Mixing it Up – Resources for Making Our Own Games!

MegaMix

Educational “games” are an odd lot. Often they are little more than quizzes parading as a game and award the player with some trivial digital “prize” for completing each challenge successfully. There are a handful that I have experienced that seemed like the game portion of the educational game was given even modest attention, but one really can find a lot of value in games that were probably never intended to be exactly educational to begin with if a quick look below the surface is taken.

One of the focuses Grant and I have for his homeschooling curriculum is to delve into computer science. This includes programming/coding and he is the one that deserves the credit for finding this little gem: The Megamix Engine. The Megamix Engine is a fan-developed work which creates a very specialized version of Gamemaker Studio tailored for creating Mega Man fan games. It comes loaded with pretty much every asset one could imagine from the vast library of Mega Man games, but the code is still accessible so that would-be programmers can open it up just to inspect how things are done or even make edits and adjustments in order to alter existing tiles, characters and behaviors. I found it to be really helpful in explaining to Grant why we were spending time working on basic coding, but after he could actually see it working and found he could actually read and understand some of it I feel like he was much more willing to work on the basics of coding.

megaMix
The basic engine screen, which I see a lot of these days, in all its glory.

There is an actual gathering of user-designed levels from this engine and the group has called the resulting fan-game Make a Good Mega Man Level.  It currently has two releases and they give critique and feedback to the up-and-coming game/level designers which can be helpful in several ways. One particular benefit I have noticed is Grant’s ability to take criticism and his resilience to the often unfair opinions that some folks enjoy spewing across the internet wherever creation is happening. Seeing the potential harm in unfair and negative criticism has really helped Grant to be more gentle in his own critiques and I have seen him really pick up a lot of authority in this little circle of young artists and designers for his generally fair and honest yet constructive manner of critiquing level design, music, sprite art and all of the other things game related. If he found himself unfamiliar with something I have been delighted to watch him research on his own, study and acquaint himself with whatever the subject may be so that he is able to take part in that particular aspect of his groups activity. If only all “games” could encourage that kind of enthusiasm and study!

Another project spawned originally by this same engine is Mega Man Maker.  If you are noticing a theme here, yes Grant has meandered down the path of retro gaming and really fallen in love with the Mega Man series.  Mega Man Maker is more similar to Mario Maker in its design.  It has a “drag and drop” style menu that lets the user quickly put together some really nice designs and does all of the heavy lifting itself.  Sprites, animation, behaviors.. all of this is handled by the engine so that when a Met is plopped on a little hill in front of Mega Man, the little fella already knows he shout pop his hat up and spray bullets when Mega gets a bit too close.  Easy-peasy, right?  The only downside Grant has experienced with this comes in his exposure to the original engine and its flexibility in letting him edit specific behaviors and even tiles.  The huge bonus to this game is that it has a pretty vibrant online community with which to share games such that there is a near-endless supply of new content – which is of course where these maker-style games really shine.  One can never really exhaust the content faster than it can be produced as long as the community is active.

magmml2

Watching him work so hard at something that could be seen as simple play made me wonder about my own perceptions of what one might be able to learn while gaming. There is certainly some merit in teaching restraint, patience and careful spending in practically any game that has some sort of economy and money system. Ranging from the rupees of the Zelda series to the newer costume shops in Mario Odyssey and stretching to the near-endless means of resource gathering and crafting found in Skyrim, there is no shortage of games that teach some simple resource management if even on a superficial level. Of course wherever there is a money system there will be math and that is on full display in many of these games.

Logic puzzles are also quite commonplace in most adventure games we have played and has even found a way to creep into some of the newer platformers. A Zelda dungeon (or in the case of Breath of the Wild, a shrine) simply seems incomplete without solving all of the peculiar little logic puzzles. Breath of the Wild does a grand job of this with only the very limited supply of runes on the Sheika Slate, one must mix and match and really get creative in how to figure out how to pass many of the games more perplexing shrine challenges.

