What Do We Do All Day http://www.whatdowedoallday.com Books and Activities for Kids Mon, 29 Jun 2015 10:04:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 15 Engaging First Grade Read Alouds http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/06/first-grade-read-alouds.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/06/first-grade-read-alouds.html#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 09:46:36 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=13086 When you’ve curated over 100 book lists, there is bound to be some overlap. Although some of these books may appear on other lists, I have purposefully not included books on my two most popular lists, Read Aloud books for 4-6 year olds and Chapter Books for 3 year olds and Preschoolers. If you are looking for...
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When you’ve curated over 100 book lists, there is bound to be some overlap. Although some of these books may appear on other lists, I have purposefully not included books on my two most popular lists, Read Aloud books for 4-6 year olds and Chapter Books for 3 year olds and Preschoolers. If you are looking for first grade read aloud books, please visit those lists, too! They contain my number one recommendation for a first chapter book read aloud.

First grade read aloud books. Chapter books to read to 6-8 year olds.

The following titles are books that either I have read to my 1st grader this past year, or that his first grade teachers have read aloud in class. We have read others, too, but since I try to find books my 10 year old will also enjoy, I’ve included only the ones I think were particularly suited to my 6 year old.  There is a wide range of subjects here, from mysteries, to realistic fiction, friendship stories, humor and fantasy. (Note: covers and titles are affiliate links.)

Dont’ forget! You can find all our book lists indexed here.


Gooseberry Park. My son’s teachers read this to the class and my 6 year old loved it so much he wanted me to read it at home.So of course I did! This charming story follows the adventures of a bat with a taste for junk food, a kind dog and a wise hermit crab as they try to save their friend Stumpy the Squirrel and her new babies. Recently we also read the sequel, Gooseberry Park and the Master Plan, and enjoyed it just as much. If you haven’t read any of the books on this first grade read aloud list, start with this one.


Ginger Pye is also a very recent favorite of ours. My son loved this classic book about a boy who saves up for a puppy (one whole dollar!). Once Ginger Pye is part of the family, he mysteriously disappears and the kids are convinced he’s been stolen. The whole neighborhood gets in on the action to look for him. A classic, heartwarming tale.


Little Dog, Lost. I recently included this book in my list of chapter books in verse. A novel written in verse may not be high on your read aloud agenda, but I encourage you to try this one.  Little Dog, Lost is an utterly charming story. Three plot points: a boy who needs a dog, a dog who needs an owner and a neighbor who needs a friends come together in an extremely satisfying story. For me, the cadence of the free verse made this book easier to read aloud than prose. The story is heartfelt and engaging while still providing kids (and parents!) the opportunity to contemplate and discuss ideas like the importance of community and companionship.  I read it aloud to my 6 and 10 year olds and we all throughly enjoyed it.


Detective Gordon: The First Case. I read this charming Swedish import to both my kids a few months ago. Detective Gordon, the local crime stopper, has more of a penchant for tea and cakes than he does for police work, and don’t even think about asking him to use the gun. He gets a small but enthusiastic assistant when he meets up with a young mouse, who he mistakenly takes for the criminal in a case he has to solve. Together they concoct a plan to discover the real thief, who has stolen all of Squirrel’s nuts. The lovely, colorful illustrations are a wonderful accompaniment.


McBroom’s Wonderful One-Acre Farm: Three Tall Tales.These humorous tales can be read as stand alone stories so they are perfect for kids who may not have the attention span for longer novels, or who don’t like the idea of pausing the action at the end of a chapter. These quite hilarious tales feature McBroom and his 11 children, bamboozles, tricksters and lots of wit and wisdom.


The Betsy-Tacy Books. Not just for girls! I read the first book to my son when he was home sick from school and he enjoyed these old fashioned tales of kids having screen-free adventures. Maud Hart Lovelace’s books were some of my favorites as a kid, so of course I loved reading them aloud to my son.


Ivy & Bean. This very popular duo star in an early chapter book series for young readers but the books also make great short chapter book read alouds for the first grade set. Ivy and Bean become fast friends, despite their differences and their intrepid spirits take the readers on all sorts of amusing adventures from trying to find dinosaur fossils in the backyard to getting through the dreaded ballet recital very, um, creatively. Sophie Blackall’s black and white illustrations are just as good as the writing. Simply wonderful.


Bobby the Brave (Sometimes). I first wrote about this in my list of multicultural early chapter books. I brought it home from the library and started reading it aloud to my younger son. My older son started listening in, even though he had already read it so that’s a good recommendation for you! Bobby Ellis-Chan struggles the fact that he is not interested in football even though his dad is a retired professional. “The Freezer”, as his dad is known, is now a stay-at-home dad and while the siblings have their usual back-and-forths, it is a functional, loving family. Bobby’s family is bi-racial and his friends come from different ethnic backgrounds but it is not a focus of the book at all. In fact, I couldn’t help thinking it reflected my own sons’ diverse classrooms. This is a funny, charming book with non-stock characters and I’m looking forward to reading more books in the series.


George’s Marvelous Medicine is another book that both my son’s teachers and I read to him. This is Dahl’s quirky tale about a boy who mixes a concoction to turn his horridly grumpy grandma into a sweet old lady. The mixture, however, makes her grow enormously tall. Unable to recall the exact ingredients, George and his father try to recreate the medicine with decidedly hilarious and Dahl-esque results.


The Enormous Egg. Both kids loved this book from the 1950s in which a chicken’s egg hatches to reveal a baby triceratops. Nate Twitchell names his new pet Uncle Beazley. Caring for Uncle Beazley is not without its ups and down. The dino can’t help but get into trouble until one day its time to take him to the National Museum in Washington, D.C. If you have a child who you think is ready to listen to chapter book and he or she loves dinosaurs, try this charming, funny book on for size.


