Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Sparkling Star Dip

-Making crystals is a beautiful way to remove a solute from a solution.

You'll need:
pipe cleaners

1) Ask a grown-up to help you fill a far with hot water (Boiling water is best so use caution) Add Borax, 1 tablespoon (15ml) at a time until no more will dissolve. (This will be about 3 tablespoons (45ml) per cup (250ml) of hot water used.)
2) Make a star shape with pipe cleaners; then attach a string to the shape. Place the star in the solution. Let it remain overnight.
3) The next morning, lift out the star by the string. Enjoy the sparkling results.

You can also do the experiment using Epsom salts. You'll need about twice as much Epsom salts as water.

Compare the shape of the Borax crystals with the Epsom salt crystals.

Saw Dust Bugs

You'll need:
2 C. (500 ml) saw dust
1 C (250 ml) wallpaper paste

1) Mix the saw dust and wallpaper paste in the bowl. Slowly add water until a thick dough forms.
2) Shape the dough into saw dust bugs: then poke pieces of pipe cleaner into the heads for antannae.
3) You can paint the dough when it is dry.

Lint Molding

2/3 Cup dryer lint
2 Cups cold or warm water
2/3 Cup flour
3 drops oil of cloves for scent
box, bottle, balloon or mold

1) Stir lint and water in a sacuepan
2) Add flour and stir to prevent lumps
3) Add oil of cloves
4)Cook over low and stir until mixture forms peaks
5) Pour out and cool on newspapers
6) Shape over boxes, bottles baloons or into a mold, or use like papier-mache.

1) Makes 4 cups
2) Dries in 2 to 5 days
3)very hard and durable
4) dries smooth if pressed into a mold.
5) dries rougher if shaped over an object

Snack art- edible pudding paint

you will need:

-1 box vanilla or lemon noncook pudding mix
-ready-made piecrust of sugar cookie dough
-food coloring (blue, red, yellow)
-rolling pin
-cookie sheet
-plastic spoons for mixing

1.) Prepare the pudding, following package directions.
2.) While pudding sets in refrigerator (about 5 minutes), roll out piecrust or cookie dough and form into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool.
3.) Divide the set pudding into several muffin cups.
4.) Mix,one color of food coloring into each cup. Try mixing the primary colors (red, blue, yellow) first. Use 5 to 7 drops for every 2 Tablespoons pudding.
5.) Next, create secondary colors(orange and green work best) by mixing 2 drops blue +7 drops yellow for green. 2 drops red +7 drops yellow for orange.
6.) Paint on your piecrust "canvas" using fingers, a new clean paintbrush, a medicine dropper, or a pastey bag.

Tip: For the younger kids, pudding also works great as fingerpaint on waxed paper.

Click on image for a larger view

Monday, January 16, 2006

Tye Dye: Don't let it scare you!

Sure it can be a messy project to undertake. You only live once. You just have to be prepared.
I've helped numerous kids make, not only tye dyed shirts, but socks, shorts, and even undies. Just remeber to check the labels. You want white clothing with the highest percentage of cotton that you can find, that way the colors will be very bright. If it has too much poly or nylon it will turn out pastel instead of vibrant. I always set up outside on garbage bags so you don't have to worry about spills on your floors or table. I use a Rainbow Rock kit that you can often purchase at Walmart or a craft store like Micheals or Joann's Fabric. I've never had a problem with the kit and they make them in several different color selections so it adds to the fun. They have easy to follow directions. Plan ahead and it will go smoothly. Wear old clothes! Put plastic gloves on to reduce the staining on your fingers. Buy some extra rubber bands in case the kids want to go nuts with them. We always have fun making them but the best part is wearing your art work.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Be a Perfume Chemist

Alcohol is a good solvent for dissolving the fragrant oil solutes from herbs and flowers.

Place one of the following ingredients in a clear film canister: cloves, vanilla bean, cinnamon bark, orange or lemon peel bits, lavender or rose petals.

Cover with two tablespoons (30ml) of rubbing alcohol and secure the lid. Shake once a day for a week.

When the solution smells more like the fragrance than the rubbing alcohol, it's ready. Dab the scented rubbing alcohol on your wrist, and smell the fragrance.

You've concocted perfume! For stronger scents, replace the solute with a fresh one after a week. Experiment with the solutes to find your favorite scent.

**It takes 8,000 crushed roses to make just one gram (barely a dab) of rose oil for perfume. Luckily, scientists are able to analyze the molecules that make up a flowers scent and then artificially reproduce the natural fragrant oils with chemicals in the laboratory. The newly scented solute is dissolved in an unscented solvent. The result is a flower friendly solution- PERFUME!

