Things in the Boulder area to keep kids engaged this winter break

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” which means the winter school break is here. Rather than have it become a time where “mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again” take your kiddos on some fun local adventures to help them use some of their boundless energy while broadening their minds while you stay sane and relaxed.

Denver’s Nature and Science Museum is one of the best places to take your children for entertainment, play time, and many “that’s so cool!” moments together when everyone begins to go holiday stir crazy! Kids can learn the science behind all their favorite PIXAR movies, see a sensory friendly screening of The Polar Express, and explore the human body and its ability to persevere over ice, snow, water, and rock. You and your children can even try out their American Ninja skills with a course developed by its creators (wear good athletic shoes), take a virtual leap off a cliff like the wingsuited cliff jumpers, and much more!

Denver’s Nature and Science Museum is the bomb, but CU’s Museum of Natural History isn’t too shabby either! The whole family can explore a number of exhibits that go in depth on the animals, plants and ecosystems right here in Colorado, but also around the world. The Season of Light show shares the many traditions of light that have been celebrated for centuries and continue today. 

The Fiske Planetarium is in the holiday spirit!  The planetarium located on CU’s Campus has a multitude of events to get you and the family in the holiday spirit as well as Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum has an interactive maze where kids can learn all about the history of NASA and even get a little peek into where NASA is going in the future. Likewise, the whole family can check out a real flight simulator. The museum is located in Denver and open 7 days a week, so you might even want to go twice!

CreatorSpace in Loveland is a super cool place to check out this winter break. The organization provides access to tools, machinery, and classes to inspire creative engineering. A key part of their mission is to provide Northern Colorado’s youth with mentors who are skilled and knowledgeable in a number of areas including music, art, programming and manufacturing. Check out this studio and get your child’s imagination soaring.

For some creative relaxation, check out the Wildfire Arts Center if you haven’t already. They have a multitude of classes including dance and visual arts that will inspire and relax you and your children over the break. The U-Create Studio time is open on December 21st from 10:00-2:00 to get you all out of the house. And mom’s and dad’s, check out their yoga classes; an hour long relaxing stretch is just what you need to get through the holiday break! 

You don’t have to go any further than the local library to experience some serious relaxation with your children over the break! The Longmont Public Library has a winter reading program to inspire your children to get their reading on, and nothing says calm for mom and dad than seeing your kids engaged in a great book.  The Longmont Public Library has a lot more to offer than books! There is a cookie decorating party on December 16, Winter Break Daily Reading Bingo for Kids and Teens December 28-January 3. A Nintendo Switch Launch Party, Drop-in Craft Time on December 30 and Lego Time on the 31st.

May this holiday season be a time of peace and joy, not to mention, a time to enjoy learning and growing together and where you wish that school would never start again! Happy Holidays.

STEAM Gift Giving for Your Colorado Kids

The holidays are upon us and because time appears to be moving faster than normal these days, it’s important to get your shopping started early (as in last month). With that said, it can also be difficult choosing gifts that seem worthy of your hard-earned dollar and that provide your child with a little “more” than the average Frozen 2 dollhouse and the Fortnite Jumbo Loot Llama provide! Fortunately, we have a great little gift guide to help you with the purchasing decisions for your child that will not only provide loads of fun but help them develop other skills as well (and you are supporting local commerce)!

For Building:

Sure, you could buy your child another lego set, but how about this year go for something a little more unique. At Traxart Toys, you can buy Kinazium which is the premier course builder for robotic and rc toys.  Building is both technical and creative, and when your child finishes building they can have hours of fun navigating their robots and remote-controlled toys around their creation. Check it out!

Does your child love to create models, dioramas and/or posterboards?  Do they like to teach others how things work? Do they have interest in programming electronics with computer software? If so, 1010 Technologies has the perfect product for them.  To find out more visit Youtube to see how your child can turn another “volcano how to” into a dynamic demonstration.

At Sphero, a Boulder company, they seek to inspire the creators of tomorrow, and clearly, recent collaboration with big names like Disney and Star Wars, it’s no doubt that the app-enable spherical robots they have designed are all that and a bag of chips. Get your budding inventor into robotics, programming, coding, and other STEAM principles with these unique and futuristic robots and all the accessories, not to mention, a number of other products that will feed your child’s imagination.

