Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Patriotic Flower Science

This week's Toddler Series theme is red, white and blue, patriotic themed activities. Suzy Homeschooler is sharing a Patriotic Sensory Bin! Be sure to stop by and check it out!

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Originally we had intended to share a red, white and blue themed water sensory bin today (we'll share it later this week instead). However, after our trip to the park yesterday, we were inspired to create a different activity!

If you look closely, Munchkin is holding a tiny white flower. And speckled in the grass around their favorite rock are many more of those flowers. They are called white clovers and are very common in our area.

Munchkin adores them. Every time we visit the park he picks one and will literally carry it around the entire time he's at the park. He doesn't put it down, or put it in his pocket. He holds on to it and eventually brings it inside to put in his flower pot. Too cute, right?

Bean decided to join in and they picked a handful of white clovers. I asked them if they would like to see if they could change the color of the flower petals. And of course they were interested!

We decided to try two colors, red and blue, to keep with our patriotic theme. The yellow paint cup is for the white flowers, a) because we need a white batch and b) because this way they can compare the changes.

Bean poured red and blue food coloring into the matching paint cups. We used these Spill Proof Paint Cups from Melissa & Doug, because they are great for activities like this! Sadly they don't have any with a white top, so yellow will have to do.

The stems of these flowers are thin, which is also why we chose these cups, because it holds them up fairly well. And if you never knew, they smell lovely! My kids love that they have flowers in the windowsill and keep running over to check on them and smell them! (We have basil and mint growing in the next window, so this is a fairly regular habit.)

By the following morning you can see that the white clovers are just now changing color! 

This is a fun, simple science activity for toddlers! Toddlers love to pick flowers (at least I've never met one that doesn't) and they can learn about science in this easy-to-do experiment! 

What's going on? Water evaporates from the surface of the petals and leaves. The stems pull water up through their roots (usually in the ground), or their stems, as is the case with this experiment. The process is called transpiration. The white flower is drawing water through their xylem, which are vein-like tubes through their stem and leaves. The water is dyed, so it colors the petals.

This may be tough for a toddler to comprehend, so we simply used this as an observational science experiment! You can add to the experiment by giving them flower printables to color in their color predictions for each batch!

We'll update with pictures when these flowers are more colorful!

Be sure to come back next week to see what Toddler Activities we will be sharing!

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Go Science Review

Go Science Review

We are reviewing two Christian Go Science DVDs from Library and Educational Services. We chose Volume 2: Life Science and Weather and Volume 5: States of Matter and Water. These videos and experiments are presented by Ben Roy and are ideal for children ages 4-12 (each video has a suitable age range listed on the website). My almost-three-year-old watched the videos and then participated in the activities as well, without any alterations to the experiments, so some older toddlers may be interested in participating with their older sibling. I based my choice of DVD's off of the experiments list and what I felt both of my children would be capable of working with. They both enjoyed the science demonstrations and participated in answering questions before and after they watched the experiments.

Go Science Review

We watched both DVD's straight through on the first day, because it had been dreadfully hot outside and Bean was demanding "For Science!" activities. We have watched many different science shows before, but none quite like this. On Go Science there is a different classroom-size group of students along with Ben Roy completing each activity. It was nice to see that the kids' answers and observations seemed unique, rather than scripted, as these videos were originally filmed for a Christian TV broadcast. Ben Roy introduced each experiment with an upbeat attitude and encouraged students to participate and answer questions. Each science video consists of multiple experiments (over 80 in the entire series!) that last about 3 to 10 minutes. At the end of each demonstration, Ben Roy explains how each time we learn something about science, we learn about the Creator.

Starting the next day after our initial run through of the two DVD's, we began watching one experiment per morning. Bean would want to watch them right after breakfast, so we planned each experiment to take place after the video finished. I made sure to have all the materials on hand the night before, so they were all ready to go. We only completed experiments that required materials we already had on hand, though we did our best by using replacement materials where we could. Sometimes Ben Roy used scientific technology that we simply don't have at home, so if we had to, we researched ways to complete the experiment without them. For the most part many of the experiments were doable for a homeschooling family and others were more suitable for a science lab. But at the end of the day, my kids learned something knew about science and that's the important part!

Since there are no additional materials that come with the DVD's, I created some science activity pages of our own to accompany a few of the experiments. These consisted of simple question flash cards (What happened? Why did that reaction occur? What is your hypothesis for the outcome? etc), scientific method fold-outs, charts and note pages. Some we used for each experiment and others we didn't even get around to using. But we will save them for future experiments! I personally think that this series would pair well with a printable science companion guide, for both the teacher and students. Some of the experiments are not suitable in a home-setting, so those could be simply observation and question printables.

