A Blast from the Past

Gina and Beret are mostly off-duty this week, but we thought we’d remind you of a few past projects to tide you over during what remains of the holidays. Here are projects that are easy, fun, and use common household materials. String of lights? Check. Alka-Seltzer? Check. Put those holiday items to a new use. Continue reading “A Blast from the Past”

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Chromatography for Beginners

chromatography results
Chromatography results                                                                                  ©2013 Beret Olsen

posted by Beret

Ages: almost any

The word chromatography comes from Greek roots:

chroma = color

graphia = writing

Literally, writing with color. In scientific practice, chromatography is a set of processes by which a mixture is separated into its component parts, generally by moving it through paper or gelatin. This can involve some very sophisticated equipment and compounds.

Or not.   Continue reading “Chromatography for Beginners”

Homemade Lava Lamps!

posted by Gina

Age Range: 5 and up.

This is a nifty (dare we say groovy?) experiment that kept Larry the Cat amused for several hours today – ensuring its success with your kiddo.

You Will Need:

New Kitchen! Shiny Kitchen!
Behold Gina’s new apartment!
  • An empty bottle – those schmancy designer water bottles work well (as do empty – erm – adult bottles, as pictured above), but any empty, clear bottle will work just fine
  • Oil
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • Alka-Seltzer tablets

Continue reading “Homemade Lava Lamps!”

Make Your Own Play-Doh

posted by Gina

Who doesn’t love Play-Doh?

There’s something for all ages – from the mucking-about-with-it Pre-K-style to the sculpt-yourself-some-impressive-creations (I’m looking at you, Josie) up-through-6th-Grade-or-so style.

But it dries out.  The colors get muddled.  And you find yourself not wanting to shell out for yet another set of little yellow tubs.

Fear not, my friends – because it is insanely easy to make Play-Doh at home.  Continue reading “Make Your Own Play-Doh”

Dry Ice: Not just for Halloween anymore

©2013 Beret Olsen
Sublimation rocks! A glass of warm water accelerates the process.                                                     (See Bubbles and Fog, below)                                                                          ©2013 Beret Olsen

posted by Beret

Ages: 6 and up. Actually, any age is probably ok, as long as your kid can wear goggles and gloves and responds appropriately to “No!” and “Don’t touch that!”

Included in this post:

Continue reading “Dry Ice: Not just for Halloween anymore”

Camp Beret Begins

Taken from The Navigators site.
Image found on navigators.org.

posted by Beret

Well, it happened.

It happens every year.

The end of the school year approached, mayhem ensued, and now the two best reasons to ignore everything else in the world are in my house 24/7.

It’s looking a little grim for a post until “Camp Beret” goes on a brief hiatus July 8.

Who knows, my esteemed co-conspirator Gina might make a surprise appearance, or I might get lucky and squeeze out a book review before mid-July. But just in case, I’m sending apologies in advance.

Since many of you are experiencing a spike in quality time with your kids as well, might I suggest perusing the archives? Perhaps this is the summer to mummify a chicken, or make a lemon battery, invisible ink, or ice cream in a bag. Maybe you want to try extracting DNA from fruit, or use cabbage juice as a pH indicator. Now’s your chance.     Continue reading “Camp Beret Begins”

Ice Cream in a Bag!

©2013 Beret Olsen
©2013 Beret Olsen

posted by Beret

Ages: Any, though the very young will get tired of shaking long before the ice cream is ready.

My kids never took to Sesame Street, or Mickey Mouse, or the Disney Channel; they didn’t care for children’s movies, either. For the most part, I appreciated that, and enjoyed my Dora-free existence. It did become an issue, however, when I desperately needed to make a phone call, or do my homework, or even just have five minutes of unchaperoned time in the bathroom.

As the girls got older, they got better at amusing themselves from time to time, but sick days remained problematic. I would eventually run out of patience with Barbies (for the moderately ill) and with ladling tea and stroking hair (for the flu victims). Unfortunately, my youngest was frequently fighting some bug or another. I heard myself asking: please, please, wouldn’t you like to watch twenty minutes of television? Sadly, no.

But one day last January, my seven-year-old got a glimpse of the Food Network. Now I have that “be careful what you wish for,” kind of feeling. “That’s not how you do a chiffonade,” Josie told me later, as I chopped mint for the top of a fruit salad. “I think there has been a misunderstanding,” she said another time, catching me frosting her fancy ganache-filled mocha birthday cupcakes with a tub of Betty Crocker vanilla.

What can I possibly make for dinner now, when both girls are glued to Iron Chef Morimoto‘s every move?    Continue reading “Ice Cream in a Bag!”