Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Did you know that it is International Mud Day?
I hope you are out playing in the mud!!!!

We are on vacation. So, I have scheduled this post for you.

As far as I am concerned, MUD DAY needs to be every day!

Here are a few of our previous posts that have to do with mud:

We play in the mud pretty much any chance we get!

How are you celebrating today?

Being that our childcare is closed and we are on vacation, I am hoping to celebrate MUD DAY either on the shore of Lake Ontario or Lake Erie (depending on where we are on our road trip!).

Thank you to Jaime over at Hands On As We Grow for setting up this wonderful blog hop! 
If you have been playing in the mud, join in:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

We are on vacation!

We are on vacation! I have scheduled a couple of posts, but don't plan on seeing much from us until we are back to work on July 11th :).

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Salt on the Light Table

(Well, at least our versions of them!)  There are oodles of different things you can do with a light table, but one of our favorites is to draw on it! 
Sometimes we use sand and sometimes we use salt. Today, we covered our table with a layer of salt and then added a package of dry Kool-Aid to give the salt a slight tint and a wonderful smell!
The children spent quite a bit of time throughout the day, drawing and writing.  Sometimes they would use their fingers or hands, and sometimes they used other tools like plastic butter knives or wooden dowels.

I love how the light adds optical aesthetics to this tactile activity. 

Even some of our younger friends found this activity to be intriguing. 

Have you tried sand or salt on your light table? 

We Have Frogs!

We have frogs! Our froglets have absorbed their tales! (We only have one that is still aquatic!) So, we invested in some moss.....
And the tank is now more "land" based. We also started feeding our little froggies crickets today. It sure if fun to watch them hunt!

We've been getting quite a bit of rain - so we have been spending a lot of time building forts.  I have a couple of posts scheduled and ready, but we are going on vacation in a few days an I won't be back to work until July 11th.  If all goes well with scheduled posts, you will still have a bit to read while we are on the road. Just know that I won't be responding to comments or doing much reading for awhile :).

Monday, June 20, 2011

Spin Art Chromatography

I first learned of this nifty color separating trick over at Steve Spangler Science. The scientific name for this color separating is chromatography, and can easily be performed.

 First, on an absorbent material (coffee filter, paper towel, etc...) draw a line or a dot with a water soluble black marker. We used coffee filters. They are absorbent and they fit perfectly into our art spinner!
Then with a pipette or medicine dropper, add a few drops of water to the center of your dots or along your lines. Turn the spinner on and wait......
Can you see how the water pulled the colors out of the black pigment?
Different types of markers made different color patterns.
My little investigative art scientists wanted to know....... What happens if you use other colors? And off they went to investigate:

Our other colors ran or bled, but they did not produce a rainbow of colors like the black did.
While the children used the spinner, we tried another chromatography experiment. We drew a large black circle in the center of the filter. Then we placed a pipe cleaner directly through that circle. The pipe cleaner was placed into a glass of water so that the bottom of the pipe cleaner was submerged and that the filter rested on the top of the glass.
 After some time, the water was drawn up the pipe cleaner and began to disburse the color across the filter.
As more time passed, the color traveled further and further from the center.

Have you tried any chromatography science or art investigations? We'd love to hear about them!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Critter Sightings!

Living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan means that you can see "critters" pretty much anytime you choose. We see chipmunks, squirrels, wild rabbits, and white-tailed deer on a weekly(sometimes daily basis). We also have a more infrequent opportunity to see some other animals in the wild. Yesterday, we saw this wild turkey crossing the road! Of course, the camera was not ready and he was off in the trees by the time we were ready for a photo! We thought he was a bear from a distance as he was strutting across the road with his tail feathers out!

We were also fortunate enough yesterday to see a couple of moose! I know the photos are not the greatest, but if you look closely, you will see that the darker moose is the cow and there is a very light colored calf standing next to her. (In the photo directly above the calf is just to the right of the cow). They were grazing just off the side of the road near the highway outside of West Ishpeming! 

What critters have you seen lately?

Oh, and don't forget.... You have a chance to win a package from Upper Michigan to share with your children in our Pay It Forward Giveaway! Visit this post to learn more.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Our DIY Light Tables

There has been a lot of buzz about light tables over at Teach Preschool on Facebook. Deborah has collected some great ideas for light table play and has been experimenting with making her own table over on the Teach Preschool blog.  I thought I would share with you our two light tables and how we made them.

