When life gives you lemons…

WSW: Battery CreatingCreate a working clock.

WSW: Lemon Battery WSW: Lemon BatterySo there have been weeks where our Wacky Science Wednesdays have been well planned and the boys have done a lot of different things. And then there are weeks where I run out of time. Which was this week. However, we still learned something! We watched a short clip on electricity, and then pulled out our back pocket science activity (from my nephews’ kitchen science kit) to create a lemon battery. And it worked! We couldn’t set the time, but we at least got it to turn on.

We also spent a good deal of time making block houses and towers:

WSW: Battery CreatingMaybe not a typical science project, but still a lot of fun!

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Shaving cream painting

Shaving cream paintingAfter pinning several different ideas to Pinterest (here and here), I decided to try out shaving cream painting with the boys. I was trial running it with my boys to see how messy it would be if we did it with my nephews here as well. The verdict? Super messy. CRAZY MESSY. But lots of fun.

My recommendation? Use Crayola’s ink sets that they have for their marker makers. A got one for Christmas and they are more washable (not completely, I would still wear old clothes) than food coloring, ink, or nail polish. I also would go for an unscented shaving cream. We had scented and the papers are fragrant…four days later.

I also can’t guarantee that a shaving cream fight won’t break out. Which is the reason that I have absolutely no pictures from the actual activity. I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my camera or phone for that craziness.

However, here is a picture of J displaying one of his favorite prints:

Shaving Cream PaintingHappy color creating and mess making!

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Energy and Waves

WSW: Energy and WavesThis week’s Wacky Science Wednesday was all about energy and waves. Since the boys had recently been to the beach, waves were fresh on their mind. We watched an excellent Disney You Tube video on energy, and then we did some writing about it:

WSW: Energy and WavesThen we recreated my third grade science project, which was putting colored water in a bottle with a marble to see how waves move the marble back and forth (as pictured above). I also demonstrated with the boys how a hair dryer makes waves in water, just like the wind energy makes waves in the morning.

I think the boys’ favorite part though, was watching different videos and gifs like this:

Big WaveEnergy & Waves. A totally cool combination.

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Making Slime

WSW: SlimeThis Wacky Science Wednesday was all about matter. We watched Bill Nye the Science Guy’s YouTube video about matter, and we also watched Disney’s Imagineering Video about Fluids. Then we got to work making slimeWSW: Slime WSW: Slime WSW: Slime WSW: SlimeWSW: SlimeThe recipe is very simple, and after several important reminders (don’t splash it, don’t eat it), the boys took turns adding glue, water, color, and borax. The coolest thing about the making it (to me and the boys) was how it immediately seizes up and changes consistency when you add the borax. The boys were laughing hysterically as they tried to mix it with their hands. It is a pretty cool experiment!

Once we finished making the slime, we discussed whether it was a liquid, solid, gas, or plasma (they voted for plasma). It worked much better than our attempt last year, but the worksheet was a great tool to use again!

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Sink or Float: Testing Buoyancy

WSW: Testing BuoyancyOn the request of my nephew J, our Wacky Science Wednesday was all about buoyancy. We watched our now standard Bill Nye Episode (there is one on buoyancy…because Bill Nye really does it all when it comes to science), and then headed outside to play sink or float.

WSW: Testing BuoyancyBy far the boys’ favorite was our orange test (suggested by my sister…with it floats with the peel and sinks without the peel). We went around with various objects deciding whether they would sink or float and then tested. And then they watered all the plants with the water from the bucket. Besides that I learned to spell buoyancy, so really we all learned something this week!

This is a great activity to do before going to the beach because then they can take the ideas they’ve learned and apply them to lots of things that they see. They talked a lot about why boats float when they seem heavier than the water (you have to have air equivalent to the weight of water…see I learned that too!). Happy experimenting!

