Category Archives: Build It & Learn It Works…

Gutzy Gear Party and Study Skills Workshop

Well it is BACK TO SCHOOL time again.  I thought it would be fun to get the kids off to a great start in a new school year by inviting their friends to a Study Skills Workshop and Gutzy Gear Party. 


I have been hosting outdoor learning programs in the local parks for two years now.  We call them Take Action Tuesday programs.  We get together for picnics, playing games, and a learning program.  This summer I expanded the learning programs to Fridays too.  So all summer long, we have been in three local parks on Tuesdays and Fridays.  We’ve added a subheading to our learning programs and have been calling them “Build It” Workshops and “Learn It” Workshops depending on our focus.

Today’s Study Skills Workshop is a “Learn It” Workshop.  You can see more stories about our workshops here and more stories will be posted soon.
Brilliant Builders  Build It Workshop
Lego Racers Build It Workshop
Clean Water  Learn It Workshop
Solar Science Learn It Workshop
Flying High Build It Workshop
Snack Lab Learn It Workshop
Summer Games and Nature Science Learn It Workshop

The park is such a great place to do learning programs, because I have the use of a great big open shelter, tables with built in seats, bathrooms, and a wonderful playground for the kids to run, jump, climb, and enjoy each other’s company.  It is so great because we get to enjoy the fresh air and learn at the same time!

Study Skills:


Our guest speaker was Tony Carboni from the Sunshine Learning Center in Asheville, NC.  He taught the kids a fun and useful technique for memorizing lists of information.  Today, the kids worked on learning to memorize a list of 10 random items.

He taught the kids and parents a system of association for things that are unrelated, by teaching the brain how to relate the items to something we will remember.  It was fascinating. 

The technique involved asigning a rhyming word for each number.  The amount of numbers and rhyming words all depends on the number of items you need to memorize on your list. We were memorizing 10 items, so we needed 10 rhyming words, one rhyming word for each number. 

Then he added a mental picture association for each rhyming word. By combining a number, a rhyming word, and a mental picture of the item you need to remember, the brain was able to quickly recall all the information.

For example, say you need to remember glasses on the list.  Lets say that glasses are the 10th item on your list.  Say the number TEN and the rhyming word DEN.  Then think of the mental picture of a lion in its den with its arms on glasses.   Now, when you need to recall the list you say the numbers, rhyming words, and the mental picture pops in your head and you remember glasses.

It was amazing how quickly the kids picked up this technique. Tony explained you could remember thousands of unrelated bits of information from lists using this technique. 

He spoke for 30 minutes, and at the end of his presentation, several children stood up and had completely memorized 10 difficult unrelated items both forwards and backwards and were able to skip around and still get them all.

My 12 year old son, and another boy age 13 both volunteered to show the method in action.  Both boys were able to recount all 10 items by going through this process.  I also checked with my son 5 days after the workshop.   I said to him, tell me what you remember from the list of items at the workshop, and he repeated everything again to me, perfectly.  It is unbelievable that 10 random items are still stuck in his memory after 5 days.


Next, I shared note taking techniques with the kids.  We focussed on three specific kinds of note taking, the Cornell method, mapping, and outlining.  These systems work very well for our family, and many students report success using them.  You can read more about these note taking methods and see examples on the links below:

Cornell Note Taking Method

                    Mapping Note Taking Method

                    Outlining Note Taking Method

We also discussed breaking our studies down into managable goals by using yearly, monthly, and weekly planning sheets and calendars that mom’s and kids can write on and keep track of their assignments and their progress in their studies.  You can find lots of free resources for planning sheets on the internet.  Check out some of these resources from Donna Young.  She has wonderful free printables for every area of managing your home and school.  Just select what you need, print it, and put it in your binder or hang it on your wall at home.  It is easy to reach your study goals (or any goals or work) when you have broken them down into managible steps and planned them out on paper.

Homeschool Calendar

                    Homeschool Planners

                    How To Plan Your Schoolwork

When planning your studies, be sure to look at the overall picture and break it into manageble steps and include: weekly planning; monthly planning; yearly planning.

We also discussed using modified workboxes and color coordinating the kids school work to help them develop a mental picture of what they need to do next and help them stay organized.  This method also encourages them to work independantly when that is desired.  We discussed the use of a binder to help organize a portfolio of the work they accomplished during the upcoming school year.  I hope to host a future workshop on how to use various techniques such a workboxes soon.  Our family has been using modified workboxes since we began homeschooling and it has really helped us.  I have modified and tweeked the workbox system each year to meet our needs as we change and grow as a family.


The kids then decorated and personalized their own three ring binders and folders for school.  This was such a fun hands on craft project to do.


We used over 20 different colors of permanent markers with bold, bright and metalic colors.  We also used colored duct tape and lots of different stickers: scrap booking stickers, three dimensional stickers, and color your own stickers for this project.  Their notebooks turned out awesome and so unique!

Gutzy Gear:
Next we talked about Gutzy Gear strap covers and patches. 

Gutzy Gear is a brand of strap personalization gear. You can transform anything with straps such as backpacks, duffle bags, book bags, computer bags, camera bags, purses, seat belts, luggage pulls, guitar or musical instrument straps or case straps, etc. with Gutzy Gear strap covers and embroidered patches. No sewing is required. 


With Gutzy Gear, you will be able to transform your backpack from average to awesome! Gutzy Gear strap covers easily attach to any bag and Gutsy Gear removable patches go onto the strap covers. The strap covers wrap around any existing strap and secure with velcro. The patches also attach with velcro and are quick and easy to change as often as you like. This feature allows kids to change them as often as they like.

Kids can get together and trade their patches like trading cards. It is a fun, easy, and a creative way to personalize their backpacks and other items that have straps.

