Break it Up! Five Awesome Brain Breaks for Remote Learning Sanity

A new school year is upon us and boy will it be a different one! While remote learning has a number of positives, especially keeping our families safe, it can also be a challenge. 

For example, remote learning can be a very sedentary act causing drowsiness, stiffness, and fatigue. In addition, sometimes our brains just need a nice little break, too! Here are some fun and fabulous ideas to get movement into you and your children’s days and have a brain recess while you are at it. 

Hit the Mat

There is nothing better for your body and your mind than yoga!  There are a number of great yoga practices out there and YouTube (try Yoga For Kids with Alissa Kepas) is the perfect platform to find one that is right for you and your child. If you haven’t don’t it before, you really must give it a go. It helps to still your mind so that you and your child can focus on the things you need to focus on later, it reduces stress toxins in the body, and it provides your muscles and organs with the circulation they need especially after all the blood has settled into your um, booty…

Go on a Scavenger Hunt

Every day go on a short theme-centered scavenger hunt. Nature is your free, almost always available, stress-free zone. Use it! 10-15 minutes of adventure could go a long way to relieving remote-learning stress and give your kids the energy to  focus.  You could even add a challenge or competitive element to take it from a simple “walk” to a game.  Here are some ideas:

  • Find five green things (red things, blue things, etc)things
  • Find five different living creatures (Kids, you or your pets don’t count!)
  • Find five items of trash and dispose of them (wear gloves)
  • Find five blue objects
  • Identify five different kinds of leaves. Research what kind they are!
  • First to find five squirrels (or whatever wildlife you have around)! 
  • First to spot 5 natural cracks in the sidewalk
  • First to spot a four- leaf clover

Click, Take a Pic

Have your kids get up and get searching for the coolest photo opportunity they can find. There are some super cool ways to get kids thinking differently about the world around them, to look for the elements of design and art, and a cool way to get creative without making a mess!  Here a few photo activities to try.

  • Silly Selfies – Take five pictures of yourself with the silliest expressions you can come up with.
  • Happy and Serious – Take two photos of yourself – one happy and one serious – put them side-by-side in an app like PicJoiner.
  • Capture a photo of yourself jumping in the air!
  • Find an object and magnify it so that it makes a cool composition. Have your family members guess what it is!
  • Turn basic into beautiful. Find a cool way to photograph one of the most simple and commonly-used objects in your home.
  • Take a slow motion and a time lapse video of each of you performing a funny task or exercise. Check out NEOK12 for some really cool time lapse videos online. 
  • Recreate a favorite movie scene or scene from a storybook you all love (great for a short break, and gives you awesome fuel for social media!)

Get Dancing

There are very few exercises and activities more fun than dancing. Adding a dancing break every day is a must! Take turns choosing the songs and get up and move. Your kids will love seeing you dance to their favorite hip hop song, and it will be pretty fun watching them dance to some New Kids on the Block (sorry for the broad assumption that you like NKB). While you are at it, create a video of you and your family doing those dances for viewing pleasure or blackmail if need be! Maybe even put some TikToks on the big screen and do your family’s rendition.

Go Old School

Go old school with these breaks from learning and still use your brain with these fun old games:

  • Play Simon Says! This is so fun!  Pinterest has some Simon Says commands if you can’t think of your own, e.g., “Simon says, wave your arms in the air, wave them like you just don’t care.” So get moving… I mean, “Simon says, get moving.”
  • Green Light/Red Light – Best game ever, right?! When you have five minutes, go outside and give it a go across your yard. 
  • Freeze tag and Sharks/Minnows are fun games as well when you and your kids need a mental recess. 

Remote learning will be all-new for most of us this Fall and it may seem like a bridge-too-far to look for the silver linings. That said, if you make it a point to plan for a few 10-15 minute breaks throughout the week, you’ll not only reconnect to your family, you’ll also have some great pictures and memories that will last a lifetime.

Easy tips for “School at Home”

This past month has really been fraught with a number of changes. One of those changes is that your home now likely doubles as a school! All of the many (and crazy) changes have been difficult for kids and parents, alike. Here are some homeschool tips to help make you and your kid’s home/school life a little easier!

Turning life into learning

You can use the care and management of your household to teach a lot of lessons. Have kids help you cook! They can measure ingredients, and you can ask them to double and triple it in their heads. Have them determine the (rough) square footage of a room while they vacuum by counting feet. Have them help determine what snacks to order at your online grocery store with a $30 budget. Have younger kids match socks!

