The Museum Blog

Category: Learning

Upcycled CD Scratch Art

by Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

This is a super cool activity that can be done with materials you have at home that you may have thrown away otherwise! 

I like this activity because it also introduces an easy way to talk to your little ones about recycling and upcycling. You could start this activity with a short discussion. What does it mean to recycle? What do we recycle in our house? 

What do you think it means to UPcycle? This word will probably be new to them! When we recycle, we take items like plastic bottles and send them to the recycling center. From there, they are melted down to become the same item again or something new and different! Did you know plastic bottles can be recycled to become fleece jackets, carpets, and sleeping bags?!

UPcycling is taking something just as it is (in our case here, a CD) and turning it into something fun and new using just our hands and our creative minds! Upcycling projects tend to become beautiful works of art. Ask your little ones if they have upcycled anything before? Or maybe projects you’ve done together as a family? Projects they may be familiar with would be things like tire swings or milk carton birdhouses. 

Enjoy exploring upcycled CD scratch art together!

Materials Needed:

  • Old CDs or DVDs (it’s fine if they’re all scratched up!)
    • Check out your desk for old computer software--the CD I used was an ancient program from the digital camera I had in college!
  • ACRYLIC paint! 
    • I know it’s not washable which is tough with little ones--but it does need to be acrylic for this project so it sticks to the CD. 
  • Items to scratch the CD with
    • Chopsticks, forks, keys, paperclips, etc. 
  • Some kind of string or ribbon if you would like to hang up your scratch art CD!

Directions:

  • Invite little ones to paint their CDs! 
    • Be sure to paint on the shiny side of the CD, not the side with writing/text. 
    • It’s best to paint the CDs one color, or blocks of color. Since the idea is to create scratch art on the CDs, if you paint pictures of flowers or dogs or houses---they will look odd after you have also added scratch art to them. 
  • This is the hard part--wait for the paint on the CDs to totally dry. 
    • If you have enough CDs, you can experiment with scratching them while they are still wet and then compare with the CDs you scratch when they are dry. 
  • Once the CDs are dry, use the scratch tools to create designs on them!
    • Add a string or ribbon and hang your CD in a window to create a beautiful suncatcher! 

Continue reading

Bunny Art - Two Ways!

By Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

Hi everyone! I have a fun springtime bunny painting project to share with you today. This is a typical example of an activity we would do at the museum as part of our Wacky Art Wednesday program. 

I tend to pick activities that are process based instead of product based. This is something you could keep in mind when choosing activities to do with your young ones while you’re home, too and try to alternate some between process and product based activities. Here’s how you can tell the difference...

A product-based activity is one where you have a clear end product in mind. Activities that fall in this category are typically more “crafty”. An example would be something like this (very cute!) paper chick craft: 

6XLrHq0FdralmwJPSI9DhS_rA3nsIOuChxSjPJGk_HB4dlED-enOHIuI-fjiP8_VT0qR1CjEPA3redzX3YjeOfZmzVSIK1mASx6TAmQsD9h-7-IeSsqHSdaY6dyw-_m6shSzeAQa

You (the adult) would have the pieces ready to go, and your child would go through the steps of assembling them to look like the example. 

There is NOTHING wrong with doing product based projects once in a while! It’s a terrific opportunity for little ones to follow directions, achieve a goal they have in mind, and usually make something very cute! 

A process-based activity focuses mostly on...the process! These tend to be a bit on the messier side and align more closely with “art” rather than something that is “crafty”. An example would be something like this project where they explored painting with cleaning brushes: 

0Vlg5MhPVfcq0hyu3sdK7nglJ9KsUZDlFzZ-U8mvE7LoiWpIoxwq8xTjfpwTCZ_SBT_wM81ZJSkv9WNtqeGyDG0sbprgkv6glO8S1evihBlb95vIm7DejAqmY-0BgT03LdkBakRQ

It’s all about the process and the unique experience! While I think the painting above came out looking very cool--that’s not the goal. The goal is to explore and create and focus on what you’re doing and how it works, rather than the end product. These kinds of projects foster creativity, promote conversation, and also tend to take a bit more time than a product focused activity. 

Our activity today - Bunny Art two ways - does a nice job combining process and product. You can either do this as a collage project with magazine strips or as a painting project - it’s up to you! 

