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!”

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Special Needs, Spectacular Reads

posted by Gina

One of my greatest challenges as an elementary school teacher was finding the kind of read-aloud that appealed to my entire class and motivated my students to read the same or similar books on their own. Skill levels in my classroom ran the gamut from a student who was reading high school books to another who didn’t know the alphabet.  Interest in school ranged from the reluctant student I saw maybe once a week to the always-there, always-early.  I had stereotypes on both ends of the gender spectrum, and those who defied every one.

In addition, the constant question: where to find the protagonists who reflect my students?  Where can my students who struggle find themselves as the hero?  Continue reading “Special Needs, Spectacular Reads”

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”

Book Recommendation: Scribbleboy

posted by Gina

Scribbleations, new kid! Welcome to the neighborhood.

My name is Ziggy Fuzz.  I’m the president of a special fan club, and I’d like you – yes you, new kid around here – to join.  The full title of the fan club is the Scribbleboy Fan Club.  You’re probably wondering who Scribbleboy is.  So, let me explain.  If you look around the neighborhood you’ll see lots of graffiti.  Most of it is totally ugly and boring, but there are some pieces that are not totally ugly and boring at all.  That’s because they’re not graffiti – they’re Scribbles.  Scribbles scribbled by the most scribbledacious and scribblefabulous scribbler in Scribbledom.  His name – SCRIBBLEBOY.  Continue reading “Book Recommendation: Scribbleboy”

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”

All hail Wendy Mass

©2013 Beret Olsen
©2013 Beret Olsen

posted by Beret

Ages: 8 and up

A couple of years ago, I received an unusual text.

“GO GET THE CANDYMAKERS AND READ IT ALOUD TO YOUR KIDS,” it advised.

It seemed rather urgent, so though the book wasn’t yet out in paperback–and weighed in at a hefty 453 pages–I “Amazon-ed” that thing and got started immediately.

Now comes the hard part:  explaining why you should get the book, too.

Unlike my friend Gina, I’m not one of those people who regularly seeks out new youth literature. I’ve been burned too many times by inane codswallop like the Rainbow Magic Fairy books. If I could remember who introduced them to my kids, I might even unfriend them, since over the course of the following ten months, I was forced to read at least 42 of those.        Continue reading “All hail Wendy Mass”

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”