The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Case. Precious Ramotswe of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency book series for grown-ups solved her very first case in Botswana when she was just a girl. When her friends’ lunchtime treats go missing Precious is on the job and when she discovers the surprising thief a nice chuckle is had by all. This book is nice way of exposing young readers to other cultures and includes a reading guide, glossary, activity ideas and even a recipe! My son loved figuring out the clever and amusing mystery.


The Boxcar Children. This is still an enormously popular series today, but you many not realize that the first book was written in 1924! Four orphan siblings try to make an independent life for themselves by living in an abandoned train car.


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This classic doesn’t need an introduction. I read it aloud to both boys last year and needless to say it was a hit.


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car. My son loved this book, too. Do not judge a book by its movie! This humorous tale by the author of James Bond is great fun. The crazy Pott family purchases a car that can fly as well at catch criminals. (Don’t bother watching the movie! Ugh.)

What are your favorite first grade read alouds?

MORE USEFUL LISTS:

List of 10 great chapter books to read aloud to 4, 5 and 6 (and up!) year olds 10 funny chapter books to read aloud to kids Chapter books for preschoolers and 3 year olds. Read aloud books for kids. Books have a classic, old fashioned feeling

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Summer Must-Do: Ice Cream in a Bag http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/06/ice-cream-in-a-bag.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/06/ice-cream-in-a-bag.html#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 12:48:17 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=13114 It’s the fourth week of S.T.E.A.M. summer camp and this week the theme is our sense of taste. Well, duh. Of course we are going to make ice cream! Can you believe I have never made ice cream in a bag? It’s such an old school project! Just like last week’s milk carton candles! When...
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It’s the fourth week of S.T.E.A.M. summer camp and this week the theme is our sense of taste. Well, duh. Of course we are going to make ice cream! Can you believe I have never made ice cream in a bag? It’s such an old school project! Just like last week’s milk carton candles! When I was a kid we had this huge electric ice cream maker that we set out in the back yard and filled it full of ice and rock salt and it was such a treat to be make homemade ice cream. No store bought version compares. It was time to make ice cream with my own kids.

How to make ice cream in a bag

We have a small ice cream machine, but it’s not a very hands on way to explore the science of making ice cream so we decided to make the bag version. After we were done my 6 year old declared,

This is the best science experiment ever!

It certainly is the most delicious.

(Note: I included affiliate links to items we used, below)

What you need:

  • Zip top freezer bags in two sizes. I used quart and gallon.
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • Ice
  • 1/2 cup ice cream salt (also known as rock salt)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 TBSP sugar

Optional:

  • Sprinkles. We used Let’s Do Organic Sprinkelz because I eschew chemicals in food. India Tree is another popular brand.
  • Favorite toppings.

Ingredients for ice cream in a bag.

Instructions:

Fill the larger plastic bag with ice (about half way).

Pour in 1/2 cup salt. (Note: Someone said that this much salt is not healthy. You are NOT eating the salt.)

To the smaller bag, add half and half, sugar, vanilla, and any add-ins. Press out as much air as possible. Close bag.

Pouring ingredients for ice cream in a bag.

TIP: Place bag in a bowl when adding ingredients.

Place smaller bag in larger bag. Adjust ice so that it surrounds smaller bag. Press out air. Close bag.

Toss, shake, jiggle, smush, and dance!

TIP: We created a sort of sling out of a dishtowel, placing the cold, cold, cold (brrrr) bag in the towel and gathering the corners at the top. Then we could shake the bag, holding the corners of the dishtowel. Much easier!

After about 5 minutes (or longer, depending on the dedication of your kids) check the ice cream. Shake more if needed until desired consistency is achieved. (This photo is not that great, but you get the idea.)

Eating ice cream in a bag

Eat straight from the bag, or spoon into a bowl and add toppings.

Watch the exciting action!

The science behind making ice cream:

The salt added to the ice lowers the freezing point of ice, causing the ice to melt (we used this same phenomenon in our ice cube on a string experiment). The melting ice absorbs heat, thus making the space around the ice cream ingredients to freeze at a temperature below 32 degrees. Water freezes at 32 degrees, but milk is not just water so it needs a lower temperature.

Steam Summer Camp

More science of taste projects from the S.T.E.A.M. Power Team!

Seedy CD art and science | One Time Through

Color mixing candies | Babble Dabble Do

Make your own exploding chocolate | Pink Stripey Socks

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Brain Teaser for Kids: Math Cube Riddle http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/06/math-cube-riddle.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/06/math-cube-riddle.html#respond Wed, 24 Jun 2015 14:59:35 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=13107 Puzzles and riddles are terrific mind-stretching activities to help you raise kids with growth mindsets and good executive function skills. Put together this math cube riddle, a challenging DIY puzzle. As you know, we love a good creative math activity. Whether it’s turning cookies into fractions, playing a rousing game of Sumoku or making curves out of...
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Puzzles and riddles are terrific mind-stretching activities to help you raise kids with growth mindsets and good executive function skills. Put together this math cube riddle, a challenging DIY puzzle. As you know, we love a good creative math activity. Whether it’s turning cookies into fractions, playing a rousing game of Sumoku or making curves out of straight lines, for my sons math is the gateway to thinking outside the box (or cube in this case). So, of course, when my mom gave me an old 1970 math text book titled, Patterns and Puzzles in Mathematics, I knew I would find some juicy activities in it.

Math cuber riddle puzzler for kids.

