Coming Soon: Egg Carton Creative Challenge

If you’re not already stockpiling your egg cartons for rainy day upcycling, start saving those cartons for the next creative challenge. 

A little background

Every two months I host a Creative Challenge, with the introduction of a readily available material and the invitation for children to create something from it.

The objective of these challenges is to help children learn to trust their own ideas, build creative confidence, and envision new purposes for common objects.

To join, document your maker journey with one of more photo, and then come back on April 9 to share what you did. If you have a blog, set your post to go live on April 9. Otherwise, you can add images of your work to a comment on my blog on April 9. Either way, it’s fun to share and be inspired.

So far, the following kid-friendly bloggers let me know that they’re in excited to share their contributions.

Will you join us too?

 

To read more about the challenges, click here.

 

 

Art Project: Overhead Projector

overhead projector art project

My husband works at a university and the collector in me was overjoyed to discover that there’s a little-known department on campus that sells surplus property from departments that no longer need old projectors, desks, and reams of paper.

I wandered into the dusty space about a year ago and walked out with something everyone needs: an overhead projector for just $5. Right, you have one, don’t you? And then it moved to my garage where it continued to collect dust for another year.

Well, I finally pulled it out and it turned out to be a perfect rainy day art project.

overhead projector object discussion

My daughter had never seen one of these before, so we started off with an open-ended game in object-based looking that I learned in graduate school. The idea behind the game is to unpack the qualities of a mysterious object based solely on what you can see. No other information is shared, and the process of discovery can build a great deal of enthusiasm around an experience.

I didn’t tell N what we were looking at. Rather, I put the projector in a place where she could easily see it from multiple points of view and then our conversation sounded something like this:

“What do you see?”

A box with a long, tall pole and a plug. It’s dusty. You missed a spot.

“Got it. Okay, how do you suppose it might work?”

I don’t know. Maybe you plug it in. And I see these knobs, so they probably turn. If I turn this one, this piece moves up the pole. There are some buttons, so you can turn it on and off.

“If we plug it in, what do you think it might do?”

I think it makes noise. A loud noise, like a blender. Brrrrrrrrr.

“Hmmm. Maybe it does make a noise. We’ll find out in a moment. If you open this flap, what do you see?”

A light. Let’s plug it in!

playing with the overhead projectorI plugged it in, flipped open the light, and spread out a collection of tangram pieces to play with. N had fun adjusting the height of the light and then made various arrangements of shapes, both abstract and realistic.

tessellation tilesI have a huge collection of transparent tangram tiles that I picked up at Resource Area for Teaching (RAFT), but if you click on this link it’ll take you to Amazon where you can order these shipped straight to your home.

overhead projector with kidsI pulled the curtains in the room shut, and the overhead projector’s bulb did a great job illuminating the wall. The walls in this room are painted dark grey, so I taped two sheets of 18″ x 24″ paper from Discount School Supply to the wall, and it made for a perfect screen.

We talked about how the projector reverses images, so you won’t see a mirror image of what exists on the glass plate.

This art project was wonderful in so many ways. The dim lights in the room were calming and helped focus my child’s big afternoon energy like a cup of tea can focus mine. It was fun to play with something new, and we both enjoyed exploring the mechanics of this archaic tool from Stanford’s past. As an artform, working with the tangram shapes was like painting with light and color, while making compositional choices. 

In case you’re interested in finding your own overhead projector, I did a quick Craigslist search and see them posted in the $25-$80 price range, but I bet a little searching could find you something for less money. And if you happen to be in my real-life friend circle, you’re more than welcome to borrow mine for a while, which is better than having it collect dust in my garage.

I’m thinking our next overhead projector project might be making our own transparencies. Any other ideas?

Do you have an overhead projector, light table, or some other type of projector (either of your own or at your disposal)? What could you try this with?

Eggs Dyed with Vegetables

I thought I’d wrap Egg Week up with a favorite egg project from last year: Decorating Eggs with Natural Dyes.

In case you’re just popping in, my friend Melissa over at The Chocolate Muffin Tree and I are posting unique egg-related activities or experiments each day this week, and here’s what we’ve covered so far:

There are so many fun commercial egg-dying products to choose from, and I love a box that promises technicolor tie-dye with coated glitter. My 3-year-old and I just tore through one of these and she had a great time with it. And did I mention that we’ve been eating eggs with all our meals this week? Small price to pay for some Egg Week fun.

If you have a little bit of time and an interest in introducing the magic of natural dyes to your child, this project is well worth your effort.

