Dinosaur Hat

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We’ve had so much fun with dinosaur projects lately that it was time to turn Travis into a dinosaur himself! Look for blank hats at the craft store, in whatever color your child prefers as the background. All you need is sheets of felt to complete the look. I recommend sticky-back felt for the easiest time putting this hat together, otherwise you’ll need to use hot glue or tacky glue.

First our dinosaur needed eyes. I cut two circles, as well as two smaller ones to be the irises.

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Next up was circles to make dots on the dinosaur’s head, two teardrop shapes for the nostrils, and fangs glued on to the brim.

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For the spikes, you’ll need to cut two pieces of felt for each size spike desired. Attach the pieces back to back, and then adhere the bottoms along the crown of the cap.

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Roar! What a ferocious dinosaur.

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Dinosaurs Were HOW Big?!

 

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We’ve been having dinosaur fun lately, which led to the question: How big were these giant reptiles, really? It’s hard for kids to have any sort of scale, since most dino toys are tot-sized. So we armed ourselves with a library book, yard stick, masking tape, and a marker, and set outside to find out.

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We started with a fairly mid-sized dinosaur, the Plateosaurus, who came in at a respectable 26 feet long. Already this was quite big!

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Next up was Stegosaurus, measuring a full 30 feet long. Travis couldn’t believe it and loved helping me press the tape down onto the sidewalk.

We added a Travis-sized piece of masking tape for a true comparison. Impressive!

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Now for the real mind-blower: Argentinosaurus was a whopping 100 feet. I was almost too tired to contemplate putting down that much tape. But we did it. Here’s Travis at the far end to show how big the dino was – look how far away he is!

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We labeled each piece of tape with the dinosaur’s name and size. Travis loved scribbling along his archaeological “notes” on the tape as well.

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Our neighbors thought we were adorable, and this was a blast!

Blowing in the Wind Experiment

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This activity is a great way to discover what’s happening right outside in your own backyard. Kids get messy and learn too? A double win.

You’ll need two to three pieces of thin cardboard for the experiment (pieces of old cereal boxes work well). The night before, I painted them yellow so that we’d be able to see anything that clung onto them better than against the brown.

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When I told Travis we were going to smear vaseline onto the cardboard, he couldn’t believe his luck. (For a non-petroleum option, try Alba). Goopy!

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I punched a hole in each piece of cardboard and we hung them around our grassy patio area. You can hang just one, or hang several in different sections of your yard if you want to note differences between the pieces.

Now we wait! As we waited, we wrote down guesses of what the wind might blow our way. Travis suggested paper airplanes, so I wrote down “paper” – not too far-fetched as paper from the mail kiosk sometimes blows our way on a very windy day.

After an hour or so, go check it out! Truthfully, we didn’t find much. The most we got was a bit of dirt and what might have been a tiny bug (oops!).

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But Travis proudly scribbled our “results.”

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Be a Play Dough Detective

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This is one of those neat ways to surprise your kids, a game you can set up while they are otherwise occupied, then greet them with a big mystery… Dinosaurs were in the house! But which ones?

I made circles from our play dough and flattened into discs. You’ll note that play dough colors don’t stay separate around this house!

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Next I took various examples of Travis’s toy dinosaurs – both little and big – and made tracks in the play dough. I called him over and exclaimed that we’d had a visit from dinosaurs!

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He was skeptical at first, but soon was peering eagerly with the magnifying glass I provided.

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Encourage your child to place the dinos over the separate play dough tracks and figure out who made which print; this turns the game into a neat puzzle.

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Travis loved pretending the dinosaurs were stuck and he was a real archaeologist having to cut them out.

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You can also flip the dinosaurs over and make prints of their backs and sides. This led to some interesting observations, like the bumps on ankylosaurs’ back.

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Then he loved the idea of making one big play dough surface that his dinos could stomp across. This went on for quite some time.

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If you don’t have plastic dinosaurs, any plastic bug or animal figurines would work great in this game.

Footprint Tec (3)One hour of a summer morning occupied? Mommy, for the win!

Summer Bucket List Part I

 

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Back in the fall, we embarked upon a bucket list of adventures before the season was through. It seemed only right to continue the tradition for the summer! Technically it’s not even summer yet, but this is meant to be more of a Memorial Day to Labor Day list. As with back in the fall, I’m posting the list now so you can follow along, and will post a follow-up once our adventures are complete.

