Mud + Mess + Math = Educational Fun!

Young children seem naturally attracted to activities that end up messy. Sometimes, though, creating the messy fun with them can be educational, especially if you think of ways to control the mess. Select an outside area that can easily be hosed down, put on old clothes, and you are ready to create your own Messy Mud Pie Café!

 

Select an outside area that can easily be hosed down, put on old clothes, and you are ready to create your own Messy Mud Pie Café!

Materials

  • dirt
  • large basin of water
  • measuring tools – teaspoons, tablespoons, measuring cups, liquid measures, kitchen scale, bathroom scale
  • old pie pans, muffin tins, or small flat containers
  • rolling pin (optional)
  • natural “decorations”, such as flowers or twigs (optional)

 

To create your mud pies, combine approximately 75% mud and 25% sand in a large container. Slowly add the water until it is moist and moldable. Use the rolling pin or just your hands to roll out the mud into pies. Form the “pies” in a muffin tin, old pie pans, or small flat containers. Decorate them with items from your backyard such as flowers, twigs, pine cones, or stones. Put them in the sun to “bake.”

 

Talk about the time it will take for the mud pie to “bake”  (or dry out). (Parents, you might consider creating your own mud pie ahead time and letting it dry to show an example of a baked pie.) Record the guesses. Then check back in at regular intervals, such as 30 minutes, 1 hour, and half a day. Take a picture at different intervals to record how the mud pies are baking.

 

While the pies are “baking”, consider the following activities:

 

  1. Measuring mud. Use the remaining mud to explore different weights and measures. Have your child measure specific amounts of mud. For example, ask your child to measure 1/4 cup of mud and place it in a container. Help your child fully fill the measuring cup and level it to obtain the exact measurement. Then ask your child, “Can you measure ¾ cup of mud?” Place the two containers next to each other and compare the amounts of mud. Which container of mud is more? Which is less?
  2. Weighing mud. Next, try weighing some mud. First have your child estimate the weight of a particular amount of mud. Then use a scale to weigh the mud. Was your child correct? Next select two different amounts of mud and estimate their weight based on your first measurement; then find the actual weights. Was your estimate more or less than the actual amount?
  3. Measuring water. Use the remaining water to find volume with different-sized containers. Pour the water into the containers and estimate which container holds more water. Next pour each container into the liquid measure. Was your estimate correct?

 

Be sure to allow lots of time for free play in addition to your education time with your child. Enjoy the messy fun together!

 

Related Blog Post:
10 Items from the Dollar Store for the Sandbox

 

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End of Summer Activity: Hammering Cotton Balls

What child doesn’t enjoy the act of smashing and breaking? Try this easy activity with your child and enjoy the hammering together and develop gross motor skills in the process.

 

Try this easy activity with your child and enjoy the hammering together and develop gross motor skills in the process.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Hammer Away: Master hammering skills with a toy hammer to smash water beads, hammer golf tees into the bottom of an egg carton, mounds of clay, foam trays, or into the ground. Place flowers (wild flowers, dandelion weeds, etc…) between a folded piece of paper to hammer into flower prints. Try the recipe for making baked cotton balls and have fun crushing them into pieces. (Science)

 

Materials

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • Food coloring
  • Cotton balls
  • Medium bowl
  • Small containers
  • Spoons
  • Aluminum foil lined baking sheet or pan

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Mix together the 1 cup of water and the 1 cup of flour in the large bowl.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the smaller containers.
  4. Add a few drops of food coloring to each container. Stir and mix well.
  5. Place a cotton ball into each container.
  6. Coat the cotton ball completely in the mixture.
  7. Scoop the cotton ball onto the baking sheet.
  8. Repeat to make to several cotton balls.
  9. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes.
  10. The cotton balls will have a hard coating on the outside when ready.
  11. Allow the cotton balls to cool thoroughly.
  12. Let the smashing begin!

 

Note: If the outer coating is too hard or thick the smashing may require a real hammer. This can be done as a demonstration by an adult or with a small hammer that the child can manage easily at the parent’s discretion.

 

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Back to School Learning Activities

Back to school time is upon us and KinderTown has some fun educational activities for your 3-8 year old to complete at home. Most of the activities can be completed in 10 minutes with little to no preparation.

