Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Ball that Defied Gravity ... or Did it? (Science Experiment)

Even very young kids understand gravity. So when a science experiment seems to defy it, they're mega impressed.

This fun activity wowed my boys. Okay, okay, okay … it kinda wowed me too.

What You Need
Ping-pong ball
2 unsharpened pencils
deck of cards
small book

What to DoKids should separate the deck of cards into two equal piles. Put the piles side-by-side so they're touching.

Take the pencils (eraser end)  and place them on the card piles. The tips of the erasers should almost be touching and as they angle down to the table top, should open up to an inch or slightly larger. Note: We used round pencils. I'd recommend you use traditional pencils (is that a hexagon?).

Ask your child to predict what will happen when the ball is placed at the top (eraser side) of the pencils. They'll tell you the ball will roll down the pencils. They're right.

Now separate the decks of cards and flip the pencils around, so the eraser tips are resting on the table and they open up so the unsharpened ends are resting on the card decks.

Place a small book over the eraser ends to weight them down and hold them in place.
Ask your child what will happen when you place the ball about an inch above the erasers. Will it roll back down and hit the book? They'll say yes, because gravity pulls things down, right?

Now put the ball in place and be astonished. The ball appears to roll up the pencil ramp, defying gravity.

How it Works
While it seems as if the ball defies gravity, truthfully, it doesn't. As the pencils spread apart, the ball slips between them, being pulled by the force of gravity toward the table. It just so happens that the pencils are angled up and so that's the direction the ball rolls as it drops down.

This great activity came from a truly phenomenal book. Smart Science Tricks is packed with simple experiments that seem like magic and use materials you most likely have around your house already. Check it out!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Welcome to the party!

Looking for inspiration? Look no further!

Here are some of my favorite ideas from last week's link-up. Enjoy!

Green Eggs and Ham Day at Finding the Teachable Moments

The After School Linky is cohosted by
Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational

We would love to have you link up your School-Age Post (Ages 5 and up) about your learning week after school including Crafts, Activities, Playtime and Adventures that you are doing to enrich your children's lives after their day at school, home school, or on the weekend!

When linking up, please take a moment to comment on at least one post linked up before yours and grab our after school button to include a link on your post or site! By linking up, you're giving permission for us to share on our After School Pinterest Board and feature an image on our After School Party in the upcoming weeks!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Roll and Make Whole (Adding Fractions Board Game)

My son's fourth grade class has been revisiting fractions lately. I thought I'd test my son's knowledge a bit and make a fun board game.

Roll and Make Whole practices two skills:
1. Reducing fractions to their lowest terms (i.e. simplifying fractions).
2. Adding fractions (sometimes with different denominators) to equal one.

It didn't take long for my son to catch on to our game and even though I won (which almost NEVER EVER happens) he was a good sport and hours later was still talking about the fractions.

Supplies
3 pages heavyweight cardstock
Different game pieces, one for each player (we used oversized buttons in two different colors)
Scissors (to cut out the die)
Hot glue (to hold the die together)
Tape (to tape the game board together)

How to Play
All players put their game pieces on the start square. The youngest player rolls first. Whatever fraction is revealed on the top of the die when it stops moving, is one part of a fraction addition problem. For example, if the player rolls a 2/5, they must ask themselves, "what fraction do I need to add to 2/5 to make one whole?"

They'll then look at the board and find the first occurrence of either 3/5 or another fraction that can be reduced to 3/5 (e.g. 6/10 or 9/15).

Their game piece will then be moved to that square. If a player rolls LOSE A TURN, their game piece remains in its place and an opponent gets to roll and move. If a player rolls ROLL AGAIN, they must do as the die says.

When players near the end, they must roll 2/3 to win, as 3/9 is the final square on the board. The first player to arrive at the finish wins.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Indoor Frisbee Golf (with a paper plate frisbee)

It's cold here. Crazy cold. Every parent I know is praying that school isn't delayed or cancelled because of sub-zero temperatures. All the kids are going crazy and the adults have come down with cabin fever, too. To keep the boys busy on a day off of school, I cooked up a fun craft and game.

First, each boy made an indoor frisbee out of two paper plates. This brilliant idea came from Crafts by Amanda. All you need is clear packing tape, two paper plates, scissors, and markers/paints. The steps are simple.

Paper Plate Frisbee Instructions
1. Put the plates on the table as if you'd eat off them. Cover each with clear plastic packing tape. This will give the frisbee some heft and durability.

2. Trim off excess tape.

3. Flip over and decorate the perimeter edge of each plate with markers or paint, keeping the center plain.

4. Cut a hole in the center of each plate that is the same size and centered in the middle.

5. Put the plates together so they resemble a flying saucer. Add a strip of packing tape along the edge. Cut in to the tape on each side about every inch, creating a fringed look.

