Friday, July 24, 2015

Science Fun: Magic Balloons

Howdy! Way to only post once a month during the summer, huh? I blame it on having too much fun :)

This afternoon the girls and I did a neat science experiment. I found it on Playdough to Plato (great name, isn't it?) If you have a few minutes, try this out with your own kids, or just on your own. I was able to find all of the supplies I needed at the Dollar Store or in my own pantry.

Here is what you'll need:

2 empty water bottles
warm water
yeast packet
teaspoon of sugar

baking soda

two bottles of diet cola
packet of Pop Rocks candy

2 Mentos candies

four 12"balloons

In one of the water bottles pour about an inch of warm water and then dump in the entire packet. Swirl the yeast around a bit and then add the teaspoon of sugar and give it another swirl. Put a balloon over the mouth of the bottle and let it sit in the sun. It should take 5-10 minutes for the yeast to start bubbling and the balloon to begin inflating. You can explain to your kids that the yeast is a type of bacteria so it's actually a living thing. It's eating the sugar that we added and when it eats the sugar, it creates a gas called carbon dioxide which is filling up the balloon.
The longer you leave the yeast going the bigger the balloon will get.
Pre-prep the second balloon by using the funnel to fill it halfway with baking soda. In the second water bottle pour in a couple of inches of vinegar. Put the balloon over the mouth of the bottle and dump in the baking soda. The effect was instantaneous and the balloon quickly inflated. You can explain that the baking soda is reacting with the acid in the vinegar making carbon dioxide which is filling up the balloon.

Pre-prep the third balloon by using the funnel to pour in a packet of Pop Rocks. Pour out half of the soda. Put the balloon over the mouth of the bottle and dump in the Pop Rocks. You'll be able to hear the popping as the Pop Rocks release their pressurized carbon dioxide making gas which is filling up the balloon.

Pre-prep the fourth balloon by inserting the Mentos in it. Pour out half of the soda from the last bottle. Put the balloon over the mouth of the bottle and dump in the Mentos. The Mentos make a great catalyst causing the diet cola to release carbon dioxide gas which is filling up the balloon.

Once you have all four bottles set up and balloons inflating, it's a good time to compare your results. Which bottle blew up the balloon the best? Explain that each of these combinations create an invisible gas called carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide fills the bottles and then moves into the balloons, blowing them up. Each of these chemical reactions produce a different amount of carbon dioxide. Which one made the most carbon dioxide gas? You can also make a connection between the bottles and our bodies and how we breathe out carbon dioxide which the plants use to make oxygen.

If you have enough of the supplies left, try doing the experiment again. Have your child predict if you'll get the same results or different. Have fun and happy inflating!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Cardboard Carton Birdhouses

Wow, I can't believe it's been so long since I've written a blog post. I've thought about it most nights but then I end up either falling asleep or watching something on TV instead. Actually, I rarely turn on my computer most nights. I can check my email and Facebook on my phone so that's all I really use nowadays.

However, that doesn't mean we've stopped doing crafts and projects. I have many to share so I'm going to try and be better about getting on here and sharing them with you.

This first one is a craft we made for Earth Day. I based ours off of an article I found in Kiwi Magazine.

We used recycled and found items to make these carton birdhouses. I love how they turned out!

The first step is to remove the spout using an Exacto Knife. This step should definitely be done by an adult!

I saved the caps to use as stamps for when we decorated them. I also used some additional recycled cardboard cut to size for the roof. It's probably best that an adult do that as well unless you have older children.

Here comes the fun part for the kiddos - Painting! You can decorate your birdhouse anyway you want. [E] used a little of every color we had while [A] painted his to look like the beach. [K] was busy painting the wooden heart you can see on the ground behind [E]'s birdhouse.

Once that had dried overnight we tried using the caps as stamps but they didn't work as well as I had envisioned. Oh well. Live and learn.

[A] did a coat of white before painting his and as you can see that covered the words on the carton way better than little [E]'s. The next step is to make a hole for the birds. I traced a K Cup but you can use any similarly sized circular item.

