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July | 2015 | Atomic Bee Ranch

Monthly Archives: July 2015

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Summer of Mess: Silky Play Dough

IMG_6261I came across this blog post some how, possibly through Pinterest, and the dough just looked so inviting. I had planned another ice activity, but bumped that in favor of this dough. It was really simple to whip up and Cam was able to help me mix and knead it. She also had a blast playing with it. She got out all the little metal gelatin molds I have for her play dough and she baked a huge cupcake. She even wanted to mix up more. 

The ratio of cornstarch to water is 2.5:1. We did a half recipe (so, 1 1/4 cups cornstarch and 1/2 cup conditioner) and it made a good-sized lump of dough. 

IMG_6263If you try this…

…know that it will smell quite strongly of your conditioner. So if you or your child is sensitive to scents choose a lightly- or unscented conditioner.

…I think I made this several years ago with hand lotion and corn starch. You could certainly give that a try too. 

…the dough, being made from cornstarch and a semi-liquid, has properties a lot like oobleck. It was really strange to see this stuff that looks like a dough but acts like oobleck which tends to a lot more liquid. When you squish and knead it, it firms up and even gets a bit crumbly. But if you hold a glob in your hand, you can feel it getting oozy and if left sitting on the table it kind of oozes out. It’s not nearly as runny as oobleck, but it gets soft. 

…you could probably color this either with powdered coloring or a few drops of liquid water color or food coloring, but it’s totally not necessary. 

Summer of Mess: Paste Paper

IMG_6259This was a lot of fun, but didn’t go exactly as the Tinkerlab book seemed to think it would. The basic premise is you make a gelatinous paste with cornstarch and water then color it with food coloring or liquid watercolor. Then your child “paints” with it on paper.

Cam glopped it on and I set out a number of scrapers (no brushes, although you could put those out too). She also likened the texture to snot and poop, but it didn’t stop her from digging in. The actual art portion of the activity lasted about five minutes and then devolved into her rubbing it ALL OVER her legs. It got in her hair, on her diaper, and on her shirt. However, it was so easy to wash off. So easy. I popped her in the shower and hosed her down with the shower wand. Easy peasy. I had used liquid water color so the color mostly washed out of the clothes and didn’t stain her skin.

I was actually really impressed. Cam is a lot like me and doesn’t like to get messy, dirty, or have weird textures on her hands. So the fact that she rubbed it everywhere (and I do mean everywhere) was a big change for her. I think maybe the texture was smooth and wet enough that it didn’t bother her. 

IMG_6260If you try this…

…do it outside or on a large splat mat. Things will get messy, as they should.

…this actually makes an EXCELLENT color mixing/color theory lesson. The paste mixes together really well and makes other colors. 

…bear in mind that this is process art. It’s unlikely that you will get anything you want to frame out of this, unless your child is good with texture. 

…food coloring will stain their skin, and this could end up all over. Use liquid water color if you’re worried about it or put on old clothes that can get stained.

Summer of Mess: Ice Excavation

This was the perfect activity for a hot day. It took some prep effort, but was worth it. The basic idea is you freeze a bunch of stuff in water then pop out the giant ice cube and let your kid pick at it to get the stuff out.

I used a deep plastic cup and layered items, and this is where the effort comes in. A few days in advance you have to start with your first layer and let it freeze fairly solid. Then you can add more things and more water. I kept forgetting to check on it so it took me four days to add four layers. I suspect if you really keep your eye on it you could manage to get a number of layers within 24 hours, but set a timer. 

We did the activity on a nice hot 100 degree day. I filled the water table and put the cup in. In a few minutes the ice cube floated out and Cam was able to see all the treasures hidden in it. The ice melted pretty quickly because it was so warm, but Cam had a great time trying to pry stuff out, pushing the cube around and finally eating it like a popsicle. 

If you try this…

…be sure to do it in layers. That made it A LOT more interesting. You could theme the ice cube/layers (pirate treasure, color, etc.) or even go rainbow or make it a mini world with plastic animals and plants and things. 

…it would make a great experiment to time how long it takes the ice to melt. I was even thinking of doing it again when it’s cooler, maybe this fall before the water table gets put away, and see if the ice lasts longer.

…be sure to try a mix of objects. You could do cars, animals, loose pieces, even sponges. 

