TinkerLab http://tinkerlab.com for Mini Makers and Inventors Sun, 29 Mar 2015 16:39:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 How to Make Natural Dye for Painting and Eggs http://tinkerlab.com/how-to-make-natural-dye-for-painting-and-eggs/ http://tinkerlab.com/how-to-make-natural-dye-for-painting-and-eggs/#comments Sat, 28 Mar 2015 06:49:41 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=19113   Today I’m sharing my favorite recipes for making homemade DIY all-natural dye for painting and egg decorating. While these dyes take a bit more time than their store-bought cousins, they are easy to make and definitely worth a try. While I have nothing against store-bought egg dye, we’ve been making our own egg dyes […]

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Today I’m sharing my favorite recipes for making homemade DIY all-natural dye for painting and egg decorating. While these dyes take a bit more time than their store-bought cousins, they are easy to make and definitely worth a try.

Eggs colored with natural dye

While I have nothing against store-bought egg dye, we’ve been making our own egg dyes for a few years and there are a few benefits to making natural dye:

You’ll have the satisfaction of making your own art material

The dyes are 100% non-toxic and are, therefore, food-safe. You can eat those eggs with peace of mind.

Making your own dye teaches children to be resourceful. You don’t have to go to the art store for paint when you can make your own from things you have in the fridge.

How to cook natural dye for Easter Eggs and Painting

I’ll share five recipes below, and will refer to these as “egg dyes,” but understand that these can also be used as watercolor paint. We’ll add a bit of vinegar to each recipe. Vinegar will act as a mordant, which means that it will help the dye stick to the paper or egg, and keep it from fading quickly.

How to cook natural dye for Easter Eggs and Painting

How to make natural dyes from beets, red cabbage, turmeric, blueberries, and annatto seeds.

Red Egg Dye

3 Beets, roughly chopped

4 cups of water

2 tablespoons vinegar

Bring ingredients to a boil, and then simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the dye into a container.

Bright Yellow Egg Dye

2 tablespoons Turmeric (spice commonly used in Indian cooking)

3 cups of Water

2 tablespoons Vinegar

Bring ingredients to a boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes. Pour the dye into a container. This dye will be a bit pasty, as it retains some of the thickness of the spice.

Light Yellow Egg Dye

3 tablespoons Annatto seeds (I find these at Penzey’s)

3 cups of Water

2 tablespoons Vinegar

Bring ingredients to a boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the dye into a container.

Note: Annatto seeds temporarily stained my pot. It did not change the flavor of food cooked in the pot and the stain cleaned away after four cleanings. 

Lavender Egg Dye

1 cup Blueberries

6 cups of Water

2 tablespoons Vinegar

Bring ingredients to a boil, and then simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the dye into a container through a sieve. Press the berries to pull as much juice out as possible.

Blue Egg Dye

1/2 Red Cabbage, roughly chopped

6 cups of Water

2 tablespoons Vinegar

1/2+ teaspoon Baking Soda

Bring the first three ingredients to a boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the dye into a container. If your dye is not blue, as it is in this post, you can add baking soda to the dye and it will change color from purple to blue. Add more baking soda to intensify the color.

Science behind this color change: Red cabbage contains anthocyanin, a pigment that will appear red, purple, or blue depending on the pH. When you add acid, such as lemon juice, to an anthocyanin, it will become pink. And when you add a base like baking soda it turns blue!

How to cook natural dye for Easter Eggs and Painting

Hot or cool, your dyes are now ready for eggs! These dyes take a bit of time to brighten up an egg – give yourself between five and 20 minutes, depending on the intensity of color that you’d like to achieve.

Experiment with Egg Dyes!

Try mixing colors: How can you get orange dye? Will it work to dip the egg in yellow first, and then in red. Or vice versa?

Fill shallow bowls with a small amount of the dye. Dip on side in red, then another side in blue, and so on.

Draw on the egg with white crayon. This will act as a resist. Then dip the egg in dye.

Cover the egg with stickers. Dip in dye. Dry and remove stickers.

Kids Painting with Natural Dye

Paint with Natural Dye

And finally, you can paint with this dye just as you would watercolors. Yesterday I took our dyes to my daughter’s class. We drew on watercolor paper with Sharpie markers (affiliate) and then painted over it with the natural dye. I also took time to ask the children if they wanted to smell the dyes, and there were lots of scrunched up faces!

Natural Dyes on Bay Area People

I was recently invited to talk about how to make natural dyes on Bay Area People with Lisa Yokota. It was such a fun experience and I’ll share a link as soon as it’s live. Welcome to viewers who caught the episode this weekend!

lisa yokota and rachelle doorley

More Homemade Paint Recipes

This post, Our Favorite Homemade Paint Recipes, contains seven favorite recipes. You don’t want to miss these easy, healthy recipes.

