Posts Tagged ‘parties’

Spies Like Us: Secret Codes pt 3

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

It’s time for another installment in our spy series: Invisible Ink!

As you know from parts one and two, a good spy needs multiple ways to deliver secret messages. You need something up your sleeve should a code get broken.

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.



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Spies Like Us: Spy Games pt 1

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.



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Posted in Games & Creative Play, Parties & Celebrations | 4 Comments »

pH Painting

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! 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.



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Posted in Arts & Crafts, Science Fun | 1 Comment »

Spies Like Us: Secret Codes pt 1

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.


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Posted in Games & Creative Play | 8 Comments »

Marshmallow Building

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Today, we’re wrapping up our Science for Kids activities. Although, I guess, technically, this is probably more of a math or engineering activity. In any event, I’ve saved the easiest, and tastiest, one for last.

Kids, remember on Monday when I said, “Don’t eat what you make.” Well, you can ignore that for this project. Yum!

Parents, your turn: You don’t have to do much of anything for this one except provide a bag or two of mini marshmallows and toothpicks. Feel free to provide a helpful hint or two about how triangles can be used to reinforce objects (think bridges) and encourage them to try something different if the first structure doesn’t work out (power of perseverance) but generally, just let them take it and run with it. The kids will be highly entertained. In fact, these kids below built for an hour or more. True story.

Oh! Almost forgot! Note learned from experience: if you’re combining the science experiments in this series for a birthday party or playdate, this activity is a great one to do while the kids let their Preposterous Polymer rest. You can even break the kids into groups and have them work together on this one.

Okay, enough from me. Let’s get on with the good stuff! We give you: Marshmallow Building



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Posted in Arts & Crafts, Science Fun | 6 Comments »

Make Your Own Preposterous Polymer

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Okay, here it is, our second science experiment! This time we’re making a polymer that is similar to a popular toy, but, I can’t say what as I don’t want to get into any legal-y type things. However, I think it’s ‘safe’ to say it rhymes with Pilly Sutty. Now, I’ll say it up front: that other stuff does some things this one can’t, like copy pictures from comic books (trust us, we got out the comic books and tried).

But this stuff? Well this stuff is still pretty darn wicked cool. At least that’s what these kids said. Or, maybe I said it and these kids agreed. Either way, it’s a fantastic experiment. Plus everyone oohed and aahed when the liquid developed solid-like properties. And an afternoon spent oohing and aahing is an afternoon well spent in my book.

So here we go: introducing Preposterous Polymer (not to be confused with the other stuff)



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Posted in Science Fun | 2 Comments »

Make Your Own Lava Lamp

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Today we’re bringing you the first of three experiments we think you’ll love. They’re inexpensive, easy and super fun. Plus, the kids may even learn a thing or two along the way—like adding fractions, taking measurements, and hey! some science.

Parents, there are two things I want you to think about going into this: 1. how awesome would these projects be for a science-themed birthday party? (you know how I love parties) and 2. When school is canceled yet again for inclement weather, try a couple of these to keep the kids entertained. Most of the items you’ll already have around the house. And yes, fair warning, they may be slightly messy. But honestly, how important is a slight mess compared to sanity? It’s a trade off my friends, always a trade off.

Kids, there are some things you should keep in mind too: 1. don’t eat what you make 2. try to keep things neat and clean up after yourselves, okay? and 3. may we suggest you pretend to have your very own science show while you’re doing these experiments. That’s what these kids did. Go ahead, give it a try!



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New Year’s Eve Drinks

Thursday, December 30th, 2010


The Ids have been working on developing some non-alcoholic and high fructose corn syrup free drinks for New Years. They’ve had fun putting these together for the kids. Our tasting panel gave the drinks enthusiastic yums all around.



Posted in Cooking, Parties & Celebrations | 1 Comment »