Category Blog

Hobbies and Project-based Learning

There’s been some critical thinking done in recent years to analyze how we learn with projects in school. Most of us remember we had assignments in which we had very little choice of what it was or the end product. Make a diorama of a scene from your favorite book. Or make a sundial or sand clock. I remember doing a report on the Prickly Pear Cactus in 6th grade. It was the standard dig for information about what it was and where you could find it with maybe a couple of cool facts thrown in. With hobbies, I had the same way of going about it. I went looking for cool rocks in my grandmother’s gravel driveway to pass the time. Maybe I identified a rock or two, but that was it. I knew what it was and where to find it. Was that all there was that could be done with this hobby? Or project? No...

Read More

Three Strength-based Steps to Help Your Child Choose a Hobby

There’s nothing in the books that say you have to choose a hobby that you’re good at, but there’s good reasons to choose a hobby that utilizes your strengths. Hobbies are defined as an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation. Hobbies are for passing the time in a pleasant way. When we have a free moment (for parents is it any longer?), we look to things that bring us joy and a sense of accomplishment. DIY projects, gardening, video games. Kids need that joy and sense of accomplishment, too. Kid

Using your strengths to accomplish a goal in work or play brings not only joy but confidence. It can stir that intrinsic motivation to continue even when faced with some obstacles because the strengths are utilized first. Its like putting your best foot forward...

Read More

Trains, the Preschooler, and Engineering

Both my boys have liked trains and watched Thomas & Friends. We’ve gone on day trips to ride the train with the Austin Steam Train Association. What is it that they like so much about trains? They’re very powerful machines. There’s an opportunity here to teach about what makes it go. This can lead to beginning lessons of science and engineering. A whistling tea kettle is a fun way to show what steam can do. There are videos that have good visuals on the insides of steam engines. But there’s quite a few other hands-on activities that can show the many other ways that make things go. There’s a lot of energy sources to work with along with steam: wind, solar, electrical, magnetic, and even us!

Fly a kite to play with the wind.With wind as your energy source, you can spend a Saturday afternoon investigating how it makes thin...

Read More

Steam Trains and Standard Time

Whether your 10 year old likes trains or time zones are part of a lesson at school, consider the many systems and sciences that came together to influence the standard time we use today. Can you name them? We don’t give it much thought these days but standard times are a fairly recent change. With the dawn of the industrial age, came the iron horse, steam trains. With mass transportation, keeping track of when your ride should arrive became very important. We are aware of that part for sure whether we’re rushing off to work or school by bus or subway. We have maps now that show the routes and schedules of some very complex transit systems. I’m thankful for such good maps for London or I’d still be roaming the streets looking for an entrance to the tube. (Not an entirely bad thing...

Read More

A Princess’ Hobby: How To Expand Her Knowledge

Do you have a little princess? Does she love all the princess movies and was she a princess last Halloween? Does she have a play castle and tiara? How would you turn her interest into something educational?
  • When she’s playing with her castle, introduce her to the parts of the castle by name. Turret. Battlement. Cinderella is on the parapet. Elsa is in the bailey. She might not pick up all the words, but some might fall into her vocabulary.
  • castle vocabulary


    If she doesn’t have a castle already, you could make one. Between the cutting and gluing and painting, you can talk about the parts. Check out my Pinterest board Castles, Knights, Princesses for ideas on how to make your own.

  • She might even have some fun if you both make a catapult...
Read More

How To Teach Using A Hobby

We can start having hobbies at a very young age. Both my boys have liked trucks as toddlers. My 6 year old liked excavators and cement trucks. He watched Bob the Builder, Real Wheels, or Mighty Machines everyday until he discovered video games. My 3 year old currently likes garbage trucks.

My mom had recently asked why Joey likes garbage trucks so much. That was a good question. Personally, I don’t like big, loud machines. I never expressed my opinion about garbage trucks to Joey though. My husband and I involve Joey in the trash chore. Joey helps take out light loads of recycling items and helps roll out the trash cans. He can look at a container to find the recycling symbol and put it in the proper receptacle...

Read More

5 Tips For Buying a Telescope

In May I had interviewed my friend, Lara, at the University of Texas Astronomy Department for tips to get into astronomy. Recently, I went to visit her again to ask about how to find a good telescope. I’ve never owned one so I didn’t even know what to look for. If you’re like me, then this is a good place for you to start!

Which telescope is best for beginners?

Which telescope is best for beginners?

  1. One question I had was how cheap can you get. Times are tough right now and when you have kids, its even tougher. We also know when the price of the product is low, the quality can go down, too. So how low a price can you get a telescope without losing too much quality? About $200.
  2. Its highly recommended to start with a basic model if you’re a beginner...
Read More

Collecting Stamps: The Most Popular Hobby

Stamps have an interesting history. They were created from a need of a better system for delivering letters. I’m sure you’ve seen in movies or plays the folded letters sealed with wax, given to the delivery person. It was then taken to the recipient who was to pay the delivery guy. The price was often high. If you didn’t have money to pay the delivery fee, you didn’t get your letter no matter how important it was. I’m sure the IRS is happy that stamps were created.

As with most systems in history, people found ways to circumvent problems. Are you old enough to remember the collect call commercial with “Bob Wehadababyitsaboy” calling?

Its a funny way to think about cheating the system, but that’s essentially what people did with letters...

Read More

Stars, Planets, & Black Holes! Tips To Get Into Astronomy.

Summer time is a great time to do outdoor activities. Swimming, camping, amusement parks, beaches. Star gazing, too! Perhaps we know how to find the big dipper, but how do we help our kids learn about the stars or what if they ask about black holes? I asked my friend, who pursued a career in astronomy, a few questions to map out some tips. Her name is Lara Eakins and she works at The University of Texas.International Observe the Moon Night

The Hobby Hound:
We took astronomy in high school together but how long have you had an affinity for it?

Probably since I was about 4 or 5 years old, but I think it really took off after I saw the original “Cosmos” when I was 8 years old. (It’s so cool that I have to designate the “original” vs “new”!!)

The Hobby Hound:
What is your current job title?

My “official” titl...

Read More

What are you doing this summer? Learn with a hobby!

Are we done with those tests already? Is summer here yet? Like your kids, you’re probably thinking of all the possible things you could do during the summer, keeping an eye out for those swimming schedules and camps of interest. It’s all good. They keep the kids busy and happy for sure. What do you do if you’re in between activities or can’t afford those camps? Hobbies are a great way to pass the time!

Hobbies have many benefits. I like how they support the project-based learning approach and can be totally self-directed learning. Project-based learning is exactly that, learning through a project with guidance. has a good list explaining what pbl is here. Self-directed learning has very little guidance from teachers (or parents) within a goal or project idea. selfdirectedlearning...

Read More