Category: Everything Else!

Density Ornaments – Science Plus Holiday Art!

By , December 12, 2016 7:33 pm

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We decorated our Christmas tree this evening.  During the process, someone found a long lost box of empty glass ball Christmas ornaments that they sell at craft stores. They are the kind that you can fill with whatever fun things you want.

One of the kids had the idea of filling them with colored water.  This evolved into water plus other stuff. Finally, the project transformed into a density column idea where liquids of different densities are added and then separate out into colorful layers.

Colored water was pretty (especially with a little soap):

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Then one of the kids thought of the layers of differing densities in a density column and wanted to try that!  They put all the ingredients we had on hand in different little bowls (honey, light corn syrup, water, canola oil, and green dish soap).  NOTE: Steve Spangler has a great density column project that lists ingredients you can use.

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We did not have a funnel, so we used a large kid’s medicine dropper and a cool syringe-type device that my oldest daughter was given when she had her wisdom teeth out (a baby medicine syringe would work too). They both worked really well.

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Honey, corn syrup, and oil with a few drops of food coloring in the oil produced some cool, elevated, lava lamp-style blobs:

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The ornaments are too heavy to hang on a Christmas tree, however they make a pretty and very unusual centerpiece!

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Top Secret Turkey Placemat

By , November 22, 2016 5:59 pm

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We all know about “Secret Santa,” but how about “Top Secret Turkey?”

With Thanksgiving in the United States a mere three days away (what happened to the year, can someone tell me please??), we wanted to come up with a fun idea to celebrate being thankful. The children were talking about their fond memories of weaving construction paper placemats each year at their Montessori school to use at the school Thanksgiving feast, so we came up with a variation of the simple woven placemat that also incorporates thankfulness.

This is pretty easy and works for all ages.  Totally doable with younger children (if they can’t cut well yet, you can precut the strips) or with teenagers if they’ll agree to it.  Mine did because they wanted to make the placemat of their memories and honestly, we had a lot of silly fun along the way.

The basics you will need are construction paper, scissors, and something to write with.  We used colored Sharpies.

1) Choose your paper colors. We used red, yellow, orange, and brown to represent fall.  Orient the sheets of paper vertically and use a ruler to mark off one inch increments.

dsc_00922) Using the guide dots, cut the papers into one inch strips.  They don’t have to be perfect.  I actually think it looks better if they aren’t.

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3) Arrange the strips in rows in a pattern if you like patterns (I am a pattern kind of person) or random if that suits you better!  Experiment with the number of strips you will need of each color to achieve the size that you want.  We used four strips each of our four colors (so we had some left over).

4) Tape the very top of the papers to the table using a long strip of tape to hold them in place (LESSON LEARNED: We used Scotch Tape and it was quite difficult to remove from the table afterwards, masking tape would be much easier).

5) Now you can begin weaving.  Very little ones will need help with this.  Follow the same pattern you used with the vertical strips or make a new one.

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6) Now get a glue stick or some white glue and glue underneath each top flap at the edge all the way around the mat.

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Unstick the tape from the table and flip the mat over.  Fold over the taped flap to easily stick down that edge.   Then repeat same gluing process as first side along the remaining edges of the mat.

7) Cut off the extra bits that are hanging off.

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Now for the Top Secret part!  

Put all the placemats in a pile. Before your meal, have everyone at the Thanksgiving table draw a name out of a hat to determine who’s Top Secret Turkey they will be.  Next have each person take a random placemat and write on the back of the placemat something they are thankful for about the person who’s name they drew.  On the front of the placemat, they should write that person’s name.  If you are concerned with handwriting being a giveaway, prepare stickers with all the names ahead of time (either computer printed or all written by the same person).  Set the table with the placemats. An added bonus is that the names will serve as place markers so everyone knows where to sit.

At some point before, during or after the meal, have everyone turn over their mat and read the nice comment. Each person can then try to guess who is his or her Top Secret Turkey!  It’s a fun game that leaves everyone feeling happy and appreciated!

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Here are two other thankful-related projects that you might enjoy:

(NOTE: I apologize for the lack of photos in these posts.  They suffered from my great photo disaster but I am working on finding and replacing them, or recreating them!)

