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Saturday, October 3, 2015

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Halloween Science: Screaming Ghost Balloons

We could have made Screaming Balloon Monsters or Screaming Pumpkin Balloons, but a Ghost Balloon seemed like the fastest, easiest way to build this fun science activity.  Actually, we originally did this last year, and we were on a bit of a ghost roll with ghost balloon and Halloween science experiments!

If you're not really into ghosts, you can skip the Halloween tie in, and just make screaming balloons...or grab an orange balloon and make it a pumpkin!

Simple Supplies:

* White balloon...unless your ghost is a different color!  We clearly had some multi-colored ghosts!

* hex nut

* black permanent marker or paper "eyes"

Easy How To:

1.  Wiggle your nut through the opening of the balloon so it is loose inside the balloon.  We noticed that the smaller nuts made a higher pitch sound.

2.  Blow the balloon up to about 6-8 inches.  We've used both 7" and 12" balloons.

3.  Draw or attach your spooky (or friendly!) ghost face on the balloon!

4.  Swirl the hex nut inside the balloon to make it scream!  This may take a few tries, but once your kids get it, they will love it.  Make sure you are holding the top of the balloon and swirling gently.

Click here to watch a short (20 second!) video of our ghost balloon "screaming!"

And be sure to check out these other ghost-y experiments and activities:  Ghost Balloon Experiment, Giant Spooky Ghost, Ghost Pancakes, and {FREE} Ghost Grid Game!

What's Going On?

The screams are made from the sides of the hex nut hitting and vibrating against the inside lining of the balloon.  This Halloween Science: Screaming Ghost Balloons was adapted from Steve Spangler's page about screaming balloons.  Pop on over for even more details of the science behind his Halloween science project!

Amazon Affiliate Links:


We are joining in this week with the Saturday STEM crew!!  Be sure to check out these other STEM activities:

STEM Saturday.jpg

Glow in the Dark Lava Lamp from The Science Kiddo
Simple Toddler Science | Fizzing Pumpkin Patch from Lemon Lime Adventures
Ghostly Structures from Little Bins for Little Hands
Screaming Ghost Balloons from Preschool Powol Packets

I may share at any of these parties!

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

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Llama Llama Red Pajama Hidden Numbers Blanket Game

Counting games are a wonderful way to teach number order, counting, one-to-one correspondence, and more!  AND...this counting game ties in perfectly with Llama Llama Red Pajama, this month's Virtual Book Club book!

The llama in Llama Llama Red Pajama  has some amazing facial expressions as he worries about what his mom could still be doing.  Through it all, he has a blanket that moves around him and his room as he makes lots of "llama drama!"

This counting game plays off of the idea of a blanket, which preschoolers and toddlers love...even without the book!

In addition to counting, this game also requires your kiddos to keep track of things they've seen and counted and reinforces the concept of items existing when you can't see them.  It also brings in the fun of games like hide-n-seek and hidden treasures!

To play, you will need to gather these

Simple Supplies:

* 4-10 blankets: I simply cut a piece of cloth into "blankets" that were about 4" x 6."  Using fabric provides a fun texture, but if you don't have any you can use paper.

* 10-50 small objects: We used pennies because our kids love touching money!  You can use any small math manipulative or toy to count.

Easy How To:

1- Set up your game by placing varying amounts of pennies under each blanket.  For our youngest preschoolers, I put five pennies under one blanket, four under another, three under another, and 1 under the last.  Four our 5-year olds, I would use six blankets and put about twice as many pennies under each one.

2- Introduce the game to your kiddos by telling them that there are hidden numbers of pennies under the blankets, and they need to find the pile of four pennies (or any other pile of your choice)!  Let them lift up the blanket of their choice, and help them count if necessary:

3- Let them figure out which blanket is hiding the right number of pennies!

4- If they still have the attention for the game, repeat it!  Or let your child set it up for you or other children!  When they're done counting, let them play with the manipulatives and the blankets!

This month's Virtual Book Club's book is Llama Llama Red Pajama!

