## Wednesday, July 31, 2013

### Catapult Addition {a DIY Math Game}

My son can add numbers in his head better than I can, but this was still a great way to sneak in some playful math practice.

His little brother got in on the action too (our oldest boy was kind enough to keep score for him).

This wonderful idea came from Spoonful.
The catapult DIY is from Do It And How.

I've been itching to make catapults with my boys for ages but most of the ones I've seen require a block of wood that you attach a clothespin to.

The clothespin isn't the problem; it's buying a big piece of lumber so my husband can saw it into one tiny block. NOT PRACTICAL.

Make a Catapult
This catapult design is uber simple and requires no power tools (unless you consider a hot glue gun one).

You'll need 10 jumbo wooden craft sticks, hot glue, four rubber bands, and a recycled plastic cap.

1. Stack eight sticks and wrap a rubber band around each end. Then, stack the remaining two sticks and wrap another rubber band around one of the ends.

2. Separate the two sticks hinged together with one rubber band and slide the stack in-between.

3. Add the last rubber band by weaving it in and around the point where the sticks meet.

4. Apply a dot of hot glue and attach the plastic cap.

Make it a Math Game!
You'll need something to shoot in the catapult. We used pom pom balls.

Grab four disposal plates and label them with numbers. I used 5, 10, 15, and 20. Use your child's ability to gauge what numbers are appropriate. When playing this with my preschooler by himself, I will just use one plate so he can count by ones how many pom poms hit the target.

Now lay out the plates and load the catapult with a pom pom. Push down on the pom pom-filled cap, release, and watch it fly! Have kids add their scores together.

## Monday, July 29, 2013

### After School Linky Party (7/29)

Welcome to the After School Linky!

My, oh my, I spy great ideas with my eye.
Here are just some of the great learning ideas shared at last week's party.

Fruity Mummies, An Ancient Egypt Activity by Scattered Yet Together.
(Jesikah brought the science of ancient Egypt to life with this experiment. Her kids used a variety of materials and apple chunks to see which led to the best preservation.)

30 Fun Alphabet Songs for Children at Fun-A-Day!
(Music is such a powerful way to learn. I love this list of alphabet songs. Thanks, Mary Catherine!)

The Addition Box by Caminen Plegats. (Hit Translate.)
(Make addition fun by creating an addition box with using cardboard and tubes. This is SUCH a great way to make math visual.)

August Table Topics by Growing Book by Book.
(Jodie has taken all the work out of making conversation starters for family dinners! Awesome!)

Draw a Life-Sized Whale & More Under the Sea Activities at KC Edventures.
(Get out the measuring tape and some chalk. Kids will be amazed at the size of their favorite whale. This is a great way to help kids understand scale.)

DIY Addition Strip Board and Strip Board Presentations by Living Montessori Now.
(This is such a smart way to reinforce early addition. Watch the video to see how simple it is!)

Science Experiments for Kids: How to Grow Crystals by 123 Homeschool 4 Me.
(Not only are kids learning but the final result of this activity is beautiful. Check out Beth's tutorial!)

Cohosted by
Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational

## Friday, July 26, 2013

### Straw-Blown Painted Neuron Diagram

My son discovered graphic novels this past year.

I'm not going to lie, I was less than thrilled.

But then his teacher reminded me that whenever kids are excited to read, it's a good thing. As time passed, our public library devoted a whole section to these kind of books and I was excited to see graphic novels with characters from history. I slowly warmed to the idea that graphic novels were good choices for kids.

When I found Molly Kolpin's First Graphics series on the body's systems, I was thrilled. Let's face it, understanding how the body works is confusing. Kolpin's books simplify the science of our anatomy in terms kids can understand and the graphic novel format makes it visually exciting to read.

Thanks to Kolpin and illustrator Chris B. Jones, we took a tour of the nervous system. As we read, I gave my son a worksheet I'd made. (Download a free PDF on Google Drive here.)

He needed to complete the worksheet by filling in the blanks (the book contained the answers) and then make a diagram of a neuron.