BotW-Shrine
Just gotta guide this fragile, wobbly platform suspended by inflated octorok-balloons past all of these spikey boxes.  No prob, Link.

Returning to the subject of tools and software that make it easier for players and users to create their own content, what an amazing artistic outlet this can become. Grant and his fellow Mega-makers really take this whole design aspect quite seriously, going so far as to actually look up resources, tutorials, videos and the like on the subject of good game design. Games such as Mario Maker for the WiiU are even more accessible, making it easy to simply pop in a disk and start making authentic-seeming Super Mario levels of one’s own. This is a trend that I hope to see continue.. and not just a little selfishly. Would I ever love to have a “Zelda-maker” game. I suspect someone will soon venture into the 3d-creator realm with a good entry as well and who knows where all of the new VR will take us. It’s certainly an exiting time for both designers and players alike.

If you are interested in checking out the Make a Good Mega Man Level fangames, Mega Man Maker or try your hand at crafting a game of any kind from the old abandonware check out the links and give it a shot.  The games are quite fun and it is interesting to see for oneself some of the upper-level challenges presented to a game designer.  Grant has finished MaGMML 2, as it is affectionately referred to (that’s pronounced “mag-mammal 2”, just in case) and I was surprised at the quality of this little fangame.  The hub-world is made to be like a little fairgrounds with loads of characters from the series strolling about and running things.  All of them are at least somewhat interactive with clever things to say and even a costume shop a-la Mario Odyssey.  I really cannot recommend it enough.

Thanks for reading!

PlantPoweredGamers
Grow Strong. Game On.

Homeschooling – Level 1

Our first official month of homeschooling is in the books. The way is twisted and full of tricky steps, but so far we are weathering the transition as best we know how at this time. I found Khan Academy to be my anchor as it provided a very simple platform from which to set up both math and computer science studies. They offer so much more that we may eventually look into, but we are taking it slow for now. We are using  Crash Course and Extra Credits for a lot of our history and social studies and if you have never given those two a look then I cannot recommend it enough. They really do a great job of making learning fun and entertaining – as it should be. We tried a few Ted Talks and although I personally love them Grant thought they were a little less engaging and preferred the other two, so I suppose we will stick with that for now.

Creative writing is one of the areas we really hoped to focus on. Currently the main project is writing some articles for Plant Powered Gamers, mostly game reviews and musings on video game material in general. Don’t be surprised to see our blossoming little writer posting quite a few times this year. Please encourage him if you have a chance and leave him a note of anything you’d like him to try out, review or ponder!
For Foreign Language studies he decided to try learning Japanese and we are using Duolingo, Japanese from Zero! and Japanesepod101 as well as some simple printable sheets I have found on the web to work on the lettering system. I have some experience with this language and though I’m far from fluent I think we will likely make great progress working together. Eventually I will look into some of the English-Japanese speaking connection programs and apps out there. When I last studied Skype was the only option but I know this has expanded.

We have a fresh sketchbook which Grant has begun working in already and I’ve encouraged him to pretty much doodle anything he likes in it. So far he has designed a few game layouts and of late that is his favorite subject to draw and create. We are also working on sketching some of his favorite enemies and characters from games he likes. We both agreed this would be great to work on so that he would be able to better put his ideas to paper when he is designing things for games. We are working on ideas for a little comic strip as well which we may finish up and use as a web comic. I’ve always wanted to give that a try anyway, so it’ll be a fun project. Painting is a hard sell with Grant. I really hope to work on it through the year and perhaps as he becomes more familiar it will become more enjoyable. He currently struggles with frustration but aren’t all things a little frustrating in the beginning?

Grant is also tackling several chores around the house to help out. This is one of the places I feel like homeschooling really shines – to teach basic life skills. We are pretty light on the chores for now but I really hope to emphasize a lot of these as we go forward. He hopes to learn to cook several basic meals and help with a lot of the house cleaning by the end of the year.

