Glow in the Dark SLIME!!!

Uh-oh. Christmas break is looming! What am I going to do with the kids?!?! Well, of course I’m going to send them to Grandma‘s house for a while, lol. But not the whole time. I’m going to have to bust out the recipe book.

Today we make Glow in the Dark Slime!

Ingredients:

Borax

Water

Glow in the Dark Craft Paint (readily available at Michael’s craft stores)

4oz Elmer’s Glue

Two bowls for mixing (we’ll be making two separate solutions and then combining them!)

First, pick a bowl for the glue mixture. We’re going to squeeze that entire 4oz bottle of Elmer’s into a bowl! This is great work for little hands: they can squeeze to their little hearts’ content! If a mom were to do this by herself she *might* take the cap off the glue all together and dump it a lot faster, but kids do like to squeeze out the glue, and if they get tired (bonus) you can take the cap off for them, too. 🙂

Then we’ll add one cup of warm water to the glue, and 2-3 tablespoons of the glow-in-the-dark paint and start mixing. We used a small whisk, but a potato masher or large spoon would work just as well! (*NOTE* The glow in the dark paint at the Michael’s by my house came in several colors, however it also came in a neutral, glows only, non-color. If you only have the non-colored glowing paint available to you, add yellow food coloring to give it a nice popping color when its in the light!)

In the next bowl we will combine 1/3 cup water and 2tsp borax. We added r two tablespoons plus one teaspoon of the borax solution to our glue mixture. However if you want a stiffer slime, add a bit more borax solution!

 

 

 

 

 

And voila! There we have it. Now shut your kids in the bathroom – you’ve got about thirty minutes before they get bored, go watch t.v. – something with a grown up theme! LOL

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How to Make Watercolor Paint

Water colors are the best kind of paint for little kids because they are intended to be left to dry! There’s no worrying about losing lids or replacing the caps like with other paints, and they’re pretty easy on the stomach should your kids eat one or ten. As cool and convenient as store bought water colors are, I have been trying to help my kids understand that everything comes from somewhere, and by somewhere I do not mean the store! Making simple craft materials from scratch has been a great way of doing just that. Water colors are easy and cheap to make (in fact I didn’t have to leave my house, all of the materials were in my pantry), and with water colors you don’t have to worry about sealable containers. I used party cups just  because I happened to have some party cups left over from a party. Otherwise empty ice trays, applesauce, yogurt or those plastic baby food containers would have been perfect.

Googling water color recipes will give you a variety of slightly different methods to try. I went with Martha’s (Stewart, that is) because I wanted to try a recipe with the best chance of success the first time around. But there are other recipes I am interested in trying, one in particular that calls for gelatin in place of corn syrup. We’ll make a new batch and compare at some point, but for now here are your materials:

Vinegar

Baking SodaIngredients for making watercolor paint!

Cornstarch

Light Corn Syrup

Food Coloring

Small mixing bowl

Forks (for mixing)

Scoop four tablespoons into the mixing bowl, then add two tablespoons of vinegar – get ready for the fizz! Kids love fizz. 🙂 Once the bubbles have calmed down add a half teaspoon of corn syrup and two tablespoons of corn starch. The cornstarch can be difficult to blend and is the reason I recommend using forks for mixing.

When you are finished mixing your solution it will be thick and stark white. Pour it carefully in equal amounts into small containers. Our next step is to add the color. Not all of you are brave enough to put a vial of food coloring into the hands of a three year old, and that’s ok. My food coloring bottles were almost empty which is the only reason I let my kids do the squeezing. You need between five and ten drops of each color for vivid, eye popping saturation. We mixed blue and red to make purple, but only did five containers. The more containers you divide your mixture between the more fun you can have mixing colors.

And voila! That’s it! You’re done! Well, almost. Now comes the hard part – waiting for it to dry. It literally takes twelve  hours or more to dry completely, and you will have some separation as the lighter liquids will rise and settle on top, but they’ll dry eventually. We haven’t painted with ours yet, that’ll come in the next post. In the mean time, make some of your own and give it a try! I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts on other ways to do this.

“The World of Germs”

We’re constantly telling our kids to wash our hands, and to be aware of germs. And we tell them that germs are “bugs” that can get inside our bodies where they grow and make us sick. Its hard for kids to wrap their minds around such abstract comments, and its hard for them to respect what they can’t even see. So just what do germs look like? We decided to answer that question once and for all.

Enter stage left: the petri dish.

First we mixed our germ food, a mixture of AGAR and CHICKEN BOULLION that we boiled in water.

My young’ns are too young to be mixing the chemicals and boiling water, so even with something as benign as agar and chicken boullion, mom did the heavy lifting during this stage. The kids did watch, tho, and we discussed the changes the powder made and the changes in the water color, consistency, and smell. Once we had our petri dishes mixed they had to cool. And they have to cool covered, or else random germs floating in the air might contaminate our microbe biosphere, so it takes a while. At least 24 hours before you can return with your test subjects and decide what to test.

