Thursday, July 21, 2011

"Absorbing Artwork"

Since it has been so hot during our Water, Water Everywhere week for MOMS Camp, I have been glad to find lots of water craft ideas to do in the cool air conditioning! Here is an idea I have been saving for a long time: "Absorbing Artwork". Molly (4) really loves using glue, so I knew she would love it and I thought this week was the perfect time to try it.

This idea came from a Family Fun Magazine. First, I let Molly squiggle glue all over a piece of paper. Then, we covered it with salt until all the glue was completely covered, and shook off the access as if we were using glitter. Next we filled several small containers with colored water: I had her add five drops per tablespoon of water for each color. The idea is to drop water onto the salt one drop at a time, and the salt absorbs it and your colors spread along the designs you drew with glue! The magazine called for an eye dropper, but we just washed out a dropper from off a baby Tylenol bottle to use.

This was surprisingly not messy, except for extra salt that got spilled on the table. Molly did a great job with the dropper. We also used a container of clear water to suck up and clean the dropper, then had an empty container to squirt that in so our colors never mixed. Molly ended up making four of these "paintings" and I even did one myself because it looked like so much fun! Be careful when you move them to a drying spot because the colors will run if the paper tips on accident. Also, the magazine called for card stock but it's not needed, although I wouldn't recommend printer paper. We used white construction paper. Finally, it dries kinda funky and the salt can chunk off, so just be gentle to preserve your awesome absorbing artwork!

Glitter "Globes"

Our MOMS Camp week all about water has been a blast, and perfect timing for the hottest week of the year! Molly (4) has continued her swimming lessons and every afternoon we play at our neighborhood pool. Each day we pick out more toys to bring with us and experiment with in the water, seeing what can float or what sinks.

Watering the plants out front has been a nice quick activity for us, as well as dropping ice cubes in the cats' water dish! I let Molly get special "gems" to go in her fish tank, since that has to do with water, too. We talked about how living things need water to survive, and that it's the best choice when you're thirsty. We had a bottle of water to drink, which led into our craft for the day: "glitter globes"!

I found this idea in a Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine back when Molly was in preschool last spring and saved it. The article suggested baby bottles, but we used water bottles since Ben (1) uses bottles with liners. First, fill the bottle 2/3 with water and 1/3 with vegetable oil. Add a few drops of food coloring - we chose yellow and (surprise!) pink. Then pour in a couple tablespoons of glitter and small sequins. Seal the lid by putting a bit of glue on it before twisting it closed. The foil glitter we used didn't turn out so pretty, but the tiny beads we put in were the best! This was such a quick and easy activity, and Molly and Ben both enjoy shaking them.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Painting With Sidewalk Chalk

If you know me, you know I love sidewalk chalk. A long time ago I discovered a method of making paint with it, all by accident! Today Molly (4) and I braved the heat and painted with sidewalk chalk. We stuck to the shaded portion of our driveway and here's how we did it:

First, get part of your driveway wet with a hose. We also filled up several containers with water, including a mini swimming pool just for fun, and an extra tub to rinse our brushes off in. Next, use sidewalk chalk to color large blobs of each color. Using sidewalk chalk on wet pavement will really use it up fast, so be sure you're okay with that first! We used up some old broken pieces for this. You might need to add a little extra water to it if it gets too chunky. Once you have your "palette" ready, grab your paint brushes and go to town! Dip the brush in water first, then use it like regular paint on dry pavement. Footprints and hand prints are especially neat with sidewalk chalk paint!

As you're painting, your artwork might look more like just water, but when it dries it gets really bright! The first time we discovered this awesome paint, we stepped in it and made footprints. When it dried, the footprints showed up white and looked like a ghost had been there!