More Egg Dying, Decorating, and Science Ideas

Three Easy Tricks for Blown Out Eggs

Egg Geodes Science Experiment

How to Make a Floating Egg

How to Walk on Raw Eggs. Really.

60 Egg Activities for Kids

How to make natural dyes from beets, red cabbage, turmeric, blueberries, and annatto seeds.

 

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The Nature Connection | Book Review http://tinkerlab.com/the-nature-connection-book-review/ http://tinkerlab.com/the-nature-connection-book-review/#respond Tue, 17 Mar 2015 02:23:28 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=19049 The Nature Connection by Clare Walker Leslie has been part of our book collection for over a year, and it’s been such a worthwhile book for our nature-deprived family that I thought it was high time to review it here. This book is responsible for getting my kids excited about spending time outdoors, and the activities […]

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The Nature Connection by Clare Walker Leslie has been part of our book collection for over a year, and it’s been such a worthwhile book for our nature-deprived family that I thought it was high time to review it here. This book is responsible for getting my kids excited about spending time outdoors, and the activities inside are so well designed that once underway it’s close to impossible to bring them back inside.

With Earth Day right around the corner, this book would be an AWESOME gift for nature-loving kids.

Let’s take a peek…

The Nature Connection Book Review

The Nature Connection has been part of our book collection for over a year, and it’s been such a worthwhile book for our nature-deprived family that I thought it was high time to review it here. This book is responsible for getting my kids excited about spending time outdoors, and the activities inside are so well designed that once underway it’s close to impossible to bring them back inside.

The book encourages kids (ages 8-13) to get outside, and enjoy nature. And it works!

Note: The Nature Connection is designed as a interactive journal, meaning that you write and draw right on its pages. If you’re planning to use this with more than one child, you’ll want to offer them separate notebooks or buy a copy for each child.

Take a look at this video with the author and a group of school kids:

Says Leslie,

“I’m trying to win over kids who are much more interested in Game Boys and the internet because they have not had a grandfather go fishing with them. They haven’t had a grandma go berry picking with them. They haven’t had anybody take them outside and share with them the love of nature. This is why today so many kids don’t like nature. Because nobody has shown them how to be outside.”

Yes! And this is partly why my poor suburban kids, raised by a city mama, sometimes freak out at the thought of taking hikes. Sigh.

The book begins with tips on how to be a naturalist. It also includes ideas such as what to pack in your outdoor adventure kit and worksheets for tracking the phases of the moon (see the end of this review for a link to this as a FREE resource).

We’ve been carrying Adventure Kits around for a while now (we call them “Adventure Packs”) and we got some new ideas to include clips and a pen knife that weren’t already in them. This makes sense since we started carrying these packs around from age two, when pen knives weren’t exactly needed.

This introduction is followed with a month-to-month guide of twelve sections for tracking and noticing how nature changes throughout the year. You can see a few of our entries from the winter months below.

The Nature Connection has been part of our book collection for over a year, and it’s been such a worthwhile book for our nature-deprived family that I thought it was high time to review it here. This book is responsible for getting my kids excited about spending time outdoors, and the activities inside are so well designed that once underway it’s close to impossible to bring them back inside.

Each of the “month” sections invites you to do “Nature Quests” and describe what you see. The monthly sections also include short narratives, activities, and ideas for exploring the unique qualities of each season. In February we searched for animal tracks (easy to find in snow and mud) and learned about how the groundhog searches for its shadow.

This Winter we spent some time in Lake Tahoe, California, which is far more seasonal than the sunny Bay Area where we live. While you can see snow in the distant mountains, the area has had what some call the worst winter ever and that little mound of dirt just off-shore is usually underwater. The drought has been really hard on us Californians!

Family at Lake Tahoe

While walking around that mound, my 6-year old hunted for treasures amongst the small shells and discovered what she thought was a bone. Yes, I think she was right!

The Nature Connection has been part of our book collection for over a year, and it’s been such a worthwhile book for our nature-deprived family that I thought it was high time to review it here. This book is responsible for getting my kids excited about spending time outdoors, and the activities inside are so well designed that once underway it’s close to impossible to bring them back inside.

She was fascinated by it, chose it for her “Picture of the Month” drawing, and wanted to bring it into school to show her friends.

The Nature Connection Book Review

For families like ours that have to make treks to spend time in nature, this book is a goldmine. When I tell my kids that we’re going on an outdoor adventure and mention that we’re bringing this book along, excitement mounts!

Buy The Nature Connection

You can find The Nature Connection on Amazon (affiliate) and you can download free worksheets for The Nature Connection from the publisher, Storey. We haven’t started a Moon Journal yet, and my kids are excited to give it a go. Thanks, Storey!

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Pi Day 2015 | Pi Day Art Project http://tinkerlab.com/pi-day-2015-pi-day-art-project/ http://tinkerlab.com/pi-day-2015-pi-day-art-project/#comments Wed, 11 Mar 2015 18:02:04 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=18844 Did you know that this is a special year for Pi? What is Pi? Pi is the sixteen letter of the Greek alphabet, and it’s also a symbol used to describe the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, meaning that pi equals the circumference divided by the diameter (π = c/d). The […]

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This fun and easy Pi Day Art Activity will get your creativity flowing, and it's a fun way to build enthusiasm around Pi Day 2015 | TinkerLab.com

Did you know that this is a special year for Pi?

What is Pi?

Pi is the sixteen letter of the Greek alphabet, and it’s also a symbol used to describe the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, meaning that pi equals the circumference divided by the diameter (π = c/d). The interesting this about pi is that mathematicians who have been working on this number believe that it is infinite, meaning that it’s not the quotient of two integers. In other words, the number pi goes on and on and on, and we don’t know where it ends!

So, the number “pi” begins with the numbers 3.14159265, and goes on and on infinitely (so we think). Computers have been cranking away at the number for a while now, trying to figure out just how big it is (and if it will ever stop), and according to Number World, the number has been computed up to 10 trillion digits. Wow!

Pi Day 2015

To celebrate this special number, every year math enthusiasts around the world celebrate Pi Day on March 14, or 3-14, in honor of the first three digits of Pi. The next two digits, following the 3.14, are 15, making this a banner year for Pi that won’t be revisited for another 100 years: 3.14.15, or 3.1415. Yay for Pi!

My 6-year old is fascinated by math and has been talking up a storm about Pi for a while now, so I asked her to help me come up with an idea to celebrate Pi Day 2015. After a bit of brainstorming, she came up with this fun drawing prompt that uses the first five digits of Pi.

Pi Day Art Project for Pi Day 2015

We created a printable that you can download here. The little picture of the piece of pie (pi) is courtesy of my daughter.

The instructions read:

Happy Pi Day! To celebrate the infinite quality of Pi, there are infinite ways to fill in these boxes. Choose 3 colors and give yourself 14 minutes to design 15 boxes however you like.

Take note: We originally made this with 25 boxes (oops),  but that’s been corrected in the printable download :)

{Free Printable!} This fun and easy Pi Day Art Activity will get your creativity flowing, and it's a fun way to build enthusiasm around Pi Day 2015 | TinkerLab.com

I had fun filling in the boxes with a pattern of straight lines and curved lines, while my daughter filled out each row of her’s with different patterns: hearts, names, solid colors, grids, and punctuation marks.

Share this on Instagram

Would you like to share this with other Pi Day enthusiasts, and see how they interpret the prompt? At the VERY BOTTOM of the printable, it reads: Tag your page on Instagram with #pidayart 

DIY Pi Day Art Project

If you’d rather do a bit of extra math for your Pi Day Art Project, you could make a grid on a piece of paper, and then cover the grid with colorful tape. My daughter came up with this idea and thought it was far more fun.

We measured the tape to get an idea of how big our grid should be, and then worked together to draw a grid and attach the tape. Once that was done, the pi day art activity was pretty much the same as the above prompt.

This fun and easy Pi Day Art Activity will get your creativity flowing, and it's a fun way to build enthusiasm around Pi Day | TinkerLab.com

How are you celebrating Pi Day 2015? Are you making lots of Pie? Here are some favorite Pi Resources…

Pi Day Art Activities and Resources

Is this your first time here?

Join the Tinkerlab network and be the first to know about simple art + science projects for kids, creativity tips, and simple ideas that will make your life more creative. Sign up for our newsletter.

TinkerLab Newsletter

In case you blinked and missed it, TinkerLab rounds up all the great stuff on the internets on keeping you and your critters creative and wraps it up for you in a tidy newsletter! (And throws in some secret giveaways for good measure!)  – Yuliya P., San Francisco, CA

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids

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Mason Jar Shadow Drawing Prompt http://tinkerlab.com/mason-jar-shadow-drawing-prompt/ http://tinkerlab.com/mason-jar-shadow-drawing-prompt/#comments Tue, 10 Mar 2015 10:00:21 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=18929 After we made a Mason Jar Solar Light, we noticed that our non-frosted mason jar lantern created a loopy, squiggly, and sharp pattern of shadows when illuminated on the table. To turn this into an art activity, we added a few supplies (a piece of paper and pencil) and played around with this fun and creative shadow […]

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Mason Jar Solar Light Shadow Drawing Prompt

After we made a Mason Jar Solar Light, we noticed that our non-frosted mason jar lantern created a loopy, squiggly, and sharp pattern of shadows when illuminated on the table.

To turn this into an art activity, we added a few supplies (a piece of paper and pencil) and played around with this fun and creative shadow drawing prompt.

Care to join us?

