Solar System Activity

Today we decided to build a Solar system so that we could learn a little bit about the planets. We started out by cutting out 9 circles of various sizes matching the planets. Biggest circle for the Sun, then Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Earth, Venus, Mars & lastly Mercury. We also cut out some star shapes.

We then colored the round shapes accordingly, Yellow-orange for the Sun, grey for Mercury, Yellow for Venus, Blue-Green for Earth, Red for Mars, Grey & Brown for Jupiter, Yellow& Brown for Saturn, Bluish-green for Uranus & Blue for Neptune. And we colored the stars with Yellow.

We took a Rectangular shaped poster paper and started on one corner and glued the Sun first and all the planets after it. We also cut rectangular sized strips & labelled the names of the planets & the Sun.

Then we colored the base of the poster blue & purple to match the sky. Then we glued the stars scattering them throughout the sky.

Finally our project is ready!

Leaning objectives from this project:

  • Name & Color of the planets
  • Planets according to their size & position with respect to Sun
  • Emphasize only Earth has living beings in it.

After finishing this we decided to make a Puzzle and re-enforce our existing knowledge. For that we used Melissa & Doug’s Solar system Floor puzzle.

Materials needed for the activity:

  • Poster paper
  • Pencil, Markers & Scissors
  • Water Colors & paint brushes
  • Elmer’s Glue
  • Melissa & Doug Solar system Puzzle
  • Lids of various sizes to cut out the planets

Hope you enjoy doing this activity as much as we did, if you do , leave us a comment below!

Dinosaur Bones

Today we were sitting & making puzzles, and that got me thinking about this Dinosaur bone puzzle we have. And since it is Earth week, I felt like combining those two themes together! So we head to the yard to do some digging. Playing with earth brings so much joy to the kids. At one point I realized 20 minutes had passed & I had not even started the planned activity with my son. He was just busy digging and dumping the earth on his dump truck. Slowly 20 minutes became an hour & it was time for lunch. I decided we can just do the activity after lunch.

After Lunch I hid 11 “Dinosaur bones” under some dirt & dry leaves. I told my son that he is going to be a “Paleontologist” today… which means that he is going to be a scientist who studies the history of life on earth with the help of fossils. He was just happy, he is getting to do more digging. And adding Dinosaurs to the equation made it even better! He spend the time digging & looking for bones.

After we were done digging, we cleaned up & put the puzzle together. It was difficult for him to do it alone( the suggested age for this puzzle is 5+). But when we were done, it looked lovely!

What activities are you doing with your kids today?

Celebrating Earth Day!

Earth day is celebrated around the world on April 22. It was first started in the year of 1970 to express support for the environment. It is still celebrated around the world with various fun activities for the family. The activities helps raise awareness about our environment.

Since today is Earth Day we decided to do a fun Earth Day activity.

Materials needed:

  • Paper & Pencil
  • Elmer’s Glue
  • Food Color (Blue & Green)
  • Some Raw Rice
  • Spoon

Steps :

  • Divide the raw rice in 70-30 proportions into two bowls. Put Blue color in the 70% rice bowl & Green in the other one.
  • Mix it with a spoon.
  • Draw a circle and section it how Earth is divided into water and land.
  • Let the child color the Land green & the water blue.
  • Now put glue on the circle and let the child put blue rice on the blue color and green rice on the green colored earth.

Picking up the small pieces of rice , helps practice their pincer grasp and in turn helps them in their writing skills.

What to learn from this activity?

  • Earth is 70 % water & 30 % land
  • Matching colors
  • Picking small objects help kids develop a better grip

Why are flowers brightly colored?

Today while we were gardening my son complimented me on how beautiful my flower plants look. I told him that he also helped me tend to them, so he gets to take some credit for it too! Then he requested if I can make the green leaves colorful as well like the flowers since they are prettier. Oh! how I wish I could do that son :).

He asked mama, why are the flowers colorful and not the plant?