There has been a lot of focus of course on game design, which was one of the things Grant was most excited about adding to his school day. We have only touched on some fundamental computer science and programming but I really hope to bring the percentage of work in that area up pretty high. He is currently working his way through the basics of Java and HTML and we agreed that when he has finished those initial courses we could look into Game Maker Studio 2. We already have and use Construct 2 but it seems that while Construct 2 is good for simpler “mobile-style” games that the Game Maker Studio would be more appropriate for larger scaled PC or Console games. We shall see and perhaps we can even do a comparison/contrast article for the benefit of others who might be headed down this road after us.

Wish us luck as we continue forward!

Corn Bread – Savory Southern Style

So I find it a bit annoying to have to scroll through a backstory of the recipe I am looking for before reaching the recipe so let us put that after the actual recipe.  Sound good?

IMG_0538

Vegan, Gluten-free Cornbread

Ingredients:

1 and 1/3 cups Cornmeal

1 cup Buckwheat flour (if gluten is no problem, Whole Wheat or Spelt also worked well for us)

1 Tbsp Oil (grapeseed)

1 Tbsp Baking Powder

1 tsp salt

½ tsp sugar

1 Tbsp Flax Meal

½ cup plant-based milk

1 cup water (used as needed)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Coat a muffin tin with either cooking spray or give it a light oiling.  If using oil it will probably take about one additional tablespoon to get all 12 cups covered properly.

Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Stir in the milk and about half of the water.  The mix should be thick and scoopable but not quite pourable.  I’ve experienced life with 6 different ovens and I have come to learn that cooking times and the water/liquid of most recipes requires some adjustments so I suspect this is a universal problem.   Just add water until the consistency matches the description and be confident that cornbread is pretty forgiving.

IMG_0536

Bake for 25 minutes.  As with most baked muffins and breads, you should be able to poke it with a toothpick and it come out clean.  The muffins should be quite firm but not hard.

If you have much experience with cornbread it might be noted that this recipe doesn’t produce the bright light yellow color that was typical of my MeeMaw’s recipe.  The whole grain flours seem to bring it to a light tan to even medium brown, especially when using buckwheat flour.  Don’t fret, their taste is quite authentic.

IMG_0539

Now… Story time!

The Plant Powered Gamers have had mostly smooth sailing on our Whole-Foods Plant-Based journey as resources and recipes are quite abundant when one begins to do a little searching. I was taken aback a year or so ago when Grant requested I make cornbread. Now cornbread is a staple from my childhood, as my grandma (MeeMaw, specifically) regularly prepared this delicious baked delight and I had made it traditional style with buttermilk years earlier. As I scoured the internet for a plant-based recipe I was shocked at how much “sweet stuff” and sugar was being put into the cornbread recipes. What was this abomination that others were referring to as cornbread? It looked more like a recipe for cornmeal cake.. why not add frosting? Cornbread in my little corner of the world is always prepared as a savory bread with only enough sugar added to balance flavor and bake properly. Grant and I have since been experimenting with this recipe in order to rectify the sad lack that must sit firmly in the lives of others, having been misinformed that cornbread was a sweet bread, and introduce them all to the wonders of our Southeastern style savory cornbread. If you have tried sweet cornbread and decided it wasn’t for you, I don’t blame you. It tastes rather “wrong” to me too. Give it one more try with this recipe and don’t forget to enjoy your muffin with a glass of plant-based milk or you may not get the full experience.

One note, if you prefer the traditional bright yellow cornbread you may have to resort to replacing the wheat/spelt/buckwheat flour with white flour. That is not a compromise I would take on a daily use recipe but for a special occasion I might consider as the bread made with the whole grain flours does as previously mentioned come out a bit more brown and has the appearance of basic whole grain muffins (ranging from light to medium brown).

Second note, for an interesting twist, replace the cup of water with vegetable broth to deepen the savory flavor.

Enjoy!

PlantPoweredGamers
Grow Strong. Game On.

