LEGO Mindstorms EV3 in Your Homeschool

It's been a while since we've shared any of our LEGO escapades with you, hasn't it? 

LEGO® Education Mindstorms EV3 in your homeschool

To be honest, this is because we've hit upon a LEGO® Education product that has truly challenged (and sometimes stumped) my almost 11 year old. 

Up to this point we've been using a lot of the LEGO® Education products for the elementary ages (you can read all of our reviews and experiences if you'd like). Now, however, LEGO® Education Mindstorms EV3 has taken our home by storm and I have a husband and son that are completely in love with this challenging robotics set and software!

Mindstorms enable students to build, program, and test their solutions based on real-life robotics technology. It comes with the EV3 intelligent brick - basically a powerful small personal computer - that allows students to control motors and collect sensor feedback. 

I know, I know. 

It all sounds very confusing, doesn't it?  I had been very intimidated by this set and software (so much so that it just sat on our shelf for nearly a year before I mustered up the courage to delve into the Mindstorms world!) 

My son, however, (with a little help from his dad) jumped right in, has figured out basic programming and is motivated to learn MORE.  

LEGO® Education Mindstorms EV3 has been the perfect addition to our homeschool. I don't have to tell you what valuable skills programming, building, problem-solving, and patience building are in today's world.  

About LEGO® Education EV3 Core Set

The LEGO® Education EV3 set is different than the LEGO Mindstorms retail set sold in most stores. The education version has more motors, sensors, and more advanced programming. 

I would HIGHLY recommend this set. I know it's a HUGE investment, but if you have a STEM minded kid, you will get your money's worth.

I promise. 

(You can read ALL ABOUT EV3 on the LEGO® Education site to learn more.)

The set includes:

  • Three interactive motors with built-in rotation sensors
  • Color sensor, gyro sensor, ultrasonic sensor, and two touch sensors
  • Rechargeable battery and charger
  • Ball Wheel
  • Connecting cables
  • Building Instructions
  • LEGO Technic Building Bricks

A printed booklet of instructions for the LEGO Educator model are included, and 4 additional sets of instructions are embedded in the software (sold separately).

My son immediately built the LEGO Educator model without any problems.  He and his dad spent some time with the software and did the basic programming.

The programming is drag and drop, so it's very easy to learn! 

Then, my son wanted to construct the Mindstorms Crane.  He completed the steps (over 100) and it took him close to three hours.  Then, the programming happened.  

Look what he came up with! 

Creativity with Mindstorms EV3

Of course, my son loves the models he has made with the instructions, but he also loves to be creative with the Technic bricks. 

He's been experimenting with the sensors and programming. 

The beauty of this is that he is thinking through problems and solutions. He is asking good questions. He is fine tuning so many good skills that will serve him later in life. 

We're even thinking  about starting our own First LEGO League Team

Creativity with LEGO® Education Mindstorms EV3

The LEGO® Education Mindstorms EV3 has been the next logical step for my LEGO lover. 

I love that these products have taken him literally from preschool to middle school, and I can see many more years of LEGO learning in his future! 


The HUGE Giveaway! 

LEGO Mindstorms Christmas Giveaway at Homegrown Learners

LEGO® Education is generously giving away the following to ONE lucky winner:

That's a total value of $550!  

This giveaway is open to residents of the continental United States ONLY.  Giveaway ends at midnight, EST, December 4, 2015.  The winner will be notified within 24 hours and will have 24 hours to respond to claim their prizes. 


We did all of THAT in one week?

Where to start this week?

It's been a whirlwind of a week... and when I look back on it I wonder how we really got all of it done!

That's the thing about homeschool, though. You have so much TIME to work with... all day every day is your canvas, and you have the ability to create our own personal masterpiece each and every week. 

Don't you agree? 

This week was full of music, memory work, Operation Christmas Child, construction, and everything in between. I love documenting the weeks through Collage Friday because it gives me  a record of our homeschool days, and it often serves as a reminder of WHY we do what we do.

Because let's face it -- sometimes homeschooling can be tedious and challenging and we need to look back and see our accomplishments. 

A Little of Everything

While Anna's weeks are more prescribed by the Challenge curriculum, Grant is still free to explore a bit more and do many different things of his own choosing.  

I need write a post about this - because I love that in these elementary years we still have the freedom to pursue many different things. In the middle and high school years, however, I am seeing the advantage of buckling down and following the Challenge curriculum. 