While we were outside, we also did a few experiments with water and chalk. First, I had Molly use a large paint brush to paint with plain water. I had her do a stripe in the sun and we watched as it evaporated, but noted her "artwork" in the shade didn't fade so fast. Also, we compared the sidewalk chalk hues when we drew on dry pavement versus wet pavement.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fun with Kool-Aid

My same friend we played on the slide with gave me the awesome idea to paint with Kool-Aid! Here's what you do: sprinkle a little bit of Kool-Aid on a piece of paper, then use an ice cube to go over it and "paint!" It really does smell delicious, and isn't as messy as you'd expect! As Molly was holding the ice cube, we talked about how cold it was and how it really is frozen water. Ben enjoyed sucking on the flavored cubes. My favorite picture Molly made was a rainbow! Just a note: the purple grape does look kinda black. When she was done painting, I shook off the access dust into the trash and her artwork dried really nice.

Since we had just a little Kool-Aid left in each packet, and of course I didn't want to just toss it out, I saved all the leftovers. Molly has had fun mixing different colors into our pitcher and making her own flavor (and color) creations of Kool-Aid. Pink Lemonade-Grape was a nice pretty light purple, but Lemon-Lime-Orange looks pretty nasty! Haha! Tastes fine, though! ;O)
As we make our drinks, we talked about how you can mix things into water to make it something new: like Kool-Aid, tea, and coffee. Oh, the amazing qualities of H2O.

Water, Water Everywhere!

Since I've been so busy working on marching band field shows, and it's been so incredibly hot outside, we've taken a few days off of MOMS Camp just to stay cool inside and go to the neighborhood pool. When I realized that Molly (4) begins swimming lessons tomorrow and we'd been in the water so much any way, I decided we should just claim this water week!! So, my newest week of MOMS Camp is "Water, Water Everywhere!" It's been super easy to claim our everyday summer fun as special activities. ;O)

For example, swimming at the neighborhood pool. One game we play is to pretend I'm Molly's swim teacher and I have her try different things, like hopping on one foot, "monkey crawling" along the edge, and swimming to a certain point and back. We also took some small toys we hadn't brought with us before and tested them to see if they would float or sink. Ben's (1) favorite experiment in the pool is pouring water from a toy watering can.

One day we got together with a friend to play with our giant inflatable water slide! I found it this spring at a garage sale for only $10 and it was so worth it! The kids had a great time and it was just special enough to seem like were were further than just the front yard. Molly (4) had fun with her friend coming up with new ways to slide down and Ben (1) mainly enjoyed watching, but also got to splash in his own little kiddie pool.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The sun sets on another week

Here is one other star-shaped dessert we made for our Great Big Sky Week: starry strawberry shortcake! I combined a couple recipe ideas I found and made my own creation with what we had on hand. I used a Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheet and cut it with a star-shaped cookie cutter. I sprinkled the stars with some sugar and baked them for about 12 minutes at 400 degrees. Meanwhile, I cut up fresh strawberries and stirred them with maybe 1/4 cup of sugar until they got sweet and syrupy. I put it all together and topped with fresh whipped cream, which I made with heavy whipping cream and I think 2 teaspoons of sugar. Delish dish!

Just by chance, we caught a great episode of Peppa Pig on Nick Jr. all about the night sky! Molly was so excited when she recognized the Big Dipper and the North Star.

Finally, this week we've played with Perler Beads a few times: the ones you put on a plastic peg board and iron together into shapes. The little ones have proved too difficult for Molly (4) so I made a sun and a star for her. Meanwhile, I found some "biggie beads" for smaller kids at Michaels and they were 40% off that day! Woo hoo! What a great week.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


As a fun finale to our Great Big Sky week, I took Molly (4) and Ben (1) to the planetarium at Union Station in Kansas City. They have a kids show that runs twice a day with Big Bird called something like One Big World, One Big Sky. It only lasted about 30 minutes, but that was enough time for Ben to sit still. Predictably it took some bribery to get him to stay in my lap (a bottle, a sucker, some Nilla wafers...) but Molly loved it! There were a few times when the scene appeared to lower down so we could get a close-up view of the sky and Molly would turn to me with the best wonder on her face and ask "Did we just go up??"

Overall the show was pretty neat - it revolved around a new puppet friend from China and they discover that the sky is the same in either country. There was also a neat scene "on the moon" that taught about the differences in gravity and air, but was done so well for little ones! I really wish it had touched a bit more on constellations besides just the big dipper though, since that's what I personally am focusing on for MOMS Camp.