Summer of Mess: Quiet Boxes Week 6

I am back from my two weeks of teaching summer school! It was tough for our family to have me out five days a week, but we made it and are happy to be getting back into the swing of things. And because we are getting back into the swing of things I went minimal (read: lazy) on the quiet boxes this week. I did not change them out the last two weeks because Cam just wasn’t home so even though I’ve left out some of the same activities they still feel fresh to her.

This week we have:

Poch-Poch. Cam has a difficult time with this one, so it isn’t a bad thing that she keeps playing with it and practicing those fine motor skills and hand strength.

Pattern blocks. I think I need to include a sheet of felt or something with these so she can lay them on a flat blank surface (as opposed to our striped carpet). These are a lot of fun to draw attention to and play with patterns. Pair them with some pattern books for an added literacy piece.

Geo board. This is always a hit when she gets it out. Cam loves to make shapes and tell us what they’re called. 

Summer of Mess: Oobleck

IMG_6257One of the most basic science/sensorial projects. Mix water and corn starch and it makes this funky liquid/solid. It will drip and run, but it also becomes firm if pressed, patted or squished into your hands. 

This project went a lot better than the marker explosions and entertained Cam for 30 minutes. Plus she asked to do it again! I put down a splat mat on the kitchen floor then dumped a box of cornstarch into a tub. I had Cam pour the water in and mix, first with a spoon then with her hands. We got out some dinosaur figures and our plastic play dough toys. I also threw in a colander. There ended up being a bit too much water so it was a little too runny, but it sat out on a warm day and by evening the consistency was a lot better. Ultimately it didn’t matter, Cam loved it.

IMG_6258If you try this…

…know that if it falls on the floor it will dry fairly quickly and can be easily swept up.

…add some food coloring. I didn’t have time or the inclination to do that, but it would make it even cooler. 

…add the water slowly. I didn’t know the ratio so we just poured and mixed. This lead to oobleck that was a wee bit too runny. 


Summer of Mess: Marker Explosions

Our lackluster first attempt

Our lackluster first attempt

This one came from the Tinkerlab book and I wish I had been a little more strategic about telling Cam about it. She wanted to get started right away but I was busy putting groceries away. She got out markers and coffee filters and, eventually, I got out pipettes and water. It was a disaster. Her picture essentially washed away and she cried. I was also not totally ready to sit down with her and she didn’t engage fully. It was just a mess. 

The basic premise here is that you color on a paper towel or a coffee filter then drip water onto the design and watch it soak outward. It’s a pretty cool effect. A bit like fireworks which I thought was appropriate for the approaching Fourth of July holiday. One we didn’t really achieve. I plan on trying again later today.

The new set up

The new set up

If you try this…

…set up first. I suppose this goes without saying, but I didn’t do it and I regret it. 

…in the book she suggests using something like canvas (like a tote bag), I think this might prevent the marker from totally washing away if you get too much water on it. You can use coffee filters and paper towels, but we had the problem of too much water sweeping the marker away.

…try a lot of different markers out. Sharpies work. We did the regular felt tip markers and they weren’t very impressive. You can also use highlighters- we’ve done that before and it worked really well. 

…we discovered that lighter markers (like the yellow) really don’t show up well once dripped with water. Darker colors looked a lot better. 

…coffee filters, if the design stays put, get flattened out and make great window hangings once they are dry. 

Summer of Mess: Quiet Boxes Week 5

Again I only changed out two boxes this week and since one of the new activities went on a tray I kept three from last week. 

This week we have:

Quiet Boxes Week 5

Box 1: Collage books. Kept this one from last week. Cam made a little book and was super excited about it. 

Box 2: Cards and cups. To build structures with. Also from last week

Box 3: Geo board. Rubber bands and a geo board. I wish we had a light table because our board is clear plastic. 

Box 4: Buttons and pipe cleaners. For practice threading and to make necklaces and bracelets. Always a popular activity. 

Tray 1: Poch-Poch. I found this set in a thrift shop. You make pictures with shapes then nail the tiniest nails you’ve ever seen into the cork board to hold them in place. Excellent fine motor practice. The set is available on Amazon under the name Geo Shape Tack. 

 A heads up, I am teaching two summer school classes (Makerspace and sewing) over the next two weeks so I probably won’t be posting much. Cam won’t be home much and I may not have lots of extra time.