For Crafting:

There is nothing more therapeutic not to mention warm than knitting a scarf. The Longmont Yarn Shop has gifts for your child and you. They have everything you could need to get your child started on a lifelong hobby that will bring them hours of relaxation and an opportunity to create some functional or just plain beautiful art. Your child and three of her friends can even arrange for a small group lesson from one of their experts or you can sign your child up for one of the many classes they offer including crocheting, knitting, rug hooking, weaving, and even spinning classes. Pretty cool! 

Arts Parts Creative Reuse Center in Boulder has an awesome mission worthy of your contributions, “to inspire and promote creativity, resource conservation, and community engagement through reuse.” They accept donated, reusable industry surplus, and other arts and craft resources from businesses and individuals to provide you low cost materials for your budding creative geniuses. Best of all, you can host your child’s next birthday party at their space and your kids can create artwork and have their cake, too. They also promote local, environmentally conscious artists and their work.

For Everyone:

And finally, for the parent who just can’t imagine buying another toy that sits in the toy room unused or worse, cluttering up the living room. Or, for the parent who just wants to give their child a memory that they will love, there is STEAMfest!  Order tickets for your child to attend the 2020 Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest March 7-8. Your child will have opportunities to participate in “hands-on, interactive hacking, building, tinkering, and imagining!” The event is a celebration of all things creative, imaginative, and exploratory. “STEAM Fest is an awe-filled, jaw-dropping chance to tinker, hack, build, crumble, fly, drive, taste, DO, dabble—PLAY!”  There will be exhibitors with the latest and greatest gadgets, activities, entertainment and of course: arts and crafts, robotics and electronics, building, Legos, marble tracks, science in action, and of course, food for the whole family! You can get your tickets for the family or individual tickets at MakerBolder.com.  Likewise, if giving back is something of a tradition at your home, you can purchase a scholarship to STEAM Fest for students who wouldn’t be able to afford to attend STEAM Fest on their own.  

Now that your shopping is done, you can sit back and actually enjoy a cup of cocoa, the lights on the tree, and a good (oxymoron? Well at least a sweet heartfelt) Hallmark holiday movie.

DIY: Backyard Movie Night

The lazy summer days are over, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t continue to enjoy the beautiful warm weather that is in front of you.  One of the best ways to connect with your kids, take in the warm weather and decompress after a hard week of school and work is an outdoor movie.  Setting up an outdoor movie screen doesn’t have to be a huge project and sure, you could hook up a television outside, but that just doesn’t have the same feel. You can put together a screen in no time, and it will probably be a great investment of time and money.  In fact, your kids will likely enjoy their movie under the stars so much that they will be begging to do it for many weeks to come. 

Materials

You will need a sheet.  Many people think that a white sheet is the way to go, but in reality, a white sheet lets in light that may conflict with the movie on the screen.  By using a dark, opaque sheet, the movie will be much easier to view. 

Frame

You can build the frame out of a number of materials, wood, PVC, your fence.  Create a structure to support all four corners of the sheet. (You can even enlist your kids to help you to engineer your own version of a movie screen.)  There are a number of inspirational sites that can get the creative juices flowing:

Of course, once your kids get this movie night idea in their head, they may be a little impatient for a building project.  No fear, there are inflatable screens for as low as $99.00 that only need an extension cord and some power. SHAZAM, your movie screen is ready!  (And, worst case scenario? Tie or staple a sheet to your existing privacy fence!)  

Projectors

As with any electronic device, there are a plethora of choices based on price, function, quality.  When looking for a projector, you want to consider a number of factors. Of course, you can just buy the $50 one at your local Walmart, but these outdoor movie nights will likely become a regular thing, and if so, you will want a projector that will stand the test of time and provide a good experience.

You will want to consider the following characteristics:

  • Lamp, Laser, or LED – Lamp bulbs will need replaced more often while LED are more expensive but will last longer. 
  • Light Output & Brightness – You will want a projector with a high light output.  A low light output will lead to a fuzzy and unclear image even in a very dark room.  The  Lumens rating will help you determine the just right projector with the right amount of light output.
  • Contrast Ratio – You will need to look at projectors that have a ratio of 1,500:1 minimally and 2,000:1 or higher for good contrast between black and whites in your movie image.
  • Pixel Density – If possible, get a projector with a pixel density of approximately 1920×1080.  You can get by with one that is 1024×768, but the higher you go the better the quality. 
  • Sound quality – This varies by user, but check out the speakers before you buy, or see if it has Bluetooth, and you can connect to your portable speaker.  Also check out the sound of the fan for your projector. Some of the models have loud fans that will compete with movie audio, so do your homework.
  • Type of screen – Share the type of screen (sheet) you have with your sales representative and ask them which projector will work the best.

