Tag Archives: science


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.



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.

Halloween Candy Ideas! Or, what to do if you want to use it up before spring.

“We’ve got so much Halloween candy! I don’t know what to do with it! I just threw it out!”

I’ve seen this more times than I can count online in the past week or so. No! Don’t throw it out! Think creatively! I’m seeing this even on blogs or threads focusing on sustainability and the environment; avoid collecting it in the first place if you want, but trashing it perpetuates the issue. I can understand that you may find the trick-or-treating worth it for the fun and fellowship with your friends and then don’t want all the sweets in your house. I get that.  This is especially relevant in the Boston area where close-together easy walk neighborhoods equal large hauls. But let’s brainstorm some fun alternative ideas somewhere in between letting your kids binge til they pass out and the trash bin.

Candy corn


Drop them off at a shelter or soup kitchen. Call first–they may have an overabundance this time a year. Yeah, yeah, I know it is not healthy nourishment, but everyone deserves a treat. This may be especially relevant if there are nut allergies in your family. In that case some of these other alternate ideas may not be workable, yet the bars made with whole nuts are ostensibly slightly healthier for others if you’re passing it on. Hard candies can be used for quitting smoking or blood sugar control. And, again, treats in moderation bring smiles to people’s faces. Some families fill baggies with candy and directly hand them out to anyone who looks like they could use a smile.

If you have friends and relatives overseas, set up a candy exchange.  We have access to some varieties they don’t and vice versa, so it is a good way to learn about and start a dialogue about other countries and cultures while also getting to try some new things.


Click the link and check out these Butterfinger cookies.  Or these York Peppermint Patty Brownies.  A friend of mine just spoke of making a crushed candy cheesecake.  YUM! I know, no healthier than the original incarnation if you’re trying to place limits on your own family.  But the holiday season is coming up as we speak and  homemade baked goods will make better and more appropriate presents for the neighbors, teachers, and other loved ones than a spare Twizzler fun pack, right?  And whether you keep them for yourselves or not  (we don’t blame you if you do!) baking with kids is a great way to teach them about counting, measurement, percentages, chemistry, and more.


Speaking of the holiday season, it is gingerbread house time.  Save that candy and rather than chowing down use it to build a fabulous gingerbread house.   It doesn’t have to be a Christmas-y one if you don’t celebrate the holiday or want to try this another time of year.  There’s no reason you can’t adapt this to a year round activity.

Is a birthday coming up? Use your excess to fill a pinata!

Check out this neat article for candy wrapper craft ideas: http://earth911.com/news/2011/11/04/10-crazy-crafts-with-candy-wrappers/

My friends and I used to love to make gum wrapper necklaces in high school!  Let’s bring back that trend! You can also use Starburst wrappers. Some quick instructions here:




Science experiments:

We’re all about kid friendly science experiments here at Playground Hunt!  I think we’ve all microwaved a Peep (haven’t we?) or wondered why Pop Rocks do what they do, but this person has an entire blog about candy experiments and there seem to be a lot of Pinterest posts about them going around, too:


They are a great way to make productive, educational use out of your candy without having to worry about overdosing on sugar (although, again, some experiments will allow the candy to remain edible if you want the best of both worlds).

What other alternative ideas do you have?  Share them with us!


Awesome Stuff I found on Pinterest

Arts & Crafts on Any Budget!Here is a round-up of my favorites pins I found during the last week on Pinterest… Follow Me on Pinterest

Source: 4hbakerco.blogspot.com via Angelika on Pinterest



Source: totschool.tumblr.com via Angelika on Pinterest


Source: vanessasvalues.blogspot.com via Angelika on Pinterest


Source: preschoolpowolpackets.blogspot.com via Angelika on Pinterest


Source: bbcc.org via Angelika on Pinterest


Summer To-Do List


North Point Playground (Cambridge – map) – big water feature, superb playgroundS near Museum of Science (read my review at this LINK)

Sgt Connelly Playground (Wakefield – map) – by Lake Quannapowit beach (wading, no swimming) (read my review at this LINK)

Spring Brook Park (Bedford – map) – man-made lake with sandy beach, playground, and huge sprinkler park, concessions (read my review at this LINK)

Grimmons Playground (East Somerville – map) – separate fenced toddler area, big kid playground, sprinklers – beautifully designed (read my review at this LINK)

Cedar St Playground (Cambridge – map) – shady playground with sprinklers (read my review at this LINK)

Simond’s Park Playground (Burlington – map) – large playground with structures for all age groups (read my review at this link)

Fort Point Playground  (South Boston – map) – large park by harbor with beach and well designed playground (not sure where my review went)

Lederman Park (Boston – map) – by MGH/Museum of Science – never made it but it looks awesome from Storrow Drive.

Bradley Palmer Wading Pool and Playground (Topsfield – map) – wading and sprinkler park – this will be the summer we make it!



4th July Fireworks – Lake Quannapowit


Things to Do

Harbor Island boat trip


Ocean Beach – Nahant Beach, Wingaersheek Beach,…

Boating Wakefield – kayak rental

Mass Audubon Drumlin Farm – Friday Evening Hayride and Campfire

Mass Audubon Ipswich Family Campout

Mass Audubon Joppa Flats exploration



New England Aquarium

Discovery Museums

USS Constitution

Museum of Science

Franklin Park Zoo – Zoorassic Park and Wild Adventures Class

Stone Zoo – Birds of Prey and Wild Adventures Class


Things to Make

Follow Me on Pinterest <– where I post all the crafty stuff I plan to make

Some recent pins:


Bouncy Eggs

It’s getting close to Easter and lots of Easter pins are popping up on Pinterest. I saw this one about “Naked Eggs” and had to try it with Jen and Alex. The pin links to this original post from Imagination Station and was as easy as they promised.

