book to pull from when we need something fun to do! Konos is my go to guide for everything we want to learn outside of language arts and math (It also includes reading books). It covers art, music, science, Bible, history, geography, etc. and it does it in a way that the kids retain the information through project-based learning. If you look through this blog, you will see what the kids learned last year and the activities that we did. Most were from Konos!

Games & Books
Don’t forget the games and books! You can check out my top selections on my Homeschool Treasury website for each subject. All the games and books listed there are ones that we’ve either read or played ourselves or are highly rated by others that we are going to as grade-level allows.

Have a GREAT homeschool year!

A Grocery Store Comparison: And The Winner is…

Where To Shop

A quick trip to the corner grocery store could actually be costing you an extra $40 on a cart full of groceries – money that could have been better spent on gas, clothes, library late fees (yes, it’s a real thing), or put into your saving’s account for a rainy day. Convenience shouldn’t be the only factor you consider as you fill up your cart with your food staples – value is just as important. And if you’re like me you go to the store for eggs and you walk out with milk, bread, butter, toilet paper, chicken nuggets, chips, and a couple apples and lemons too. Before you know it your cart is half full! So much for just getting that one thing. But if you’re shopping at a pricey store those extra items are going to add up.

So where is the best bang-for-your-buck place to shop? If you are budget conscious you probably ask yourself this very question every time you go to the store. Am I really getting the best deal here? How do these prices compare? Is it cheaper somewhere else?

To lay those questions to rest, I decided to find out for myself. I took a trip to six of the most popular grocery stores in Longmont, Colorado and did a comparison of products I would normally buy on a regular shopping trip. The stores were Safeway, King Soopers, Target, Vitamin Cottage, Lucky’s and Sprouts. I selected several items from different categories to compare across the stores.

Supermarkets vs. Neighborhood Markets

In compiling the results of this survey, I found products I could compare across all stores to get an overall price comparison. I also took a detailed look between the larger supermarkets and the smaller neighborhood markets. The supermarkets generally carry a wider range of products to appeal to the organic, natural, and everyday consumers. On the other hand, the neighborhood markets focus mainly on a limited selection of organic and natural products. For example, if you know that you’d rather not have high fructose corn syrup in your bread or need some freshly-ground almond butter, then you’d probably have a better chance of finding it at Sprouts, Lucky’s, or Vitamin Cottage than Safeway, King Soopers, or Target.

An across-the-board comparison and a detailed comparison gave me the same results of who won the title of cheapest store. However, different stores seemed to come out ahead in different categories, so I’m going to give you the overall winners, followed by the category winners.

And The Overall Winner Is…

The overall winner for cheapest place to shop is…

Comparing Categories

Now let’s take a look at each category and see how each compares. You can also download the spreadsheet.

The winners in each category are…


In the detailed regular price comparison of bakery items, the winner of supermarkets is King Soopers.

And for the three neighborhood markets, the winner is Vitamin Cottage.

Refrigerator & Dairy

In the detailed regular price comparison of refrigerator and dairy products, the winner of supermarkets is Target.

And for the three neighborhood markets, the winner is Vitamin Cottage.


In the detailed regular price comparison of pantry items, the winner of supermarkets is Target.

And for the three neighborhood markets, the winner is Sprouts.


In the detailed regular price comparison of organic spices, the winner of supermarkets is Target.

And for the three neighborhood markets, the winner is Lucky’s.

Bulk & Dry Goods

In the detailed regular price comparison of bulk and dry goods, the winner of supermarkets is Target.

And for the three neighborhood markets, the winner is Vitamin Cottage.


In the detailed regular price comparison of produce, the winner of supermarkets is King Soopers.

And for the three neighborhood markets, the winner is Sprouts.


In the detailed regular price comparison of meats, the winner of supermarkets is King Soopers.

And for the three neighborhood markets, the winner is Sprouts.

Freezer Items

In the detailed regular price comparison of freezer items, the winner of supermarkets is Target.

And for the three neighborhood markets, the winner is Vitamin Cottage.


In the detailed regular price comparison of drinks, the winner of supermarkets is Target.

And for the three neighborhood markets, the winner is Sprouts.

Other Items

In the detailed regular price comparison of other miscellaneous items, the winner of supermarkets is Target.


Is there one store that comes out above the rest in every category? No, and certainly not every item in the Target pantry list is the cheapest everywhere, but when added together you’re going to be saving money.

Is this price comparison going to change where you shop for groceries? I know it will for me! Even still, if there’s a certain product that I like and only one store carries it that store is going to win and hopefully it’s one of the cheaper stores, because as I’m walking out of there with my special vegan, sugar-free sourdough bread, I’ll probably be taking some milk, a pound of pistachios, jasmine green tea, and a bag of potato chips with me.

Happy shopping!

*Note: This comparison was done within a two week time span in March 2016, so that the prices on products would be comparable across the stores and not be fluctuating in and out of season.