Monthly Archives: May 2012

Mixing Watercolors With Other Substances

Salt and Watercolor Painting 7

After having so much fun with exploring acids and bases with baking soda, Dora and I also decided to try some experimenting with watercolors. I had read about people putting salt on watercolors, but wondered about using some other substances. The above photo shows our end results. We used Stockmar watercolors for each color and did a wet-on-dry application. We found wet-on-wet to be…. well…. too wet. In general, we found it best to apply the substances while the paint was semi-wet. We mixed the colors as follows:

  • Red – table salt
  • Orange – kosher salt
  • Yellow – Epsom salts
  • Green – vegetable oil
  • Blue – rubbing alcohol
  • Purple – dish soap

It is not 100% obvious, as the yellow and orange kind of blended together, but Epsom salts produced the most interesting results of all the salts. The kosher salts did very little. The oil looks impressive in this picture, but would not actually be practical for paintings, as it is kind of messy, though I have heard of people rubbing oil onto watercolors for making luminaries. The rubbing alcohol produced a fun and subtle polka-dotted effect. The dish soap just made a mess.

Salt and Watercolor Painting 3

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Labels: Arts and Crafts
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

What We’ve Been Reading Wednesday–Fractured Fairytales, Ladybug Girl Returns and More

This week was a big reading week for Dora. As I have mentioned before, Dora is obsessed with fairytales. So I have been reading some of the fractured fairytales to her. For the most part, she doesn’t like these books and gets upset at the skewed versions. For some reason, however, she likes take-offs of The Three Little Pigs. So this week we read The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, by Eugene Trivizas, and The Three Little Fish And The Big Bad Shark, by Ken Geist. In the first, it is the wolves who are the innocent, little victims and the pig who goes around destroying their super strong homes. The ending is a little cheesy, but Dora thought that the turn of events was hysterical.

In The Three Little Fish And The Big Bad Shark, sticks pretty true to the original format, except that the pigs are replaced by fish and the wolf by a shark. Also the ending is a bit kinder, without being cheesy at all. Both books are good reads for fans of the Three Little Pigs.

In addition, we were quite excited that the latest Ladybug Girl book by Jacky Davis, Ladybug Girl and Bingo, arrived on our front porch this week. In this latest adventure, Ladybug Girl’s family goes camping and their dog, Bingo, gets lost! What happens next? Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out.

My personal favorite read for the week was A Pet for Petunia, by Paul Schmid. The book is about a little girl who, like many little girls, wants a pet. Unlike most girls, however, Petunia wants a pet skunk! In my world, the book could have been horrible and I would have still loved it, because I find the mere idea of a child wanting a pet skunk to be totally hilarious. Also, I had to laugh, because Petunia’s theatrics are even greater than Dora’s. Dora liked the book also, just not as much as I did.

Our final read for the week that is worth mentioning was Inch by Inch, by Leo Lionni, which is about a fast-thinking inch worm, who manages to convince some birds that he makes a better measuring device than breakfast. Dora is already pretty fascinated with measuring things, so the book really appealed to her. She has spent much of the week making me “measure” her various body parts like the inch worm did (with my fingers being approximately one inch apart).

Gohan has continued to be sick, so we had no new middle school reads. I have just been reading the latest edition of The Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

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Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

Labels: Literature
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–Using Eye Droppers to Study Acids and Bases

Vinegar and Baking Soda with Eyedropper

Last week, I encouraged Dora to practice using eye droppers by filling bottles with colored vinegar and giving her a pan of baking soda. She enjoyed the explosive reaction, though she struggled some with using the eye droppers. Eventually, I let her her pour directly from the bottles, so she could get a super impressive reaction.

Vinegar and Baking Soda 1

The next day, she asked to juice some oranges, but didn’t like the taste of the orange juice. So I thought we could use the orange juice to delve deeper into the study of acids and bases. We tried pouring the orange juice into a pan of baking soda. Then we tried lemon juice. I wanted to make sure that she understood that not all liquids would bubble when they interacted with baking soda, so we also tried some other liquids, such as milk and water.