Math play, or “recreational mathematics” is an effective way to help your kids exercise their brains without making it seem like work. This math cube riddle puzzle is the first one we’ve tried from our new-old-school text book and it was so fun and challenging (!) that I had to make a printable for you so your kids could stretch their little brains and try it out too. (Note: affiliate links included below.)

What you need:

  • Cube riddle printable. Choose either patterns or numbers. (Get it below)
  • Scissors
  • Card stock. Make it super fun with these bright colors.
  • Tape or glue. I find double sided tape is the easiest way to go.

Math cube riddle printables

Download and print:

Cubic puzzle with numbers (4 pages)

Cubic puzzle with patterns (4 pages)

Materials to make cube riddle math puzzle

Preparation:

Print out the cube riddler and assemble. Tape or glue tabs to inside for clean looking blocks. Or, simply tape on the outside for easy and simplicity. There are 4 different cubes, you need one of each.

Finished math puzzle cubes

How to play:

The object of the game is to stack the cubes so that no one number, or pattern (depending on which set you are using) shows more than once on each side. Each side of the tower should display 1, 2, 3 and 4, or the four different patterns — in any order.

WATCH!!!

Tips:

This cube riddle puzzler is more difficult than it looks, although kids might stumble on the answer by accident. If your little ones are getting frustrated alter the challenge so that the goal is to get 2 or 3 sides instead right of all 4. We had great success with that.

If you want to add an extra creative twist, fold the cube so that the blank sides are on the outside and have kids come up with their own designs. However, be sure that they keep the same organization of which pattern goes where as the printable versions.

What part of the brain does this work?

In order to solve the puzzle, kids use logical reasoning, spatial awareness and problem solving skills, all of which are important for math learning. They also must practice patience in order to achieve a goal, an important executive function skill.

Let me know in the comments if you and your kids are able to solve this math riddle!

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Want more creative ideas to get your kids interested in math? We have a huge collection to keep you busy all year. Click on the image to get started.Creative and fun math activities for kids to promote learning.

Did you know math and literacy skills are interconnected? 

Click on an image below to get some fantastic math books to keep the math learning going!

Math picture books to teach concepts in kindergarten to first grade Math books for preschoolers, kids ages 3 to 5. Math picture books that make math fun for 8-12 year olds
Math puzzler brain teaser. Free cubic riddler for kids.

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14 Books to Inspire Kids to Follow Their Dreams http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/06/books-to-inspire-kids-to-follow-their-dreams.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/06/books-to-inspire-kids-to-follow-their-dreams.html#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 09:21:54 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=13099 We all want to know the secret to helping our children realize their dreams. While I can’t pretend to have the key to help you with that, I can offer you a list of books which may inspire your kids to follow their dreams and passions. These are all picture book biographies about people who...
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We all want to know the secret to helping our children realize their dreams. While I can’t pretend to have the key to help you with that, I can offer you a list of books which may inspire your kids to follow their dreams and passions. These are all picture book biographies about people who never gave up, who went after their dreams, even when they might have seemed impossible to others. Some of them faced hardships our own children will probably never experience (hopefully), yet they persevered.

14 picture book biographies that will inspire kids to follow their dreams and passions.

Think of this picture book list as a companion to my list of books to inspire kids to change the world, because by following their passions and pursuing their dreams they may end up doing just that. The men and women depicted in these books come from all walks of life and their stories span the centuries. Let them inspire you, too.  (Note: covers and titles are affiliate links.)


Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah. I read this book a few nights ago to my son and it is the book that inspired me to make this list. Emmanuel was born in Ghana with only one leg. Most children with disabilities didn’t go to school, but Emanuel was determined and hopped two miles each way to attend school. After his mother died, he decided to honor her last words by proving “that being disabled does not mean being unable.” He completed the astounding feat of bicycling 400 miles in 10 days. To say the least, Emmanuel’s is an inspiring story, and Thompson and Qualls do great justice to his accomplishments. An author’s note describes his continuing work and successes on behalf of disabled persons in Ghana.


Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music. Stricktly speaking, this is not classified as a biography. Rather, it is inspired by the life of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl. Millo bucked Cuba’s taboo against female drummers and became a famous musician, even playing the bongos at a birthday celebration for FDR. The books is written as a poem, following a girl’s longing to beat on all sorts of drums: congas, bongos, and timbales. She practices secretly until finally she is allowed to share her gift with the world. Rafael López’s illustrations are absolutely stunning.


A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin. Horace Pippin, who I’d never heard of before reading this picture book, was a self-taught painter. He was shot in the arm during WWI, but he worked steadily to learn how to use his arm again to create art. There are so many things I love about this book, and you come away from it with a strong sense of how Pippin used art to interpret the world. Pippin suffered from poverty, the psychological and physical costs of war, but still, his talent propelled him to create. One interesting note is that Pippin was African-American, but the author makes the bold  choice to not even mention that. Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award (plus many others).


Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell. This great book brings to life a woman who persistently followed her goals and broke 19th century barriers to be allowed into medical school, faced the rejection of her fellow students and then her colleagues, all the while proving she was smarter than they were. I love the vibrant, energetic illustrations.


The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon. I am including this book in honor of my oldest son who wants to be an ornithologist. John James could do a lot of things, but what he loved to do best was watch birds from morning till night. Born in France, his father sent him to America when he was eighteen, where — predictably — he obsessed over birds. Davies describes how Audubon relentlessly observed the habits of birds, making important discoveries about migration. Kids can learn a lot from Audubon’s patience, determination and passion for learning.


Dare the Wind: The Record-breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud. In the 19th century, women did not navigate ships, but Ellen’s father saw his daughter’s love of the sea and nurtured it. She grew up, married a sea captain and accompanied him on his merchant voyages. In 1851 the Flying Cloud, in large part due to the navigational skills of Ellen, sailed around Cape Horn from New York to San Francisco in a record-breaking 89 days, 21 hours. Both the text and the illustrations will make your child feel as though he is there, on the sea, with Ellen and the clipper.

