Pool Noodle Sprinkler

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Here was the perfect project for a day that hit 90 degrees even before noon: turn a pool noodle into a sprinkler to cool off!

We’ve been having lots of fun with pool noodles the past few days, but this was the first time we added water to the mix. Travis loved helping with the set up. Use a sharpie to make dots on a long pool noodle, spaced about 5 or 6 inches apart. Poke through with a skewer.

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Cut a small piece of foam from a second pool noodle to plug up one end of the long pool noodle. Leave the other end open.

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Now it was time to get wet! We headed outside and hooked up a garden hose to the faucet, and inserted it into the noodle. Turn the hose on gently and increase the flow as needed.

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Both kids loved it right away!

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Our sprinkler turned out to be better for getting hands and feet wet than for running through, but they both seemed just fine with that.

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The “sprinkler” was also a little faulty; too little pressure and the water wouldn’t rise up through the holes. Too much and the plug on the other end flew out! (You can help avoid this risk if you use a zip-tie to secure the plug, but we had skipped that step).

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Nonetheless, the kids loved it, even when the hose came out wildly and added to the splashy fun. One thing is for sure: we’ll be using this sprinkler again as the hot summer continues!

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Paper Heart Craft Challenge

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This month’s craft challenge from Highlights magazine was very open-ended: simply to make something from paper hearts!

I set Travis up with multiple crafting supplies, including poster board to use as a background, pre-cut paper hearts from a Valentine’s Day kit, pink and red construction paper, and red craft foam.

Seeing two hearts touch tip-to-tip helped him get started. He declared that it looked like a fairy! So he glued down these fairy wings, and soon had the idea to add a third heart as the head.

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I showed him how to fold a piece of construction paper in half and cut along a provided line, which then opened up into a full heart. Neat!

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Smaller hearts cut from foam became the eyes. We also had little hearts that opened up into a 3-D shape, and these made perfect feet.

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He was so proud of this little fairy, and the creative juices had just begun flowing.

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Soon he was gluing small hearts to bigger ones, and drawing hearts free-hand with a marker quite proudly.

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It’s the first time I’ve seen him draw a heart without tracing along a line – perfect timing for Valentine’s Day!

Heart Challenge altHis final creation was a heart-faced vampire with fangs and legs cut from craft foam. This deviated from the initial challenge to craft only from paper hearts, but I was so proud of his creativity!

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Leaf Canvas Craft Challenge

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What was this month’s craft challenge from Highlights magazine? To use a leaf as the canvas for painting! You’ll want to use acrylic pants for the craft, which will hold up better than tempera paint.

No doubt there are fantastic artists who could create a whole miniature scene on their leaf. For my kindergartner, the project was more about the novelty of using nature as the canvas.

We found some giant leaves on a nature walk and knew those were the ones to use!

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At first, he painted along the lines of the leaf’s veins, which was great for reinforcing a recent science unit on trees and nutrition.

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Then he had fun blending colors and seeing how they mixed on the leaf.

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At the end, he liked making big blobs of paint.

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Whether your little Picasso makes something abstract, something highly detailed, or just has fun smearing paint, this was a simple and fun alternative to painting on paper.

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Mini Tent Craft Challenge

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This month’s craft challenge¬†from Highlights magazine was to make a tent using only 3 materials: craft sticks, cardstock, and yarn. Travis was gamely up for the challenge!

He remembered sleeping in a tent from an adventure last summer, so knew right away that he wanted to fold the cardstock in half to make the canvas frame.

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I challenged him to think of a way to make this tent more sturdy and stable. The craft sticks!

Since we weren’t allowed to use tape, we poked the sticks through the cardstock to make a hole. Two sticks then created a sort of A-frame.

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A piece of yarn was a handy way to make it hold together.

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Travis soon had a few little tents set up, and extra craft sticks made a campfire!

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You can then have fun populating your campsite with Lego or Duplo figures for a morning of camp play! Thanks for the challenge, Highlights.

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Adventure Pouch

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Travis has a few new animal figure toys that need to come along on all his adventures (of course). We needed a safe way to transport them and this adventure pouch craft from Highlights magazine fit the bill perfectly!

First, trace a pouch shape onto felt. I had Travis take the first try at it and just enlarged his version slightly since his original oval was a touch too small.

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Cut out, and trace the same shape onto a second sheet of felt so your pouch as two sides. Cut out.

Use hot glue to attach the two felt pieces together, leaving the top open.

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To decorate, Highlights suggested cutting additional shapes from other colors of felt and gluing them on. Since felt is tough for Travis to get through with scissors, we used neat ocean felt stickers, instead.

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Punch holes at the top of the pouch, and lace yarn or twine through the holes. Knot to secure, and pull up on the strings to seal it shut.

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Travis loved putting his animal friends in and out of the pouch, their new home! This pouch would also work great for collecting treasures on a nature walk.