Vinegar and Baking Soda - using orange juice

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Labels: Montessori, Science
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

I was Spotlighted!

Classified: Mom

Yay! This is a great link-up with LOTS of great ideas, so this is a real honor. If you haven’t checked it out before, it is an awesome place to get some awesome ideas of things to do with your kids.

Labels: This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Crazy Fieldtrip to the Pacific Science Center

Pacific Science Center 3

This afternoon, Dora and I spontaneously decided to go to the Pacific Science Center. When we arrived at the Pacific Science Center parking lot, there was a sign stating that the parking lot was closing at 4:00 PM, which was odd. “Oh well,” I thought, “I’ll just park in one of the other parking lots.” And this, my dear friends, is when things turned ugly. Firstly, my favorite Seattle Center parking lot has been converted into apartments. In addition, I had not realized that every school in Seattle was on a fieldtrip to the Seattle Center today, so there were a bazillion buses, teachers, and students to navigate around. Nor did I know that they were setting up for the Northwest Folklife Festival today, which meant that a lot of lanes were blocked by trucks and even more people were darting across the road, right in front of my car.

Pacific Science Center 2

I eventually found parking on the opposite side of the Seattle Center, which meant a long walk. This would have been fine, as the weather had turned out to be quite fine by this point, except that the main reason we had decided to go the Pacific Science Center was to see a preschool planetarium show, which started at 1:30. I had arrived at the Pacific Science Center’s parking lot at 12:45, but by the time I navigated around all the people, buses, and trucks, parked my car, walked all the way to the Science Center, and waited in line to get tickets, it was 1:45.

Pacific Science Center 1

Even worse, the King Tut exhibit just opened yesterday and everyone and his brother was there to see it. Then, more bad news, the Science Center was closing early, at 3:30! To add insult to injury, many of the displays were closed as the staff prepared for the evening charity event that they were closing the museum early for. Plus, the people working there were just rude about the whole thing. They were so fixated on setting up for tonight, they made us feel like unwelcome guests, who had overstayed their visit. The whole experience made me so mad, I never wanted to go to the place again.

Pacific Science Center 4

Except…. Dora was in heaven! She had no idea that any of the exhibits were closed and she was also oblivious to the science center staff’s rudeness. She spent twenty minutes just in the Gemini capsule model, pretending to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere. She also loved the IMAX To the Arctic 3D movie that we saw, which was about polar bears (she clearly has inherited my father’s love of documentaries!). After watching the movie, we caught the tail end of the live science demonstration, which was about bubble physics. The photo at the top of this post is of the guy lighting hydrogen bubbles. Pretty awesome! Pacific Science Center 11

Plus, when we left the museum, there was a cotton candy stand and Dora got her first taste of this culinary delicacy. That alone, is reason enough to go back in Dora’s opinion! So I guess we’ll go again, except next time we’re taking a bus so that I don’t have to fight the Seattle Center traffic and find a parking spot.

As an aside to any local readers, they are now calling the Center House, “The Armory”. It ends up that it used to be an armory. I really can’t see myself ever referring to it as “The Armory” though. It’s been the “Center House” as long as I’ve lived here and there is absolutely nothing militaristic about it in my opinion. In fact, I couldn’t even remember the name when I got home and had to look it up. I wonder what the reasoning for the name change was….

