Friday, August 29, 2014

Recycled Soda Bottle Floating Turtle

This project meets all of my criteria for a good craft.

Simple? Check.

Cheap? Check.

Adorable? Check. Check.

Here's how we made it and what you need.

Craft foam in a color of your choosing
Small, clean empty soda bottle
Darning needles
Hot glue (optional)
Turtle template (download mine free here or get creative and draw your own)
Pen or fine-tip permanent marker

First trim your bottle down so you just have the very bottom (parents should exercise caution and do this step if children are not proficient with scissors).

Now trace the turtle pattern or draw your own onto the craft foam. Cut out.

Draw eyes and other features. My boys were too excited to spend much time on details. They wanted to get their turtles in the water! We're lucky "Lightning" and "Green Lantern" were even given eyes.

Next, apply a few dots of hot glue on the cut edge of your bottle and place it on your turtle, giving him his shell. The glue is optional, but helps to keep it in place as little hands stitch thread over and around the shell. (In hindsight, you could probably just glue the shell on, but I like the look of the yarn and it gave my kids some great fine motor practice.)

Then, thread long lengths of yarn onto a darning needle. Tie at knot at one end. Have kids pull the needle up from the bottom of the turtle and bring it back down through the foam on the other side of the shell, stitching a asterisk type of pattern. Sewing was my oldest son's favorite part of the project (who knew?!?). When done, either knot the yarn on the back or glue it down.

Now add a button with glue to the top of the shell where the yarn intersects to keep it from slipping off the turtle's back.

Take your turtles to the water (in our case, the bathtub) and watch them float on the surface!

Want a great book to pair with this activity?

Our oldest son (age 9) really liked Gail Gibbon's book Sea Turtles. It covered everything from the anatomy of sea turtles to the threats to their existence. Details, details, details, and beautiful watercolor illustration to go with them - that's what you and your kids can expect.

Our youngest son (age 5) and I read the Level 2 National Geographic Kids easy reader titled Sea Turtles. Author Laura Marsh, provides basic information in the main text and the opportunity for readers to dig deeper with turtle terms, extra facts, and even fun jokes. This book is scalable to kids of many ages. Pick how much to read and share depending on your child's attention span and level of comprehension. Or for children who are reading, hand them the book and let them choose!

This great activity came from Good Home Design.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Numbers Froggy Hop Game

Our young son has counting down, but associating the numbers with the numerals is coming slower to him. To help practice, I made a fun game (perfect for a kinesthetic learner!).

It's short, sweet, and simple. And it gets children moving.

This game is geared toward one player, however, you could easily adapt it for siblings or classmates to play along.

What You Need
8-page PDF of the lily pads, flowers, and die (download it free here)
poster tack or tape (optional)
heavy weight cardstock (6 green, 2-4 white)

What to Do
Consider your child's proficiency with numbers. You may want to only play with numbers 0-5. If so, print the first three pages of the 8-page PDF onto green cardstock. Otherwise, if you're playing with the full set of numbers (0-10), print the first six pages onto green cardstock.

Print the pages of water lilies and die onto white cardstock. Again, think of your child's early math skills. If playing with numbers 0-5 print one die. If playing with 0-10, the child will either have to roll the die twice or you can create two dice to have the child roll. The latter is perfect for kids that still need to see the objects to count them. Older kids working on simple addition might enjoy the challenge of adding the two numbers in their head after rolling the same die twice.

Cut out the water lilies, lily pads, and die (or dice, if you printed two). Score the lines on the die with the backside of a butter knife, fold and glue into a cube shape. You can laminate the lily pads and flowers for added durability if desired.

How to Play
Set the lily pads on the floor in a random pattern.

Because we were doing this activity on hardwood floors and I didn't want my son to slip on the lily pads, I used poster tack to secure them in place. I also added a piece of poster tack to the back of each water lily flower.

Here's the play-by-play:
1. Child rolls the die (or dice).
2. Child counts the frog faces that land face up.
3. Child looks for the lily pad with that numeral.
4. Child jumps to the lily pad.
5. Child places a water lily on the lily pad to signal that he/she has already visited there.
6. Play continues until all lily pads have a flower or the child's attention wanes.