Dracula's Favorite Soap- Science experiment

You'll need:
a bar of soap
2 or 3 laxatives (or pills such as Ex-Lax or Feen-a-Mint.)
1 Tablespoon of rubbing alcohol (15ml)

What to do:
Mash one or two pieces of the laxative in a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol. Rub some of the solution on your hand and allow it to dry. Then wash off with the soap.

What happens:
The soapy water turns bright red.

Why?: The laxative contains a compound know as phenolphthaliem. This substance turns a brilliant red when mixed with an alkali. Soap is make from fat boiled together with a strong alkali. When you add water, you free some of the alkali. This alkali mixes with the phenolphthaliem on your hands- and turns your hands blood red.

Color Melts

What color do you get when you mix blue and red?

Make colored ice cubes by adding food coloring to the water before freezing it. Once frozen add two cubes of different colors together in see through glass. Watch the 2 colors melt together and create a new color.

Push- It- Apart Butter

What's the opposite of mayonnaise? It just may be butter. Mayonnaise- making brings fat (oil) and water (vinegar) together. Butter- making forces fat and water apart.

If you shake cram with enough force, the tiny drops of fat that float throughout it are pushed together to form butter chunks.

1) Fill a plastic jar about half full of cream. Add a clean marble. Seal with a lid.
2) Shake the jar vigorously in a figure-eight pattern. When you don't hear the clank of the marble any longer, you'll know the cream had thickened into whipped cream.
3) Keep shaking and listening again for the clank. This means the butter is separating from the liquid. When you see several small floating chunks, stop.
4) Use a fork to scoop the butter chunks into a bowl. Blend them together with the back of a spoon: then squeeze out the extra liquid. Spread the cream butter on toast or muffins.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Homemade Finger Paints

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 Cup cornstarch
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 Cups cold water
food coloring
dishwashing liquid
white shelf paper

Soak gelatin in 1/4 C water (warm) and put aside. In a medium saucepan combine cornstarch and sugar. Gradually add water and cook slowly over low heat, stirring until well blended.

Remove from heat and add softened gelatin. Dicide mixture into separated containers for each color.

For each color first add a drop or two of liquid detergent and then add food coloring a drop at a time until you have the shade you want.

Store up to six weeks in the refrigerator.

Sugar Painting

2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 Cup warm water
box of colored chalk

Mix together first two ingredients. Dip the tip of colored chalk into the water and draw a picture. Chalk picture will be brighter than regular chalk drawings. Chalk will not work very well when dry.

Salt Painting

1/2 Cup liquid starch
2 Cups salt
1 Cup water
food coloring

Mix all ingredients. Paint a picture. Pictures will sparkle when dry.

Face Paint *NON-Toxic if Swallowed*

Paints one child:

2Teaspoons of Crisco
5 Teaspoons of Cornstarch
1 Teaspoon of flour
3-4 drops of glycerin
food coloring
cold cream

Mix first three ingredients to make a smooth paste. Add glycerin for creamy consistency. Add food coloring as desired. Apply a thin layer of cold cream to childs face. Apply face paint- avoiding eyes.


I loved hopscotch as a little girl. Not to toot my own horn, but I was a pro at it. Its a fun game for boys to play too. It helps you to recognize your numbers, learn to count and it helps you work on you balance and coordination as well. The wonderful thing about it was you could play it just about anywhere. If the weather was nice, you could use chalk to draw out the playing field or in a pinch, even an old piece of brick works. If the weather was nasty, rainy, snowy, or just way to cold, you could still figure out a way to play. You can make your own hopscotch mat by clicking here for directions. If you didn't have a basement floor that your parents would let you use chalk on, you improvised. Masking tape worked wonders on a cement basement, vinyl or tile kitchen floor, or even carpet. You don't have to use a rock as a marker when playing inside. Why not try a beanbag or a quarter, even a game piece from one of your board games will work. Click the title to take you to a link containing a selection of hopscotch games and rules. Why wait, start playing now.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


This is my cousin Shannon in 1991 or early 1992, when I used to babysit for her. She's a high school senior now, planning on joining the Air Force. She liked playing with goop as much as I did. I sat her on the kitchen floor because it was easier to mop up that way.
Then we have Katie and Chris in 1992 at my first nanny job. Chris is graduating from Dartmouth this June and Katie is a Freshman at Franklin and Marshall in Pennsylvania. Goop is a lot of fun, its just messy when you have more than one kid playing in it. I learned its best to sit them in an empty bathtub if you have a couple of messy kids, that way you can wash it down the drain. Let's face it, if they get play dough all over, they are going to make a bigger mess with Goop.

