Its been awhile since we’ve been able to do an Unplugged Project and I kept meaning to think of some great idea for HOT but … nothing! Then I realized that even though we didn’t do anything for the project we did do a few things that happen to fit with it. We LOVE backyard campfires and we had 2 this past week complete with smores! We have decided to make them an “after Jamie is asleep” activity since, at age 2, she is into everything and it’s nice to do something fun with just the boys! Last year she joined us for most of our fires and either sat in my lap or we brought out the portable crib, but she will be ready at 3 next summer for her first smores making.
Another HOT thing we did was pick out a wood burning stove insert to replace the super ugly old non-functioning one that came with the house. We happen to have a decent supply of dead trees for John to cut down and with fuel prices high we thought this would be a good move (as long as my asthma isn’t set off by it too much). The stove we’re getting is really nice looking with 3 glass panels so we’ll be able to enjoy the view and it makes me excited to think of winter. Here is a big stretch for the HOT theme: I did some baking! Just brownies and chocolate zucchini cake (I am growing zucchinis so I’m planning on doing a lot more baking with them).
Anyway, maybe next week (or the one after that) we’ll actually do the project!
At first I had no idea what we’d do for the “SKY” themed Unplugged Project this week and then I thought that the boys were so into planes since the model demo and big airshow we went to last month so we decided on paper airplanes. I downloaded some plane plans online but the standard one was the only one we ended up making (oh and one of the whirly helicopter ones too). Ethan wanted to cut out his own plane designs and made some that way also. I didn’t end up with many pictures of our project so I was VERY excited when we had a gorgeous sunset a few nights after. We actually get lots of nice sunsets in our front yard but this one was extra nice.
I almost forgot to post today for the Unplugged Project and when I saw her post I decided to copy her fairy garden idea a bit instead of just writing about our garden. My boys are not really the fairy type but they have recently been watching the Smurfs so I got out my old Smurf figures and we made a Smurf garden. When I was a kid my friend and I used to play outside with our Smurfs and make things out of twigs and rocks for them. Today we planted some mint I was rooting, the grass head Ben had grown at school and some tiny daisy plants I was planning on potting. The boys were busy on the porch for a long time and made pebble paths and then got a planter of marigolds to expand into. Our regular garden isn’t so exciting (not yet anyway since we have nothing to pick from it this early). We planted some sunflowers, squash, cilantro, gourds, carrots, radishes, cucumbers and tomatoes. I don’t know if we will get all those things though, things seem to be growing slowly but hopefully I am wrong. Its a weedy garden this summer, I didn’t add all of my leaf mulch since I started so many seeds and that let the weeds sprout too (I think next summer I’ll do things differently). I’ll post more once we start picking. Below the boys are protecting the garden from Henrietta (she likes to dig in it for bugs but she digs up plants too).
This weeks Unplugged Project is OLD and I imagine there will be a huge range of projects made with such a theme. I decided to use this as an opportunity to use up some VERY old sculpey clay. John and I used this is college and I know we haven’t bought any since but for some reason we still have a pretty huge supply of it. Ethan has been wearing this necklace that makes him look like a little surfer and so I thought the boys might like to make beads. I of course was wrong (no beads) but they did love the sculpey and made a bunch of little dinos. This kept them busy for a long time and I even left the 2 of them alone at the table for maybe 1/2 an hour after I got tired of it. Ethan (the one who actually knows how to wear a shirt) really did well with it and his dinos came out really cute. He even got the sculpey out the next day and made 4 more on his own. Ben only made 1 dino that we baked but he just had lots of fun playing with the sculpey (he made some dinos that he then “turned to fossils” and luckily he didn’t mind when I didn’t bake the remains).
I was very excited when I read that this week’s Unplugged Project was PLASTIC because I knew I wouldn’t have to buy anything (not that I have for any of the projects so far actually) and there are so many great things to do with plastic items you would otherwise recycle or have to throw out. I mentioned in the “Metal” project post about how I save odds and ends of things that I think we could use for some kind of project. You’d be surprised at the neat caps that different products you use have, like my Ban deodorant has these see through green plastic caps that I picture the kids using to make eyes for a 3-D alien someday! I have a collection of caps from our seltzer bottles, OJ and 1/2&1/2 containers, and various other products we use and I was planning on giving them to the boys for the project this week but we didn’t get to it yet. I did get a picture of Jamie with a bath toy she loves: the cup-like caps to my Skintimate shaving cream. We also made a seltzer bottle terrarium (mostly done by me though). Jamie helped me add the dirt and plant some cilantro we grew from seeds. We’re planting the rest in a pot and will do a little experiment to see which grows better.
Although its pretty straight forward here are my bottle terrarium tips:
- leave the label on at first and use it as a guide to cut the bottle more evenly
- poke a hole in the bottle with a razor to get started but then cut it apart with a pair of scissors to get a cut thats cleaner, more straight and with edges that are less sharp
- cut some slits all around the top part so that it fits more easily into the bottom
- poke or drill some drainage holes in the bottom or else things will be way too wet
When I read that this week’s Unplugged Project was “sticky” I wish I had taken a picture of the roll of scotch tape that Jamie had gotten a hold of and turned into a big sticky tangled mess the day before! I decided to make some glue paint with the kids but they just wanted regular paint so we did that and as soon as they were done we made some goop instead (not as sticky as I would have thought but FUN, my other option was going to be homemade glue and that would have been very sticky). I had gotten a recipe online and changed it slightly, here is what we did:
At some point Ben lost his shirt, he has that problem daily!