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Chemical vs. Physical Reactions

WSW: Chemical ReactionsI had great plans for our Wacky Science Wednesday of massive coke explosions. After watching our Bill Nye Episode (Chemical Reactions), we headed outside and prepped our materials:

WSW: Chemical Reactions WSW: Chemical Reactions WSW: Chemical ReactionsAnd discussed what ingredients of the Diet Coke and Mentos would lead to the explosion (the acid materials were their guesses) and finally we discussed how this is actually a physical not a chemical reaction (which apparently has been debated a lot…who knew?).

And then I told everybody to get way back and put on their safety goggles….and then there was nothing. So we tried again. And again. Tiny fizzes. But not the explosion of soda I was waiting for. Feeling a bit defeated we discussed why it may not have worked (flat soda and not using a small enough funnel opening were our two guesses), and moved on to our second experiment.

This one, thankfully, worked perfectly:

WSW: Chemical vs. Physical Reactions WSW: Chemical vs. Physical Reactions WSW: Chemical vs. Physical Reactions WSW: Chemical vs. Physical ReactionsThis is such a fun and simple activity to do with kids. All you need is a balloon, baking soda, and vinegar. I had each boy put a scoop of baking soda in the balloon (if you watch the Bill Nye episode, he tells you the amounts!), and I had poured vinegar into the water bottle. You carefully attach the balloon over the mouth of the bottle, and tada! It fills the balloon.

What we learned:

In order for something to be a chemical reactions the properties have to change when combined (the Diet Coke and Mentos is the coke’s reaction to extra sugary items in the container, thereby trying to force out CO2, but when you are finished, the soda is still soda, and the Mentos are still Mentos).

And after doing some research, we headed back outside with a fresh bottle of Coke, Mentos, safety goggles (Safety First!), and tried again:

WSW: Chemical vs. Physical Reactions WSW: Chemical vs. Physical ReactionsSuccess!

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Building and testing bridges

WSW: Building BridgesThree boys, Two Bottles of Glue, Popsicle Sticks, and a Plan. Welcome to Wacky Science Wednesdays!

WSW: Building a BridgeThis summer my nephews are hanging out with the boys and I on Wednesdays and my first thought was….what are we going to do during J’s nap time? Thus, my idea for Wacky Science was born. While I was putting J down for a nap, the boys watched a Bill Nye the Science Guy video on Inventions. Then we headed outside to begin our project. I didn’t give the boys a lot of direction, I mainly said “build a bridge and use glue and Popsicle sticks”. I had a box that the bridge had to reach across and I told them that they had to build it together. Despite being the most reluctant to start, my nephew J’s idea was the best: use two sticks on either side to attach the remaining line, and soon they had this:

WSW: Building BridgesWe let the glue dry for about an hour and then we came back to begin testing how the bridge would hold up to different objects:

WSW: Building BridgesOur first bridge was a little flimsy, so then M came up with the idea to do two bridges:

WSW: Building BridgesAnd we started weighing items on the bridges:

WSW: Building BridgesWSW: Building BridgesI think this was their favorite part, running around the backyard trying to find items to weigh. After that we played a rousing game of kickball and ate popcorn to celebrate!

WSW: Building BridgesWacky Science Wednesday week 1 is done!

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Letter learning with J

Letter CNow that I’m done teaching for the summer, I’m making it my goal to have J recognizing all his letters and colors by the time he enters three-year preschool in the fall. As I’ve discussed before, J learns differently than A, so I’ve had to re-think how I help him with his learning.

J loves the sky, so we spent a morning talking about things in the sky (the sun, clouds, and moon specifically), the colors of things in the sky (blues, pinks, purples, grays, and white), and the letters that matched with things in the sky (s, c, and m).

1. Learning Activity 1: Walking and Talking. We started out by taking a long walk and talking about the things we saw and the colors they were (one of J’s favorite activities), and the letters they started with.

2. Learning Activity 2: Chalk play. After our walk we drew huge clouds, the sun, and the moon with chalk. I labeled each thing and had J stand on the letters and we called them out together.

Chalk Play3. Learning Activity 3: Simple crafts. Following a guide from the book Playful (you can see the blog and book here), I printed two different clouds and J thumb printed one and then added cotton balls to the other, as seen here. He was super proud of each of these and couldn’t wait to show them to B and A when they got home.