Click over here to find out what vegetable gave us this brilliant blue color!

naturally decorated eggs the chocolate muffin tree

And then check out The Chocolate Muffin Tree to see how she and her daughter made naturally dyed marbled eggs. They’re  beautiful, and the process will become one of your favorites, I’m sure.

egg week

So, although this marks the end of a very fun week of all-things-eggs, it’s not quite over yet…

I asked my creative and playful blog friends to share their own egg-related ideas and projects with me, and I’ve been overwhelmed with the response. I was planning to share them with you today, but there are so many ideas that I need a little time to pull it all together.

So, be sure to check back next week for one more day of eggs.

Until then, Happy Spring!

How to Make Egg Geodes with Borax

Today we’re experimenting with egg geodes and I’m going to share how to make egg geodes with borax.

This experiment is set up to engage children in the steps of the scientific method, which could easily make this a fun and successful science fair project (<–see this list for science fair project ideas)

Not only is the process of making these beautiful geodes engaging for kids, but the end-result has a huge wow-factor. Give yourself at least two-three days to achieve the greatest results.How to make egg geodes

Egg Geodes Inspiration

I was inspired by these egg geodes that I spotted on Martha Stewart and then followed this recipe by Melissa Howard who blogs at Those Northern Skies. If you enjoy this post, do click over and see what these two sites have to offer. The pictures alone are worth looking at.

How to make egg geodes.

Ingredients

Supplies

  • Eggs
  • Rock Salt
  • Sea Salt
  • Borax*
  • Other substance that could be tested for crystallization such as sugar, epsom salts, cream of tartar, baking soda, or alum*
  • Mini-muffin pan
  • Food Coloring
* Borax and alum are not food products, and using these ingredients with small children should be closely monitored, as ingestion can be fatal. Please use common sense and close supervision with such substances. My children were watched at all times and did not come in direct contact with borax in the process of this experiment.

How to make egg geodes

I tapped a knife around the top of the eggs to remove a bit of shell, and then emptied the eggs and cleaned them with water. Using a finger, it’s important to gently rub around the inside of the egg to remove the membrane because the membrane can discolor crystals as the form.

If you happen to have a mini-cupcake pan, it’s like they were made for this job.

How to make egg geodes.

We heated a pot of water (not quite boiling) and then poured 1/2 cup into a mug. We added 1/4 cup of kosher salt into the first mug and mixed it until it dissolved.

The kosher salt was stubborn and wouldn’t dissolve, so Nutmeg handed the mug to me for some rigorous mixing. Sill no luck.

We moved on to the next mug: 1/2 cup hot water + 1/4 cup sea salt. The sea salt dissolved quickly and then we added a bit more. The idea is to saturate the solution without putting in too much of the dry ingredient.

And then the final mug: 1/2 cup hot water + 1/4 cup borax. Dissolved.

How to make egg geodes.

We added a coup;le drops of food coloring to each mug and then made a chart so we wouldn’t lose track.

Then we poured the liquid into our eggs. Each solution made just enough to pour into two eggs. Perfect!

And then you wait. 5  days for the liquid to mostly evaporate.

We couldn’t that long, but after 1 day salt crystals evaporated through the egg shell, and after 2 days our eggs looked like this…

How to make egg geodes.

How to make egg geodes with borax and salt.

Kosher Salt 

Through the process of diffusion, the salt actually passed through the permeable shell. Gorgeous, isn’t it?

How to make egg geodes.

Sea Salt

How to make egg geodes with borax.

Borax
With opposite results of the salt-solutions, borax created the most sparkly, crystal-looking egg with crystals inside the egg and nothing on the outside.

And of course, things like this are irresistible to little hands. My toddler wanted to pick all the crystals off the shells, and I had to pull them away because not only will she break them into a gazillion pieces, but substances like borax are safe for looking, not for touching.

So, if this strikes your fancy, have fun testing some of the different soluble solids mentioned in the list above.

How to make an egg geode with salt and borax.

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Make Your Own Egg Tempera Paint

Today I’m sharing how to make homemade tempera paint. This paint is beyond simple, made from eggs and food coloring, and it will last indefinitely once dry.

How to make homemade tempera paint with just eggs and food coloring.

I’ve been interested in whipping up a batch of homemade egg tempera paint for a while, and was eager to try this with my kids.

History of Egg Tempera Paint

Do you know the history of egg tempera paint? It’s quite interesting, actually.

