Tag Archives: science

Project: Sensory Bottles

Sensory bottles are plastic bottles filled with different items designed to stimulate a child’s curiosity. I was inspired by Pink Bekah’s pretty sensory bottles, and decided to try making some myself.

Sensory bottles can be either wet or dry. For this project, I wanted to do the wet variation. On Saturday evening I bought the supplies for the “liquids”. Baby oil was the recommended medium, but I thought it would be interesting to try with liquid hand soap (it was on sale, and the colours were pretty!). The hair gel was not used this time – I’ll be using in the next project.

Liquids for the sensory bottles

Liquids for the sensory bottles

I brought out some craft supplies I had at home: glow in the dark stars, crystal beads, colour links, foil patterns and glitter!

sensory bottle glitter

Glow in the dark stars and bling-bling

C did the first bottle – she chose the yellow liquid hand soap as the medium, with glow in the dark stars and star foil. It turned out really pretty!

1st sensory bottle with liquid hand soap

1st sensory bottle with liquid hand soap

We tried to see if the glow in the dark stars would shine brightly in the dark. Unfortunately the glow was rather faint, and I couldn’t capture it on camera. It looked really nice using the camera flash though.

In the dark

In the dark

G joined in the fun and filled the second bottle with stars and beads. Of course, the best part of filling the bottle is being able to empty it later (some on the table, mostly on the floor!).

Part of the fun is pouring it all out

Part of the fun is pouring it all out

A combined effort by both kids to add the baby oil. They really enjoyed this part!

Squeezing the baby oil in!

Squeezing the baby oil in!

I thought the 2nd bottle looked better – G poured in a ton of glitter!

Sensory bottle with baby oil

2nd sensory bottle with baby oil

Lessons learnt
The difference in viscosity between the liquid hand soap and baby oil made an interesting contrast when the bottles were shaken. The hand soap was very viscuous so it was more difficult to swirl the contents. It was easier to turn the bottle upside down and watch the contents float slowly upwards. There were very interesting bubbles!

The glitter worked better in baby oil – in the liquid hand soap it clung to the sides of the bottle or settled at the bottom. For glow in the dark effect, I think I’ll have to source for brighter glowing stars or stickers.

It was a quick and fun activity for both kids, and G got to work on his fine-motor skills and colours (he chose specific colours to put into the bottle). C got a lesson in density -she asked why the stars floated in the liquid hand soap but settled at the bottom in the baby oil.

It was definitely a hit with both kids although I had initially wanted to make the bottles for G. C had plenty of ideas for her next bottle! Looks like I’ll be drinking a lot of juice. ūüėČ

Another look at our sensory bottles!

A close look at our sensory bottles!

Have you made sensory bottles? Do share your ideas by posting in the comment box below!

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Book Review: My Pop-Up Body Book by Jenny Maizels and William Petty

In an earlier post, I’ve mentioned that C is learning about the human body.

We¬†had already¬†gone through¬†several books on this topic, including Okido’s My Head-to-Toe Body Book, which was a fun read with games and experiments.¬†Two days ago, I finally received My Pop-Up Body Book, a hardcover pop-up book on the human body,¬†which I had ordered a month ago.

I love pop-ups – they make the whole experience of reading so much more interesting (I’ve always been in awe of paper engineers). This book did not disappoint- it was¬†filled with lots of interactive pop-ups, flaps and wheels to turn.¬†The experience started with¬†an invitation to turn the wheel – doing so revealed a drawing of the internal organs of the boy, followed by his skeleton.

My Pop-Up Body Book

Turn the wheel to reveal the internal organs and the skeleton!

Upon opening the cover, a huge pop-up baby greeted us. On the two-page spread, there were flaps to open, revealing facts about conception, pregnancy and even an introduction to DNA!

A pop-up baby!

A pop-up baby!

In a corner of the page, we got a closer look at fetal development. By turning the wheel, we observed how the unborn baby grew in the womb from a one-month old fetus to a fully developed nine-month old baby ready to meet the world :

Baby at 1 month old

Baby at 1 month old

Baby at 7 months

Baby at 7 months-he can swallow!

Flipping the page allowed us to look a closer look at the human head. Activities included pulling (paper) snot out of the nose, examining how the eye focuses, observing a pop-up set of teeth chewing and a hands-on demo on how the smallest bones in our body work to help us hear.

The human head

The human head.