Individualize

It’s really difficult to individualize learning styles for 30 kids in a classroom, but one of the best parts of homeschooling is your children can learn how they learn best. Some students need quiet; some students need music. Kids sometimes work best independently while others may need lots of support. If you have a busy work schedule, enlist the help of your older children to assist younger siblings who might need additional help. Some very social kids may do better if they can work on some assignments with friends in a video chat session and others might want to do their work locked up alone in a room. If possible, accept their learning styles and foster them.  Many kids perform better when they can start later in the morning while others might be more productive in the afternoon. 

Cut the choices to two

There are a gazillion online resources (games, books, videos) out there for your kids to get all kinds of educational experiences. Focus on a few that will help your child maintain their literacy and math levels and review all old concepts. Also, this is a wonderful opportunity to turn kids’ education into one that is interest-based. If they have always wanted to teach themselves guitar, then let them go for it. If they have always wanted to learn to knit, order that ball of yarn and needles. They want to learn and build circuits, by all means cut them loose. Or check out our Play @ Home page, a curated list of STEAM learning at home. 

Assignments from schools

Many schools are providing educational materials and assignments for kids to review what they have learned this year. These can be great, but some can be overwhelming and time-consuming. Determine a healthy and stress-free amount for your kids and let that be your guide. Your children, whether they can express it or not are feeling a lot of the same stress as you are—something is off—something isn’t right with the world. This can cause a lot of anxiety. Then throw on a ton of schoolwork without the added support and instruction, along with parents who may still be working and stressed to boot, and you have a recipe for disaster. Give yourself and your kids grace and be okay with saying, my child has learned enough today.

Routine can be good

Just like it is for adults, a routine can be good, but again, as mentioned, be willing to adapt a bit and go with the flow. Having kids get up, eat, work on school, and have play time as a routine can be really effective for a lot of adults and kids. It may not be a positive for others. Know your kids, have reasonable expectations, a baseline routine, and then add in some wiggle room for the late bedtime to have a family movie night or a group chat with their friends.

This is a most-unusual time with a lot of uncontrollable variables. Do the best you can, give yourself and your kids some grace, and most importantly, spend time with each other. You will never get this extensive time with each other back, so enjoy. 

5 Fun-Filled Winter Activities to Foster Learning and Engagement


Guest Post by Harper Reid

 

Winter can sometimes feel dreary, but there’s plenty of fun to be had! The cold climate is an excellent opportunity for kids to explore more fun and exciting STEAM projects. These activities are available no matter the season, and kids are free to enjoy doing them wherever they are. With the emphasis on play, and having as much fun as possible, kids can make the most out of them as a learning experience. With that said, here are five fun-filled activities for your kids to enjoy!

 

1. Supercooling Liquids – Science

It’s common to show water boiling into steam to demonstrate states of matter because the slow process of water freezing into ice is rather boring. What if it wasn’t? Try Supercooling your water, or any other liquids you want to experiment with.

  • Place an unopened bottle of water or whatever liquid you have in the freezer (purified water works best).
  • Leave it undisturbed for around two and a half hours (the time may vary depending on your freezer). Check to see if it is still liquid. If it’s frozen, you will have to repeat this process and lower the duration.
  • Gently remove it from the freezer, take care not disturb it too much as you remove the lid.
  • Give it a quick shake, or pour it onto a piece of ice. Watch instant crystallisation before your eyes!

2. Arduino Programming – Technology

Kids have the best opportunity when it comes to learning to code. Small, cheap and portable work stations like Arduinos provide the chance to practice and explore all manners of projects.

  • Order an Arduino electronic platform. Most are available online or with electronic retailers.
  • Organise a fun, exciting and productive coding project. There are many resources online to help find inspiration.
playingwithbricks.png

Image Source: Unsplash

3. Building with Lego – Engineering

Lego is a fantastic way to engage kids in creative projects that can challenge their skills in planning and problem-solving. There are countless amounts of pre-fab kits to build, but buying the general-purpose lego bricks is ideal for making whatever you want.

  • Set a challenge to build a certain structure, such as a tower or bridge.
  • Draw a plan, write what bricks are involved in building it and why.
  • Work in groups or solo to build it, and test its integrity so that new things can be learned about the process of building.