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Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington. Asim tells Washington’s story in beautiful free verse. Born a slave, Washington was determined to get an education and after emancipation walked 500 miles with a dream of earning a college degree. Washington’s persistence to learn is inspiring and doubly so when considering the hardships, hate and obstacles he faced. Collier’s illustrations are absolutely gorgeous.


The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus. When someone says “inspiring people” you might not immediately think of Peter Roget (or at all), but this boy who loved to make lists and had a passion for words grew up to be not just an accomplished doctor, but an inventor and the man whose name now graces the shelves of every serious wordsmith. The book shows us that you can be a quiet person, but with passion and a love for learning and thinking and tinkering, you can follow your dreams and achieve much. Lovely, lovely artwork by Melissa Sweet and an interesting historical note make this a must read book.


The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos. A picture book biography of a successful mathematician is a great way to inspire your kids who may not otherwise be inspired by the usual sports and adventure type heroes. (Not that math and adventure loving kids are mutually exclusive! Don’t send me a grouchy email!) I confess, I did not know who Paul Erdös was before I read this book. Paul Erdös was an eccentric, but very sociable mathematician who traveled the world spreading and sharing his love of numbers. Heiligman does a great job of integrating math concepts into the writing and the end notes include some historical background and mathematical explanations.


Jim Thorpe’s Bright Path. For a while my son wanted me to read this book over and over to him. This picture book biography does leave out a lot about Jim Thorpe’s life, but the inspiring stuff is there all right. Thorpe was a Native American who had a difficult childhood. His parents and brother all died and he was sent to an Indian boarding school. These boarding schools were not happy places by any stretch of the imagination and the students were expected to enter society as servants  and manual laborers. Thorpe avoided this bleak prospect to become one of the greatest athletes of all time.


Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx / La juez que crecio en el Bronx. This is a wonderful book if you are looking for a picture book biography about a contemporary Hispanic-American figure (or any inspiring public figure). Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s story will inspire everyone. The book follows Sonia as she grows up in poverty in the Bronx and gets an education. The book has a great, positive message and emphasizes how important it is to be surrounded by supportive friends and family.


Me . . . JaneJane Goodall’s childhood is full of dreams. She spends her days out in the natural world and dreams of helping and living with animals. As she grows up she moves from butterflies to small animals and finally to the chimps for which she is so famous. I particularly like the way McDonnell juxtaposes photographs of Jane Goodall with his illustrations, capturing Jane’s hopes in both her childhood dreams and her eventual realization of those dreams.


Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman. Wilma grew from a 4 pound baby to be one of the fastest women in the world and competing at the Olympics. This is amazing, considering that after a childhood bout with polio, it was thought that her leg was permanently damaged. Wilma worked through her injury as a young girl, earned an athletic scholarship and won three Olympic gold medals. My kids were fascinated with the idea that she won her medals even though she had a twisted ankle!


Trombone Shorty. Troy Andrews wrote this autobiographical picture book about how he grew up in a music-rich environment and when he found a broken instrument he started playing the trombone, he earned the nickname, Trombone Shorty. He played and practiced hard and grew up to be a Grammy nominated multi-instrumentalist.

There are many, many stories and books out there that will encourage and inspire kids to pursue their dreams. I certainly can’t include them all here! What inspiring picture book biographies would you recommend?

Want more books like this? These lists will also be helpful:

Biographies of African-American women for children Books to inspire kids to change the world. Women in History best biograpy books for kids Book lists for kids

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Science Craft for Kids: Milk Carton Candles http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/06/milk-carton-candles.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/06/milk-carton-candles.html#comments Fri, 19 Jun 2015 11:46:51 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=13065 It’s the third week of S.T.E.A.M. Summer Camp and this week the theme is the sense of smell. Truth be told, I had a bit of trouble coming up with something for this theme. I had another idea that didn’t work out, but never mind, because as I explained in last year’s DIY Summer Science Camp, failure...
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It’s the third week of S.T.E.A.M. Summer Camp and this week the theme is the sense of smell. Truth be told, I had a bit of trouble coming up with something for this theme. I had another idea that didn’t work out, but never mind, because as I explained in last year’s DIY Summer Science Camp, failure serves to teach us to think like a scientist. But, building on my personal theme of old school activities (so far we’ve made thaumatropes and bead & string puzzles) I didn’t want my kids to miss out on the thrilling experience of making homemade milk carton candles!

Milk carton candle science experiment using scents and sense of smell.

Although there is more prep time than my normal self can usually tolerate, it is quite straightforward and not very difficult. The boys even enjoyed it much more than I expected them to. I was quite delighted. It was a very successful science-craft project for us and we added in a stinky twist to fit our S.T.E.A.M. theme, “sense of smell”.

One of the reasons I chose this smelly science project was because I remember enjoying making milk carton candles as a kid. In the 1970s every kid was required (required, I tell you) to bring a milk carton to school and make their own candle to grace the dinner table. Back then we made snazzy ice candles (you can see how to make ice candles here) but the boys and I used scented oils and crayons instead. (We like to be rebels, dontcha know.) (Note: I used affiliate links to the products we used below.)