For our diagram, I grabbed watercolor paints, dot sticker, a paint brush, some construction paper, and a plastic drinking straw. He colored a big watery blue dot and using the straw blew air near the excess paint out spraying it out from the edges in every direction. (These are the dendrites.)

Then, he used the brush to draw a line down from the dot (in hindsight, a skinnier brush would have been better) and once again blew through the straw to extend the drops of paint at the bottom of his line, which was the axon. These fine outreaching lines at the bottom were the nerve endings.

He added some small rectangular pieces of construction paper to the axon and a small dot sticker as the neuron's nucleus. He added a smiley face, just like Nelly Neuron in the book we read.

Lastly, he labeled the parts of his diagram.

I plan to check out more of Kolpin's books. We'll combine his worksheets into one book on all of the body's systems when we've gotten through each of them.

## Wednesday, July 24, 2013

### Baseball BINGO printable

If our summer had a theme, it would have to be baseball.

Our oldest son just wrapped up his season playing baseball, we took the boys to their first major league baseball game in June, and the house is filled with baseball cards and library books about America's favorite past time.

During a recent trip to our minor league baseball stadium for a game, we got the chance to play baseball (batter's) BINGO.

What fun!

When we got home, I made some more game cards so we could play again when watching our favorite teams play on TV.

This game is best played with multiple players or if one player uses more than one card. Players will be only marking their BINGO card when their favorite team gets up to bat. The baseball player's performance will dictate which numbers you search for and ultimately, cross through on your card.

 Download a set of 8 baseball BINGO cards and the key here.
For example, when Red Sox 1st baseman Mike Napoli steps up to bat and hits a fly out, the number you look for on your BINGO card is O-70. Each player should have a Baseball BINGO key to help them. Strike outs count as nothing.

The first player to get five in a row (horizontal, vertical, or diagonal) wins!

This is a great way to keep the interest alive during a long game. We printed a roster of players so we'd know their positions before the game started, paused the game and wrote down the batting order, and were ready to play along with the major leaguers!

Want some great books to pair with this activity? Here's what we've been reading lately.

## Monday, July 22, 2013

### After School Linky Party (7/22)

Welcome to the After School Linky!

Have y'all made it your personal quest to make it nearly impossible for me to narrow down my favorites each week? I'm beginning to think so.

Great ideas abound! Here are just some of the phenomenal ideas shared last week.

Montessori-Inspired Ladybug Activities Using Free Printables at PreK + K Sharing.
(Deb over at Living Montessori Now has compiled an amazing list of ladybug activities with links to free printables. Thanks, Deb!!)

Water Play, Music Play & Children: A Natural Combination at Children's Play Music.
(This is amazing. Spend six minutes and watch the video. Then, grab the kids and a big tub of water and get ready for music, play, and the science of noise! PS - I am totally making a packing tape drum!!)

Climb the Ladder: A Printable Spelling Game for any Word List by The Measured Mom.
(Making spelling practice fun can seem like an impossible feat. But this game sounds like a blast. Pin now and be ready for back to school!)

Water Squirter Math Game at Kitchen Counter Chronicles.
(Decorate toilet paper tubes with numbers and cover in packing tape. Give kids squirt bottles and have them add the number of the tubes that got knocked over. Great summer math fun!)

Sticker Story Bag from The Pleasantest Thing.
(Kids randomly pull stickers from a bag to inspire a story. What a great way to get children writing this summer!)

Buzzing Bug Noisemaker Toys from Teach Beside Me.
(Kids can make this simple toy with materials you have around the house, spin it around, and be amazed at the sound. FUN!)

Critical Thinking Skills - Number Noughts and Crosses at Homeschool Escapade.
(Suddenly Tic-Tac-Toe just became a math game, full of strategy and addition problems. This is simple enough to do while waiting for your food at a restaurant!)

Free Form Geoboard from An Idea on Tuesday.
(And you thought geoboards were all square? Not so!! Niccola shows you how much creativity you can have making one and just how much fun kids will have with it!)