Amazon Affiliate Link:

We love the Virtual Book Club!!

Visit the Virtual Book Club's Facebook page here and click here to learn more about the book club and its schedule!  AND, be sure to stop by these other blogs for more fantastic Llama Llama Red Pajama ideas, activities, crafts, and more:

Llama Llama Red Pajama Movement Game from Still Playing School

Red Pajama Lacing Activity from 3 Dinosaurs

Llama Llama Red Pajama Quilt Color Matching from I Can Teach My Child!

Patterns and Symmetry from Mama Miss

I may share at any of these parties!

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Shapes on Pumpkins!

What could possibly be more fun than shapes?  Shapes and pumpkins, of course!

Every fall, one of our kids' favorite activities is hammering golf tees into pumpkins!  It's a tradition we've been enjoying for at least five years!  This year, we added some elastics to make shapes on the pumpkins!  First we hammered in the golf tees:

We might have had small, kid-sized hammers, but they do love using the big "grown-up" hammers too!

We might have had a pumpkin face created too!

After you're done hammering, bring out the elastics!

My youngest preschooler's favorite shape lately is a triangle, and she put it on immediately:

Second graders could be challenged to make a shape with 4, 5, or 6 angles, and practice naming them as they make them.  Second graders should be able to identify triangles, circles, quadrilaterals, trapezoids, hexagons, and octogons.

I'm sharing this as part of the 2nd Grade Blogging Team.  Today we're talking about pumpkin-themed activities!  Be sure to check out these other pumpkin ideas:

(I will add the links tomorrow--check back soon!)

I may share at any of these parties!

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

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5 Literacy Games for the Car AND LeapFrog's Word Whammer!

How much time do you spend in the car with your children every week?  Do you capitalize on that time so it is fun and educational?  Today I'm sharing six ways to use that time to strengthen early reading and literacy skills!  You can also play these games when you're waiting in line at grocery stores, outside the bathroom, or even just for fun outside!

#1: Keep the Story Going!  Each person takes turns telling 1-3 sentences in a story.  See how crazy your story can be!

#2:  Name "Poems!"  Choose one person's name, for example, Sarah.  Take turns thinking of a word that starts with each letter in her name.  For example, the first person says a word that starts with "S" and the next person says a word that starts with "A."  Continue until everyone has had a turn with their name.

#3:  Does That Rhyme?  Each person takes turns telling two words to the group and asking, "Does that rhyme?"  The words can be real or made up!  For example, I could say, "Elephant and Belephant!  Does that rhyme?"  After everyone agrees, someone else gets a turn.

#4:  First Letter Words!  Everyone takes turns choosing a "First Letter."  For example, the first person may choose the letter "L."  For the next minute, everyone has to name as many words as they can think of that start with an "L."  Then, the next person chooses the "First Letter."  Older children may enjoy choosing a "Last Letter" where you all name words that end with the same letter, but that's definitely more challenging!

#5: Alphabet Story!  Each person takes turns telling one sentence in a story where the first word of the sentence must start with the next letter in the alphabet.  For example, the first person could say, "A tiger jumped in a lake."  The next person could say, "But the lake had another tiger in it!" The next person could say, "'Can I play,' the tiger asked?" And so on.  Younger children may need coaching, but we've had a lot of fun with this game with children as young as four.

#6: LeapFrog's Word Whammer!  Sometimes you need a break from the constant engaging-of-children that comes with having young kiddos, and that is the perfect time to let your kids play with LeapFrog's Word Whammer!  It helps build those same early reading skills, but is so intuitive that my kids picked it up and started to play it without any instructions at all!

They love it so much that I have to time them so they can take turns!

There are three fun games on the Word Whammer that teach and review letter recognition (upper case and lower case), the sounds letters make, building words, and more!  My kids are enjoying it so much that they don't even think they're learning, but it is exactly what my 5-year old needs as he starts to focus more on letters and sounds.  AND, even more cool...the games have 5 levels that Word Whammer automatically moves through as it detects your child's skill level!