Cloud Activity4. Learning Activity 4: Reading. We read Little Cloud by Eric Carle, and It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw. These are great books for J’s age because he can “help” read by calling out the picture shapes on each page.

Cloud Books5. Learning Activity 5: Between the Lions episode “Moon Rope“. We watched it together on our iPad while J ate his snack. I can’t say enough about how great this show is. J called out the letters and words along with the show, and loved the reading of Moon Rope the most.

6. Learning Activity 6: Scatter letters. One of J’s current favorite activities is to scatter all the letters from the boys Melissa and Doug magnetic letter set and then pick out ones and call them out (or have me help him recognize what they are).

Scatter Letters7. Learning Activity 7: Sesame Street Letter C. After J was struggling to consistently recognize the letter C, I pulled out some back pocket episodes of Sesame Street (it’s amazing what you can Google!). I Googled Sesame Street Letter C and found a great podcast highlighting the letter C. After watching those, J went back and triumphantly picked all the letter C’s from the letter set.

cisforcookieEach of these activities takes between 5-30 minutes depending on the interest of your child and the amount of time you want to spend on them. We did all of these over a period of a four hour morning, in between matching socks, switching laundry, and picking up from the weekend. After lunch we read two of J’s current favorite stories; If You Give a Cat a Cupcake and If You Give a Moose a Muffin (both of which start with the letters we were working on). The best part was when he jumped up the next morning (literally, J jumps out of bed in the morning) and went to the fridge holding his lambs and his billy goat and gleefully grabbed the letter C and said “I found C again, Mommy!” One letter down 25 to go.

Clouds and Rain

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Summer Survival Plan: Part I

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As J and I were browsing the toy section of Barnes and Noble the other day, I started thinking about our summer fun box from last year. This lead to me thinking about the plan I’ve been working on, called “avoiding spinning our wheels this summer”. So here is what I have on my list so far:

1 & 10: Creating our own stories and poems. This is one of A’s very favorite things to do right now, and I love this unique set of mix and match cards and poetry book will help him come up with some great ideas.

2: A new large scale puzzle that the boys can work together to assemble.

3: Since it looks like our idea of getting a pergola for the back patio is out the window for now, a large scale umbrella to block the wicked morning sun.

4: A scribble and write pad for J to work on while A does IXLs.

5 & 6: Perler beads and square boards to create our 3-D Minecraft objects.

7: Molds for our Lego statue art.

8 & 9: New yard toys and small pool for the backyard. I also have my eye on this slip and slide and this cool tetherball set.

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A’s favorite snacks

Snack IdeasThe other day A asked me to refill his thermos with water and I told him I needed a minute to finish switching the laundry. When I walked back into the kitchen he had gotten his stool out, got a plastic glass from the cabinet and was busy getting water for himself and for J. And at that moment a light bulb went off in my head. Of course he can do that himself! Why has he not been doing that himself? Being the first born, there are so many things I just do for A without really thinking that he is old enough to do those things independently.

I have a drawer for the boys in our pantry (and a door container…as displayed here) for non-refrigerated snacks, but if they want anything from the fridge I have to prep it for them (get it out of a container, wash an apple, etc.). For A at least (J is a little young for that) he needs to be able to get veggie and fruit snacks himself.

Seeing lots of ideas on Pinterest (as one usually does nowadays), I decided to get a little snack box going on the bottom shelf of the fridge. I filled it with individual snack bags of veggies, and then cut-up individual sections of grapes, washed all the apples, etc.

A has a non-refrigerated allergy friendly snack at school (in addition to lunch), but he usually asks for another snack when he gets home. He can now pick something out himself, that is already prepped. Even though it’s only a few extra minutes of prep work each time, it’s incredibly helpful for him to be able to get these things on his own. And again I think, why didn’t I do this sooner?

Snack IdeasHere’s our little snack line-up in action. Nothing fancy, but effective.

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