(if you are not totally satisfied with this product then just go back to LAME-O flash cards.)
My mom was over the other night and I asked her if she would mind going over flash cards with Kalley before dinner. When I came outside to grill our chicken and check on those two, my mom said that her darling granddaughter had put her out in the middle of the yard and instructed her to please pretend to be a Killer Robot. She was wondering what on earth the child was talking about.
I explained that Jon was way more fun with math (and most things actually) than normal people. Here is the Killer Robot Math Game that he made up. Here you go. Go play this!! We LOVE IT!
KILLER ROBOT MATH GAME!!!
A killer robot is coming to get you! Disable the robot with your powerful MATH HACKING SKILLZ!
The robot is the slow moving, but also terribly unstoppable, kind. You are stuck (invent a reason: leg trapped, stuck in glue, handcuffed to a chair, whatever) and the robot has spotted you! You cannot escape! However, you can hack the robot to stop it from advancing on you. With MATHS!
WHAT YOU NEED:
A deck of flashcards. Bigger flashcards work better, as the robot starts a distance away from the hacker, but any flashcards will work.
SPECIAL CARDS. These are random, non-flashcards in the deck. These could be the flashcard instructions or a piece of paper or whatever. We recommend about 3 special cards per 50 flashcards.
HOW TO PLAY:
The hacker sits at one end of the room. The robot stands at the other end. Find a good distance for this. It is nice if the hacker can see the flashcards, but not necessary as the robot will announce the math problem. So maybe 15 yards apart?
The robot holds the cards.
The robot announces the math problem on the flashcard and holds the flashcard up facing the hacker. After about a second, the robot ‘turns on’ and begins to slowly advance toward the hacker.
The hacker must call out the correct answer to disable the robot. An incorrect answer causes the robot to double its speed.
Once the robot has been disabled, a) it stops moving, b) moves the current card to the bottom of the deck and c) announces and displays the next flashcard.
The game ends when either:
The robot makes it through all of the cards. HACKER WINS! The robot is out of directive combinations and shuts itself down.
OR the robot brings robot death to the hacker. HACKER LOSES.
Special cards can vary the level of difficulty of the game and make it more fun. They are shuffled randomly into the deck.
In the most basic version of the game, special cards make the robot move back ten steps. So when the robot gets to the special card in the deck, it simply moves back the ten steps. Then it moves to the next card.
However, if you want to write on the cards or shake up the game, special cards can have a variety of powers. For instance:
TURBO BOOST! They could cause the robot to move forward 3 steps.
REQUIRED MAINTENANCE! They could make the robot stop moving for 2 cards (giving the hacker more time to solve the next 2 cards).
SYSTEM ERROR! Skip the next 3 cards.
They could cause some random event that doesn’t affect the game (maniacal scream).
NOTE: This also would work well as a zombie game. Just sayin.
We went to Canada this summer on a mission to be more creative as a family. I LOVE wandering in the woods looking for sticks that can be turned into the windowsills, doorways and chimneys of tiny houses. When I first saw the sloping, moss covered ground on the walkway to the lake, I immediately decided to turn it into a village for chipmunks.
It was a delusion destined for destruction.
I blame it on the mosquitoes. And the fact that the other three people building the houses said I couldn’t use superglue.
We were really into ‘Little House On The Prairie’, and Jon and the girls said that if the Ingalls family didn’t have it, I couldn’t either. We stood in the aisle at Walmart arguing about whether or not Pa used twine and I was like “Oh my gosh people he TOTALLY did! How on earth do you think he kept Pet and Patty from running away back to the Indians?!” And they let me get some.
But even the twine didn’t help.
I spent about 47 hours on this.
Kalley tried to help by carving a door.
And then it looked like this.
This is when we got out the pocket knife and tried to notch the sticks. DID NOT WORK.
I was able to build a bridge.
But I watched the chipmunks for WEEKS after I made it and NONE of them ever used it. Probably because it went to the lame-o twine house that I already showed you.
Jon came up with the idea of just making doorways.
But honestly, if I were a chipmunk trying to find a nice place for my family, this would just hack me off.
So we left our mossy bank pretty much like we found it.
It is said that, in writing, you must kill your darlings. In this case, we abandoned them in the woods and drove off.
This was a short story based on actual events at a cottage in Canada. This really happened, people! Even if it is told from a fictitious perspective.
Silence. There was silence all around in the quiet water by the shore. That was the way the mother rock bass liked it. She held herself still in the shallows, hovering over a small clearing in the mud which exposed the sandy bottom. This was her nest.
It was lovely. The short plants that surrounded it formed a neat hedge which protected the precious eggs inside. A large dock nearby provided shelter from predators or sun. But that was almost irrelevant as she would defend her nest vigorously against any intruder and rarely leave it unguarded.