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What will your child do with the adventure pouch? Please share in the comments!

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Button Toss

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This fun game (another winner from Highlights magazine) involves crafting on the front end and then becomes a sport with some math involved by the end!

To put it together, you’ll need 3 boxes, ideally of different sizes and heights. Paint each box a different color, for the best contrast.

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We also squirted on some puffy paint because, puffy paint.

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Note: If you don’t have paint, you can wrap them with wrapping paper instead. Glue the boxes together in any configuration and let dry.

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To play, I cut out paper circles and marked each with a different score for each box. The easiest was worth a 1, the second was a 2, and the hard one was a 5. (Note: Big kids can skip count by 5s, labeling the boxes 5, 10, and 15).

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In an empty egg carton, add paper circles numbered 1 through 12 (or 5 through 60, if skip-counting).

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Each player now needs 2 buttons – one to toss and one as a score piece.

Travis took his first toss – a lucky 5!

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I helped him count his button five spaces forward through our scoreboard.

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He loved the challenge of the game, and the challenge of counting his score each time.

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The first person to 12 (or 60) wins!

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Maraca Craft Challenge

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Last month, Travis’s Highlights magazine challenged him to make robots with only a few simple items. This month, the challenge was maracas!

I laid out: empty plastic water bottles, dried beans, tape, and craft sticks. “How would you make these into a maraca?” I asked him.

“Let’s add beans first,” he decided right away.

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He began dropping in the beans one-by-one. When I added a few faster to a second bottle, he admonished, “No, copy the way I do!” My teacher for the day!

Next, he needed to figure out how to use the craft sticks. He requested a piece of tape and soon had a handle.

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Then he decided a double-handle in the shape of an X was sturdier.

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Finally, the caps were reattached, and we could shake up a storm! I loved watching him puzzle through this challenge. What does your child’s maraca look like? Please share in the comments!

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Gallant Challenge: Bugged

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Last month, Travis took on his first Gallant Challenge from Highlights magazine: to spread kindness to neighbors!

This month’s column was about a girl who loved bugs but was bullied by friends at school about her interest. After her mom wrote of her plight, entomologists from all over reached out and encouraged her not to give up her dream of working with bugs.

This article was a great jumping-off point to talk about bullying. I asked Travis if he ever saw similar behavior at his school, to which he (thankfully!) replied now. But we talked about what to do if anyone ever bullies him or he witnesses bullying. Highlights encouraged kids to write in their own stories of being bugged about an interest, but we left that bit to older readers!

And then to make the lesson fun, we headed off to see just how cool bugs were, in support of the girl in the article.

A museum near us has a fantastic bug exhibit, and we spent the whole afternoon marveling.

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This was the biggest cricket we’d ever seen!

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We got to marvel at butterflies just emerging from the chrysalis.

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This rhinoceros beetle was almost as big as Travis’s arm!

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Travis introduced the little toy centipede he bought in the gift shop to a real centipede.

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Exposing your child to something new or different can be a great way to combat bullying, or following along a crowd that bullies another child; after all, so much of bullying stems from ignorance or not understanding another person’s viewpoint. Needless to say, Travis was captivated by bugs the entire outing. Hey, these ants seem to have the right message!

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Teach Your Cat to High-Five

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Here is an adorable challenge from Travis’s Highlights magazine: Can you teach your cat a trick? Travis was gamely up for trying, and although we didn’t exactly succeed, our cat was an eager participant! It was a great way to engage my son with our companion animal in a new way – cat and boy both enjoyed it!

The goal was to teach our cat, Krishna, to high-five with his paw touching our hand.

Hold a cat treat in your right hand.

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Hold your left hand up just slightly above the cat’s head, as if you’re waiting for a high-five. Now hover the hand with the treat in front of that. The cat will (hopefully) paw for the treat.

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We gave praise, and then tried again, over the course of a few days!

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Okay, so we never got a paw to palm, since Krishna wanted to go in each time with his nose. But it was fun to have his nose nuzzle up to the palm.

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In sum, what great inter-species play! Has your child ever taught the family dog or cat a trick? Please share in the comments.

Upside-Down and Backward Fun

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We started the day with candy for breakfast (it is Easter, after all!) which had us thinking about all the other silly ways we could have an upside-down or backward day. Here are a few ideas we managed to sneak in throughout the morning!

First, I challenged Travis to turn five things in his room upside down. Admittedly he was a little simplistic about it, but it was adorable to round the corner and find this!

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Then he closed his eyes while I turned five things upside down.

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He was gleeful finding the silly things I’d turned over.

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Next we tried drawing upside down portraits of ourselves. Travis had to think hard about which way his smile should face.

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Next up was a round of backwards hopscotch. Kids can count the numbers backwards (great math practice!) or jump backwards, or both!

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What other ways can you think of to have a backwards day? Backwards secret messages perhaps? Whatever it is, please share in the comments!