How to Make Scented Milk Carton Candles

What you need:

  • Clean milk cartons, cut to the desired height of your future candle.
  • Wicks. You will want to use pre-waxed wicks like these, with a metal disc attached, or else you’ll need bunch of other steps. And why have more prep than you have to?
  • Soy wax chips. We made three candles and used about half of a 5lb bag. (Guess I’ll have to come up with another wax-based project!)
  • Essential oils. (Never fear! I will not start peddling essential oils to you.) We used lavender, lemon and vanilla. While shopping I spied a bottle labeled “Panic Button“, which I hoped I wouldn’t need while working with hot wax and two rowdy boys.
  • Tools for melting the wax. We do not have a microwave so I used a stainless steel bowl on top of a pot as a makeshift double boiler. Fancy people use a candlemaking pitcher.
  • Optional: old, peeled crayon pieces.

Materials for milk carton candles.

Milk carton candle instructions:

Melt wax. My technique: boil water in a large pot. Reduce heat to low. Place stainless steel bowl on top of pot. Scoop desired amount of wax into bowl to melt. If you prefer to use a microwave, choose a waxed paper cup and melt slowly at low heat.

Use caution: only adults or responsible older children should be in charge of melting the wax. Wax is extremely flammable. Bowl and pot remain very hot. Use common sense and keep small hands away.

Good to know: wax melts at a low temperature, so you do not need a high flame. I could even turn the burner off for long periods of time once the water, pot and bowl were hot.

Add the scent:

Using a dropper, add desired essential oil to the melted wax. In our experience you need to use a few droppers to get a noticeable scent. Your scent may vary depending on the type and quality of your essential oil.

Prepare carton:

Place metal disc of wick on the bottom of the carton and wrap wick around a pencil or craft stick. Balance on opening of carton. I used tape to keep the wick more stable.

Secure the wick:

Pour a small amount of wax over the metal disc and let cool. Now your wick is secure in the carton.

Pouring wax to make milk carton candles.

Make the candle:

I scooped the melted wax into a small stainless steel mug and handed it to my kids to pour small amounts of wax into their carton. The mug handle remained cool this way and potential spillage would be minimal.

Adding crayon pieces to scented milk carton candles.

Make the candle in layers. We poured poured about 1/4 inch of wax, added crayon pieces for color, let cool and then repeated this process until our candles were as tall as we wanted.

When the finished candle is completely cool, peel away the milk carton.

Peel away paper from milk carton candles

Trim wick to about 1 inch.

There you have it! Old school science with scented milk carton candles made by kids!

Enjoy your candlelit supper!

Clean up:  If you place a mat on your working space, surface clean up will be quick. As for your melting materials, my bowl and cup are still covered in a layer of wax. I intend to have a new science session with the kids in which we investigate the best way to remove wax. So good luck with that.

Steam Summer Camp

Stink the house up with more SMELLY experiments and projects from the S.T.E.A.M. dream team:

Left Brain Craft Brain | Nose Tricks: How Sight Impacts Smell 

One Time Through | Spicy Process Art and Math

Babble Dabble Do | Lemon Volcanoes

Little Bins for Little Hands | Citrus Chemical Reactions

 

Summer camp project. Make scented milk carton candles.

 

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Sanity Saving Indoor Magnet Game http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/06/indoor-magnet-game.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/06/indoor-magnet-game.html#comments Wed, 17 Jun 2015 09:55:07 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=13006 One morning when we were stuck indoors my attempt to redirect the kids’ boundless energy away from chaos and towards constructive creativity resulted in a pillow-hopping game with my 6 year old. It evolved into a simple magnet wand activity for which I made up rules as we went along. As our indoor magnet game grew, I continued to...
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One morning when we were stuck indoors my attempt to redirect the kids’ boundless energy away from chaos and towards constructive creativity resulted in a pillow-hopping game with my 6 year old. It evolved into a simple magnet wand activity for which I made up rules as we went along. As our indoor magnet game grew, I continued to make the object of the game more complex, calling each new task a “level” in the manner of a real life video game.

Indoor magnet wand game

What surprised me was that as soon as my older son saw what was going on in the living room with his brother, he wanted to join in, too. The next 30 minutes ended up being exponentially less chaotic than the previous 30 minutes, thus substantially saving my sanity. (Note: this post contains affiliate links.)

Disclaimer: parental supervision when an activity involves magnets is essential. Magnets are potentially dangerous and extremely hazardous if swallowed.

What you need:

A magnet wand. Kids LOVE magnet wands. I’m not kidding, here. We get sooooo much mileage out of our magnet wand. We have this sturdy Flexible Magnetic Pick-Up Tool and it has been fantastic.

Various magnetic (or metal objects) from around the house. We used these magnetic wooden alphabet letters, as well as our beloved Magnetic Wooden Blocks.

Magnetic blocks game is a fun boredom buster

I’m listing some of the levels of our game below to help you get the idea, but you can and should do whatever works best for you in the moment. Consider our levels and magnet game objectives as inspiration.

How we played:

Note: all of these objectives had to be accomplished without touching the floor. So, the boys stood or walked on the pillows.

Level 1: Pick up all the magnets with your wand and put them in the bucket.

Level 2. Pick up magnets with each foot on a different pillow.

Level 3. Pick up all the magnets, two at a time.

Level 4. Pick up all the magnets, 3 at a time.

Magnet game  indoor activity for kids

Level 5. I put all the number magnets in a center bucket. For each turn, the player picked a number with his magnet wand, then he had to pick up all the magnets that number at a time. For example, if he choose an 8, he had to gather 8 letters and/or blocks at a time.

Level 6. You must pick up all the magnets, standing on each pillow at least once.

Level 7. You must pick up only square blocks and build a structure without touching the blocks with your hands. (We did several variations of this idea. Such as: pick up all the square blocks, pick up only long skinny blocks, etc.)

To be honest, I know we did more than just these levels, but I can’t remember the exact rules of each level. We just made it up as we went along and that was the fun of it.