The afternoon sun now shone down through the water, warming the bottom and leaving the mother rock bass feeling exposed. The sun baked her back and she longed for the cool shade of the dock. But she would not leave her eggs. The post was hers and she would guard it.
Suddenly the silence felt wrong. In the darkness of the deep water beyond the dock, something stirred. The little rock bass held as still as she could. Her eyes only twitched slightly as they sought the danger she feared in the dark water.
Slowly, a monstrous head began to materialize as it pushed its way into the shallows. The rock bass froze. Fear clutched her heart. It was an enormous snapping turtle – and it was coming right toward her!
The turtle was ten times her size; it’s hideous head alone was as big as she was. It’s gnarly claws plied the water of the shallows while its scaly tail swished back and forth. It was hunting for an easy meal.
The rock bass sat motionless, her tiny heart thumping. The huge turtle slowly clawed its way toward her through the water. Would she run? She thought of her beautiful nest and resolved to stay. But as the turtle came withing inches of her, her courage failed. The massive head opened its crusty, gaping mouth and it seemed like it might indiscriminately swallow her AND the precious nest. She backed off – her insides breaking with her defeat.
Just then a boom shook the shallows. A thudding BOOM BOOM BOOM stopped the coming turtle still in the water. Above, beyond the surface of the water an even larger monster appeared. And gave a shrill bellow.
“Mommy! Look at the size of that turtle!”
A leering head hung in the air above the turtle. It had a large fleshy face and a long golden mane. The creature’s long pale arms gripped the edge of the dock just above the stunned turtle. Then came more booming.
The water pulsed with the thundering arrival of more fleshy monsters, each of them leaning out over the water and pointing their clumsy claws at the huge turtle.
“Eww!” squealed a newcomer. “It’s so gross!”
“O, My!” said a large one.
“Wow!” said an even bigger one. “Look at its head!”
The turtle was was becoming nervous. The crowd of monsters was right above it – probably gathering to strike. That was too much for the turtle. It pointed its scaly head under the dock and paddled hard away from the rock bass and her nest.
The rock bass hurried back to her post. The monsters above pounded off down the dock looking for a glimpse of the retreating turtle. She let herself breathe and rest a little. The danger had passed. The shallows grew quiet again. And she was on guard, fanning her eggs and resolving again to sheild them from almost anything.
“Good morning, Stranger!” said a woodpecker, “Welcome to the neighborhood!” He thrust a basket of berries at her and said, “It was that or grubs! Ha!”
“Thank you,” she said timidly. “I’m not used to neighbors.”
“Really? Where you from?” asked the woodpecker.
“I used to live in the big oak,” said the squirrel.
The woodpecker gave a long whistle. “Whew!” he said. “Ever-body heard that fall in the storm. What a show! Bet you’re glad to be out of that old thing!”
“I guess,” she said. “It was pretty old. But I grew up there. Almost all my nuts came from that tree. And my nest was so high, I could see all the stars at night. They made me feel like I was never alone.”
“Welp, no stars here!” said the woodpecker cheerfully. “But, no big winds either. Give some, get some, I always say. “
“I suppose” said the squirrel.
“Well, I’m off.” said the woodpecker. And he left.
Knock Knock. The squirrel woke up.
Knock Knock. It was the middle of the night.
Knock Knock Knock! A hole broke through her wall. She leaped from her bed to look out the tree-hole.
“Mr. Woodpecker! What are you doing to my house?” she cried. “You know I live here!”
“Well, I, um…” said the woodpecker.
“And it’s the middle of the night! Have you no sense?” she demanded.
“I just thought….”
“You did?” she said angrily.
“…just thought maybe if I poked some holes up here, that moonlight could shine in and….” he hesitated.
“And WAKE ME UP?!” she folded her arms and glared.
He hung his head. “No. I thought it might look like stars,” he said. “Like in your old tree”.
Her mouth fell open. He stared at his feet. Then, with squirrel-y swiftness, she jumped at him and…..
“Thank you, Neighbor” she said. Her eyes sparkled.
That night, Squirrel climbed back into bed, thinking that maybe friendship has a beauty which rivals the stars. She fell asleep. And she did not feel alone.
(This summer, Jon asked me to write a little story every day about some forest animal usually and then he and the girls would practice drawing pictures about it. This is just a tiny little story about bunnies and we will never do anything with it, it was just an exercise. I guess I would call it “Rainy Day”. Here it is. )
“Mama, the water’s comin’ in!” The bunnies laughed as they ran off to fetch the twig boats that were their favorite rainy-day toys.
Mrs. Rabbit smiled. She cherished the days when there was nowhere to be but together. Putting another log in the stove, she stirred the vegetable soup and sat down to watch her bunnies play.
The water crept into the old familiar puddle by the door. The family had always thought this to be one of the best things about living here, but today! O, how wonderful! The bunnies squealed with delight! The dear old puddle had become a pool!
“Mama, look! ALL our boats can fit today!”
