Eclipse Viewing

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Apologies that I did not post this blog before today’s amazing eclipse – but tuck this post away for a mere 7 years from now, when the next total eclipse comes to the U.S. Not a terribly long wait…

We made sure we were out there today for the viewing, even though we were in an area with a 71% eclipse. We came equipped with two homemade viewing techniques.

The first is very simple to put together, tho the results weren’t fantastic. Cut a square in one piece of cardstock, and cover the square with aluminum foil. Prick a hole in the foil with a pin, then project onto a second piece of white cardstock. Here’s the sun with the fun just getting started!

Eclipse (1)The box pinhole projector we made was much more effective, though a bit more labor intensive. Cut two holes into one short side of a shoebox or cereal box. Cover one hole with foil; leave the other hole open (this is what you’ll peer into). Prick the foil with a needle or toothpick.

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Stand with your back to the sun and peer in – you’ll see the eclipse projected onto the inside wall of the box. The effect will be clearer if you line that side of the box with white paper, although this step isn’t necessary. In fact, we could see the shadows of the clouds on the inside of our box.

Of course, nothing compared to the look we got through the special viewing glasses of some friendly neighbors (who managed to buy theirs before every place under the (eclipsed!) sun sold out).

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Needless to say, we’ll be watching again on April 8, 2024.

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Salt Painting with Liquid Watercolor

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My impish three-year-old doesn’t need an excuse to pour a huge pile of salt out of the container – but this project turned the result into beautiful art! If you don’t have liquid watercolors, mix watercolor from a tube with a little water in a bowl before your child starts to paint.

Make sure you cover your work space well for this craft; it’s a messy one! To start, we squeezed a bottle of glue onto watercolor paper to make designs.

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Although Travis normally loves squeezing out glue (which is also excellent fine-motor skill practice), this time he preferred to watch me make designs of actual things. We ended up with a flower and an ant, alongside a few more abstract designs.

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Now for the best part: Place your paper in a tray, and cover the glue with salt; shake any excess salt off into the tray or bin. Repeat with the remaining pictures and let dry for at least 20 minutes.

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I set up several bowls of watercolor for Travis after the glue was dry enough, and he quickly got to work. Encourage your child to dab the color on with a paint brush (a pipette would also work very well), and to watch the color spread along the salt crystals in the most beautiful way.

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At first Travis was making strokes with his brush, but once he got the hang of it, he began dabbing more carefully.

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Here was our abstract take on the solar eclipse!

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Note: This project won’t be a great candidate for hanging on walls or fridges when finished; there is too much potential for extra salt to flake off.