Check out these other local resources dedicated to family fun, lifelong learning, health & wellness, and community enhancement!
(* designates 2013 OWL supporter)
Catholic Charities (Childcare Resource & Referral)
La Leche League
Howe Caverns (Cobleskill)
Animal Adventure Park (Harpursville)
Discovery Center of the Southern Tier (Binghamton)
Wonder Works (Syracuse)
Corning Museum of Glass (Corning)
Are you planning to travel this holiday season? Have you been hearing about the new security measures? Are you wondering how to explain this to your child? Try speaking to your child about surprises and secrets.
Surprises are made better by keeping secrets. Surprise birthdays are extra special when you believe everyone has forgotten your birthday, only to find out your closest friends and relatives have been planning and plotting behind your back. These secrets that people keep can make ordinary events extra special.
Those of you who came to Science Saturday last month, learned about keeping secrets using disappearing ink. Magic is based on keeping a secret. Have you tried card tricks with your children? Fan out a deck of cards and ask your child to pick a card. Tell them to remember their card. Remind them to think about what color, shape and number a card is. Ask your child to put the card back into the deck.
Shuffle or have your child “cut” the deck. Please note that this might be a time to familiarize your child with the different meanings of words. I am sure you don’t want your child taking a pair of scissors to your playing cards.
You will magically go through the deck to find their card. Stop reading aloud if you are reading with your child. Here is the secret. At this point if your child is around the age of 4-7, they will not pay attention to where the card goes. You can know where the card is in one of two ways, when your child puts the card in the middle of the deck, immediately cut the deck so that the card that your child has selected is immediately on top OR take a quick peek at the selected card as you are cutting the deck to shuffle. Getting the card to the top allows for more advanced tricks. Now you can remove the card –I like to throw the card on the floor - it is easy to do quickly and it adds to the shock. I have been able to get the card on the chair where one of my boys is sitting. It is great to see their faces when they find out they have been sitting on their card.
Sometimes surprises and secrets are not good. This is when secrets and surprises are meant to hurt others. These types of secrets have to be stopped. That is why they have “secret stoppers” in airports. Some people keep secrets inside their bodies or clothes. Explaining to children how you can hide a secret in your clothes is easy. It can be fun to make a game of “Guess what’s in my pocket”. To get children to understand how we can find out what is inside your body is a little more difficult. Try this activity.
You will need:
A balloon that is light in color but not too light works best. Take a balloon and insert a small object. A marble, lego, or even a crayon can work well. Be careful around toddlers and infants and be sure to clean up any rubber balloon pieces as well. Blow up the balloon and show the balloon to your child. The balloon should look opaque when held down, but when held up to the light we can see the shapes of what is inside the balloon. Explain to your child that this is what the “secret stoppers” at the airports are doing.
Be sure to let us know what worked well in your balloons. Share with us your story of surprises. Good Luck and Happy Holidays.
Children ask many questions in their attempt to understand their world. Helping them to understand the world through words alone can be very difficult as the language of adults is often lost on children and their limited point of reference. Hands on activities are very beneficial in helping children understand. The following activities are designed to help children understand how difficult it will be to clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Oil Spill: What does that mean?
Why do we need oil?
Oil is used to make fuel for our cars, trucks and airplanes, heat our homes, make plastic and even to make medicines.
Where does oil come from?
Oil was created from the remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago. When these things died, they were covered by sand and dirt and over time they changed into what is called crude oil. The oil is found underground. Holes are drilled into the ground and pipes placed in the hole bring the oil to the surface to be collected.
What is an oil spill?
When oil is being collected, sometimes parts break and the oil leaks into the ground or water. These leaks are called oil spills. When oil is spilled in water, it rises to the surface of the water and quickly spreads out into a very thin layer called a slick.
How can we stop an oil slick from getting bigger?
Oil containment booms are long structures that float on top of the water are used to prevent oil slicks from spreading. View photos of oil containment booms by following this link: http://mpccontainment.com/oil-booms.shtml?gclid=CNCnp8iLsqMCFR9UgwodCwRW3w
Step 1: Place a drinking straw in the water at the edge of the oil slick. If you have a large container, you may want to hook several straws together by pinching the end of one straw and inserting it into the end of another. What happens to the oil slick?
Step 2: Gently tip the container to create waves. Now what happens to the oil slick?
Why are oil spills a problem?
Spilled oil is very difficult to clean up and is very harmful to plants and animals.
Step 1: Think of some types of water birds, for example, ducks and seagulls.
Step 2: Think about what feathers do for birds. Feathers keep birds warm, make them waterproof and help them fly.
How can an oil spill be cleaned up?
Step 1: Select clean-up materials to test such as paper towels, cotton balls, grass, kitty litter, spoons, cornstarch and sand.
Step 2: Try to clean up the oil with each of the test materials. Does anything change? How well does each material work? How do you know how well it worked?
How much oil spilled in the recent BP oil spill?
It is hard to know exactly how much oil spilled and there are many different guesses as to how much spilled. What is certain is that that it is a lot. To see what it would look like if the spill happened by your home, go to the link www.paulrademacher.com/oilspill and enter your zip code. How long would it take to drive from end to end of the spill? How many times could you watch your favorite video in that amount of time?
Description: This painting activity trades the traditional paintbrush for things found in nature.
Begin this activity with a nature walk. Your walk can be as simple as spending a few minutes in your backyard or you might take a longer walk around your neighborhood. If you want to expand this project into a lesson over several days, you might want to plan a destination for your nature walk and pack a picnic.
Now it is time to set up your painting area. Protect your work area with newspaper, plastic tablecloths or old sheets. Smocks and old paint clothes are recommended especially for younger children. Plastic lids like those found on raisin, yogurt and sour cream containers make great paint palettes.
Younger children will be done at this point. For older children, once they have experimented with "paintbrushes," they may wish to create a representational picture using a variety of tools. Expand the activity even farther by experimenting with making your own natural paints (www.bl.uk/learning/artimages/sacredbook/object/paint/makingpaint.html).
Julia thought her picture looked like animal tracks.
* Note: The rolling pebble technique is a good choice for children with developmental delays. It requires little technical skill and due to the abstract nature of the project, the result is successful every time.