You can choose from an amazing list of patches:
                    Gutzy Patches List 1
                    Gutzy Patches List 2

Gutzy Gear Strap Covers and Patches are available online through the Gutzy Gear website, and retailers near you.  Check the website for a full list of stores selling them.

We drew tickets for lots of Gutzy Gear prizes, goodie bags filled with school supplies and candy, packs of markers, folders, and student planners.  I just love doing giveaways and handing out prizes!

Gutzy Contests:

Right now, Gutzy Gear is hosting two different contests. One is a Gutzy Gear Patch contest and you design your own patch and send in a picture to Gutzy. The second contest is “How Do You Get Your Gutzy On?” and you must send in your picture showing how you use your Gutzy Gear. The prize for the Gutzy Gear contest is gift cards to spend at Toys R Us. The grand prize is a $500 card, and there are several smaller prizes too.

Gutzy Gear Patch Craft:

Next the kids made their own personal designs for a Gutzy Gear Patch and we took pictures to send in to Gutzy Gear.  It would be so exciting if Gutzy Gear chooses some of them to make future patches with.  The kids did such a great job creating these patches and had so much fun showing off their creations to their friends.  Here are just a few of the patches the kids designed.



Fellowship, Picnic, and Games:

We played several games, enjoyed playing on the playground, and visiting with our friends too.  We also ate a delicious picnic lunch together.



This was such a fun party / workshop.  I am so excited we were able to host this.  Having a special “Back To School”  focus really helped the kids get ready for a new school year.  We enjoyed learning some great study skills, personalizing our school folders, and personalizing our backpack straps with Gutzy Gear.  

Tony from the Sunshine Learning Center is offering a month of free math classes to kids in the Asheville and Charlotte North Carolina areas, and Greenville South Carolina areas.  Be sure to check out the Sunshine Learning Center to find out more.

You can connect with Gutzy Gear on their website and on Gutzy Gear on Facebook too.

My family made a short video of the Gutzy Gear party, and the strap covers and patches we put on our backpacks at home.  They all look so cute in their decked out backpacks. 

Disclaimer: Special thanks to Gutzy Gear and Mom Select for giving me this product review party opportunity.   I recieved Gutzy Gear as a member of Mom Select for the purpose of writing an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.  Special thanks also to Tony Carboni from the Sunshine Learning Center for sharing his knowledge with the kids at this workshop.

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Sunprint Fabric Squares

We hosted a fun Solar Science Workshop in the park in July.  The was one of my favorite workshops we did this year. It was jam packed with so much learning fun.  Be sure to read about other workshops we have enjoyed this year and all the fun learning adventures we have been doing at Take Action Tuesday.

Our Solar Workshop contained learning activities about the Sun and Solar Power. 
This Solar Workshop story will be posted in two parts:

                Solar Science Workshop Part One: Sunprint Fabric Squares

                Solar Science Workshop Part Two:  Solar Ovens and Solar Power.


you heard of Sunprint Fabric? 

Click Image To Close

It is a special fabric that captures the energy of the sun to make a “reverse” photograph.   It comes in craft kits and is fun for both kids and adults.  This learning project targets NAEYC Curriculum Area for Cognitive Development: Creative Expression and Appreciation for the Arts.

To make this craft, it is a simple process of gathering items you would like to photograph, placing them on the Sunprint Fabric, placing all of this in the sun, waiting 15 minutes, rinsing the fabric in cold water, and letting it dry.

The fabric starts out a green color, but after it is exposed to the sun, it turns blue.  Once you have rinsed it, the area that was covered by the object you placed on it turns white.  It is like a white shadow of the object.  Any of the material exposed to the sun becomes blue, but material not exposed becomes white, thereby making a shadow type of photograph of the object that was placed on it.

You can place just about any object you want onto the fabric as long as it lays flat and makes contact with the material to block the sunlight from getting to the material.

I brought a huge box of random toys for the kids to choose items from, and some of the kids gathered items they found in the park too including plants (flowers and leaves from weeds in the grass), wooden sticks, and rocks.

Each person made their own personal art with items they put together.

After 15 minutes in the sun, the kids rinsed their fabric in cold water.


Then laid them out to dry.  As the fabric dries, their art appears.  It was amazing to see these green squares of fabric transform into blue and white works of art.

On a recent trip to Roper Mountain Science Center in Greenville, SC my family enjoyed looking at several beautiful quilts made using the sun printing process. 

These quilts were beautiful and the details of the photographs on the fabric were amazing.  You could see lots of details in each one. 

I encouraged the kids at our Solar Science Workshop to take their finished Sunprint Fabric Squares home and frame them for their wall, or turn it into a pillow or something they can enjoy for years to come just like these quilts we saw at the museum.  Other ideas are to sew several together to make a collage, a beautiful quilt, a curtain, or sew one square onto a shirt, etc.  These would make wonderful personalized Christmas gifts to give to grandparents from their grandchildren.  So many great things these can be used to decorate with and learn about science and art too.

Sunprint products come in both fabric and paper kits and are available at Discount School Supply online store.  You can buy the kits in different sizes.  The 25 pack of Sunprint Fabric Squares retails for $20.99   The 12 pack of Sunprint Paper Kit retails for $7.44 and they have a large 12 pack of Sunprint Paper in a kit that retails for $12.99.  They offer free shipping on orders over $79. 

We had such a fun time creating these special works of
art and learning about the power of the sun.  The Sunprint Fabric Squares were a perfect art / science craft to do with the kids for this workshop.  I want to thank Discount School Supply for asking us to review this craft project.

                                                 Arts & Crafts on Any Budget! 

Disclaimer: I received the product mentioned above in exchange for writing an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own honest opinion.

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