Friday, January 31, 2014

Softest play doh ever

Super soft and only 2 ingredients that are in most peoples houses, what could be better - oh and it smells great too.

You will need:

Corn starch/flour
Hair conditioner

optional: food coloring

This recipe couldn't be easier, in a bowl mix the two ingredients at a ratio of 2 parts corn starch to 1 part conditioner. D and I used 1 cup of the corn starch, 1/2 cup hair conditioner and a few drops of food coloring. After we had stirred the mixture I felt it needed a little more corn starch but depending on the brand of your conditioner you may need more of that. 

After they were blended so that the mix was no longer sticky but held together and was pliable we kneaded it into a ball. And then play commenced.

I supplied D with cookie cutters, cake cases, beads and candles because he decided he was a baker.

Cakes for sale...come get your cakes

Happy Birthday to you...

Mmmm...seeing a Valentines for his class here.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Rainbow Rice Sensory Bin

With yet another snow delay and temperatures below freezing I decided I would create a sensory bin to keep my boys busy and give me two minutes peace. I hadn't realized how much all 4 of my kids would enjoy it, in fact my 9 year old was there the longest and told me how it made her feel calm, she is such a beach girl just counting the days to summer.

There are many different ways to create colored rice on pinterest. I think I found this on a site called 'happy hooligans' and I liked it because it only uses food items to create.

You will need:

Cheap White Rice
Food coloring

To begin take 1 cup white rice, place in a plastic container, I used an old take out container but if you have nothing like that you could use a ziplock. Add 1 tsp white vinegar and a few drops of your chosen food coloring. Shake like crazy, the kids liked this bit, you can stop when you have a nice even color all over the rice. Pour into the sensory bin. 

Repeat with as many different colors as you choose.

Once you have enough to fill the large container let the kids get busy with whatever cups and scoopers you have on hand.

And no matter what I add to the tub my 3 year old will always run off to get his diggers and dump truck!

Yogurt Pot Bird Feeders

This cold weather is the perfect time to feed the birds, they are all hungry and food is scarce. One of the kids favorite 'crafts' is to create different types of bird feeders and set them out on the trees and bushes around our house so we can watch the birds that visit them. It is such a great activity for getting children interested in the nature around them and the best bit is you don't need a huge yard, we used to make these when we lived in Brooklyn and hang them on our fire escape it was always amazing to see how many different birds would come.

We usually use a bird seed that I buy from the pet store but if you have none of that at hand we have also used dried fruits, seeds, nuts and popcorn. We mix all the dry ingredients with some vegetable fat or peanut butter or both to help them stick together, depending on the type of feeder we either melt the fat first or spread it on.

Todays bird feeder we made using old yogurt pots so for this we required 'bird cake' my kids love anything with the word cake in it, I've even called quiche egg cake before now to get them to eat it!

You will need:

Bird seed
Dried fruits
Nuts - non roasted or salted (if you have them)
Vegetable fat (could use unsalted peanut butter)
Yogurt container
Popsicle stick, wooden skewer or even a twig from the garden

Step 1

I began by tying a length of string to the stick for each child. Then because they all wanted to help make the cake and I worry about 4 children fighting over the hob I melted about 1/2 cup of fat in the microwave.

I then had the children add the dry ingredients to a bowl. We threw in a handful of raisins, a hand full of unpopped corn and the birdseed. You really can use up anything you think the birds might eat, we have used old breadcrumbs, almonds, cranberries etc.

At this point I poured in the warm melted fat and let them stir. This is always D's favorite part, and we always end up with a lot of seed out of the bowl. You might need to add more seed or fat to get it all evenly coated without being too wet. Once it is all sticky your 'cake' is ready.

Step 2

While they are busy mixing (and it can never be too mixed) I pierced the bottom of each yogurt cup and threaded the end of the string through it. When you hold the string the cup will sit upside down on the stick.

Step 3

The kids all wanted to add 'bonus' raisins to their tubs at this point.

We then packed down the seed mixture into the yogurt containers with a spoon. It needs to be pressed down firmly.

Once its packed down you can pull the string from underneath the yogurt pot so that the stick sits neatly across the top.

