We find this set at the recycle center and know just what we can do with them.
See Curious George Episode, “Plumber’s Helper” Season 2: Episode 10.
The little skit after the cartoon shows children using PVC pipes and beads to play with water.
This is the first time we take out these tubes and connectors to play.
I put them all together using every tube and connector to make a very long and zig-zaggy maze.
There are dead ends in the maze and more than one open tube.
I want to create a fun challenge for J, so I ask,
“What would happen if we put water through it?
We aim the final opening towards the kiddie pool and give a try.
The water goes all the way through the tubes and into the kiddie pool.
“Let’s see what would happen if we put a marble in the tubes.”
We use the hose, attempting to shoot the marbles all the way through the maze and into the pool.
We try 3 different sized marbles. Some work, some get stuck some of the time and some don’t go through at all, creating a build up in pressure and bursting the connectors. This gives us a chance to rebuild and problem solve using our trial and error skills.
The connector with the 4 way intersection gives us the most trouble with the marbles, so we eliminate them all. This helps the smallest marbles travel through with ease.
J takes all the pieces apart and is left with an “L” shaped tube. He calls this his launcher…uncomplicated, efficient and fast.
It shoots marbles into the pool with only a small blast of water. The most successful maze so far, and J builds it himself.
Cousin R joins the fun and with R comes some new materials, beads, buttons and, what else, water balloon bits.
See previous balloon posts to see what we’ve been up to with water balloons and their leftovers bits. You can use the search engine, and look up, balloons.
Cousin R builds a tube maze that stands against the porch rail. We use duct tape to make it steady. We think gravity helps with the experiment because the marbles, balloons and beads have no problem getting through the 4 way connectors this time around.
We learn a lot of stuff, but these are the lessons that stand out for me…
We learn that when you stuff too many objects or big objects in the tube, it can get jammed up.
We learn that water is a strong force.
We learn that the 4 ways don’t work well when using maze flat.
We learn that gravity helps.
We have lots of fun with water on a hot day.
A tea party for boys is defined here as:
a spontaneous, messy and delicious, shared cup of sun brewed tea.
We used about 1 gallon of water
4 tea bags
lots of sun
a little bit of juice to taste
We were out of cream for coffee on Monday, so I made myself a cup of tea with honey and lemon.
The kids’ focus snapped to attention at the process of making tea,
so I made them each a small cup of raspberry zinger tea with honey, lemon and lots of ice to help cool it down quickly.
Later, I was busy washing dishes, when I came across a big jug with a spout. I remembered my friend using it to make sun tea.
I put 4 bags of raspberry zinger in the jug, filled it with water and put it outside in the sun.
J kept trying to sample some and I kept asking him to wait.
Today, it is ready to drink.
J labels himself the “big boy” of the tea party.
He labels K the “baby.”
J: “Mama, that’s a delicious drink you’ve got there.”
We add a touch of juice to sweeten the tea. K wants to “do it myself.”
The “big boy” has to relinquish some self proclaimed power.
So begins a little power play.
There is some spills, some spitting, some hand dipping.
Forget etiquette…it aint that type of tea party. We like happy little messes here.
There are 4 cups, 1 jug with 1 spout and 2 boys.
How do we share resources?
Who gets control over the spout?
The boys have a lot of negotiating to do.
There’s only one rule coming from me, and that’s don’t mess around with the glass jug,
but they come up with their own, “great fortress of laws, all of which can be contested, redrawn, and readministered with each new…” minute.
-an excerpt from Bad Guys Don’t Have Birthdays by Vivian Gussin Paley
After they’ve had their fill of tea, they use the rest to play, dump and fill.
At some point, the tea dips below the spout and doesn’t come out anymore, even though there’s still liquid in the jug.
J: “It doesn’t go!”
Me: “Why do you think it doesn’t go?”
J: “Too low.”
So begins the mixing of pool water and tea.
This is no longer lemonade stand material, folks:
New rule, don’t drink the tea.
We’re back from a weekend camping trip and a late birthday present waits for us in our mail box.
We shake it and it makes a great little rattling sound. What is it?
It’s wrapped in 3 layers, with lots of tape. The suspense builds. We finally get it open and alas,
it is a beach for Little J, a great little translucent Tupperware full of sand and shells.
The cover is glued on, and discovering this, all J can think of is how to get that cover off.
So, I pry it off for him.
I get J a larger container and put the Tupperware inside so he can play.
First, J wants to study and count every shell, but that thought doesn’t last long. We never got to counting. His guess was 12 shells.
He gets very busy scooping, dumping, moving sand and shells using small cups, extra containers and a spoon.
“I want to make it like a beach. I miss the campin’. That’s why I’m makin’ the beach. That’s why.
Do you love it Mama? We’re going to put some in here and count the sand to see how many I put.”
J has the idea to add some water to the sand, and at first, I’m hesitant. I’d like to preserve the sand and shells.