My kids are not in public school and are too young for a science fair project, but these experiments would be a great learning tool for those who are in school or homeschooled and have one coming up. Especially if they want to see how these experiments are done first, as some kids are visual learners. While I was in school we often watched science videos before completing experiments. It's now become a habit of ours to watch science experiments completed by someone who explains the scientific process better than I can before we do our own experiments.

There are so many fun science experiments on each DVD and it really had been hard to choose just two. We are glad we chose the ones we did because they ended up being very entertaining and educational and my kids really loved the experiments! They have been a great addition to our science lessons, although I really wish there was a printable teacher and student guide for the kids who want to complete these activities at home (provided they have the necessary tools and equipment). But it was easy enough to replicate some of them at home without one. 

Below is a list of the experiments that were included in Volume 2 and 5 of Go Science. The experiments we recreated at home have an asterisk next to them. 

Volume 2: Life Science, Weather

Go Science Review

Life Science:
Flashlight-Animal Eyes*
Animal Skulls*
Bobby Pins*
What Are You Looking At?*
How Much Do Your Lungs Hold?*
Eating Nails for Breakfast
Naked Eggs*

Fire Tornado
Ping Pong Cannon
Liquid Nitrogen Cloud
Cloud in a Bottle*
Garbage Can Vortex

This DVD had many life science activities that were easy to do at home. My kids especially enjoyed the Naked Eggs experiment. The Flashlight-Animal Eyes experiment was one that we were already familiar with, but it was fun to revisit. My daughter's favorite experiment was the Bobby Pins one, and she now, randomly, likes to check peoples hands to see if they can feel the points on the bobby pins. All but the Cloud in a Bottle weather experiment were new to my kids. Munchkin especially enjoyed recreating the Cloud in a Bottle experiment (many times, I might add), while Bean wishes we were able to create the others at home! Please note that we do not own any animal skulls, so instead we used a book that has wonderful illustrations of skulls. 

Volume 5: States of Matter, Water

Go Science Review

States of Matter:
Ice Cream*
Density Column*
Ice Block Melt*
Run Through Corn Starch and Water*
Pitcher of Cold Water Put in Hot Water*
Putting Ice in Water Float or Sink*
Making Butter*

Traveling Water*
Antimagnetic Water*
Pouring Water*
Burning Water

We especially enjoyed the states of matter activities! Specifically, my kids loved playing with oobleck again, making ice cream and butter (which came out delicious!) and they had so much fun exploring ice, melting and water! This was definitely our favorite DVD of the two, mainly because we were able to do nearly all of the experiments at home. Whenever we are learning about an experiment, we make sure it is one that we can do at home so they can enjoy some hands-on learning and make their own discoveries. The only reason why we did not try the Burning Water experiment is because we just haven't gotten around to it yet, unfortunately.

Overall, we enjoyed both DVD's and felt they were helpful for observational science. We understand that not all science experiments can be conducted at home, so at times like that, having science DVD's like these are helpful to further learning.

The price of each DVD is $8.97 and $59.82 for the complete set of 7 Go Science DVD's.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Watercolor Popsicle Stick Puzzles

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!

We recently won a giveaway for Faber and Castell products at Toys Are Tools. Jenn writes wonderful reviews on learning products and I have never been steered wrong from her suggestions. She often has giveaways and this is the second time we have won a giveaway from her!

We have been having a great time exploring all the ways we can use these wonderful watercolors. These watercolors are simply the best watercolors we have ever used! And my kids love them, so that's a major plus! The colors are vibrant and we have had great success using them on both wood and felt! Unbelievable!

We used:
Faber and Castell Connector Paint Box 12 lovely shades! And I love that they are not classic bright colors.
Faber and Castell CLIC & GO Water Cup This cup is awesome! It has ridges around the top so your paint brushes never roll away! And it collapses for easy storage!
Faber and Castell CLIC & GO Two Brush Set These paintbrushes are so unique! I have never seen paintbrushes like these and my kids really love using them!
Popsicle Craft Sticks The main ingredient to this project! Any will do, so long as they are clean and not broken.
Tape - Any will do (we used electrical tape). We painted on a sheet of laminated paper, which we use to protect the table.

We also won a set of Faber-Castell Do Art Watercolor Pencils, however we did not use it for this project. We do plan to share activities using them soon though!

We started by taping the popsicle sticks together. We simply placed two long pieces of tape (sticky side up) on a piece of paper and folded the ends under so they were held in place. Then we carefully lined up 10 popsicle sticks and made sure the edges all lined up.

Bean and I painted side by side. Munchkin was not interested, because he was reading a Mickey Mouse book. As you can see, Bean has already used these paints a lot!

