Saturday, January 31, 2015

Flying Cupids | Static Electricity for Valentine's Day

Static electricity is awesome. I'm just going to say it. Playing and experimenting with static electricity provides children with some of their earliest hands-on physics lessons.

You can see static electricity in action when a child goes down a plastic slide at the park only to arrive at the bottom with crazy hair that is sticking straight up and all over. You can feel static electricity when you rub your feet on carpet and then touch a metal doorknob. Today we are going to harness the power of static electricity in a fun activity for Valentine's Day. Get your balloons and your crazy hair ready!
Total Time: About 5 minutes
Safety Concerns: None.

Materials You Need:
Tissue paper
Markers
Scissors
An inflated balloon
Wool, flannel, or fleece fabric (A head of hair also works perfectly!)

Flying Cupids | Static Electricity for Valentine's Day | Hands-On Science for Kids
Directions:
  • Draw a cupid on a piece of tissue paper. You can either do this freehand or trace a cupid onto the tissue paper like I did! (I'm no artist.)
  • Cut out the tissue paper cupid and put it on a flat surface.
  • Rub the balloon on the fabric or hair for about 10 seconds.
  • Hold the balloon a few inches over the tissue paper cupid and see what happens. If the balloon has acquired a good static charge, the cupid should jump right up and stick to the balloon!
  • Have fun making your cupid fly!
Print These Instructions
Flying Cupids | Static Electricity for Valentine's Day | Hands-On Science for Kids
So what is going on with the balloon? Why does rubbing a balloon on your head make your hair go crazy and then attract tissue paper to it?
Flying Cupids | Static Electricity for Valentine's Day | Hands-On Science for Kids
Simply put, when the balloon is rubbed against fabric or hair, electrons are transferred to the balloon, giving it an overall negative charge. This negative charge attracts the tissue paper cupids, making them stick!

*This post contains affiliate links. Please see our disclosure policy.



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Saturday Science

STEM Saturday | Science Math Engineering Technology for Kids
And now on to our STEM Saturday link up! Check out our wonderful co-hosts and link up your own math and science activities:
Scented Hearts Experiment from Suzy Homeschooler

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ice Art | Winter Science

The moment I saw these beautiful creations from The Artful Parent and Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas I knew we were going to have to try this hands-on science activity out for ourselves.

We have a history with salt and ice after all! We have learned in several different ways how salt melts ice. First we did our Fishing for Ice experiment. Then we made ice cream and fruity slushy drink using the super cooling power of a salty icey mixture. It's only natural we should do an artsy science experiment with salt and ice now!

This experiment is quick, easy to clean up, and completely dazzling!
Ice Art | Winter Science | The Science Kiddo
Total Time: 5-30 minutes, depending on how engaged the kids are!
Safety Concerns: None.
Ice Art | Winter Science | The Science Kiddo
Materials You Need:
Ice cubes
Table salt
Liquid Watercolors
Paintbrushes
My kids also used glitter glue and glitter, which added a very festive flare, but it is certainly not required!
Ice Art | Winter Science | The Science Kiddo
Directions:
  • Place the ice cubes in a tub, a casserole dish, or a baking sheet.
  • Have the kids sprinkle salt over the ice. Wait a few minutes and watch how the individual grains of salt melt tunnels into the ice.
  • Paint the ice using your liquid watercolors. Watch how the colors fall into the caves created by the salt. Admire your beautiful creations!
Ice Art | Winter Science | The Science Kiddo
Want more ways to play and learn with ice? Check out these six simple ice science activities!

*This post contains affiliate links. Please see our disclosure policy.



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Saturday Science

STEM Saturday | Science Math Engineering Technology for Kids
And now on to our STEM Saturday link up! Check out our wonderful co-hosts and link up your own math and science activities:


Building Structures with Candy Hearts from Lemon Lime Adventures
Bubbling Pine Cones from Frogs Snails and Puppy Dog Tails
Building Rockets with Shapes from Stir the Wonder
Waves from Suzy Homeschooler
PVC Pipe Heart Engineering Project for Kids from Little Bins for Little Hands


Friday, January 23, 2015

Science With Ice | Unique Hands-On Play

Winter is the perfect time to have some science fun with ice. Over the past few months I have been delighted to see so many great ways to learn with ice in our STEM Saturday Linkup. The thing I love most about these activities is that they are all very easy to set up since they only use basic household materials. Plus, they are uniquely educational, fun, creative, and simple to clean up, too!
Science With Ice | Unique Hands-On Play
Be sure to stop by STEM Saturday tomorrow to see the best science and math posts linked up from all over the web!
Science With Ice | Unique Hands-On Play
Fishing for Ice from the Science Kiddo
Lego Science | An Ice Excavation Experiment from Lemon Lime Adventures 
Ice Cube Sculptures from Teaching Mama
Science With Ice | Unique Hands-On Play
Magnetic Ice Science Play from Little Bins for Little Hands
Reinforcing Science Concepts from Planet Smarty Pants



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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Surface Tension | Drops of Water on a Coin + Free Printable!

