Northern Lights Illuminated

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With a few Swedish recipes to prepare from Raddish Kids this month, Travis and I sat down to learn about the Northern Lights, a neat STEAM lesson alongside the Swedish cuisine.

I started be asking him to picture dancing lights in the sky, and he immediately got very silly imagining twirling reds, greens, and blues. But I told him this really exists! An informative website and video helped him visualize and understand the concepts further. Help your child walk away with new vocab, like solar flare and solar wind.

So now it was time to paint the northern lights! Using black construction paper as our background, I invited Travis to craft the lights however he felt inspired. He started with blue paint…

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…but soon liked the way that just water looked when swirled on the black page.

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He added in a bit of color, then more water, for a very ethereal effect.

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As we painted, we listened to ambient music from Mannheim Steamroller. Once he finished painting, it was time to dance and be the auroras.

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With scarves as props, he got really into his swirly, twirly, silly dance moves. And so did little sister!

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For a final scientific component, we made the “Northern lights” in food coloring and oat milk. Set out paper plates filled with the milk and add a few drops of food coloring to each.

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Dip a q-tip into dish soap, then touch this to the milk. The food coloring will dance and skitter and mix.

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This had a big wow factor. I had hoped for it to be a little bit of a science lesson, thinking there might be a difference between our full fat and low fat oat milks in the fridge, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.

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For variation, we tried it in glue, too. (Note: You can let a glue version dry for a full week, then pull it off the paper plate and hang as a “suncatcher.”

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Last up was a little bedtime reading from the library. Check out Once Upon a Northern Night by Jean Pendziwol; Aurora: A Tale of the Northern Lights by Mindy Dwyer, or Auroras: Fire in the Sky by Dan Bortolotti.

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I loved that this lesson got Travis to learn, to create, and to get active!

 

 

A Magnetic Polka Dot Sensory Bag

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The inspiration for this sensory bag was the book Press Here, one of big brother’s favorite books from a young age, and one that never gets old.

Today I read the book with Veronika for the first time, and although she is on the young side for it, she delighted in the actions: tapping on dots, blowing on pages, and especially clapping at the end.

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But we weren’t finished when the book was done; the fun had only just begun! Using magnetic discs and a wand from a magnet set we have, all I needed to complete the activity was a gallon-sized zip-top bag. I added just a little water to the bag, and then sprinkled in the discs. In keeping with Press Here‘s primary color scheme, I used only red, yellow, and blue ones.

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Note: If you’re playing this game with a preschooler, this is a great chance to color sort, first, before adding the discs to the bag!

I showed Veronika how the wand attracted the magnets when waved over the bag (yes magnets work in water), and she loved the seeming magic of this.

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This sensory bag interested her for much longer than previous activity bags we’ve made, and she returned to it throughout the day for more magical wand waving.

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Again, you can engage big kids further with the activity. See if your child can separate the magnets by color in the bag. Or get silly by tapping them or moving them in ways that mimic the art on each page of Press Here.

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This game was so simple to put together, and I know we’ll play it again as Veronika grows!