Mix together one box of cornstarch and water. Only add enough water so that you can move your hand through the mixture easily when going slow, or with difficulty when moving fast. I know it sounds strange but you will see what I mean. You can color it with food coloring but I think it is best to leave it its natural color. Posted by Picasa

Pasta and Rice Dye

Use this mixture to make colored pasta for necklaces or colored rice for textured art.

Materials needed:
a variety of pasta shapes that can be strung
food coloring
rubbing alcohol
waxed paper
plastic bowls
slotted spoon

Getting ready: Prepare the dye for the pasta by mixing one cup of rubbing alcohol with several drops of food coloring. Let the pasta soak in the mixture until it is colored. Remove the pasta from the dye with the slotted spoon and let it dry on a sheet of waxed paper.

I also have a recipe for this project that suggests using 2Tablespoons of rubbing alcohol with 1/2 cup of water and adding the desired amount of food coloring. Soak rice or pasta until the desired shade of color has been reached.

Gak -Homemade

You'll need:
wire whisk
1 C. all-purpose glue
3/4 C. water
1 Tablespoon tempra pain

1) Mis together with wire whisk, the all-purpose glue, water, and tempra paint. I use the powdered tempra, but the liquid works just as well- just don't mix the powder too thin.

2) Mix sereratly 1/3 C. water and 1/2 twp borax. Slowly pour borax mix into glue mix.

3) Let stand a few minutes, then knead. Pour off any remaining liquid. Stor in plastic bags.

4) repeat for different colors.

Soap Crayons

Take one cup of powder laundry soap and add 30 to 40 drops of food coloring.

Add water by the teaspoonfuls until the soap becomes liquid.

Stir well

Pack soap into an ice cube tray.

Set in a sunny, dry place for two days.

Crayons will become hard and great for writing in the sink or tub.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Homemade Sidewalk Chalk

1Cup plaster of Paris (do not pack)
Almost 1/2 C cool water
liquid tempra or powdered tempra
margarine tubs or other disposable mixing containers
disposable molds- toilet paper rolls with foil bottoms work.

Pour plaster into a container. Using a disposable stick, stir in most of the water. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of tempra, mixing well, especially at the bottom. Add a little more water so the mixture thickens, stir well, and pour into the molds. You can use the plastic tray from Manicotti noodles, paper cups, or toilet paper tubes with foil bottoms. Remobe the molds after the chalk is completely dry.

Makes 27 sticks for 15 cents each. Size 5 1/2" x 1 1/2" x 3/4"

2 different Bubble Solutions

Mix ahead of time for best results:

6 parts water
2 parts Joy dishwashing liquid
3/4 part corn syrup

This recipe costs roughly 18 cents per cup.

1 Cup of water
1/3 Cup of liquid soap
1 tablespoon of Sugar

Make a wand by bending 8" wire into the form of a loop.

Homemade Ink

1 old sock or thick plastic ziplock bag
12 walnut hauls
small sauce pan
1 C. water
small jar with lid
measuring spoons
1/4 teaspoon white vinegar

Place the shells into the sock or bag and close secruely. Lightly hammer the sock to break up the hauls. The more broken up theshells are the better. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the shells soak in the water overnight. (Quite a bit of it will have cooked away.)

Pour the brown ink you've just made into a small jar and add 1/4 teaspoon of white vinegar. The vinegar will keep the color from fading andthe ink from spoinling

Toothpaste Putty

1/2 T toothpaste (creamy, not gel)
1 T. white glue
2T cornstarch
1/2 T water
small dish

1) Mix toothpaste, glue, and cornstarch in dish.
2) Mix with one finger
3) Add water
4) Mix until you have a lump of putty.
5) wash and dry hands
6) Squeeze and roll putty into a ball. HINT: The more its rolled, the better it gets.
7) Push, pull, roll and explore the putty.

Putty begins to dry in 20 minutes, so to soften it, use a drop of water. Toothpaste putty will dry rock hard in 24 hours.

Homemade Silly Putty

1/2 Cup of Elmer's Glue
1/4 Cup of Sta-Flo Liquid Starch

Mix together well. It needs to dry a bit before its workable.
Store in a airtight container.

Keep out of hair, fabrics and carpet as you would the store bought Silly Putty.