Opening the head revealed the skull and the muscles on the face. The functions of the different parts of the brain were introduced (e.g. the cerebellum helps keeps the balance) and¬†there was also a look at the differences between the left and right brain. ūüôā

A look inside the head

A look inside the head

The respiratory system and the digestive system came next, with full pop-ups (imagine a pop-up of a rib-cage, and of intestines!). As with the human head, each page was filled with many different flaps, wheels and tabs to explore. We got to see how the diaphragm worked by pulling on the tab:

Learning about the diaphragm

Learning about the diaphragm

Of course, what is a book about the human body without a pop-up skeleton (complete with names labelled on each bone!)

A pop-up skeleton!

A pop-up skeleton!

C’s review
She has been holding the book almost every waking moment since it arrived, lifting the flaps, pulling the tabs, turning the wheels. Enough said.

My review
My Pop-Up Body Book is filled with information, presented in a format that is interactive and attractive. I thought the pop-up format worked really well with this topic, and the wheels and tabs helped to demonstrate the concepts that would be otherwise be difficult to explain in words. And did I mention that I loved pop-ups? Highly recommended!

Do you like pop-up books?

Book Review: My Head-to-Toe Body Book by Okido

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, C is learning about the human body this term. I’ve already bought the Squishy Human Body as a visual aid, and wanted to supplement it with some fun reading on the topic.

I did a search at the library, but most of the books were wordy and not too interesting. Then, I came across My Head-to-Toe Body Book by Okido.

head-to-toe

What got my attention: It is a big and colourful book, with snippets of information scattered on large two-page spreads. Secondly, it had cute illustrations that would appeal to C. Thirdly, it had games and experiments included. A sure-win formula!

When googling more about Okido, I found out that it’s actually a children’s arts and science magazine from UK. They even have a Youtube channel¬†and an iphone app¬†(I didn’t download the app as it’s not free – if you did, let me know what you think of it!)

Contents
As suggested by the title, the contents cover the parts of the human body from head to toe Рincluding the brain, the circulatory system and the digestive system. Topics such as emotions, sleep and health are also included.

Besides covering the usual parts of the human anatomy, I was pleased to find that they included a section on vocal cords, complete with a small demonstration on why voices sound different (I didn’t have much success with the paper¬†whistle though).

Vocal cords

Vocal cords

We had fun playing the various games, such as the busy body game where we had to move tokens around the board, learning about how food is brought to the different parts of the body, and the process of waste elimination (favourite topic among kids!) There is¬†also a¬†page where we match the poo to the correct owner (don’t worry it’s not as gross as it sounds!)

Busy body game

Busy body game

Okido did not forget to add information on the life cycle of a human, and even touched on sperm and eggs (I spent quite a bit of time explaining this, and had to bring out my ultrasound scans of C. Needless to say, she was fascinated ;))

Where babies come from

Where babies come from

At the end of the book, there was another fun game where we got to explore the different sounds we make with our bodies (G joined in with gusto!)

Body noises

Body noises

Review
While¬†it is not meant to be a detailed book on anatomy, I found this book to be a good supplementary read.¬†It covers a wide range of topics, complete with interesting facts, and interactive activities. I would¬†recommend it as an excellent book for pre-schoolers to kick-start discussions and studies on the human body. Just be prepared to answer¬†a lot of questions on poo, pee and babies. ūüėČ

Do you have any recommendations for books on the human body?

B is for Butter Biscuits

Another B week project Рbiscuit baking! Cooking is not exactly my forte (those who know me can attest to that), and the last time I baked was in school during home economics class almost 20 years ago. So this is a BIG project, haha. My first butter biscuits!

I googled for the recipe – “butter biscuit recipe” and came up with this recipe¬†for the world’s best butter cookies. Ingredients were simple, and there were only 9 steps involved. Ok I could do this!

Baking with C
First things first, I got C to weigh all the ingredients – sugar, flour and butter. I didn’t have all-purpose flour, so I used self-raising flour instead.

Simple ingredients

Simple ingredients

The recipe called for an egg yolk. C had learnt to crack an egg during her holiday baking class for kids, and insisted on doing it. I must say that she did a pretty good job here, sans the little bits of egg shell in the bowl. Thank goodness my mum had a yolk separator in her stash of cooking equipment- I would definitely have problems doing it the traditional way.

C trying to crack the egg

C trying to crack the egg

Then to mix everything in….

Mixing butter in

Mixing butter in

Add the flour...

Add the flour…

I didn’t manage to take pictures during the kneading process. My hands were too oily from the butter to hold the camera. It was a little messy, with flour almost everywhere, but finally we managed to get it in a roll. Instructions said to put it in the fridge or freeze it, so I chose to put it in the freezer. It came out hard as a rock! After a few minutes of thawing, it could be cut. C did the honours (with my help of course)

Dough ready to be cut

Dough ready to be cut

Ready for baking!
Here is the first batch of biscuits. I had only a tiny toaster oven, so I had to bake in several batches. Mistake here Рthe tiny biscuits here got burnt!