“Goodness, dears, I see! How fun!” Mama Rabbit replied, but quietly worried to herself whether this was a time to rejoice or to call Mr. Beaver. She decided instead to call Papa Rabbit.
When he saw the flood he chuckled warmly and said “O Ho Ho! I’ve always thought this was bound to come, some wet day!” and he happily joined his bunnies in their game.
By supper-time, even the big bed was surrounded, and all of the family gathered there as Papa read stories. Water dripped onto their heads, and the 3 oldest bunnies rode in the big tin wash-pan over to the stove to fetch soup for everyone.
Next day, Mama did call Mr. Beaver for advice, and he wisely recommended several repairs. However, as the family considered the matter, they decided that they didn’t want to change a thing.
And from that day on, each heavy rain turned the hearth into a lake, the bed into an island, and the old den into a sweeter, more irreplaceable home.
(Also, Mrs. Bunny came to be known to have the sparkly-est floors in that part of the forest.)
Jon often reminds me that one of the goals of our company is that we tell stories that we need to hear. He wrote a series of short stories about “Kamikaze Cat” and “Careful Kitten” a few years ago, just to help me realize the futility of my overprotective instincts when our girls were babies and I was constantly sure that they would die any minute. In the stories, Careful Kitten (who was always afraid, and so did everything cautiously) usually ended up homeless or in the hospital. I got the point.
Several years ago, I made up a story (or rather a character) that I and my adorable patient (I was a nurse) needed to hear. I will call my fourth grade patient James.
James needed a nurse to go with him to school, and part of my job was to go to his house in the morning and help him get ready for the bus. Every SINGLE day, this is what I said:
“James, it’s time to do your exercises”. “James, please put on your clothes.” “James, why don’t you have your shoes on?” “James, it’s time to brush your teeth” “James, the care plan says that you’re supposed to put some vaseline on your lips at 8am and 3pm, so we really need to do that now. ” “James, it’s time for your albuterol” “Now it’s time for CPT” “James, can you please give me a finger to put the pulse ox on?” ” James I need to listen to your lungs.”
I mean, really. James and I were worn out. He was tired of hearing me tell him what to do, and I was tired of telling him. And then we met Professor Tingleteeth.
I can’t remember exactly how it happened, but one day I realized that James’ toothbrush was actually a very small person who just happened to stand with his arms very stiffly down to his sides, and whose hair, which was white, persisted in standing straight out the back of his head, no matter what he did to try to flatten it down. He was about 7 inches tall, and he lived in the medicine cabinet. He was often mistaken for a toothbrush, which made him very angry. He was actually a professor of Philosophy at the community college, and he was just renting the space in the cabinet until he could afford a place of his own. I quickly learned that the Professor, despite his size, absolutely loved being in charge. He relished the opportunity to tell James what to do. And so I let him. It was wonderful for all of us. I was no longer responsible for making James’ life miserable, and James thought it was amusing and interesting to be taking orders from a tiny person who looked like his toothbrush.
The Professor eventually introduced me and James to 5 of his business associates (I would call them his friends, but I am not sure that he would agree. He was usually too disgruntled about being mistaken for a toothbrush to be very friendly with anyone.) The five “business associates” were Harold, Elaine, Jerome, Nancy and Martha. They were invisible, and they lived on my shoulder, which meant that they could go with us to school. The Professor had to be at the college all day, so was of course only there to help in the morning. The five associates were reluctant to be in charge of James, so they really served as friendly advisors, (we called them ‘The Committee’) whom I would consult if a question arose throughout the day. Harold, who almost always fell asleep right after breakfast, was rarely much help, but was still nice to have around. When he was awake, he was full of hilarious stories from his Navy days.
I had forgotten about Professor Tingleteeth. One day, a few weeks ago, I was reading an article about this couple in California who is making interactive Ipad stories, and it mentioned that one of their characters is a “quirky” little person called “Mr. Cupcake”. It was as if the word “quirky” was the alarm on a bedside clock in my mind. When that alarm went off, Professor Tingleteeth sat up (very stiffly, of course) in bed.
Now that he’s back, I’ve spent some time imagining how the Professor would react to some of my current daily perplexities. James is all grown up now. But what would the Professor think about Kalley’s system of vigilante justice, or Corbett’s inexplicable fear of animatronic dinosaurs?
Last week was the end of school, and both of my girls were SO sad to leave their teachers for the summer. This inspires a story in my mind where a mom has to be somewhere in the morning, so Professor Tingleteeth is the one at home, getting the kids ready for the last day of school. It cracks me up to think about what words of wisdom a tiny disgruntled Philosophy Professor might expound to two tearful little girls as he pats their heads and sends them off to the bus.
RocketWagon’s mildly embarrassed to announce an interactive story based off of a drawing by our (then) 4-year-old daughter Kalley. For those of you who are tired of hearing us talk about this, the wait is almost over. iOS version should hit the App Store by May.