Lifting block with a magnet wand

We only have one magnet wand and so my 10 year old fashioned his own. However, he was clearly jealous of his brother’s superior equipment! Are your kids up for the challenge of an indoor magnet game? Get our yourmagnet wand and give it a go.

One sanity saving idea is not enough. Visit my gigantic list of indoor activities for kids and sign up to get more boredom busters delivered straight to your inbox.

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More lovely ideas here:

Giant list of fun indoor activities for kids.

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Geometry Magic: Turn 2 Circles into 1 Square http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/06/geometry-magic.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/06/geometry-magic.html#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 12:23:26 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=13048 It’s been a while since my son and I made math art magic with Möbius strips and it was time for some more math fun, this time we explored the geometry magic and accomplished the impossible! (Melodramatic, much?) We turned two circles into one square. “Inconceivable!” you shout. “No one can turn two closed curves into a...
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It’s been a while since my son and I made math art magic with Möbius strips and it was time for some more math fun, this time we explored the geometry magic and accomplished the impossible! (Melodramatic, much?)

We turned two circles into one square.

“Inconceivable!” you shout. “No one can turn two closed curves into a regular quadrilateral!”

“Ah, ha!” I answer, “That is this power of math.”

Wow your kids with a geometry magic trick.

But seriously, this geometry paper trick is totally awesome and you will amaze and impress your children when you show them how it is done. And isn’t that our goal in life? (Note: I included affiliate links in this post.)

What you need:

  • 2 paper strips of equal length. I used origami paper to make it snazzy and pretty.
  • tape
  • scissors
  • a passion for the thrill of math

Instructions:

(To see the trick in action watch the video below.)

Form one strip into a circle. Tape.

Loop the second strip through the circle in the manner of a paper chain. Tape.

Securely tape the two circles together. Important: tape loops together on both sides.

Two loops for a geometry magic trick

Carefully cut one circle in half lengthwise. Now you have two loops connected by one long strip. (You are correct, this is not a square. Smarty pants.)

After the second cut of a geometry magic trick.

Cut the remaining strip down the middle.

Oooooo, ahhhhhh and say, “Wow!”

Resulting square in geometry magic trick.

Watch the magic and be impressed again and again:

Be sure to pin and share this post, so all your friends can be amazed at how nerdy you are.

We love math art and math magic so much! It helps my left brain sons get creative and exercise those right brain skills. Discover more terrifically awesome math art and geometry magic right here:

Math art projects

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16+ Books to Read if You Like Harry Potter http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/06/books-to-read-if-you-like-harry-potter.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/06/books-to-read-if-you-like-harry-potter.html#comments Mon, 15 Jun 2015 09:36:21 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=12997 Harry Potter is well known as one of those books that makes reluctant readers not so reluctant after all. When kids turn the final page of Harry Potter, it’s the perfect time to harness that interest in reading with a few more choice chapter books. Unlike many “If you like Harry Potter…” book lists, I am not...
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Harry Potter is well known as one of those books that makes reluctant readers not so reluctant after all. When kids turn the final page of Harry Potter, it’s the perfect time to harness that interest in reading with a few more choice chapter books. Unlike many “If you like Harry Potter…” book lists, I am not exclusively recommending fantasy titles. Now that you’ve gotten your child hooked on reading through the magic of Harry Potter, it is the perfect time to share the glory of other genres! On this book list you will find not only fantasies, but detective stories, time travel mysteries and nail biting adventures. What all these books have in common is that they are page turners. They grab you from the first paragraph.

Series and books to read for kids who like Harry Potter.

I recommend these “books to read if you like Harry Potter” for independent readers, ages 10 and up, but — of course — every reader is different, so use your best judgement. The beauty of many of these recommendations is that they are either trilogies or series, which will keep your kids reading even longer! Win-win. (Note: titles and covers are affiliate links.)

MORE: We have more than 100 book lists for kids. See them all in the book list index.

Inkheart
Inkheart (Inkheart Trilogy). It’s a tome of a book, but if your child was able to read one of the later Harry Potter books, he can certainly get through this one. I adore the metafictional aspect of this book. There’s something so wonderful about characters escaping the confines of their stories. Meggie’s father’s read aloud skills are so magical is actually able to read characters out of the books! Unfortunately an evil character he has read out of a book is on a mission to bring him down and Meggie’s father has accidentally read his wife into a book. Spellbinding.

Jack True Story
Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk. I just finished reading this captivating book. I also think this would make an excellent read aloud, and am planning to read it to my boys. The story draws upon both Jack and the Beanstalk and Jack the Giant Killer. Jack climbs up the titular plant to rescue his Papa, who has been stolen by the giants in the midst of a famine and ruled over by a greedy, gold-hoarding king with a chicken that lays golden eggs. Shurtliff’s inventive twists and the way she weaves in references to popular fairy tales and nursery rhymes is ingenious.

MORE: Shurtliff’s Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin is equally worth the read. Find it on my list of Fairy Tale Chapter Books.

the map to everywhere
The Map to Everywhere is very exciting! I was hooked by the end of the first page, which let me tell you does not happen very often these days. Two worlds collide when Fin, a master thief in a magical pirate world meets Marrill, a “normal” girl who boards a ship in a mirage in an Arizona parking lot. The two join up in a multi-world quest to find two parts of a famed pirate map that Fin thinks might help him find his mother. This is the first in a brand new series and I’m pretty excited to read the next book!

the goose girl
The Goose Girl (Books of Bayern) is the first book in a series by Princess Academy author, Shannon Hale. A retelling of the fairy tale of the same name, all of the Books of Bayern series (there are four) benefit from Hale’s superior ability to create intricate, fully-realized worlds. Ani (the girl in question) is sent on a journey to a neighboring land to marry. When her maid betrays her, Ani goes into hiding and discovers her latent gift of speaking to the wind. A gorgeous read for both girls AND boys.