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Labels: Science, Things To Do Around Seattle
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

What We’ve Been Reading Wednesday–Moons and Mysteries

This week, Dora and I have been studying the moon. For a literature selection, we’ve been reading Bringing Down the Moon, by Jonathan Emmett. I found our copy at our local homeschool consignment store. I’ve been trying to transition to using more library books with Dora, as she has reached the age when she doesn’t necessarily want to hear the same book over and over again. She is also finally at the age when the library books aren’t so chewed up by other children, that it seems unsanitary to use them. This was a hardback book for a good price, however, and Dora has loved it, so I’m glad that I actually purchased this one. Bringing Down the Moon is a cute book about a mole who wants to bring the moon down so that he can have it. I think the main attraction to this book for Dora has been the onomatopoeia (and I thought studying poetry terms in 10th grade was a waste of my time,! Ha! Here I am, 27 years later, and I get to use the word “onomatopoeia” in a pseudo conversation! And yes, I did have to look up how to spell it!). The book has phrases like, “Swish, swish, swishety, swish” and Dora has just been enraptured with them.

Meanwhile, Gohan has had a very bad cold, so we have not progressed at all with the The Dark is Rising, though ironically, Primo overheard us listening to it and now is reading it himself. Gohan has really struggled with following the story, so I doubt he will want to “read” the rest of the series, but I suspect that I will read it on my own, just because I hate leaving a series unfinished. Plus, I’ve gotten a bit sucked up into the story.

On my own, I have been catching up on the Gaslight Mystery series by Victoria Thompson. I usually am very good about staying caught up on my favorite book series, but since Dora was born, my organizational powers have gone to hell in a handbasket. So I suddenly realized that I was several books behind. The last two weeks found me reading Murder on Sisters’ Row (Gaslight Mystery) and Murder on Lexington Avenue. The series takes place during the late 19th century and stars Sarah Brandt, a midwife, and Frank Malloy, a New York City police officer. There is an underlying romantic current that runs between the two characters. I am hardly a Harlequin Romance reader, but even I can’t help, but find myself wishing that Frank would scoop Sarah into his arms and kiss her passionately (while at the same time admitting that this would probably be the ruin of the series). Sigh…. Anyhoo… the series has taught me a lot about the 19th century (in particular, that I am very glad to not be living in it, especially as a woman – and an Irish Catholic woman at that! oi vey! My life would have been very unpleasant, indeed!).

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Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

Labels: Literature
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Visiting Our Farmer’s Market

Farmer's Market 1

Our city’s farmer’s market opened last week and Dora has already become obsessed with it. I hope she can still enjoy it in the summer, when it starts getting much more crowded. Of course, it is outdoors, so that gets her in a great mood right off the bat, regardless of the weather, but she is also absolutely fascinated with the wide variety of produce, crafts, foods, etc. Today, there was someone doing henna tattoos for $5 and I seriously contemplated getting one and am kind of regretting that I didn’t do it while I had a chance. Also, someone brought a goat, which I found to be a bit ironic, given that dogs are not allowed at the market. They also have a kids’ craft table every week and one of the local Montessori schools always brings some Montessori materials. I feel kind of weird about hanging out at their booth, when I have no intention of sending her to their school, but she zeroes in on it the minute we arrive. It is kind of fun to listen to the teachers discuss Montessori with prospective students’ parents. The fact that most of the teachers and a large percentage of the parents are from India kind of adds some extra flavor to the conversation, I always love listening to their melodic English pronunciation. I’ve begun to wonder if Montessori is particularly popular in India. It certainly seems to be a popular choice amongst the Indian parents here.

Farmer's Market 2

Dora’s favorite part of the market is the music, of course. Every week they have a local performer/band. She and many other young girls just run up to the “stage” and dance. Last week, the performer joked that it was the largest “mosh pit” that he had ever had or probably will have (this is probably true as he was an acoustic musician).