We also had a good time with friends exploring the roller coaster models and huge model train room at Union Station. If you ever went to World of Fun in the 80's, you'll appreciate seeing your old favorite roller coasters! ;O) We had lunch at Fritz's, where a train brings you your food, which was a great choice for my very noisy (albeit happy) one-year-old. Not everything has to revolve around a weekly theme!

Star Light, Star Bright

Today we started focusing on stars in the night sky. It is definitely one of the easier themes to stick with, as long as you have a star shaped cookie cutter (and I actually have about five of them in various sizes!) You can serve star-shaped toast, star-shaped sandwiches, star-shaped fruit, and star-shaped cheese. You can make star-shaped "chips" out of flour tortillas that you spray with cooking spray and bake at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes. You can serve star-shaped pitas with hummus. The list goes on and on!

So far we have done a few of those but I really wanted to teach Molly a little about constellations. I checked out several books from the library that I hoped would be good, but mostly they were for older kids. Two that really stood out though were The Glow In the Dark Night Sky Book by Clint Hatchett and The Zoo In The Sky by Jacqueline Mitton.

I had her decorate an empty paper towel tube to use as a pretend telescope, in preparation for looking through a real one! We headed over to my brother's house to check out his telescope (which is a really cool one). Molly (4) and her cousin, also age four, got to look at the moon and a few stars. We did push bedtime back about 1.5 hours so it would get dark enough for the stars to come out since we were not in the country. Luckily, you can see the moon around 8pm when it's still light out so you don't necessarily have to sacrifice your schedule if you want to get out and look to the sky!

Now what I really want to find are some of those glow in the dark star stickers for Molly's ceiling, but I have yet to find any! Please let me know if you see any, hopefully around $5 or less!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunny Skies

A beautiful sunny morning was the perfect thing to wake up to on our next day of my MOMS Camp week about the sky. We started focusing on the SUN! Right off the bat, I served a sunny breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast, shaped like what else? The sun! I actually added three or four drops of yellow food coloring to the eggs to make them extra bright.

For our craft project today, I had Molly (4) decorate a foam visor. You can find them in many colors for just a dollar at Michaels or other craft store. I actually found a white one with designs on it (like a sunshine and peace sign) to color for a couple bucks at Michaels. Molly ended up wearing it out and about all day!

We also went roller skating on a tennis court and took turns making fun shadows in the sun. I had Molly look at different shadows, like the one made by the tennis court net and a sheer piece of fabric. (For those of you that know me, it was a flag silk!)

Finally, for dinner we had some corn on the cob sunshine: just pieces of corn I cut into about 1 inch deep circles. (You can also serve them on kabob sticks as flowers.)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Marshmallow Clouds

Our second day about clouds was even cloudier than the first, and rainy to boot. We talked about the different shapes of clouds and what each of them means (ie small fluffy clouds mean nice weather; lots of low dark clouds mean rain; and a big giant wall cloud means thunder storms).

Due to the rainy weather, we opted to spend the morning at Monkey Bizness, an indoor inflatables place for kids in Olathe, KS. We did stick to our theme in the afternoon, though, and painted some clouds... with marshmallows! Of course that also led to eating marshmallows as a snack, too. This was another craft that Molly (4) really loved and stuck with for a long time. I simply put white paint (and later pink paint, per her request) on a paper plate and had Molly dip a marshmallow in it and paint on construction paper. When she decided to paint a pink cloud, we discussed how clouds can look different colors (pinks, grays, whites, etc). She enjoyed the old saying: "Pink (red) sky at night, sailors' delight; Pink (red) sky at morning, sailors take warning."

A couple other cloud books we read together include: The Police Cloud by Christoph Niemann and Little Cloud by Eric Carle. The Police Cloud is such a cute book! Even though the story is not informational, there are several pages and pictures that can lead to discussions about clouds; such as rain comes from clouds; clouds are not solid; clouds can be fog, etc. The story itself is really sweet! Little Cloud is a quick, fun board book and is actually good for Molly (4) to "read" herself and follow along with the pictures.

