Friday, April 18, 2014

Ancient Greek Temple Building Game (printable)

Ancient civilizations are fascinating. To open my oldest son's eyes to this, I made a Greek temple building game. The objective is simple: See which player can race to build their ancient temple first.

Before we started, we read a little about Greek temples and the three types of columns (i.e. Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian) used.

We looked at pictures of temple ruins and my son immediately clued in to how the columns are supports for the roof. "Like the paper and book structure we built, right?" I responded. (See our recent engineering challenge.)

He was ready. I put a game board in front of each of us.

Between us was a plate of small game cards in a messy pile face down. (Rather than shuffle these tiny cards, I used a "go fish" mix method.)

Download the game here. I used three copies of the game cards for two players, which was overkill. Two copies for two players would be sufficient.

My son started, grabbing one card and placing the column part on his temple. Next it was my turn; I did the same.

The objective is to get a whole temple of columns before your opponent(s). The tricky part is that all the columns must be the same type (e.g. all Corinthian tops and bottoms).

In the beginning our columns were a mismatch. But as the board filled up, we gradually each selected the type of columns our finished temple would have. Once filled with mismatched columns, we replaced cards with our chosen type, putting cards of other types that we didn't need in a discard pile.

NOTE: Make sure your child understands what the tops of each column type look like, or they may be apt to confuse the tops and bottoms.

Watch out! The game contains cards that will have players removing some of their cards. While the temple is a mismatch of different columns, this is no big deal, but as players near building completion, it can be a real game changer.

When a player draws the "Lose a turn" card, they do not get to add a card to their temple. These special cards are added to the discard pile before the player's next turn.

My son had a lot more fun with this game than even I anticipated, asking to play again before the first game was through. It had him calling out,  "YES! I got a Corinthian!" and "Noooo. I don't need a Doric." Suffice it to say, he learned the different names for the columns playing this game.

Want a great book to accompany this game? We love the Magic Tree House Fact Trackers!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Building with Paper (Simple Engineering Challenge)

With a short stack of basic office paper and some scotch tape, I told my eight-year-old son we were going to do an engineering activity. "We're going to build with paper," I said.

He looked at me like I was nuts.

I asked him to describe paper. Words and phrases like flimsy, thin, and easily ripped rolled off his tongue.

I wasn't about to argue.

I had him retrieve a book from his bookshelf. He came back with a thin paperback chapter book. I gave him the basic instruction to build a support to set the book on using the paper.

We kicked around a few ideas and decided to roll the paper into tubes about an inch in diameter, taping the open flaps down to keep the tubes from unrolling.

He was excited to see if the tube would hold his book. Voila! It did!!

Rolling the paper had increased the strength of the paper. Now I told him to grab a BIG book from his room. He came back to the table with the Guinness Book of World Records. (Obviously, he was taking this engineering challenge seriously.)

We made four more identical tubes out of the office paper. I asked him how they should be positioned. "Should we group them all together to form one central support?"

He had a different idea. To make sure the book was steady, he spread the four tubes out so they were closer to the corners of the book, evenly distributing the weight.

I'm not going to lie. I was shocked myself that four pieces of flimsy office paper could hold up the heavy book.

My son was thrilled to conquer this simple engineering challenge!

Note: Next time we attempt this, I think we'll add a second story to our paper-book building!

Monday, April 14, 2014

After School Linky Party (4-14)

Welcome to the After School Linky Party!

Spring has sprung and if you're looking for great seasonal and holiday activities, this linky is the place to be. Last week was chock full of them. 

Here is just a sampling of the great ideas shared at the April 7th party.

 Fun Easter Science Experiments at Science Sparks.

Magic Love Notes for Kids at Happily Ever Mom.

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, April 11, 2014

Paper Plate Flying Eagle

Have you been following the Raptor Resource Center in Decorah, IA? Their bird cams have my sons enthralled. My 8-year-old has always loved birds of prey. 