Grit and Persistence – An awesome lesson one can learn from games

I received a text from my son Grant while I was at work today.  He was incredibly excited and wanted to let me know that he had finally defeated the “Yellow Devil” from Mega Man for the NES.  If one is not familiar with that game or the lore of older NES classics in general that could be easily passed over as a “that’s nice..” moment, but the amount of effort and practice and persistence it took for him to topple that monstrosity was enormous.  That doesn’t come naturally, grit and persistence is a learned skill and you better believe you can grow and improve that skill just like any other.  The cool “thing” about persistence is that it can help in learning and mastering other skills.

So let me take a moment to brag on my boy here.  I’ve been gaming since I first saw an Atari around age 6.  It was my aunt’s old, somewhat worn-out console which she had mostly lost interest in roughly a decade earlier.  I was avidly playing during Nintendo’s empirical run through the NES and SNES days and have never been able to topple that insanely tough Yellow Devil from Mega Man.  He was my roadblock that kept me from ever finishing that game, though I really did still enjoy the game.  It became very frustrating to make it to him each time and proceed to blow every life and continue on him before having to restart.  Additionally I’ve never known anyone else personally who could tackle that tower of terror.  I think that’s a 90’s wrestling reference.. In any case, kudos to Grant for his achievement.

It is pretty easy for one to disregard the achievements of others, especially if it is not in an area or field that isn’t personally viewed as valuable or interesting.  To a non-gamer that feat probably seems pretty pointless.  It is interesting when one starts to view all of life as a learning experience, seeing what is the value and takeaway.  Pretty much everything we actively do or experience has some potential for progress, learning and life.  I cannot help but feel like the level of grit and dedication it takes for us gamers to overcome the sometimes ridiculous hurdles that game developers set before us will at least have the potential to aid us in our journey whatever we pursue.

Now let’s talk some Mega Man!

boss-select

Oh little Stage Select screen, you’ve inspired many developers over the years and have certainly come a long way…  Grant likes to take on Bombman first as he is, well… a pushover.  Don’t tell him though.. he is a bit sensitive and can pretty much spawn infinite explosives so, bad combination.

This little NES gem is one of the classics.  I found Mega Man immediately captivating as soon as the first boss robot was defeated and Mega Man equipped the fallen bot’s powers!  How awesome is that?  You actually get to use the bosses’ weapons against the other bosses!  In this lies one of the other cool aspects of this game.  Each boss is weak against one of the other bosses weapons.  What fun it is to puzzle through the game, attempting it in different orders to try and decipher which boss weapon will aid the most against other trickier bosses.  That’s right, non-linear gaming.  The player actually gets to choose the order to tackle the initial bosses.  In this first iteration of the series (which spawned MANY more) the bosses are a bit vanilla.  Bomb Man, Cut Man, Elec Man, Ice Man.. you get the idea.  It has also become the hallmark of the series to have at least 8 “Evil Robot Masters” and the original had only 6, but oh what a start it was.

met

Here we see the humble met, a long enduring enemy in the Mega Man series.  It hides in its helmet til do-gooder robots get close before spraying bullets in their direction.  These days Dr. Wily has promoted the Met race and allows them to drive heavy equipment and ride vehicles.  Progress!

The story goes that Dr. Light had created all of the robots to aid humanity, but the evil Dr. Wily stole the 6 boss robots and reprogrammed them to instead use their abilities as weapons.  Critique on humanity in general?  Perhaps.  We do have a tendency to weaponize practically everything that has ever been invented.  Maybe we will grow out of that habit eventually.  In any case, Mega Man is the only robot left with Dr. Light’s original programming to help, save and serve humanity and sets out to stop Dr. Wily’s evil plans for world domination.  Pretty short and sweet, just like the game if you can manage to get past a few tricky areas and opponents.  I personally always struggled with the slippery platforms in Ice Man’s stage and confronting Elec Man was always quite a challenge.  His attack hits a huge area and, while it is also awesome when the player gets it, it can be pretty daunting to take it away from Elec Man as he is pretty content to fry Mega Man and just keep his awesome electricity beam.

elecBeam

The elec-beam is awesome and probably the best weapon in the game in the opinion of the Plant Powered Gamers.  It sprays a large portion of the screen with shocky robot-busting destruction.  