Bean made a sun! We did work on the blue part together, because she did not want to blue to blend into the other colors. That meant letting the sun dry for a couple minutes (they are fast drying watercolors!) and then working on coloring in the blue sky.

I made a house! Bean loves the color brown, so that's what inspired this house. I kept the house pretty simple, but made sure each piece blended into the next piece so they were never confused about where they go.

Aren't the colors just lovely? We really did not expect them to come out so great on the wood. We expected the colors to fade, but they haven't! That was when I decided to try painting with them on felt and to my surprise it paints on felt beautifully too!

The sun is definitely the more difficult puzzle because of all the rays, but that just means it's a fun challenge. The puzzles take about 1-2 minutes to complete, and Bean usually just mixes all the pieces together, so some are upside down and she has to figure out which way each piece goes.

Now that we know the watercolors paint so beautifully on wood popsicle sticks, we will definitely be making more of these puzzles!

You can easily store the puzzles with an elastic band wrapped around them and tuck them into a busy bag or travel pack to take on the go. We will be making more of these to take on vacation with us.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Color Swatch Search-and-Find in the Garden

Welcome back to our Toddler Series! This weeks theme is Nature!
Be sure to stop by Suzy Homeschooler's to check out the Crafting and Playing with Nature activity she is sharing today! She is also sharing a HUGE list of nature resources for toddlers and kids, many of which we cannot wait to try! 

We took our set of color swatches outside at a family members house, because she has a huge selection of flowers growing in her garden! I knew this activity would be fun and you could even flavor it as a scavenger hunt with pictures of printed flowers to correctly match them. I kept it pretty simple and aimed simply to match the flowers to the color on the cards.

You can find color swatches like ours at Target and hardware stores that carry paints. We used a hole punch to punch holes into the corner and attached them with a card ring. The colors we used includes: white, black, gray, brown, blue, green, purple, orange, red, yellow and pink. If you have older children, you can use the color swatches with multiple shades and see if your kids can match each of the colors on the swatch!

Red and pink.

We had lots of options for green!

Orange and yellow.


Brown and gray (not exactly gray in nature, but it will do!).

White and blue (again, we had to get creative with some of the shades!).

While your kids are discovering colors in nature, you can also name the flowers, herbs, trees and other plants that they come across to add to the learning experience! You can even show them a nature guide and look up the different plants to read more about them!

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Monday, June 16, 2014

101 Kids Activities {Book Review}

If you're a fan of Kids Activities Blog, then I bet you know Holly and Rachel just came out with a new book! This book is seriously packed full of activities! There are lots of different ideas and one way to get your kid interested would be to hand the book over and let them pick out an activity! If you're a busy parent or caregiver you'll be happy to know that most of the activities can be set up quickly and some don't even require any materials at all! For some activities you'll need recycled materials or you might have to make a quick trip to a local art supply store, but for the most part you should have everything you need at home.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!

101 Kids Activities is full of easy to prepare activities and kids will love creating them! Both of my kids have picked out a couple activities that they can't wait to try out! And a few kids from our neighborhood have also enjoyed looking through the book and picking out activities to try. It makes my life so much easier knowing what they want to try out instead of guessing what they want to do. Anyone who looks after kids will appreciate having this resourceful book on hand to keep kids busy throughout the summer!

We thoroughly enjoyed reading through each of the activities! Some we have tried and many we have never even thought of! There are so many original ideas in this book that I know we will be kept busy by it for quite a while! Many of the activities can be adapted for younger and older kids and there are also lots of helpful notes! You will definitely enjoy this book with your kids!

Here's an example of some of the activities included in the book that we created at home!

Homemade Sidewalk Chalk (page 77)

We go through chalk so often that sometimes it's just easier to make our own. These larger chalk sticks last marginally longer and are easier for toddlers to hold. We tried out the new recipe and loved the results! This chalk is not only fun to make, but your kids will also love learning about the chemistry behind this activity!

Chalk is by far the most popular art supply we make and we often make it outside where the neighborhood kids can stop by and lend a hand. They love helping to make the chalk and some are beyond surprised that you can make it at home! They will enjoy drawing with it even more!

No-Sew No-Glue Tutu (page 63) 

These Tutus are so easy to make! My daughter loves the one we made together! We used Red and Blue tulle and you can't see it because it is under the shirt, but there's a White star sewn to the elastic waistband. Can you tell she loves Captain America?

This activity can be used to practice fine motor skills for older children. Bean enjoyed helping me loop the tulle on and pulling to tighten them. Younger children might just enjoy picking which color to add next. Either way, they will enjoy running around in their new tutu that they helped make!

Be sure to stop by the Kids Activities Blog and enter their giveaway for a chance to win a copy of the book!

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