According to a Tech Guru on Offers.com, the best choice is Vankyo mini project that meets the requirements and costs a whopping $89.99.  Check out his other projector reviews

Input

The projector takes the image from your dvd player, computer, etc… and projects it onto the screen; therefore, you need to determine the compatibility between the projector and your computer, a dvd player, Roku or AppleTV, and/or any other device you plan to use to play the movie.  You may need an additional HDMI cord or something else to connect and project.

Other materials:

Extension cords

Power strip

Flashlight

At last, you have your screen, your projector, your computer, your kids, and now you are ready for family outdoor movie night. Oh wait, don’t forget the popcorn, candy, a big drink, and one more thing, grab those pillows and sleeping bags, and enjoy! You are all in for a fun and memorable experience!

 

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! 

Cooling-Down during a heatwave: STEAM APPS that kids and parents will both love

Remember Miss Frizzle’s amazing field trips on The Magic Schoolbus?  Where taking chances, getting outside (and sometimes inside someone’s intestines or other odd places) are the orders of the day?  It’s summertime, what better opportunity is there to go on adventures, “make mistakes” and “get messy.” But, summertime also means scorching temperatures and when a heatwave rolls in sometimes there is no choice but some downtime indoors.  Time indoors and time on their technological devices doesn’t have to be a total loss for tweens and teens. Here are some amazing STEAM-inspired apps allow your kids to cool off, have some fun, and best of all—learn and grow, when going outdoors and getting messy aren’t an option.

  1. Starry Night Interactive – If your kids love Van Gogh’s Starry Night, they will love this interactive app where they can manipulate a masterpiece and relax to some enjoyable music at the same.
  2. Robot School Programming for Kids – A multileveled game where kids help R-obbie the Robot who has crashed his spaceship. Kids learn how to “learn procedures, loops and conditional instructions” to help him get home.
  3. Math Versus Zombies – Kids are part of a team of scientists who are helping to save the planet from zombies by using their super-human math skills.
  4. NASA Visualizer – This is a great app for kids excited about space by presenting the latest research in an “engaging and exciting format.”  Users can see images of Earth that have never been seen. 
  5. Frog Dissection – This is an iPad app for tweens and teens to learn about organs and organ systems in an eco-friendly way.  
  6. The Everything Machine – This app will blow your kids’ and maybe your mind!  “Create something as simple as a light switch or as complex as a kaleidoscope, a voice disguiser, a stop-motion camera, or a cookie thief catcher!”  But watch out, your kids can use their inventions to play a joke on you.
  7. Swift Playgrounds – A great coding tool for novices.  Users solve puzzles to learn Swift, a coding program used by expert coders to build many of “today’s most popular apps.”
  8. Thinkrolls & Thinkrolls 2 – This puzzle slash physics app with 26 fairytalish characters is “100% irresistible for kids 3-8.  Get it now and let your little geniuses amaze you with their reasoning and problem solving skills!” 
  9. Busy Water – This is another critical thinking leveled puzzle game that uses paddle wheels, water, blocks etc… to help Archie get back into his tank.  Logic and reasoning are developed as users work their way through the levels.
  10. Simple Rockets – What kid doesn’t get excited about becoming a scientist who designs his/her own rocket ships and helps them blast off into space?
  11. Noticing Tools – This is a “ground-breaking suite of iPad apps that make learning math and science irresistible through play, creative design projects, and collaboration.”
  12. World of Goo – Another puzzle game, this one requires users to move the goo.  They must find ways (by building bridges, towers, etc…) to get the goo to a pipe that will suck it up. 
  13. Odd Bot Out – This robot is the odd one out.  Tossed into the garbage for not “being good enough,” Odd the robot has to escape over a 100 unique rooms to find his way out.  
  14. Inventioneers – This app teaches “realtime physics and the science behind different features like air, fire, magnetism and (of course) jumping bunnies.”
  15. Attributes – Users play around with attributes and patterns to solve puzzles and complete various levels.  