To add the finishing touches I hot glued the roofs to the birdhouses. (That's best done by an adult as well.) I used binder clips on the top to help hold it in place while the glue dried. It also really helped to pre-score the cardboard around the bends of the carton to make neater folds. I also glued rick rack around the opening and sliced a small slit for a craft stick perch. Lastly, poke a small hole on the top through all of the layers to thread bakers twine or other string for hanging.

Have your kids (or yourself; it's a fun craft for adults too.) spread peanut butter on both sides of the roof.

Then sprinkle bird seed all over the peanut butter. This is fairly messy so it's best done outside or over a cake pan to catch the ones that don't stick. Press the seed down lightly so it sticks.

Great job, Girls!

Find a suitable tree and hang your works of art for all the fine feathered friends in your neighborhood.

I love making crafts from recycled goods. If you've made any others that you really enjoyed, please share them with me in the comments.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Science Fun: Making Borax Crystals

Hello! Not too long ago a friend of mine sent me a link to this website called, Science Friday. They have many wonderful science projects and one that really caught my eye was about preserving snowflakes. We haven't had the chance to do that one yet (although it's supposed to snow this week so maybe we'll get to still.) However, they also listed instructions on making Borax Crystal Snowflakes so those, we could do :)

The materials you need are Borax, pipe cleaners, a wide-mouth jar, a pencil or skewer, string (or yarn), scissors, measuring cup and spoon, and water.

First, bend your pipe cleaners into whatever shape you want. We did snowflakes, hearts, and shamrocks. Next, cut off a length of string and tie it to your pipe cleaner shape. Tie the other end to the pencil. Place the pipe cleaner shape in the jar with the pencil resting across the mouth of the jar. Make sure no part of the pipe cleaner is touching the sides or bottom of the jar.

Take the pipe cleaner shape out of the jar and make the Borax solution. Measure out how many cups of water are needed to fill the jar. Use a teakettle or a microwave to boil the water. For every cup of water placed in the jar, mix in three tablespoons of Borax. (I used this opportunity to have K do some math.) Have an adult pour the boiling water in the jar and then add the Borax. Stir the solution until the Borax dissolves and hang the pipe cleaner shape back in the jar.

And then wait...

And wait some more. We left ours overnight.

 Hang the now crystallized pipe cleaners in an empty jar to dry and then hang in a sunny window.

To expand on this project, I had K look closely at the crystals and determine what shape they are. We also talked about how hot water can hold more dissolved Borax than cold, and how the crystals formed only after the water cooled back down. We also made the observation that the crystallized pipe cleaner shapes are much heavier than when we started.

I came across this neat one-sheet on this experiment that offers additional questions to ask your little scientist. It was an easy project to do with items we already had around the house. I hope you get the chance to do it at your home as well.

Friday, March 13, 2015

St. Patrick's Day Paper Clover Tutorial

Hello! Are you enjoying some glorious spring weather where you live? I know I am! And with that comes one of my favorite holidays, St. Patrick's Day. I love dressing up in crazy green clothes, I love going to the parades, I love clover. How can you not love a plant that's made up of hearts?!?

I found a wonderful tutorial online (although she calls her shamrocks and since these have four leaves, they're actually clover and not shamrocks) and just made a few tweaks to it.

The materials needed are four strips of 9" green paper and five strips of 11" paper (or 10" and 12" if you're using scrapbook paper), bakers twine or clear nylon thread, glue or glue dots (I recommend the glue dots), and scissors.

Fold all of the strips in half except for one of the long ones. To give the stem a more 3-D effect [A] suggested folding it with the flat bottom instead of just in half.

Put two glue dots on the outside top of a longer strip and curve the ends in to make a heart (see below.)

Do this for all four of the long strips.

With the shorter strips, put two glue dots on the outside top just like the longer strips but then stick that end to the inside of the bigger heart.

Place two more glue dots on the other end and curve that around and stick it to the other side of the big heart.

Repeat that for the other three hearts. Congratulations! You now have the semblance of a four-leaf clover.

In order to hang this you'll need to add your string before gluing all of the big hearts together. Take two glue dots and place them on the outside edge of one large heart. Stick your nylon thread or bakers twine to it and then press your other top heart on it.

