Tag Archives: discovery

Artist-in-Residence

slime?!Pinterest has been the bane of my existence. At first, I was sooo excited at all the inspiration, the creativity, and the awesome ideas of what I could do with my preschool children. Then I tried some ideas. And failed. Quite a lot.
Follow Angelika’s board Ideas for Children on Pinterest.

By training I’m a scientist (Ph.D. in Biology), and with each unsatisfactory attempt at making finger paints that cracked, or colored sand that stayed brown, I got frustrated that the proportions of the ingredients were not great, and that I didn’t know what the variables were that would make each recipe a success.

Sausages

Sausages

So my children and I started testing and experimenting. I am compiling all the recipes I have tested and optimized into a handy, boxed collection: Recipes for Disaster. My plan is to produce this as an actual physical product by fall 2014.

Meanwhile, Last year we stayed at the very kid-friendly, arty Searsport Shores Ocean Campground for a week.  Read my blog post of our trip here.  This year, we will be back showing fellow campers some of the trick and lessons we have learned.

During my week as Artist-in-Residence at Searsport Shores Ocean Campground (July 6 to July 12), I will have a different theme each day. I will show you how to make colored sand, pasta, rice, and sugar, several different kinds of paints, doughs, clays, slimes, and BUBBLES. We will measure and cook and mix all these recipes from scratch and I will have several suggestions on what to create from our concoctions – making marbled paper, making your own bouncy ball, a colorful salt mandala…

My sessions will be perfect for all ages – we have been trying  these recipes since my children were toddlers. At the same time, using some of these basic materials is only restricted by your creativity. I will be taking pictures to add to my blog Playground Hunt, so please join us in making some of our Recipes for Disaster art.

MIT Museum

The MIT Museum is another one of the endless superb museums in the Boston area. We went to a free day at the end of February – there is free admission on the last Sunday of each month until June 2014. Otherwise admission in $10 per adult, $5 for kids, free for under 5 years old.

The museum is on Mass Ave, near MIT, and even though the area is busy, I have always found on-street parking nearby. Bring quarters.

The exhibits are not hugely made for younger kids and there are not too many things for the under-5-year-olds to poke. There are lots of buttons to push, but a lot of those move some delicate wire contraptions.

Oddly, my children found the extensive hologram collection totally uninteresting. I hope it’s just that they don’t understand the cool-ness of it, rather than that children are now so jaded by technology and touch screens that that is no longer fascinating for hours on end. Or maybe the hologram thing was only ever me? 😉

The biggest fun was had by my 4 and 6 year old with a conveyor belt machine that took pictures of small items and projected them onto the conveyor after they were removed. It think that was worth about an hour, and the source of all the high pitched squeals that day.

Downstairs is another large area, that had a bunch of robots and high tech stuff that mostly was beyond even my 6 year old, so I’ll have to come back sometime by myself for a closer look.

Be warned – the MIT museum has a really cool shop with really cool gadgets and toys. And it cannot be avoided.

Einstein’s Workshop in Burlington

Still somewhat catching up on all the awesome places we’ve been to recently: Einstein’s Workshop in Burlington. http://www.einsteinsworkshop.com. This is a space for older kids – definitely for over three year olds up to adults. They have all the construction toys you have ever heard of and then some. There is a laser cutter and 3D printing (which I’m personally drooling over). They do classes in everything and birthday parties.

Einstein’s Workshop is an amazing space for kids to explore the creative side of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Our goal is to expose young children to fun and engaging STEM activities so that they remain interested and engaged in STEM subjects as they progress from elementary school through high school. In addition, we are working particularly hard to inspire both girls and boys by creating classes for electronic fabric art and through a lasercut dollhouse/model home construction and decoration class. We currently offer science project classes, programming classes (Lego NXT, Scratch, etc), engineering classes such as 2D and 3D CAD design, electronics and circuit project classes, 3D printer and laser cutter project classes, math classes, and more. We offer classes to kids from kindergarten through high school and beyond, including training for FLL and JrFLL coaches. Einstein’s Workshop also features a drop-in creative/maker space for kids, where kids can build with various construction toys such as Legos, K’Nex, Anchor Blocks, Kapla Blocks, and where qualified kids can access our CAD lab, electronics workstations, Arduino projects, 3D printers, and 80-watt laser cutter.

You can get discount tickets for Einstein’s Workshop at https://www.livingsocial.com/deals/1026599?rui=4566718 (that’s a referral link if you are in the mood to give something back to the blog 😉 Many libraries also have free passes

Discovery Museums

There is so much to do around Boston that even after 5 years of trying to visit all the museums and playgrounds and beaches and forests and … there is still more to discover. We finally made it to the Discovery Museums in Acton. And LOVED it.

The Discovery Museums is comprised of two buildings on our 4-plus acre campus.   At the Children’s Discovery Museum, younger children (toddlers through early grades) learn while they play.  At the Science Discovery Museum, children and adults of all ages explore scientific concepts and hands-on creativity.

