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Make Number Rubbings

April 30, 2016

What You Need:

  • paper
  • black marker
  • 10 pieces of blank paper with one block number written on each
  • at least 10 objects with lots of different textures (sandpaper, homemade paper, leaves, coins,…etc.)
  • safety scissors
  • pencil
  • crayons
  • lined paper

What You Do:

  1. Draw the numbers 1-10 on blank pieces of paper, with one number per sheet. Make these numbers big, blocked, and outlined so that your child can color the numbers in.
  2. Show your child how she can make a cool design on paper, by “rubbing” a crayon across a piece of paper that’s on top of an unusual texture.
  3. Sit your child down at a table with the stack of numbers and a variety of textures to work with. Explain to her that for each page, she is going to match the number with the correct amount of textures. For example, for the “3” page, she’ll find three objects with different textures to rub under the paper, in order to form a design. She might use: one coin, one leaf, and one comb.
  4. Help your child with the first page. Show her how to lay an item on the table (for example, the sandpaper), and then lay the printed out template page on top of it. Using a bare crayon, turned on its side, show her how to press down while rubbing the crayon on the white paper to form the rubbing.

Paint with Ice

April 29, 2016

What You Need:

  • Liquid tempera paint
  • Ice cube tray
  • Craft sticks
  • Paper
  • Plastic wrap (optional)

What You Do:

  1. Help your child pour the paint into the ice cube tray. Let her count out how many cubes of each color she wants.
  2. When she’s done filling up the tray, have her put a craft stick into the middle of each paint cube. The sticks should be able to stand up on their own, but if they won’t stay up, try covering the tray in plastic wrap. Then poke the sticks through the wrap for extra stability.
  3. Have her carefully place the ice cube tray in the freezer, and let it sit until the paint is frozen solid.
  4. When the paint cubes are frozen, it’s time to paint! Ask your child to choose a color, and help her pop the chosen paint cube out of the tray.
  5. She can hold the craft stick and swirl the frozen paint cube over paper. As it melts, it’ll leave a lovely trail of paint. Encourage her to use several different cubes to create her masterpiece.
  6. As she paints, discuss the process of freezing. What happened to the paint when she put it in the freezer? What’s happening to the paint when it’s exposed to the warm air and paper? What does the paint feel like as it melts?

Recycling Christmas Lights

April 28, 2016

What You Need:

  • Christmas tree lights
  • Copper wire strippers
  • AA batteries
  • Electrical tape
  • Table
  • Notebook
  • Pencil

What You Do:

  1. Review basic electrical safety with your child. Remind her to never try an electrical experiment without you present. Since mixing electricity with water is very dangerous, make sure she knows that her hands must be dry whenever she works with electricity.
  2. Have her use the copper wire strippers to cut one light from the string of Christmas tree lights. She’ll want to leave at least one inch of the strand on either side of the light.
  3. Help her strip the green insulation off the last quarter inch of both of the strand’s ends.
  4. Let your child take a closer look at the green insulation and the copper wire inside the strand. Explain to your child that the plastic green insulation does not carry electricity; instead it provides protection for the copper wire which does carry electricity.
  5. Review basic electrical circuits with your child.  This activity is more fun if your child figures out how to make the light shine by herself.  In order for the light to go on, the battery, light, and bulb must be arranged in a circuit — which, as the name suggests, is a circle.
  6. Using the electrical tape to secure the stripped wire on the battery, let your child practice, trial and error style, to get the light to turn on. 
  7. If she needs some help, give her a hint! The correct arrangement has the stripped wires of the light touching the top and bottom of the battery. She should press the wire on the battery through the electrical tape.
  8. Be aware that  if you are recycling an old strand  of lights, a couple  bulbs might be broken. In this case, the light won’t go on no matter what your child does. Keep working until you find a working light.
  9. Once your child gets the light on, detach the circuit as soon as you have finished admiring her handiwork. No need to waste those batteries!

An Adverb Acting Game

April 27, 2016

What You Need:

  • 20 index cards
  • 20 strips of paper
  • Pencil
  • 2 paper bags

What You Do:

  1. Before beginning this activity, it might be useful to have a little refresher that will help remind your child what adverbs are, and how they help other parts of speech. Ask your child to write out 20 that he knows, one adverb per each index card. To get him going, suggest a few, like “angrily,” “quietly,” and “sneakily.” Once complete, place all 20 cards into one of the paper bags.
  2. Next, on strips of paper, have your child write out 10 sentences about things he does or says during day. For example, “Can you give me directions to the grocery store?”
  3. Now the game begins! Have your child choose one card and one slip of paper from each paper bag, and tell him to act out the sentence slip using the adverb. Can he ask what’s for dinner sneakily? How about hungrily asking for a hall pass?
  4. Guess which adverb he’s acting out. As he gets better at the game, add more complex adverbs for vocabulary development, as well as a bigger acting challenge!