Drawing Prompt: Capturing Shadows

Try this fun and quick drawing prompt for boosting creativity with a mason jar, solar light or tea light, and a pencil. Supplies for Shadow Drawing Prompt

If you don’t already have a solar light mason jar, you’ll need these supplies:

Note: This post includes affiliate links

  • Wide Mouth Mason Jars. These Mason Jars by Ball are awesome.
  • Solar Path lights. I found ours at Osh for $3.99 each. I searched at our local hardware store first, but the lights I found there didn’t fit into the Mason Jars.
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Darkened Room

Click over here for the Mason Jar Solar Light tutorial.

If the room isn’t dark enough for the solar panel to activate the light, place a square of dark paper over the panel. Voila!

What we did

We placed the clear mason jar over a sheet of paper and looked for the darkest, crispest lines to trace. Simple as that! The finished pieces looked like something from space, and now we’re talking about the possibility of adding some color.

Mason Jar Drawing Prompt for Kids  |  TinkerLab.com

More Drawing Prompts

White Drawings on Black Paper

One-minute Drawings

Sketchbook Prompt: Circles and Watercolor Paint

Join the March Sketchbook Challenge for daily prompts

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Mason Jar Solar Lights for Kids http://tinkerlab.com/mason-jar-solar-lights/ http://tinkerlab.com/mason-jar-solar-lights/#comments Tue, 10 Mar 2015 07:21:23 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=18914 This month I’m blogging about science projects for a series of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) posts with a group of my favorite bloggers. More on that in a moment. But first, I’m excited to share our contribution of Mason Jar Solar Lights for Kids, aka Easy and Affordable Night Lights!  This week’s theme is […]

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Science for Kids | DIY Solar Night Light

This month I’m blogging about science projects for a series of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) posts with a group of my favorite bloggers. More on that in a moment. But first, I’m excited to share our contribution of Mason Jar Solar Lights for Kids, aka Easy and Affordable Night Lights! 

This week’s theme is harness, and here’s the definition that I’m going with…

Harness Definition | TinkerLab.com

To get this going, my kids and I harnessed the sun’s energy and pulled together these quick, functional, affordable, and earth-friendly mason jar solar lights that my we can carry with us off to bed at night. These lights are all over the internet, and if anyone knows the original source of them, please give a holler! I’m giving ours a unique twist by turning them into night lights with frosted glass, although I’m certainly not the first to do that either.

However, I’m making this kid-friendly and sharing a cool art activity at the end of this post. Are you still with me?

We made two lights: One frosted and one clear. The frosted light was preferred as a night light and the clear glass was a hit as the source of a drawing prompt.

Supplies for Mason Jar Solar Lights

Note: This post includes affiliate links

  • Wide Mouth Mason Jars. These Mason Jars by Ball are awesome.
  • Solar Path lights. I found ours at Osh for $3.99 each. Some lights will not fit in the top of the mason jar, so be sure to test it first.

diy mason jar solar light

Steps for Mason Jar Solar Lights

  1. Take the solar pathlight apart by gently twisting the top off of the base. Remove the paper strip that protects the battery, as directed with the light instructions.
  2. Place the solar panel in the sun for a full day
  3. Fit the solar panel piece in the top of the mason jar. It should fit snuggly.
  4. Use it as a night light, emergency light, or picnic illumination.
  5. Easy, right?!

DIY Frosted Mason Jar Solar Light

We also made a frosted jar. Or I should say that made a frosted jar with etching cream which is not at all kid-friendly. Etching cream is NOT to be used by children and can burn skin. Please be cautious, wear gloves, and carefully follow the instructions on the etching cream jar for safe usage.

frosted mason jar tutorial

Supplies for Frosted Mason Jars

How to Make a 5 Minute Solar Night Light for Kids | Save Money | Help the Environment!

Steps for Frosted Mason Jars

  1. Place your jar on a piece of cardboard or covered table.
  2. With gloves on, thickly coat the outside of your jar.
  3. Leave the etching cream on for at least 60 seconds (per directions on the bottle). After 60 seconds, my glass was only partly etched, so I did it again and left it on for 3 minutes.
  4. Wash the etching cream off.
  5. Clean your brush per usual.
  6. Be sure to carefully follow the instructions on your etching cream.

How Solar Lights Work

For the tinkerers, after you twist off the top of the light unit, take a look at the underside and you’ll see a battery pack, wires, LED, and controller board.

On the side that faces up you’ll see solar cells. The solar cells are connected to the battery via a diode. The battery gets charged during the day, and the diode tells the battery current to stop sending a current back to the solar cell at night.

Also inside the unit is a photoresistor, which senses darkness and signals that the LED should turn on when it doesn’t recognize very much light.

Turn this into an Art Activity

Once our awesome and affordable Mason Jar Solar Lights were done, we used them for a fun drawing prompt. Click over here for the full project.