I am sure you have seen this experiment done before. Ya know, the one where you see how many drops of water you can fit onto a penny? We added an extra dimension to this classic experiment by comparing how many drops of water will fit onto each coin (penny, nickel, dime, and quarter) and tracking the data on a table to add a more mathematical and scientific element to it. This is also fantastic fine motor skill practice for kids as they learn to use and control a plastic pipette!

Which coin do you think will hold the most drops of water? Make an educated guess before you begin. This is called your hypothesis.
Surface Tension | Drops of Water on a Coin + Free Printable!
Total Time: About 5 minutes
Safety Concerns: None.

Materials You Need:
A cup of water
A variety of coins (we used a penny, a nickel, a dime, and a quarter)
Plastic pipette
Free printable table to keep track of the results! (Remember to change the page orientation to landscape before printing.)

Surface Tension | Drops of Water on a Coin + Free Printable!
Directions:
  • Set the coin on a flat surface.
  • Fill a plastic pipette with water.
  • Carefully squeeze out water drop by drop from the pipette onto the coin. Count how many drops fit on the coin before the dome breaks and the water spills over.
  • Keep track of your results on this free printable table! There is room to do three trials for each coin so you can average the trials together to see which coin holds the most water!
So why does a dome form when you drop water on the coin? And why does the dome eventually collapse?
Surface Tension | Drops of Water on a Coin + Free Printable!
The answer to this lies in the structure of the water molecule itself. Water is a polar molecule, meaning that it has a positive end and a negative end. The negative end of one molecule is attracted to the positive end of another molecule (similar to a magnet), which makes the molecules stick together tightly. The molecules on the surface are pulled inward and they stick together so strongly that they form a dome. This is called surface tension. Eventually, though, gravity overcomes this force and the dome breaks, spilling water over the sides of the coin.
Surface Tension | Drops of Water on a Coin + Free Printable!
So what were your results? Which coin held the most drops of water? Was your hypothesis correct? Why?

*This post contains affiliate links. Please see our disclosure policy.



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This post is part of the A-Z STEM Series. Every day during the month of January we will be bringing you tons of awesome science, technology, engineering, and math activities to do with your kids! By the end of the month you'll have over 50 STEM activities to keep your kids busy learning.
Surface Tension | Drops of Water on a Coin + Free Printable!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Party Cloud Dough | Glittery Fizz

Welcome to the most awesome sensory play this side of the Mississippi. It is soft and moldable, yet dry and crumbly. It is made of just two ingredients. After the kids are done shaping it and using it for imaginative sensory play, you can add vinegar and it becomes a really cool science activity. Prepare yourselves for some pretty outrageous fun. I call it Party Dough because of all the glitter and the "Ooh's" and "Aah's" that are elicited as the kids experiment and play!
Party Cloud Dough | Glittery Fizz | Science Play for Kids
We used the same basic recipe for Erupting Snow as found on Growing a Jeweled Rose. Since we wanted Party Dough we added food coloring (blue) and TONS of glitter of all colors. I also added a little bit of water to make it less crumbly and more moldable. It worked beautifully and the kids had a blast playing in it.
Party Cloud Dough | Glittery Fizz | Science Play for Kids
The kids had fun playing in it with all kinds of toys and tools. They scooped it into little cups, molded it into cookie cutters, made an igloo, stirred it, and ran their fingers through it just to see how it felt. (Note: Fizzy Cloud Dough is not edible.)
Party Cloud Dough | Glittery Fizz | Science Play for Kids
Once they were done with sensory play, we got out the vinegar and let the real magic begin. The kids used plastic pipettes to squirt the vinegar onto their Party Dough, squealing with delight as it fizzed and erupted into foamy bubbles. This was definitely the highlight of their play!
Party Cloud Dough | Glittery Fizz | Science Play for Kids
We even caught some of the glittery fizz on video!
Want more sensory play ideas? Check out our Play Gel, made from a surprising (and disturbing) source.