Farmer's Market 4

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Labels: Things To Do Around Seattle
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Montessori Monday–Felt Buttoning Snake

Felt Buttoning Snake 2

I first saw this felt buttoning snake on Counting Coconuts two years ago. I originally had not planned to make it, since I purchased the Montessori dressing frames instead. There was just one problem, Dora hated the dressing frames and would not do them, at all. So they currently are at the homeschool consignment shop near us, waiting to be bought by some other unsuspecting bozo homeschooler. After the dressing frame failure, I tried taking the approach of just teaching Dora dressing skills as I did with all my other kids, by helping her learn to dress herself. Slight problem, she has really struggled with learning to dress herself (a concern of mine). Buttons and snaps particularly elude her. Hence, the felt buttoning snake. It is really simple to make. In fact, if I can make it, the odds are very greatly in favor of anyone being able to do it. Making the snake entails sewing one button to a ribbon, which the child then “buttons” the felt squares on. I also sewed a larger button on the other end of the ribbon to keep the felt squares from being able to come off. The hardest part of the whole project is not dying of boredom while you cut out about 50 felt squares with slits in them. Thus far, Dora has been very interested in this activity, largely, because for some reason, it makes a great “horse rein”. Apparently, it is also fun to wear as a stylish belt, with the buttons dangling over your butt. Buttoning the squares on the ribbon, not so much. If, however, the squares suddenly are all removed from the ribbon by an “unknown and annoying creature”, well, Dora will button some of the squares back on by herself.

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Labels: Montessori
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Sun Prints and Sand Art

Sun Prints 1

Today, Dora woke with quite a high fever, but of course, that still didn’t slow her down much. She rarely gets colds, gets them very mildly when she does, and gets over them quickly. It makes me quite jealous! So, her energy levels were still such that we still spent a lot of time playing outside in our yard today. While doing this, we continued with our “sun” theme and made sun prints. Dora was not very impressed with this activity. I don’t know if it was because she was somewhat grouchy or if it was because she didn’t quite understand what was being accomplished. Below is the print she made with rocks. Above is one of the prints I made. I confess, I was having a blast doing these and did several, which just made Dora grouchier. (BTW – I did not kill a butterfly for this project, the butterfly in my picture was made with one of the stencils that was included in the kit). Part of why I enjoyed them so much, is that I did the early versions of the sun print kits with Primo, Secunda, and Tertia and let me tell you, sun prints have come a LONG way baby! Back then, you had to lay out the objects in a black bag so that the paper didn’t get any light until you were ready. So you couldn’t see what you were doing and if you let in a sliver of light, the paper would show that sliver of light. The kits today are so forgiving, it is amazing! The kit we used was the Toysmith Solar Print Kit, but there are several other brands available.

Sun Prints 2

Yesterday, Dora and I made colored sand bottles. We just poured layers of colored sand into glass bottles by using a funnel.

Sand Art 1

I tried to show Dora how she could shift the sand by poking a stick or straw in the bottle, but she found that to be a bit too difficult. Although this may have just been because she was already getting sick, so she was being more easily frustrated. Anyway, when she is more ready to practice her letter formation skills, we’ll dump out the sand and use it in a tray to practice letter tracing.

Sand Art 2

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Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Science
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

UV Color Changing Beads Necklace and Orbiting the Sun Demonstration

UV Bead Necklace 2

This week, Dora and I have been wrapping up our study of the sun. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect as we have been having a heat wave here. Today, we made a necklace for Dora using UV color changing beads from Steve Spangler Science and some elastic string. When kept inside, as long as you don’t get too close to any windows, the beads are white. The beads turn different colors, however, once they are exposed to sunlight. At high noon, the beads were quite dark, while at dusk, they were just a faint pastel color.

UV Bead Necklace 1

In addition, we did a small-scale model of the earth orbiting the sun. I put a big, yellow, circular magnet in the center of a pie pan. Then I added a marble that somewhat resembled the Earth on the outer edge of the pie pan. When we moved the pie pan back and forth, it gave Dora a better understanding of how the Earth orbits around the sun. Plus just getting the marble to revolve in the pie pan, without flying out, was a good motor skills challenge for her (okay, I’ll be honest, it was a challenge for me too!).

Earth Orbiting the Sun Experiment

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Labels: Arts and Crafts, Science
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff