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New Books for June: Outdoor Science Lab for Kids, The Spinfords

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Lining up your summer reading (or your kids summer reading?) Outdoor Science Lab for Kids is perfect for the early summer weeks.

Real Science

One of the things I absolutely love about this book is the emphasis on real science, not just cool results (thought the cool results are most definitely there.)

I’m a sucker for kids science books and kits, mostly because I did not love science in school, but always suspected I could and should have, if only we had done more hands on work.

However, some of the these books and kits foam and fizz, but fail to instruct.

Not so here! In the introduction, science journals and the scientific method explained.

For every experiment, there are sections for materials (easy to glance at while preparing), safety tips and hints, protocol (instructions), the science behind the fun (a simple scientific explanation), and creative enrichment ideas to take your study further.

All of these vital aspects are covered in a two page spread for each experiment, and every page has gorgeous colorful photos of kids having a great time while doing the experiments.

I’m just going to go ahead and say it–this is my idea of the perfect science book for kids.

I wanted to spotlight my favorite experiment, but there are so many.

I like “Petal Bomb” because dissection is such a great way to understand the parts of a flower, and the end result is so pretty (temporarily, anyway!)

Roller Coaster Fun

“Siphon Roller Coaster” gives kids both a good reason for having a water balloon fight AND a good reason to pick up after themselves. “Ramp Races” are easy to prep and perform, even for my 5 and 6-year-olds.

I learned a new fact in “Allelopathy Experiment”–some plants actually repel other plants so they’ll have more room to grow themselves. Who knew!?

Lots of people, I bet. But not me. “Plant Race” is timely if you want to do an Olympic-themed unit (I’m talking to you, year-round homeschoolers) and “Ice Cream Keep Away”combines fun physical activity and a snack with scientific discovery.

Not all of the experiments are new and fresh–some, like sun prints, maple candy, and the flipped water glass, are golden oldies.

The presentation, however, is always outstanding.

“Mistakes and troubleshooting are far more educational than perfection, and many scientific blunders have led to great discoveries.”

So true, of science and of life.

Abstract Art

First things first–don’t let your opinion of abstract art distract you from the actual point of this book.

I struggled with this. Thoughts like, “Every artist who accidentally kicks over a paint can is not a misunderstood genius” kept interfering as I read.

However, the explicitly stated aim of the book (in it’s press release) is to teach that:

–Different is beautiful: It is our differences that make life interesting.
–People can surprise you: Given the chance, most people are more accepting than we would predict.
–Moms and dads aren’t perfect: Parents make mistakes just like everyone else.
–Anything is possible: Never be afraid to be 100% yourself.

The Spinfords

Set in a circus (what a perfect setting to depict family life!), the Spinfords are a family of performing spiders whose youngest son introduces some unexpected innovations to their act.

At first, his family rejects his efforts, but when he sneakily presents it to circus spectators, they love it, and his family comes to appreciate him.

Though there are a few things I liked about the book–the art, the clever use of spiders in the starring role, and anything that was a throwback to old-timey show biz–I found the the tone preachy and the font a little hard to read.

As my husband pointed out, the adulation our hero Salvatore receives from the crowd at the end is hardly typical of what most mavericks encounter (and it’s rarely their goal, anyway.)

However, when I asked my kids what they thought, one said, “I love it” and the other said, “Amazing!” I love the Outdoor Science Lab for Kids.

While I was unable to pin them down on any specifics and this is their typical reaction to shiny new books that come in the mail, it is an endorsement.

Since it’s really aimed at them and not me, and since they don’t bring the prejudices to it that I do, I guess we’ll give it a B.

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Crafts

Toddler DIY – Kid Friendly Christmas Crafts

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Welcome to the holidays, time for Kid Friendly Christmas Crafts.

Only this year, I have a toddler trying to help.

I went searching for kid friendly Christmas crafts and this is what I found.

I found the cutest ornament on Pinterest, so I figured I would give it a shot.

While I am putting the final result on my tree, this is totally a Pinterest fail.

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Crafts

DIY Polish Star Christmas Ornaments

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My mother-in-law posted a link on Facebook the other day detailing how to make something called Polish Star Ornaments.

I watched the video and immediately fell in love with these easy, yet beautiful ornaments and thought how wonderful they would look on my Christmas tree.

Tradition of the Polish Star

In the Polish tradition of celebrating Christmas, the star has special significance.

On Christmas Eve the first star of the night is named “Gwiazda,” meaning “little star,” in remembrance of the Star of Bethlehem.

At the moment it appears, greetings and good wishes are exchanged.

Families then partake of the Christmas supper, “Wigilia,” the most carefully planned meal of the year.

Polish Star Ornaments

You will need the following supplies to make your Polish Star Christmas Ornaments:

  • A pen or pencil (to form the points)
  • Something sharp to poke a hole through the center of each piece of paper, I used a sewing needle, a toothpick would work too. If you use a compass to draw your circles, you can use that to poke a hole through the circles of paper.
  • Scissors
  • White Glue (to glue the points)
  • Jewelry Cord (to hold the pieces together, string, twine, ribbon etc. can also be used)
  • 2 Jewelry spacing beads, sequins, etc. (to keep the cord on both ends taught)
  • 5 Sheets of 8.5 x 11 Paper (scrapbook paper, wrapping paper, printer paper, brown shipping paper etc.)
  • A Compass or object you can use to draw around about 4″ wide, I used a cardboard ribbon spool
  • A Compass or object you can use to draw around about 1″ wide, I used a nickel

Instructions:

1.  Use a 3″ – 4″ circle (I used a cardboard ribbon spool that is roughly 3.5″) and draw 4 circles onto a piece of paper. Next, use your .09″ – 1″ circle (I used a nickel) and draw the inner circle in the middle of the larger circle. Do this on the remaining pieces of 8.5 x 11 pieces of paper for a total of 10-20 large circles.  Or use the template found here.

2. Cut the larger circles out.  Then Fold the circle in half, fold a second time in half (1/4), then a third time in half (1/8).

3.  Open your circles up. In the center of the circle punch, use a needle, toothpick, etc. to make a hole.

4. Cut along the folds almost to the center, but not quite all the way. You can see in the photos below where the cuts are made.

5. Put a small dab of glue on the point of one tab, then wrap the tab around a pencil or pen hold in place for a few seconds so the glue sets, do this for all 8 tabs. You can also do this without using a pen or pencil as seen in the youTube video posted at the bottom.

6. Slip a spacer bead onto your jewelry cord halfway down the cord (you can also use string, twine, thin ribbon etc.). I didn’t take a photo of this, so I used the diagram from diohomeimprovements.com.

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Crafts

3 Simple Halloween Crafts to Decorate your Home

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At TotsFamily.com we like to get crafty but we are also a very frugal set of people.

When Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store challenged us to create a #SpookySpaces tablescape we couldn’t refuse.

Our table consists of three separate crafts which together make a lovely scene.

Or you can make just one or two of the crafts and add to your existing decor.

Looking for more Halloween ideas?

3 Simple Halloween Crafts To Decorate Your Home

Framed Holiday Quote

I love framed holiday quotes because you can customize and reuse it for every holiday table scape you create.

I chose the phrase ‘BOO’ for Halloween and decided to just use 1 letter per frame so it really stands out.

You could also choose whole words or phrases for each frame.

Instructions

I drew my letters, cut them out and glued them to a piece of Halloween craft paper.

Next, I trimmed my Halloween paper down and taped it to the back of the mat that is included in the frame.

I then assembled the frame back together and it was done.

Easy and effective. (You can reuse the frames with new paper for each holiday, accordingly)

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