Ready for baking!

Ready for baking!

I’m not¬†sure if it was due to the self-raising flour I used, but the biscuits grew. Or maybe¬†they¬†were¬†supposed to do that, I’m not sure. But we had stuck together biscuits. G made a grab for the biscuits before I could take a proper picture, so there’s one with a tiny bite mark.

First batch of biscuits

First batch of biscuits – burnt!

Success!
The second batch turned out nicer. Not picture perfect, but not burnt ūüôā Both kids had homemade biscuits for tea. Yummy!

Yummy butter biscuits! (or cookies in the US)

Yummy butter biscuits! (also known as cookies in the US)

Lessons learnt
Besides C¬†learning¬†about metric units, measurement and¬†estimation skills,¬† mummy learnt that she could bake if she tried! Practice makes perfect, maybe¬†next week we could try C for Chocolate cake! ūüôā¬†Wish me luck!

Do you have simple recipes to share?

B is for the beach

B week started with a trip to the beach!

On Sunday, we brought the kids to the beach. The good thing about staying in a tropical country is that the sun is always out, and it’s(almost) always a good day for a visit to the beach! C was thrilled, and couldn’t wait to start playing in the sand. G followed his sister’s cue, and busied himself by trying out the rake.

C & G at the beach

C & G at the beach

It was interesting to note the contrast between the two children. C, being the more fastidious child, preferred to remain squatting while playing. G, the more easy-going of the two, started by squatting like his sister, but soon settled down comfortably in the sand and started scooping.

Fun at the beach

First squatting…

Sitting down and working on his fine motor skills

… then sitting down and working on his fine motor skills

I had not intended to do any teaching (the beach is for fun and relaxation!) but C observed the tide going out (it was high tide when we arrived), and asked about it. I’m one who believes that when a child asks a question, it has to be answered as factually as possible, so I tried my best to explain the influence of the moon and sun. Thank goodness for a smart phone!

For G, it was mainly a discovery of senses- the feel of the sand on his hands and feet, the differences between wet and dry sand, feeling the sea breeze on his face. In the process, he also worked on his fine motor skills by scooping sand and filling up the little sand moulds.

Of course, the kids got to work their gross motor skills by swimming after the sand play.

Who knew that we could learn so much from a fun trip to the beach? As an added bonus, daddy and mummy had a great time relaxing and chatting ūüôā

Have you brought your kids outdoors today?

Holiday science project: Grow a Christmas Tree!

Christmas is almost here, and what better fun to have than growing our very own mini Christmas tree!

Getting started
The contents of the kit were simple – 2 cardboard pieces, a packet of solution, a dish, and decorations for the tree.

Contents of tree kit

Contents of tree kit

Step 1: Assembling the tree
First to separate the board forming the “branches” of the tree, then to fit the 2 pieces together. Easy peasy.

C separating the "branches"

C separating the “branches”

Assembled tree

Assembled tree

Step 2: Pouring in the solution
C got the honour of “watering” the tree.

C "watering" the tree

C “watering” the tree

Step 3: Wait!
C couldn’t wait for the tree to start growing “leaves”, and kept going to examine the tree. 8 hours later she reported excitedly that the tree had sprouted leaves:

Tree sprouts "leaves"!

8 hours later: Tree sprouts “leaves”!

Once the process started, the “leaves” grew more rapidly. Here’s what we saw:

10 hours later: Tree takes shape

10 hours later: Tree takes shape

It was bedtime, but we promised C that she would get to see the fully-grown tree once she woke up. She was amazed when she saw the tree covered with green “leaves”. To quote her: “Ooooooooh! Pretty!”

20 hours later:  Ready for decoration!

Step 4: Decorate!
C couldn’t wait to decorate the tree. She¬†put on the tinsel and glitter (and causing some of the “leaves” to fall off, haha).

Putting on the finishing touch

Putting on the finishing touch

Our DIY Christmas tree! All that is left to do¬†is to place little presents below ūüôā

Our DIY Christmas tree!

Our DIY Christmas tree!

Lessons learnt
C got to witness the process of crystallisation, and felt the “leaves” disintegrating into powder (yes, she couldn’t resist touching the tree!)
I have not explained the process of crystallisation yet, as I prefer to keep her marvelling at the magical process for now.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Beaming C with her tree

Beaming C with her tree

Project butterfly

I try to do activities that relate to what my daughter is learning in school. Here is one that both of us really enjoyed:

Last year C was learning about life cycles¬†in school. I¬†played with the idea of raising a chick, but thought better of it¬†because¬†(1) I really didn’t have space for the chick (2) the life cycle would take too long and (3) the kids would probably squash it. Then, I chanced upon a¬†local¬†farm selling butterfly kits – perfect!

