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Seaweed Art Cards
  • Now that the kids are out of school you will need fun activities to entertain them and keep them busy and occupied. When my children were small they loved to finger paint, which, as you all know, is  messy. When the weather got warmer, I would put my girls in their bathing suits and give each of them a paper plate “palette” with several  dollops of finger paint colors. Then I would put a  white  shower curtain liner on the driveway and let them paint away. More often than not they ended up painting each other, but I didn’t mind. At the end of the day I hosed them down along with everything else.  They had a blast. It was moments like that, watching my children experience sheer creative joy that I thought to myself, “Do not for one minute ever tell me that you did not have a wonderful childhood.”

    Note: Make sure the finger paint is washable. I have learned from experience that certain colors, like green, don’t always come out. Just in case, make sure you and your kids wear clothing that you don’t mind getting a few stains on. Happy painting! If you try this project, please write in and leave a comment so we can all hear about how much fun you had.

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  • Another great group activity for a birthday, play date or class project.

    Materials:
    Small clay flower pots
    Tile grout
    Trowel or knife to smooth grout
    Decorative objects like tiles, sea glass, sea shells, beads, acorns etc.
    Damp cloth

    Give each child a small flower pot and some tile grout to smear on the outside of the pot. Explain to them that they are going to decorate the outside of the pot with the objects. They can cover the entire pot or make a pattern. It is up to them to use their own imagination and creativity. Once the tile is set and the objects are secure, gently wipe away any tile grout that is on the decorations. If you have time, you can take this project one step further by planting flowers in the pots.

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  • Create musical hanging chimes with a few simple materials  found in the hardware store.
    Materials:
    Small embroidery hoop or stick
    Large nails of various sizes
    Fishing line or sturdy string

    Cut a length of fishing line, tie one end under the head of the nail, and secure the other end to the embroidery hoop. Continue tying the nails around the hoop at regular intervals until the frame is full. When finished, strike the nails gently and listen to the bell-like chords. Then hang it outside and let the wind create soft, gentle tones

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  • Materials needed:

    Seashells like scallops, conch and clam because they are deep enough to fill with wax.

    Paraffin wax or old candles

    Candle dyes

    Scents (optional)

    Double boiler or 2 pots that fit inside each other

    Candle wicks

    Metal wick holders

    Wooden spoon

    Pencil or small stick

    Bleach

    First, soak the seashells in a mild solution of bleach and water and scrub gently with a sponge. Let dry. Next, melt the wax in the double boiler and add some color. Stir to mix. You may want to use corals or sea foam greens to compliment the seashells. Cut a piece of wick the desired length and attach to the wick holder. Pour a drop of wax into the shell and place wick and wick holder on top. Let it dry a bit. This will secure the wick and keep it from floating to the top when you pour the rest of the wax. Then pour the wax to just below the top. Wrap wick around the pencil and let it rest on top. When wax is hardened, remove wick from pencil and trim.

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  • Warm summer nights are the best time to lie on a blanket, look up to the sky and introduce your children to the science of astronomy. A child’s fascination with the stars begins very early.  My oldest daughter Sophia became particularly interested when she was in kindergarten and her class studied the book, Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter. It is the true story of a Black slave named Peg Leg Joe who led several slaves to freedom in Canada by marking a secret route on trees. He told them they would know they were headed in the right direction if they looked in the night sky and “followed  the drinking gourd.” The drinking gourd he referred to is what we also know as The Big Dipper. It is a wonderful story about Black history  and emancipation from slavery, but it also incites a child’s natural curiosity about the stars.

    The next time you and your children are outside at night stargazing, point out the The Big and Little Dipper, The North Star and other celestial constellations (there are 88 we know of ) and see if maybe you can discover a new one. For maps of the constellations, there are several wonderful reference books available at your local library. Two of our favorites are both by Franklyn M. Branley and are part of a series called, “Let’s-Read-And-Find-Out.” They are, The Big Dipper and The Sky is Full of Stars.

     Another handy reference tool is a device called a Star Locator. The bottom disc is a map of  the constellations. The top wheel is a transparent disc with calendar and compass markings. You turn the top wheel to the current month and day to see a map of that night’s sky.  It also glows-in-the-dark. We purchased our Star Locator through the HearthSong catalog (1-800-325-2502). I have since seen them in museum gift shops and specialty toy stores. 

    Be sure you mark your calendar for the upcoming astronomical events. On August 11th and 12th  watch out for  Perseid’s Meteor Shower. During this annual nighttime light show, up to 70 shooting stars will be visible each hour in the northeast sky.

    Sleep Under the Stars

    Here’s a fun celestial project for you to do with your children in their rooms at night. Draw some constellations on the bottom of  large paper cups. Use pins to poke holes where the stars are. Take a flashlight and shine it through the bottom of  the cup while holding it against the wall or ceiling. Turn out the lights to see the constellations illuminated inside your child’s room. Take this project one step further by painting the constellations on the ceiling with glow-in-the-dark paint, (available in craft stores). You can paint them while your child holds the lighted cup for you or you can purchase stencils. I’ve seen them in museum gift shops. It is the next best thing to sleeping outside.

    The Phases of the Moon

     My children’s second biggest fascination after the stars is, of course, the moon. Why is it sometimes full? Why is it sometimes a crescent? And why does it follow us everywhere we go? Since this summer marks the 40th anniversary of man’s first walk on the moon, (July 20th, 1969) let’s reignite our own enthusiasm and wonder about that big silver ball in the sky by helping our children understand the moon and its phases. A great reference book on this subject is another book by Franklyn M. Branley called, The Moon Seems to Change .

    Each night, the Moon seems to change shape. These changes are known as phases. They happen because, as the Moon circles the Earth, we see different amounts of its sunlit surface. The cycle takes about 29.5 days–a lunar month.  Have your children keep a moon diary. Track the Phases for a month. Record the shapes on plain index cards to use in the next project. Look for the thin crescent Moon, perhaps the night after the new Moon. (You can find the phases listed in the newspaper). Each night make a note of the Moon’s shape and mark its position in the sky.

     Make a Moon Phases Flip Book.

     Take your 29 index cards and place them in order starting with number one on top and ending with number 29 on the bottom. Staple the left side-hand side of the cards together. Flip for a rapid-speed glimpse of the moon’s changing face.

     If  you want to know if a crescent Moon is waxing or waning, here’s a tip. If the crescent Moon mimics the shape of  your cupped left hand when it is held up in the sky, then it is waning. If it mimics your right hand, it is waxing.

    For additional books on the moon and astronomy in general, check out these titles: The Best Book of the Moon by Ian and Aan Graham, Full Moon by Michael Light, The Stars and Find the Constellations, both by H.A. Rey.

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