There was a Honeybee hovering over the flowers. It flew into the flower, sat there & then flew to the next plant. I asked my son, what he thinks the honeybee took from the flower? He replied eagerly, HONEY! Seems like a great time to impart a lesson about co-existence. I said, yes, it took some honey from the flower & in turn took some pollens to give it to another flower. This is how pollination works! The bees help the flowers by spreading their pollens, so that new plants can grow.

When we came back inside we decided to make a hands-on activity about our above observations.

Materials needed:

  • Paper & pencil
  • Crayons/ Color pencils
  • Orange peels

Steps:

  1. Draw a flower on each scrap of paper, you can choose to make how many ever flowers. We made 4. Draw a Bee on one scrap.
  2. My son chose the flower colors & colored them. Then he colored the Bee.

3. We cut up some Orange peel to depict the pollen. And then we arranged them as we saw it. A bee is going from flower to flower collecting the honey and in turn spreading the pollens.

And lastly coming back to the original question that started this conversation. Why are flowers colored? They are brightly colored to attract the insects, bees & birds so that they help the plants with pollination, and thus new plants are formed.

Activities that can be done at home with kids

It has been about a month that we began sheltering in place because of Covid-19. Since then a lot has changed. A lot of adjustments had to be made to our daily routines, since offices and schools are now closed. It was difficult for all of us, but mostly for the kids, who don’t fully fathom what exactly is happening.

Here is a list of activities that we are doing to keep ourselves entertained and busy!

  • Coloring : Before the lockdown started thankfully I got my son a couple of character coloring books. Pj-Masks & Paw Patrol are his current favorites, so that keeps him occupied for a while. Also coloring helps improve motor skills in young children.
  • Catching up with school work : It is difficult to be on track and catch up with school work when the kids are home for so long, but it is very important that they stay up to date with their syllabus.
  • Games/Board games : We played some games like Bananagrams & Sequence. It was not easy for my 4 year old to keep up with the rules of the games, so we let things slide for him. We gave him a couple of tiles and asked him to come up with two-letter words he knows.
  • Build with Legos : Before my boy starts building with legos, I make him sort his pieces, sometimes according to colors, sometimes according to size. By sorting Lego pieces I want to enhance his skills of understanding patterns & properties of two & three dimensional shapes.
  • Making Puzzles: Puzzles also help develop shape recognition & patience and completion of the puzzle gives the children a sense of achievement.
  • Reading story books: This is one of our favorites, we have always been doing this. Reading to your kids help them with their imagination & promotes brain development. It also is our “me” time with him. We get to snuggle and enjoy the book together.
  • Re-iterating his story time: In the morning as I make breakfast it’s my time to listen to a story, and this time it is my son who narrates it. We usually let him narrate the same story that he heard at his bed-time. It helps him with his vocabulary, comprehension, sequencing & memory.
  • Decorating food : We have been eating too many waffles & pancakes these days ! So I let him be creative and make faces on his waffles!
  • Doing Chores : Lastly, it is a lot of work when everyone stays home all the time! So I try to take in all the help I can get. That means, help with vacuuming, cleaning & cooking. Doing their chores help kids to be self reliant & take responsibility of their own actions.

Even with all the difficulties that we are facing due to the sheltering in, we are thankful to have each other as a family, and we are able to get spend some quality time together! But we hope this passes soon.

Sheltering in place during the Corona Virus Pandemic.

Our Shelter in place order came in on Tuesday morning. Some how we didn’t realize matters would get so worse, so quickly. We as a family were sort of unprepared. I quickly ran to the grocery store to stock up the essentials. Every place had huge lines. Even when I got inside the stores, a lot of things were unavailable, like hand sanitizers, paper towels and bathroom tissues. Racks after racks of medicines were empty. All kind of cold & flu medications were gone.

I asked a store cashier where the hand- sanitizers were? She said ” you are one week too late, everything is gone”. I quickly tried to look up if I can make hand sanitizers at home. And saw the videos were trending in Social media, and guess what , the materials that were listed, were gone too!

This is the sign I found posted on our local CVS.