Also try:  Move the Turtle; DragonBox; The Land of Venn

As parents, we will always encourage our children to get out and explore the outdoors, and to “take chances, make mistakes, and get messy.” But, there are times when being indoors and having some downtime on our devices is necessary and doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.  So, when the heat index is 115 degrees, and you have to get that project done without interruption, allow your children to play one of these great STEAM apps. And, while it isn’t as good as time with you or trying out the latest science experiment, at least you know they will be learning and doing something that is a win/win.  

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!

Nine Must See Colorado Museums

Museums are an amazing opportunity to have family time, to learn and to have a blast all at the same time. You know about the big well-knowns like the Denver Museum of Nature and History and the Denver Art Museum, but have you tried some of the other amazing museums around Colorado?

Museum of Boulder at Tebo Center offers a lot of hands on exhibits that are just perfect for the curious child.  It has a lot of everything for the inventor, scientist, naturalist and artist! They have an extensive display of old equipment, machinery, Olympic sports gear, x-ray machines, etc… where kids can see and experience the evolution of innovation.  Not to mention, there is an artsy side for budding painters and sculptors. And, if your child wants to participate in some fun summer camps like Comic Book Camp, this museum has those in spades, too. They are open every day except Tuesday, and a day full of fun and adventure is just $10 for adults and $8 for children.  

The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Arts is another local treasure.  Children can get their creative and imaginative juices flowing when they see and discuss the interesting and unique exhibits available.  A great discussion of what is art and how it is interpreted in many different ways can blossom when you visit this museum. Best part? It’s only $2 for adults and seniors and free for your youngsters that aren’t yet teens!  And, if your youngsters are feeling compelled to make some art, the museum has a “Young Artists at Work Summer Camp” as well.

Wings over the Rockies is a fantastically cool air and space museum located in Denver, Colorado.  This science, history, and technology filled museum is fun for all ages and was named one of the 20 best aviation museums around the world.  It has a Harrison Ford Theater where kids and adults alike can experience fighter pilots in training; how cool! It is open seven days a week for you to check out some of the coolest aviation technology ever created.  So, all you Amelia Earhart’s and Wright Brother wannabes, head on out! *STEAM FEST VENDOR*

After you’ve had your fill of aviation, take your next museum adventure at the Center for Colorado Women’s History, also known as the Byers-Evans House.  This museum is more geared towards an older crowd, so plan to take your teens to learn the history of women in Colorado and how those women’s stories connect to the history of women worldwide.  The museum is open five days a week.

If you have already made your rounds to these museums, there is the oldie but goodie Denver Children’s Museum with activities galore for your younger children or try something new with the Wow! World of Wonder Children’s Museum in Lafayette, Colorado.  The Forest of Light exhibit will have you and your children in sensory euphoria, and when you are done, your children can discover the properties of wind and air, create art projects from recycled materials, surround yourselves in a giant bubble, examine the physics of pulleys, and even dance and do yoga. *STEAM FEST VENDOR*

I have a soft spot for the mining industry (the best company I ever worked for was in the mining and metals industry) and I love the Western Museum of Mining & Industry in Colorado Springs. During your visit, see and learn about fully operational steam engines that powered the mining industry during the late 1800s, including a working hoist, “widow maker” pneumatic drill, and a 37 ton Corliss engine. Try your hand at panning for REAL gold with “Keep What you Find Gold Panning”, enjoy interactive hands-on displays, view exquisite and rare mineral samples and venture through a mock mine drift built exclusively for WMMI by Colorado School of Mines. They also have a STEAM Summer Camp in June (I think it’s next week).

If you get the chance, also try out the Colorado Railroad Museum and for sure, make time this summer for the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery with its 40,000 square foot space filled with interactive exhibits that allow visitors to explore the history of science. Oh, and the Colorado Model Railroad Museum in Greeley is completely amazing too – SciFi Day with Star Wars character meet and greets is in July.

Four Ways to Nurture the Love of Nature

Warmer weather is here, so no more excuses from your children on why they can’t get outside. Not only is the weather to be enjoyed but so are the budding trees, flowers, influx of birds, and the arrival of insects are all there to be observed and studied.  