None of us had been feeling well, so coughing was one of the first ideas.
As we were hacking and coughing the dog became concerned about our strange behavior and decided to investigate. And so we tested the dog. He wasn’t interested in touching the petri dish himself, so after letting him sniff it we patted the top of his head to the gelatin in the dish. After that, he decided he’d had enough of the nonsense and headed back to his spot on the couch. There were three of our five petri dishes already used up. We wanted to see how well soap worked, so on the bottom of one petri dish we drew a line down the center and wrote “dirty hands” on one side of the line, and “clean hands” on the other side of the line. We flipped the dish over, took off the lid, and on the side labeled “dirty hands” we touched and tapped with our dirty fingers. Then we dashed to wash hands and returned, refreshed after our race to the sink, to tap and poke the side of the dish labeled “clean hands.” The clean/dirty hand experiment is great, too, because

young scientists are rabid to touch things. They can’t touch random petri dishes, tho, because it will contaminate the sample. This way they not only get to see whats on their hands, but they get to satisfy their tactile sensory needs as well.

And finally, for our remaining dish, the kids chose an object from the house, whatever they wanted, to test for germs. My daughter returned with a book, an excellent choice. “Do you think there will be any germs on this book?” I asked her. “Ummm… no,” was the reply.

Three days later: Germ check. We’re starting to get somewhere! Although we were fairly unimpressed with the amount of growth in three days. I’m not sure what we were expecting, but I thought we’d have something more impressive at this point. Little did I know, Impressive was on its way… Anyhoo, the clean hands/dirty hands dish showed a drastic difference in the amount of germ colonies. The kids were impressed with this. “Le Dog” was also proving to be good and dirty, nothing unexpected there. The red of the growth in his dish was alarming. It brought to my mind thoughts of poisonous plants and tree frogs… In nature the really dangerous stuff is frequently the most beautiful, and I wondered what we had growing in our dish…

The petri dish with the book swab was boring, as were the dishes we’d coughed in.

Now that we had some germ colonies rolling we pulled out the antibiotic ointment.

We swabbed some on each dish to see if it retarded or killed the germ growth.
We recapped the dishes and returned them to their spot in the pantry… Two days later I was walking by and happened to glance up and startled in surprise. Our germs had been busy!

Apparently the antibiotic ointment wasn’t particularly effective in retarding the growth of our germ colonies.

This photograph is of the clean hands/dirty hands. I’m showing a pic of the underside of the petri dish as well as its easier to see the difference in amount of germ growth on either side of the line.

Following are pictured the dish of “le dog,” its the one with the most aggressive growth, the book with moderate growth, and a dish of my daughter’s cough. We had very little from her cough, something else that surprised us.



Now we know what germs look like. They can grow to look like fuzz, hair, pulp, liquid, and they can be a myriad of colors. We learned that germs are everywhere, from books to beasts, and we have concrete evidence that our coughs contain germs as well. Most importantly we learned that washing hands with soap can help keep us healthy by removing germs from our hands.

In retrospect, we should have had a control dish of just antibotic ointment, a dish touched by dirty hands only, a dish where we’d touched the agar w/ dirty hands and then immediately applied antibiotic ointment, and then a dish where we’d applied the antibiotic ointment after the germs had built up colonies. But I’m not that organized, however its a great idea for future experimenting! This idea could be taken even further to compare the effectiveness of different types of antibiotic ointments… Hmmm…

Jello Playdough


Store bought playdough is so boring compared to what you can do at home! Homemade playdough can be scented, texturized, and in other ways personalized. Not to mention the bonding experience!

Ingredients
1 Cup white flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup warm water
1 three ounce package of jello – flavor of your choice. *Note, the flavor you choose will be the scent of your playdough. In our case we used lemon, so the final result is lemon scented and yellow.

Combine ingredients.
Couldn’t be simpler. Get a big mixing bowl and start measuring, scooping, dumping, and pouring.

The young lady in the photo is almost five and is able to do most of this with only minimal assistance. We couldn’t fit our tablespoon into the cream of tartar container, so i filled the spoon for her to dump, and I poured the oil – that’s a mess you don’t want to have to clean up, ever!

Homemade playdough is also fun as they can taste test the ingredients. Don’t let them scoop a big bunch of salt into their mouths – they might throw up. More of a reaction than you’re probably looking for. Its interesting to taste jello before its turned into its more recognizable jiggly form.

If you’re doing this with a smaller someone, I suggest premeasuring ingredients so the ingredients are ready to be dumped into the big bowl. Also, be ready to help guide younger hands so the ingredients don’t get dumped before reaching the mixing bowl!

Cooking – this is a mommy job, not a kid job.
Pour into a saucepan. I prefer a teflon coated saucepan to reduce sticking.

*This scalds easily, so use a medium (not high) heat.
Stir continuously. It will gradually begin to thicken, first becoming thicker, then lumpy, then clumpy, then just one big ball!

Work it!
Once the dough begins to clump don’t let it remain over the heat. Dump the hot ball of dough into something where it can sit, away from little fingers, for a minute to cool. This doesn’t take very long. When it is cool enough to touch, put some flour down and dump the dough ball out and start to knead! Do this for a couple of minutes, taking turns (mom/kid/mom/kid) to ensure the elasticity is built up properly.

Additions
If you want to alter the color, or enhance the color, add some food coloring. Glitter is a grrls best friend, so don’t hold back!
Craft stores sell a fine, brightly colored craft sand that adds nice texture, and using a contrasting color can really make the playdough fun. Pretty much the skies the limit when it comes to add-ins, just beware organic add-ins can mold!

Victory!
There we have it folks. Let it cool completely before storing. Makes an awesome gift, especially if you include the recipe!