Make Your Own Minecraft Stop-Motion Movie

Minecraft Stop-Motion Animation Studio

Do you ever get a cool educational toy or game and it sits in the box for a really long time because, well, you’d have to read the instructions and you simply cannot imagine putting one more thing into your overloaded homeschool parent brain?


Well, that happens to our family A LOT.

So I felt pretty accomplished last Sunday when I pulled one of Jack’s birthday gifts off the shelf. It was this uber cool Minecraft Stop-Motion Animation Studio ($24 on ). 

Minecraft Stop Motion Movie Maker Screen

The boys and I were spending a Sunday alone together while Daddy was away teaching. The kids get pretty excited about “mommy days” because I am a bit more lenient toward electronics play. Let me tell you we played with the Minecraft Stop-Motion Animation Studio for the better part of three hours and electronics were completely tossed aside.


The boys set up the movie scene while I read the instructions. This is so easy it’s shameful I didn’t take it out of the box before!

Image result for minecraft stop motion movie creatorAll you do is download the Minecraft Stop-Motion Movie Creator App to your phone or iPad. It’s FREE, btw. I chose my phone because it’s easier to balance on the frame provided in the kit. You can use your iPad, however.

The first couple of films were crazy-fast until we learned to slow down the frame-rate in the edit feature.  We also had to learn to make small movements for each shot. Otherwise, the film looks too jerky. You can also choose music, sound effects, and backgrounds for your title cards. Too cute. The boys quickly got the hang of it and made a batch of films. Here is one Eli made for you to see:


I love finding offline adventures that support the boys’ online passions. Now I am off to figure out how to make  three headed Wither Boss and massive Enderdragon Halloween costume. Sheesh!

Hope you enjoy making movies. Happy Homeschooling!


PS: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means at no additional cost to you I earn a small commission on those links where you click and purchase. Thank you for your support in this small way!

Gameschooling: Which Games to Buy?

Ten Educational Games Hit A Homeschool Homerun

This past summer I was enjoying a homeschool afternoon with my boys at Gamesville Tabletop. Owned and operated by fellow homeschool mama, Callie Williams, with help from her homeschool-turned-college-student son, Gray, Gamesville Tabletop is a fantastic destination for kids of all ages to socialize and engage in educational play.

Callie happens to be the first homeschool parent I ever met. At the time, I wasn’t really sure I wanted to homeschool, but my husband did, so I was trying to connect with other homeschoolers and learn the ropes (see my post “Unschooling? No Way! to learn what convinced me). Callie met my son and I at the Gainesville Oaks Mall, and while Jack climbed on the squishy Swamp Playground, Callie told me a bit about homeschooling.

Callie was so chill and confident and her excitement for homeschooling was infectious. Back then, Gray was only twelve, yet he immediately impressed me when he walked up and shook my hand and told me how nice it was to meet me. Huh! I had never met a child so comfortable with adults. I was impressed and I recognized that I was experiencing an interaction with a kid who was confident, self-assured and had  more self-knowledge than many adults.

Whether she knows it or not, Callie and her son Gray, were an inspiration to me and helped me “see” what type of kids I might have if I homeschooled, too.

So this past summer Callie and I got to talking about gameschooling and she gave me this awesome list of educational games to post on the Homeschool Helpdesk. Gamesville Tabletop carries all of these games and Callie is kind enough to offer 20% OFF educational games to all homeschoolers with a Homeschool ID! Gamesville Tabletop is located in front of the Publix shopping center at 4211 NW 16th Blvd in the Millhopper Shopping Center.

I thought I would share that list (egad, a few months late…sorry, Callie!) just in time for Black Friday and holiday shopping. Here goes:


Callie Williams’ Top 10 List of Gameschooling Tabletop Games

(available at Gamesville Tabletop)



This game teaches kids 4+ the ins and outs of programming in a fun, tactile game. Perfect for 2-5 players, this game has levels of increasing difficulty, introducing obstacles and more complex Code Cards.

Beginner to Advanced levels.  (Ages 3+)

KATE’S NOTE: We love turtles and computers. This is a fun game you can play cooperatively or competitively.



The great Greek god has bolted from Mount Olympus and it’s up to you to nab this dashing deity. Play cards strategically, adding numbers as you climb up the mythic mountain. Grab Zeus when the total reaches a multiple of 10.

Better yet, summon the strength of Apollo, Poseidon, or all-powerful Hera to bring Zeus within your grasp. Reach the top of Mount Olympus with Zeus in hand and you?re a mortal among the gods. (Ages 8+)

KATE’S NOTE: This is on Jack’s Christmas list!



