Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bug Club, Bug Club, Yea... Bug Club!

You will only be able to sing the title of this post if you are a devoted follower of Sid the Science Kid, which I think is one of the best kid shows out there. I love this show and I often get ideas for science experiments just by watching it with Maddie.

One such idea was to create a bug club. Maddie is pretty tom-boyish about bugs, so I thought it might be fun for her to play Sid the Science Kid and have her own bug club.  Then I saw this idea for ladybugs on Pinterest (originally posted on Modern Handmade Child) and I just started jumping off from there.

Here's the finished product:

I made six of the original lady bug bean bags that inspired it all. Then I modified the pattern to make four more bee bean bags and one black spider to which I added a web-string so it can dangle from trees. And then I created four stuffed butterflies and a butterfly net (using one part of an embroidery hoop and some blue tulle. To all of this I added magnifying glasses that I found at Party City, a little notebook for observation recording and we borrow the big binoculars that Maddie loves to use. We stow everything away in an old sand bucket. If you would like instructions on the spider or butterflies, just leave a comment and I'll be happy to share them.

So what pray tell do you do in a bug club? Well the possibilities are endless, but here are just a few suggestions that I have come up with as we have enjoyed our bug club.

  • Observe and record
  • Identify colors, shapes and numbers
  • Play with patterns (lady bug, lady bug, bee, lady bug, lady bug, bee!)
  • Play lady bug or bee catch
  • Catch butterflies
  • Lady Bug/Bee Cornhole, anyone?
  • Spider Puppet Show
  • Hop-bug obstacle
  • Math and Counting Games
Our favorite activity thus far is the Bug Search. I take the bucket while Maddie covers her eyes and I hide all the bugs all over the back yard. Butterflies sometimes end up in trees, the spider dangles from branches -- you never know where bugs might end up! Then Maddie takes out her magnifying glass and starts searching until she finds all the bugs.

And of course, lots of cuddly time talking about what bugs we like and recording what we know about different bugs.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Quality Time

This weekend is all about catching up on some quality time with the fam. Rob's and my schedules are not always the most family-friendly. It seemed long past time we all took a moment.

Last night, Rob and I had date night. What started out as a simple dinner date, turned into a buying me a new iPhone date! Hooray! And then we stopped by a bookstore because this is how all our dates used to end.

Today was a Mommy/Maddy day and I wanted to make it a little special. So off to the Buffalo Science Museum we went.

This light table is awesome. There was actual discussion of whether this could be recreated at home. Uh, not by me... By other parents. But... Maybe.

Then we spent the rest of our time playing at the play-doh station. (The actual museum part not such a big hit. And when I tried to point out the pinnacle of the collection -- a really awesome Mycenaean amphora that is the earliest depiction of epic poetry-- well, Maddie told me to stop talking. Yeah, I don't really know why that vase is there either.)

Then we tried to make M&M cookies.

This is Maddie pretending to be sad when we discovered Daddy has been snacking on the M&Ms all week and we didn't have enough. (She really didn't care because there were enough for her to snack on.)

Then after dinner we went to Rob's work for a hot cocoa. Sadly we somehow missed seeing Rob who had to step out.
All in all a pretty fun day!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Zoology 102

You may remember I posted a summer to-do list which included going to the zoo. We did that earlier this summer and I have some great pictures to post. But I don't have them at home, so you'll see those shortly!

Our second trip to the zoo this summer was just Maddie and I. We took a picnic -- peanut butter and jelly and bananas, so we had to keep our distance from the elephants and monkeys!

But the gorillas came right up to us anyway! This baby was putting on quite the show.

The nicest thing was that hitting the zoo on a Wednesday during the fall meant we had the whole place to ourselves. And just this peacock for company.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Books for Babies

During a recent trip to the children's section of Barnes and Noble, I found this adorable board book:

Yup, Pride and Prejudice for babies. It's a counting book.

Including cuties like 4 Marriage Proposals and (spoiler alert!)

10 thousand pounds a year. Phew, a happy ending.

It's part of a series called BabyLit published by Gibbs Smith and also includes Romeo and Juliet, Dracula and (gasp!) Jane Eyre. Omg, Literary Auntie, I would buy you the whole series and then we could have a (short) reading party.

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A First

Maddie's always been a scribbler. And a color blocker. You know, coloring in one whole piece of paper with one, maybe two markers. Then the other day, she suddenly decided to draw all the Strawberry Shortcake characters.

This is Strawberry Shortcake.

It seems Maddie has gone from Rothko to Munch in one very quick jump. I can't decide if I'm proud or freaked out.

But I have this on my fridge. Hope I don't get the urge for a late night snack.