This first table is one that we put together with some scrap wood pieces, an old plexi-glass door from an entertainment center, and a couple of aquarium lights. Total Cost = $0. (We had everything on hand.)  The table needs a little bit of tweaking. (It is on my to do list).  Basically, we made a frame of wood around the plexi-glass and placed the lights under it. Our DIY skills in putting this together were far from expert, so the frame has a couple of gaps (and the reused wood is warped). We plan to try a new frame and use some caulk to seal any gaps.  We also plan to attach the lights to the side of the frame instead of just placing them on the floor under it. The plexi-glass could use some frosting, either with a coat of frosting spray or with a layer of frosted contact paper. Even though it could still use quite a bit of work, the children love it!
I think they like the gaps when playing with the sand too.... because they find small mountains of sand on the floor when we move the table ;). 

The second table we made is much smaller. It is nice to have 2 different sized tables. The smaller one promotes more individual or pair play, while the larger can accommodate more children. This smaller version was inspired by Jeff A  Johnson and Tasha A Johnson in their book:

You learn more about Jeff and Tasha over at Explorations Early Learning, LLC.  AND if you are local- Mark your calendar for April 13 -14, 2012 as Jeff is going to be one the Keynote Speakers at the UP Early Childhood Conference!
Okay, back to our table. You will need a plastic tote, an under the counter light, white spray paint, silver spray paint, painters tape, newspaper(or paper of some sort to cover the bottom of the tote), a sander or sandpaper, and a coping saw. (We used a dremel sander and a mouse sander, but you could easily use sandpaper). You will also need duct tape or another adhesive material to attach your light with.

Attach your light diagonally to the bottom of the cover of your tote. We used white duct tape to attach ours. Make sure to attach it securely to the lid.
For your tote, you will need to use the paper and painters tape to cover the bottom of the tote on the inside. This will prevent that area from being covered with paint. Then, spray the inside of your tote with a couple of coats of white paint. (I think I applied 2 coats, drying well between each coat). After the white paint has dried, apply a coat of metallic silver paint. When everything has dried, remove the paper and tape.
Then, with a coping saw, cut a notch in the side of the tote where the cord will pass through. (Put the top on the tote to make sure that the cord fits through and you can still securely attach the cover.) You may need to sand this cut. We used a sander on our Dremel to do this.

Place the lid on the tote, and then flip the tote upside down. You will use the bottom of the tote as the top of your table. If your tote is not frosted or if it has writing on the bottom, use a sander to frost it up and remove the writing.  Plug the table in and you are ready to play!   The tote still works great to store all of your light table accessories when the table is not in use. If you have the right kind of tote, there will be a small border all the way around the edge that works great to hold on the sand or salt!

What do you like to use with your light table?

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Quest for the Best Bubbles

With the beautiful weather we have been spending as much time as possible outside, and over the past few days we have been testing our outdoor bubble blowing! What does it take to make the best bubbles?
First, we use a homemade bubble solution. (I've had this recipe for years and to be honest, I never measure...)  I only ever use Dawn dish soap for this recipe. The other soaps just don't seem to cut it, and make sure that you use the original without any of the added extras.

1/2 c light corn syrup
1/2 c dish soap
 2 1/2 c water

Heat your water and corn syrup (either in the microwave or on the stove top). Corn syrup is very thick and takes time to dissolve in room temperature water. Using hot water or heating it will allow for better mixing. Then add your dish soap, mix well and enjoy!

Then, having a wide selection of bubble blowers is ideal. Here are a few of our favorites:
"Foam"erators make fantastic long strings of bubbly snakes. Sometimes they break and land on your toes. For a complete tutorial on how to make your own, click here. (We made some new ones this week and instead of using a rubber band, we used our hot glue guns to attach the fabric to the bottles).

Our kitchen mashers are fantastic for making bubbles too!

Cookie Cutters, Hula Hoops, Giant Bubble Blowers, Straws, Berry Baskets, Hat Driers, Pipe Cleaners, basically anything with a hole in it works!

What is your favorite things to use to blow bubbles? 

My friend died

 I learned a hell of a lot from Dan Hodgins.  He was mentor, a friend, and a "bone shaker" for many of us in the field of Early Ch...