Cohosted by
Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational

## Friday, July 19, 2013

### DIY Xylophone out of Wrenches

If you've been following my blog, you know how much my boys love DIY instruments. They are the most requested activities by my oldest son. So when I saw this DIY xylophone by Caroline at De tout et de rien, it was just a matter of time before we tackled the project.

Supplies
Wrenches. You'll need a set of wrenches. Most sets come with 10, but you'll only need nine. Give the biggest wrench to someone you know that's handy. I bought a set for \$20 and while that's WAY more than I ever pay for our educational activities, I knew this would get loads of use and when the boys grew tired of it, would be deconstructed and find a home in my husband's tool box. To lower the price, purchase a smaller set and make a miniature version.

Pipe insulation tubing. This stuff is like a skinny pool noodle but is already scored down the middle on one side.

Twine. Strong string works great.

Instructions

1. Open the tubing where it is scored.
2. Fold the tube in half and cut.
3. Insert eight wrenches in one length of the foam tube, in order from smallest to biggest. Set the smallest wrench aside.
4. Grab a long length of twine. Tie it in a knot around one end of the tubing, and then lace it in and out, around each of the wrenches, pulling tightly to secure them in place.
5. Tie another knot around the tubing after the last wrench.
6. Repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 with the other length of tubing.
7. Use the tiny wrench you set aside as a mallet. Strike the metal wrenches and make sweet music!

Our boys have both had a blast with this. And I find it utterly charming that at completely random points in the day, I can hear the sweet chiming sounds it makes emanating from their rooms!

## Wednesday, July 17, 2013

### Types of Triangles Board Game

I'm not sure what I was dreaming about or why but when I woke up in the morning I had the idea to make a board game to help my son learn the four types of triangles:
Scalene
Right-angled
Equilateral
Isosceles

Too afraid to forget the idea, I got out of bed, sacrificing sleep for this new activity.

First, I made a cheat sheet to help my son learn the differences between the four types of triangles.

Then I made a template for a cut-and-fold die with the four types and two other commands.

Lastly, I made the Travel Around the Triangle game board.

Download and print the free four-page PDF and make this game yourself. (Remember to print the die on cardstock so it's sturdy enough to be rolled around. And when putting the game board together, the bottoms of the pages will not be aligned; use the triangles as your guide for where to tape the two halves together.)

To help get us in the mood, we read Triangles Around Town, which helped us realize that triangles are practically everywhere!

To play the game, I grabbed two small pom poms to use as game pieces for my son and I. You can use anything small - buttons, magnets, two different coins, etc.

Now, we got rolling. Simply roll the die and move the game piece to the triangle featured. If the top of the die reads "Roll 2 more times and move ahead twice," the player must roll until the die lands on a triangle, move to that triangle on the game board, roll again until another triangle is revealed and move once more.

If a player rolls the "Roll again and move back to that triangle," the same is true. They must keep rolling until a triangle appears on the top of the die when it stops moving. If the player is at the start, the turn is over and their opponent rolls the die.

The first player to make it to the right-angled triangle at the finish wins!

## Monday, July 15, 2013

### After School Linky Party (7/15)

Welcome to the After School Linky!

The good ideas just keep coming. Here are some of my favorites activities shared from last week's linky party.

Monstrous Fun with Hard and Soft C Card Game at Enchanted Schoolroom.
(This is a GREAT freebie for emerging readers who struggle with whether the c makes a "k" or "s" sound!)

Magnets at the Easel from StrongStart.
(Milk jug lids and popsicle sticks have been transformed with magnets. Invite children to make flowers and other masterpieces. With a smaller magnet board, this could even be a great travel activity!)

Space Unit #1: The beginning (universe) at My Little Princess World.
(While this blog post is chock full of great ideas to help kids learn about the beginning of the universe, I think the star-shaped confetti-filled balloon is my favorite. What a clever way to make a very abstract concept tangible!)

Chinese Toy: How to Make a Bamboo Dragonfly by Marie's Pastiche.
(Kids will love making these fun flying toys. Grown-ups will love the detailed tutorial!)

Hidden LEGO Men - 100 Days of Play by Science Sparks.
(What seems like magic is actually science. Kids will marvel at how paper pouches open on their own to reveal LEGO men or other small toys.)

