Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! However, you probably didn’t know that May 12th is also National Limerick Day! So instead of just wishing your mom a good day and signing your name on a lame card, write her a limerick instead!
My mom was a shining beacon of light
Always stood by to relieve my plight
She watched me climb trees
Then patched my skinned knees
But kept my allowance ever so slight
Love you mom!
Over the past few weeks, the Pink Floyd website has been adding special Dark Side of the Moon prism artwork to their index page from artist Storm Thorgerson (who created the majority of the Pink Floyd album artwork over the years – guy is awesome). It has been in celebration of the 40th anniversary of one of the most absolutely badass albums of all time. In 1973, Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon, and it has since been the longest running album on the Billboard charts. It was the first Floyd album I bought way back in middle school that helped turn Pink Floyd into one of my favorite bands. And now, 40 years later it hasn’t lost a shred of its sheer awesomeness. (40 years since its release – not since I was in middle school!)
To all my young readers, this is a perfect opportunity to begin your journey into musical discovery. Ask your parents, I’m sure they’ve got the CD, the cassette, or, hopefully, even the LP. Though, I suppose you don’t know what an LP is. There’s something else you can ask your parents about.
Anyway, the whole point here was that all the special artwork has been revealed, and it has been made into a downloadable poster in three different sizes. Click the link above or the poster below to go to the site, and download whatever size you want. A preview of the poster is below. Enjoy. See you on the dark side of the moon.
TK-341 plays with his new toy.
It’s not often I post about other blogs – or even get a chance to steal a look at some of the millions of blogs out there. But, I wanted to give a long overdue shout out to a particular site run by 11-year-old Erik that I think deserves some extra kudos. Erik has been a devoted follower of my blog (thanks dude!), and in his spare time has been running a fantastic service of his own, for other like minded kids of his age.
Erik reviews books. Books for kids. Of all ages. Picture books, novels, comic books, graphic novels, and more. You can find his reviews on his site This Kid Reviews Books.
Perhaps one reason I’m so enthralled with Erik’s site, is because as you all well know, I’m a 5th grade teacher. There is nothing more near and dear to my heart than seeing a student of his age thoroughly enjoy reading, be excited by it, want to pick up book after book, and then share it with others. Browsing through the pages of his reviews I can easily recognize countless books I have on the shelves of my own classroom library. The same books my students and I order from the Scholastic Book Club every month. Erik reads a few books per week, and blogs about most of them. I think one of my favorite parts of his blog is his Accelerated Reader (AR) counter. For those unfamiliar, the AR program quizzes readers on comprehension, plot devices, etc. Different books are worth different amounts of points – depending on length, complexity, and reading level. An average 5th grade novel is usually about 10 points. Some larger books like Harry Potter can be worth as much as 30. Right now, his total is just a hair over 1,000 points. My class’s total so far this year? 890. Yup, Erik alone has out-read all 23 of my students put together. Awesome job, dude!
Erik’s reviews aren’t lengthy, and in his short blurbs does a great job of rounding up a book’s perspective, story, characters, and points out if anything might be inappropriate for younger readers. They’re perfect for kids to read. He writes them all himself, too. His parents help with the behind the scenes functions of the site, and preview some more young adult books for him. I’d like to tip my hat to them for being so incredibly proactive in Erik’s love of reading. I wish all my students had parents as engaged in their child’s education.
So parents, kids, everyone – make sure you head on over to Erik’s site and find some books to read. I’m sure he can help you out.
Erik takes suggestions for books to read and review, so I’ve got a couple for you, buddy. (And I highly, highly recommend these for any and all students of a higher reading level in grades 5 and up:
-The Giver by Lois Lowry
-Haroun & the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie (currently my read aloud book in class)
Many awesome thanks to the folks at Minifigs.me for helping Lord Vader KCCO with BFM.
The custom torsos came out fantastic. Another Chive shirt coming up tomorrow!
(Parents: Please be aware the Chive is a very popular website but it’s not for kids. Please be mindful.)
Ormus tends his rooftop garden.
Wanted to thank you all for your suggestions on where to look to get some custom minifigs made. I ended up using the website minifigs.me, and the “design your own” option. It was very simple. They have a nice simple downloadable torso template that you can put your design or picture onto, then upload it to the site as you are choosing your options and checking out. Their customer support was quick and helpful too because when I first tried it, the site kept yelling at me and not accepting my upload. So I contacted them, let them know the problem, and it was fixed the next day.
Pricing was reasonable as well. I paid about $20 for two custom torsos with standard rest of the body, and international shipping. If you want more customizations, there are added costs, but they are also reasonable – $1 or 2 for premium colors, or leg designs, etc.
While I can’t vouch for the quality of the pieces yet – as they won’t arrive for about 2-3 weeks – I’ll say things look good so far! Clearly there shall be a picture or two when they arrive.
In other news. I did go get most of the Series 9 minifigs yesterday. The chicken suit is so boss. Pictures forthcoming this week, I think. I can’t reist.
Standing watch for all in 2013.
Mithrandir & the Hiker are going on an adventure.
Bandits got away with one of Santa’s sacks.
Surrounded by murderous robots programmed to destroy all humans, Steve hoped his camouflage would hold up.
Easter Bunny in the off-season.
