Science Exploration – Pinecone Round Up

Fall is definitely upon us, whether we are ready or not.  As we were out walking the dog today I came across the biggest perfect pinecone.  Immediately I knew I had to save it and bring it to school for the Preschool classroom’s science area.  I can already see the kids with magnifying glasses in hand ready to explore.  But first, I need to find out how to remove the sap, my hands were covered!
This prompted me to search around a little for some activities we would be able to do with the preschoolers surrounding pinecones.  I know that as we delve farther into fall they will be all over the place, we can take them for walks and gather pinecones galore.  But what will we do with them?  Here is a round up of some of the activities I found that I know we will be trying.
First I hopped over to Preschool Powol Packets and checked out their article on Pinecone Experiments and Exploration.  They gathered pinecones, and other materials on a walk, and then thought of questions such as:  Will they float?  Can you close a pinecone that is open?  Will the size change?  They put them into a bowl of water to see if they could answer their questions.  What a simple way to introduce cause and effect for children!

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Pinecone Exploration and Experiments over at Preschool Powol Packets
Next I visited Science Sparks and checked out their pinecone weather station.  After a little research they found that when it is dry pinecones open up, and when it’s going to rain they close down.  So they placed four pinecones on a visible window sill outside as a weather station.  I think that this is an awesome visual and hands on activity for children.  I know our friends would eat this up, they would be checking out the window every day!  Can’t wait to give this one a try as well.

 

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Pinecone Weather Station from Science Sparks

Up next was Lemon Lime Adventures and their article on Why do Pinecones open up?  Their experiment used three different scenarios.  Adding a pinecone to Cold Water, Warm Water, and just air.  Once again this is an awesome visual for children to really see what is happening.  They can make predictions about what they think will happen, and then check back later to see if they were right.  Usually making hypothesis and predictions like this will lead to more questions and experimentation.  What a great way to get the learning wheels turning!

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Why do Pinecones Open? By Lemon Lime Adventures

And finally I visited Teach Preschool, one of my favorite blogs to check out their Pine Needles in a Bottle.  I think that this will make an excellent addition to our sensory bottle collection.  How easy is this?  They literally added pine needs, glitter, and water to an empty water bottle.  That’s it!  But the effect is unreal!  I love how she incorporated different sizes and shapes of water bottles to see how it changed the perspectives.  The curves of the water bottle naturally magnify the pine needles.  So simple, all free materials, this is definitely happening!

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Pine Needle Sensory Bottles from Teach Preschool

I think I found a pretty good round up of science activities.  The best part is that they all include little to no prep time or materials.  These will be excellent follow up activities to a nature walk outside, where we can observe the changes in our environment and gather supplies.
What other science activities do you like to incorporate with your young curious minds?

Easy to make Sensory Foam!

As I continue to explore sensory ideas for the kids, I came across a fluffy looking foam.  Now my Pre-kindergartners are happy as a clam with a “car wash” or baby bath activity.  So I knew that they would love this foam.  It’s even safe and great for younger toddler age friends.

SO here is all I needed…a hand mixer, dish soap, and liquid water colors.  I’m sure that food coloring would work just as well, but if you haven’t seen Liquid Watercolors before, check them out!  I love discount school supplies brand, but I’m sure there are others out there.
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Hand mixer, dish soap, and water colors…so simple!

The fluffier you want your foam, the less water you add.  I added just a little soap to the bottom of the bowl, and added about 3 cups of water and a few drops of water color, and put the mixer on high.
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Lot’s of bubbles!
 Before long the foam starts to thicken up.  This is also a step that you could have the older kids help you with.  Turn it into a science and math project!  Make the measurements, and then predict what will happen to the liquid once you start mixing it together.
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Getting fluffier!
I did a variety of colors, and dumped them into our larger sensory bucket.  The kids loved the rainbow effect!
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Add in different tools and materials for the children to explore a variety of ways
This was ocean week, so I added some sharks and whales, and second bucket with plain water for rinsing.  We used cups, spoons, watering cans, measuring cups, funnels, and all kinds of other exploratory tools.  The kids had a blast!  It can get messy, but that’s ok!  And the best part is, this was totally free!  I had all of the necessary ingredients right in my kitchen.
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Look how foamy and fluffy this looks.  The kids couldn’t wait to get their hands on it!
If you decide to experiment with some sensory fun, let me know what your kids think!

Peakle Pie

Linked to I heart Naptime and creative jewish mom

Shelf Reveal!

Everyone ready for the big reveal?  I teased you all yesterday when I showed how to make a quatrefoil stencil, and now I’m ready to show you how I used it!

First up it was time to sand the shelves.  I used a power sander, cause there were too many shelves for me to tackle it by hand.  But if you don’t have a power hand sander, a good old block and piece of sand paper would be just fine:

 Once everything was sanded, I wiped them down with a wet towel, to get rid of all the saw dust, and let them thoroughly dry:

 Once everything was completely dry, I used 2 coats of primer, whatever I had lying around the house was good enough!