Craving more fizzy fun? Try building a film canister rocket (eye protection encouraged) or get directions to make your own fire extinguisher!

*This post contains affiliate links. Please see our disclosure policy. 



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Saturday Science

STEM Saturday | Science Math Engineering Technology for Kids
And now on to our STEM Saturday link up! Check out our wonderful co-hosts and link up your own math and science activities:
Moon Math Game from Stir the Wonder
Valentine's Day Polygon Building from Lemon Lime Adventures

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Big Leap | City Living

It's amazing how one tiny decision can change your life.

Last week I talked about how we gave up our car, almost on a whim, and bought bikes and transit passes instead. After a year of carfree living in the suburbs we decided to take our experiment to a whole new level and move right into the city. As a lifelong suburbanite, this is one of the scariest things I have ever done!
City Living With Kids | Carfree With Kids
I mean, isn't the city dangerous? Isn't there a lot of crime? What about kids living in the city? Aren't kids supposed to have their own backyard, their own sandbox, their own fenced-in playground and treehouse? And don't even get me started on downsizing to fit into something we could afford in the city. How is a family of four supposed to squeeze into 750 sq ft and be happy?

Why we decided to move to the city was pretty simple. Ben commuted nearly an hour each way to work via bike and/or public transit. He left in the morning before the kids were awake and arrived back home in the evening just in time for dinner, then bedtime. It was no way to live. He saw the kids so little.

Initially we only had one criterion for our new dwelling. We wanted to be within a 20-minute bike commute to Ben's work. That was it. We just wanted him home more.

We could have bought a car, sure. We were 100% debt free and saving money every month. However, we had fallen in love with our carfree lifestyle. We loved biking, walking, and bussing. We loved the stress-free, simple, healthy, happy lifestyle carfree living afforded us. We knew that living in the city would simplify our life even more since it would be even easier to get around without a car.

Simplify your life?! It was amazing the reactions we got from people when we broke the news that we were giving up a decent-sized house and backyard to live in the city. It seemed to a lot of people that we were going against the American dream. We wanted no car, a smaller living space, less stuff, and more time as a family. Call us crazy. Many have.

So we did it. Our goal as a family is to live an interesting, meaningful, intentional life. Moving into the city fit that goal. We got rid of 50% of our stuff, packed up what was left, and squished it all into an apartment in the heart of Portland. We knew it was going to be different and maybe a little scary, but we also knew that if we hated it we could change our plans again.

Well, we haven't hated it at all. We LOVE it. We love the city. We love Portland. We have met some of the most amazing and interesting people in our community. City living has afforded us business and social opportunities that we never would have experienced in the suburbs. We are happier and healthier as a family than we have ever been before. We are thriving in the city. We are thriving with less stuff. We are thriving without a car.

One of the experiences we love the most is the opportunity we have to participate in the Sharing Economy. We donate our stuff and our time to non-profits like Free Geek, the Tool Share, the Kitchen Share, and Swap 'n' Play. I'll write about these meaningful organizations that bring the community together and allow us to share our resources and our knowledge with each other next time :) Stay tuned!



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Saturday, January 10, 2015

QR Codes for Kids | An Introduction to Technology

We have discovered a new favorite game that I want to share with you today. It's called "Spot the QR Code," and you'll be amazed at what you can find. It's one of those sneaky games that makes kids learn stuff while they are having fun.
QR Codes for Kids | An Introduction to Technology | The Science Kiddo
My kids were initially introduced to QR Codes through Usborne's Children's Encyclopedia.
QR Codes for Kids | An Introduction to Technology | The Science Kiddo
Each page touches on a different topic and has an associated QR Code that, when scanned, sends the reader somewhere (safe) on the internet. Often it's an educational video or picture or quiz that expands the child's knowledge about the subject they are reading about in the book. My kids loving scanning the codes so much that sometimes they just flip through the book, scanning each code and looking at whatever educational material pops up. IT'S AWESOME!

Now my kids notice QR Codes everywhere. A bus stop, a store front, a box of cereal, the wall of a public restroom. They are all over my house, too. In the refrigerator, on the side of the washing machine, inside the toilet tank. (Don't ask, just please, don't ask.) And ya know, I happily stop and let the kids scan those funny little square boxes because they get a thrill out of seeing where the scan takes us. It's fun for me, too! Plus I feel like my kids are learning, not just about technology, but about business, marketing, and web campaigns.

What is a QR Code?