Kids by nature are curious. Unfortunately, in today’s world, kids fill a lot of their natural curiosity with the use of technological devices rather than real experiences.  Likewise, they spend a majority of the time spent on devices inside rooms with recycled (hopefully) air, artificial light, and nothing organic (including experiences).

Most of us who spend time in nature understand the positive effects that it can have on our well-being. Researcher at the University of Utah, David Strayer states, “Now we are seeing changes in the brain and changes in the body that suggest we are physically and mentally healthier when we are interacting with nature.”  And now, we have the science to go along with the emotion. In Japan, a recent study was conducted with individuals who spent time walking in a forest as well as individuals who were assigned to walk in an urban area. The participants who walked in nature had significantly lower heart rates and a “higher heart rate variability (indicating more relaxation and less stress).”  Stanford University actually used fMRI technology to watch participants brains and after a walk in nature they found an increase in activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex (SPC) which contributes to calm and optimism.  On the flipside, inactivity in the SPC contributes to depression, mood swings, and negative thoughts.

So what do you do?  Well, here are a few activities to get those kids outside and moving this summer:

Scavenger Hunt

One of the best ways to get them moving and enjoying all nature has to offer is by creating a scavenger hunt.  Create a list of items for students to collect out in nature along with some tasks (students might even be able to use their technology outside for identification, but books could be found and checked out prior to the scavenger hunt), for example:

  1. An insect –  identify the different parts
  2. A flowing plant –  Identify the parts of the flower
  3. Birds – Identify 3 different kinds.
  4. Bird sounds – Identify the sounds of three different birds
  5. Trees – Identify three different types
  6. Scat – (go somewhere you can find some?)

There are a number of other items you could have children look for.  They can even look for different types of the same items on subsequent hikes.  Encourage students to draw pictures or make their own identification book. ***And, if your kids are like mine, where competition is the order of every day, have your children race and the neighbor kids race to see who can find the items the fastest.

Obstacle Courses

Kids love obstacle courses. You can build one with them out of things in nature and boxes, buckets, 2×4’s, logs, rope, hammocks; you name it.  Have the kids take turns practicing and then timing one another. Have children determine what they could do in order to complete the course at a faster speed.  Next, allow the children to create their own course with their own clever obstacles (and sorry, their course will probably be way cooler than your’s). Another fun challenge would be for them to create obstacles that allow them to cross the area without touching the ground.  Encourage them to try and get across it without touching ground.

Like Ms. Frizzle Advises-Get Messy

Have your kids get in and get dirty. Go to the gardening center and allow the kids to pick out their own seeds, seedlings, or plants to contribute to the family’s yard.  Have them identify what type of climate they live in (region) as well as growing conditions that are needed for the plants they are interested in growing. Then have children plant their finds in your green space. If you don’t have an area, look into the cooperative gardens that are prevalent in a number of areas.  Have them help you garden and get them excited about creating their own green space.

***Go ahead and teach them about pollinators and their importance to the food chain.  Have them pick out some plants that will invite pollinators into your garden.

Research in Action

Have you children start a nature journal before you go outside for a walk.  Ask about their mood, thoughts and feelings and have them write down their answers.  Show them how to take their pulse then have them write it down. Go sit outside for ten minutes and lie under a tree and look at the sky, talk about the clouds, relax in nature.  Then go inside and take their pulse again. Have the kids write about their mood, thoughts, and feelings now. Discuss the results and whether they agree with the research. Do they feel more relaxed?  Is their heart rate slower? Do they feel more at peace?

Take a hike, get dirty, play hide-n-go-seek in a confined safe area of the woods, go for a bike ride on a trail; in other words, get out with your kids and exercise in nature!  Train them to utilize the best medicine out there for their well-being–NATURE!

Kitchen Science – Easy Indoor Fun!

water, conservation, child, activities, science

A little water, ice cubes and some rock salt, and you can watch “instant ice” develop!

Turn Winter Couch Potatoes into Kitchen Wizards

Getting your kids off the couch and into the lab will be the hardest part of these fun and amazing kitchen projects. With some simple ingredients you can turn your child into a mad scientist whose amazement and wonder will make the mess a small price to pay. (FYI: these aren’t even that messy.)  

Instant Ice Experiment

Ask your child if they ever wondered how Frozone was able to make ice instantly.  When he or she yells a resounding, “YES!” Break out a little rock salt (you probably have that handy), ice cubes and a bottle of water.  Check out the video here for directions.