Savvy
Savvy is about the magical Beaumont family. Mibs is about to turn thirteen, the age when each child finds out what his or her magic, or “savvy”, will be. Her brothers can control natural elements,  her mother can do everything perfectly and Mibs is anxious to find out what her special quality is. Right before her 13th birthday party, her father has an accident and Mibs is convinced that her power will heal him. She runs away with her siblings and friends to try and reach him. A magical coming of age story.

the false prince
The False Prince (Ascendance Trilogy). I devoured this series as it was being published. Each year I eagerly awaited the publication date of each new installment in the trilogy. The Kingdom of Farthenwood is in turmoil and a nobleman is determined to pass off an unknown orphan as the missing prince. He brings three boys to train at his estate, promising that the one who best completes the test will have a new life as the ruler of Farthenwood. As a reader, I was constantly on my toes as to the outcome and a surprise twist will leave kids eager to read the next two books

calpurnia tate
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. This book is very different from Harry Potter, for while Harry is learning about the powers of the supernatural, Calpurnia Tate is learning about the magic of the natural world. In 1899, Calpurnia loathes the expectations set for 12 year old girls; she’d much rather read Darwin’s The Origin of Species and catch and study wildlife with her naturalist Granddaddy.  I loved this tale of a girl coming of age at a time when natural and engineering discoveries were changing the world. There is now a sequel,  The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate.

mysterious benedict society
The Mysterious Benedict Society (Series). These books are very popular and for good reason! They are impossible to put down. I find the plot hard to describe in just a sentence or two, there are so many puzzles and mysteries to be solved. The story centers around 4 children who answer an advertisement for gifted children and find themselves at the center of an elaborate adventure that puts all their mental strengths to the test.

mr lemoncello's library
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library (Series). If you’ve ever dreamed of spending a night in the library, this is the adventure for you. Luigi Lemoncello, a world-famous game creator has designed the local library and 12 7th graders get to spend the night. They have exactly 24 hours to find the secret exit and win a prize.

hpafter candymakers
The Candymakers. When 4 kids gather for the Confectionery Association Conference, they end up trying to solve the mystery of a stolen secret ingredient and create the best candy ever. A nice long book to keep them reading, reading, reading.

the blue comet
On the Blue Comet. Like the Hogwart’s Express, the Blue Comet is a magical train that takes children on unexpected adventures. However, the Blue Comet crosses time and space, taking its riders back and forth between the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. You can only board the Blue Comet if you possess an intense need to escape your current situation. That’s exactly what happens when Oscar witnesses a crime. He is transported through time and must find his way back again. Suspenseful.

story thieves
Story Thieves. When Owen discovers his new friend Bethany is half-fictional and has the ability to jump into books, he convinces her to take him into his favorite book. Even though Bethany is adamant that Owen be very careful not to change any part of the story, he secretly decides to try and affect the outcome of the plot by thwarting the villian, thereby winning himself glory with his peers. As you can imagine, such a disruption sets in motion a serious of chaotic and potentially disastrous events!

Icefall
Icefall. Solveig and her brothers, along with berserkers set to protect them, wait anxiously through the winter, trapped in a fortress near snowy mountains and the frozen sea. While they wait for word from their father the king, it slowly becomes clear that someone amongst them is a traitor, but who? This is a thrilling mystery for kids who like stories that keep them perched on the edge of their chair in tense anticipation. I also recommended this on my list of Winter Chapter Books.

under the egg
Under the Egg is part mystery, part treasure hunt, part friendship story and a suspenseful, engaging read. Just before her grandfather died, he whispered to Theodora, “There’s a letter… And a treasure” hidden “under the egg.” Theodora, whose mother is incapable of taking care of her, must find away to pay the bills and she starts her search for this mysterious treasure involving a work of art. Her hunt takes her all over New York City, into the past, and introduces her to a diverse group of new friends. The ending is slightly convenient, but the book is so engaging that everything works.

hugo cabret
The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Detailed pictures are just as essential (if not more so) to communicating the story as the text. My standard few sentences of a review are inadequate. Hugo lives in the walls of a Paris train station when his secretive life is interrupted by the connections he makes with an unusual girl and an elderly toy vendor. A magical, marvelous, intricate, mysterious and stunning middle grade book for Harry Potter fans.(and good for read alouds, too).

The Golden Compass
The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials Trilogy). It’s been a while since I read this series but I was riveted by it. Two kids, Lyra and Will, cross parallel universes in a world where their souls (for lack of a better word) exist outside of their bodies as animal companions. The plot is complex and is heavily involved with philosophy and theology. It is a fantastic trilogy but I recommend it for ages 12 and up.

Like this book list? I have a new book list every Monday. Stay in touch!

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These lists also have excellent choices for kid who love Harry Potter:

5th grade summer reading list. Middle grade fiction books. Chapter books for 10 year old boys and girls. Books for kids not ready to ready the entire Harry Potter series, either because of reading level or age appropriateness.

More lists to explore:

Books similar to Harry Potter | Imagination Soup

Kids Fantasy Books if They Liked Harry Potter | A Book Long Enough

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More Old School Fun: String and Bead Puzzle http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/06/string-and-bead-puzzle.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/06/string-and-bead-puzzle.html#comments Fri, 12 Jun 2015 12:00:28 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=12985 Welcome back to S.T.E.A.M. Summer Camp! Last week we made thaumatropes to explore the sense of sight. This week’s theme is the sense of touch. Since my kids are rather adverse to some textures I decide to challenge their little fingers in a different way with an old fashioned string and bead puzzle. Have you...
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Welcome back to S.T.E.A.M. Summer Camp! Last week we made thaumatropes to explore the sense of sight. This week’s theme is the sense of touch. Since my kids are rather adverse to some textures I decide to challenge their little fingers in a different way with an old fashioned string and bead puzzle. Have you ever done one of these? They are not as simple as they look! Kids have to focus on their sense of touch to guide and manipulate the bead and not let the strings get tangled up. (And I won’t have to convince the boys to touch something goopy, slimy, sticky and sloppy.)