 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Mending the Blog

By , November 13, 2016 4:28 pm

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After coming so close to pressing the “DELETE” button on Unplug Your Kids several times, thus killing it and taking it offline forever, I never could bring myself to do it.  People still come here for ideas, and quite frankly lots of people still seem to need help taking a potholder off a loom (58,864 so far)!

These people often comment about how they wish they could see the photos. I wish they could too.

For the past three years I have been ignoring the blog and trying to recover from the sudden loss of all my thousands of photos.  Many, many years of hard work were lost. Family memories too. I really did do all of those artsy craftsy projects with my own three children and they say they have fond memories of each and every one.  It was a big part of their lives growing up, and mine. I will always back-up pictures from now on.  Lesson learned (the hard way).

But lately a thought has been milling about in my mind: What about recreating those art projects? Doing them again? It would be a huge task, but when I mentioned this idea to my kids (now 16, 14, and 10) they were like, “Yeah, bring it on!  We want to do it! That stuff was fun!” So today we redid my number one most popular project: Color-Marbleized Paper (160,691 views, wow!) and I just posted our photos.  It was a lot of fun!  My two oldest remembered doing it before, and my youngest enjoyed doing it for the first time.

Over the past week I also managed to dig up some photos from an old computer in order to completely fix the How to Take a Potholder Off a Loom post, and the Easy Homemade Musical Instruments post.  I have found a few other pictures here and there that I have put back in their posts, but will need to redo those projects in order to fully replace all the photos.

But now that my top three most popular posts are fixed, where should I go now?  Does anyone out there have a favorite post they’d like to see pictures for?  If so, please leave a comment and maybe we’ll recreate your favorite next.

 

Bold and Positive Girl Shirts!

By , September 19, 2013 10:58 am

My 13 year old  daughter is not a “girly-girl.”  She does not like pink.  She does not like purple.  She does not like sparkles.  She even complains that the little cap sleeves on “girls’ shirts” are not as comfy as the “normal” sleeves on boys’ clothes.  My daughter reads a lot, runs cross-country, and is determined to get her private pilot’s license on her 17th birthday.  She is the perfect customer for Girls Will Be, a store for “girl clothes without the girly.”

Here you can find unique shirts in sizes 4 through 12 with positive messages.  No “Princess” or “Spoiled Brat.”  No images of boy pop bands, Angry Birds, or teenage TV “role model” actresses.  There is also a noticeable lack of glitter, sparkle, ruffles, and spandex.

My daughter chose an airplane shirt (the plane image is actually a flock of birds) and a bold but cute dog shirt. We have a “Bold Daring Fearless Adventurous” tee on pre-order!

If you visit, be sure to read the “About” page.  The store was recently founded by two sister moms (of “non-girly” girls) and their artistic brother who designs the shirts himself.  They write:  “We hope Girls Will Be helps empower young girls to be themselves and never feel like they need to conform to the increasingly narrow definition of “girl” reflected in far too many of the clothes (and other products) marketed to them.”

I also like that this cool family maintains a blog where they showcase clothing and accessories from other stores that meet their non-girly standards.

Fortunately for the Girls Will Be team, demand is high for their products (which are all made in the United States) and you might have to pre-order and wait a bit to get the shirt you want.  The wait is worth it though since the quality and comfort-level are excellent and, most importantly, my daughter loves her unique shirts and wears them often.

There is nothing wrong with being feminine, but it is important that girls have a clothing choice.  My daughter and I wish the Girls Will Be team lots of success in their very worthy enterprise!

 

A Sad Day

By , August 17, 2013 4:00 pm

All my photos on all of my posts are gone.  Irretrievable I believe.

I have not been to my blog for some time now but I have been missing it and decided to stop by.  A few months ago I had to change my blog email due to a hacker, and in so doing, Picasa seems to have deleted all the albums associated with the old email account.  That is six years of photos.  Hundreds of photos.  Thousands of hours of work, all gone.  I had been planning on bringing the blog back to life, but now without the photos, it is not the same. I think this means it is time to put Unplug Your Kids to bed and take it offline.  I guess I will sleep on it and decide what to do.

Feeling very sad right now.

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