Hey, I'm really glad you asked! QR Code is an abbreviation for Quick Response Code. It is a special kind of barcode that anybody can scan with a smartphone app that usually directs the user to a website. (You can download any number of free apps for iPhone and Android. This is the one I have for my Android.) QR Codes have gained a lot of popularity in commercial marketing because they are so easy! Rather than typing in an entire web address, the user merely scans the code and they are there! So easy.

Here are a few examples of unique QR Codes we have run into recently:
QR Codes for Kids | An Introduction to Technology | The Science Kiddo
On the trash can at Chick-fil-A.
QR Codes for Kids | An Introduction to Technology | The Science Kiddo
Don't want to wait in line to buy tickets? Scan the QR Code, buy tickets on your mobile device, and walk right in!
QR Codes for Kids | An Introduction to Technology | The Science Kiddo
QR Code on a car! Difficult to scan if it's moving, but pretty brilliant parked on the side of the road.
QR Codes for Kids | An Introduction to Technology | The Science Kiddo
On the wall of the bathroom at the Denver Airport. It was clean and I told them so, BTW!
In my experience, most QR Codes direct you to a company website. Sometimes they enable you to send a text message directly to a company. Sometimes they instantly pull up a video or send you to an online campaign. Sometimes it just pulls up a phone number or a plain text message. The possibilities are endless! My kids are always excited to scan the code to see what pops up.

You can even generate your own QR Codes! I'll tell you how to do that and why you might want to make your own codes in another post coming up, so stay tuned!

What are you waiting for? Get scannin'!
 



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Saturday Science

STEM Saturday | Science Math Engineering Technology for Kids
And now on to our STEM Saturday link up! Check out our wonderful co-hosts and link up your own math and science activities:
Hands-On Solar System for Preschoolers from Stir the Wonder
Does Snow Sink or Float? from Lemon Lime Adventures
Ichnology from Suzy Homeschooler
Magnetic Ice Science Sensory from Little Bins for Little Hands

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Day I Gave Up on Homeschooling

Homeschool Help for the Most Discouraging Days
Have you ever had one of those days? Ya know, the kind of day where you wonder why in the world you ever thought it was a good idea to homeschool? Or why you thought it was a good idea to have kids in the first place? The kind of day where your kid(s) just will not do their school work and it turns into a major power struggle and before you know it you have taken away all screen time, all Legos, and all fun and happiness ever?

Yeah, I had one of those days last week.

For whatever reason, Tommy woke up on Wednesday determined to do everything except what I wanted him to do. He refused to do his school work. He said all sorts of nasty things. I tried to be kind and understanding, but secretly I wished I could just send him off somewhere - anywhere - for the day.

There was a lot of crying, mostly from my end. We ended up going to the gym (aka My Sanity) and I cried to my husband on the phone for a good 30 minutes while the kids happily played in the child care. I felt like a bad mom. I felt like a horrible teacher. And I seriously wondered if my kids (and me) would be happier if they went to school.

Now, I recognize that homeschooling is not the right choice for everyone, but for those of us who do homeschool, how do you get through days like this? How do you not go running to the nearest public school in a frazzled mess and enroll all your children on the spot?

This is how I got through this week to get our homeschool back on track:

  • I recognized that all families experience difficult days, whether they homeschool or not. If my child doesn't want to do his homeschool work, what makes me think he will happily do his homework after a long day away at school? And what makes me think that sending my child to school will make him more amiable and more obedient at home?
  • I called my husband for support. Everyone needs a cheerleader, right? Sometimes it's my husband, sometimes it's my mom, sometimes it's a friend.
  • I asked some questions. Does he need a little brain break? Is he feeling a lot of pressure? Is there something else that is stressful in his life that is making him act out and resist? It turns out that he was super worried about an impending dentist appointment (which he rocked, BTW) and was taking it out on my efforts to give him an amazing education.
  • I switched things up a little bit. Does he need more/less structure? Does he need a different curriculum? Does he need to do school at a different time of day or in a different place? I'm still pondering these questions.
  • I wasn't afraid to take a break! This time we got out of the house and went to the gym, a place the kids love to play and I love to work out my frustrations. On other days we have taken the day off or gone on a field trip. Some days it's as simple as turning on some music and having a dance party in the front room
  • I came up with an incentive. This isn't a bribe. Tommy doesn't do bribes. There is a huge difference between, "If you are good, you get X," and, "We can get through these hard days because next week we get to go to this really cool place you love!" This gives us something to look forward to when school gets rough.
  • I remembered that I know my child better than anybody else. I also love him more than anybody else does. I have confidence that I can meet his needs more effectively than anyone else can.
Have you had days like this? What would you add to the list?



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