Sand Pendulum

Pendulum (5)

We snagged this idea from an old Parents magazine article, highlighting STEM projects for kids. The game provides a neat visual introduction to gravity, using the simple concept of a pendulum. Pendulums – any suspended weight that swings freely from a pivot – will always come to rest at an equilibrium position, because of gravity of course. Using colored sand makes it purely fun for kids!

Make sure to cover your work surface with a roll of craft paper or other paper, both to catch your sand designs, and to save you from a big mess at clean-up time.

To set up the pendulum, tie three strings at even intervals around a thick rubber band. Travis had fun exploring the materials while I put this step together. Older kids can help with the tying!

Pendulum (1)

Fit the rubber band tightly under the lip of a kitchen funnel. Gather the three strings together and tie in the middle so the funnel hangs evenly.

Pendulum (2)

Slip the strings over a dowel – whoops, not quite balanced yet!

Pendulum (3)

The next step was a bit tricky, since it requires two sets of hands, and my three year old had his own agenda. But ideally, have your child plug the hole at the bottom of the funnel with a fingertip while you fill it with colored craft sand.

Give the pendulum a slight push, and watch the sand go back and forth. It will swing in increasingly smaller motions until it comes to rest.

Pendulum (4)

As mentioned, ours didn’t exactly work as planned…but leftover sand sure is fun to play with!

Pendulum (6)

If you capture really pretty sand designs, please share in the comments.

Crunchy Cucumbers with Hummus

Crunchy Cucumber (2).JPG

Make a go-to snack of veggies with hummus even more fun with this bite-sized snack. What kid can resist the chance to eat potato chips in a healthy way?


  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • Hummus
  • Crushed potato chips
  1. Arrange the cucumber slices on a plate or platter. Thinly spread each slice with hummus to taste.
  2. Sprinkle a few crushed potato chip pieces on top of each cuke.

Crunchy Cucumber (1)

Phoneme Week 10: IR

IR Phoneme (7)

As with the AY phoneme, we’re now doing a much-simplified version of our original plan to explore letter pairs. We’ve had the IR poster up on our wall for nearly two months now (!), giving Travis ample time to enjoy with how the two letters together say “errrrr!” Here’s some fun we had along the way.

Words of the Week:

  • Birds: This was loosely our “theme” for the unit, so we made bird feeders from pine cones and old milk containersPinecone Feeder (6)and enjoyed quirky games like a bird beak buffet. Bird Buffet (8)In addition, we made sure to head out bird watching one afternoon! IR Phoneme (4)We also started a collection of Audubon bird friends. IR Phoneme (8)And of course checked out library books on the subject.IR Phoneme (5)
  • Birch: Believe it or not, I found a craft to go with this word – birch tree tape resist pictures! Fall nature walks resulted in the chance to see the striking smooth bark of these trees up close and in person.BIrch Tree (6)
  • First: Find a toy – old baby ones are good to pull out for this purpose – that stacks or nests, and count them “first,” “second,” and “third,” instead of one, two, three. Since it was the holiday season, we also sang ‘The First Noel.’IR Phoneme (1)
  • Skirt/Shirt: For these two clothing words, we made a batch of craft stick doll, wearing a variety of fashions!
  • Birth: Like many toddlers and preschoolers, Travis is developing a fascination with babies. It’s a good time to introduce the concept of birth in an age-appropriate way. Check your library for cute books on the topic.IR Phoneme (6)
  • Stir: This word got us into the kitchen of course! First we did some real stirring to make a pie together. Then it was time for something even more fun: magic potion spoons, where stirring unlocked a secret color ingredient. “Mom, can I still stir?” Travis asked while we played the game, wanting to do it over and over again.
  • Virtue: Hmm, this was a hard word to teach to a three year old, so we tested out the old adage that “patience is a virtue” … By waiting for a batch of cookies of course!
  • Dirt: To end our IR fun, we brought a big bag of dirt inside (well, potting soil), and created a dirty mud pie kitchen.

Chances are we won’t get to the next phoneme until well into the New Year, so stay tuned!