Nature Hike

These days we have been very conscious about our screen time. I love that we are spending more time as a family doing things. Yesterday we decided to take an early morning hike. My son is always so excited to go out! We got dressed & decided to head out to Ulistac Natural Area. I quickly decided to get things ready.

Things to take with you on a nature hike:

  • Water & snacks
  • Hats
  • Sunscreen
  • A small bag ( if you are into collecting fallen leaves & flowers)
  • First aid

We walked and heard birds chirping. The sky was clear blue & the white clouds made beautiful shapes. We just stood there listening to the sound of nature. It felt so amazingly calm. We saw a Scrub Jay, a Fence Lizard, Humming birds, Squirrels, Bees, Sunflowers, and flowers & trees we did not know names of.

One great thing I liked about this trail was, some of the plants are labelled. So you can learn about it by looking up the names.

My son really liked the yellow sunflowers. I asked him, do you know the Sunflowers always faces the Sun. He said yeah because they are “Sun” flowers! mmm okay. Then I proceeded to tell him this phenomenon is called “Heliotropism”. I am sure he stopped listening by then! But you know sometimes even when I think he is not listening, he is! Few days back we were at the park on a slide he surprised me by saying mommy look “Static”, when his sweater touched the slide. I must have tried teaching him about Static electricity some day and he appeared to be not listening, but he remembered!

This is how I want him to learn; by experiencing it, feeling it and remembering it as a fond memory with his mom, with his dad, with his family.

How are you spending time with your family today?

Seasons & Colors

Yesterday was a busy day for me. Had a bunch of things to finish. Even when my son came back from school I wasn’t done. My husband was not back from work, my son’s dinner was not ready, oh what a mess! I asked my son, would you like to watch some TV while I finish making your dinner? And he said no, can we do some activity instead? What? did I hear that right? Yes, I did. Okay, even today morning I am feeling super happy about that statement! I could not think of what activity to do, aaah brain freeze. Anyways I made him some dinner & after eating we decided to just head out.

He rolled on the green grass, smelled the flowers & wanted to bring a few insects & twigs home. Then we negotiated, the insects are not coming home but the twigs can & how about I throw in some extra leaves with that. Done! Wow, I negotiate so well these days. Remind me to put that as a skill on my resume! I was still thinking about what he said, he wants to do an activity. Yes! the leaves can help with that. So here you go! When we came back home we did this.

Materials needed:

  • Different colored leaves
  • Paper
  • Color Pencils / Crayons
  • Pen/Marker

Steps:

  1. We talked a little about different seasons feel & how the trees near us change colors depending on the season.
  2. We discussed what colors we associate with each season.
  3. Then he chose that color & colored it on a square white paper.
  4. On the green, he chose Spring; Yellow: Summer; Red: Fall & lastly Brown: Winter.
  5. I wrote the seasons in capital letters so he could read a bit.
  6. Then he matched the names of the season with the color of the leaf.

By the end of the activity, he was really tired from all the running around he did while collecting the leaves. I gave him a bath, and he immediately fell asleep. I consider today a super successful day, because we spend some time outdoors, did a hands-on activity while learning about seasons & he said no to TV. I wish everyday was like this!

Have you stopped to smell the flowers today ?

I only want colored flowers

After coming back from school & having snack, my son usually sits with me on the balcony . Then I get quizzed on the make and color of the cars that pass by. I also have a small garden which I tend to while answering to the pop quiz! Yesterday he decided to help. He dug the earth, played with the soil, sprayed water on me & the plants.

We have some Coleus plants, Pink Hibiscus & white gardenias. He said mama I like the Hibiscus more than white flower. The rich pink color of the Hibiscus attracts him more than the white gardenias, I get it. So I asked him would you like to make some colorful flowers? He said yes & ran inside. Lately he has become very independent and wants to prove that he doesn’t need my help. That usually means trouble though! He got his box of crayons & wanted to “crayon” the gardenias red. I immediately got up and saved the poor gardenia from it’s plight. Then we plucked some white roses from the backyard; I realized this probably was not too great of an idea, since it would not be immediate. But it worked out well.

Materials needed:

  • 4 Mugs
  • 4 White roses
  • 4 different food colors
  • 1 Spoon/Stirrer

Steps:

  1. Pour some water into each of the cups & mix a few drops of food color in it

2. Dip the Roses with stems into the cups.

3. We left them by the window overnight. Every ten minutes throughout the evening he checked them though, despite of me saying it’s not gonna happen so fast. You never know mama, my son said!

4. Getting up, brushing, showering & everything was super fast today, since we have to go check on the flowers!

This is how the flowers looked today, I was hoping he would be a little disappointed, but he looked at them intently & noticed the tints in the flower. For us the green one didn’t work that well, but the blue, orange & red ones did.

When I dropped him at school, he told his friend, my mom gave me a blue rose today, the guy looked at him a little funny & just went back to playing with his truck. I gave my son a hug & said the blue rose is our secret! And he smiled & went in….