Egg tempera was wildly popular amongst Early Renaissance artists (Botticelli, Giotto, Fra Angelico) and then fell out of use with the Late Renaissance artists (Leonard da Vinci, Michelangelo) when oil paint was introduced. To make egg tempera paint, powdered pigments culled from things such as stones, sticks, bones, and the earth were mixed with water and then tempered with a binding agent such as an egg. And when they were tempered with eggs, they were called egg tempered paints and eventually earned the nickname Egg Tempera.

Interesting, right? So this is where those big, bright bottles of kid-friendly tempera paint get their name from.

I borrowed this recipe from Kid’n’Kaboodle, and if you click over there you’ll find an enormous list of recipes that will keep your little artists busy for a long time.

This project doesn’t take very long to set up, kids will enjoy making their own paint from eggs (unless they’re allergic or hate eggs, of course), and once the paint dries it has a gorgeous, shimmery patina that makes it painting-worthy.

This post includes affiliate links

make egg tempera paint with kids

Ingredients

How to Make Tempera Paint

  1. Step one: Separate the yolks from the whites, and drop one yolk into each of your bowls.
  2. Step two: Mix food coloring or liquid watercolors into the egg
  3. Step three: Mix well
  4. Step four: Paint

make egg tempera paint with kids

Separate the yolks from the whites, and drop one yolk into each of your bowls.

make egg tempera paint with kids

My 3.5 year old chose three colors to add: Purple, Sparkly Red, and Sparkly Blue. We like the Sax Liquid Watercolors. The bottles are inexpensive, last forever, and come in a huge range of colors.

As soon as my one year old began mixing the purple into the egg yolk, my older daughter commented on how purple and orange mix together to make brown. Not her desire, exactly, but she didn’t seem to mind and it was a great little unintended lesson in color mixing.

Painting with Tempera Paint:

With our homemade tempera paint ready, we got busy painting. Quite a lot of painting, actually.

kids paint with homemade egg tempera paint

drawing with sharpie

I joined in too and it occurred to me that this transparent paint would make a beautiful luminous sheen over some bold Sharpie marks. I offered my kids Sharpies, and they thought it was a great idea too.

Do your kids love Sharpies as much as mine do? My kids go bananas over Sharpies and I sometimes wonder if it’s because they really are all that wonderful or if it’s because I keep them on a super-high shelf, buried behind old taxes and holiday Silverware.

child paints with homemade egg tempera paint

This was a great move, and the effect was as pretty as I had imagined.

toddler paints with homemade egg tempera paint

My toddler isn’t so deft with the Sharpie and I had to keep a sharp eye on her. She also insisted on the famous paint-draw technique, which kept me busy. How I even snapped this photo I’m not sure.

kids paint with homemade egg tempera paint

Before we wrapped it up, they wanted to collaborate with my on my drawing. Rainbow asked me to draw her a sheep, and then the two of them went to town painting in and around the scene.

More Homemade Paints

We have this awesome collection of homemade paint recipes that includes:

Walk on Eggs Science Project

Have you ever tried walking on raw eggs? I certainly had not, but this fun experiment inspired by this project at Steve Spangler Science gave us reason to give it a go.  I knew this was something my kids and I would enjoy. So I pinned it, and along with the pin I asked my readers if they would try this themselves.

What? Walk on Eggs?

I was floored by the number responses which ranged from “Do you know how much eggs cost?” to “That looks like a lot of fun!” What do you think? Would you try this? My husband went grocery shopping the other day, took a look at my list, and said, “What? Do you really need 6 dozen eggs?” I explained that yes, I really did need that many, but being an omelette/pancake/crepe-loving family, we’d be sure to eat every single one that wasn’t a science project casualty.

Walk on Eggs Science Project

As you’re getting ready for Passover or Easter, when you might actually have reason to buy 6 dozen eggs, keep this project in the back of your mind as a fun egg-stension into the sciences. This experiment fosters curiosity (what will happen if we walk on raw eggs?) and problem-solving skills (what’s the best way to walk on them so they don’t crack?), and would be appropriate for anyone older than three (although our 1.5-year old played with us and is still talking about it). standing on raw eggs