String and bead puzzle for problem solving.

You may remember these types of sting and ring or bead puzzles from your own childhood. They have been around since the beginning of time and while there are many puzzles with very, very complicated solutions, this is a good starter puzzle for younger kids and you can offer a couple of hints to help them along. (More on that in a minute.)

My 6 year old was eager to try it but my older so was super grumpy and gave up right away. He came back later when I bribed convinced him to help me with the video.

First, how to make the string and bead puzzle:

You will need: 

  • Cardboard. Something a bit sturdier than a cereal box is perfect.
  • Hole punch. (Optional, a scissors will also work)
  • String.
  • Bead or ring.
  • Scissors.

Instructions:

Cut the cardboard into a narrow strip about 9 x 2 inches.

Punch three holes equidistant apart.

Cut a 30 inch long piece of string.

String and bead puzzle matierials

Fold the string in half and push loop through the center hole.

String and bead puzzle instructions loop.

Slip ends though the loop and pull closed.

Thread bead on one end of the string.

Thread ends of string though end holes and knot on back of cardboard.

DIY string and bead puzzle step by step instructions.

Objective: 

Move bead from one side of the string to the other.

3 hints to give your kids: (ONLY after they’ve given it the ol’ college try)

  1. Pull the loop forward.
  2. Pull all four strands forward through the center hole.
  3. Follow the string with the bead.

I have become totally addicted to making videos! This short video shows you how to make the puzzle, and then at the end I show you the puzzle solution. (You can only watch the solution after you have tried to solve it on your own. Sorry, that’s the rule.)

Steam Summer Camp

Challenge your kids’ sense of touch with these fab projects from the S.T.E.A.M. dream team:

Travel Geoboard | Left Brain Craft Brain

Gelatin Art | Babble Dabble Do

Slug Races | Lemon Lime Adventures

Magnetic Sculptures | Pink Stripey Socks

Inventing with Pool Noodles | One Time Through

Engineering Challenges | Frugal Fun For Boys

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Campfire Coloring Page (And a Surprise Conversation) http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/06/campfire-coloring-page-and-a-surprise-conversation.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/06/campfire-coloring-page-and-a-surprise-conversation.html#comments Wed, 10 Jun 2015 09:50:36 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=12975 If your kids are off to camp this summer, or if you enjoy camping as a family, pack a printout of this month’s campfire coloring page to keep little hands busy. Children’s book author and illustrator, Melanie Hope Greenberg, graciously contributes a new coloring page every month and it’s hard to believe we have been...
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If your kids are off to camp this summer, or if you enjoy camping as a family, pack a printout of this month’s campfire coloring page to keep little hands busy. Children’s book author and illustrator, Melanie Hope Greenberg, graciously contributes a new coloring page every month and it’s hard to believe we have been collaborating for nearly 3 years. That’s a lot of coloring pages, folks!

Campfire coloring page

As with all the coloring sheet posts, I like to offer up a suggestion that makes a black and white printout more than just a busy work activity (although there is nothing wrong with that!). Sometimes the coloring page doubles as a pretend play prompt as is the case with the school and pizza parlor page, sometimes it can be turned into a father’s day card, or an emotions learning exercise.

This month I’d like to suggest that you sit down with your own coloring page and work alongside your child. I often do this when Melanie sends over the new design each month.

Coloring pages as a family bonding experience.

Yesterday my 6 year old and I did this as an after school activity and it sparked a wonderful conversation. Among the things we talked about:

  • Whether or not art has to be realistic because he asked if he could color his page with whatever colors he wanted.
  • How the color of flames indicate temperature because he asked if there is such a thing as blue fire.
  • Ethnicity and race because he noticed the different colored skin of the children on my page.
  • Vitamin D and sunburns because… see above.
  • How sun different parts of the world get in the winter because… see above.
  • What songs the children might be singing in the picture. (He said definitely NOT “Let it Go”)

Science, geography, social studies, art…. The only subject we didn’t get to was math!

Who knew doing a coloring page could be a mother-son bonding experience? Quality family time my friends, quality family time.

Download and print –> (By clicking on link you agree to our terms of service, *see below)  CAMPFIRE COLORING PAGE

More summer coloring pages:

See all of Melanie’s coloring pages:

Free coloring pages for kids

Meet the illustrator:

Melanie Hope Greenberg is an award winning author and illustrator of more than 15 children’s books. Her cheerful, vibrant illustrations can be found in books such as Good Morning, Digger, Down in the Subway and A City Is. Her very popular Mermaids on Parade  was selected as a Bank Street Best Book, and for the Texas Reading Club and PBS Kids Summer Reading Lists.

Melanie also visits schools to talk about the process of creating a book. Learn more about her internationally recognized art work at her official website.

I’m sure you know a kid who likes diggers. Or mermaids? Or subways? Melanie signs all copies of her books purchased through her Amazon vendor link. (Book covers are affiliate links.)

 *Terms of Service: this coloring page is used with permission from Melanie Hope Greenberg and is for non-commercial use ONLY. You many print out as many copies as you like for personal, library or classroom use. If you would like to share this coloring page, you MUST link to this blog page. It is expressly forbidden to link directly to the coloring page pdf file. 

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