 

KinderTown would like to provide you with educational activities for your 3-8 year old to complete at home.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Bingo Board #1

To use the Learning Bingo Board, simply complete any activity and have your child mark it off in some way. Color the square or use anything else that you have around the house to mark the squares, such as stamps or stickers. Decide on an incentive or reward for completing the board that works for your family or child. Check back soon for more activities!

 

KinderTown would like to provide you with educational activities for your 3-8 year old to complete at home.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Bingo Board #2

Have a preschooler at home? Or a child between the ages of 3-6? Try this Back To School Bingo board with your child. The activities are perfect for at-home learning and designed to use very few materials. Mark the activities off as you go and reward your child for their work. The Bingo boards are easy to print and use and can be hung on your fridge or bulletin board.

 

KinderTown would like to provide you with educational activities for your 3-8 year old to complete at home.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Bingo Board #3

Draw shapes together, talk about a family photo, or make popcorn. Check out the latest Bingo Board to find these educational activities and more. Also included on the Bingo board are 3 recommended educational apps for your preschooler including a free app.

 

KinderTown would like to provide you with educational activities for your 3-8 year old to complete at home.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Be sure to download KinderTown, the Educational App for Engaged Parents, to find additional educational apps to support your child’s learning. KinderTown is dedicated to improving early childhood education by empowering parents with the tools to support their child’s learning. KinderTown only includes apps that have substantial educational value as determined by an objective review process conducted by childhood educators. Search by age, device, or subject area.

 

Happy Learning!

 

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End of Summer Activity: Homemade Zip Lines

Race homemade rockets, airplanes, birds, or your own creation on homemade zip lines. Discover how the length and steepness of the line affect how the items move.

 

Race homemade rockets, airplanes, birds, or your own creation on homemade zip lines.

Materials

  • Paper tube
  • Craft supplies (paper, tape, markers, paint, feathers, duct tape, glue, craft sticks, etc.)
  • Fishing line or thread

 

Directions

  1. Create an original “racer” by decorating the paper tube as a car, bird, airplane, rocket, or other item with the craft supplies you have available. Allow to dry thoroughly if necessary.
  2. Race homemade rockets, airplanes, birds, or your own creation on homemade zip lines. Discover how the length and steepness of the line affect how the items move.

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  3. Locate two sturdy objects to which you can secure the fishing line.
  4. Secure the fishing line to one object.
  5. Thread the racer on to the other end of the fishing line.
  6. Secure the fishing line to the other object.
  7. Slide the racer to one end of the fishing line (the side that is higher).
  8. Race homemade rockets, airplanes, birds, or your own creation on homemade zip lines. Discover how the length and steepness of the line affect how the items move.

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  9. Release the racer and watch it zip across the line.
  10. Race homemade rockets, airplanes, birds, or your own creation on homemade zip lines. Discover how the length and steepness of the line affect how the items move.

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  11. Repeat and experiment with different lengths of line and by changing the heights of objects to which it is secured.

 

Related Blog Post:
Maker-Inspired Apps

 

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End of Summer Activity: Bird Feeder

Create a decorative, mobile-inspired bird feeder from items found in your back yard, recycling bin, and around the kitchen.

 

Create a decorative, mobile-inspired bird feeder from items found in your back yard, recycling bin, and around the kitchen.

Materials

  • Paper towel tube or a cardboard cereal box
  • Several sticks of different shapes and sizes
  • Corn syrup or molasses
  • Basting brush or paint brush
  • Bird seed
  • 2 open containers (one to hold the bird seed and one for the corn syrup)
  • Single hole punch
  • String or yarn
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Oat cereal rings

 

Directions

  1. Fill one container ½ full with bird seed.
  2. Fill the second container with corn syrup or molasses (enough to paint with).
  3. Cut the paper towel tube into several rings. If using a cereal box, cut the cardboard into several strips and form into loops, securing each with tape. Make sure the plain side of the box shows on the outside of each ring.
  4. Punch a single hole into the center of each ring.
  5. Create a decorative, mobile-inspired bird feeder from items found in your back yard, recycling bin, and around the kitchen.