How to Walk on Eggs

To get us started, I took one package of eggs from the fridge and invited my 3-year old to stand on them. She wasn’t so sure about this. Understandable. She’s a pretty smart kid. The directions I read suggested walking on the shells barefoot. Presumably if you crack an egg and get egg guts all over your foot, it’s easier to clean. But 3-year old N insisted on keeping her socks on, and I respect that. egg walking demoOnce we mastered egg-standing, it was time for egg-walking. Oh-my-goodness, hold your breath. I showed N how to walk on the eggs with a flat foot, which helps distribute the pressure and keeps the eggs from cracking. If you place extra pressure or force on your heels or toes, an egg is bound to crack. We had the added benefit of using egg cartons with extra-high chipboard separators, which I think absorbed some of the pressure. I hadn’t even thought about getting specific kinds of egg cartons, and I wonder if the carton could make a difference. N did crack a couple eggs, and complained when her sock was full of goo, but overall it was a cool experiment. walking on raw eggsOf course, my one year old wanted to join the fun too. To make this work for her, I held her hands and a lot of her weight so she could take a stroll over the eggs. After Nutmeg cracked an egg with her heel, Rainbow kept saying “crack. egg. foot. trash.” And it made me wonder how an experience like this might affect her interpretation of the world. So, would you try this experiment with your kids?

More Egg Activities

60 Egg Activities for Kids

Egg Geodes Science Experiment

Vegetable Dyed Easter Eggs

How to Blow out an Egg with Three Easy Tips

How to Make Natural Dyes for Painting and Eggs

St. Paddy’s Day Photo Booth

st paddys day photo boothI’ve  always loved St. Paddy’s day, and then I lucked out and married a cute Irishman. We spent part of our honeymoon in Ireland, and the green island holds a special place in my heart.

A few weeks ago I asked the Tinkerlab Facebook community for some ideas on what I could do with a huge pile of old sheets. I got tons of great ideas, and we started by making a Simple Clip Fort. I’m working my way through the list, and today we’re making a photo booth backdrop for St. Patty’s Day.

Before going to bed I hung a white sheet over one of our curtain rods and secured it with two big clips.

cut out shamrocks for photo boothI cut a handful of shamrocks from green paper and placed them on a table with double-stick tape. Altogether, the prep took me about 10 minutes. When my kids woke up, they were excited about the invitation, got dressed in greenish clothes, and we got right to work.

tape shamrocks for photo boothI helped 3-year old N stick some tape to the back of the shamrocks. Double-stick tape is tricky stuff for little hands! Then she and my 1-year old stuck them to the sheet. Well, my 1-year old mostly tore the shamrocks in half and we had to find a more constructive activity to distract her for a few minutes.

I moved a green rug over to the curtain area and that’s when the dance party started. I snapped a couple archive-worthy photos for the family photo album, and then it was mostly just playing in fron to the clover curtain.

st pattys photo boothOn St.Patty’s Day itself, we serve up green milk in mugs, delivered with a bit of magic. We add a couple drops of green food coloring in the bottom of a dark mug, the kids say “Sean Beggorrah,” and then we pour white milk into the mug for a leprechaun-delivered surprise. This tradition comes down through my husband’s family and I haven’t met anyone else who does this. Is this part of your St. Patrick’s Day traditions?

We’ve been talking about building a leprechaun trap, but I’ve never built one before. Have you? Do you have any tips? And I’m always thinking about fun ways to add magic to this holiday and would love to hear how you celebrate St. Paddy’s Day with your kids.

More St. Patrick’s Day fun from the Archives

Rainbow Play Dough

Spring Sink Mat Print

Fairy Doors 

Creative Ways to Spend a Sick Day

tea for twoHow do you get through sick days?

With Spring just around the corner, I thought that maybe maybe maybe we would be the lucky ones who made it through winter without getting sick. Wishful thinking! My oldest came down with a fever the other day and we’ve been holed up at home, gathering our energy and drinking lots of fluids.

reading peg leg pekeI have an arsenal of indoor activity ideas, but to be stuck inside all day long…that’s another story. There was a break in the day when we felt a little better and threw on our wellies for some puddle stomping. Fresh air always helps, doesn’t it?

The other day I fell in love with this article on Little Stories called How to Pretend. The idea that really stuck with me was about acting out books to bring them to life.

I pulled a big box of stuffed animals off a top shelf — little friends that we haven’t seen in ages. That alone was thrilling to my kids. And then we picked out a few favorite books with animal characters that we could bring to life with our toys and puppets.

I envisioned that I would lead a puppet show of sorts while reading the books, sort of like a librarian or preschool teacher telling a story through a felt board. But my 3 year old wanted to enact the roles while I read. I live for these moments that surprise.

reading with props stuffed animalsBrown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? was especially good for putting all of our toys to work. We don’t have a cat stuffed animal, but my kids were happy to substitute bunny. They really loved this and I’m sure we’ll do it again on our healthy days too.

So it looks like we’re home for one more day, just to be safe. I have a fun Saint Patty’s Day photo booth invitation set up, but not too many more ideas.

What do you like to do with your kids on sick days? How do you keep them happily engaged indoors all day long?

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