Mason Jar Solar Light Drawing Prompt

Activate Learning with STEAM

If you’ve been a loyal TinkerLab fan (thank you! you mean the world to me.) you’ll know that I’m happiest sharing projects that live at the intersection of disciplines. Too often we’re quick to separate science from writing or math from art, but when we seek out ways to make interdisciplinary connections, learning can be more meaningful and novel discoveries can be made.STEAM Activities | Teabag Hot Air Balloon

In that vein, over the next few weeks I’m joining a creative group of engineers, scientists, educators, and artists to launch a new series called STEAM Power, which celebrates interdisciplinary learning with projects that circle around STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) ideas. This week’s theme is REACT, and you can see the other reaction-related ideas here:

Tiny Dancers, Homoplar Motor | Babble Dabble Do

Design Thinking and Building Empathy | Meri Cherry

10 Ways to Play and Learn with Springs | Left Brain Craft Brain

Simple Circuit | What Do We Do All Day?

Rubber Band Car | All For The Boys

Lego-inspired Electric Play Dough | Lemon Lime Adventures

How to Build a Simple Electromagnetic Train  | Frugal Fun for Boys

STEAM on Pinterest

You might also enjoy following my STEAM + STEM Activities board on Pinterest for more ideas like this.

Is this your first time here?

Join the Tinkerlab network and be the first to know about simple art + science projects for kids, creativity tips, and simple ideas that will make your life more creative. Sign up for our newsletter.

TinkerLab Newsletter

In case you blinked and missed it, TinkerLab rounds up all the great stuff on the internets on keeping you and your critters creative and wraps it up for you in a tidy newsletter! (And throws in some secret giveaways for good measure!)  – Yuliya P., San Francisco, CA

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids

Easy Mason Jar Solar Light | Save Money! | Make it in 5 Minutes

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Engineering Kids | Rube Goldberg Machine http://tinkerlab.com/engineering-kids-rube-goldberg-machine/ http://tinkerlab.com/engineering-kids-rube-goldberg-machine/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 08:09:57 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=18848 This project has long been on my to-do list with my kids. We are long-time fans of marble runs (see the resources page for recommendations), and extending our love for rolling balls and ramps into the world of Rube Goldberg was a no-brainer. And triple hurrah for projects that celebrate STEM and STEAM learning. About Rube Goldberg […]

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Easy Steps for building a Rube Goldberg Machine with Little Kids | TinkerLab.com

This project has long been on my to-do list with my kids. We are long-time fans of marble runs (see the resources page for recommendations), and extending our love for rolling balls and ramps into the world of Rube Goldberg was a no-brainer. And triple hurrah for projects that celebrate STEM and STEAM learning.

About Rube Goldberg

For the uninitiated, Rube Goldberg was an American Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor, and his work is a classic example of the melding of art and science. Goldberg began his career as an engineer, and later became a cartoonist who drew elaborate illustrations of contraptions made up of pulleys, cups, birds, balloons, and watering cans that were designed to solve a simple task such as opening a window or setting an alarm clock. Interestingly, Goldberg only drew the pictures, and never built any of his inventions. However, these pictures have since served as inspiration for makers and builders who want the challenge of making wild inventions to solve everyday problems. Rube Goldberg definition

And apparently, Rube Goldberg is a now an adjective in the dictionary! You can read more about Goldberg here.

Suggested materials for building a Rube Goldberg Machine with Little Kids | TinkerLab.com

Build a Rube Goldberg Machine with Kids

So, are you interested in building a Rube Goldberg-style machine with little kids? This post will give you a few tips and ideas to make your own complicated machine.

 

Step 1: Get Inspired

First things first, you’ll want to watch some Rube Goldberg contraptions in action to get inspired. My kids and I LOVE this video from OK Go. It’s incredible complicated, but oh-so-amazing, so don’t think for one hot second that you’ll be able to replicate this with little kids.

Step 2: Solve a Problem

Next, come up with a simple problem that you’re trying to solve. For example:

  • Ring a Bell
  • Pop a Balloon
  • Open a Door
  • Shut a window
  • Put out a candle

Once you have a problem sorted out (and don’t worry – you can change this later if you want), gather supplies…

Step 3: Gather Supplies

You can print out the following list here.

Collect a bucket-full of supplies and then lay them out so they’re easily seen. These can largely be found in your home or classroom — start with what you have! You will most likely start with some of these basics, and then forage your home or classroom for more supplies as you go. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Things that Roll

  • Marbles
  • Balls: Tennis, Baseball, Bowling, etc.
  • Toy Cars
  • Dominoes
  • Skateboard
  • Roller Skate
  • Mousetrap

Things that Move

  • Mousetrap
  • Dominoes
  • Toaster
  • Fan

Ramps

  • Toy Train Tracks
  • Marble Runs
  • Books
  • Trays
  • PVC pipe
  • Plastic tubing
  • Gutters

Recyclables

  • Cardboard
  • Cereal Boxes
  • Cardboard Rolls
  • Plastic Water Bottles
  • Cans
  • Aluminum Foil

Household Materials

  • Chopsticks
  • Popsicle Sticks
  • Ruler
  • Wooden Blocks
  • Bowl
  • String
  • Tape
  • Sand
  • Pins
  • Hammer
  • Balloons
  • Water
  • Fan
  • Vinegar and Baking Soda

Step 4: Build Your Machine!

