Shiny Things in the Dark

Glow in the Dark Bowling (5)

If it’s starting to feel a little dreary that the sun sets so early this time of year, make the dark exciting by deliberately setting things all aglow!

We did this in two ways tonight. First up was a round of Glow in the Dark Bowling. This is so easy to do: simply activate glow sticks and insert one per empty water bottle. The kids loved helping to crack the sticks…

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…and put them in the bottles!

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We set up a formation of the bottles and took aim. A glow-in-the-dark ball would have been ideal, but the bright neon of a tennis ball was the next best thing.

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Or sometimes Veronika just wanted to knock the bottles over by hand. Either way, everyone was delighted by the glow.

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Next, we went on a hunt for Shiny Things in the Dark. As Veronika and I headed up for bedtime, I handed her a flashlight and we found all sorts of things that were shiny and beautiful as the light hit them. Metal is obviously a big winner here, so look for items like foil pans…

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…or coffee pots and tea kettles. Appliances like the fridge and oven were neat, too.

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Upstairs in her room, she wandered all over with such careful footsteps and found items like toy cars and her music box.

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One thing is for sure: we made the night shine!

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Glowing Bean Bag Toss

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After playing a glow-in-the-dark Frisbee game recently, tonight it was time for glow-in-the-dark bean bags!

This kiddie-version of Cornhole can be played in daylight, too. First, I taped a cardboard box securely with duct tape along the top and bottom, and then used an X-acto knife to cut it in half along a diagonal.

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Cut a hole in the center of each. These will be your target boards. Travis was in charge of decorating them! We used colorful washi tape to make patterns and designs.

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Of course little sister wanted to help, too.

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The bean bags were a bit tricky to make. Cut snack-size zip-top bags into an octagon shape, and then use more decorative tape to cover them and seal the edges. Leave an opening at the top. Fill with dried beans, then add more washi tape along the top. Time to toss!

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We scored 1 point for any bags that landed on the board, 3 points if it went in the hole.

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We upped the ante and kept moving further back from the board with each round. Travis was a natural!

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Once it grew dark, it was time to make it all glow. We cracked glow sticks to activate them and taped them along the sides of the box targets.

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Then we added small glow sticks to a few more bean bags, adding them in with the beans before sealing shut.

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Travis wanted to play so many rounds that bedtime ended up being a little delayed! But that’s exactly what summer nights are for.

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Firefly Craft

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Here’s a cute little firefly your kids can put together, and it really glows! Bonus points: it’s simple as can be to make.

Fold a piece of black construction paper in half, and draw a shape that looks like the head and body of a firefly as seen from the side. I copied a template from Highlights magazine, not quite trusting my artistic skills.

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Cut out, then use scraps of black paper to add legs. We also cut a small circle from yellow construction paper as the eye, and two yellow antennae.

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Glue the eye, antennae, and legs on with a glue stick. Now tape a yellow glow stick just under the tail, and watch him flicker!

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Travis liked the craft so much that we made a quick bee, too!

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Deep-Sea Discovery Kiwi Crate

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Travis’s subscription to Kiwi Crate is more welcome then ever these days, providing doses of science and art to our home school lessons. Travis couldn’t wait to dive into his deep-sea discovery crate.

First up was to make the Chomping Anglerfish. Travis has learned about these deep-sea fish before, with their fascinating attached lantern, and this project was big on engineering. He helped work through the steps of assembling a wooden wheel then attaching this to the frame of a wooden fish with bolts and screws.

Kiwi Deep Sea (1)

He felt absolute glee when he realized the jaw could move (thanks to the cogs lining up with those in the wooden wheel), and even more so when he realized this meant the jaw could now eat…

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…the prey. Activity number two, to Make the Prey was very simple, just adhering stickers to wooden disks with a peg in between. The wooden jaw hooks onto these pegs so that as the fish scoots along the floor, the jaw lifts up and “swallows” the prey. Just as a cautionary note, the whole apparatus is a bit temperamental and won’t work if the wheel isn’t properly rolling along the floor or if the jaw gets slightly stuck.

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But needless to say, it soon turned into a game of chomping up other toys around the house, like Legos!

The third project was a Submarine Seek-and-Find. Using the provided stencil, Travis colored in fish shapes onto the provided plastic sheet. A paper “flashlight” then uncovers these creatures lurking behind the dark submarine window.

Kiwi Deep Sea (5)

We had fun “hiding” fish for each other among drawings of bubbles, or making up our own creatures. Travis was so proud surprising me with a giant sea monster. The booklet explains the science of how the finder works, when the white light of the “flashlight” makes your drawings appear even under the dark window.

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For some final fun, Travis dressed up as an anglerfish for a game of “hide-and-glow seek”! To make the costume, twist a black pipe cleaner onto a glow stick, and attach to any dark-colored baseball cape with masking tape. Have your child dress in dark clothing and don the cap, and they are ready to be a lurking deep-sea fish!

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We cracked additional small glow sticks to be the “prey” and took turns hiding these around the house. Travis got quite creative with his hiding places! The goal is to find all the sticks in the dark before the “anglerfish” tags the other player.

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Obviously this game will work best after full dark, as you can see from Travis in the picture above, although we did also play a round before the sun went down.

Hide and Glow Seek (5)

If you want to extend the learning, check out two fun books: How Deep is the Sea from Usborne Books or Super Submarines, by Tony Mitton.

DIY Glow in the Dark Comet

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We added a little light into an otherwise dreary rainy morning with this glow stick project. It’s perfect for any kids interested in outer space, or who are learning what comets are – or just any kid who loves glow sticks of course.

To make our comet, I trimmed the sides, top, and bottom from a trash bag, leaving us with a large sheet of plastic.

DIY Comet (1)

Travis traced around the rim of a bowl with a marker to make the center of our comet – I love how steady his hand has become at tracing!

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To make the tail of the comet, we cut the plastic into strips, cutting from the edges up to the center circle.

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Place a small ball in the center (such as a wiffle ball or tennis ball), and wrap up with the plastic bag; tie with a ribbon to secure. We added extra ribbons in red and orange for fiery comet flair!

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As the finishing touch, we tied on two glow sticks (go ahead and use more than two if you like, but that’s all we had in the house).

We dimmed the lights and Travis dashed around to make the comet fly. If you’re having a sunny day, you’re definitely going to want to save this project for nighttime.

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After a while, Travis decided the comet could also be a flare for mountain recues, so we acted out a few “cliff” rescue scenarios on the couch as well.

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What else could your glowing comet become? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!


Glow Sticks and Balloons

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We’re having a dreary wet Memorial Day, but we’re not letting that stop the fun! In lieu of a parade or fireworks, we created our own display at home!

Enlist your child’s help in snapping glow sticks – Travis’s face lit up for each new one we set aglow, no matter how many times he’d seen it happen.

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Slightly blow up a balloon to let it stretch out a bit, then carefully insert a lit glow stick into each.

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Blow up the balloon the rest of the way and tie off.

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Let the illuminated fun begin! For the best results, dim the lights or wait until dark.

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