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Robot Revolution

Somebody should really tell new moms and dads that parenting is all about hoarding. I quickly figured out that there are 20,000 things you can do with toilet paper or paper towel rolls. I squirreled away any container I had, always knowing I would them one day.

So this morning I told Maddie we were making robots and we hopped into my stash of trash.

For this project I pulled out not only a bunch of cardboard rolls but also a supply of odd boxes, bottles and bags so Maddie could pick her robot parts.

We also needed tissue paper, construction paper and craft supplies for decorating.

Maddie chose an old (and clean) plastic produce container for her Robot's body.

Using an exacto knife I put two x's in the bottom and slipped in some rolls for legs. Then I repeated on the side for arms.

Meanwhile Maddie got to work on her robot decorations. Here she is practicing her cutting skills. She's very serious.

She wanted her robot to look like her. Success. After she was done using glitter glue, googly eyes and sparkly pompoms to decorate some paper, we glued them onto our robot body. We used a small plastic pint for the head. Hot gluing was required!

It was fun, so we made a robot friend (this time out of tissue box). Maddie calls them Mike and Sully.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Playing with Eggs

How many of you have seen the video about how to separate an egg using a plastic bottle? I was sent this link (see below) by a bunch of people and it turned out to be kind of a fun science experiment.

So we played with eggs. Lots of hand cleaning!

Maddie and have done a lot of baking and making egg salad, so she certainly knows about eggs. But I had never really explained eggs. So we took some time to observe. I pointed out yokes and whites. Then we tried to see how we could get the yoke out.

This was Maddie's favorite way.

We tried to see how to break the yolk and tested to see if we could pick it up without breaking it.

Then we tried this super neat trick:

The video is not in English but is easy to follow and easy to do. We used a clean coke bottle, which seemed to be a little to think. It worked, but the thickness of the bottle gave it too much suction and it sucked some of the whites up, too. A water bottle is definitely the way to go.

Then we talked about suction and how it's so "sucky" (I think it's important to introduce children to Elf as early as possible.)

Then we ran to the bathroom and cleaned up without touching anything. Fun and yucky!

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Getting Salty

I LOVE salt. Seriously I used to buy the huge boxes of coarse salt a few times a year. So when I gave it up, I knew I had to get all that leftover salt out of my house.

A few web searches turned up a bunch of cute kiddie art projects that would make good use of my remaining salt collection.

Salt Art

It's very simple: add a few drops of dye to salt and mix (I mixed in a ziploc bag). Then let dry. I tried making secondary colors with the dry salt. The orange seemed to work ok, but green and purple, not so much.

Put glue on construction paper and sprinkle with salt. Then shake off excess.

I thought this one would be a pretty big hit, because Maddie loves glue and dyes. I underestimated her neatness. (She does not like to get her hands dirty. So dirty hand projects are usually short.)

Salt Dough:
You can find a million recipes for salt dough on line and it's a really fun thing to do.

Maddie hasn't been too excited about pre-reading activities, so I thought this would be a twist.

We made our dough.

Used cookie cutters to cut out our letters. (I had gotten these cutters from Amazon a few years back when Maddie's Sesame Street first birthday party was brought to you by the letter "M" and number "1". Everyone got cookies as favors.)

After we baked and cooled them, my little artist was able to decorate them with markers and glitter glue. She's been playing with them for the past month or so. (Shhh, I tossed them this morning as they were looking a little worse for wear.)

Salt Chalk

Do you remember doing this with sand when you were a kid?

It's a great tactile learning activity. Maddie loved the feel of the salt between her fingers.

Super easy: just pour salt on white paper and rub sidewalk chalk on it. Mix every so often, to get the color even. Then layer in a glass jar.

I still have more salt. So I may attempt another craft. Anybody got ideas?

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A New Year - Salt Free!

There's something delightful about working at a school and having a fresh start twice a year. Even though I don't teach or have school-aged kids, I still find myself getting ready for the start of school with a handful of promises and plans.

Like this blog... I haven't really given it much attention this summer. And a part of me isn't really all that committed to it still, despite all those promises I have in mind. But I also am realizing that I've been a little too lax this summer. It's time to kick myself into gear.

That being said, an update. As I mentioned last month I gave up salt AND coffee. I've done amazingly well. I'm not really sure that I've seen any great benefits. But I feel vaguely more healthy, so I think I'll see how far I can stretch my independence. On Saturday, I'm going to show you just how independent I am. You'll get to see just what I've learned to do with salt. Bwahahaha!

Meanwhile, I think I shall share with you my "lesson plan". I am hoping to blog a science project every Wednesday and a craft project every Saturday. Plus tune in for randomness about my life on a completely irregular basis -- as all randomness requires.

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