Then I went to Safeway. They had no Milk, Bread, Eggs, Bananas, Pastas, Pasta Sauce. It was such a scary thing to feel, just to think that we would be left with no food. I went to a couple of other stores and grabbed what I could & came back home.

My son’s school has closed & my husband is working from home. People have been advised not to leave home unless it is for groceries & essentials. Below is the picture of the exit I dread, it takes me at least 20 minutes to just exit & it was empty.

Times are hard. But I see that people in our community are helping each other immensely. People are posting continuously that they are willing to help older people, who are more at risk of catching the Coronavirus, to do grocery. Some of the stores have kept special hours only for the elderly population. People who are short of supplies are being helped by people who have those things in stock. Many places are supplying food to the kids who usually have their lunch at school. Some people are updating everyone of what items have been re-stocked in their nearby market, so they can replenish it. It is heartwarming to witness such goodwill during these difficult times.

Hoping we all can be strong & help each other to overcome this pandemic soon!

What are you doing to help your community ?

If you can’t Recycle, Up-cycle it!

Today after school , me & my son went to check our mailbox & then proceeded towards the recyclable bins to drop our recycling stash. And it was full to the brim! He exclaimed wow it is super full, now what do we do? I said let’s wait till tomorrow and come back? We headed back home & I enquired what he learnt in school? He replied, they didn’t do much today… so I suggested how about we dig through our recycles & see if we can make a project. His face lighted up, you mean we do an activity ? Yes, yes let’s do an activity.

Things that we found in our stash:

  • Egg carton
  • Milk carton
  • A chipped coffee mug
  • Round food containers
  • Trader Joe’s Mochi ice cream box
  • Pasta sauce jars

I showed him the stash & asked him if he can think of any alternate uses to these items? He wanted to make a caterpillar out of the egg box! I was a little confused about what he meant. Then, he explained, in school they made a caterpillar using half of the egg box. So we decided to make one at home. Sadly, I could only find one googly eye. So he named it as a Zombie Caterpillar!

We decided to use the Milk carton as a Watering can.

I covered the sides of the broken mug with Hot glue & put masking tape on it, so that it doesn’t have any sharp ends, & we stored color pencils in it.

The food containers were filled with his little toy parts.

The mochi Ice cream container served as a paint palette.

And lastly I used the Pasta sauce & Salsa jars to store legumes & seeds.

And soon we had nothing left to throw! Looks like we up-cycled everything. Up-cycling is creatively using your waste materials. Rather than buying new things, it is important to think about how to re-use something that we already have. Not only it is a fun project, it also makes our future generation more aware of their habits. It will improve their creative thought process. After all we will have to leave this world in their hands to make it a better place for everyone.

What are you up-cycling today ?

Pinewood Derby

My son is fascinated with cars. We travel a lot and he sits in his car seat & looks at the cars passing by. Most of our conversations are about what make, model & color of car is next to him. I have always loved looking at fast cars too, so I kinda know where he gets it from. Although I stopped updating myself with the makes and models, because life got busy; I have started keeping up again for him. Because while driving I have to answer to the little quizzes he throws at me. Mama, look at that green one on the right, tell me which one is that? mmm that is a Chevy Bolt I say. He replies, are you sure you said Bolt and not Volt ?!?! Yes I am sure. I love our little game & he has learnt pretty much all the names of the cars, and I am fascinated by how well he memorizes the names just by hearing it.

This weekend our gym organized a Pinewood Derby Competition & we decided to take part in it.

What is Pinewood Derby ?

The pinewood derby is a racing event for unpowered, unmanned miniature cars. For this race you have to build your own car from a block of wood. Below is the picture of the Pinewood derby kit. The finished car must use all the pieces, but cannot exceed a certain weight limit provided by the organizers.

The kit consists of:

  • A block of wood – you can shape it in the shape of a car
  • 4 plastic wheels
  • Metal Axles to hold to the wheels
  • A set of Rules

The race track usually looks like this.

Gravity is the force that accelerates the car & air & friction helps it slow down. So while building the car you have to keep in mind to maximize the potential energy of the car & minimize the friction of the wheels and the air drag. To minimize the friction from the wheels, we lubricated it with graphite powder. The whole Saturday was spent in efforts of making the car faster & prettier!