The Science behind the magic: The colored water is transported up into the petals through capillary action. Water is evaporating from the plants when it is exposed to air and thus the flowers keep drawing the colored water from the cup & changes it color accordingly.

What secret are you keeping today ?

Caution: Adult supervision is required for all the activities.

Rainbow Toothpaste Volcano

Today’s post is a continuation of the “No” topics of my son. The first thing in the morning he says no to is brushing his teeth. Yes, I know how yucky! It is a struggle every morning to get him to brush his teeth. We tried a number of work arounds, different toothpastes, favorite character toothbrushes, lollipops( yes you read that right!), nothing works :(.

So tonight before sleeping, I decided to skip the book reading and do some fun stuff with him ( by fun stuff I mean science!).

Materials needed:

  • Food coloring
  • Skewers (to stir)
  • Yeast
  • Glass jars
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Dish soap
  • Newspapers (to cover the floor)

Steps:

  1. Into each glass jar I added 2 tablespoons of Hydrogen Peroxide solution & a small squeeze of dish soap. And then I let him put food color in each of them. Make sure you cover the surface you are working on with a few newspapers (you will see why soon!)

2. Then I let him put about 2 tablespoons of yeast. Wait for a few minutes.

3. Then he poured about 3/4 cups of lukewarm water into each jar.

4. Each of the Jars erupted into a foamy mixture!

It was so much fun for him to see the eruption of colorful foamy mixture that he clapped! I immediately added, this is how it looks when you brush your teeth every morning & night. Really, mama, come on let’s brush our teeth right now! I said how about we clean up first? No, no let’s go brush our teeth first. My husband & I looked at each other in disbelieve and he decided to help clean up while I helped the kiddo to brush. We did not want that moment to pass! The magic or should I say the magic of science continued this morning as well. He excitedly looked at the foam while brushing his teeth & said you “member” the colorful foam last night ( he cannot say the word remember yet!) I said yes of course I do & we were done with our brushing in a jiffy!

Caution: The foam is okay to touch with bare hands, but please wash your hands with soap when you are done! Handling the hydrogen peroxide requires adult supervision.

Super Hero Wand Magnets

With halloween slowly approaching closer, I was thinking about what character to dress up as this time. I have always loved celebrating Halloween & now it is even more special as my son’s birthday is on Halloween! He knows he wants to dress up as “Cat Boy” from PJ masks, however I am still unsure. So today’s hands on activity is a bit about halloween and a bit about magnets.

I have a huge collection of Fridge magnets. Whichever city I visit, I make sure to bring back a Magnet, and “Cat boy” loves looking & playing with those! He pulls it away from the Fridge door and then sticks them back again. So today I asked him to try it against the wall & observe what happens. It doesn’t work! Omg, I broke it he said. I asked him to try it again with the Fridge….it works again!

I started to explain to him that a Magnet has two poles ; North pole & South pole. He became too happy all of a sudden, and asked so Santa comes from the Magnet ? hmmm wow! I did not see that coming, and frankly I do not want to answer that question! So I decided to just jump into the activity. 😛 Do you want to make a Superhero Magnet Wand? The answer was yes yes yes please! So here we go…

Materials needed:

  • Colorful straws
  • Tape & Scissor
  • Magnets
  • Superhero Cut outs

Steps:

  1. Take a colored straw & put a magnet inside it. Secure the magnet with some tape so it is not visible & does not come out.

2. Tape the cut-out on the straw.

3. Repeat the same steps with the other two straws.

Your super hero wand magnets are ready!

What are you dressing up as this halloween ?

Caution: The magnets are small & can be swallowed by a child. Adult help is needed while cutting and sticking tape.

Learning about halves & whole

Yesterday I was at a loss about what to make for dinner. Also I wanted it to be something that my little one would not be able to say no to. Remember we already had a “NO” day yesterday. Can’t do it two days in a row! So Pizza came to my rescue. No, don’t make that face, I didn’t order it from outside. You know I am all about making things from scratch.

Thankfully we had all the ingredients in our pantry. I mixed the flour, sugar, salt & yeast and waited for the dough to rise. I asked my son if he wants to help. He said yes immediately. He knows helping mommy is usually fun, he gets to touch everything, make a mess & brag later to daddy, about how much of a “big” boy he has become!

So we made two pizzas, a circular one & a semi-circular one. He learned that Semi-circle is the half of a Circle. So basically you get half the amount of the full pizza. You will be surprised how fast the kids learn about half and full when they have to share something they don’t want to.

Just to re-enforce the concept we tried it again with bell-peppers!

  1. Took a whole bell pepper.
  2. Cut in to two equal parts.
  3. Joined the halves to show it makes a whole.

So by the end of the evening, we had a happy pre-schooler, a content husband, a tired mommy & a super messy kitchen!

Say yes to the mess !

Magic Milk!

Yesterday was a “NO” day at my house. My almost 4-year old refused to drink his milk, take off his outside clothes, take a shower and wear his pjs. I keep trying to think of creative ways to change his no to yes, so I decided to make him “Magic Milk”!