As I mentioned the Yellow Devil was always especially tricky to me, even as an adult.  He is a weird combination of dodging mixed with a really small hit box topped off with a slathering of short window for actually damaging him.  No P-shooter spam here, it has to be very precise attacks that hit that beast.  His attacks, on the other hand, pretty much go everywhere so it is a real challenge to keep up with his very damaging attacks while trying to hit that tiny window of opportunity he presents all so briefly.  The game is really pretty smooth sailing after him, and Grant said it was practically a done deal after felling the big Yella’ beast.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The jerk not only closes his “eye” which is his only vulnerable point, he also disassembles himself and flies back and forth across the room, much to the detriment of poor Mega man who is caught in the middle and has to dodge this nonsense.  Apparently Dr. Wily watched Star Wars before designing this guy and removed his ventilation shaft.  Good call, doc.

yuka

Those evil blocks may look innocent but don’t be fooled.  They are known as “Yuka” blocks and they appear and disappear in sequence.  The sound they make as they do their little magic act still gives me chills.  The still image just doesn’t do justice to their evil trickery.  

freezefire

Be ready for such logical usage of the various powers as freezing fire.  Hey, we are gamers after all.  We will be happy to create our own “version” of logic!

gutsman

Ah Gutsman, the first heavyweight boss to pull the ol’ Jump, stomp and make the ground shake maneuver.  Not sure if he was the first in gaming history but good luck finding a better known game in which it happens.  

While still pictures really cannot do a game justice, perhaps they give a taste of what this old but still very fun game holds in store.  It is essentially the same game in all of its iterations (1-10) as well as a few spin-offs on other consoles.  Give it a try if the chance presents itself, likely the feuding doctors and their zany creations won’t disappoint.

Images courtesy of Grant, our local Mega Man pro who can be found on YouTube (LinkPlaysGames)  and Twitch (LinkPlaysGames206).

PlantPoweredGamers
Grow Strong. Game On.

Progress Report – Backyard Remodel

Far be it from me to claim any particular natural skill in handyman-type projects.  I can, however, manage searching the internet for information and I also enjoy learning new things.  This coupled with a bit of a paradigm shift in my view of and approach to working in and around the house has really helped me begin learning to do a lot of these sorts of things and I couldn’t help but share my progress on the back deck.  We have a nice space out back but it was not well maintained when we moved in but a year ago.  I’ve been slowly doing what I could with it but have moved on to a more organized, task-oriented approach.  I don’t really multitask well and handle the process of finishing a project much more efficiently if I see each part of the whole to completion.  Thus after getting rid of all of the ivy that had managed to mix itself with poison ivy which was arduous and quite an itchy task, I set out to try to salvage the back deck.  After a bit of research I realized every time I have ever used water-sealant in the past was not applied correctly.  I have to attribute the credit to finally teaching me the proper process where it is due.  I do not know this fellow personally, but he had a great and informative video and the results hold true, though I think his estimation of finishing the project in a day might have been pretty generous.  He was incredibly thorough, which was fantastic for me at my level of inexperience.  One issue I find with many very knowledgeable people is that when they teach something that they are so familiar with, they leave out some things that they find obvious and simple but to the student it can seem to leave gaps in the instructions.  Not so with Mr. Hazelton’s video, it was just right, even explaining the tools used.  I wouldn’t have even know that such a thing as a “deck pad” existed had that not been pointed out and likely would have tried to roll or paint it on instead.

Ron Hazelton – How to Clean, Renew and Seal a Wood Deck in One Day

Perhaps my lack of experience is at least in part to blame for the longer work time, but I am quite happy with how it turned out.  In the past I’ve made attempts to simply “wing it” and clean up and water-seal porches and decks but had no clue there was such a thing as wood cleaner/brightener, having always used Bleach to little effect.  That cleaner/brightener was magical.  Coupled with a peaceful day of playing with our new pressure washer it already looked pretty good out there.  Now with new paint to cover and protect as well as to provide contrast for the flowers and plants we intend to set out I have some hope of creating a really nice space for us to hang out on cool mornings and afternoons.  It’ll probably be great for picnicking out back in the fall too!

