Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bubble Painting

I have a backlog of posts here and no time to put them all together, so I'm going to combine a few art projects again. With all the rain we've been getting lately we've had plenty of time for art projects...and science experiments!

Ink Blot Butterfly

So everyone's done this one, right? It's sort of like an ink blot test, but in a fun way for kids. Start by cutting out a butterfly shape. Fold it in half (I actually folded it before cutting to help make my butterfly symmetrical), then unfold it and squeeze drops of paint onto the paper.

Fold the butterfly down the center again and gently rub on the paper to spread and transfer the paint from one side to the other. Unfold the paper and you've got a beautiful butterfly!

Baking Soda & Vinegar Experiment

I loved doing this as a kid so I knew Abe would love it too. Plus it helped me use up an old box of baking soda that's been sitting in my fridge since 2010. Baking soda is cheap. Buy a few boxes. So is vinegar. Get a big bottle. Pour some baking soda into a dish (this can get messy - you may want to put a cookie sheet under the dish to contain any overflow) and in a separate cup mix together 1/4 cup vinegar and a few drops of food coloring. (The food coloring is entirely optional, although it is fun.) Use a teaspoon or old medicine dropper to drip the vinegar onto the baking soda and watch what happens. Abe did this forever...

...then he figured out that you get an even bigger reaction when you drop a spoonful of baking soda into the vinegar. That's where the risk of overflow comes in. That's also why you need a BIG bottle of vinegar. Once the baking soda goes in the vinegar it stops working. Get some fresh vinegar and start again.

Bubble Painting

You can find a lot of recipes/methods for bubble painting online. We followed this one because I had everything it called for and I liked the look of the finished paintings. The recipe calls for paint (no specific type) so we used these paints from my supply of kid friendly art supplies. We mixed dish soap and water with a little paint, and then I let Abe take over.

Oh, and this one I did put on a cookie sheet to contain the mess. And yes, we're very fancy with our glass jars and paper straws. Honestly, that was all I had on hand - leftover party supplies. I totally recommend using small glass jars if you have them though! They're heavier than plastic cups and less likely to tip. Also, you can throw them in the dishwasher and reuse them forever and ever and ever. I do not however recommend paper straws for this project. Abe had a hard time blowing air through the straws if they had been sitting in the bubble mix for awhile. I ended up cutting the mushy ends off but that made the straws too short, so the bubbles started popping on his face!

Anyways, you stick a straw in your bubble mix and blow until the bubbles come up out of the jar.

Remove the straw and use a sheet of watercolor paper to pop the bubbles.

And that's it! Just make sure your child knows how to blow air through a straw to make bubbles, and understands NOT to drink the paint! (That's another reason I like using BioColors - they're non-toxic.) I should probably mention that I'm not sponsored by anyone or paid to promote their products (not on my blog or on Pinterest), so if I recommended something or provide a link to a product, it just means that's what we use or it's a product that I really like. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Secret Garden

My tulips are done blooming but I thought I'd share some pictures anyway because tulips are my FAVORITE flower. They always have been...

I grew up across the street from a heavily wooded lot. We called it "the woods." Next door was a big empty field and down the road was the boat lot, where all the houses in the neighborhood (that didn't have lakeshore of their own) had a small plot of property on a lagoon to build a dock for lake access. We went fishing at the boat lot, played baseball in the field, and spent endless hours in the woods, building forts and exploring.

It was on one of those exploring adventures that I discovered the tulips. Big, bright red ones, almost as tall as I was, growing right at the edge of the woods. The dappled sun shining through the trees lit up the scarlet petals in a magical way. My sisters and I often brought home wildflowers we found in the woods (violetsdutchman's breechesbloodroot), so when I discovered the tulips, I picked one for my mom.

I was proudly tromping out of the woods clutching my perfect flower when I heard a voice from above. It was my friend's mom looking out her second story kitchen window, who happened to see me and called down "You shouldn't be picking Mrs. H's flowers!" I stopped in my tracks. The tulips were growing at the edge of the woods...right behind Mr. & Mrs. H's house. Was that actually her garden? I took off running! I considered dropping the flower (and proof of any wrong-doing) along the way but it was too perfect. Too beautiful. Its scent was intoxicating. It was my apple.

