Make a Model Lung

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This neat visual of how a lung and diaphragm work together can be made with just a few simple household items. It was a great dose of STEM learning on a stormy day cooped up inside.

You’ll need to start with a sturdy plastic bottle. At first I assumed larger was better, and tried a family-sized club soda bottle… but our balloon wouldn’t fit in the next step, so be aware! You really need a single-serving bottle (16 ounces), either of water or soda.

Carefully cut the bottle in half. This was definitely a grown-up step, and I cautioned Travis that the edge of the bottle was a bit jagged. Keep the top half; recycle the bottom of the bottle.

Tie a knot in an uninflated balloon, and snip off the top of it. Stretch that top over the end of the bottle, and secure with a rubber band.

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Your bottle might squash a bit, but that’s fine as long as no air can get in.

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Now slide a straw into a second balloon. Secure them together with a rubber band, making sure the balloon is attached, but not so tight that air can’t get in. Travis tested with a few huffs!

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Now push the balloon into the neck of the bottle, and use a little clay around the straw to hold it in place.

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Holding the bottle firmly, pull down on the bottom balloon. The balloon inside will inflate!

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Explain to kids that this movement replicates what happens when you breathe: when your diaphragm moves down with each breath in, it makes room for your lungs, which then fill with air.

Travis’s favorite part of the activity was trying to get the balloon to “hiccup”, which you can do by pulling the bottom balloon a few times quickly. The balloon in the bottle will jump, which is what happens when you get a case of the hics.

All in all, this was a great addendum to the fun we had with our My Body crate from Kiwi Co.

Simple Hand- and Footprints

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I tried making a handprint for Veronika when she was just home from the hospital, and quickly realized why my attempt was so difficult – newborns keep those fists curled up tight!

At two months old, you should be able to capture the size of those tiny fingers, now that your little one is keeping his or her fingers open. Veronika seemed to love the process behind this, her first little art project.

You can make the prints on almost any surface you choose. I used a small canvas from the craft store and a blank tea mug. Regular watercolor paper would work just fine, too! Make sure you are set up with all your supplies before you begin. You’ll need a safe, water-based paint, a paintbrush, and a pack of wipes ready to go for cleanup!

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I started with the feet, since that would involve less mess, tickling Veronika’s toes with the brush and then pressing gently against the canvas and the mug.

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We cleaned her foot off, then applied a coat of paint to one little hand. It was still a bit difficult to press her finger flat, and do so without her moving it side to side, so the hand prints were a bit smeared.

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But we still captured the adorable tiny size of her hands and feet at this age.

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This is sure to become a precious memento. Don’t forget to add baby’s name and date!

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