The Great Big Sky

We started a new theme for MOMS Camp on Wednesday this week called "The Great Big Sky," a week about clouds, rainbows, sunshine, and stars! I hope to spend a couple days on each subject and teach a little science along the way. First up is clouds, because when we woke up on Wednesday, it was a cloudy day!

Our craft project for today was a big hit for Molly: using plain ol' glue and cotton balls to make clouds on construction paper. She did three complete pages and it kept her busy for quite a while!

Right before dinner it started to clear up so we headed out to a playground just for the fun of it. We climbed to the very top of the structure to look up at the clouds and find shapes in them. When Molly was smaller, she liked to lay flat on her back on our driveway and watch the clouds. Mostly she sees dragons and dogs!

I checked out several DVD's from the library, just by searching the phrases "sky", "stars", "rainbow", etc. One that I found was "It's a Big Big World: The Sky Above". It features some rain forest puppets and Molly enjoyed it but I thought it was a little boring and wasn't quite the lesson I expected. Then, at bedtime we read a book called Clouds by Marion Dane Bauer which was quite informative and scientific!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

One Final Day of Travel Week

Since we were so busy with family and wedding festivities, then the Fourth of July, I've decided to stretch my Are We There Yet? week until today. My next weeks can either end early or just have a new start day, whichever happens is fine by me! Yet another beauty of my MOMS Camp: no rules to follow and no schedule to keep!

A couple books I'd requested from the library didn't come in before we left for our trip so we picked those up today. Two cute books we liked were: Miss Spider's New Car by David Kirk and Road Trip by Roger Eschbacher. Two books that have some pretty decent travel game ideas are: 50 Nifty Super Travel Games and 50 Nifty More Super Travel Games by Kevin and Joan Taylor and K.D. Kuch respectively. Most ideas in these books are really for school-age children, but there's a few ideas I could have used on our trip!

This afternoon we made really fun stop light cookies called Traffic Jams that I found in a Parents Magazine. I was so pleased when I found the apple jelly we needed at Walmart because I wasn't expecting it to be so easy to find. They came out really well and were fun for Molly (4) to make every step of the way. When it came time to dye the jelly, we mixed blue and yellow food coloring to make green so that was a fun lesson. As the cookies cooled, we reviewed what the red, yellow, and green lights stood for. Then we enjoyed them!

Here is the link to find the recipe to these cookies:

On The Road Again

There was a family wedding in Fort Collins, CO so we opted to drive out there and make a trip of it! This was our first long road trip, a total of 10.5 hours each way. I was a little nervous and a lot prepared. Happily, our trip went smoothly and everyone had a good, safe time!

Unfortunately, most of the travel game books I checked out from the library were more appropriate for older kids, but we found enough ways to keep the kids (ages 4 and 1) busy. We had several kids' CDs to listen to and sing along. One of our favorites is Disney Block Party. We also made up our own songs along the way, with my daughter (4) leading the chorus! I brought several read along books on CD which were a big hit, including Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and one of my personal favorites, Officer Buckle and Gloria, by Peggy Rathmann.

The days leading up to our trip were filled with lists, packing, and shopping for supplies. The funnest shopping trip was to the Dollar Tree to get some little toys to help pass the time. A favorite was the recorder I got for each kid. My husband even played his Irish tin whistle in the car while they played (and I got to read, through the racket). Another great buy to go along with our bottled water was some packets of pink lemonade, just the right size for a single bottle of water.

On our way home, we stopped at the Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure and Museum in Salina, KS and it was really great! We got in for a great discount with our AAA card and FOTZ (friends of the zoo) card from the Kansas City Zoo. The whole zoo was probably less than a 2 mile walk so it wasn't too tough but was a great stretch for our legs! I was impressed with the enclosures and my husband liked the rinos. Molly liked the anteaters and Ben liked the pink lemonade... which he poured on his lap. haha!

The museum part was really great! It was like walking through all sorts of terrain and historic times to see the plants and animals that would live there. Throughout the displays there were mechanical people who would tell the story of their lives and the animals they depended on, such as Native Americans depending on the buffalo. There was also a separate classroom with a huge tree inside, a balcony you could climb up on, and lots of books and animal puppets. Seeing all these animals up close and walking through the forest-like building was right up our alley!