 After I let the primer completely dry overnight (follow the back of the can for drying times) I proceeded with two coats of paint.  Again, I was lucky enough to have white paint on hand at home, and didn’t need to purchase anything.  Love that!

 I again let this dry over night to make sure it was good and ready.  Now it’s time to stencil!  (Refer to my post from yesterday about how to create a stencil).  Because I wanted my darker paint to be the lines, I decided to trace with a pencil.  If you are using your contrasting paint to fill in the middle, go ahead and paint right over the stencil.

I laid down my stencil, and then used a couple pieces of painters tape to make sure it was securely in place:

 I then used a pencil and traced all of the lines.  I would then peel off the tape, and move my stencil up or to the side, and continue tracing, until the whole board was traced:

Once everything was traced, I used my free paint sample from Valspar, to paint inside the lines:

Once everything was dry, I went over it again with a second coat of paint.

The next thing I did is completely optional, but I thought it gave my shelves a nice pop.  While perusing my local craft store one day (Michael’s for anyone curious) I found some cute shelf liner for only $3.  Seemed like a good deal to me!

The liner has a convenient grid on the back, so it is easy to cut straight lines, and make the right size.  Make sure to measure your shelf before cutting!  This is super sticky, so watch out!  I cut the size I needed, peeled off the back, and stuck it onto my shelf.  I then used an exacto knife to trim the edges off:

 I then used a wet paper towel to smooth down the liner, and my rubber roller to help ease out any air bubbles:

 Make sure you trim your liner so that it is not covering the seam, this will be important when you are putting your shelf together:

The final step was to use the cute roller Valspar sent with the sample, to paint the top of my shelf, and cover the edges.  I liked this look better than just the plain white, but it’s totally up to you!

Once everything was good and dry, it was time to start assembly.  I have a lovely blister on the inside of my finger from the screw driver.  Ahhh the price of beauty!

 I again chose to use the circle stickers that came with the shelf to cover up the screws.  Once I painted over them you could barely even see them.

Here she is all put together.  The baskets are empty for now…but not for long!

 What do you think?  I’m loving how it all came together!  Time consuming, yes, but so worth it!  The best part is, I only used about 1/3 of the paint sample, so there is plenty left for the second shelf.  I do have a matching shelf…but I’ve only gotten as far as priming, so it will be a while before she is up and running.

Break down of the cost:
     Bookcase:  $20
     Sanding materials:  $0, already had
     Primer:  $0, already had
     Paint:  $0, already had
     Contrasting Paint:  Free!  Sample from Valspar
     Stencil:  $0, made myself
     Shelf Liner:  $3

So for $23 I went from this:

Not exact model

To this!

Improvement, no?  Thanks for stopping by!

Simply Living

Quatrefoil Stencil

If you remember from my post a few days ago (check it out here) I told you all about how Valspar was giving out free paint samples.  Well, when my paint came in the mail, I couldn’t wait to get started!  It comes with 7.2 oz of your choice of paint, two mini rollers, 2 mini trays, the paint chip and corresponding color chips, as well as a coupon for $5 off a gallon of Valspar paint.  Talk about a deal!  If you haven’t requested your free sample yet…make sure you head over to Facebook and sign up!

Here’s what I got in the mail:

The computer changes the colors a little bit, but I chose Green Sea, it is the darkest color on the chip inside the box.  What to do with the pretty color?

Well, after finishing painting a 2 shelf bookcase a couple weeks ago (all with one 7 oz. paint sample) I decided to give it another try.  When I went back to the store, unfortunately they were out of the 2 shelf bookcases.  Shucks!  Oh well, I decided to upgrade to 4 shelves! I grabbed two matching bookcases, and was ready to go!

This time, since I had a bigger surface to work with, I decided to give a stencil a try.  After perusing around blog land for a while, I found a cute quatrefoil printout over at Tatertots and Jello.  How thoughtful of her to offer a free printout!  I’ll be revealing my completed bookcase tomorrow, but in the meantime, check out how I made my stencil!

All I used was the print out, a blank transparency sheet, some tape, and scissors.

First thing I did was cut the excess off of the edges of the printout:

I then flipped the printout over and taped it onto the transparency sheet:

Flipped over here is what it looks like:

Then I began cutting out the black areas, starting at the edge:

In order to get the middle black areas, I made a small cut through the edge:

This can easily be patched up with a small piece of scotch tape.  After everything was cut out, I removed the small pieces of paper that were left, taped up all the edges that I needed to cut, and voila!  Home made stencil!

Can’t wait to show you all the bookcase tomorrow, be sure to come back and check it out!

Free Paint!

I just got my free sample of Valspar Paint in the mail today!  Head over to facebook, “like” Valspar, and then click on the Power in Color Tab.  Every day starting at 9am, they give away 1,000 free samples.  Limit of one per household, only while supplies last.

I ordered mine last saturday, and it just came in the mail today!  You can choose from 3,000 different colors.  I received my 8oz. sample, two mini-rollers and a tray, coordinating color chips, and a $5 coupon for Valspar paint.

Excited for my next project….remember what I created here with a simple 8oz. paint sample?  Get yours today!!  I love free!