This is a wholesome, time-tested, adventurous table game with many many options to expand play beyond this starter set.

A cooperative game of adventure for 1–5 players set in a world of imagination, fun, and excitement with your friends. (Ages 9+)


KATE’S NOTE: Can’t wait for the boys to turn 9 and start playing this!



Inspire creativity, laughter and quick thinking.

Race to come up with, and blurt out, a word from one of the picture cards in your hand. Think fast and remember that your word must begin with the last letter of the word previously called.

Get rid of your cards first to win! Unique illustrations will spark imagination and allow for endless opportunities for new words- so simple yet so tricky it might render you speechless! (Ages 8+)




There are infinite ways to play with Rory’s Story Cubes. You can play solitaire or with others.

Here are some suggested uses: Party game or ice-breaker, Literacy development, Speaking and listening skills, Creative inspiration, Mental workout, Problem solving. Rory’s Story Cubes is a pocket-sized creative story generator, providing hours of imaginative play for all ages.

With Rory’s Story Cubes, anyone can become a great storyteller and there are no wrong answers. Simply roll the cubes and let the pictures spark your imagination. (All Ages)

KATE’S NOTE: This is on Eli’s Christmas list!



Put The Laws Of Motion To The Test With Our Patented Q-Ba-Maze 2.0 Stunt Sets.

The Ingenious Pieces Interlock In Endless Configurations, While Double-Exit Cubes Keep You Guessing Which Way The Marbles Will Go.

The Starter Stunt Set Features 56 Cubes, 1 Speed Sprocket, 1 Roto Catcher, 15 Steel Marbles And Instructions For Plenty Of Super Spinning Action. (Ages 8+)

KATE’S NOTE: This is on Jack’s Christmas list!




Sharpens sequential reasoning and planning skills with an addictively fun game that sharpens the brain.

Honk! Honk! It’s gridlock and the little red car can’t move. The player is a traffic cop in the Rush Hour Traffic Jam Puzzle where the objective is to get the red car off the road. To play, pick one of 40 challenge cards; solutions are printed on the back of each card. Then set up the cars and buses in a specified pattern on the 6-inch-square road grid. Move the vehicles one by one (obey those traffic laws!) until the red car can escape the traffic jam.

There are four levels of difficulty. Kids can alternate turns with another player or just “play in traffic” alone. The game from Binary Arts received a national award from Mensa and is used in elementary school math classes. (Ages 8+)



Was the light bulb invented after or before glasses?

With Timeline, learn the answer to this question and thousands of others by comparing your knowledge or hunches to historic reality. At the beginning of the game, players all get the same number of cards representing monuments, inventions, etc. On the back of each card is a date.

Everyone takes turns guessing the correct date. (Ages 8+)

KATE’S NOTE: We have several of these Timeline games and my kids LOVE playing cooperatively with Mom and Dad.



In a round, each player gets a hand of cards, with the cards coming in three suits that have values from 1 to 7 and a fourth “joker” suit in which all the cards have a value of 4. On a turn, a player discards a card from her hand onto a pile of the appropriate color (with jokers being playable on any pile) and gives the sum of all cards now in that pile. If the sum is higher than 13, then the player must first take all of the cards already in the pile, leaving only her card behind.

The round ends once all the cards have been played, then players compare how many cards they have in each of the three suits; whoever has the most cards throws them away, while everyone else scores 1 penalty point per card. Each joker is worth 2 penalty points. Whoever has the fewest penalty points after each player has started a round once wins! (Ages 6+)

KATE’S NOTE: Eli loves cats so we bought this one. We play it with Jack who is older and it’s a good basic math skill builder.


Qwirkle is the perfect game to hone player’s tactical maneuvers, strategical planning, and forward thinking.

The rules of the game are basic: simply build lines by matching tiles based on either color or shape, and score points for doing so. The ability to build complex combinations will keep children interested and engaged, and challenge them mentally. Qwirkle is playable from early ages up, allowing young children and older individuals alike to develop and hone their spacial recognition, planning, and problem solving skills. (Ages 4+)

KATE’S NOTE: This is currently a family favorite. Eli plays skillfully at age 5, yet this game also challenges adults!



Happy homeschooling everyone!


Five Homeschool History Resources

Homeschool History Gems

In the past week, I’ve been introduced to two, new homeschool history resources, plus I’ve got two of my own that I have been wanting to write about, so this week’s blog is all about homeschool history.