It's relatively small and light-weight, easy to transport, and easy to use.  It is recommended for kiddos 4-6 years old, and my 5-year old and 2-year old (who believes she's five!) think it is one of the coolest toys ever!

Amazon Affiliate Link:

What is your favorite thing to do in the car or when you have "down time" between activities?  I'd love to hear!  Feel free to send me a note or stop by our Facebook page!

Disclosure:  As a LeapFrog Mom Ambassador, I receive products, promotional items and educational material to use and share as I see fit.  However, any opinions expressed by me are honest and reflect my actual experience. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC guidelines.

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Penguin Science Experiment

How do you bring a hands-on science activity into a penguin theme?  With this super easy and very visual, hands-on experiment!

We've been reading Mr. Popper's Penguins as a read aloud book this month.  Of course, it has brought up all sorts of penguin questions!  Do they really like to toboggan?  Do they really build nests? Can they actually drink salt water? And, of course, how do they stay warm?

Our penguin science experiment demonstrates one facet of staying warm.  Penguins, like most birds, have a special oil gland (officially called the uropygial gland or the preen gland) that secretes oils and waxes to cover the penguins' feathers.  Wet feathers would make the birds much colder than dry feathers!  When the penguins feathers are covered with oils and waxes, they feathers are "water-proof," and the penguins stay much warmer.

To demonstrate how oil can keep feathers dry, we did this

Penguin Science Experiment!

Simple Supplies:

(for each child)

* plastic baggie

* water

* blue food coloring (optional)

* oil

* duct tape (optional)

Easy How To:

1- Fill the plastic baggie about 1/4 full with water.  Add blue food coloring to make a "blue ocean."  We might have had some green and clear oceans too.  Optionally, duct tape the baggies closed.

2-  Carefully add oil to the water.  Put in enough that you can see an oil layer on the top.

3- Talk about how they are not mixing.

4-  MIX THEM UP!!!  This is the best part!  Your kids will love mixing oil and water!!  After mixing them for a minute, hold the baggies still and watch the oil and water separate again.

5- Talk about how the ocean does not mix with the penguins feathers when they are covered with oil.

That's it!  Super easy, very hands-on, and a great experiment to demonstrate how birds keep their feathers dry!  To make it even more of an experiment, you can let your kiddos toss a few other items and/or liquids in their baggies and see if they mix with both water and oil, or just one.

One More Easy Penguin Experiment:

While we had the oil and water out, my kids wanted to try dipping their own finger in oil first, and then in water.  They were curious if they could feel the water through the oil.  They hypothesized that the oil would stick to their fingers...and they were right!

And remember their other questions?   Do they really like to toboggan?  Do they really build nests? Can they actually drink salt water?  Well, here are a few fun penguin facts for you...YES!  Penguins do like to toboggan, they do build nests, and they can actually drink salt water!  They're amazing!!

This post is part of the Poppins Book Nook!  This month, everyone is sharing activities based on Newberry Award Books.  Mr. Popper's Penguins was named a Newberry Honor book in 1939.

For more activities based on Newberry Books, check out these other blogs:

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom – 3 Dinosaurs – ABC Creative Learning – As We Walk Along the Road – Brain Power Boy – Chestnut Grove Academy – Embracing Destiny –Every Bed of Roses – Farm Fresh Adventures – Growing in God’s Grace – Kathys Cluttered Mind – My Bright Firefly – Peakle Pie – Preschool Powol Packets – Pray Species– SAHM I am – Stir The Wonder – Sunny Day Family – Sweet Silly Sara – Teach Beside Me – To the Moon and Back – Tots and Me – Tree Valley Academy – Witty Hoots

I may share at any of these parties!

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

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Frozen Halloween Bubbles!

How do you tie science, Halloween, and a huge age range of kiddos into one activity that could last over an hour?  With Frozen Halloween Bubbles, of course!

