Graphite Circuit

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Did you know that graphite conducts electricity? Neither did Travis and I until we set out to light up an LED bulb with a 9V battery. You can create some serious wow factor with this easy STEM project; even grown-ups might be amazed!

Make sure you have graphite pencils or the project won’t work; check the art section of the craft store, not the kids’ section, to be sure.

On our first try, we drew a  bus shape for our circuit. Be sure to leave two gaps, about 1 cm wide, on each side of your drawing. Label them + and – as well. Travis loved making our graphite line nice and thick, and added bus windows.

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Tape the LED light down on one side of the gap, aligning + to + and – to – and making sure the two filaments are firmly on the graphite line. (Note: the longer end of the LED is positive).

Now place the 9V battery upside down across the other gap, making sure the + and – nodes align once more.

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Hmm… our light didn’t light up!

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We did a little research and found out that the longer your graphite drawing, the less strong the current will be that reaches the bulb. So we made a very small rectangle and tried again.

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And success! Travis was thrilled when we saw it light up.



Surprise-Inside Muffins

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There’s a sweet swirl of peanut butter and jelly hiding just below the crumb topping of these muffins. If you prefer your PB&J savory, check out the cheddar meltswe made earlier this week!


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt + dash, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 2 Ener-G eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup strawberry jam
  • 3 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
  1. To prepare the batter, combine 1 and 1/2 cups flour, the oats, baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/2 cup brown sugar; set aside.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the oil, almond milk, Ener-G eggs, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  3. Fill the muffin cups about half way with batter. Drop 1 teaspoon peanut butter and 1 teaspoon jam over each, swirling slightly with a toothpick if desired.
  4. To prepare the crumb topping, combine the remaining 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and a dash of salt in a small bowl. Add the butter, and use your fingers to mix until combined. Sprinkle over the muffins.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 23 minutes. Cool in the pans and store in an airtight container.

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Paper Towel Drawing

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Here’s an easy art hack for toddlers, especially if you have a child who wants to get into an older sibling’s art supplies. Give them a paper towel to mark up instead! Because the paper towel has absorbency, the colors blur and bleed in fascinating ways.

I gave Veronika four different color markers and showed her how to make thick lines across the paper towel.

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She didn’t need to be shown twice! Soon she was coloring avidly, clearly interested with how the markers felt on the slightly bumpy surface.

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Next I showed her how to press in one spot and make a dot (almost like dot markers). “Dot dot dot!” she started saying happily as she imitated.

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She also said the names of the colors as she drew, parroting back “pink!” or “yellow!”

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Eventually, I taped the paper towel pieces down so she could keep going without direct supervision.

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Even when the paper towels slipped, I didn’t have to worry since the washable markers wipe clean from her high chair tray in a pinch.

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Note: You can also try this activity on coffee filters, which we did later in the day. They have a similar absorbency for a similar effect.

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