Tape Resist Letters with Homemade Edible Finger Paint

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It was Daylight Savings today, and parents know what that means: an extra-long day where the kids wake up extra-early. Here’s just the right kind of messy project to help fill those extra hours… Daylight savings or any day the kids are up early!

I knew I wanted a messy art project for Veronika, but she’s still too little for paint since those little fingers go right to little mouth. This homemade finger paint recipe was perfect. After breakfast, I made the following:

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Combine 2 and 3/4 cups water in a saucepan with 1/2 cup cornstarch. Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, dissolve 1 packet of vegan jel dessert (such as Simply Delish) in 1/4 cup cold water. I used the orange flavor, meaning our paint would be nice and sweet, but unflavored is fine!

Once boiling, remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the jel mixture. Let cool completely.

Transfer to plastic cups and add food coloring if desired for other colors. Since the finger paint was naturally yellow, I added a few drops of red for some orange cups and a few drops of blue for some green ones.

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Next, I added masking tape to a few pieces of construction paper for the tape resist portion of the project. A big V for Veronika seemed just right, and we made a T for Travis, too. Give the paper to your little one and add a few big blobs of paint.

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Veronika was more hesitant than I would have thought to get her fingers in there at first! I showed her how to smear the paint all over the paper, mixing and mushing the colors.

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I moved her down to the floor at one point, thinking she might want to get messier with lots of paint and paper spread out, but even then, she was a touch hesitant.

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No matter what, your paper will be very wet once completed, and will probably take all day to dry; I know ours did!

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Once the “paint” dried, I peeled off the masking tape for the big reveal.

You could also do this activity with more complicated patterns or pictures, simply applying the masking tape in whatever design you like. Big kids might just want to get their hands in there too!

Tic-Tac-Yum

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Here’s a novel way to play tic-tac-toe… and to have a healthy snack. Winner takes first bite!

To set up the game, wind yarn around a flat mirror until you’ve divided it into 9 squares like a tic-tac-toe board. Secure on the back with tape.

For the Os, cut celery hearts into slices in the shape of a C. For Xs, cut chunks of non-dairy cheese and then make a slit so each piece looks like a V.

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Once arranged on the mirror, Travis was delighted to find the C was now an O and the V was now an X!

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I challenged him to a match…

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…but it wasn’t long before the Vs began disappearing as a snack. Tic-tac-yum indeed!

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Mirror Illusions Kiwi Crate

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Travis’s Kiwi Crate this month focused on mirrors and the tricks of light that allow for illusions. There was a bit of overlap with the Secret Agent crate, so I was surprised it was next in our queue from the company, but he still enjoyed the projects!

First up was making a Trick Box. This very simply involved folding open the provided green cardboard box and slipping in an illustrated insert. (Kids also have the option to illustrate their own insert).

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Place the insert in the box, then slip in the provided mirror, making sure it is at the correct angle (arrows marked inside help kids to ensure a proper alignment).

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Peeking through the box now reveals the image in reverse. This was a bit lost on Travis, as he couldn’t read the “hello there” message he’d chosen either forwards or backwards.

More of an impact came from the penny trick you can perform: Drop a penny through the slot in the top and it seems to disappear, when really it is just falling behind the angled mirror. This is a fun one for kids to play a “magic trick” on friends and family.

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Next up was making a Painted Puzzle. Place the provided wooden squares in a frame, and cover with one of the provided clear stickers. Travis did this a bit differently, attaching all four clear stickers, so our results weren’t perhaps perfect.

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But the painting method was neat! Travis liked using the paint stampers, which are dipped into provided tiny paint pots. Cover the surface of the wooden tiles, let dry, then peel off the stickers.

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The painted puzzle can now be taken apart and put back together again. But even cooler is viewing it through…

…Mirror Goggles, the final project. To make these (which look almost like Google’s VR viewer), open up the provided cardboard goggle box.

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Travis got to exercise his fine motor skills to attach the sides with a brad; add padding foam around nose and forehead for comfort; and place a sticky donut and bead on top. This bead is going to help you keep your head up later, read on!

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Thread an elastic through the holes on either side and secure with cord stoppers, then attach a mirror to the underside of the goggles with sticky foam. Your goggles are ready for viewing!

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Wearing them took a bit of practice, with the goal of piecing together your Painted Puzzle or a provided wooden puzzle. I had Travis watch me first, as you really need to keep your head up to have the mirror show you what’s on the work surface below. Don’t tilt your head down for peeking or the bead will fall from the donut!

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Once he got it the hang of it, Travis thought it was so cool. I loved watching his hands move, forward when they needed to go backwards and vice versa, until he started to understand he was seeing in reverse; it was like observing the gray matter of his brain at work.

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If it won’t frustrate your kids, have them try writing their name or drawing a picture while wearing the goggles. Full disclosure, this is hard. Here’s my attempt to write his name!

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There was lots more fun to be had in Explore magazine. First, we made a map (a bit of an overlap from Secret Agent). When read normally, it led him nowhere. Then he looked at it through the selfie feature on my phone.

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Aha, he spots the treasure…

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Success!

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Then I showed him an example of backwards writing (again an overlap from Secret Agent).

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There’s also a mirror word search for older kids, and a few cool mirror illusions you can try to recreate at home like multiplying apples…

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…or a disappearing middle!

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We finished with a bedtime read of two suggested books: Light: Shadows, Mirrors, and Rainbows by Natalie Rosinsky and Mirror, Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer. The latter features fantastic poems that can be read both backwards and forwards.