4. Mosaic Pictures – Art

For many kids, drawing is the common alternative when left inside or without a chance to play outside. Mosaics are a great way to exercise the creative freedom of making pictures, but with the added inspiration found in all the coloured tile pieces available.

  • Brainstorm ideas for a cool Mosaic picture.
  • Take the time to collect all the weird and wonderful tile pieces needed to make the right picture.
  • Have fun!

5. Fibonacci Craft – Mathematics

The amazing world of math is not always appreciated in its normal form. It takes a creative visual project to demonstrate just how our world is based on the rules of mathematics. Art and craft projects based on the Fibonacci sequence make great representations.

  • Grab a good compass, a pencil and all the craft material you may think you’ll need to make amazing Fibonacci art
  • There are plenty of online resources and tutorials to show you what is possible to make.
  • Match up your art with the sequence of numbers, showing the progression of the sequence.

 

All of these activities are great for winter and any other season where you have the time. Go out there, learn and have fun!

 

 

Author bio:

Harper grew up on books and board games, from the silly and fun to the clever and challenging! When not busy writing and meeting deadlines, she and her friends love to play Scrabble or Scattergories. Get to know more about Harper through her written pieces on Harper Reid. 

STEAM Activities to do from home

Maker Bolder just celebrated STEAMFest 2020 where we had an AMAZING time with our awesome exhibitors. Now that our home state (Colorado) and many other states have closed schools, you might be searching for fun things to do at home with a STEAM emphasis.

Behold our list of all things STEAM that can be done from home!

*Parents, please preview items for younger audiences. Some sources are from YouTube.

SCIENCE & SPACE San Diego Zoo Virtual Tour at the San Diego Zoo.
Polar Bears Polar Bears and the Tundra
NOVA Science Gross Science, Science Education at Home
Mystery Science School Closure Lesson Plans
Yellowstone National Park Virtual Field Trips:  Mud Volcano, Mammoth Hot Springs, and so much more.  Tour Yellowstone National Park!
Mars Rover Explore the surface of Mars on the Curiosity Rover.
Space Tours Experience Space
Science Videos The Kid Should See This – Science
Animal Cameras Live Cams at the San Diego Zoo

Monterey Bay Aquarium live cams

Panda Cam at Zoo Atlanta

6 Animal Cams at Houston Zoo

Georgia Aquarium has Jellyfish, Beluga Whales, and more

TECHNOLOGY Manufacturing How It’s Made
Tech How-Tos The Kid Should See This – Technology
Twenty Thousand Hertz Podcast all about the stories and history of famous sounds. (parents pre-listen for younger audiences).
Geek Girl Diaries Geek Girl Diaries
ENGINEERING  Adam Hart-Davis What Romans Did for Us, What the Ancients Did for Us
Modern Marvels Watch here
Engineer Girl Cool Links list
University of Colorado Boulder Engineering Teach Engineering STEM Curriculum for K-12
National Science Foundation Big list of Engineering Classroom Resources.
ARTS Coloring for Calm Coloring pages from 113 Museums! (Complete with all kinds of anatomy!)
Livestream Classic Concerts Met Opera to Berlin Philharmonic
Virtual Art Museums Travel to Paris, France to see amazing works of art at The Louvre.

List of 12 museums to virtually visit.

Google Arts & Culture offers exquisite views of art, cultural sites, and more.

Drawing with an Author Illustrator LUNCH DOODLE with Mo Willems
At-Home Art Lessons Cassie Stephens Art Blog
Let’s Make Art Take a look at this huge list of free digital downloads watercolor painting guides.
MAKING Animation Videos The Kid Should See This – Animation
Built By Kids Blog with lots of ideas for building.
Mythbusters Jr. Watch full episodes here.
Competition Shows for Makers Lego Masters, no description needed.

Making It with Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman.

Nailed It  and Kids Baking Championship for some baking inspiration.

MISC. Wow in the World NPR produced podcast covering all of the wonders of the world around us.
Open Culture FREE educational resources for K-12 students
Scholastic Remote Learning Resources by grade level.
Children’s Museum Stroll Walk through the Boston Children’s Museum thanks to Google Maps, explore all 3 floors!
The Great Wall of China This Virtual Tour of the Great Wall of China is beautiful and makes history come to life.
Schoolhouse Rock Watch classic episodes here.
Brain Pop Access Request access to BrainPop for free.
Typing Practice Sharpen those typing skills.
STEM Resources 239 Cool Sites about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

 

>> Send us more to update this list at gabi at makerbolder dot com

 

**Some of this list was sourced from Mrs. Fahrney’s list that can be found here.

Hunting for spring? When you can’t find it, try a scavenger hunt!