A life-long love of learning is something I truly hope to impart upon Grant as he grows.  Hopefully things like this provide that example that one is never too old to seek advice on even what seems to be the most mundane project or idea.  It is amazing in the world we live in today to be able to seek out the advice of experts with a few keystrokes and mouse clicks and the cost of this information is amazingly free (unless you consider having to watch an add or two as payment).  Removing the fear and worry of failure is also very important to me and I hope as Grant and I approach this whole homeschooling thing we can recapture that understanding that one of the best ways to learn is to get out there and “mess something up”.  We learn best by doing, after all, and the doing is rarely flawless, so we might as well embrace and enjoy that process.

Now how about some before & after photos?  I cannot help but be eager to show off the final product.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here are my before photos, before we even began the cleaning process.  Yuck!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here are the after photos, after cleaning and staining.  I do believe Suzy snuck a kitty photo in there… not sure if it’s relevant.  Such a diva, that Niko.

Do you have any projects that you’ve been putting off out of either a fear of failure or lack of knowledge?  Cast that fear aside!  Seek out that knowledge!  Get out there and mess something up!  You’re bound to learn so much more than if you continue procrastinating.

PlantPoweredGamers
Grow Strong. Game On.

Prime Day Approaches

Hello and forgive me for a brief tangent from my usual content.  I don’t intend to turn our little blog into a glorified advertising platform, though I will on occasion plug a product, service, webpage, youTube channel, etc. that the Plant Powered Gamers find awesome.  One of these magical “services” is the online shopping platform, Amazon.  You may have heard of them… In any case, we love our time at home and tend toward avoiding unnecessary trips to town and that makes shopping with Amazon a pretty straightforward slam dunk.  We tried out Prime a few years ago and have never really considered dropping it since.  They bundle so much value in to that membership fee that it would be silly for us to drop it.

Free Movies?  Got it.  Cheap movie/tv rentals?  Got that too.  Weird, hard-to-find baking ingredients?  I’m looking at you, Teff Flour.  They have that as well.  More rare and used video games than the local flea market?  Yep, though you’ll have to do without that special, authentic flea market smell of roasting pork rinds and fried butter sticks.  Fast, free shipping on virtually every order that is labelled as “Prime” (which is most of the time in our experience)?  You betcha.  If you happen to shop at Whole Foods they offer an in-store discount to boot.  Sweet.  Cheap rice, beans and greens all around!

So their deal during the first half of July (2-17) is that you can get a free 30-day Trial of Prime, just check out the link below.  Plus a bit of commission change goes to the Plant Powered Gamers as a bonus!  It’s like getting a 1-up Mushroom you get to share with Player-2.

Prime Day – Prime Membership

So here we are, several years into being Prime members and I am still finding bonus stuff they are offering to throw our way.  Today as we were streaming on Twitch – basically youTube for gaming videos – Grant and I noticed someone had a Twitch Prime membership.  Curious as to what this was we checked into it and found it was a free bonus included in our Prime membership anyway.  They offer free games every day, far more than any normal mortal could play through.  I simply linked my Twitch account to the Prime one and I totally get to download and keep them.  The games are tied into your Twitch account, but there is no need to actually use Twitch to watch streaming if that is not your thing.  It basically seems to be set up like Steam but with less emphasis on selling games and more emphasis on you watching people play them.  We actually use it mostly to meet up with other gamers to play multiplayer games at the moment (Ultimate Chicken Horse, anyone?) What’s more, Grant totally gets a free entry in this as well and can download the same games they offer me.  Even if you value these as “cast off” or “mobile-equivalent” $1 games, which many are not, if you take them up on their offer that would be a pretty sick value for the cost of the membership that is already giving you free movies and fast shipping.  Yikes!  You can check the next link to see what is up with this whole Twitch Prime thing:

Prime Day – Twitch Prime

Now they are offering a load of other goodies that we are not familiar with, and one might want to look into those as well.  As we here at Plant Powered Gamers have no experience with the other services offered I don’t really feel right promoting them, but don’t let our inexperience deter you if they catch your interest.  Prime Student, Pantry and Free Time all sound like they could be quite awesome, we just haven’t had the need nor opportunity as of yet to try them out.

