Hohokam Shell Etching

overview-iiIndigenous Peoples’ Day approacheth–and that’s not the only reason I’ve been thinking about the native peoples of the United States recently. The Dakota pipeline controversy erupting through the midwest is a reminder that a long and bitter legacy of disrespect continues.

I chose this particular activity because it was from the Hohokam people–of whom I’ve never heard, not even once. Since the Hohokam lived in what is now central and southern Arizona from around 200 to 1400, let’s hope I would have studied them had I grown up in the Southwest. Note: I include a pathetically brief overview at the end of this activity.

Hohokam people gathered shells from the nearby Gulf of California, and were highly skilled shell artisans. In particular, they are known for etching shells, and are probably the first people to ever etch objects of any sort, despite Wikipedia’s apparent ignorance on the matter. Traditionally, they would cover a shell with a protective substance—sap or pitch from the trees—and use a tool to scratch off the design they wished to create: animals such as lizards and frogs, or geometric patterns, for example. These shells were then soaked in an acidic liquid (probably fermented cactus juice) to eat away the exposed areas. Finally, the pitch was scraped off. The shells might be painted as a finishing touch. You can read more here.

 

From Ancient Lost Treasures.
From Ancient Lost Treasures.

To recreate their craft, we will use supplies more readily available these days, and our process will actually work in the reverse. Instead of etching the design into the shell, our design will be in relief, while the rest of the shell is worn away by the acid.  Continue reading “Hohokam Shell Etching”

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Glowing Bubbles and the Great Black Light Smartphone Hack

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posted by Beret

A few weeks ago, I was on a plane watching an endless parade of Buzzfeed clips. My  hour of debauchery was made possible by Virgin Airlines, who gave my kids an entertainment IV, and gave me an adult beverage and my own remote. That doesn’t happen often at home.

In between raw eggs dancing on a speaker and men trying to walk in high heels, I learned about glow in the dark bubbles.

As some of you may have noticed, I like things that glow. Last fall’s obsession was glow-in-the-dark pumpkin bowling. Very festive.

But this time I was dubious. Glow in the dark bubbles sounded great, but the Buzzfeed hipsters made them using highlighters–which don’t glow in the dark. This wasn’t going to work without a black light. LobeStir to the rescue!     Continue reading “Glowing Bubbles and the Great Black Light Smartphone Hack”

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. Continue reading “A Motley Valentine’s Greeting for You”

Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid: Part II

posted by Beret.

Ring of Kool.
Ring of Kool.

Several weeks ago, I posted a few project ideas for that strangely bewitching chemical tonic called Kool-Aid. As my friend Peggy explained to her uninitiated daughter: “Kool-Aid is a hair dye that people drink sometimes.” Cheers to that.

For your enjoyment and edification, here is Part Two. Included are:

  • Better-smelling volcanic eruptions
  • Moon Sand

There were supposed to be a bunch of other fabulous projects included in this post, which I will explain in my sob story at the end. On to the successful projects!

Continue reading “Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid: Part II”

Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid: Part I

posted by Beret.

koolaid

I never really cared for the taste of Kool-Aid, but oh, how I have always loved the smell of it. That aroma smacks of childhood, warm days, and cheerfully destructive running pitchers:

From www.galleryhip.com
From http://www.galleryhip.com

I don’t really want my kids drinking Kool-Aid, either; luckily, there are plenty of other things to do with it. For the first installment of this two-part series, I hereby present the following projects: scented play dough, hair dye, tie-dye, and slime. Continue reading “Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid: Part I”

Color Explosions

posted by Gina

Welcome back, everyone!

I bring to you one of those experiments that can be a brief moment-of-awesome or a longer predict-and-experiment-and-try-again hootennany. The amazing MILK COLOR EXPLOSION.

Continue reading “Color Explosions”

Soap Clouds

posted by Gina

Were you cloud-inspired by Beret’s DIY Clouds? Have you been wishing there were more sort-of-cloud-related activities to do with your kiddos? Have you ever wondered what happens when you put Ivory Soap in a microwave? I am here to help.

IMG_5347
This. This is what happens.

Continue reading “Soap Clouds”