It’s about this time of year when spring fever starts to set in, at least it does for many of us who are looking forward to longer days and more hours outside. While there are a number of outdoor sports that can be enjoyed throughout the winter, let’s face it, many of them require a lot of work to get up the mountain, to get on the gear, and to get moving.

Here is a simple, fun outdoor scavenger hunt for you and your kids that just requires a coat and gloves, this list, a pen, (Optional) a phone with a camera would be fun for recording artifacts and that allows them to look up tree types, scat and other important information, a bag for trash, and a keen sense of observation.  Send your kiddos out bundled up like the Pillsbury Dough Boy and tell them not to come home until they have finished hunting and finding the items on the list, and of course, “last one done is a rotten egg.” 

Winter Scavenger Hunt

When the kiddos get home, encourage them to draw pictures of each of the items they found. Or, encourage them to do a plasticine/modeling clay model of one of the items they found or saw, e.g. a bird, a pinecone, a tree. You could give bonus points for unique items like an old toy or marble. To make things more competitive, then you could set a time limit. 

If it is a blustery day outside, an indoor art scavenger hunt may have to suffice. Have them collect the items in a Ziploc baggie or in some Tupperware.

Using the items that they found, encourage them to create a multimedia masterpiece.  The rule is they have to use each item in the scavenger hunt to create a unified piece of art which includes the principles of design.  Give bonus points or a prize for artists who are able to describe their design choices and the reasoning behind their choices!

Spring will be here soon enough (hopefully), but until then, enjoy each other and the togetherness that the less than ideal weather provides.

Geocaching: Tips for helping your child become the next Indiana Jones

Almost everyone wants to be like Indiana Jones at some point in their lives (either that or they have had a big crush on him)!  Either way, it is pretty hard to imagine anyone (especially kids) who haven’t been lured into daydreams of hunting for treasure.  Now kids and adults alike can have their very own Doctor Jones adventures without the worry of being shot with poisonous darts or being chased down by machete-yielding bad guys!  

It’s a big deal

Geocaching is a hobby where other outdoor adventure enthusiasts hide and search for camouflaged containers (say a small Rubbermaid tub or other clever vessels) filled with tiny treasure (a.k.a. silly knickknacks).  

According to Geocaching.com, there are over 4 million active geocachers and 3 million active geocaches located in more than 190 countries and on seven different continents (Antarctica included-I think I will skip those). And, there are over 36,000 geocaching events and 200 organizations centered around this modern-day treasure hunt.  

Geocaching.com explains that the term ‘geocaching’ comes from combining the prefix ‘geo’ meaning Earth and ‘cache’ a term meaning a hiding place for objects.  The term ‘memory cache’ more recently has been used to describe a computer’s ability to pull up information. Therefore, the term geocaching is the perfect word for using technology, specifically a “global positioning system,” to look around the earth for hidden treasures.  

Getting Started

There are a number of websites and books to help you out if you find that this is a hobby you and your child want to sink your teeth in.  But, here are the basics to get you started looking for “the lost ark” and “the temple of doom.” 

Here are the materials and equipment you will need:

  • Smartphone with Geocache App – The app will give you the location 
  • Pencil/Pen
  • Small treasures (action figures, figurines, a keyring, stickers, baubles of any kind) 
  • Patience to look for good hiding places
  • (Some people recommend street maps as well as your Google Maps)

Once you have your equipment and materials you can begin!  You need to register with a geocaching website (like Geocaching.com) or purchase an app. After entering your zip code, you will see the coordinates for geocaches that are nearby.  Sounds fun, right?

Many of the sites and apps (Geocaching.com being the most popular), will give you a rating of how difficult the terrain is and how difficult the treasure is to find along with any other helpful information, including pictures, that will guide you and your child on your quest for hidden bootie.  

When you have found a cache, you can trade some of the items in the box for things that you brought along.  You will also sign the login book that comes with the treasure and record of your findings on the website or the app. Then, you return the cache to the spot you found it. Sometimes the caches get found by non-geocachers, and go missing.  Report your findings either way, so that other searchers don’t go on an endless search as well. 