Hope you find one of these to be a good “ah-ha” history resources for your homeschool family as well!

America: The Story of US. (Tweens & Teens)

America The Story of Us DVD SeriesI ran into homeschool mama, Allison S. at the recent SBAC Tuesday night meeting. She raved about a DVD series she just finished watching with her 8 and 10 year old kiddos called America: The Story of US.

Described as an “epic, 12-part series”, this three disc collection includes 12 chapters and a total running time of more than nine hours. Wow.

Starting 100 years after Columbus and finishing in the present day, the series covers major wars, western expansion, mass migration to major cities, the discovery of oil, the spread of industry, engineering and infrastructure, and the development of the automobile just to name a few. Darker topics such as slavery, racial strife and the treatment of Native Americans and the Japanese are also dealt with.

Allison cautions that the series is violent, and while the violence is not overly done, families should use good judgement as to the appropriateness for your child.

DISC 1 (Episodes 1-4): Rebels / Revolution / Westward / Division

DISC 2 (Episodes 5-8): Civil War / Heartland / Cities / Boom

DISC 3 (Episodes 9-12): Bust / WWII / Boomers / Millennium


Disc 1: George Washington, American Revolution, Declaration of Independence

Disc 2: Civil War, Transcontinental Railroad, Statue of Liberty, Henry Ford and the Model T


PBS Liberty! The American Revolution (Teens & Tweens)

Liberty! The American Revolution DVD SeriesI picked this little history nugget up from homeschool mama Summer S. who posted it on Facebook. This series is pretty cool because in typical PBS-style there is a free companion website complete with a Teachers Guide and interactives.

Here is the description straight from PBS: “Liberty! The American Revolution” is a dramatic documentary about the birth of the American Republic and the struggle of a loosely connected group of states to become a nation. The George Foster Peabody award-winning three-disc series brings the people, events and ideas of the revolution to life through military reenactments and dramatic recreations performed by a distinguished cast.”

My young crew isn’t ready for this series, so I cannot attest to the violence factor, but again, use caution and good judgement before flicking on the tube.


Timeline Historical Events Card Game (Big Kids thru Teens)

Timeline Historical Card GameI found Timeline Historical Events Card Game over at Gamesville Tabletop one afternoon as the boys played during the regularly-scheduled gaming time for homeschoolers. My eldest is wild about history and while we don’t play this game by the rules (is there any game that we play by the rules, lol?) it has spurred us to look up facts, discover historical events we never even HEARD OF and have a lot of fun with learning.

The gist is to try to guess which historical event happened first and get this box of 110 historical event cards in order. How we play is this:

Jack pulls three cards from the deck and shouts out the name of the historical event. This is INCREDIBLE for practicing advanced reading. Jack has just turned seven and pronouncing the names of Grecian wars, Roman empires and the like take some skill. Love it.

Daddy or I try to guess which historical event happened first, second and third. Did you know that dogs were domesticated 12,000 years ago? Have you ever heard of the Battle of Alesia in 52 B.C.? In what year did Caesar say “Alea jacta est?”

Holy cow! Jack giggles as we agonize over these events and he is often motivated by the beauiful artwork on each card to go look up the event on his computer and learn more about that particular event.

We love the Timeline Card Games so much that we now own Timeline Discoveries Card Game, too!


Usborne History of the World (Big Kids thru Teens)

Usborne History of the WorldDon’t even get me started on the magic of Usborne books. I’ll probably write an entire blog about Usborne Homeschool soon.

I picked up the Usborne History of the World used on Amazon and gave it to Jack for his birthday. Every night we read at least two pages. If you’ve ever picked up an Usborne book, you know that two pages is a huge amount of reading.

We tried several other popular history books, but this one has stuck with us and I know a couple of other homeschool mamas (Candice J. and Summer S. to name two!) love Usborne as well.

This is the kind of learning I like to have lying around as part of our Leave Learning Out unschooling approach.


Mr. Peabody and Sherman (Little Kids & All Ages)

Mr Peabody and Sherman DVDI can’t write about homeschool history resources without including this little gem. First of all, our French Bulldog is named after this movie (Mr. Peabody, but we call him Peabo).

Second, how can you NOT enjoy history when Patrick Warburton plays Agamemnon in the Trojan Horse? Ridiculously funny.

Both my boys love Mr. Peabody and Sherman and I love that it makes history fun for my younger son who isn’t a big fan of reading historical timelines and facts. Eli likes to play make believe and after watching this movie he invites us all into his wayback machine to visit ancient Egypt or Galileo. What a super-cool way to unschool!