Now place the yogurt pot in the freezer to harden, we put ours outside as its so cold.

Step 4

Once the ingredients have had time to harden - it doesn't take long you just want the fat to solidify again, you can remove the plastic yogurt pot and hang from a tree

Now sit back and help your children spot what sort of birds visit. You might even find you get more than birds it looks so good!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ice sculptures and lanterns

Another cold snow day and following on from our iced sun-catchers we decided to continue with our experiments of freezing. I mean if its going to hit -6F with a real feel of -25F what else is there to do? As you'll see in these pictures snow days are lazy days in this household, why get out of your PJ's before you have to?

For this you will need:

Food coloring variety of colors

We began by mixing the food colorings with water and then trying to fill the balloons. Although this proved to be a lot of fun for the kids it was not filling the balloons as I wanted it to. 

I think I could have left them all with balloons the size of eggs and they would have been happy, however I wanted to turn them into lanterns so I took a new approach. Rather than filling the balloons with colored water I filled them from the tap and then we added a few drops of food coloring, this was much easier and left us with bigger balloons.

As you can see D just wanted to play with the droppers so he began painting the paper towels.

Once we had filled the balloons with different colors we put them out in the snow to freeze.

I had read on other blogs that to turn them into lanterns you leave the balloons for about 4 hours so they part freeze and then cut the balloon and you are left with a hollow shape. I guess its too cold for that and I should have shortened the time because when we opened them up they were completely frozen. They did make very pretty Easter eggs though!

So we tried again and this time I froze bowls of colored water with a floating candle. That was far more successful but I will try the balloon freeze again soon.

Our front steps are very colorful now with a warm glow. Just what you need on a cold night in January.

Ice sun catchers

So with the bitter cold the kids and I have had lots of fun freezing things outside. Our last experiment ended up with something pretty to look at too.

You will need:

Container - an old take out container or similar shallow plastic dish is perfect
Ice tray
Food coloring
String or Twine

To begin the kids mixed up some food coloring with water and froze it in the ice cube trays. (This could be done in your freezer but it took less than 30 minutes here in the NE with our cold days.)

Once the ice trays are frozen I helped the kids pop the cubes out into their shallow dishes, they each chose a mix of colors. Once they were in we added a cup to the center and poured in cold water to form a shallow layer.

Then we took the dishes outside to freeze again, all of them decided Mummy could go out alone this time as it was too cold!

Once they were frozen we removed the cup from the center and tried to pop out the ice circles. This proved tricky for D who's 3, his broke and we had tears, but no problem we simply 'glued it' with a little more water and put it out to freeze for longer. It worked.

We threaded string through the hole and took them out to tie to our tree's. They really are very beautiful don't you think? Looby was the most excited, I think she'd like to have them strung all over.

I'm thinking if this cold weather lasts we will try to do this again but next time I'm going to dig out all my valentines pans and we will have pink hearts to entertain the birds. What do you think?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Indoor Snow Painting

So as always my best intentions get overrun with the craziness of the holidays. My craziness started with thanksgiving, followed by 2 birthdays and then Christmas and now I finally have time to repost some of the fun projects we have been up to.

The first is snow painting

When its been as cold as it has here in the North East of the United States its nice to be able to play with snow without bundling all the kids up and this project couldnt be easier.

For this you will need:

Droppers - I used pipets left over from Loobys science party but you could use medicine droppers.
Food coloring
Large tray/plate or roasting pan

We first mixed up a number of 'paints' by combining a few drops of food coloring with water in cups.

Then I was sent out to dig a large amount of snow into the containers, while I did this the kids stirred and fought over who liked which color best - you got to love snow days!

Then they were left to create, here is EB ready to go.

I had them share plates, mainly because I didn't have enough large plates, in hindsight it proved to be a really good lesson for them all in how to collaborate on a project and discuss what ideas they had. 

Then they got really stuck in, the pipets added to the fun but I'm sure it would work equally well with paint brushes, will have to try that next time. 

Pictures morphed in the process as the kids got carried away and were determined to empty each cup of color.

Either way I think they turned out really nicely and best of all we all stayed warm in the process.