You can see the nylon thread stuck between my top two hearts here. If you're only hanging one, you don't need to leave as long of a tail as I did. I strung three together on one piece of thread so I needed to keep mine longer for the last clover.

Next, attach one bottom heart to one top heart using two glue dots.

On the free side of the bottom heart attach two glue dots and press on your stem.
This picture looks a bit confusing because I'm pulling the stem away so you can
see where I placed the glue dots. However, the stem should actually be stuck to
that big heart via those glue dots.
 On the last heart place glue dots on both sides and press it in place.

Ta da! You have a beautiful three dimensional paper clover to display.

This next step is optional but I think it looks a lot nicer. Perhaps if I used a stiffer paper it wouldn't be necessary.

Place one glue dot on the side of each of the smaller hearts and press it into the corner of the larger heart. This keeps the bottom edges of the hearts together and gives more structure to your clover.

On mine you can see that I stuck all but the bottom left small heart to to the bigger ones and it just makes the whole thing look a little cleaner.

And here they are hanging in our holiday display window with Lucky the Leprechaun.

I've really been enjoying making paper holiday displays. They're quick, easy, (cheap!), and I can either keep them until next year or recycle them when the holiday is over.

So, whether you're actually Irish or just Irish on St. Patrick's Day, here is my blessing to you:

There are good ships,
And there are wood ships,
The ships that sail the sea.
But the best ships, are friendships,
And may they always be.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

40 Bags in 40 Days

A girlfriend of mine recently posted a link on Facebook about something called 40 Bags In 40 Days 2015 Decluttering Challenge. What is 40 Bags in 40 Days? According to the website it's, "...a forty day period in the spring (coinciding with the 40 days of Lent) where you declutter one area a day. The goal is one bag a day but you can have more or less."

Baby boy clothing and toys (and yes, I know I have two girls
so why do I have three boxes full of boy stuff?)

24 month and 2T size girl clothing for the other sweet baby girls in our lives

Everything from newborn up to 18 months I haven't already given to friends.

Big box of larger baby toys our girls no longer play with
and a ride-on car we got for free from a Craigs List purchase

This awesome piano we borrowed from friends whom I'm
hoping know of other kiddos who can get further use out of it

Two huge bags full of stuffed animals that K is actually allowing
me to donate to S.A.F.E. (Stuffed Animals for Emergencies)

A small animal carrier and our original bunny habitat

And last, our crib which makes me very sad. (I'll explain why below.)

So here's the cool part about this whole project, at least for me. If you know me in person you'll know that I can't stand to throw stuff away (unless I deem it as junk and then I have no problem whatsoever.) However, I feel super guilty contributing to the landfills so usually I try to recycle or donate as much as I can. Recently, while I was trying to find someplace to bring our stuffed animals because most places won't take them, I came across these two links from Oprah on all of the different places you can donate almost anything. (This one is by location, and this one is to mail stuff.) The only thing I can't donate is the crib which is why it makes me sad. It was a beautiful hand-me-down from A's nieces but it's a drop-down side and no one will take those anymore. And although I've seen things on Pinterest on how to turn it into a desk or a child sofa, we just don't have the space for it.

So, I'm putting the challenge out to all of you. I don't know if I'll end up with 40 bags full or not, but at least try for one. If you can declutter one room or one bag full and donate it to someone else in need, that's a great start. Think of how much good we can do if everyone just did one bag.

Good luck and I'll see you on the flip side!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Recipe: Pesto Pita Pizza

Yum! This is one of those recipes that's super easy to make but incredibly flavorful and delicious to eat. This came right out of my Cooking With Trader Joe's Cookbook: Dinner's Done book but can be made with ingredients found in any grocery store.

Serves 2


2 standard-size (7-inch diameter) pita pockets
3 Tbsp pesto (either store-bought or homemade)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 ripe tomato, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Place pitas on baking sheet, lightly sprayed with cooking oil.
  3. Spread 2 Tbsp pesto on each pita. Top each with 1/4 cup of cheese.
  4. Remove from oven and top with tomato and basil.
Eat and enjoy!