One last note on that free trial above.  It lasts a month and they are hosting “Prime Day” on the 17th, officially.  It will be a day chock-full of silly online deals for many things you likely don’t need but may want anyway.  If you are capable of utilizing a bit of self control I encourage you to give that free trial a go and land the 16th of July right in its midst to see what it is all about.

Again, thanks for indulging my moment of deal promotion and another thanks if you actually check into these through our links to Amazon.  I wouldn’t bother to promote the service if it was anything less than spectacular.  It really is something we use pretty much every week to save time and as mentioned, bonus entertainment is the icing on that digital cake.

The Plant Powered Gamers are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

PlantPoweredGamers
Grow Strong. Game On.

Mid-summer Musings

July has already made its way to us, or perhaps we to it.  Mid-summer in the southeast really encourages one to take an occasional lazy day, or at least midday, in order to avoid the ridiculous heat and humidity.  This coupled with lots of time doing rather brain-free tasks in the yard of late has left us with plenty of time to ponder plans for the coming year.

Grant is fully in summer mode, loving the freedom and questioning why that sort of freedom ever has to end.  I realized that there was honestly no good answer to that question.  This left us once again returning to the discussion on trying homeschooling.  I have wanted to homeschool Grant since he was born.  I admit it may be more appealing in my imagination than the reality, but I love trying new things, new approaches and time with him is never a waste in any case so it’s hard to imagine how this couldn’t be a fun and exciting experience.  Grant is a straight-A student, having made it now though to the 6th grade and has never made less than 90% marks on his grade reports, so I know that it isn’t the case that he is just being lazy.  When a solid and productive student like that can be so incredibly dissatisfied with what they are doing and the things they are learning it just sets warning bells off for me.

Thankfully there are more resources on homeschooling than I could use in a lifetime, so I am in no fear of running out of methods, plans and ideas.  Currently we are leaning towards the “unschooling” or “Sudbury” methods.  I believe he has some pretty solid interests in science and technology and that will lead us into the other necessary subjects as they become needed.  He also quite the fan of fantasy literature and we have a great library to facilitate which is just a few miles down the road.  I am hoping to encourage him to do both some creative writing as well as outlines and scripting for his YouTube channel.  It is actually pretty exciting thinking up all of the ways we may be able to follow his interests and focus education to be very personalized.

Now this was not the intended focus of my writing when I began this, but then my focus shifts like the wind in regards to what I feel up to sharing.  I’ll be sure to share anything that we run across that seems amazing enough to be duplicated and of course I may mention our progress in passing or perhaps regularly, according to how interesting it seems.

In any case I have to give a link (that is like a digital shout-out) to the two pages that are acting like hub-worlds for my research and planning:

Bright Horizons Academy

This is the cover school that we chose to use.  They cover anywhere in Alabama and allow complete curriculum flexibility.  They also provide a massive list of links for great homeschooling information and inexpensive/free material.  This was the list that actually led me toward the unschooling information which I really was not even aware of until about a month ago.

Stories of an Unschooling Family

This page is actually a blog written primarily by a mother of several homeschooled children.  They have been unschooling for several years and it was great to see how that process unfolded for them as it gives me some insight as to what to expect.  As a bonus she does vlogs and a podcast and being Australian, she has a pretty awesome accent.

If any of you, my dear readers, know of any other great resources be sure to leave me a comment and let me know.  Wish us luck!

PlantPoweredGamers
Grow Strong. Game On.