Fraction Simplification

April 26, 2016

What You Need:

  • Deck of playing cards (with face cards removed)
  • Even number of players
  • Paper
  • Pencils

What You Do:

  1. Create a fraction bar sheet by drawing a line across a piece of paper. 
  2. Set up the game so that the players face one another. For each pair of two players, you’ll need to create a separate fraction game board.
  3. Shuffle the deck of cards.
  4. Distribute the deck evenly between the two players.
  5. Have the players place their decks face down in front of them.
  6. Players should begin by simultaneously turning over a card from their decks and place it on the fraction bar sheet. Each player should place one card above the fraction bar. The cards above the fraction bar represent the numerator.
  7. Then, players should place one card below the fraction bar. The card below the bar represents the denominator.
  8. There should be a card above the bar and a card below the bar, giving you four cards total.
  9. The first player to correctly simplify the fraction shown by the cards wins all four cards. If a tie results, split the cards evenly.
  10. If the fraction can’t be simplified, each player should collect the card that the other player put down and position it at the bottom of his deck.
  11. Play continues until one player has accumulated all of the cards.
  12. Alternatively, you could set a time limit on the game. When time is up, the player with the most cards wins!

Snowman Craft

April 25, 2016

What You Need:

  • White modeling clay
  • Glitter (silver or opal)
  • Toothpicks
  • Tempera paint
  • Paint brush
  • Thin, flexible wire (optional, available at most arts or crafts stores)
  • Scissors
  • Fabric scraps
  • Glue

What You Do:

  1. Begin molding and bending the clay with your hands. Have your child pour some of the glitter onto the clay. Allow him to mix the glitter in by molding the clay further.
  2. Choose a starting shape, either round spheres or square cubes. Ask your child to build three sizes of the chosen shape. These should be small, medium, and large.
  3. Have your child stack the shapes in size order with the largest on the bottom. If the clay will not stick together insert a toothpick all the way through from the top.
  4. Add two toothpicks as arms.
  5. Use a small amount of clay to create eyes and a nose.
  6. Create a hat and scarf for the snowman. This can be done using extra clay or with fabric scraps that have been cut to size. Use a small amount of clear drying, non-toxic glue to secure.
  7. Paint specific parts of the snowman such as his eyes, nose, or hat. For an extra embellishment try adding extra glitter to the paint.

Make Jumbo “Cupcake” Crayons

April 23, 2016

What You Need:

  • Broken crayon pieces (with the wrappers removed)
  • Cupcake liners
  • Cupcake/muffin tray

What You Do:

  1. Preheat oven to 250° F.
  2. Have your child fill the lined cupcake tin with assorted crayon bits. Similar colors seem to work best, but encourage your little one to experiment with different combinations.
  3. Put the tray into the oven for approximately 20 minutes, until the crayons are just melted.
  4. Once they are cool, your child can remove the cupcake liners and enjoy her new giant crayons!

Build an Indoor Igloo!

April 22, 2016

What You Need:

  • Water
  • Empty half gallon milk containers (or several ice cube trays for a mini-version)
  • Cold weather!
  • Food coloring (optional)

What You Do:

  1. Decide what sort of winter structure you and your child would like to build. Would your child like an ice wall? An ice igloo? A circular fortress? It’s up to you!
  2. Collect enough empty half-gallon milk containers to build a good-sized structure. Anywhere from 20-50 containers (or more!) will work. Cut off their tops, so you’re left with just the square bottoms. Choose a very cold day and help your child fill each of your containers with water. You can add some blue food coloring if you’d like your ice blocks to be tinted, for an extra chilly effect.
  3. Leave your milk container “molds” outside to freeze. (This may take a few days, or just one particularly freezing night.) Once they’re frozen, you and your child can have a blast ripping off the cardboard molds, so that you’re left with just blocks of ice.
  4. Then start stacking! Rub a little bit of water between each block to make them stick together. Then enjoy to fruits of your labor! You can have a snowball fight and use your igloo as a fortress or pretend you live in Eskimo tribe!

Wax Paper Skating

April 21, 2016

What You Need:

  • Wax paper
  • Scissors
  • Large rubber bands
  • Painter’s tape

What You Do:

  1. Mark off the skating rink with the painter’s tape. Be sure to choose a hard smooth floor that is in an area free from obstacles and hazards that might injure a skater. Things to avoid include the corners of cabinets, counters and hearths as well as floor drains.
  2. If you have a whole group of skaters, explain to them that to keep everyone safe, it is a good idea to skate in one direction around the rink. Show them which direction they will be skating.  
  3. Now help your kid put on his skates. Cut two large squares of wax paper. Have your skater place one foot on the center of one of these squares. Fold the square up and rubber band the wax paper around the skater’s ankle. Make certain that the wax paper covers your skater’s entire foot.
  4. Repeat for the other foot.
  5. If necessary, repeat steps 3 and 4 for each skater.
  6. Let the skating begin! Depending on the floor, wax paper skates can be super slippery. You may need to hold a skater’s hand if he seems unsure or unstable. Encourage your skaters to move around the rink, developing their coordination. As they develop some skill, turn on some fun skating music or play the Hokie Pokie like they used to do at a roller rink.

Write Secret Messages

April 20, 2016

What You Need:

  • White construction paper
  • White wax crayons
  • Newspaper
  • Water soluble paint (tempera paint or watercolor paint) 

What You Do:

  1. Draw a simple image on the white construction paper with the white crayon and write a few simple words.
  2. Tell your child that the ‘blank’ piece of paper is magic!
  3. Lay down some newspaper in the painting area and ask her to paint over the paper with her favorite color. Can she see the image? What is it? Can she identify any letters?
  4. To commend her excellent detective work, let her in on the secret and ask her to do her own ‘magic drawings.’
  5. See if she can guess how the ‘magic’ works. Explain how the waxy crayon puts a ‘paint-proof’ layer of wax on the paper. So when the paint is applied, the areas that have been drawn on are blank!

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