Getting the kit

I went down to Oh’s farm the next weekend. When I heard about the butterfly kit, I imagined a fancy box with a built-in ecosystem. The actual item was much simpler, and cheaper.¬†¬†It¬†was essentially a plastic container¬†(those that you get¬†when you do takeaway)¬†modified with netting at the top, a satay stick, a piece of paper at the bottom. Each kit came with two caterpillars. The species of the caterpillar depended on the price you chose – $4 got you normal caterpillars, $7.50 for prettier ones. We got the cheaper one for a start. The kit also came with a bunch of leaves for caterpillar food.

Butterfly kit, complete with 2 caterpillars

Food for the caterpillar – we had to put it in water and feed the leaves to the caterpillar daily

Simple instructions for caterpillar care were stuck onto the container. In summary, we had to change the base paper, clear the droppings and put in fresh leaves every day and night. Simple enough. Apparently survival rate is only 50-60%. *Fingers crossed*

Day 1: Getting started
We got a closer look at the caterpillars once we got home. Spiky and colorful, they looked a little different from the usual garden variety. They also had a voracious appetite! The leaf that came in the container was almost gone so we decided to put in a new leaf- it was gone in 4hours! No wonder Eric Carle’s book is titled “The Hungry Caterpillar”. C was excited and kept bringing the container down to watch the caterpillars eat.

Day 2: Still eating
The caterpillars continued their non-stop eating…

Day 3: Start of a chrysalis
The caterpillars were decidedly fatter now. One of them had stopped eating and there were fine white strands of silk attaching it to the top of the netting. The transformation was beginning!

Fine white silk attaching the caterpillar to the netting

Day 4: Pupa stage
One of the caterpillars had formed a chrysalis, attached to the stick. The other continued roaming the container. There was a red liquid on the stick (I’m not sure what it was, probably a by-product). When clearing the base paper, we found an exoskeleton! C was rather freaked out as she thought that the caterpillar’s head had dropped off. I had to explain that it was simply changing its clothes and putting on its wings in the chrysalis.

See the spikes and feelers on the exoskeleton!

Day 5: Two chrysalises
Both caterpillars had reached the pupa stage now. We just had to be patient and wait. I had to remind C that she should not keep moving the container, lest the movements caused the chrysalises to drop off. They were literally hanging on by a thread! We moved the container to a higher shelf, just in case.

Day 6: Still waiting
Occasional wriggling told us that the chrysalises were still alive. When the chrysalises were brought up to the light, they glistened and shimmered slightly. Pretty!

¬†Day 7: Waiting…

Day 8: Still no sign of a butterfly…

Day 9: Still alive?
Ok, by now we were wondering if the caterpillars belonged to the 50% that didn’t make it. No wriggling. C’s interest had somehow waned. I was keeping my fingers crossed really tight that there were no casualties. Research on the internet told me that there was still a chance that they were alive and the butterflies would emerge anytime.

Day 10: Emergence!
Finally a beautiful butterfly emerged! Unfortunately both of us missed the emergence process. We did get to see it extending its wings to let it dry out though. It was really a wonder of nature to see the spiky caterpillar transformed into a beautiful butterfly. C named it Louie. We kept it for a day as the wings were still wet, and not strong enough for Louie to fly yet.

Louie the butterfly drying its wings after emergence

There was a red liquid on the paper after emergence. From what I gathered on the internet, it was probably from the by-products of the transformation

Day 11: Louie II
Hooray! Louie II emerged the next day. Both had survived Р100% success rate! Unfortunately I had missed the emergence process again as I was at work. C saw it though, and she was able to describe it wriggling out of the chrysalis.

Louie II emerges! See the remains of the chrysalises on the stick

Saying goodbye

It was time to release both of them in the garden. C needed much convincing as she wanted to keep them both as pets. We told her that they would be happier among flowers and their friends, so with much reluctance, she opened the cover. Good bye Louie I and Louie II!

Good bye!

Lessons learnt

It was a simple 2 week activity, but with lots of learning opportunities in different aspects. C got to see and experience part of the life cycle of a butterfly, and learnt the proper names for each stage of the transformation. The book “The hungry caterpillar” took on a new significance, and she was truly able to relate to the events in the book each time she read it to her baby brother. She also learnt the importance of respect for nature, to allow the butterflies to return to their natural habitat. This was also her first time taking care of another living being (cleaning and feeding the caterpillars), and this has left a deep impression on her.