We watched two eagle parents steadfastly perch on three eggs in -40 degree temps this winter and we waited nervously this spring to see if any of the three eggs would even hatch. Lo and behold, ALL of them hatched (way to go, Mama and Papa Eagle!!). The eaglets are positively "adorable," as my oldest son would say in a sing-song voice.

With his interest already sparked, I knew getting buy-in to create our own flying eagles wouldn't be tough.

Supply list for each eagle:
1 paper plate
1 marble
2 plastic spoons
masking tape
rubber band
paint (optional)

How It's Made
Cut the paper plate in half (I bent ours to know where to cut). Cut one of the halves into three equal wedges (like pizza slices). Decorate the half circle to look like an eagle's brown feathers with paint and/or markers. Keep the wedge piece white since an adult eagle has white tail feathers, and tape the pointy end to the back of the half circle.

Now sandwich a marble between the bowls of two spoons and wrap the rubber band around the neck of the spoons to hold them together. Decorate the top of one of the spoons to look like an eagle's face (i.e. draw a triangle on the tip for a beak and two eyes). Now tape the spoons to the back of the eagle, so the rubberband and spoon bowl face stick out. Be liberal with the tape.

How to Make it Fly
Hold the eagle with your index and thumb around the neck of the bird and throw it gently forward like a paper airplane. It may take a few tries to figure out the right amount of force to get your eagle to glide gracefully.

My son was throwing his eagle pretty hard which caused it to loopty-loop and nose dive. Upon a few roof landings, the marble released from the spoons and had to be reinserted.

When we'd finished making our eagles (yes, I made one too), my son insisted that we make a fledgling, so the eagle mom and dad would have a son just like the Raptor Resource Center eagle family we've been following. We cut the paper plate a little smaller and was happy to see that it still flew just as well.

My son named our eagles Kevin, Debbie, and Thunder (the baby). I love the names he chose. To learn more about eagles, we read two great non-fiction books.

This craft came from a great book filled with kids crafts.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Fused Plastic Bag Placemats (Earth Day Craft)

I take my own cloth bags to the grocery store, but these plastic sacks still pile up, from trips to other stores or when the reusable bags are accidentally left at home. To teach my eight-year-old son about reuse, we made some new placemats to go with our new kitchen table.

And while we were at it, I thought we'd work in a "how to set the table" lesson. This is sort of like an Earth Day and life lesson all rolled into one!

Before the tutorial, let me remind you of something you already know. Irons are hot. Kids should NEVER use them without adult supervision. Respect your child's maturity when evaluating whether they can do this activity safely.

What You Need
Plastic Bags (4 for each placemat)
Colored Plastic for an accent

Lay the plastic bags out flat and cut the handles and bottoms off.

Turn the bags inside out so the ink is inside each bag.

Smooth them out flat, one on top of each other in stacks of four.

Cut silverware shapes out of a contrasting color of plastic. I used an orange cheap plastic party tablecloth. Trace a plate and cup and cut these out as well.

Put the shapes under one layer of plastic (inside the top bag in your stack). As a tip for what goes where, think (left to right) of the word FORKS. The "f" is for fork. The "o" is the shape of the plate. (There's no R.) The "k" is for knife and the "s" is for spoon.

Carefully move your stack of placemats on top of a piece (or two) of parchment paper, placed atop a surface suitable for ironing.

Place more parchment paper (NOT waxed paper) over the stack of sacks, forming a plastic bag sandwich.

With the iron set on medium heat (my has settings 1-6, and I set it at 4), slowly move the iron over the parchment covered plastic bags. You'll see them shrink as they heat up and fuse. It'll take 15-20 seconds (or longer).

The plastic will be hot. Let it cool for a few seconds before removing the parchment to inspect the plastic. If there are bubbles or loose pieces, reapply the parchment and continue ironing.

If your placemat is rippled, iron it more to flatten.

You can trim the edges to make them straight or embrace the rugged nature of your recycled craft. The final result is a Tyvek-like plastic mat.

My son was stunned with the final result and eager to use the placements that evening for dinner. Setting the table was a snap!
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