But really, it’s not a beach without water.
My Aunt made this sweet little gift for J, and all she did was find and collect some beautiful shells, scooped up some sand on a vacation on the Cape.
It’s free, it’s creative, and J had just as much fun, if not more fun, with the little beach than other toys he owns.
There’s more mixing and dumping and scooping, followed by a request for some salt.
“Mama, I’m makin’ tea for you. It’s needs salt to make it taste good.”
I ask J what happens when the salt joins the water.
“That’s why it sinks and disappears. What would happen if I put water and sand in there (in the salt shaker)?”
This creates layers of salt, sand and water.
Then we shake it back into the bigger container and onto J’s hands,
which is how most of our projects end.
I leave the whole set up outside, so the water can evaporate.
My local MOMS Club is rounding out it’s fiscal year. New board members are coming in, while others are stepping down or to the side… just a little.
Here’s the scoop on the MOMS Club.
The MOMS Club® is part of an international organization started by Californian, Mary James in 1983. Mary was looking for other mothers and children with which to share daytime adventures.
She created Mothers Offering Mothers Support, aka MOMS Club.
Big K, Little J, Little K and I have been a part of our MOMS Club for about two and a half years, and my kids and I have made great friends and have been involved in great activities. One of the coolest parts of the MOMS Club is the organized service projects, designed to give back to the local community.
It has been a busy and wonderful year. I look forward to the next one.
This is what we’ve accomplished this year:
Rode in the Feast and Fire Parade, on a tractor,
Donated to the Catch a Dream Foundation’s Golf Tournament,
Raffled off gift baskets at the Community Harvest Festival on the Common,
Donated to a Senior Heating Assistance Organization,
Volunteered at the Natural Living Expo,
Entered a Scarecrow in the Community Scarecrow Contest and Won Honorable Mention,
Carved Pumpkins for the Pumpkin Festival at Ecotarium,
Trick or Treated with Seniors at a Masonic Home,
Got Pink Hair Extensions for Cancer Center Fundraiser,
Thanksgiving Basket Collection,
Holiday Photos with Santa, Photographer donated time, THANKS KM
Donated Cookies to Town DPW,
TOYS FOR TOTS,
St. Jude’s Card Programs,
Donations to Families that Fell Victim to Fire and Tornado,
MOMS Club Cookbook,
Mother’s Day Food and Pet Supply Drive
Adopt a Trail,
MeCP2 Duplication Fundraiser, BBQ Basket Donation
Habitat for Humanity, Woman’s Build,
It’s all good, as my friend Eric used to say.
“And they played all day in the sun and in the hay.” Margaret Wise Brown, Big Red Barn
As a continuation to the magnet play from the beginning of the week, I search the back of the closet for this little set of magnets, something Big K and I had in a Christmas stocking YEARS ago.
“MAGZ is an exciting and fun game of creativity. It starts with following connections. Simply connect the magnetic bars and balls to form shapes and lines and let your imagination flow.”
J builds a “Tall Mommy” and a “Foot Fitter”
K plays for about 20 minutes with the feeling of magnets sticking together and pulling apart.
Little J and I try our hand at Eric Carle’s method of painting layers of color onto tissue paper.
J asks for black tissue paper, but the closest we have is dark blue.
He chooses to work with dark blue tissue.
We watch the slideshow again and get to work.
In our basement studio, we have a shelf that holds “beautiful stuff.” This display of colorful, up-cycled objects was inspired by a book called “Beautiful Stuff!” written by Cathy Weisman Topal and Lella Gandini.
Endless possibilities exist when you save something that would otherwise end up in the landfill. You give it new life. You can learn something from playing, sorting, building with this stuff. It is an ethical way of supplying art materials to tinkering children.
You can sort your collection any way you choose. I’ve been collecting this stuff since before little J was born, and I chose to sort it by color. As the kids build interest, they can sort it however they wish.
J and K have so far used these collections to dump and load. Here you see J filling up a dump truck toy with the stuff that catches his eye.
For J’s birthday, he receives a discovery/exploration set, Harriet the Spy is my idol!, which included a little extendable magnet. It’s his favorite piece of the whole set. He walks around the house seeing what is magnetic. The magnet is lost at the moment, but we’ll find it under the couch cushions or in his bed sheets when I change them. We did find a back up, a “fishing pole” style magnet that came with a puzzle.
I see J’s interest in magnetism and bring him a bin from our beautiful stuff collection that’s full of silver and gold colored objects.
He goes through each object in the bin and makes 2 piles. Magnetic and not.
Many common magnets are strong enough to attract small objects that are made with either iron or steel. Some magnets, such as the electromagnets used in cranes, are strong enough to attract objects as large as cars. Do we need to get a magnet for J’s crane next, so he can play with his little matchbox cars?