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  6. Paint a thick coat of syrup onto each ring and then roll thoroughly in the bird seed.
  7. Create a decorative, mobile-inspired bird feeder from items found in your back yard, recycling bin, and around the kitchen.Create a decorative, mobile-inspired bird feeder from items found in your back yard, recycling bin, and around the kitchen.

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  8. Allow the bird seed to set on the rings for about 10-15 minutes.
  9. Create a decorative, mobile-inspired bird feeder from items found in your back yard, recycling bin, and around the kitchen.

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  10. Cut a variety of lengths of string or yarn. If using yarn, wrap a small piece of tape tightly around the end to help thread it more easily.
  11. Create a decorative, mobile-inspired bird feeder from items found in your back yard, recycling bin, and around the kitchen.

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  12. Tie a knot at one end of a piece of string. Begin stringing a few pieces of oat cereal on to it.
  13. Create a decorative, mobile-inspired bird feeder from items found in your back yard, recycling bin, and around the kitchen.

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  14. Slide the string through the bottom hole of a ring with bird seed. String more oat cereal onto the string and then slide the remaining string through the top hole of the ring.
  15. Create a decorative, mobile-inspired bird feeder from items found in your back yard, recycling bin, and around the kitchen.

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  16. Continue to string with oat cereal or add another bird seed covered ring. Create different arrangements.
  17. Create a decorative, mobile-inspired bird feeder from items found in your back yard, recycling bin, and around the kitchen.

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  18. Tie the completed strings to the stick.
  19. Hang the bird feeder outside and watch the birds enjoy a snack.
  20. Create a decorative, mobile-inspired bird feeder from items found in your back yard, recycling bin, and around the kitchen.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Related Blog Post:
The Great Outdoors: App Connections

 

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Create Sea Snacks for the Whole Family

Create some healthy under-the-sea-themed snacks to share during a picnic, barbecue, or any time that suits your family. Here are some ideas to get you started. See if your child can come up with some of his own creations to add to the list.

 

Create some healthy under-the-sea-themed snacks to share during a picnic, barbecue, or any time that suits your family

Family Activity

Focus: Health

Playful Dolphins

Ingredients

    • Bananas (not peeled)
    • Grapes
    • Cups
    • Marker

Dolphin_1

 

Sea Star Sandwiches

Use a star-shaped cookie cutter to transform your child’s favorite sandwich, toast, waffle, pancake, or slice of cheese into a sea star.

 

Fish in the Sea

Ingredients

  • Fish-shaped crackers
  • Cream cheese
  • Rice cake
  • Blue food coloring

Directions

    1. Mix a scoop of cream cheese with a drop or two of blue food coloring. Stir well.
    2. Spread the blue cream cheese onto the rice cake.
    3. Place several fish shaped crackers into the “sea” of blue cream cheese.
    4. Take a picture of your creation. Then eat and enjoy.

Fish_1

 

Extension

Add baby carrots standing upright or florets of broccoli to create a coral reef for the fish to hide in.

 

Clams

Ingredients

  • Round crackers
  • Peanut butter, cream cheese, hummus, or cheese spread
  • Yogurt-covered raisins (white)
  • Raisins

Directions

    1. Spread peanut butter, cream cheese, hummus, or cheese onto one cracker.
    2. Place one yogurt-covered raisin off center in the peanut butter, cream cheese, hummus, or cheese. This is the bottom of the mouth of the clam with the “pearl”.
    3. To make the eyes put two small dollops of peanut butter, cream cheese, hummus, or cheese onto the top of the other cracker about thumb width apart. Place a raisin on each.
    4. Set the cracker with the eyes on top of the cracker with the pearl.
    5. Take a picture of your clam(s). Eat and enjoy!

Clam_1

 

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Summer Activity: Jellyfish in a Bottle

Make your own jellyfish in a bottle using recycled materials and items from the kitchen.

 

Make your own jellyfish in a bottle using recycled materials and items from the kitchen.