The Discovery Museums offers exciting programs for all ages.  Check our Calendar for upcoming programs and events!

We spent all day. First in the Children’s part in a smaller house – this opened early and we had a thoroughly awesome time in the various rooms. Everything is put together really carefully and with love.

After a quick lunch on a bench, we went up the hill to the Science museum and spent the entire afternoon there. So much to do for every age. Truly superb. And the best bit is that a lot of public libraries have bought into their discount admission passes. We got 50% off admission, so it is definitely worth checking out.

Pictures:

Playground Hunt Treasure Hunt

Printable Fall Treasure Hunt

Someone requested a fall treasure hunt (after some prodding on Facebook). So here it is: my first printable treasure hunt for roughly 3 to 5 year old preschoolers for FALL STROLLS. Please let me know what you think and what other kind of treasure hunt I could make. They take a couple of hours to get pictures, resize, make look pretty, etc. So I don’t want to make them just willy-nilly.

FallTreasureHunt – links to pdf file

Enjoy! And let me know what you think – and join us on Facebook if you haven’t already – thanks!

FallTreasureHunt FallTreasureHunt – links to pdf file

Camping in Maine

We (Alex, Jen, Mama Angelika, and Bella the dog) went for a 7 day camping trip to Maine. This post is a cross between telling the stories, writing down the suggestions for making it work as a resource, and memos to myself for what to do different for the next time.

Driving

Google said it would take just under 4 hours to get from our house to the campground. It took 5 1/2 with pee stop, snack stop, pee stop, ice-cream stop, pee stop. That’s a long time for two active kids to sit, so I had prepped heavily with a lap table, picture books, coloring books, treasure hunt, and audio books.

The car tables I got were the Star Kids Snack and Play Travel Tray – which just sits on their lap and buckles around the back of the car seat. I loaded up the pockets on either side with drink bottle, snacks, crayons, and small coloring book.

The audio books I had with me were Bad Jelly The WitchandMagic Tree House Collection: Books 1-8on CD on loan from the Library. Alex in particular was very interested by the Tree House books and listened to the whole lot over the week.

Hint: I also found lots of audio books that could be borrowed for 2 weeks through the online loan system that lets you download files to your media player.

The drive went really quite well. The trickiest part was getting everyone to agree they had everything packed. Bella the dog had the front passenger seat and tried to lie down – often pushing the gear stick from D to N. I initiated a pit-stop every time they got restless, which is a change from other travels where I tried to make it to a certain place before stopping. Here I just figured that the main goal was to keep everyone happy – even if it took us an hour longer.

Campground

Several friends had recommended Searsport Shores Ocean Campground as a child-friendly, fun place to take young children. The more I read on their website, the more excited I got – they were writing about their goats, organic gardens, resident artists, and activities on the beach.

Wobbly bridges at the playground

Wobbly bridges at the playground

And it was even better than I had hoped for. There was a huge playground they had built themselves, and which was therefore interesting. There was a really nice play room with a cozy book corner (if you can call that many shelves a corner) with good books, a fireplace, and a shop for ice-cream (and various fiber arts and camping supplies).

The bathrooms were spotless, there were free hot showers, and even a handicapped stall, which is good for wrestling kids into the shower. There are also lots of washing machines and dryers. Turns out this is very useful if your theoretically potty-trained 3 year old has an accident and pees in her sleeping bag. Sigh.

The campground also has lots of gardens full of interesting plants for eating and dyeing. There are lots of sculptures, wood carvings, and little treasures to discover in the forests. And an amazing art studio occupied by a rotating cast of artists-in-residence.

Campsite

I chose a campsite where we could also park. The campground has sites where you have to walk a couple of hundred feet from car to campsite, but this seemed like a lot of hassle with little kids. Our campsite was shaded and all round really lovely. It had several trees where we built Fairy Houses, a fire pit (wood for sale at office), and a water faucet 10 yards away. The toilets ended up being a little bit too far for us. Next time we’ll get a closer site, and with electricity so I can recharge my phone.

Good things I brought for the campsite:

  • potty – even though both Alex and Jen are totally potty trained, sometimes we still get the “I have to go potty NOOOOWWWWWW!” and then it was good to have only a couple of feet to go. I have the Kalencom 2-in-1 Potette Plus, Blue with disposable inserts.
  • 10 different flashlights – variety is the spice of life here, apparently
  • 100 glow sticks – each kid got 4-6 glow sticks each night as a night light
  • wet wipes for when the kids refused to get washed in the shower
  • bikes – Alex tore up the campground riding back and forth and we managed to get to places (bathroom) without spending 30 minutes trying to drag dragging feet.

Arts

Turns out the Searsport Shores Ocean Campground has artists that stay there for a whole week and provide activities for the whole family in the custom Studio.