Becoming a treasure burier can be just as much fun for you and your children too!  When you travel to new and beautiful places or even around your city, take a few caches and leave a little treasure of your own for others to find.  Occasionally, you can check and see who has found your stash and signed your log book.

What’s new in geocaching for the seasoned veterans

The good news, too,is that geocaching is evolving.  While I have shared the traditional geocaching experience, according to hobbyhelp.com, there are a number of other spins on these fun adventures.  There is an option to complete puzzles before you are allowed access to the coordinates of a cache.  In addition, there are caches that are connected. You have to find three or four caches in sequence by solving a puzzle at each hiding spot in order to go on to the next cache.  And if that isn’t enough, there are geocaching events around the world where you and your children can meet others who are obsessed with this fun activity.

So, if it isn’t obvious why you and your child should try out this fun and almost free opportunity for adventure, I will lay it out:

  • You and your children get to spend time together.
  • It gets you and your children outdoors.
  • You can see beautiful and interesting places that you have never explored before (many geocachers hide their treasure in beautiful locations).
  • It spurs your child’s sense of adventure and imagination.
  • Some searches can build problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
  • It helps children build navigation skills (put them in charge of a real PAPER map).
  • Bottom line:  It’s FUN!

Here are some fun links to find geocaching opportunities in Colorado!

Colorado Geocaching Trails and Trail Maps

6 Awesome Colorado Geocaching Destinations

The 10 Best Places in Colorado to Geocache

Get out there  Dr. Jones wannabes!  Awaken the inner-child or inner pirate in yourself and foster your child’s sense of adventure by joining the millions who are already geocaching!

Volunteering with your kids: why you should sign-up today!

While it may be debated that humans are innately compassionate and generous, we choose to believe it to be true. At the same time, we are living in a time when it appears that empathy and kindness are the exception instead of the rule. To help counter the current culture along with the self-centered, egocentric developmental phases that are focused on “me, me, me,” volunteering can be a great tool in helping kids to focus on others. Volunteering will not only help them to build compassion, but it will help them build self-esteem as well as show them that they can make an important impact on the world around them even in small simple ways.

It’s also good for kids to volunteer in a multitude of ways because they learn different things from different opportunities.  Sometimes they learn the value of their time, sometimes it is empathy for those who are different from themselves, and sometimes it is about raising and providing funds that people and organizations need more than they need time. 

Simple ways kids can volunteer and make a difference:

  • Going to a local nursing home is a great way for kids to make a difference in a lonely person’s life. Kids who are shy or who don’t know how to make conversation can simply ask if someone wants to be read to or if they would like to play a game of cards.
  • Host a bake sale for a cause that is local and near to your child’s heart (be sure to check with your Chamber of Commerce to avoid any hassles with tax laws, etc…)
  • Write letters to soldiers who are away from home serving the U.S. Military through Operation Gratitude or Soldiers Angels.
  • If your child is into animals, then by all means find ways for them to get the shelters the many supplies they need. There are many cool ideas out there for making items that animals need out of unwanted used items.
  • Do a drive to collect things that many families might need this time of year including coats, gloves, warm boots, and drop them off at a local homeless shelter.
  • If you can find opportunities for kids to interact with the homeless or the poor, you will teach them to be compassionate and to understand that we are all connected and human–each of us needing love and generosity.
  • Convince your children to give away good quality toys that they no longer play with. 
  • Encourage your kids to volunteer every day at school without anyone knowing. Ask them to go play with someone at recess who always stands alone on the playground. Advise them to find a student who struggles in a subject they are good at and go help that person. Tell them to compliment a teacher. All of these things are simple, easy, and frankly, life-changing for both parties!

If you want to go even further, here are some organizations in Colorado that provide more formal and structured opportunities for kids to volunteer are:

Rocky Mountain STEAMFest – 11+. STEAM Fest is just around the corner (trust us, it’ll be here before you know it!). To pull off these daring feats of magic, creativity and imagination, we need over 150 awesome volunteers – and that could include you! You can help us hang posters, spread the word, recruit exhibitors – and so much more. Jobs include working from home with flexible hours – whatever you can do – from 4 hours to 40 – we’ve got the perfect fit for you.

Children’s Hospital – for ages 13-18 – This is a pretty intense volunteer program that is intended for kids who might be interested in the medical field.  They are required to turn in an application, be interviewed, and pass a health screening.