So what do you think? What history resources do you weave into your homeschooling? Please share in the comments below!

Happy homeschooling,

PS: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means at no additional cost to you I earn a small commission on those links where you click and purchase. Thank you for your support in this small way!

Cooperative Games

Games that Support Empathy and Team Work

We learned early-on in our parenting career that our oldest child was not wired for competition. Thoughts of sitting around the camp fire playing Monopoly or Gin Rummy quickly withered as we watched our son melt-down in despair when we attempted any type of competitive game.

He is not a perfectionist, nor is he afraid to try and excel at something difficult. Yet for some reason, when asked to pit his skills against the person next to him, my eldest son becomes physically anxious and panics.

As we solidified our parenting philosophy, we began to realize that we didn’t necessarily want our kids to be competitive. Self-motivated, passionate and focused, yes…but not at the expense of their neighbor. We didn’t want to teach our children to find joy in someone else’s loss.

When kids at the playground asked our kids to play tag, I quickly offered to play “challenge” instead where I shouted out a physical challenge for all the kids to accomplish, where no child “won” or “lost” – each child simply worked as hard as they could to jump on one foot or run around the oak tree or execute five jumping jacks. The kids loved it and my children were able to socialize, while we stayed true to our family values. Yay!

We avoided playing board games as I assumed they were all competitive in nature. I was wrong!

Recently an uber-cool homeschool mama, Jessica A.. brought a cooperative game to our homeschool co-op. Huh! Who knew? I wasn’t clever enough to think that other families might have the same approach to competition and that someone was actually mass producing cooperative games. Cool!

The game Jessica introduced to us is Community and my son played it for over an hour at co-op that day – a major accomplishment for a kid who shies away from games. Of course, we purchased Community and both my four year old and six year old play it regularly.   

The idea is to create a city, or community, with the octagonal game tiles, by connecting each location tile (home, library, museum) with a road tile as efficiently as possible. The road tiles must be oriented to match up with the location tiles, making it a fun puzzle that is unique every time you play.

I recently did some research into cooperative games and realized that the skills learned teach communication, empathy, and conflict resolution – exactly the type of skills our family prioritizes in our children’s education and development. Cooperative games require the skills of everyone in the group and give kids an opportunity to work together toward a common goal. Nice!

If you’re curious about cooperative games there is a whole slew of them on Amazon. Thus far, Community is our favorite. You can also try before you buy at  your local gaming store – I know our local game store, Gamesville Tabletop, has plenty to choose from.

Happy cooperative gaming!

NOTE: This page contains affiliate links to This means at no additional cost to you I earn a small commission on those links where you click and purchase. Thank you for your support in this small way!

May the Force Be With You?

Angry Birds Star Wars Jenga

Um, okay…I can’t believe I’m doing a shout out about a highly commercialized product that – on the surface – lacks any educational value.

However, we found the Angry Birds Star Wars Jenga Death Star game on Amazon while searching for a birthday gift. It was a huge hit at the birthday party and both my boys asked if they could have one as well.

My boys have never seen Star Wars and although they do play Angry Birds on their iPads, it isn’t a top favorite. So I’m not sure what the exact chemistry may be, however after gifting Angry Birds Star Wars Jenga Darth Vader and Angry Birds Star Wars AT-AT Attack to our kids at Christmas, my husband and I were surprised to find that Star Wars Jenga had unleashed an amazing amount of creativity and independent play!

Homeschool play with Angry Birds Star Wars JengaThe boys intermingled the two games and use the pieces to create elaborate make-believe worlds by incorporating Legos, Duplos, toy airplanes and Matchbox cars as well. They pretend that the Star Wars characters (angry birds and pigs) are adventurers and weave these beautiful stories around their fate. It’s awesome!

The educational value of imaginative play is obvious, yet I never would have thought that Star Wars Jenga would be a story telling tool! After the boys carefully craft their worlds, they ask me to sit and listen as they narrate wild tales of make-believe adventure scene by scene.

I kid you not, my little guys have played almost every day with this game since Christmas, giving me the gift of an extra 45 minutes of mom time daily as they set up their Star Wars Jenga worlds. Priceless!

The Jenga-fever is so contagious that if one of the boys is playing, the other will soon join him and together they’ve found a common ground for cooperative play. Wow, who knew?

I hope this blog inspires some creative play in your homeschool world. Leave a comment below and share a game that your child is passionate about. TIA!


PS: Did you enjoy this post? Please comment below and share it with a friend!

*There are affiliate links in this post.