Variations: You can time the child to see how many different lily pads they jump to in 5-10 minutes. An opponent can then take their turn and try to beat the first player's score.

Want a great book to pair with this activity? Here's a few counting frog picture books we read. They're all perfect for this fun game.

Monday, August 25, 2014

After School Linky Party (8-25)

Welcome to the After School Linky Party!

Ideas. Ideas. Ideas. Last week's linky was LOADED with them!

Here are a few of my favorites.

Bahay Kubo (Nipa Hut) at Pinay Homeschooler.

Balloon Powered LEGO Car at Science Sparks.

Engaging Conversation Starters at Mama Knows it All.

How to Make a LEGO Drawbot at Planet Smarty Pants.

The After School Linky is cohosted by
Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational

We would love to have you link up your School-Age Post (Ages 5 and up) about your learning week after school including Crafts, Activities, Playtime and Adventures that you are doing to enrich your children's lives after their day at school, home school, or on the weekend!

When linking up, please take a moment to comment on at least one post linked up before yours and grab our after school button to include a link on your post or site! By linking up, you're giving permission for us to share on our After School Pinterest Board and feature an image on our After School Party in the upcoming weeks!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Racing ABCs Game

Our youngest son (who just turned 5 years old) can be convinced to do anything if it's a race. It has been this way for awhile now, and while we're certainly not trying to turn everything into a competition, whenever possible to use it as motivation, we do.

This little game is an example.

To work on counting and review some letters, I grabbed six small matchbox cars and a die. I labeled the cars with six different letters. I printed the letters on sticker paper, but simple masking tape and a fine-tip permanent marker works just as well.

After printing the game board on cardstock and taping it together, he was ready to race! (Click the image to download a 2-page PDF of the game board for free from Google Drive.)

To put him in the mood for our game, we read The Racecar Alphabet by Brian Floca. It was the perfect pairing for this activity!

Here's how we played.

All cars were placed to the left of the starting line.

My son rolled the die and counted the dots on the side of the die that landed on top.

Then he found the numeral on the game board.

"What car is in that lane?" I asked.

"The 'S' car!" he'd reply and then moved the race car one space forward.

He continued to roll, count, find the lane on the game board, announce the letter on the car, and move it until one car (the "G" car) passed the finish line and won the race!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Paper Plate Ball

Both my boys had birthday parties in the last two weeks. With parents and siblings invited to both, we bought a surplus of cake plates so we wouldn't be short. Well, of course, we had extras. Lots of them.

We could either buy more cake or make an awesome polyhedron. I chose the latter. It's less calories.

My oldest son looked at me like I was crazy when I gave him a stack of paper party plates and a stapler and said, "Let's make a ball!"

The paper plate polyhedron requires 20 disposable paper plates. The smaller your plates, the smaller the ball. We used dessert plates and our ball ended up to be about 1 1/2 feet diameter.

Here's how we did it.

First do your best to flatten 20 disposable paper plates. You will need five for the top, five for the bottom, and 10 for the middle.

All the plates need to be folded the same. Make three folds in each plate, folding in the sides so the middle of the plate is an equilateral triangle.

I made my son a template to help him fold.

Begin stapling the flaps of five plates together, until they form the following shape. (We used two staples on each flap.) This is the ball's top.

Repeat to make the ball's bottom with five more plates.

Now to make the middle. Staple the flaps of the plates together so that the points of the triangles alternate up and down so you have a strip of 10 plates.

Bring the ends of the strip together and staple so it's shaped like a donut.

Set the top on your paper plate donut and line up the plate flaps. Staple in place.

Flip over and add the bottom, lining up the flaps, and stapling. Voila! You're done!

At the precise moment we finished, a neighbor boy came over. He was equally as impressed as my sons and I.

Want to up the challenge? Show kids a finished example and ask them to replicate it without instructions. Or simply see what they can come up with using the folded plates. I love the sculptural effect! One part art, one part engineering … now that's what I call some great after school learning!

Want to make a different polyhedron? Want a harder project? Check out this one made entirely out of cut paper!
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