Materials needed:

  • Cotton swabs
  • Food coloring (McCormick)
  • Dawn liquid dish soap
  • Whole Milk (Safeway’s Organics Milk)
  • 2 Plates

Procedure:

  1. Pour milk in two plates just enough to cover the bottom.
  2. Drop food coloring into the milk.

3. Dip a cotton swab in dishwashing detergent liquid.

4. Touch the detergent coated swab to the milk in the center of the plate.

5. You don’t have to stir the milk. The colors will swirl on their own as soon as the detergent contacts the liquid.

Science behind the magic!

The detergent lowers the surface tension of the liquid so that the food coloring is free to flow throughout the milk. The detergent reacts with the protein in the milk, altering the shape of those molecules and setting them in motion.

No I didn’t to explain this to him. He was really happy to see different color patterns & finished his cup of milk. The explanation can wait for a couple of years. Till then I just get to enjoy the “wow” moments with him!

What is your pre-schooler refusing to do today ??

Footsteps in the sand

Yesterday, I went to the beach with my son, and he kept running around & splashing water at us. The weather was perfect so I started taking some pictures. I noticed he had made a trail of footsteps, which made me think of taking pictures of all our footsteps together. Yes, I am very cheesy that way! My husband used to refuse to join into these before, but now he agrees. I am yet to find the reason for the change, but moving on…

Me and my son usually look at the pictures afterwards & talk about it. I noticed that the footsteps looked raised at some angles and sunken at some angles! If you scroll the image you will see that effect.

Footsteps appear raised in the sand

Their raised appearance is an illusion caused by the pattern of shadows. These shadows are ambiguous. They could result either from bumps lit from the top of the picture plane, or from indentations lit from the bottom of the picture plane. In the face of this ambiguity, the brain makes its best guess as to which is more likely and that is what we see. With this particular image, our brains make the wrong call. Why? Because they have a built-in bias to assume that light comes from above.

So the problem is that our brains have a bias toward top down illumination which means that the brain tends to assume light is coming from above. This bias is so strong that it often competes and overcomes the clues our vision is giving us about relative depths. So when light comes from a slightly different angle, in the case of the footprints in low sun, our brain tries to tell us they’re convex instead of concave.

Now I know what to tell him if he asks that question! Probably not now, but in a few years.

I got this information from thenakedscientists.com.

Succulents

Near my house, I notice a lot of people have really nice gardens & it is such a nice sight to see those lovely flowers. So I decided to try some gardening. While taking a road trip on Highway 92 I saw a few nurseries & stopped to check them out. One of them one was Highway 92 Succulents, which caught my immediate attention. I did not have any succulents in my garden! How did that happen?!?!

We went inside and there were rows of thorny & prickly plants. My son was fascinated, he touched one and got poked. Ouch. I didn’t have to ask him again not to touch. That’s a first!

I chose four plants to bring back home & trust me it was a really difficult choice. Each one of them was so appealing.

So what are Succulents?

Succulent is a drought resistant plant whose leaves, stems or roots are fleshy due to development of water storing tissue. The word “succulent” comes from the Latin word sucus, meaning juice, or sap.

Grafted moon cactus(Red)

Grafted moon cactus Mutant strains are often grafted onto the hylocereus cactus, and the combined plant is called a “Moon Cactus”. It needs bright sunlight, great drainage & infrequent watering to survive.

Opuntia – Cinnamon bunny ears

Opuntia requires full sun & it has to be watered every two weeks. It is suitable for very dry landscapes.

Echeveria Lola

Echeveria Lola requires full sun & some shade. It has a really pretty light purple color and has a perfectly shaped rosette. It has to be watered and then the soils needs to be dry before watering it again.

Peperomia

Peperomia Wolfgang-Krahnii is a miniature succulent plant with beautiful grey-green leaves. They like a steadily moist soil but over-watering will make them wilt.

The store next door was for Carnivorous plants, but that story is for another day & another blog post….Readers, I would love to know what new hobbies you are taking up?

Build a NightLight

Itty bitty city nightlight

Since my son got his own room set up & started sleeping there alone, he complained of being scared. He told me ” mommy, a Spider booboo came & stood next to my bed at night & am scared :(. Next day I decided to combat this Spider booboo issue, and bought him a night light. He loves anything that has Paw patrol in it, so I got him this.

Paw Patrol Night light

I knew there was a Night Light project in the Itty-Bitty city kit, which was on my list to build, so I decided to give that a try.

Few days after using his Pawpatrol night light, I surprised him with my Lego house “Itty bitty City” nightlight. He was excited to see it & used that the next night. He knows I tinker with things & spend some time to build him the nightlight.

The next night he told me that he loves the lego night light but he would rather have the paw-patrol light closer, because Paw-patrol are strong & they protect him at night! Aww, my heart! I wasn’t too disheartened, but I should have known I cannot win against Paw-Patrol yeah ?!?!?

Who or should I ask what did you lose against today ?