Saturday, May 26, 2012

Glorious Goop: A Sensory/Scientific Experience

Using two simple ingredients found commonly in most homes, you can try this awesome, but slightly messy sensory experience with your children.  All you will need is cornstarch, water, and  a tray to contain the mixture.  For added exploration, you can provide your child with a spoon and smaller container to transfer the mixture into.

When cornstarch and water are combined, you end up with this amazing concoction that can feel both solid and liquid.  Equal amounts of water and cornstarch can be used, but this is very open ended if you want more of a liquid use more water, more of a solid, use more cornstarch.

Begin by pouring cornstarch and then water into your tray.  Allow your child to help you combine the two ingredients.

As they mix the water and cornstarch, you can ask them, "What's happening?"  and "How does it feel?"  A young toddler may not verbally answer you, but will point and coo as they notice the changes.  You can also supply them with the language for what is happening, "They are mixing together.  It feels smooth and gooey".

The more the two ingredients come together, the more there is to notice.  When you press down on the cornstarch and water it feels much like a solid, but when you lift up your finger, the mixture begins dripping as a liquid would.  This change in texture makes for a great activity for children ranging in age from young toddlers to elementary age.  If exploring this mixture with older children, you can discuss viscosity and the various states of matter from solids to liquids.  You can also compare the viscosity of water in relation to that of the water mixed with cornstarch.

Isabel gives her squeal of approval

When working with younger children, it is important to simply sit back and allow them to enjoy themselves and explore.  All the while you can provide them with new vocabulary, "Dripping, liquid, solid, dry, wet, smooth". 

Because of the full sensory experience this activity provides, toddlers will stay with it at length.  Sean and Isabel stayed fully engaged for half an hour.  Ooohing and ahhing all throughout.

Isabel could not resist giving this slurry a taste.  Surprisingly enough she did not immediately spit it out.  As these ingredients are all edible, the concern for curious tasting from toddlers does not need to be high.

Once your children have had enough time to explore, you can encourage them to begin transferring the mixture from the larger tray to the small cup provided.  This action encourages hand eye coordination and fine motor development.

When it comes time for clean-up, not to worry.  Cornstarch wipes right off with a wet cloth and if it has dried on your child's skin they will simply be able to brush it off.

This activity meets many of the Massachusetts Guidelines for Preschool Learning Experiences

Reading and Literature:
- Listen to, recognize, and use a broad vocabulary of sensory words.

The Physical Sciences:
- Manipulate a wide variety of familiar and unfamiliar objects to observe,describe, and compare their properties using appropriate language.
-Explore, describe, and compare the properties of liquids and solids found
in children’s daily environment.

Physical Development:
- Use a variety of tools and materials to build grasp-and-release skill.
-Use eye-hand coordination, visual perception and tracking, and visual
motor skills in play activities

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day Gift Idea: From the Little Ones

Looking for a great gift idea for Mom from her little ones?  Then check out this great art activity.

Hand print flowers!

You won't need many supplies for this activity: children's paint, small paint brushes, construction paper and a child eager to create something special for Mom :)

Depending on the age of your little one, either you can paint their hand for them or they can paint their hand themselves.  If they are doing their own painting, encourage your child to leave a little space in the middle of their hand for the yellow paint.

Once their hand is painted, help your child carefully make a print on the piece of construction paper.  They will leave behind an adorable little flower hand print.

The more your child is able to spread out their fingers the more flower like the print will look
Now that they have made a hand print, your child can paint a stem and petals below the flower hand print.  

To personalize your gift, write Mom's name at the top along with Happy Mother's Day and the year.  Write your child's name next to the flower hand print.  If they are able, have your child write their own name.

If you'd like to add some style to this gift, frame the hand print flower and include a photograph of your child making the gift.

Enjoy and Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there.   

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Upcycle Monthly: Featuring Barbara of Fresh Vintage Shop

Let's welcome Barbara from the Fresh Vintage Shop on Etsy.  She is a member of the Etsykids team.  Her shop carries one of a kind clothing items and accessories made for children using some vintage and upcycled materials as well as personalized embroidered items.  She is sharing her vintage perspective on upcycling with us today.  Don't forget to check out her etsy shop, facebook page and website linked at the bottom of this post after learning more about her.

Tell us a bit about yourself. 
My name is Barbara Eccleston I'm the owner of Fresh Vintage Shop.  I live with my husband and 3 children in Upstate New York.  I started my sewing/design business about 10 years ago when my daughter was 2.  I wanted her to have unique outfits and then started offering them to others and it grew from there.

What was your inspiration for using upcycled materials for your craft or art?
I find inspiration in all things.  My "Fresh, Vintage" style permeates through many aspects of my life.  Our home is a 1820's farm house.  I admire all things vintage, fabrics, architecture, tools, styles.  I admire my fore-mothers and how difficult life was for them and how hard they worked to make their homes comfortable and pretty.  But with that said, I LOVE that I don't have to thread the needle on my sewing machine!  I'm a bit of a geek when it comes to technology!

What is your favorite upcycled medium or material?
I love reproductions style fabrics with bright colors and bold clean design.  I also have a passion for vintage linens.

What are some challenges you have encountered using upcycled materials?
Hmmm, I would say acquiring too many!  I have a large collection of vintage chenille bedspreads that I don't think I will ever use, but love so much I don't think I can part with.  I have bins of linens, hankies and doilies that I often use in my designs that at times I'm sad to part with.

An example of a girl's hankie skirt offered on the Fresh Vintage Shop facebook page.  Made using vintage hankies.

What is your current favorite upcycled item in your shop?
I just started offering Spirit Twirl Skirts that I LOVE.  It incorporates a tee shirt from a sport/club team into a skirt.  They are so cute for little sisters or girls in clubs/sports that want something a little different than the knotted tee to show their spirit.

Any tips for those looking into the use of upcycled materials.
Have fun!  To me that is what designing is all about.

Barbara can be found online at the following locations:

Thanks for helping reduce waste in the world all while creating beautiful one of a kind items!