Check out the schedule for this year:

Week of: Artist in Residence Activities
June 23-29 Tom Cote Wood carving and whittling
June 30-July 6 TBA Ocean learning adventures
July 7-13 Barbara Andrus Weaving a Shorefront structure from twigs and driftwood
July 14-20 Blake Henderickson Wood Block Buffet
July 21-27 Susan Tobey White & Jeannie Painting, drawing and seeing
July 28- Aug 3 Ellen Mason Playing with Dyes and Yarn and Fabric
Aug 4-10 Steven Scheurer Chain Maille, Macramé & Caricatures
Aug 11-17 Maryly Mathewman Seaside Quilting and Color play for all ages
Aug 18-24 TBA
Aug 25-31 TBA
September 1-8 Fiber College 4 days of amazing fiber classes, demos, vendors and happiness

Pretty awesome!!!

Dyeing with EllenWe got there halfway through Ellen Mason‘s week, but she had us promptly dyeing, stitching, cutting, etc, although she also does a lot of knitting and designs patterns. She was super fun and engaging and both kids looked forward to going back to the studio – sometimes we went twice a day 🙂

Next artist-in-residence was Steven Scheurer, a.k.a. Santa. He looks like Santa, and does a lot of volunteer work and charity stuff as Santa, and as an all-round nice guy taught us how to make survival bracelets and chain mail. This was a bit above Alex and Jen, but I (and all the older kids) had a great time making bracelets and dog collars.

Beach

The campground has it’s own private beach, and they ran several activities during our time there: seining – catching little fish with a net for the kids to look at and crab hunting  (for an invasive species) were the ones we made it to. They put a lot of emphasis on conservation and the ecology of the beach and made it fun and education for all.

Tide pools

Tide pools

It’s a rocky beach with a pretty big tide difference. That meant that at low tide we could find lots of different shells, look at the rock pools, wade around looking for green crabs, and chase the occasional little fish in clear cold water. It’s not a sandy swimming beach and Alex and Jen asked for one of those a couple of times before they got used to the rocks and being interested in the animals there.

Another blog post will follow about what the camping experience meant to us personally, but meanwhile here are some pictures:

Tiles by Jen

Economics 101

This is a post about art, crafts, and teaching children about money.

Crafting

I discovered alcohol inks via Pinterest. Usually stuff I do from there doesn’t QUITE turn out how THEY made it look. (pffft). Anyway, I got some of the inks from Amazon (but was too cheap to spring for the spreading solution), and some tiles from the hardware store.

Google promised that if I used rubbing alcohol it would work well with the inks. I cleaned the tiles with it, then dripped the inks on. Super pretty. Then Alex and Jen wanted to try.

Tiles by JenThey made a lot of tiles. I sealed them with spray sealer and put felt pads on the bottom. Then I needed some items for their school fundraising auction and the ones Jen made (“Look Mom, I made a picture of Elmo”) got snatched up. And everyone LOOOOOOOOVED them.

Economics

So on a whim I applied to the Wakefield Farmers Market to sell them. Oddly, we got accepted and set up a both there yesterday. This is a very well run, popular market with very good veggies, baked goods, and a couple of artists – well worth the visit!

Tiles for sale

Our tile display

Alex and Jen were very excited. We had agreed to sell their tiles so that they could earn money to buy Lego. It was very interesting watching them during the day: Alex spent the entire 4 hours yelling “Tiles for sale” and then telling potential customers he had made them, and how much they were per set ($10). We sold several sets, but not everyone bought one. I could see it start to sink in that he would have to WORK for the money. He neatened up the display, he put ribbons on, he put on the charm. HE LEARNED HOW TO SELL!

Alex selling

Alex behind our table selling tiles

For me this is very important. I have found that being able to sell is crucial. The same techniques are used for selling yourself during a job interview, for selling services or goods, for starting a business, for convincing people to work with you or for you.

We will be back at the Wakefield Farmers Market in a few weeks. Come by and see us. Alex will be sure to convince you to help him grow his Lego fund and have some beautiful artwork in your home. And that they make great gifts! 😉

final color discs

Colors

Sine I’ve been fielding a lot of questions about what happens if you mix not just two color, but three (think “what color do I get when I put together yellow and blue and green”) I thought it was time for some more independent investigation…

I found some plastic ring binder dividers, cut out some circles by tracing a cup, and used a pipe cleaner to tie the circles together.

Totally worth the 2 minute investment for a 5 minute toy 😉

ingredients for color circles

Ingredients for making color circles: plastic ring binder dividers, pencil, cup, scissors, pipe cleaner

cut-outs

Plastic discs cut from plastic binder dividers. I used just yellow, blue, red.

color discs tied together

I tied together the color discs by bending a pipe cleaner – I used my pink Leatherman – swoon

final color discs

Looking at the finished color disc contraption – look at it against a light for best effect