I found a template in Parents magazine but adapted it slightly to include activities more suitable to Travis’s age and our local area. I typed the list up on the computer and printed in black and white so Travis could color in the various activities in bright colors.

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Stay tuned for a complete run-down of all our activities!

Paper Plate Kite

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Let’s be honest. Kites are great but they can also be a royal pain – all that tangled string, getting enough wind to launch the kite high, etc.

This quick project gives kids the fun of a kite without the hassle. (Bonus points: there’s fine motor skill practice involved!).

Cut the center from a paper plate (or several plates, if you want multiple kites).

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We went through our craft bin and selected pretty ribbon to tie on as the kite tails.

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Now for that fine finger work! Help your child tie each ribbon around the bottom rim of the plate.

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Travis was really proud when I told him this was almost like tying shoelaces.

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No need to wait for a windy day – just run and the kite flutters with you!

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Looking for a slightly more complicated project? Try out our plastic bag kite or tissue paper kite.

Strawberry Picking and Basket Weaving

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Summertime! This season is synonymous with so many things, and one of those is berry picking. Last year we headed out late in the season for blueberries. This year we made sure not to miss the strawberry window. Kids will love gathering the sweet red berries, and discovering the baby green strawberries still on the plant.

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The fun doesn’t end at home: Fruit baskets are great for fine motor skills! We picked a few pretty colors of ribbon and wove through the holes in the basket.

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If you already have strawberry crates at home, do this project ahead of time, and bring your one-of-a-kind basket when you do your picking.

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Then of course comes the bonus: strawberry vanilla pancakes for breakfast.

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 Ener-G egg

1 cup vanilla almond milk

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped strawberries

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.

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Cook on a griddle or skillet for 3 minutes until bubbles form on the top. Flip over and cook 2 to 3 minutes on the other side.

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Pancakes have never tasted so much like summer!

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Candle in the Wind

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Now that we’ve the got the wind in our sails (haha), we’re having lots of fun finding out about other properties of wind. Will wind be able to travel around an obstacle in its way? This experiment is an easy illustration of the fact. Parents be aware: You will need a candle with a flame for the experiment to work. Supervise very closely, and only do so if you know your children won’t touch the flame.

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To start, light a small sturdy candle, and place behind an object with square corners – a vase worked well for this step.

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Travis huffed and puffed, but the wind couldn’t reach the candle this way. Onto the next attempt!

Place an object with round sides between your child and the candle, such as a water glass.

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The wind will make it around the sides and poof – out goes the candle.

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Looking for more windy fun? Check out our recent experiment with hot air spinners.

 

Hot Air Spinner

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This was the perfect science experiment to do hot on the heels of our wind-themed kit from Koala Crate. You’re illustrating for children that warm air is less dense than cold air. So if you hold something above a heat source (like an uncovered lightbulb), the cold air pushes the warm air up and makes it spiral!

First, draw a circle on construction paper, and then pencil in a spiral shape. Cut out.

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These kinds of projects are great practice for Travis – he gets to mimic my movements (drawing circles, cutting with safety scissors) while I make the version that is precise enough for a science experiment.

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Next we needed to staple a thread (be sure to use sewing thread; twine or yarn will be too heavy) to the center of the spiral – by far Travis’s favorite part!

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The next step was a bit tricky to catch on camera! Wrap the other end of your thread around a pencil and hold over a lightbulb (we put a lamp on the ground and removed the shade). Stay still until the spiral comes to a stop, then carefully observe – in moments it will start to whirl!

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Some good STEM fun to kick off our summer!

Crack-of-Dawn Muffins

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When your preschooler wakes up at 5.30 in the morning and immediately says, “Mom, let’s make a recipe!” you need something that only relies on pantry staples. Thinking quick, we put together this basic-as-can-be muffin recipe, and had warm muffins for breakfast about 30 minutes later. The perfect start to the day!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Ener-G egg
  • 1 cup plain or vanilla almond milk
  • 1/4 cup melted Earth Balance butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates (optional)
  • Brown sugar for dusting (optional)
  1. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.
  2. In a second, bowl, whisk together the Ener-G egg, almond milk, and butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  3. Stir in the dates (if using), then divide the batter evenly among 10 to 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Dust each muffin with a little brown sugar, if you have it on hand.
  4. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

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