Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Texture Painting

The other day Beansie was walking down the hall running his hand along the wall saying "smoooooth." Yesterday while playing on the playground, he ran his hand along a dried out part on the wood and said "rough." Both times he wasn't talking to anyone, just to himself (which his sister does as well :) as if he was processing a particular concept in the moment. So to expand on this concept of texture, I pulled out the paint. 

What You Need:
  • paint
  • oats
  • paper
  • a small container for each paint color
What To Do:
  1. Put paint in the containers
  2. mix in some oats (it doesn't matter how much you use as long as it creates a bumpy texture)
  3. Set up the activity by talking about how paint feels. "wet" "slimy" and "smooth" are the answers I got. Discuss how these words are ways to describe the texture of paint. 
  4. Now give them the bowls of the paint with oats and let them look at it and touch it.
  5. Ask what they notice about this new paint. "it's bumpy" and "it looks like it has rocks" are the answers I got. Discuss how the texture of the new paint is bumpy or rocky.
  6. Let them use their hands or paintbrushes (or spoon) to paint with the "bumpy" paint. 
  7. As they paint, talk about the similarities and differences between regular smooth paint and the new bumpy paint.
Busy digs right in with her hands and squishes and
squeezes to explore the texture of the paint.

My more cautious child, Beansie uses a
spoon to put the textured paint on the
paper instead of using his hands.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Chocolate Sunflower Butter

In my quest to find new recipes for the new year, I ran across this one for a nut free Nutella-like recipe. I was skeptical at first. Will it be difficult to make? Will my kids actually eat it? Turns out that it is very easy to make and my kids love it! I got the recipe from MOMables, a subscription blog that helps parents with healthy lunch ideas for kids. I haven't pulled the trigger on the subscription yet, but she also offers a free weekly email with some helpful tips.


  • 2 cups of raw sunflower seeds, toasted
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons of pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup + 3 Tablespoons of maple syrup (you can substitute with honey or agave)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 teaspoons of vegetable oil (optional for smoothness) 
  • 1/2 cup of milk (dairy or non dairy)
What To Do
  1. In a medium non-stick pan, toast sunflower seeds on medium high heat. Still frequently to avoid burning.
  2. Spread out seeds on a cookie sheet to cool.
  3. In the Vitamix (or food processor) process the seeds down until the seeds have become a thick, creamy butter (you will need to scrape sides as you go to mix uniformly) 
  4. Add remainder of ingredients until smooth and creamy
  5. Store in an ait-tight container in the fridge for up to a week (I promise it will be gone before then)
I'm telling you, this woman is a genus! This stuff is delicious and both kids love it! You can serve it cold or heat it up a bit and we eat it with apple slices, pear slices, bananas, and pretzels! And it's especially great for us because where Busy can pack peanut butter in her lunch, the Beans can't. This is a great nut free alternative!! And if you call it chocolate, they totally buy it ;)

Enjoy :)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Invitation to Play : Snowman

 An Invitation to play : Snowman

What You Need

  • contact paper (you should always have contact paper on hand!) 
  • blue tape (also something you always need handy)
  • cotton balls
  • construction paper
  • craft sticks (another item to always have on hand)
What To Do
  1. tape up contact paper squares
  2. cut out snowman body circles and a hat
  3. put the items for a snowman and snow out for the kids to explore and use as they see fit.
Keep in mind that an invitation to play is pretty open-ended. Your child should be free to play with the materials set out as he/she wants. My kids are very aware of the concept of contact paper and what the invitation means, but each child still gets to make what they want. After playing with the items in the bowl for a bit, Busy figured out that they made a snowman. She asked "is this like always? Do I get to do it my way?" When I said yes, she made what she called a "Snowman in the Wind." Beansie saw what she had done and made his and accurate version of a snowman. Same tree, different apples ;)

I always find it very interesting to see how each kid works with the exact materials!
Busy throws caution to the wind and the Beans is a less is more kind of kid ;)
For more Invitation to Play ideas go to The Imagination Tree. I always find great ideas here when I need a creativity boost.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Science Experiments

Busy is (and always has been) fascinated with science experiments. Any kind of experiment, really. These are a few of our favorites that never disappoint.

Tie-dyed Milk

What You Need

  • milk
  • tooth pick
  • dish soap
  • container for the milk
  • small dish for the soap
What To Do
  1. Pour 1/2 an inch of milk into the container
  2. Drop 2-3 drops of food coloring per spot around the container
  3. Dip the toothpick in the dish soap then dip it in the center of a color spot.
  4. Watch the reaction then repeat with each color spot. 
  5. After the reactions are complete, you can swirl all the colors together to make a rainbow :)

Sink or Float?

What You Need 
  • water
  • a container for the water
  • various items that sink and float
  • a place to record your findings (optional depending on age)
  • aluminum foil for making boats after the experiment :)
What To Do
  1. Fill the container with water
  2. Make your predictions about each item before the experiment begins
  3. put each item in the water to test your predictions 
  4. record and discuss your findings
  5. After the experiment we made foil boats to see which items could in fact float with a little help from a boat. 

What You Need
  • Corn Starch
  • Water
  • container
  • Optional things for testing - glitter, scented extracts, food coloring
What To Do
  1. Mix the corn starch and water until you get a substance that acts like a solid when force is applied and acts like a liquid when you let it run through your fingers. 
  2. We also enjoyed mixing a little peppermint extract and glitter! Busy liked it so much that we decided to give some of her friends a little oobleck in a small mason jar for Christmas! 
  3. You can also make it any color or scent you like. 

What You Need
  • vinegar
  • baking soda
  • food coloring 
  • a clear cup
  • a shallow container
What To Do
  1. Put about 1/4 of a cup of baking soda in the clear cup and put the cup in the shallow dish (this is also when we added the food coloring)
  2. Pour a splash of vinegar into the cup and watch it bubble up and spill over the cup edge (this is why the cup is in a shallow dish)
  3. Do this over and over again until all of the baking soda has reacted. 

What You Need 
  • 1/2 cup of clear glue
  • 1/2 cup of liquid starch
  • food coloring
  • a medium sized bowl
What To Do
  1. Mix the glue and starch together in the bowl for a bit then use your hands to finish mixing. 
  2. Once the slime has formed, add the food coloring. You can use one or more colors. We like using two primary colors and mixing until another color appears :)
*Note - If you need more or less slime, the recipe is simply equal parts clear glue and liquid starch*