May 2011 - momgineer

homemade wool balls

This is a task for either an adult or an older child due to the sharpness of the needle. You will be cursing if you poke yourself with a felting needle! These take a bit of time but the result is a nice homemade ball that is completely customizable. You can get needles and roving of your choice either locally or online. Basically all you have to do is stab your ball repeatedly; the more you stab the tighter it gets. There is a great tutorial on you tube that might help you decide what kind of needles you'd like to use. You can get as creative as you'd like and even make cute little animals. Here are a few balls I made:

N.B. If you have pets, you will want to make sure you keep these out of reach! We have dogs and although the kids' toys are generally quite safe, these are definitely not!
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

encouraging imaginary play

Imaginary play is not my forte. I don't know if H&F just didn't fall far from my imagination-less tree, or if they would just generally rather do other things, so I try to encourage imaginary play but am always looking for more ideas. One thing that kept them both happily occupied for an hour recently (which is basically unheard of in our house!) is the creation of a small town. We have this really cute play rug from IKEA, which you would think would get lots of imaginary play time. However, it rarely does. This is basically the same idea as a play rug, but with kid input, and it can be recycled later and a new one made another time.

I helped get them started but they really took off with it and it was so nice to see them playing together so well and creating all these different scenarios for their animals, cars, and trains. There are gardens, houses, parks, parking lots, lakes and pools, an airport complete with a helicopter launchpad, some train tracks, a dinosaur island, and a strawberry lake, which has strawberries instead of water. With how many pounds of strawberries H&F consume each week, I am not surprised they would come up with a lake made entirely out of strawberries!
I got them started and then became a quiet observer.
They really got into adding their own details.
Small animals that come in a tube have found more uses in our house than I ever would have thought!
They even wanted to add a landing strip!
What was great about this was that since I used heavyweight paper, it has held up really well!
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

cornmeal lettering

Blogger had a bit of a hiccup the other day and lost this post so I'll do my best at reposting what I'd written. We have been very busy this spring and spending much time outside, so although I have a lot of posts half-written, I haven't had longer chunks of time to sit down and finish them. 

This activity arose after glancing through a Montessori Services catalog and seeing this cute tray. I knew H&F would like to try it out so I put a cornmeal lettering activity together for them.

What you need:
  • Tray (I used the tops of cookie tins)
  • Cornmeal or sand
  • Letter cards, a letter chart, or sandpaper letters (which you can make; ours were purchased through Kid Advance)
  • A small scoop/measuring cup
Have them trace the letter first on the sandpaper or letter card, and then make it again in the cornmeal.

The materials.
Older kids can swish, but we used a small scooper to smooth out the cornmeal.
While trying it out, I found that less cornmeal is actually better.
H tries it out.
We used both lower- and uppercase letters.
F gave it a try, but just liked scribbling in it as well.
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

Art of Roughhousing Event

There is an Art of Roughhousing event this coming weekend in the greater Boston area, for those who are interested. We attended a workshop in March that was great fun! We have a very busy weekend this weekend so unfortunately I am not able to attend but I wanted to pass it on. Here are the general details:

On Sunday, May 22, the Boston Parents Paper and Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston will host Larry Cohen, Ph.D., at a special multi-media presentation about roughhousing. Cohen is the co-author of the new book Roughhousing: Good Old Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It (Quirk Book, 2011; $14.95). He'll talk about why roughhousing is good for parents and kids and he'll show you some cool roughhousing moves you can try at home.

Sunday, May 22, 7-9pm, Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston, 60 Stein Circle, Newton, MA. Refreshments served; books available for sale. Tickets: $12 at the door; reservations suggested but not required. Call 617-522-1515; ext. 278.

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

dyeing play silks

A few months ago, we had a play silk dyeing party with some friends.

We purchased our plain play silks from Dharma Trading Company. To dye them, you will need:
  • a microwave oven
  • a microwave safe bowl (or large glass measuring cup)
  • white vinegar (you will use 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water)
  • water
  • dye
You can dye them with Kool-Aid (we used the store brand), food coloring, or natural dyes (red cabbage, beet juice, blueberry juice, turmeric, coffee, etc.). One I dyed with the water leftover after boiling red cabbage and it turned out a beautiful lavender shade. The yellow was lighter than I wanted so I re-dyed it with turmeric and now it is very vibrant.

Add your water and vinegar (start with 1/2 cup vinegar and 2 cups water, adjust from there if you are doing several at once) and then as much dye as you'd like depending on shade. You can always add more later. You can even twist and add rubber bands for a tie-dyed effect. Cover, and microwave for 2-3 minutes, then stir it and let it sit a few minutes. Repeat as desired for the color you want.  Hang to dry, then wash in cold water and dry again.

The outside silk was dyed first with purple, then with blue.
So many uses for these!
Drying silks.
momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!