Pulled String Paintings

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Travis loved testing out this novel painting method; not only was the process new and different, but the final product is a truly beautiful work of art, worthy of framing and keeping around!

To set up, fill small plastic cups with a little bit of liquid watercolor.

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Cut pieces of string, and dip them into the cups, one for each color, making sure the string is completely saturated.

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Working with one string at a time, place on a piece of thick paper. Cover with tracing paper, then place a small (empty) picture frame on top.

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Pull quickly on the end of the string that is dangling out, and the liquid watercolor will splash down in the frame.

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Travis was captivated! We repeated with three more colors, and then he decided it was finished. He loved that our red looked like a funnel, and that we had just a hint of purple.

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Japanese Travel Guide

Japan Travel Brochure (4)After preparing a Japanese meal for dinner, Travis got to learn more about Japanese culture today. This lesson plan from Raddish Kids was a fun extension to the culinary journey we’ll be on this month.

First up was locating Japan on a map. Once Travis pinpointed that it was an island, we discussed how geography can influence culture. Raddish provided talking points like how this has given Japan a strong sense of identity, and a unique culture.

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Now it was time for fun videos; Travis loved one about the shinkansen (high speed trains) so much that he insisted on watching the full thing, even parts I thought might bore a 6 year old!

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You can extend the lesson by looking at a map of the rail system, or even turn it into a math lesson for older kids by calculating costs or distances between stations on a pretend journey.

Next up was a video clip of Japanese baseball, and we discussed similarities and differences to games we’ve attended in the U.S.

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Finally, we learned about the popular genre of anime. Travis picked one to watch before bed, and chose Pokemon! You might also consider renting a classic from your library like My Neighbor Totoro or Ponyo.

Or check out how-to books to draw your own anime!

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I was so proud of Travis following along with one we checked out.

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Now it was time for Travis to pretend he was a travel writer explaining this country to another person, and he put together a travel brochure. He was so proud spelling out Japan on the cover. Inside, he drew high speed trains…

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…baseball players (I thought this one resembled a Japanese calligraphy character!)…

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…and lots of noodles of course.

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Glue Printing

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Caution: This project is messy! But toddlers love a mess and this catered right to Veronika’s impulse for arts & crafts this morning.

Instead of using an ink pad for stamps, the idea is to use glue as the “ink”. I gave Veronika a paper plate filled with white glue, and then I set out a few items that we could dip into it.

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I included a fish-shaped sponge, a block wrapped in string, and a cut apple. The small block was by far the easiest for her to dip in the glue and lift up, then transfer onto paper and press down.

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The larger items turned out to be tricky; they had a tendency to stick in the glue, and were tough for her to pull up without assistance!

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Next time I would use much smaller objects, like a sponge cut into little squares, or slices of an apple. But with some mommy help, we managed to dip the items in our glue “ink” and then transfer to paper.

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To make the prints more apparent, sprinkle with glitter. This was definitely Veronika’s favorite part, shaking a container of large glitter over the paper and watching it pour down on her creation.

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Shake off any excess glitter and let dry. I confess you couldn’t really discern the shapes of the prints we’d made, but it was still a fun and colorful piece of toddler art.

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Out at the Park Math

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It’s never too early to start talking math with a toddler, yes even for those under age 2. The perfect place to do it? At the playground!

Chances are you’re going to be at a playground anyway, so why not throw in a little math? Once you start looking, you’ll realize just how many shapes there are to talk about. Today with Veronika, we found everything from the obvious, like a neat set of squares to climb…

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…or a circle wheel to drive…

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…to the subtle. There were tiny circles in the platform beneath her feet, for example, or rectangles outlined in the rungs of a ladder.

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Playgrounds are also great places to teach the concept of counting. “How many times can you go down the slide?” I asked her. With each whoosh down, we counted. One time! Two times! Three times!

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Or count the steps your toddler climbs, the bars on the monkey bars, the number of swings…

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…or the keys on a giant xylophone (and hey, more rectangles)!

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This simple game is a great way to make math an everyday concept for your little one.

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Bow and Arrow


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I’ve tried to make this simple bow and arrow with Travis before, but every time we try I realize I don’t have the right size dowel! The first time, our dowels were too thick. Today, they were honestly too thin, but we managed to make it work. Ideally, look for craft dowels that are 3/16 of an inch. Don’t have any dowels? You might try this craft stick version instead.

In addition to being very thin, the dowel we had on hand was very long, so we only needed one piece. If you’re using craft dowels, secure two together tightly with duct tape, overlapping the ends a bit.

Use additional tape to wrap near each edge, winding until it’s about a 1/2-inch thick. Travis loved the challenge of this step! We used Washi tape, but duct tape would work, too.

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Cut a string that is a bit longer than the dowel(s). Secure with a knot just above the tape on one end, then pull tight against the dowel and secure at the other end. This is your bowstring.

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For harmless arrows, we used straws. Cut a notch in one end so you can hook it onto the bowstring. Travis wanted to add a marshmallow to the front of each arrow. Here at Camp Mom, why not!

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It took a few tries before Travis was able to make the arrow fly forward, but he was so proud once he was successful.

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This is a great craft for a summer day at home.