I digress.  On to what Grant was up to this week: 

Collage Friday at Homegrown Learners

He played in a Sonatina Festival on the weekend and received a superior rating.  I was SO proud of him!  (Usually both Anna and Grant play in the Sonatina Festival, but this year Anna decided to forgo the festival for a tennis match she was playing in... we've had more hard decisions like this in our 9th grade year - she's a busy girl!)

Grant has created the goal for himself of becoming a Classical Conversations Memory Master this year.  What does that mean?  I love Brandy's post about what a Memory Master is, so I won't reinvent the wheel by telling you, you can just click over to her blog and read for yourself! 

He has been reviewing on the CC Cycle 1 iPad app, listening to all of the memory work on CD, letting me quiz him on the white board (times tables in particular), and playing lots of other memory work games we have found. 

It is so true that your child has to desire to Memory Master themselves - it CANNOT come from mom and dad. It has to be the desire of the child. 

Every day he works through a couple of lessons in the Veritas Press Self Paced History Course.  I love it and consider this to be one of the best decisions we made for Grant's school year. 

We also had time to break out a US Presidents Puzzle - which I am looking forward to framing for our new school room! 

He also spent time with:

  • LEGO® Education EV3 Mindstorms Crane - building and programming
  • Saxon Math
  • Finishing The Serpent's Shadow
  • Vivaldi's Gloria in Excelsis Deo (SQUILT Volume 1)
  • IEW Ancient History Writing Lessons
  • Essentials diagramming and grammar charts
  • Tennis lessons

Operation Christmas Child

It's National Collection Week! 

Of course you know how special this ministry is to me. It's hard to believe that it's already been two years since I traveled to Ecuador to distribute shoe boxes.  

My mission now is to spread the love of packing with young people, and I had the great joy of doing that with Anna and our church youth Saturday evening. 

Collage Friday at Homegrown Learners

We started the evening with pizza and stories -- stories from OCC box recipients (from the book A Story of Simple Gifts - I LOVE this book!) and a few of my own personal stories from Ecuador. I wanted the kids to know that these are MORE THAN JUST SHOEBOXES.  

They are the love of Christ tangibly demonstrated for a child! 

The children's hearts for others in need really touched me, and their ideas for items in boxes were wonderful. We took a group picture to include in each box, and included lots of personal information about ourselves for the recipients. 

Sunday we will dedicate the boxes during church.  It's one of my favorite Sundays of the year! I also have the honor of giving the sermon in our church this Sunday, so it will be extra special for me.

Learning the Grammar of Finishing a Basement

Being a Classical homeschooler I think about most everything in terms of how we can learn it in a Classical way. 

SO... as we are embarking on finishing our basement I am learning the GRAMMAR of a construction project.  Terms like framing, drywall, sheet rock, inspections, (and more) have entered my working vocabulary. 

Collage Friday at Homegrown Learners

The biggest reason we decided to finish off the 1,000+ square feet in the basement was to give my husband a much needed office (he works from home) AWAY from the daily living space. 

We will also have a family room, school room, and full bathroom in the basement.  

This week we went from framing to insulation to dry wall rather quickly and it was exciting to watch! 

Now I need to make decisions on paint colors, flooring, bathroom and light fixtures, and more.  It's VERY exciting, but also overwhelming at the same time because this just isn't my area of expertise. 

Having the basement finished also provides us with a unique opportunity to witness to many people about homeschooling. We inevitably interact with the workmen and it's obvious to them that we homeschool. I've had some great conversations with them about homeschooling, and the kids have baked goodies for them, too. 

Tell me your FAVORITE thing your kids accomplished this week!  

Collage Friday

Collage Friday at Homegrown Learners

Join me each Friday for a wrap up of the week - or just to share pertinent thoughts that have been rambling in your head during the past week.

Be sure to include your photo collages!

Then, visit other bloggers that have linked and leave them a supportive comment.  I love the Collage Friday community!

Add your link using the widget below. Additionally, if you'd like to join further, use the hashtag #collagefriday on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. 

A Boring Week in the Life of Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Don't you just chuckle when presented with the argument against homeschooling: "They don't get enough socialization." ?

Or how about this one:  "Children need to go to school for OPPORTUNITIES."

Thankfully, I heard less and less of these tired arguments (and most often I just want to say "Stop Telling Me Why You Can't Homeschool!"). 

As I look back on our homeschool week, it was full of friends, learning, and opportunities. It was full of so much MORE, too. 

My children are blessed with a beautiful Classical homeschool education, a peer group that shares this school journey with them, and abundant music, sports, and church activities. 

