This is kid science experiment number two and science failure number two. Maia flipped through our Super Science Experiments book and picked out a project that involved inflating a balloon with the carbon dioxide gas created by mixing baking soda and lemon juice. The ingredients were simple: 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon water, the juice of one lemon, a balloon, and a soda bottle.
We followed the instructions, adding the baking soda and water to the bottle, mixing them, then adding the lemon juice. It started to fizz immediately (and create carbon dioxide) and I pulled the balloon over the top of the bottle as quickly as possible. Maia got so excited when the balloon started to inflate, but when it was a couple minutes later and it still hadn't gotten any bigger, she felt let down.
So what happened? Not enough carbon dioxide perhaps? Or maybe we didn't get the balloon on quick enough and a lot of the carbon dioxide escaped into the air?
So then we tried again, this time using vinegar (an optional variation included in the book) and doubling all the ingredients in the hopes of making more CO2. Again, I put the balloon on as quickly as I could. It inflated more than the first balloon, but still not as much as we had been expecting or hoping.
I wouldn't say this experiment was quite the fail that our invisible ink was, but it also wasn't an unqualified success. So now I'm wondering -- do you have any favorite kid science experiments? I'd like something tried and true for next time. And if you have an awesome science experiment book to recommend, please let me know as well. I'm not as thrilled with this one as I'd like to be.
We drew and wrote with homemade invisible ink a few days ago. I think that as humans we have a fascination with making something appear out of nothing. Whether with pulling-the-bunny-out-of-the-hat kind of magic tricks or with invisible ink. Since we have a science experiment book, and have pledged to try some of the experiments this summer (see our summer list), we decided to give the invisible ink a try.
This version involved writing (or drawing, as Maia did) with lemon juice and a Q-tip. Maia's plan was to send an invisible drawing to her pen pal with instructions on how to make it visible.
But when the lemon juice ink had dried, we did a test run with one of the notes, and it didn't really work. Darn! The instructions said to hold the paper over a candle flame or a light bulb. We tried both.
(And I didn't realize until this science experiment that Maia has developed a crazy bad fear of fire, which I am thinking must come from all the fire safety instruction and fire drills in Kindergarten. I couldn't get her to hold the paper herself and she ran out of the house when I held it above the flame. Now I'm wondering what I can do to reverse this fear. I want her to respect fire without fearing it.)
So, anyway, the candle did kinda work, but only if I practically burned a hole through each letter (and I couldn't keep doing that without Maia hyperventilating).
The other option that the experiment book suggested was to hold the invisible note up to a light bulb. Maia really wanted this to work and held her paper up for a looooong time (but probably not letting it get close enough for fear of fire). And when she got tired of that, she taped the paper to the wall next to the lamp bulb hoping that it would eventually work. It didn't.
I thought this would be so easy -- the ideal first experiment to try from our book. I know that lemon juice invisible ink notes are standard fare for childhood; I've seen the idea mentioned in several books. So what did we do wrong?
Any ideas for us? Or other ideas for invisible ink (besides crayon resist)?
I went to the Type-A Parent Conference this weekend to learn about blogging. I came away with lessons on art and creativity.
You say, what?
Amidst sessions on web design, statistics, and social media, there were a couple of magical hours by a new-to-me author, Patti Digh. She talked about writing, creativity, and claiming our own voices. About celebrating the arc of our own lives and about living and writing out of intention rather than circumstance.
Patti said, "The story of your life is what you create everyday." I love that. Love the idea of creating not only in the realm of paints and canvas, crayons and paper, but also in the realm of everyday life.
I learned a lot about blogging, don't get me wrong. This was my first blog conference and I learned an incredible amount, both from the classes and from the other bloggers. I've been writing The Artful Parent for almost four years now, but I guess I've been blogging with my head in the sand. SEO? Brand campaigns? Videoblogging? I came away inspired and motivated to make some changes with my blog (don't worry -- nothing drastic).
But mostly? I came away wishing I could get Patti Digh to move into our non-existent spare bedroom. To share her wisdom and approach to life and creativity with me every day. And since I didn't think she'd go for that, I bought her book, Creative is a Verb. She has other books, and I'm sure I'll read them, too, but I thought I'd start with the one that makes my heart sing.
I'm off to read; I'll keep you posted.
Here's my little flower fairy in the backyard, wearing the wings that Maia and I made for her. Aren't they beautiful? We used contact paper and flower petals to revamp an old set of torn fairy wings.
Here's the tutorial that I promised yesterday:
1. Find a set of fairy or butterfly wings that are falling apart. Chances are you have a set or two if you have a little girl in the house. And chances are they're torn, as the nylon stocking material rips so easily. (If they're not torn yet, save this tutorial for when they do!)
2. Cut off the fabric, leaving the wire frame and arm bands.
3. Cut a piece of contact paper to fit each wing segment, leaving half an inch or so to fold over the wire frame. (I found it easiest to just cut a big square, pull off the paper backing, lay the wire frame on top, then cut around it.)