Well it finally worked out for us to do an Unplugged Project again. When I first saw this week was metal I was stumped but then I thought about how the boys have been so into robots lately and how I have been saving little odds and ends that looked neat instead of throwing them out. I gathered a container of parts for Ethan and set him loose with scissors and glue and a heavy piece of old mat board. He wanted some help with parts like when he wanted one of the arms to move and I had to poke some holes so he could attach whatever those brass fasteners are called. Other things used were a metallic frozen pizza thing (that you use if you cook it in the microwave), the inside gears and metal strips from my empty Advair inhalers, the metal top to the cinnamon rolls frosting container, a googly eye and an old antenna part. The red stick on jewel is supposed to be a light up eye. I was originally going to give him some foil but I decided to keep it a project that used all old junk. The only new items were the glue and the one goggly eye (even the mat board had been used on the other side and I pulled the red jewel off an old gift bag). The kids are fighting some nasty stomach thing off and on for over a week now and we’re going to head to the Dr tomorrow morning to find out if its something more serious than a virus so I just did this with Ethan today since he is currently doing okay. Ben has been in our bed throwing up and having the d-word since 5:45am! UGH!
What a fitting unplugged project for us this week! We have had our baby chicks for almost a week now and they are certainly a project but we’ve had quite a few other bird encounters as well.
If you haven’t been at our blog to see the chick posts you really should scroll on down and take a peak at our cute little babies! Yesterday they turned one week old and Ethan noticed that their tail feathers are just starting to poke out. I couldn’t get a good picture of the new feathers and, even though they are cute chicks, their butts aren’t their best feature.
On Saturday we went to John’s work for an Earth Day celebration where we saw a raptor show. We gave Ethan the camera to take pictures and he got some good ones. While there Ethan and Ben each built another Blue Bird house to bring home. We didn’t bring home the $15 stuffed eagle pictured below next to the real one and that made for a sad Ethan (for a few minutes anyway).
We also have been busy watching a Robin build a nest in the bird feeder outside our dining room. She has laid 3 eggs now and every time we sit down for a meal we watch her as she sits on them. She is pretty happy we have a suet feeder right next to her but I know the other birds would like their seed feeder back as soon as she is done with her nest. Further down our porch we have some Phoebes nesting, they come back every year. The boys are learning to tell the difference between a lot of birds.
So we didn’t actually make anything bird related specifically for this project but we did, out of coincidence, have a very birdy week just the same!
I had intentions of doing the last 2 unplugged projects but the kids don’t always like my suggestions and even passed up “want to find rocks and paint them?”. This week is FOOD so there was no way for them to turn down that!
The first thing that came to mind was fruit (we’re having a fruity week as I’ve already posted about). I got out grapes and cut up a variety of fruit: mango, cantaloupe, bananas, apple, and kiwi for us to make fruit shish kabobs. The boys are big enough to use the sharp wooden skewers but Jamie isn’t so I gave the boys this snack during her nap time. Its just important to remind the kids that the sharp end is for stabbing the fruit and that they need to hold that end when they’re ready to eat it so they don’t stab themselves!
I figured this was a good time to experiment with the GREEN smoothies I have been thinking about. I made them for the kids without telling them that the green was from spinach (I’ll fill them in on that once they’re hooked on them and won’t care). I put some OJ in the blender and then filled it loosely with spinach. I blended that up a bit and then added 2 bananas and some cantaloupe and mango I had already cut up. I added some brown sugar because I was nervous it wouldn’t be sweet enough and then I added about 3 cups of chopped ice. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it! I poured the boys some in their dino cups and said it was a green dino smoothie. Ben loved it and drank all of his but Ethan didn’t like it (although he tried it twice to be nice). Jamie also loved it. John didn’t think it was bad but didn’t want any. I’ll have to try out different combos but for my first attempt I think it was great that 3 of us gave it a thumbs up.
*Update: today I made a purple green smoothie and all 3 kids liked it! I used a lot of spinach, OJ and frozen blueberries with 1 banana, 1 mango and some frozen strawberries. It was a dark purple since I added so many blueberries, otherwise I’m sure it would have been a gross brown.
Some other food ideas I thought about doing:
- vegetable/fruit prints: I used to cut up interesting ingredients and give my art students paint to make prints. They would make things like scenes or just colorful abstracts. I did this with my own kids a few times but not in a while. We have old celery and some rubbery broccoli in the fridge and thats a great use for it so if the kids want to we can do it this week.
- jello mold with fruit crossed my mind but I was too lazy this week
- decorate your own cupcakes was another idea but my kids would have just eaten the frosting
- make your own pizzas
I’ll follow Piseco’s lead and post what we did early this week. For our Unplugged Project I decided to do something with Ethan that I’d done before but never with the kids: eggs dyed with onion skins. I have no foreseeable need for onions so when I was in the produce isle I took a bag and filled it with all the loose onion skins from the bins. I got a lot from the red onions but also the yellow/white skins. Next I hardboiled some eggs with my FAVORITE method, my Oster egg cooker (also does poached eggs). This is the only way I’ve found always comes out perfect for me with nice easily peelable eggs. BUT then I realized that to do the onion skin method I needed to BOIL the eggs wrapped in the onion skins (it was a while ago when I last made these eggs).
John was conveniently throwing out a holey pair of socks so I cut those to wrap up the eggs covered in onion skins. Ethan and I put some ivy leaves on some of the eggs before covering with the onion skins. I used Jamie’s hair elastics to hold them closed, but most of them came undone when they got boiled. Luckily they still came out pretty good but its hard to see the ivy leaves. I do remember them coming out better when I’d made them as a kid. This was fun and there are other natural ways to dye eggs, but I’m really looking forward to the bright colors we’ll do tonight. I bought 5 dozen eggs to color this Easter and we will use the traditional egg color kit with the kids for the rest! It makes me so excited to think of when my future chickens start laying eggs. Next Easter I’ll have some wonderful blue/green eggs ready made from my birds!