A simple butter sculpture – fun and easy.

 

Everything is Better with Butter

Put some sticks of butter in the freezer and then allow your child to carve fun shapes into them with a butter knife.  Google and Pinterest have a number of easy and more complex ideas that will get your children’s creative juices flowing! You can even have kids make their own butter and show how matter can change states from a liquid to a solid!  And once you have made butter, you might as well make some ice cream.  All it takes are a few ingredients, a couple coffee cans, ice and rock salt combined with some elbow grease and a little patience.

kitchen science, honey, bees

This experiment from Experimental Express will WOW your kitchen science team!

Kitchen Science Question: Is it Really Honey?

This experiment is pretty darn cool.  Take your child on a Bee research project – if the weather is OK, head to a local bee farm and let them see the bees in actions.  Crummy weather? Do a stay-at-home field trip and research on the internet to provide background for this kitchen experiment.  Once children understand how bees turn nectar into honey and where they store the honey, try this supertastic honey experiment from Experimental Express that is cooler than Hollywood special effects!  Can you tell which “honey” is real honey?

Color Explosion

Don’t worry, it isn’t as bad as it sounds!  Fill a cookie sheet with a shallow amount of milk.  Then have kids paint the milk by putting drops of food color into the milk (don’t stir).  Now take a q-tip and dip it in dish soap and then touch the milk then observe the fireworks (no actual fire, just color explosions).

Bounce off the Walls

When you kids are bouncing off the walls, why not make some bouncy balls.  This cool project will have your kids wild about science and kitchen creations as they watch a chemical reaction where liquids turn to solids.

Slime

It’s likely that you and your kids have made slime before, but if you haven’t, you absolutely need to.  If you have, there are so many different kinds to make that you should do it again.  A few ingredients create a mesmerizing substance that will have your kids playing for hours.

You Survived the Bomb Cylone – Wanna Build a Snowman?

Turn that Plain Jane Snowman into a Traffic Stopper!

“Do you want to build a snowman?”

“NO!” Your children exclaim.

snowman, creative, activities, winter

Photo from Andrea_molnarova29 on Instagram

Building snowpeople can lose their charm quickly, especially when you have to spend an hour getting dressed and you’re entertaining children whose boredom meters jump off the charts with the slightest repetition.  So, now what?  It’s time to think outside the box and get rid of Frosty’s 1960’s Burl Ives attire and persona and actually make him (or her) come to life!  Instagram is, of course, a great place to find ideas.

This is one of those slap yourself in the head moments where you think “why didn’t I think of that.” Why not make an actual snow person!  Your children can make one that has human parts and dress them up with items that define their likes and personalities.

Snowman, winter activities, familyUpside Down, Girl You Turn Me… Old Classic Snowman, Made New!

 

This clever snowperson from Mommy Shorts has things all upside down.  Visit Mommyshorts.com for other inventive spins on ole’ Frosty that will h

snowman, winter activities

Another creative idea from Mommy Shorts at Mommyshorts.com

ave your kids flying out the door in no time.

 

Use Props for your Snowman!

Snowmen like to play too!  Photos and ideas from Topbuzz.com. Click the link to see more highly imaginative ideas. Spoiler alert, some of them are darn right cute, and some might be better suited for a snowy Halloween.

dinosaur, snowman, winter activities, outdoors, family

Photo from BlotTO on Pinterest

Get Artsy!

Think snow sculpture like those on blogTO and who knows where you and your child’s imagination will go!  And, why not give your kids squirt bottles and/or spray bottles filled with water and food coloring or tempera paint. They will have a ton of fun turning your snowy yard into a winter masterpiece.  Check out Resourceful Mama for more ideas.

dog, snowman, winter activities, family

Photo by Jill Yarberry-Laybourn

 

Or check out this snow dog that is sure to get your kids excited about heading out the door!

Better Yet, Drink Your Snowman!

 Once your kids are happy and exhausted come inside for some good ol’ fashioned hot chocolate. Only this time, think outside the box and make one that is not only delicious, but adorable. Check out these whipped cuties!

winter activities, snowman, hot cocoa, hot chocolate, whipped cream, family fun

Photo from carolinaepicurean and @janturally.jo on Instagram