Friday, July 4, 2008

LLL: Measurements

The Theme of the Week for Laugh, Learn, Love is Measurements. This sparked some good conversations, especially in the kitchen. It's amazing how just thinking about a certain thing helps me to bring it up more often in our daily experiences. We also had a planned activity focusing on measuring length or height. We took photos, but they were terrible (bad lighting ion a rainy morning), so you have to use your imagination.

Materials: Measuring tape, scissors, string/yarn/ribbon. You will also need several of some other items--we used straws and dominoes.

Using the string we cut a length equal to A.'s hight, then mine, than my husbands. So we had three strings, all different lengths. We taped them to the floor for some comparisons, first to each other. "Oh look, my string is longer than yours, but daddy's string is the longest of all." etc.

Next we brought out the measuring tape and measured and recorded each one in inches. Then we lined up other objects to see how many it took to reach the end of each person's string. "A. is 18 1/2 dominoes tall, but only 6 straws tall." etc.

After this I taped the strings to an empty wall with papers giving our recorded measurements inches, dominoes, and straws.

We have guest arriving today, so we will ask them to participate as well. We'll measure their height and put the strings on the wall next to ours to get even more smaller/taller examples.

I also taped a few things (pencil, spoon, toothbrush) to a paper and helped A. use a ruler to measure and record how long they were. On another day I found a page in his workbook that had 4 clown pictures, all different heights. The instructions said to use a coin to measure how tall each of them are. That turned out to be a fun variation too. I figure it can easily be repeated with other pictures.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Stapleless Paper Chains

The classic paper chain is, well, a classic. But sometimes even an old favorite needs a little "chainge". These new paper chains take extra time, but require no staple, tape, or sticker to secure each link. Plus, it's fun to change the shape, and they are easy enough for a 4 year old to make without injury (didn't you ever staple your thumbs together making a paper chain?) I have, with difficulty, found instructions for Stapleless Paper Chains in two locations. One was rather confusing and lacking any photos or diagrams, while the other was a pdf that was impossible to locate a second time. I decided to attempt my own tutorial for it. So, here we go.

You'll need: paper, scissors, pencil, and two round templates (1-2 inch and 2-3 inch).

Making the Links: I cut a regular size paper into fourths--in half vertically and then in half horizontally. This creates a chain link approximately 3 inches long. You can go for the jumbo size and use a whole sheet of paper (yielding a 5.5 inch link), or even a teeny tiny version. Any size rectangular paper will work.
Fold your paper in half vertically. Next fold it in half horizontally. You should now have one folded edge on the left side, two folded edges on the bottom, and four edges on the right side and top.
Using the larger round template, draw a semicircle starting at the top, left corner with the straight edge along the folded left side. Using the smaller template, draw another semicircle within the larger semicircle. A little less than a half inch from the left side draw a vertical line starting at the bottom of the paper and ending where it connects with the semicircle. I call this bottom part the "stem."
**Note: The center cut must be wide enough for the next chain link's unfolded stem to fit in. Also, try to keep a good distance between the tops of the semicircles. The smaller the distance, the weaker the chain link.**

Now cut along all your lines. This is a finished link. If you want all the links to be identical in your chain, you can create a pattern to trace from this first link. If you want each one to be individual, don't bother drawing any lines--just cut freehand (it adds a charming spontaneity).
Connecting the links into a chain: Vertically fold link 1 and feed it through a horizontally folded link 2. Repeat this process until you have reached the end of your chain. Then secure the very last link with a small piece of tape.

Shape variations:
Rectangle--Very easy to cut the straight lines of the outer shape. Great for younger children if an adult can cut the centers.

"Y"--This was the easiest for my son to cut. I drew a line that curved up towards the top right corner. Then I cut out the centers.

Heart--Perfect for Valentine's Day.


As you can see there is still room for quite a bit of additional improvisation. Hope some of you enjoy trying this.

Crayon Rock Art

I know this isn't a new one, but maybe it's been a while for some of you. We had a wonderful time making these colorful art pieces.

***CAUTION: watch out that little (and big) fingers do not get burned on the oven, hot rocks or melted wax during the project! Constant parental supervision on this one.***

What you need: crayons (our Crayola and RoseArt crayons produced much more vivid colors than the no-name brand), rocks, foil, hot pads, and access to an oven.
  • First collect some rocks, we preferred the larger ones.
  • Wash, dry, and place in an oven for about ten minutes or until hot.
  • Place the rock on a sheet of foil (with a hot pad or towel under the foil) and decorate with your crayons. The hotter the rock, the more runny the wax will be.
As you can see, there was some serious concentration going on here.
The final photos didn't come out too well, but trust me they are better in person--very bright and cheerful.