As planned, I brought the tulip home and gave it to my mom, although now knowing it was stolen goods, instead of proudly presenting it to her as I'd imagined, I timidly handed it over mumbling "This is for you." She made the big fuss that moms usually do, saying "thank you" and commenting on how pretty it was. Then she asked me where I found it.

I couldn't tell her I found it in the woods because then she'd figure out it came from Mrs. H's garden. I fumbled for an answer. Where could I pick flowers that didn't belong to anyone if not the woods? "The field," I told her and left the room.

I'd never in my life seen a tulip in the field, and neither had my mom, but she believed me nonetheless. Apparently, she just figured it came from an old abandoned garden out there. No one would miss it. She stuck it in a vase and put it on the windowsill.

Later that day (or maybe it was the next day), my friend's mom called. I doubt she was trying to get me in trouble, but my mom was always on the phone with her so the truth was bound to come out sooner or later. After she got off the phone, my mom asked me to tell her where I really found the tulip and I confessed that it came from Mrs. H's garden. I honestly thought that I had found a patch of tulips growing wild in the woods (I was only 5 years old - how was I to know tulips weren't wildflowers?), but I didn't tell my mom that. Luckily I only picked one. (Lord knows these days I would have come home with an armload!) At any rate, my mom told me we'd have to apologize to Mrs. H for picking one of her flowers. We walked across the street, the pilfered flower drooping from my hand, and rang her doorbell.

Now Mrs. H and her husband were one of the few elderly couples in our neighborhood. All of the older couples were very nice to us kids and this time was no exception. As I stared at my feet, she patiently listened to my apology, then sweetly told me she was happy to know someone else appreciated her garden, and sent me home smiling, with the treasured tulip nestled against my chest.

As the years went by, I often wondered about that secret garden at the edge of the woods. It turned out I never saw her lovely patch of red tulips again. They only bloom for a few days, so I had to be in just the right place at the right time to find them that first time. It made me wonder why anyone would plant a garden in the very back corner of their yard where no one could see it.

When we bought our house, I made sure to plant some tulips that first fall. Unfortunately, I planted them in the sun on the south side where they bloomed occasionally but never thrived. It took me a few years to realize that the flower bed under our front window gets plenty of sun in the spring before the trees start to leaf out. So last fall I bought a few bags of tulip bulbs, along with some daffodils and alliums, to plant under our front window. I was pretty exhausted after all that digging (I planted 100 bulbs!) but it was totally worth it this spring.

It made me so happy, just sitting in my living room with a cup of tea, admiring the colorful blooms bobbing in the breeze outside my window. And now I finally understand. Mrs. H's house had the garage in front, and the few small windows that faced the front yard looked out on the driveway, not the lawn. The back of her house had a walkout basement, which meant anything she could see from her living room window upstairs had to be way back in the the edge of the woods. She had other garden beds in her yard. One in the front that she probably only saw when leaving her house, a few scattered around the back and side yards, but only that one bed farthest from the house had tulips. She really must have loved tulips.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Color Matching Game

The snow may be gone but that doesn't mean we're not occasionally stuck inside on cold, rainy days. We had such a day last week. Abe is at the age where he is starting to understand and enjoy playing games, so I threw together this color matching game to help us pass the time.

1. Collect a bunch of items in a variety of colors. Some good places to look for colorful items include: your child's car and train collections, tub toys, baby food utensils, small scraps of fabric or ribbon, craft supplies, sewing supplies, small stuffed animals and finger puppets, plastic jewelry, puzzle pieces, hair accessories, Easter eggs, crayons, plastic ring links, Legos/Duplos, and wooden blocks or figures. (Obviously some of these are choking hazards for young children. Be sure to only choose items that are age appropriate!)

2. Print off color cards or make your own, and lay them out with enough room for kids to pile toys on them. We used bowls to keep the little pieces contained.

3. Give your child the basket of toys (or a handful at a time) and let them sort the items by color. 

For younger toddlers, start with 2-3 items per color and only a few colors. Add more items and/or colors whenever your child needs more of a challenge.

When we were done, I just threw the items into a big bowl along with some color cards I made (you can download them here), and put it on the shelf so we can play it again. Not as much fun as a Barrel of Monkeys, but at least it's one more game in our Monkey & Memory line up. What games do your kids enjoy?