We put two eggs in white vinegar for a day. They started bubbling almost immediately as the acidic vinegar interacted with the calcium carbonate in the egg shell. Waiting was the hardest. But the next day the shells were gone and they were surprising strong to handle. They bounced.


Cambridge Common Playground

This playground is at the north end of the Cambridge Common, which is just north of Harvard Square. Our last visit had been in fall, after all the water sprinklers were turned off. So we went again recently:

Imajine That

We went to Imajine That about a month ago and we’re all itching to head back there. Both Alex and Jen had a great time, and I got to enjoy a loooong nap afterwards. Awesome. Imajine That is an indoor play space in Lawrence, about 25 minutes north from Stoneham. There is lots of free parking and a huge variety of things to do for the kids. There is a huge climbing structure, a play supermarket, a bouncy house, a music room, an art room, a train table (<3), a postoffice, a reading/writing center, a stage with lots of costumes and props, a pirate ship with sails, and a very nice infant/toddler space. Oh, and a huge pretend supermarket.

I’ve never seen a place so lovingly put together. Is it odd that my favorite thing at this place are the columns wrapped and dressed up as trees?  Anyhow, Alex’s favorite thing was the -um- everything. Jen liked the books. We even got to check out one of the events that are going on all the time. We made our own pizza

Make your very own pizza every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at Imajine That! First, each child gets dressed in their chef hat and coat. Then, each child will make their very own kid sized cheese pizza with authentic ingedients provided by Salvatore’s. Cost: $5.00 per child. Price includes juice box and pizza making materials.

There are multiple events each day – everything from “Between the Lions” story time, face painting, and a “Peep and the Big Wide World” science workshops.

In partnership with WGBH, we have created the Peep and the Big Wide World Science Imajinators! Come explore everyday science concepts in a new and FUN way! Your child will love our exciting workshops which include: – “Bug hunt” – “Water Explorers” – “Color Mixers” – “The Air out There” – “Music Makers” – “Shadow Explorers” – “”Peep Feet” -” Animal Homes” And so much more! Admission to this event is FREE with admission to Imajine That!

I tried to convince Alex to join in a snow-globe making event, but at that point he was having “a moment”. Now I’m trying to figure out how to make those at home. We’ll also have to go back to try out the big bouncy house and playground. They look excellent, but Alex kept on being distracted by the train table…

You are not allowed to bring in outside food, but there is a well stocked cafe with everything from organic milk to pizza at very reasonable prices.

Here are some photos I took, and some from their website, because my iPhone died while we were there.

Between the Lions library

Arts and Crafts area

Grocery Shop

Boston Childrens Museum

I’ve been saving up the Boston Children’s Museum all. summer. long.

We had a total blast there yesterday and spent almost four hours and only played with maybe a tenth of what there is to see and do. We went to the Playspace, which is only for kids three years and under.  That room alone has more toys to play with than I can remember. There’s a playhouse, a tree house, a car,  an aquarium, a kitchen, a doll house, the world’s largest train table (that’s my own hyperbole), a separate area just for crawlers, a kitchen with dining area (AND FREE COFFEE FOR ADULTS), books, resources, puzzles, …

We went to the art studio for some scissoring and gluing, to the Countdown to Kindergarten mock school room for some writing practice and dinosaur play, some of the Arthur and Friends exhibit to try out the backyard camping adventure, to Johnny’s Workbench to try out real saws, screw drivers and safety glasses, and a special new exhibit called Balancing Act.

There is enough to see at the Boston Children’s Museum to keep us busy for many more wintery or rainy days…

Some handy hints: bring a complete change of clothing for each child. One of the best room at the museum is Peep’s World, which has a lot of water and sand tables. Also, there is usually some four hour on-street parking to be had around the area, as well as lots of parking buildings. It helps to bring warm clothing to walk to and from, as the museum is in a breezy location on the harbor.

Explosive Cleaning

MWA HA HAAAA! (that’s my evil scientist laugh) 😀

I’ve been trying out “The Usborne Big book of Science things to make and do” Turns out the Bubbling Wizards’ Brew is a huge hit with Josh and myself. And Alex thinks the whole thing is just hilarious.

Lot’s of people will know that baking soda and vinegar make lots of bubbles.  Healthy Child Healthy World recommends this combination as a green, eco alternative to harsh chemical drain cleaners in their awesome book (Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home). For this use, sprinkle one cup of baking soda into the sink, slowly pour in one cup of white vinegar, wait for the bubbles to peter out and chase with lots of hot water.

I’ve been adding food coloring to the vinegar, so that we’ve been having lots of green, red, or blue volcanoes erupting in our sinks. The Usborne book takes it further with added glitter and a good squeeze of dishwashing liquid. And Josh took it even further by making the bubbles shoot out through a straw. This is what happened:

And while we didn’t do much sink cleaning that time, it’s done a great job unclogging our sinks.

Mass Audubon Toddler Class II

Tuesday was the last day of summer and it was sunny and 80deg F – perfect for a walk at the Ipswich Wildlife Sanctuary with the Mass Audubon Early Fall Classes for Toddlers – second session (Blog of the first session is HERE). The theme was flowers and we found one or two. The Sanctuary is beautiful with everything from grass and flower fields, forest, and swamp, which is in fact exactly what we walked through. Annette Swain was again a superhero toddler wrangler and everyone had poked and touched and smelled a huge range of leaves, pine needles, mosses, water plants, seeds, flowers, lichens, fungi, acorns,…
Again six thumbs up from Angelika, Alex, and Jen (who’s getting extremely good at pointing out all the cool flowers)