Read, Three Little Rigs by David Gordon, a spin on the classic Three Little Pigs story, but with little cranes and a big bad wrecking ball. There is a big bad magnet at the end. Little J loves this book and hopes to get it each time we go to the library. I bet he’d love to act it out with magnet and crane.
“Our minds become magnetized with the dominating thoughts we hold in our minds and these magnets attract to us the forces, the people, the circumstances of life which harmonize with the nature of our dominating thoughts.” -Napoleon Hill
So, we’re still into balloons, and there’s a bottomless baggy full of um.
Cousin R joins us and she comes up with the idea of filling them up with water and popping them on the trampoline by jumping on them.
It’s easy to say that we have a lot of broken balloons to work with.
One early morning, Little K and I get to doing something with them.
He snips them with his little scissors.
I put out some contact paper by taping it face up to the table. This can be tricky and has taken me lots of tries to get right.
K sticks balloons bits to the contact paper for some time, but the taking off of the balloons holds his attention just as well.
J joins us and starts to dump and press balloons to the contact paper.
And voila. Big K says if I didn’t tell him they were balloons, he would have thought they were flowers. They are rather pretty when the sun shines through.
Inspired by Cousin R’s explorations, J and K ask me to blow up lots of balloons so they can step on them. In our travels, we find a balloon stuffed with other balloons, Cousin R must have done this, so we take the idea and run with it.
We blow it up with air and pop it to see what happens. We stuff our own balloons with more balloons and pop some more. It seems like an endless cycle.
Here are some of our previous posts about balloon play. summer, pools and water balloons. snipping balloons
Little K and I wake up one morning and he wants to help himself to breakfast, so he opens the pantry to check out his options.
Our routine is that I usually give him some choices, yogurt, fruit or scrambled eggs, etc.
Little K was persistent in picking out his own meal this morning. “I do it myself, Mama.”
He chooses a whole grain cereal. I’m okay with that.
I supply him with the bowl, he gets his own spoon and I put a small pitcher of milk on his little table, after setting up a kitchen towel under the bowl. Wink, wink.
Lots of spills later, and lots of spoonfuls and mouthfuls of “O’s” later, Little K has successfully provided himself with a healthy breakfast.
He even slurps up the milk, and he’s not a big milk fan.
I’m a strong believer in teaching my kids that I have confidence in their competence and their skills, even if they spill or fall or get something not quite right. If Keenan wants to try something for himself, I will try to be supportive.
…because these are the kind of “O’s” he would pick for breakfast, if I didn’t stop him somewhere.
Playgroup was at our home today, and we wanted to work on a Father’s Day gift project. My Dad, “Pops” and Big K’s Dad, Papa, are great bird lovers, so when I came across this recipe for bird seed ornaments from Saltwater Kids, I thought it was a perfect idea.
I didn’t have small, round, cous cous-type seeds, so I used what we had…Big, Black, SunFlower Seeds. I found a huge bag in the garage.
Big K uses this seed to fill the bird feeder that’s right outside our living room window so the kids can watch the birds. I wondered if the project would work out alright with such big seed. I do know the birds like to eat these seeds better.
The ingredients for these ornaments are as follows:
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3 tbsp. corn syrup
4 cups birdseed
The kids helped add the ingredients and I mixed with my hands. We just dumped everything into a bowl at once, pressed the “dough” into cookie cutters on cookie sheets. I poked holes through the dough while it was still wet so as to thread it with ribbon once dry. I laid them out in the sun and flipped them after about 3 hours.
The kids loved the seeds! They scooped handfuls out of the tall bag and mixed it with hose water in the process table. We were all hot, and I’m sure it felt good to put their little hands in that cold water and even more interesting that there were lots of seeds floating on the surface.
They also added a little flour, J dumped the whole flour bag into the process table, a little corn syrup, J dumped all that in too, flower pedals and lots of wooden orange letters.
The letters were meant to press into the ornaments, but the kids were having more fun with them.
Here is the finished product. They kind of remind me of this great portobello mushroom burger I used to make all the time. I might just make these for Father’s Day too. See recipe at bottom of post.
The ornaments from Saltwater Kids were so much prettier, but I know my dads will love these, and that’s what matters.
2 portobello mushroom caps, cut into chunks
2 cups button mushrooms, trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 small carrots, grated
2 crushed cloves of garlic
1 and 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/8 cup white miso
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup dried bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil for greasing the pan.
Pulse mushrooms in the bowl of a food processor. Heat the olive oil and saute the mushrooms, onion, carrot and garlic for about 3 minutes. Place the mushroom mixture in a large bowl. Combine sunflower seeds, miso and lemon juice in the food processor. Pulse to make a light paste. Combine mushroom and seed mixtures. Add rice and bread crumbs. Blend. Let mixture stand in fridge for about 6 hours, they will hold their shape better. Preheat oven to 375. Grease baking pan. Bake on middle rack for about 25 minutes until golden brown or saute on medium heat for 3-5 minutes per side.
Makes 8 burgers.