Once you have the supplies ready, start building. While the OK Go video (and others like it) includes some pretty complex machines and concepts, keep this simple for preschoolers. The basic concept that we’re exploring is that of a chain reaction, so anything that tips something else over (and so one) is what you’re going for. Don’t worry too much about building things like pulleys and levers for young children.

Take a look at our machine to get a sense of what’s possible.

Our Rube Goldberg Machine in Action

5 Tips for Success

  1. Success breeds enthusiasm, so keep the steps to a minimum. You can always add more as you go.
  2. Keep your expectations low
  3. Ask your child for ideas and input
  4. Work collaboratively
  5. Aim to have fun

A Note on Failure

As you test and try out different set-ups, you’ll undoubtedly fail a few times. I could have filled a 20 minute video with outtakes from all our misses (the balloon is a good example of that). But this is great news! Failure is an intrinsic piece of the invention process, and without these mistakes we won’t learn how things really work. So embrace failure and celebrate it as part of the learning process.

Next Steps: Full STEAM Ahead

  • Ask: What other simple problems could we solve?
  • Ask: What materials could we use?
  • Ask: Why didn’t that work? How could we fix it or try it again?
  • Encourage your child to problem solve by seeking out materials and moving objects.

Did you enjoy this project? Join the semi-secret Club TinkerLab on Facebook to swap and share more ideas like this.

Easy Steps for building a Rube Goldberg Machine with Little Kids | TinkerLab.com

More Projects like this one

DIY Paper Tube Marble Run

Fort Building Kit

DIY Water Wall, it’s like a marble run, but with water!

Build an easy light table

Make Gumdrop Sculptures

Activate Learning with STEAM

If you’ve been a loyal TinkerLab fan (thank you! you mean the world to me.) you’ll know that I’m happiest sharing projects that live at the intersection of disciplines. Too often we’re quick to separate science from writing or math from art, but when we seek out ways to make interdisciplinary connections, learning can be more meaningful and novel discoveries can be made.STEAM Activities | Teabag Hot Air Balloon

In that vein, over the next few weeks I’m joining a creative group of engineers, scientists, educators, and artists to launch a new series called STEAM Power, which celebrates interdisciplinary learning with projects that circle around STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) ideas. This week’s theme is REACT, and you can see the other reaction-related ideas here:

Stixplosions | Babble Dabble Do

Smoosh Painting | Meri Cherry

Color Changing Chemistry Clock | Left Brain Craft Brain

Zoom Ball | What Do We Do All Day?

Glowing Hands | All For The Boys

Rainbow Reactions | Lemon Lime Adventures

Colorful Chemical Reaction  | Frugal Fun for Boys

STEAM on Pinterest

You might also enjoy following my STEAM + STEM Activities board on Pinterest for more ideas like this.

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In case you blinked and missed it, TinkerLab rounds up all the great stuff on the internets on keeping you and your critters creative and wraps it up for you in a tidy newsletter! (And throws in some secret giveaways for good measure!)  – Yuliya P., San Francisco, CA

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids

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March TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge http://tinkerlab.com/march-tinkersketch-sketchbook-challenge/ http://tinkerlab.com/march-tinkersketch-sketchbook-challenge/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 00:34:38 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=18831 After an awesome month of the TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge on Instagram and Facebook, we’re ready to try another round in the month of March. Over the past month I have received many notes of appreciation that shared how this challenge: Was personally transformative Brought families together Added a meaningful shared art experience in a science-based high […]

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Sketchbook Challenge from TinkerLab.com

After an awesome month of the TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge on Instagram and Facebook, we’re ready to try another round in the month of March.

Over the past month I have received many notes of appreciation that shared how this challenge:

  • Was personally transformative
  • Brought families together
  • Added a meaningful shared art experience in a science-based high school
  • Created an opportunity for child-parent bonding
  • Created a ritual of making that was easy to achieve
  • Created accountability for making
  • Brought creative and supportive people together who enjoyed sharing art together

And this makes me feel great! I firmly believe that we all have creative ideas inside of us, and that drawing skills are not a requisite for creativity. Challenges such as TinkerSketch celebrate processes of creativity and a spirit of trying new things. It’s not the product, but the process that’s important.

So here we go…March madness in the form of a new sketchbook challenge.