4. Continue until each segment of the wings are covered with the contact paper.
5. Collect flowers from your yard, park, or store-bought bouquet. Leaves would work well, too.
6. Arrange flower blossoms on the sticky contact paper.
7. Continue until the wings are covered with flower petals and you are satisfied with how they look.
8. Cut a piece of contact paper to cover a wing segment. Lay over flowers, sticky side down, and use hands to smooth and press the contact paper to the wing. Trim flush with the edge.
9. Continue with the rest of the wing segments.
10. Let your little flower fairy try the wings on! (Note: Daphne wore these for all of 10 minutes then Maia wore them for the rest of the morning.)
Do you have a pair of old or torn wings you could use for this project?
Maia and I made a pair of flower fairy wings yesterday, using our favorite combo of flower petals + contact paper. We did this to give new life to a pair of wings that was falling apart. I'll try to post a tutorial -- it was easy and I bet some of you have wings that are in less-than-perfect condition (especially since most are made what is essentially nylon stocking material!).
By the way, I am going to my first blogging conference tomorrow! The Type-A Parent Conference is based in Asheville, so I can't not go, right? I'm super excited about everything there is to learn and about meeting other parent bloggers. I'm also a bit nervous as I have deepseated wallflower tendencies. Are any of you going? It would be so nice to say hi. In real life.
Summer is truly upon us. The summer squash is starting to produce and my gladiolus look like they're going to do something spectacular sometime soon (this is the first time I've planted them in my garden and I'm excited!). Maia is out of school and I've been thinking of all the time we have ahead of us this summer and all the things we can do! This is possibly just me being in a bit of a dream world, but anyway, here are 28 fun, artful activities that I'd like to do this summer with my kids (and that you may, too). Some are new to us, and some are activities we've done in the past and loved. Some of these were requested by Maia, some were added to the list by me. Enjoy!
1. Make popsicles - lots of different kinds. We usually make simple fruit juice popsicles all summer long but Maia wants to experiment with more different kinds. Here's a list of 50 popsicle recipes on TipNut. And we've made these awesome fudge popsicles recently from smitten kitchen. So good!
2. Help Maia master a recipe that she can cook by herself
3. Have a lemonade stand (Maia's request!)
4. Try some muffin tin meals
7. Make rock candy
8. Play with rainbows and prisms (any ideas for this one?)
9. Try some of the experiments in our science book
10. Make more garden wish flags (we actually made a new batch this spring but used the wrong kind of paint -- oops)
11. Set up a mud pie kitchen (make sure to follow the links at the bottom of her post for lots more mud pie kitchen goodness)
13. Make sunprints (I loved making these as a kid!)
14. Sew another set of bean bags to play with, perhaps like these
16. Do more Simon Says Drawing (one of Maia's most requested activities -- up there with shaving cream art)
18. Try paint popsicles (I can't believe we haven't tried this yet!)
19. Make our own bathtub puffy paint
20. Perhaps make another flower art box
22. Make some art dice
23. Hike at Linville Falls
25. Explore at the arboretum (and perhaps do a nature scavenger hunt)
26. Go swimming at Skinny Dip Falls
27. Bike the Virginia Creeper Trail
28. Ride a horse - We take Maia to a local farm where she can take a short horse ride for $5
What's on your summer list?
Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa, amazing Africa.
What a sweet, sweet series of books this is by Atinuke, a Nigerian author. These are easily my favorite of the chapter books that Maia and I have read together so far (and I suspect her favorite as well). During the time that we've been reading these, she's frequently said that she wished she were Anna Hibiscus and was always, always impatient to read more.
The stories feature a young girl who lives in Africa with her African father, Canadian mother, her twin baby brothers, Double and Trouble, her grandmother and grandfather, her aunts and uncles, and all of her many cousins. The stories are interesting, well told, and usually feature a gentle lesson, about things like family, class, tradition, slowing down, and courage.
The wonderful, personable illustrations are by Lauren Tobia. The stories could stand on their own, but boy, the illustrations sure add a lot (and especially for a five year old).
Finishing the last Anna Hibiscus story was bittersweet. We both wish there were more books in the series. I see that Atinuke's written another book called The No 1 Car Spotter that we will seek out. And we will definitely keep an eye out for anything else that she writes.
By the way, I noticed that these books are out of stock on Amazon (although used copies are available). I bought mine as a set of four at a friend's Usborne book party (They are published by Kane-Miller which is now owned by Usborne). You can buy the set here from my Usborne seller if you like.
You know I'm a visual person, right? Images hold a tremendous amount of power for me. I like words, too, but they flow in and out of my head without catching hold quite the way that images do.
I've told you that I plan my life with 3x5 index cards, and that's true, but I also plan my life through collage. I assemble images and words that speak to me (mostly cut from old magazines) into a visual reminder of what I'm about and what I want to focus on. I usually do this around the New Year and possibly again at some point if I'm feeling the need to readdress my values and goals (or just want to play around with pictures, scissors, and glue).