Focus: Art

Materials:

  • Empty clear plastic bottle with lid (label removed)
  • 1 white plastic grocery bag
  • Scissors
  • Thread or small rubber band
  • Scissors
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • Hot glue

Directions:

  1. Cut the handles and bottom off the plastic grocery bag.
  2. Cut the sides of the bag so you have the two halves–the back and the front sides. Discard the side with the logo.
  3. Step 2_bag

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  4. Lift and pinch the center of the bag and make a small bubble.
  5. Step 3_bubble

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  6. Tie off the bubble loosely with the thread or rubber band so a small opening remains. Turn it over and be certain you can see a small opening. This is the “head” of the jellyfish.
  7. Step 4_hole

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  8. Cut the part of the bag hanging down into strands to make the tentacles. Cut the strands so that there are various lengths and widths.
  9. Step 5_tentacles

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  10. Fill the bottle close to the neck full with water.
  11. Add a few drops of blue food coloring.
  12. Turn the jellyfish over. Blow into the small opening and fill with air. Then fill the opening about half way with water.
  13. Twist the head closed and stuff the jellyfish into the bottle.
  14. Hot glue the lid on to the bottle.
  15. Turn the bottle upside down and then right side up to watch the jellyfish swim.
  16. Step 11_jellyfish

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

 

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Family Activity: Design Your Own Spectroscope

Light is an amazing tool for learning and experimentation. Make your own spectroscope and experiment with light.

 

Light is an amazing tool for learning and experimentation. Make your own spectroscope and experiment with light.

Focus: Science

Spectroscope: A spectroscope is an instrument used to break up light, just like a prism does, showing the light spectrum. Make this scientific tool using recycled materials.

Materials

  • Paper tube
  • A blank CD
  • 2 index cards (at least 3×5 inches)
  • Pencil or pen
  • Hot glue or quick-drying glue
  • Scissors or utility knife
  • Tape
  • Paint or makers (optional)

Directions

  1. On the reflective side of the CD, draw a circle off to the side, using the tube as a template.
  2. 1a1b

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  3. Use tape to remove the reflective layer from the CD. You may need to make a small scratch on the CD with a key or coin to get it started.
  4. 2a2c

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  5. Cut out the circle you drew on the CD.
  6. Tape the two index cards next to one another, leaving a small vertical slit between them.
  7. 3

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  8. Place the paper tube on top of the index cards, covering the slit. Adhere the paper tube to the cards with glue. Trim the index cards so they are flush with the paper tube.
  9. 4

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  10. Place the circle cut from the CD on the other side of the tube. Be sure the lines on the CD are parallel to the slit in the index cards on the opposite side. Glue the circle to the tube.
  11. 5

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  12. Optional: decorate the outside of the tube with construction paper, paint, or markers.
  13. 6

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  14. Note: Remind your child never to look directly at the sun. Look through the CD plastic toward a light source. The spectrum should appear on both sides (like the colors of the rainbow).
  15. Experiment with different light sources, which will produce different spectra.

 

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Fun Activity: Create a Kaleidoscope

Using the sun and light for the basis for this activity, enjoy creating your own Kaleidoscope.

 

Using the sun and light for the basis for this activity, enjoy creating your own Kaleidoscope.

Focus: Science and Art

Kaleidoscope: Make your own kaleidoscope with simple materials and watch as the sunlight bounces off the colored beads and sequins and is reflected to create beautiful patterns when you look inside it.

Materials

  • 1 clear plastic report cover or 1 sheet of mirror board (available at craft stores or online)
  • Paper towel tube
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Plastic wrap
  • Black construction paper
  • Rubber band
  • Sharpened pencil
  • Small beads (translucent work best), sequins, confetti, or glitter
  • Markers (optional)
  • Stickers (optional)
  • Duct tape (optional)
  • Wrapping paper (optional)

Directions

  1. Draw an 8 x 4 inch rectangle on the clear plastic report cover or mirror board.
  2. Draw three vertical lines across the rectangle, dividing it into three 1 ¼-inch rectangles and one ¼-inch rectangle.
  3. 01

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  4. Cut out the large rectangle with scissors.
  5. Fold along the lines to form a triangular shape. The quarter-inch strip will be taped along the outside edge to help the triangle hold its shape.
  6. 02