March Sketchbook Challenge

Sketchbook challenge from TinkerLab.com

If you’re new to the TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge, this challenge takes place on Instagram, so you’ll want to start by following TinkerLab over there.

If you’re not on Instagram, but like to call Facebook home, join our closed Facebook group, Club TinkerLab, where you can also play.

Sketchbook Challenge from TinkerLab.com

Sketchbook Challenge FAQ’s

Next, you’ll want all the details. Read here for more.

 

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Art for Kids | DIY Stamps http://tinkerlab.com/art-for-kids-diy-stamps/ http://tinkerlab.com/art-for-kids-diy-stamps/#respond Thu, 26 Feb 2015 17:40:35 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=18298 DIY Stamps and art supplies, oh, how I love you! Making our own art supplies has done wonders for helping my kids develop their resourceful muscle. As a result of turning corks into stamps and chopsticks into painting tools, I’m constantly catching my girls rescuing cardboard from the recycling bin and saying things like, “let’s […]

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DIY Stamps and art supplies, oh, how I love you!

Making our own art supplies has done wonders for helping my kids develop their resourceful muscle. As a result of turning corks into stamps and chopsticks into painting tools, I’m constantly catching my girls rescuing cardboard from the recycling bin and saying things like, “let’s turn this into art!”

In that spirit, I pulled this list of DIY stamp ideas together as a resource for all of the busy teachers, enthusiastic recyclers, and crafty parents (or any combination of the above), I hope you’re find this list of upcycled materials helpful and inspiring.

DIY Stamps from Household Materials:

DIY Stamps with everyday materials such as cork, cardboard rolls, and buttons

Sunflower Cardboard Roll Stamp, Crafty Morning

Cardboard Roll Heart Stamp, TinkerLab

Cork Stamps, Happy Hooligans wraps corks into groups, dips them into paint, and then turns the designs into flowers by glueing a button in the middle.

Cosmetic Wedge Stamps, TinkerLab

More DIY Stamps from Household Supplies

DIY Stamps with everyday materials such as cork, cardbo

Potato Masher Stamp, No Time for Flash Cards

Button Stamps, What do we do All Day?

Cardboard Stamp, Housing a Forest

Dice Stamping, Housing a Forest stamps out math problems with dice.

DIY Stamps from Food

DIY Stamps with food such as apples and celery

Potato Stamps, TinkerLab

Apple Stamps, TinkerLab

Lettuce Stamps, Housing a Forest

Celery Stamps, TinkerLab

Stamp with Okra, Curly Birds

Bell Pepper Shamrocks, Crafty Morning

DIY Stamps with Foam Stickers

4 different DIY homemade stamps with foam

Foam Sticker Block Stamp, TinkerLab also draws on the stickers with special rubber stamp pens for a unique and individual stamp effect.

DIY Name Stamp, Mama Papa Bubba

Jar Lid Craft Foam Stamps, No Time for Flash Cards cut out their own unique shapes from large sheets of craft foam

Corks and Craft Foam Stamps, Happiness is Homemade

DIY Homemade stamps with foam

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Kids Science: Flying Tea Bag Hot Air Balloon http://tinkerlab.com/kids-science-flying-tea-bag-hot-air-balloon/ http://tinkerlab.com/kids-science-flying-tea-bag-hot-air-balloon/#comments Sun, 22 Feb 2015 18:25:27 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=17491 My kids are fascinated by things that fly, and today I’m sharing the flying tea bag hot air balloon, a fun hands-on flying activity as part of a new STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) series. More on that in a second…   Flying Tea Bag Experiment This is a quick activity that only requires […]

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My kids are fascinated by things that fly, and today I’m sharing the flying tea bag hot air balloon, a fun hands-on flying activity as part of a new STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) series. More on that in a second…

 

Flying tea bag hotair balloon experiment| Kid Science

Flying Tea Bag Experiment

This is a quick activity that only requires a fire-safe area and a few supplies you most likely have at home. My husband laughed after he saw the video of this activity (below) because he thought our space was most definitely NOT fire-proof. I disagree, of course, but I will leave it to you to find a safe space for this!

Because there’s some trial and error involved in this activity, it can encourage children to test theories and think like a scientist. See the Next Steps section below for ideas on how to extend this activity.

Flying Tea Bag Supplies

  • Tea bag (traditional style)
  • Scissors
  • Dish: Glass or Ceramic
  • Cup
  • Matches or Lighter

A Note on Safety

  • Be sure that children are supervised by adults.
  • Conduct this activity in a fire-safe area. We don’t want anyone setting their house on fire!

Flying teabag hot air balloon set up | Kid Science

Flying Tea Bag Steps

  • Cut the tea bag open.
  • Pour the contents into a cup and save for later.
  • Open the tea bag up and form it into a cylinder.
  • Stand the teabag up on the dish.