Microwave Modeling Dough

2 C. flour
2 C. water
1 C. salt
2 tsps. cream of tartar
2 T. cooking oil
food coloring

Mix in a large microwave-proof bowl.
Microwave on high for 5 minutes.
Stop every minute to stir until thick.
Cool and knead with hands until smooth.
Store in a cool, dry place.

Color-Me-Clean Tub Paints

Talk about good clean fun! Your bathtub Botticellis are sure to appreciate the bright colors of this smearable, sudsing medium. Try dividing the paints into a muffin tin or ice cube tray for an instant palette. But don't try getting your kids out of the bath in a hurry.

1/2 Cup liquid hand soap, clear or white
1 teaspoon cornstarch
food coloring

Step 1: Combine the soap and cornstarch in a small bowl.
Step 2: Divide the mixture into separate containers, then add food coloring one drop at a time. Caution: Test the paints on a small area of your tub or wall to make sure they won't leave a stain: darker hues may be more difficult to wash off.

Tips: Apply to tub and body with fingers or paintbrushes. Use bathroom cleanser to clean the tub if any color remains. Keep leftover paints in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Crystal Rock Garden

Bring 1/2 C. of water to a boil, then add 2 ounces of alum (found in the canning or spice sections of super markets), stirring until the alum is dissolved.

Pour the solution into a clear glass bowl, half filled with assorted clean rocks and pebbles. With in hours you should be able to see alum crystals forming as glass like squares. Within several days you should have a number of crystals to look at.

*Note: Geodes and many other rock crystals were formed the same way, when water saturated with materials seeped into spaces in rocks. When the liquid evaporated, the crystals were left behind.

The Toddlers Property Laws

If I like it, its mine.

If its in my hand, its mine.

If I can take it from you, its mine.

If I had it a little while ago, its mine.

If its mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.

If I'm doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.

If it looks like mine, its mine.

Hide and Seek Sounds

materials: 4 index cards or 4 pieces of paper, pencil.

Begin by taking 4 index cards and write a single letter- m, d, f, g, ect... on each card. Use consonants... yowels don't work well in this game.

Hide the cards around the room.... in plain view. Tell child "Somewhere hidden in this room is the letter that makes the sound mmmmm. Look until you find it. If you have trouble, I'll give you hints."

If they find the wrong card... make its sound (f...ffffff) and have them put it back where they found it. give the child a hint if they would like help. (hot ,cold, getting warmer)

Point: To match consonants with proper sounds, from the easy ones like t to letter sounds that are more difficult, like q (kw) and x(ks) They will even learn that "c" has 2 sounds, as does "g"

Pearly Soda Clay

This stuff is gorgeous. It's smooth and silky in your hands, it has a porcelain like finish and a soft, eye-catching shimmer when dry.

Materials: 1 Cup baking soda
1/2 Cup cornstarch
3/4 Cup water
food coloring (optional)

Step 1: In a sauce pan, stir together the baking soda and cornstarch. Add the water, mixing well.

Step 2: Cook the mixture over low heat (adults should supervise), stirring occasionally, until it resembles mashed potatoes, about 7 to 10 minutes. You will need to stir almost constantly the last few minutes as it thickens.

Step 3: Remove the pan from the heat and set aside. When the dough has cooled, turn it out onto a floured board. Knead the dough with your hands, adding more cornstarch as needed, to create a workable clay.

Tips:For tinted clay, knead in a few drops of food coloring. Allow creations to air dry over-night. Refrigerate any leftover dough in a ziplock bad for up to three days.

Edible Peanut Butter Playdough

18 ounce jar peanut butter
6 Tablespoons Honey
Non-fat Dry Milk

Mis together first two ingredients, then add dry milk until dough is not sticky. Allow children to mold and shape like regular play dough.

Snowball notes Summer?

Preserve winter memories with a friend. Write a note, wrap it in plastic and pack a snowball around it. Wrap the snowball in aluminum foil or place it in a sandwich baggie. Trade with a friend. Store your snowball in the freezer. Defrost it on a summer day for a cool reminder of winter. We defrosted it while playing in the lawn sprinklers.

Ice bubbles

Put those winter days to use with a little science fun.

What you will need: bubble solution and a bubble wand on frigid day.

Choose a windless day below 32 degrees to do this science project. Go outdoors and gently blow a bubble without releasing it. Keep the bubble on the wand and watch carefully. What happens? You will see ice crystals forming until the blower freezes completely into a clear bubble of ice.

Do you think I've lost my marbles?

Well, I haven't. They are right where I left them. I decided it would be fun to have a site that my friends with children could utilize. I have a whole shoe box full of activities and recipes for fun. I'll post new items when I have the time. Check back.