We had two contenders for the race. One is the BooBoo car(left), the other is Mr. Spidey(right).

We went to the gym & got our car measured for the necessary weight & then our cars were put together with all the contenders in the race.

The race began. Our cars did not win the race, but we got the Judge’s choice award for the most creative cars.

Since we didn’t win in the speed category, we plan to work on improving the specifics of the car for the next race! My son was a little upset at not winning. But we told him the most important take away from it was how much time & effort we as a family put on building the car. My son plays mostly with cars, and now he is playing with the cars his daddy made! These are the little memories we make as a family, by doing things for each other. He was not too convinced by our explanation, but I know he will understand it one day.

What are you making for your family today?

Food, science & love

I have always loved to eat, but I never cooked. The cooking part started after I got married. I remember my mom always loved to cook & feed me. We rarely ate food from outside. I always wondered why was it so important to her to feed everyone? I understood that part after I had a household of my own. Food is how we represent our love. It is a cultural thing for us. We socialize over food, we cook for those who we love!

In college I had a group of friends. Looking back, I sometimes think, what made us friends? And our common ground was, we were all interested about different cuisines. One day of every week we used to drive really far to try a special cuisine. We all worked hard to save some bucks from our college jobs, & just spend it on food.

Since I could not cook, I was always dependent on restaurants & eateries. But that had to change! Slowly I started reading blogs, cookbooks & watching cooking shows. And then tried to replicate what I learnt.

Now, after 7 years, I consider myself to be a good cook & I try to share these moments with my son.

Today we were out of our tea biscuits. We only eat these specific biscuits with our morning tea & I thought how come I never tried to replicate those biscuits at home. Voila! My new project…. Let’s bake Marie biscuits!

I asked my son if he is up for some learning time, he looked at his dad and said that usually means fun! So he came running to the kitchen.

He helped me make the dough, with Flour, Butter, Baking soda, Milk, Sugar & Salt. I wanted him to know what each ingredient does so I explained – Flour provides the structure, Butter (which has fats) holds it together, Baking soda makes it rise, Milk makes steam & makes the cookie soft, Sugar adds sweetness and gives color & lastly Salt enhances the flavors.

After the dough was rolled we cut it with round cutters, and arranged it in a baking tray, and baked it for 10 minutes. The biscuits cooled for around 15 minutes & were ready to eat. My husband said it calls for another round of Tea, and the biscuits were over in one sitting! I wish I had made more 🙂

Morning Cuppa & diffusion

Our morning starts with me making two cups of Tea, and then drinking it with my husband along with one Cookie. Since it is getting colder, I was feeling lazy today to get up and make Tea. My son asked me, why aren’t you drinking Tea? He is so used to this ritual now! He knows nothing gets done in our house if we don’t have that Tea.

Also today is the 2nd day of creativity challenge from our city. Today’s challenge is about sharing a picture of something that you collect. So I decided to center my post about these two things combined.

I picked him up and decided to make Tea & also show him a cool experiment!

Materials needed :

  • Two teaspoons of Tea
  • Two mugs
  • measuring spoon
  • Stirrer

Steps:

  1. I filled one cup with warm water & one with cold water.
  2. I let him put one teaspoon of tea in each cup.

On the left is the cup with warm water and on the right is tea in cold water.

I asked what do you see? He observed & said the warm cup is brown now. Also we notice the tea particles are not readily mixing in the cold water.

Science behind the colors : The warm water triggers the diffusion of the tea leaves. The warm water causes the molecules to move much faster than cold water. The energy is released faster when the water is warm. The cold water will take a longer time to make the colors come out since the energy released will be less.

After we were done with the experiment he got to stir the cups of tea, put sugar & milk in it & stirred them again. Basically today morning was loads of fun since it involved a lot of liquid spilling & mixing stuff!

Finally I took out some of my Tea/coffee mugs & decided to take this picture of them for the creative challenge!

Caution: Please be careful if your tea water is too hot.