A Motley Valentine’s Greeting for You

From National Geographic.com, where they have lots of great photos of hearts.
From National Geographic.com, where they have lots of incredible photographs of hearts.

posted by Beret

With age (and wisdom?) I have discovered why so many classroom activities from days of yore revolved around holidays and seasons. For teachers, parents, after-school program directors–anyone who has to look regularly into the eyes of expectant children, anyone who has to fill the time with something, anything to avoid mutiny–the creative well runs only so deep. Sooner or later, we look at the calendar and gasp. “February already! February? What can we do in February? Let’s see: winter, Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, African American History Month. Boom.”

These were desperate times. After a prolonged absence on LobeStir, I wanted to come back with a giant, fabulous valentine full of amazing projects and ideas for you, dear reader. Only I didn’t have any. Or time. And in my harried search for anything interesting and loosely tied to Valentine’s Day, I discovered that my spouse may be right–this is a distinctly lesser holiday developed primarily to sell greeting cards and candy.

I did find out how to float the letters off of m&ms and Skittles, however.

From http://www.stevespanglerscience.com.
From http://www.stevespanglerscience.com.

It’s not rocket science, but it is kind of cool, in a five-second minor distraction sort of way. What you do:

  1. Stick the candy in a glass of water.
  2. Twiddle thumbs for 10 or 20 minutes.
  3. Check to see if the letters have floated off yet.

Here’s the deal: the edible ink they use to print on the candy is not water soluble. As the candy shell underneath dissolves, the letters separate and float in the water. More details–as well as a few other moderately amusing candy experiments–can be found on Steve Spangler’s blog.

I kept wandering around on the internet, ever hopeful.

I found a site that shows how to make a model of a heart pump out of a mason jar, two straws and a balloon.

from Home Science Tools.
from Home Science Tools.

And according to the Texas Heart Organization, you can also make a stethoscope from a two-liter bottle and a toilet paper tube. I’m dubious, but I’ll try it.

I was then half-heartedly looking for invisible ink, as I have heard that you can make a solution from 1 part baking soda and 1 part water. If you write with it on white paper with a Q-tip and let it dry, you can then make it visible by squeezing lemon juice onto it. Gina posted about invisible ink already, but I thought I might add to our repertoire.

But in the midst of my search, I found something way more exciting: a website entitled WonderHowTo. Voilà. How to peel eggs with a glass of water. What to do with coffee filters besides filter coffee. How to hack like a pro. It has everything but Valentine’s activities, unless you count how to make Anti-Valentine’s Day treats:

From wonderhowto.com
From wonderhowto.com

My favorite posts are from Yumi Sakugawa (mysecretyumiverse.wonderhowto.com). She illustrates everything with her perfectly adorable drawings:

Yumi Sakagawa
Yumi Sakagawa

She describes nine unusual uses for a hair dryer! (Including adjusting your glasses, setting icing on a cake, and removing price stickers. She explains how to unclog a toilet without a plunger; how to stay awake when you’re tired (all of the obvious plus accupressure points, sniffing peppermint oil, and embarrassing breathing techniques); how to make sake; how to make a wheat paste poster.

What else might you need to know, really? And did I mention the adorable drawings?

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Author: Beret Olsen

Beret Olsen is a writer, teacher, and photo editor for 100 Word Story. She loves toast, the Oxford comma, and all your comments and questions.

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