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  7. Slide the triangle into the paper towel tube. The tube may need to be trimmed down to meet the end of the triangular form.
  8. Stand the paper towel tube on end and trace a circle around it on a piece of black construction paper. Then cut out the circle and glue it around one end of the paper towel tube.
  9. Use the sharpened pencil to poke a hole through the center of the black circle.
  10. Cut out a 4-inch square of plastic wrap. Place the plastic wrap over the other end of the tube. Gently poke it down into the plastic triangle until it forms a small pouch. Be sure that the corners of the plastic wrap remain exposed. Fill the pouch with the translucent beads, sequins, confetti, or glitter.
  11. 03

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  12. Cut out a 4-inch square of waxed paper.
  13. Seal the items in by placing the waxed paper over the pouch and down around the paper towel tube. Secure with a rubber band over both the waxed paper and the plastic wrap. Make sure the rubber band is on tight so the beads do not spill out.
  14. 004

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  15. Optional: Trim the corners of the waxed paper and plastic wrap.
  16. Optional: Cover the rubber band with duct tape for a decorative effect.
  17. Optional: Decorate the paper towel tube with stickers, markers, duct tape, or wrapping paper.
  18. 05

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  19. Note: Remind your child never to look directly at the sun. Hold the tube up to a lighted area and look through the hole. Slowly turn the tube so the pieces inside move and the patterns change.
  20. Briefly explain how the kaleidoscope works. A kaleidoscope operates on the principle of multiple reflection, where several mirrors or reflective items are placed at an angle to one another. Typically there are three reflective objects (usually mirrors) set at 60° to each other so that they form an equilateral triangle. The 60° angle generates an infinite regular grid of duplicate images of the original. As the tube is rotated, the tumbling of the colored objects presents varying colors and patterns.

Extensions

  1. Research to find out who invented the kaleidoscope.
  2. Research to discover different materials used to produce kaleidoscopes.
  3. Kaleidoscopes produce patterns, symmetry, and transformations. Further explore these mathematical concepts.

 

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Summer Activity: Water Tasting

Try this water tasting activity with your family this summer and have fun taste testing.

 

Try this water tasting activity with your family this summer and have fun taste testing.

Focus: Science and Math

Water Tasting: Conduct a taste test to find out if the members of your family (and maybe even your friends) think that all types of water taste the same. Graph the results and draw conclusions.

 

Materials

  • Samples of water: tap water, seltzer water, bottled water, club soda, mineral water (flat or carbonated), distilled water, tonic water
  • Cups
  • Paper, graph paper, or poster board
  • Taste Testing Form (1 per person, provided)
  • Pencils, pens, markers

Directions

  1. Explain that your family (and maybe some friends, too!) will conduct a taste test of different types of water.
  2. Determine the different types of water that you want to include in the test.
  3. Gather samples of the water for test.
  4. Label the cups to distinguish them from one another (numbers, letters, or colored dots). One person should be designated to know which samples represent each type of water.
  5. Water_Example

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  6. Give each person a taste test form (or develop your own) to rank the water samples from favorite to least favorite throughout the test.
  7. Begin the activity by having each person observe each sample before Questions to consider are:
  • How does the water look?
  • Does it have an odor?
  1. Next, have each person taste one sample at a time. Have each person think about the taste and texture of the water. Questions to consider are:
  • How does the water taste?
  • How does it feel in your mouth?
  1. Circle the rating on the taste test form continuum for that sample.
  2. Discuss the results as a family. See some of the questions under “Extension” to get started.
  3. Reveal type of water for each sample.
  4. Water_Form

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

Extension

  1. Create a graph of the results. Your family can decide which type of graph would be best to display the data (bar graph, pictograph, circle graph, or line plot) and then discuss the following:
  • Is there an overall favorite or dislike?
  • Is there a tie?
  • What characteristics of the water may have influenced your decision to rate a sample higher or lower on the scale?
  • Might the container they are stored in affect taste? Why or why not?
  • How could the experiment be improved?

 

  1. Research the different types of water that your family tested. Try to find information about how the water is collected, produced, and manufactured (i.e., what might be added, such as sodium, that could make them taste slightly different).

 

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