Halloween Stories and Science Fun!

I think I have one of the best hobbies in the world!  Every Halloween, I become a mad scientist, doing science demonstrations at Fort Edmonton Park’s Spooktacular event.

 One of the things I love about this is that I get to create a character and a story to act out around the science experiments I’m doing.  It changes a little with every show, but that’s part of the fun!

This Halloween, as you get to act out a character that’s different from your everyday life, why not add some cool science activities to the mix?  Here are a few easy ones you could try!

Bone Growing Formula (A.K.A. Goop)

You need:

  • Deep pan or bowl
  • Cornstarch
  • Water

What to do:

Mix the cornstarch and the water until everything is wet, but there is no water sitting on top.  To mix it, you have to move slowly and gently.  This neat goop gets hard when squeezed or hit, but oozes when let go (it’s called a non-newtonian fluid for anyone who wants to look that up).  It’s entertaining for all ages – trust me, I had more trouble getting the adults out of it then the kids!

Fake Blood

You need:

  • 1 cup Corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp Chocolate syrup
  • 2 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp Red food colouring
  • 2 tbsp Water

What to do:

Put all the ingredients in a blender and mix it up.  Add more red or chocolate syrup to get the colour you want, but it works out pretty well.  Want to really gross people out?  Taste the fake blood in a way that makes them think it’s real – it actually doesn’t taste bad!

For more great science experiments to do as a family, my favourite site right now is http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/.  They have great videos and all the instructions you need to have a great time this Halloween!!

A Spooky Halloween Treat!

So it’s Halloween, let’s have some fun! I found this on the internet and immediately wanted to try making them for my older children’s halloween parties. Just think of the possibilities! Just use sugar cookie dough, shape it to look like fingers, add toasted almonds and cinnamon or cocoa for effect and what an interesting treat!

Has anyone tried this? Or do you have another favorite Halloween treat you would like to share?

Rhyming Anytime!

I have been teaching families over the past year a rhyme that I had just learned in the springtime. I love it, kids love it and parents quickly fall in love with it as soon as their wee ones utter the words tap tap tap.
It goes like this:
One little finger, one little finger, one little finger, tap tap tap
Put your fingers UP
put your fingers DOWN
Put them on your NOSE (and you repeat changing body parts)
A mom shared their version this past week, she is a mom of 2 girls that LOVE their barbies.
While driving in their vehicle she heard the girls make up their own version, it goes like this:
One little barbie, one little barbie, one little barbie, tap tap tap (as they hold up their barbies and tap them together)
Put your Barbies up
Put your Barbies down
Put them on your toes…  (repeat with a different body part)
hashtag: #RTB_Edm

Community Volunteers Improve Children’s literacy:

National Literacy Trust, a charity dedicated to raising literacy levels in the United Kingdom, recently published a study that showed community volunteers can improve how parents and caregivers support their children’s early literacy development.

The study involved over 1500 families and used peer volunteers to increase families’ confidence in supporting positive literacy attitudes and behaviors. Volunteers took part in six weekly sessions with an assigned family, and it showed vast improvements in literacy development.

  • 84% of parents felt that the project would have a long-term impact on their child’s reading and communication skills
  • 100% felt more confident in attending literacy activities, with more than half saying that they would not have been able to attend without the help of their volunteer
  • 52% showed an improved engagement with books
  • 46% showed improved speaking and listening skills

Volunteering your time to help parents synthesize their children’s literacy skills is both fun and rewarding! Activities can include a family visit to a local library for story time or play groups, singing and rhyming together, or even just reading a book together! Opportunities are endless!

To read the full study, go to http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/news/4726

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s already Thanksgiving!

Enjoy a weekend of fun, food and lots of family time!

Here’s an easy and fun craft for the whole family:

Trace a hand then use crayons or markers to draw and colour a turkey.  Kids can make a turkey for each of your dinner guests!  Place them at the dinner table for conversation or make one for each guest to take home!  All that is required is paper and crayons.

Fall Rhymes

Fall brings the return of many things that fill our schedules, making life hectic once again. There is back to school, back to work, back to daycares, sports, piano lessons, etc.
Here is a favorite rhyme I share with the families in our programs. I’ve done this with my children since they were small to wind them down when they needed to get ready for bed, or even just needed some cuddle time (they still enjoyed it as they grew older and would not turn down an offer for a “treasure hunt”).
(Start by lying down next to your child, and gently rubbing their backs. then you trace your fingers up their spine as if they are “walking” fingers while saying)
We’re going on a treasure hunt,
X marks the spot (trace a giant X on child’s back)
Boulder here, boulder there (make a small circle on one side, then repeat on other)
Dot, dot, dot (trace 3 tiny circles across their back)
Crabs crawling up your back (now run hands up gently up their back like a walking crab)
Bubbles rolling down (roll hands and fingers down their back)
Tight squeeze (give them a hug)
Cool Breeze (gently blow on the top of their heads or on their backs)
Now you have the shivereeze ( now rub their whole backs like giving them goosebumps)
You will hear “again, again” every time!!!
And just for fun, here’s a Thanksgiving themed rhyme!
(this one can be similar to Round and Round the Garden)
Chickens in the barnyard (make your fingers like the chickens running circles around your childs tummy)
Staying out of trouble
Along comes the turkey(now use pointer finger and thumb like they are creeping up to get the child)
ANDDD, Gobble Gobble Gobble!! (tickle your child while saying gobble gobble-what a turkey sounds like)
hashtag: #RTB_Edm

The Book Report – Comprehension tool or a barrier for young readers?

My son is in grade four this year.  He loves to read – he’s like a sponge soaking up every great book he can get his hands on.

This year, he got to join the school’s book club.  He was so excited, especially since the next book he wanted to read “The Lost Hero” by Rick Riordan was on the list.  He got the book, read it in two weeks and proudly handed it in… at which time he was handed a book report sheet and told he needed to fill it out to get credit for it.

He came home and put it on the table and said “I hate book reports.”  I explained, reluctantly, that if he wanted to be in the book club this was one of the requirements (even though I didn’t know about it before and I don’t think I totally agree with it).  He is actually debating not being in the book club because of this. It doesn’t mean he’ll stop reading, but it really killed the joy of it for him.

So what do we do?  I understand book reports are used as a comprehension tool and to double check that someone has read the book, but what a turn off for the already reluctant reader!  Is it so bad, especially for a “club” if they can just say they read the book (I think it’s a different conversation for book reports that are school assignments, which have multiple ways to do them – reports, posters, building something)?

I’m at a loss.  I think I will be talking to the librarian, but what angle to I take?  Any thoughts out there??

By the way, the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series by Rick Riordan is a great read for young and old (my son’s the young and I’m the old).