6. Carefully, push the fringe or tabs of tape down on each side so the frisbee halves are stuck together. Cover the remainder of the plate, leaving the hole in the middle open, if you'd like.

7. With a flick of the wrist, let your frisbee fly!

Playing Indoor Frisbee Golf
Setting up the coarse is simple. You can use boxes or baskets, or make golf posts like I did. Our "holes" were really just a big piece of corrugated  cardboard with an empty paper towel cardboard roll and wrapping paper tube hot glued in the middle. I made two and moved them so the boys could play a total of 6 "holes."

I put the post holes in unexpected places that had them throwing their frisbees up and down stairs, into the bathroom, and around the kitchen island. Since the frisbees are fairly light, I wasn't worried about them damaging any breakable home dÃ©cor. That being said, if you have a priceless Ming vase, move it!

I kept score for the boys by making tally marks on a basic scorecard. The player with the fewest tosses wins. (Score keeping is a great way to sneak in some math!)

My boys had a BLAST with this!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Welcome to the party!

Happy President's Day!

Here are some of the phenomenal ideas shared last week.

Chinese Zodiac Animals in LEGO at Planet Smarty Pants

DIY Fire Extinguisher at The Science Kiddo

Eye Spy Grammar at Language Arts Classroom

Lego Fraction Games for Kids at JDaniel4's Mom

My Chinese New Year Reading Comprehension Fan at Enchanted Homeschooling Mom

The After School Linky is cohosted by
Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational

We would love to have you link up your School-Age Post (Ages 5 and up) about your learning week after school including Crafts, Activities, Playtime and Adventures that you are doing to enrich your children's lives after their day at school, home school, or on the weekend!

When linking up, please take a moment to comment on at least one post linked up before yours and grab our after school button to include a link on your post or site! By linking up, you're giving permission for us to share on our After School Pinterest Board and feature an image on our After School Party in the upcoming weeks!

Friday, February 13, 2015

4 Ways to Make President's Day Cool for Kids

In case you're new here, I'll let you in on something: my oldest son loves history. Whenever I can take his interest and expand on it, I do. Here are some of the fun ways we've brought the presidential history to life.

Whether you kid is a gamer, crafter, or bookworm, at least one of these activities will help make President's Day a whole lot more fun!

This game is played like Sequence, but with some of the most popular of our U.S. presidents. Download the game cards and board free. Add some poker chips as game pieces and you're ready for a blast through our country's presidential history.

If you can find a great deal on a bag of cotton balls, this craft is for you. Simply tailor a brown paper bag to fit your child's head and start gluing! It's astonishing how true-to-life this looks.

Read about, record facts, and make a replica hat like Honest Abe's - only out of black posterboard and a ribbon, that is. Kids love hats and this one will fill their head with loads of history on one of the country's most beloved presidents.

A little velcro and a jumbo paint stir stick make learning the historical facts of two of our greatest presidents (Lincoln and Washington) a game. Can kids guess which president did what and put the milestones of their lives in chronological order? There's only one way to find out!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What Color Will Win? (Spin & Graph Activity)

My youngest son is really working on phonics but listening for beginning sounds still needs practice. This activity might not seem like a phonics activity but, believe it or not, it is.

What You Need
Small toy spinning top (ours came from the Dollar Tree)
Jelly roll (or other baking pan with sides) or a flat,shallow tub/box
2-page PDF of colors and graphing sheet
Paper
Marker or crayon

Prep

Play
Have you child spin the top and watch to see where its point lands on the color page. If your top doesn't move around much, try spinning it from high above the pan.

Wherever the top lands, your child must color in a box at the bottom of the graph. Here's where the phonics come in. When it lands, it's up to them to figure out which column to color - they do this by listening to the beginning sound and looking for the representative first letter in the color words on the graph.

I purposely did not put the words on the color page and make the words on the graph colored. In doing so, this activity is not just about learning colors and some simple math skills, it's also an exercise in phonics.

My 5-year-old had so much fun with this that his 9-year-old brother wanted to do it when he was done!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Welcome to the party!

Last week has packed with great activities and ideas.
Here are some of my favorites (in case you missed them).

Valentine's Day Pop Up Cards at Little Fingers Big Art

Build an Air Fort at Inspiration Laboratories

Hands and Hearts: An Andy Warhol Art Project at Rubber Boots and Elf Shoes

Light Up Circuit Valentines at Left Brain Craft Brain

The After School Linky is cohosted by
Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational

We would love to have you link up your School-Age Post (Ages 5 and up) about your learning week after school including Crafts, Activities, Playtime and Adventures that you are doing to enrich your children's lives after their day at school, home school, or on the weekend!

When linking up, please take a moment to comment on at least one post linked up before yours and grab our after school button to include a link on your post or site! By linking up, you're giving permission for us to share on our After School Pinterest Board and feature an image on our After School Party in the upcoming weeks!