Caution! Boring, Unsocizlied Homeschoolers Ahead

Their lives are anything but boring, and if you know them you could call them anything BUT unsocialized! 

Best of all?  Their dad and I get to witness each and every moment and WE are the primary influences in their lives.

After listening to most of the traditional school kids we know complain about school, I am grateful for the opportunity to NOT compartmentalize school into a boring box. We just LIVE our lives and learn along the way. 

THAT is the blessing of homeschool. 

The Life of a Homeschooled Teen

Ninth grade has truly been magical for Anna (and I can't believe it's almost half over)! 

Many prayers I've prayed for her have been answered.  Prayers for deep friendships and solid academic opportunities - prayers for her to deepen her relationship with God, and prayers for her to have the courage to stand up to the many evils she will encounter in this world. 

Not only is her Challenge I class a super sweet group of kids, but she has also found a niche playing tennis and continues to pursue her music.  I feel very confident that the solid Classical foundation we are giving her will serve her well as she starts to think about her future. 

The Life of a Homeschooled Teen

Last weekend Anna and some friends went to a homeschool dance. The dance is put on by a local homeschool hybrid school. They invite ALL homeschoolers in our area to their English Country Dances.  Anna had the BEST time!  

Our week was punctuated by lots of construction noise at home (due to the finishing of our basement), so we escaped and went to our local library. Anna packed her backpack and Chromebook and  didn't miss a beat. 

This year in Challenge I she has taken full ownership of her schedule. I do very little work with her now. I do grade all of her work and we also have a lot of discussions about the books she is reading (her latest assigned novel is To Kill a Mockingbird).  I assist her with editing essays and fine tuning presentations. 

This week Anna was struggling with not feeling well. I love that she had the luxury to sack out on the sofa and take the time she needed to rest. One morning we did listen to a FABULOUS talk by Ravi Zacharias  about courtship and marriage - while younger brother played LEGOS and gave his input, too. 

(You can download the talk for free thanks to CC.)

This was assigned listening for Challenge I. It is designed to stand in contrast to the Shakespeare play they are reading - The Taming of the Shrew - and the modern day view of marriage and relationships in general. 


Add to the week tennis practice, piano lessons, children's chorus rehearsal, youth group, and a mother's helper job one afternoon - It was a boring, unsocialized week!   


A Full Homeschool Week in 5th Grade

My son's week was equally as boring.  {wink}

He is truly my social butterfly. We affectionately refer to him as "The Mayor". 

I have seen so much growth in Grant (academically and physically) in the past few months. 

I feel like I'm raising a little Renaissance Man!  He loves nature study, diagramming sentences, learning how to use Latin declensions, and playing piano. 

He also loves every sport, LEGOS, and being a goofball with his buddies. 

HOMESCHOOL ROCKS because my son is 100% free to be who God created him to be every minute of the day. 

A Week in the Life of 5th Grade Homeschool

His obsession with LEGOS is not fading. He and his dad are exploring more programming with the LEGO® Education Mindstorms. He built the Mindstorms crane (108 steps!) and began programming it over the weekend. 

It was super fun to see the overlap between what he's learning in coding with his dad and the Mindstorms programming.  I love that we can nurture his passion for anything technical. 

His class at Classical Conversations is ALL BOYS! God bless his tutor, Miss Dawn.  She tells the boys weekly  they are becoming leaders through SERVING - using Christ as their example. I have enjoyed witnessing these boys grow and learn this semester. 

We took a nature walk with the boys last week and it was just FUN to explore with nine boys. Their conversations, observations, and shenanigans were a joy. Once inside, the boys sketched something of interest they had found.  

I LOVE that I don't have to cram my active boy into a classroom all day. I LOVE that he can be wiggly without being labeled with an attention disorder. I LOVE so much about homeschooling boys in particular! 

Add to Grant's week going to the movies with a friend, piano lessons, tennis lessons, and a spend the night with another buddy - This boy has a full and happy life!

Tell Me About Your Boring, Unsocialized Homeschoolers!  I'd love to know what you've been up to this week! 

Collage Friday

Collage Friday at Homegrown Learners

Join me each Friday for a wrap up of the week - or just to share pertinent thoughts that have been rambling in your head during the past week.

Be sure to include your photo collages!

Then, visit other bloggers that have linked and leave them a supportive comment.  I love the Collage Friday community!

Add your link using the widget below. Additionally, if you'd like to join further, use the hashtag #collagefriday on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.