Science for kids | The simple flying tea bag exploration with materials you probably already have at home

 

 Activate the Flying Tea Bag

  • Light the top of the cylinder
  • Step back and watch it fly!

Watch our Video to see it in action:

Be sure to follow my YouTube channel to be the first to see more videos like this.

What’s happening?

As you probably know, heat rises! Hot air balloons work at lifting a balloon off the ground by making the air inside the balloon hotter, and ultimately less dense, than the air outside. Similarly, this tea bag flying machine lifts off once the fire burns the tea bag into lightweight ash. The rising hot air current lifts what’s left of the bag and blows it into the air.

Next Steps: Full STEAM Ahead

  • Ask: What do you think will happen if we light the tea bag on fire?
  • Ask: What could have caused the tea bag to lift off the plate?
  • Ask: What is it about the tea bag that makes it lift off the ground?
  • If it doesn’t work the first time, ask, “what could we try differently?” We initially tested this with a similar technique where we twisted the top of the tea bag. It didn’t work! And my 4-year old found it hilarious.
  • Ask: Do you think this would work with a different kind of paper?
  • Gather a collection of paper, form them into cylinders, and see if you can make them fly. Some ideas: Newspaper, copy paper, toilet paper. You’ll probably realize that lighter weight paper works best. Why is that?

More Flying Activities

How to Make a Paper Airplane

DIY Straw Rockets

Exploding Diet Coke and Mentos Experiment

DIY Spin Art Machine (we used the flying mechanism from Snap Circuits for this spin art activity)

Activate Learning with STEAM

If you’ve been a loyal TinkerLab fan (thank you! you mean the world to me.) you’ll know that I’m happiest sharing projects that live at the intersection of disciplines. Too often we’re quick to separate science from writing or math from art, but when we seek out ways to make interdisciplinary connections, learning can be more meaningful and novel discoveries can be made.STEAM Activities | Teabag Hot Air Balloon

In that vein, over the next few weeks I’m joining a creative group of engineers, scientists, educators, and artists to launch a new series called STEAM Power, which celebrates interdisciplinary learning with projects that circle around STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) ideas. This week’s theme is FLY, and you can see the other fly-related ideas here:

Dancing Balloons | Babble Dabble Do

Parachutes | Meri Cherry

Whirly Twirly Flying Birds | Left Brain Craft Brain

Indoor Boomerang | What Do We Do All Day?

Paper airplane | All For The Boys

Rockets | Lemon Lime Adventures

M&M’s Tube Rockets  | Frugal Fun for Boys

STEAM on Pinterest

You might also enjoy following my STEAM + STEM Activities board on Pinterest for more ideas like this.

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Rubber Cement Watercolor Resist Painting Technique http://tinkerlab.com/rubber-cement-watercolor-resist-paint/ http://tinkerlab.com/rubber-cement-watercolor-resist-paint/#respond Sat, 21 Feb 2015 19:08:17 +0000 http://tinkerlab.com/?p=17575 The thought of rubber cement always takes me back to the 6th grade. The smell! I’m not sure that schools offer rubber cement to kids anymore (kudos to them if that’s the case), but us adults can still try this favorite watercolor resist technique in a well-ventilated area. If you art journal or if you’re keeping […]

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The thought of rubber cement always takes me back to the 6th grade. The smell! I’m not sure that schools offer rubber cement to kids anymore (kudos to them if that’s the case), but us adults can still try this favorite watercolor resist technique in a well-ventilated area.

Rubber Cement Watercolor Resist Painting Technique, perfect for art journaling and sketchbooks

If you art journal or if you’re keeping a sketchbook, the rubber cement watercolor resist art technique is a fun way to add some variety and texture to your pages. It’s also a magical way to play with negative space and positive space. As you’ll see in the video, rubber cement will pour off of the dispenser brush in a haphazard way, and it can be hard to control the flow of it. Keep this in mind if you’re thinking of using this technique for detailed work. I’m sure there’s a way around it and encourage you to experiment!

Rubber Cement and Kids

I don’t recommend the use of rubber cement with young children and suggest using your best judgment for yourself and others in a well-ventilated space. If you’re like to try this with kids, an adult could do the rubber cement step and once dry, the child could paint over it.

Supplies

This list includes affiliate links

Rubber Cement Watercolor Resist

I’m dipping my toes into the world of video. Would you let me know what you think? There’s sound, so be sure to turn the volume down if you’re in a quiet place :)

Be sure to follow my YouTube channel to be the first to see more videos like this.

Steps: Rubber Cement Resist

  • Drip rubber cement onto watercolor paper.
  • Wait for rubber cement to dry.
  • Paint right over the rubber cement. It will resist the paint!
  • Once dry, rub the cement away from the paper.

 

Rubber Cement Watercolor Resist Painting Technique

More Art Technique Experiments

Clear Tape Image Transfer

String Painting

Cling Film Art Experiment

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