Volunteers of America – for ages 11-17 – According to the site, “Youth volunteers can work with children in Head Start schools, help the homeless, assist homebound seniors, and much more. Youth volunteers can work with children in Head Start schools, help the homeless, assist homebound seniors, and much more.”

Spark the Change Colorado – for all ages but steered towards elementary age children – The organization’s vision is to help kids develop an understanding of the importance of volunteerism and community engagement. At their sponsored events, there is a theme like Veterans, and then together, families, children, and the organization, develop and plan for “hands-on service learning projects that benefit local non-profit organizations.” Not only do kids help the community, but they get to problem-solve and ideate as well as develop leadership skills.

Also check out, Parent Magazine’s resource of nationwide organizations focused on helping families find opportunities to volunteer.  It is hard to find the time to volunteer and get your kids out to help others, but what you teach them will be priceless—JOY in serving others! 

Maker Bolder and Her Turf Documentary Team Up To Empower Girls

Documentary Short Film Featuring Three Female Football Referees Partners with MakerBolder for a Community Screening at the Dairy Arts Center to Empower Girls

Award-winning documentary, Her Turf the Untold Story about Three Female Football Referees, is partnering with MakerBolder a non-profit in Boulder, CO, that connects tinkerers, hackers, geeks and artists with a hands-on experiences through STEAM Fest, Girls Explore and more, for a community screening on Sunday, October 20th, at starting at 3:30 p.m. at the Dairy Arts Center in Boulder, CO. 

During this immersive and interactive community screening and event, Colorado documentarian Shantel Hansen will share her experiences making the documentary film “Her Turf” and attendees will get to view the film. Participants will get to ask questions and share their opinions and feedback about the documentary with filmmaker, Shantel Hansen. Following the discussion, participants will be introduced to storyboarding and create their own storyboards during a break-out session. 

In addition, A Maker Lab hosted by The Hopper, Talk to the Camera, and The Spark Performing and Creative Arts will precede the film and break-out activities.  Parents are encouraged to explore this exciting topic with their young film enthusiast.   

“Girls and their parents can come to this immersive film screening and see the inspiring stories of these female sports pioneers as well as learning from Shantel Hansen, a devoted storyteller and filmmaker,” says Martha Lanaghen, Maker Bolder Executive Director. “This Girls Explore event will be truly unique way for girls to explore their own storytelling passions, and tap in to their own voice.”

Hansen is a first time director and producer. She filmed in seven different locations from 2015-2018. Her Turf has been selected in sixteen different film festivals across the nation since April and won four awards including SeriesFest Best Unscripted. “We are excited to launch our community screening series focusing a grassroots efforts with an interactive tool for every voice to be heard while empowering youth of all ages,” comments Shantel Hansen. “Part of the proceeds from this screening will go towards the Gwendolyn Smith Fund that supports women referees and officials with childcare scholarships to attend training camps and clinics,” states Hansen. 

Purchase Tickets here:  http://tickets.thedairy.org/online/MakerBolder

Tie Dye Ta-Da – using fruits and veggies

The Saturday morning farmer’s markets are in full gear.  The sweet summer air, the rambunctious rainstorms and warm toasty sun have nurtured a bounty of lovely vegetables and fruits for human consumption.  But guess what, they can be used for a number of other things besides filling your belly, one of them being a dye for clothing.  

There will be some decisions you need to make because there are a number of designs and of course, vegetables and fruits to choose from.  But first off, gather the materials you will need to do this cool functional project. Of course, in order to tie-dye a t-shirt you will need a shirt (duh, I know, but can’t forget the basics). It is recommended that you wash the t-shirt before dying to remove any chemicals that it was treated with to prevent stains.

Then gather: 

  • heavy duty rubber bands
  • circular objects (balls, marbles, rocks) 
  • fruits and veggies like beets, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, cabbage, onion skins, the spice turmeric, and even herbs like mint or parsley (organic foods make great dyes and are good for the environment too)
  • salt
  • last but not least, vinegar

Here is a list of the fruits and veggies to help you decide which fruits and vegetables you will need.