I hope everyone has an excellent Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. Enjoy family, friends, presents, and most importantly: food. I’ve been home for approximately 48 hours and have already eaten enough of my mother’s Christmas cookies to last a month. Merry Christmas everyone!
Santa visits the troops on Hoth.
Good news everyone!
I’m home in Syracuse for the holidays with friends and family, and I brought my camera. Be on the lookout for some LEGO photos this week! I’ve already taken a few, and there are more on the way. It’s a Festivus miracle!
It’s late right now, on Sunday night, so in the meantime enjoy this picture of Chainsaw enjoying the snow.
The folks over and No Starch Press have sent me another batch of excellent LEGO titles to write some blurbs on. These have been available for a little while – I’ve been pretty busy at school so I haven’t had a lot of extra time to look through the books and write a proper review, so if you like what you see here, head over to the No Starch website and check them out! I must say that I have been very impressed with the quality of books coming from independent publishers – especially since these books are usually developed and written by average Joes like you and me. These three books are no exception. The two dealing with general LEGO blocks and building are very neat, and while I found the third one on LEGO Technic to be well done, I’ve never been into Technic myself. But, I know a lot of you are so I think you’ll enjoy it.
The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide (2nd ed.) can be an essential piece of literature to builders of any age who are going to take freestyle building seriously. That has always been the nitty-gritty of LEGO: what can you build on your own? Sure, the sets you buy in store can be exceedingly intricate, but no matter what the Danes come up with over there, sometimes it’s no match for the imagination of a six-year old child. Or a 46-year old adult.
The second edition of the book has made the jump to full-color, making the models 100 times easier to decipher. Contained within the book’s 200+ pages are countless tips, tricks, and directions for helping even the most casual freestyle builder accomplish amazing feats of LEGO. Learn how to make interlocking walls for your buildings the right way, columns and pillars that would make Atlas jealous, and how to choose the best pieces for your project. To that end, included at the rear of the book is an index of some of the most well-known and used pieces in the LEGO catalogue. Each entry is detailed with a piece’s specifications, size, description, and part number.
My favorite part of the book is how author Allan Bedford instructs readers on how to build to various scales. In layman’s terms: how to make tiny models imitating real-life objects, jumbo sized models that could take up whole shelves, or models inviting your favorite minifigs to hop on board. This is perhaps one of my favorite things about LEGO: size has no limits. Look at LEGO-Land. Giant heads, and statues and landmarks, and football stadiums. Or, conversely, as shown in this book, an entire ocean-going oil tanker that will fit in the palm of your hand.
If you don’t already own the first edition of The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide, I’d say this is essential for any avid builder’s LEGO book library. Truthfully, I’d never thought to consult literature when it came to freestyle building, but this, and the two other books below have changed that.
The second book will line up nicely on your shelf with the book above. The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder’s Guide, by Sariel Kmiec, offers readers a plethora of information about making the most of your Technic sets and pieces. The book is full color, complete with tons and tons of diagrams as detailed as you could want. Now, I’ve never been into the Technic sets, but I do know there are some amazing things you can do with them. Not to mention children who are interested in LEGO robotics can get their start here. The Technic sets offer a variety of configurations to build incredibly intricate objects, with the added bonus of moveable parts, gears, and driveshafts.
The great thing about this book is how down-to-Earth Kmiec is with his building directions. Not to mention how rich the text is. His descriptions of pieces, how they connect, and their uses shows incredible depth. The book will appeal to all levels of builders as it progresses from easy builds to incredibly complicated models including transmissions. The sheer magnitude of the information and presentation here almost mind boggling. I will say it may be a bit overwhelming for younger children, but can be thoroughly instructional for adults. But if you’re a LEGO Technic fan, and builder, this book is a must have.
Finally, we have The LEGO Adventure Book. I must say I am in love with this book. Right from the front cover, author Megan Rothrock had my attention. I mean, the subtitle is “Cars, Castles, Dinosaurs, & More!” Did you see that? Dinosaurs! There’s no way this book can be bad. But the real awesomeness comes from the fact the contents of the book, and all it’s builds, are crowd-sourced. Rothrock, a former LEGO designer herself (color me extremely jealous), has done a great job compiling some of the coolest builds from some of the best non-LEGO-employed builders from around the world.
A downfall of the book is a lack of clear, precise directions – like those found with official LEGO sets. But, then again, that’s to be expected so we can’t rack up too many demerits there. Before most of the builds, though, there are a few pictures detailing all the pieces you’ll need. Some of the quicker, easier builds just jump right into the steps. Thankfully the intervals at which pieces are added between each picture keeps it manageable. Another downside is many of the builds require specialized pieces that either need to come from sets you may already own and can cannibalize, or they will need to be special ordered. But, if you’ve got access to the pieces some really badass configurations and models await you.
While the world of LEGO seems to be dominated by boys and men, I was pleased to see Rothrock did manage to include at least one section from a female. And I’ll give a special shout out to her, Katie Walker, because she is also an elementary school teacher.
Lastly, I’d love to point out the entire book is color coded, with each section tied to its build author. Personally, I’m thrilled with nearly every aspect of this book. The LEGO Adventure Book is an excellent offering for builders of any age looking to expand their LEGO world with some new styles and models. The book is infused with plenty of silly comics that serve as introductions to the builders and the models. Most are photographed in the same way as my photos here on a LEGO a day.
Overall, these are three solid offerings from No Starch. I look forward to future building guides.