Posts Tagged ‘afterschool fun’
Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
It’s time for another installment in our spy series: Invisible Ink!
Today’s method of secret message delivery uses science. Our friend Mithi taught us that certain fruits and veggies contain anthocyanins and that anthocyanins change color when they mix with an acid or base.
For this spy activity, we’re going to use what Mithi taught us and create a chemical reaction between an acid (grape juice/activating agent) and a base (baking soda solution). When acids and bases touch, they create a chemical reaction. This chemical reaction will reveal our hidden message.
Experiment time: See if you can use other acids and bases—ooh! try lemon juice and milk—that will create the same effect.
Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011
The activity I’m sharing today originally appeared in a column I write for a news site. I wanted to share it here because it was a big hit—especially with kids who love to build. Plus it’s a great rainy day or weekend activity. And I kind of adore it. No, wait. I’ll own it. I do adore it.
So what do I adore about this make your own play mat idea? First of all, it’s simple. Second, it incorporates planning, cooperation (if you have more than one child drawing on the same drop cloth), fine motor exercise and creativity. But my very most favorite thing about it? It’s got tons o’ options. I do love options, don’t you? For starters, you can either give kids free reign with designing their play mat or set them up with a challenge.
And even the challenges have options. What are the challenges? Well, I’m glad you asked. You can challenge the kids by asking one of these questions:
-Create the ultimate town. What stores would it have in it? What favorite features would you include?
-Create a town of the future. How will people get around? What will the town center look like?
-Draw your town or neighborhood. Where is the library? How about the post office? Make sure you include your favorite places to visit.
-Or make up your own challenge.
Here’s one more thought: For older kids, I’d suggest incorporating a planning step prior to drawing on the mat. Have them sketch out the town out on a small piece of paper, then draw to scale. It’s just like the real planners do.
Monday, February 28th, 2011
It’s music, math, and arts & crafts all rolled into one project. And this make your own straw pan flute activity is a great exercise in creativity too. I’m reminded of those creativity tests where they ask you how many uses can you come up for a common household object (paperclip, newspaper, etc)? In this case, boring old drinking straws are given a new lease on life as they transform into musical instruments.
What I like about this activity: it’s easy, kids can be almost exclusively independent with it, there’s room for experimentation (length of straws, developing patterns, etc) and it’s fun.
Bonus! Pair these flutes with Masquerade Masks and the kids can have one fantastic I-made-it-myself parade.
Thursday, February 24th, 2011
This year, Mardi Gras falls on March 8. To celebrate this New Orleans tradition (in a kid friendly way), try this do-it-yourself masquerade mask project.
These kids came up with this craft on their own and wanted to share it with you. They chose the materials, colors and were pretty independent when it came time to making them. I did help one of them a little when it came time to glue the feathers on. My suggestion: to make it an even more independent activity, stick to using only marabou feathers. They’re so much easier to attach.
Before I go, these kids had a couple of ideas for playing with the masks once they’re made. Here’s what they suggested:
Use them in a play
Use them in a made up game
Use them in a parade
Use them just for fun
Wear them to a party
It could even be a gift for a friend
Have fun with this one!
Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011
A good spy needs to be quick and agile in the field. Test out your spy skills as you maneuver across a room through a web of laser beams. Touch a beam and you’ll have to start over.
Parents, we had as much fun with this as the kids did. This would make a fun weekend or after school activity, or spy themed party game.
Oh and here’s the learning that’s happening while they’re playing (if you wonder about that sort of thing): This activity is a body-kinesthetic awareness exercise as well as a problem solving/planning one. Let’s also add role-playing and team building to that list. So for a game that’s plain ol’ fun, it’s deceptively educational. Sneaky, huh? Just like a spy.
Tuesday, February 8th, 2011
Last week we brought you a way to write secret messages using a mirror.
But any good spy knows he or she needs more than one way to deliver secret messages in the event a code is cracked. So today, we’re bringing you another lesson in cryptology. Introducing cylinder writing or better yet, and more super-secret-agent-spy-like sounding, make your own scytale. Oooh! Aaah!
Monday, February 7th, 2011
In the Science Issue of Classic Play!, brilliant scientist turned madly-talented illustrator Mithila Shafiq offered up a science experiment that doubles as an art project.
Since it looked like a heap o’ fun, we decided to try it out for ourselves. I boiled up some red cabbage, soaked pieces of watercolor paper and then we went around the house to find products to test. There is a great list of commonly found acids and bases in Mithi’s article.
Notes: We cut up a plastic egg carton to hold our solutions. It was the perfect container.
This was a great experiment that kept the kids entertained for a good part of an afternoon: sourcing materials, painting, hypothesizing, discussing. This makes a terrific weekend project OR science party activity.
And here’s another idea too: homemade gift! No, seriously. Hear me out. Make a batch of pH paper, add some little jars, paintbrushes and instructions for this activity and put it in a cute little box. Instant science kit.
Oh! Oh! Oh! One more idea: if you’re having a science party, you could send kids home with pieces of the cabbage pH paper in their goody bag too. It’d be very cute, inexpensive (especially if you have a crowd) and original.
Tuesday, February 1st, 2011
A couple months ago the kids and I surprised my husband with a birthday present: a trip to the Spy Museum in Washington, DC. There was an activity where you could crawl through duct work (we did that one SEVERAL times), a car from James Bond, a movie theater showing propaganda films (the kids loved the Walt Disney cartoons) and so much more.
Naturally, that trip inspired a great deal of spy talk for the next several weeks. This, of course, got me thinking about playing spies. The idea of clandestine meetings, being sneaky and creating a whole world is quite appealing to kids. There’s role playing, negotiating skills, planning, writing, science, problem solving—I mean it’s got the whole kit-and-kaboodle when it comes to creativity and learning through play.
So with that in mind, we came up with some kid-friendly spy related activities we think the kids will like.
First up are secret codes. The one we did today is backwards writing. This is fun for kids who have a solid foundation in letter formation and handwriting skills (so I’d say generally, about second grade on). But you could easily adapt this for younger kids by either cutting out the letters for kids or just helping them read the notes you write in the mirror.
I imagine writing a dinner menu backwards, sticking it in a tube (like an old paper towel roll) and leaving it out for the kids to find and read in the mirror. Maybe they’d eat what I make that way. Or you know, perhaps a note like, Go clean your room! Guess it’ll depend on my mood.
Oh! Oh! The kids could deliver an invitation to a spy themed party this way. How cool would that be?! Just be sure to include directions for reading.