  • Beets- fuchsia
  • Beet greens – green
  • Raspberries / strawberries – red/pink
  • Blueberries – blue
  • Green cabbage – light green
  • Red cabbage – purplish pink
  • Onion skins – yellowish brown
  • Spinach – green
  • Turmeric – yellow/orange

You will want to decide on your pattern next.  Here are a few ideas, but frankly, don’t be afraid to create your own one-of-a-kind original work of functional art!  The directions for the following designs might just get those creative juices flowing. 

Starburst

To make the circular pattern you often see in tie dye, you will put a round object in the center of your shirt.  It can be a tennis ball, a rock, or even a marble. Wrap the t-shirt around the object and tightly put a rubber band around the t-shirt.  Then like the one before, add rubber bands every one to two inches all the way down to the end of the t-shirt. 

Stripes

If circles aren’t your thing, then you can make a more linear pattern by putting rubber bands in a line all the way down the shirt.  Don’t forget the sleeves. You can also achieve big stripes by tying knots all the way down the shirt. These lines will be much less uniform than if you used the rubber bands.  

Circles

To make a shirt with a number of circles you will put a round object in the center of part your shirt.  It can be a tennis ball, a rock, or even a marble. Wrap the t-shirt around the object and tightly put a rubber band around the t-shirt.  Then add more round objects all around the shirt, securing each one with a wide, heavy duty rubber band.  

Choosing your fruits and vegetables may be a tough decision.  If cost is an issue, then red cabbage and beets are a great choice.  If you have ever cut open a beet, you know that its juices are a beautiful bright fuchsia and boy does it do its job to stain things that color.  If you want a lush green instead, use spinach.

The standard formula for the special sauce that will change your bland white Hanes t-shirt into a work of art is 1/2 -1 cup chopped fruit/vegetable (depending on the intensity of color you want) for every 2 cups of water.  For a large child-sized shirt you will need approximately 8 cups of water. Then add two cups of vinegar and ½ cup of salt. These ingredients help to set the color so it doesn’t bleed and fade.

Boil your water and fruits/vegetables for approximately 1 – 2 hours to get the natural dye out of the fruit.  The longer you simmer your fruits/veggies, the more intense the color will become. Strain the water to remove the food.

It’s time to DYE! Place your fabric into containers with the dye, or add your dye to squirt bottles and squirt the dye onto the fabric directly. 

Rinse in the sink, and then run it through the rinse cycle of your washing machine.

Ta-da, your own very organic, amazing, totally terrific, most beet-ific original masterpiece that you can wear on the first day of school! 

DIY: Your Own Crossword Puzzle

Need something fun and engaging for your children during those hot days of summer?  Have them create an “all about me” crossword! Not only will you be able to catch up on work, but you can have fun trying to complete their puzzles. You might even learn something new about them.  Who knows, when you get your big work project completed, your beach towels washed, and the mowing caught up, you might want to create one yourself.  

There are a number of cool sites where your children can go to create their puzzles electronically:

Crossword Hobbiest
Puzzle-Maker.com
Tools for Educators
Crossword Maker

If you want it to be a more authentic (and time-consuming process) and more of a puzzle to create a puzzle, you can print out a free crossword template, and then give your kids these directions:

  1. Make a list of clues/hints
  2. Create the list of answers
  3. Using the answers, start placing them in pencil on the crossword grid and give them a number (don’t forget to number the clue as well) interlocking them with previous words if you can. Try to make a somewhat even number of across and down.
  4. Outline the words with a dark box.
  5. Now create a carbon copy on an empty template, and of course, don’t write in the words. 
  6. Optional: Shade in any boxes that are unused.
  7. Make copies so everyone in the family can solve your puzzle.

Here is a list of possible clues that you and your children can use to get started.  They are sure to get your creative juices flowing.  

  • Nickname
  • Favorite food
  • Favorite holiday
  • Last book read
  • Favorite invention
  • Movie favorite
  • Famous idol
  • Game I most like to play
  • Where I want to go most
  • Favorite beach activity
  • What I love most about summer
  • My least favorite chore
  • Best friend
  • Worst enemy
  • Favorite subject
  • Hardest subject
  • Dream job
  • Job I would hate
  • Favorite soda
  • Favorite pizza topping
  • Favorite candy
  • Favorite ice cream
  • What makes me cry
  • What makes me laugh
  • Fave mode of transportation
  • Fave musician
  • Fave sci-fi movie

Enjoy this ‘stay at home’ activity, and if you get a crossword craze going on in your household, they can have a go at some of the fun science crosswords at whenwecrosswords.com!