Making these frozen Halloween Bubbles has become a bit of a tradition for us: we usually include them as part of a special Halloween Science day the week of Halloween--nothing screams Halloween more than awesome "creepy" bubbles flowing out of a cup and onto your bare skin!

Our kids love to pop them, but it is really easy to make them last longer so you can actually hold the bubbles too!  And everyone, from the toddlers to adults, wants in on the action!!

To make your own Frozen Halloween Bubbles, you will need these

Simple Supplies:

* plastic tubing
* cups or funnels (we've used both...I just happened to take pictures on a cup day last year)
* duct tape
* 2-liter bottle
* dry ice 
* dry ice tools (we just use a small hammer and big spoon)
* water
* bubble solution (you can make your own or buy some)
* hand towel or blanket (optional)
* gloves or socks (optional)

Preparing the Supplies:

1- Cut a hole in the top of the 2-liter bottle that is small enough to be covered by your cups or funnels.

2- Cut a small hole in each of two cups and securely duct tape the plastic tubing inside the hole.  This must be air-tight!  Note: we have used paper cups, plastic cups, and plastic funnels in the past.  The paper cups are easiest to cut holes in, but after an hour can start to fall apart. If your tubing fits easily inside (or outside!) your funnel, that lasts the longest.  Plastic cups last a long time, but seem to split easier when you are cutting a hole for the tubing.

3- Pour some bubble solution onto a plate, tray, or platter!

4- Gather your crew for some awesome science fun!!

Easy How To:

1- Fill the 2-liter bottle about 1/3 full of water.  Let your kiddos break pieces of the dry ice off with the hammer and scoop them into the water with the spoon.  This part always reminds people (even our preschoolers) of a Halloween brew!

2- Place one of your cups or funnels over the 2-liter bottle, making sure no air escapes.  Sometimes it's fun to pause here too...don't worry, you'll have plenty of dry ice for the bubbles!

3- Place the other cup or funnel in your bubble solution!  You can make lots of little bubbles...

...or dip the cup (or funnel) in the bubble solution and blow bigger "frozen" bubbles!

Our preschoolers think popping bubbles is one of the coolest things ever, but sometimes older kids (and sometimes even the preschoolers!) like to keep the bubble for a moment.  They can do this by carefully setting the bubble on a cloth (like a dish towel), holding it with gloves or sock-covered hands, or covering their hands with bubble solution and carefully holding the bubble with soap-covered hands.

What's Going On?

Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide.  It "sublimates," or goes directly from a solid to a gas, at room temperatures.  When you toss it in the water, you can see the gaseous carbon dioxide rising up quickly from the 2-liter bottle.  When you send that gas along the plastic tubing, it "blows" bubbles when it hits the bubble solution on the other end!

Changing phases (solids, liquids, and gasses) is a physical change because the chemical formula of your substance (in this case, CO2) remains the same.

**A few notes about supplies**
(Just in case you're wondering!):

1- You can usually get dry ice at select supermarkets.  You usually need to show ID (and be over 18).   Also, many stores run out of dry ice on Halloween because lots of people enjoy doing fun Halloween Science activities like this!  Either go shopping early, or do your dry ice experiments a day or two before Halloween!

 Please remember dry ice is extremely cold and can burn you or your children if you touch it with your hands.  It is very important to use the hammer to break it and a spoon to scoop it.  Never use your bare hands to touch dry ice.  Your safety and your children's safety is paramount.  If you cannot use dry ice safely, do not do this activity!

2- Plastic tubing is relatively inexpensive and available at most hardware stores.  We picked ours up from Lowe's.

3.  Bubble solution is easy to make and also inexpensive to purchase.  You can find it at supermarkets, dollar stores, and in most places that carry children's toys.

I'm sharing this post with the STEM Saturday Crew!  Be sure to check out these other fantastic science activities:

Magic Leak-Proof Bag Experiment from P is for Preschooler
Why Are Bones Hollow? from The Usual Mayhem
Frozen Halloween Bubbles from Preschool Powol Packets

I may share at any of these parties!

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