Water Math & Science Activities for kids ages 3-6 by The Measured Mom.
(Sinking/floating, absorbing, dissolving, water balloons, water beads - whoa, this is quite a list. My favorite among the activities is the lesson in comparing volume.)

Cohosted by
Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational

## Friday, July 12, 2013

### Blending Colors with DIY Tops

This activity combines art, science, and play. I'm not overselling it when I say, it's downright mesmerizing.

Both my boys played with these tirelessly, and it was only until it was bedtime when they were forced to stop (truthfully, I had to confiscate them).

Even my husband said he wanted one for his office. I can just picture him spinning and spinning while on long teleconferences.

Any how, enough already. Here's what we did and how.

All you need is:
Old CDs
Marbles
Plastic bottle caps
Hot glue
Paper (we used printable CD labels)
Markers

On printable CD label stickers, we divided most of the labels into quadrants or eighths by folding. Then we colored them using markers, choosing colors that when combined make another color:
blue and yellow = green
black and white = grey
red and yellow = orange

We decorated two additional ones however we felt - one with dots in a circle, and the other with numerals.

(If you don't have CD labels, cut paper in a circular shape the same size as the CD and cut a hole in the center, tracing the CD to get the right size. Then use glue to adhere it. Or use permanent markers and draw directly on the underside of the CD!)

Once the labels were stuck on, we applied hot glue liberally around the hole on the bottom of the CD and stuck a marble (the small ones work perfectly) in. Within a minute, the glue had hardened and the marble was secure.

Now we applied a ring of glue to the top of the CD around the center hole (on top of our colored label) and added a plastic cap.

All that was left to do was grip the cap and get our tops spinning. It was SO much fun to see how the colors blended together. Our dotted top looked like it had a circular solid grey line on it, which my son was surprised by.

We studied the tops a long time. Sometimes the color we expected only appeared when the top's spin began to slow, other times it was immediately apparent.

This was a perfect indoor activity for a hot summer day.

Our inspiration came from Mini Matisse and the wonderful book Science Wizardry for Kids.

## Wednesday, July 10, 2013

### Printable Bicycle Safety Playing Cards

We got our oldest son a new bicycle two weeks ago. Now that he's feeling more confident on his bike, I want to make sure he's being safe.

Rather than rattle off a litany of rules, which I know he'll forget, I made him a set of playing cards.

I come from a bicycling family, so I was able to seek the expertise of my dad for some help. He provides instruction (and free helmets) to kids a few times a year as a member of my hometown's bicycle club. As an avid cyclist, he takes bicycle safety seriously, and as you can imagine, shares my goal of keeping our boys safe on their bikes.

To make the cards, print the 3-page PDF on white cardstock. If you're concerned the paper is see-through, spray glue some thin colored paper to the back before cutting out.

Before we played with our bike safety deck of cards, we read Ride Right by Jill Urban Donahue. This simple books features loads of safety tips - wearing a helmet, only ride during daylight, use hand signals, and be alert (just to name a few)!

Go Bicycling!
With the book done, we shuffled the cards (I printed two sets for our first game). It was time to play "Go Fish" with the two sets of cards. Deal five cards to each player and mix the rest up in the middle between players. Any matches should be removed from players' hands.

Players can either make a match with two cards or, to make it more challenging, a match can have four like cards. Play alternates between players, with each asking each other for the cards they need to make a match.

"Do you have 'Use hand signals when STOPPING'?"

"No. Go bicycling."

At which time the player who asked, draws a card from the pile. If the opponent has the card in question, it is surrendered. With the match in hand, the player gets another turn until there are no more requested cards to hand over.

The player with the most matches wins.

Bicycle Safety Memory
With one set of cards (24 cards), players shuffle and lay each out in a grid face down. Players take turns turning over two cards at a time. Like in the Go Bicycling game, when they make a match, pairing two like cards, they get another turn. Cards that are not a match, are flipped back over for the opponent's next turn.

The player to make the most matches wins.

Safe bicycling, everyone!