Here’s what you will need to begin:

If you’re painting...

  • A piece of cardstock or construction paper
  • Clothespins & cotton balls
    • This is just a unique way to paint. Clip the cotton ball onto the clothespin and use it to “dot” paint all over your paper. You could, of course, also use a paintbrush! 
  • Paints
  • A cut-out of a bunny 
    • I printed a bunny silhouette from the internet and then just cut out the silhouette part so that my paper was left with just the shape of the bunny
  • A stapler or tape
  • A glue stick or white glue
  • A cotton ball

If you’re collaging…

  • A piece of cardstock or construction paper
  • Magazines cut into small strips
  • A glue stick or Mod Podge 
  • A cut-out of a bunny
    • See note above about the bunny!
  • A stapler or tape
  • A cotton ball

The activity:

  • Have your child paint or collage all over a piece of cardstock
  • They can decorate the whole thing or just a section in the middle
  • When they have finished creating and their art has dried, put the negative cut-out of the bunny on top of their paper
  • Part of their art will show through behind the bunny and make a very lovely piece of art!
  • Glue on the cotton ball to make the bunny’s fluffy tail! 

These could be used as special springtime cards for loved ones, or used to decorate windows! 

Watch the video above to see examples of both kinds of projects! 

Continue reading

Tinker Time: All About Spring!

by Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

Sorting:

  • Place a variety of colors of plastic eggs in a container
  • Place pieces of colored paper, or paper with a color drawn on them, around the container
  • Invite little ones to sort them by color!
  • Want an extra challenge? Try making some plastic egg patterns! 

Cause & Effect:

  • Find something to make a ramp
    • I used a 3-ring binder, but you could find a piece of wood, cookie sheet, or piece of flat cardboard
  • Collect a few books to add to the ramp and give it some additional height
  • Find a car or two
    • I tied a tiny bunny stuffed animal to my car--this is fun, but not necessary!
  • Gather a variety of different textured materials
    • Tin foil, bubble wrap, felt, sandpaper, etc. 
  • Invite little ones to experiment with the ramp! 
    • Try racing the car down the ramp without any texture on it
    • Add different textures and see how the movement of the car changes
    • Add some height to the ramp and try again with the different textures
  • Ask questions!
    • What is happening?
    • How does the movement of the car change?
    • Why do you think it changes?
    • What else could we add/change?

Sensory:

  • Gather a bunch of plastic eggs
  • Fill up the eggs with a variety of materials 
    • Unpopped popcorn, coins, buttons, paper clips, etc
    • As an extra precaution, you could put a small piece of tape to keep the eggs closed during investigation! 
  • Make sure each egg has a sound match, aka two eggs of each sound
  • Invite little ones to try and match the sounds!

Art:

  • Find a paper towel tube
  • Cut it into three pieces
    • Leave one piece a circle
    • Smoosh the other two pieces to make ovals
  • Use the paper pieces to make a bunny stamp! 

Continue reading

Shiny Penny Experiment

By Colie Haahr, CMNH Educator

We were surprised by how excited kids got about cleaning pennies when we offered this experiment as a drop in STEAM activity at CMNH! It does seem like a magic trick when you first see the pennies getting shinier almost instantly. 

This experiment is a good way to practice making predictions and observations, and it’s an easy one to do with materials that are available at home! For kids learning about money and currency, this is a great way to practice counting and recognizing the different coins as well. 

Materials:

  • Table cover of some kind (a trash bag works!)
  • Several pennies
  • Other coins- quarter, nickel, dime, coins from other countries if available 
  • Vinegar 
  • Salt
  • Bowl of water
  • Bowl for vinegar and salt mixture
  • Q-tips
  • Paper towels 
  • Optional: lemon juice, soapy water, other liquids you would like to experiment with

Directions:

  • One way to set this experiment up is to use a muffin tin or small bowls to offer several different liquids for kids to try. A small pallet for paint works well, too! 
  • Put the coins on a surface you do not mind getting messy- plastic plate, paper towel, or directly on the table covering, but you will want some paper towels or dish towels nearby
  • Allow kids to experiment with the materials to see what would work best to clean the different coins by dipping the coins in the liquid, and brushing them with a q-tip
  •  Ask what they think will work best, and why?
  • After some experimentation, guide them toward the vinegar or lemon juice mixed with salt. The salt works as a mild abrasive, and the acid in the vinegar and lemon juice react with the pennies to make them shiny and new looking
    • Important: rinse the pennies in water after cleaning them if you would like to keep them nice and shiny! They will oxidize and turn green otherwise. 
    • Fun fact: this is what happened to the statue of liberty, and why it looks green today! Kids did not dip it into a bowl of vinegar, but the statue is copper, and it turned green because of oxidation over time. 
  • Ask why the acidic liquids cleaned the pennies, but not the other coins? What is different about them? The pennies are a different color because they are made of a different material: copper!

What’s Happening? 

 Pennies are made of copper, and copper is shiny, but over time it becomes tarnished and appears black or brown because of copper oxide, which is created when copper bonds with oxygen. Acids mixed with salt help break down the copper oxide on the penny. Vinegar may remove actual dirt from the pennies and other coins because it works well as a cleaner! 

Extensions: 

Science Bob offers a few more experiments you can try using the same materials.

Scientific American offers some ideas for different liquids to use, and a more in depth explanation and method for advanced experiment-ers.

Continue reading

Ice Exploration!

iceexploration.png#asset:11929

By Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

Materials Needed:

  • Bowl(s) or container(s) that are freezer safe
  • Fun items/trinkets to freeze (small plastic toys, rocks, coins, etc)
  • Food coloring (optional, if you want colorful ice)
  • Spray bottle
  • Salt

Directions (prep):

  • Collect small trinkets and items from around the house and place them in a bowl or container
  • Fill the bowl or container with water
  • Add food coloring, if desired
  • Freeze at least overnight (depending on the size of your container)
  • Fill a spray bottle with water & a few spoonfuls of salt, shake! 

Directions (activity):

  • Take the container out of the freezer and turn it upside down on a cookie sheet, tray, or large dish
  • Once the ice has unstuck from the container, remove the container and invite your young scientists to play!
  • Direct them to spray the ice with the spray bottle. You can also have some other salt available that they can use to help melt the ice. 
  • Try to free some of the trinkets! 

The Science:

  • There are so many angles that you can take for discussing the science of this project. 
  • The water: it changes from a liquid to a solid when we put it in the freezer! While you melt the ice with the salt water, it changes back into a liquid again! That’s two states of matter, can it become a gas? (Yes! Water vapor!) 
  • The melting: Salt lowers the freezing point of water. Ice melts faster when salt is added as the salt lowers the freezing point of the ice, this is known as freezing point depression. The more salt you add the lower the freezing point. This is why we use salt on roads in the winter to help melt the ice and make them safe! 

The following Wee Ones video is designed for preschoolers and is all about "Melting" and would make a good video to watch together while doing this experiment!

Continue reading

Make a Bird Kite!

by Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

The craft I have to share with you today is making a bird kite! This is a really simple activity that you can do with a handful of household items - and it will (hopefully) supply your little ones with a whole bunch of fun.

This awesome activity was found on www.krokotak.com - browse their website for a variety of other fun activities that use simple materials you can find at home, mostly paper! 

Materials Needed:

  • Piece of 8.5 X 11 paper 
  • 2-3 Sticky notes 
    • Or pieces of colorful scrap paper and a glue stick or tape, I like the sticky notes because they are self adhesive!
  • Stapler, scissors, hole punch
  • Markers, stickers, any other decorations you’d like
  • String/ribbon/yarn

Instructions:

  1. Fold a piece of paper in half 
  2. Gently “swoop” down both sides to form the wings of your bird and attach with one staple
  3. Punch a hole on the bottom for the kite string
  4. Cut a sticky note to make a beak and tail feathers--feel free to add other decoration using markers
  5. Add some sticker eyes
  6. Attach the string - you’re ready to fly! 

-qzZEIHUxiLHnItWZrQSE1JGNG6f0GASgdJyeCqFKDGtZJoqAdH3skR5sTkKi-iOJy_oJpQItdbBqLIJ41lCUObaVZ24fIqa2-A7bQI6dQkEB97r686l8drBwsArqIdsvJfyr8VJ

Continue reading

Tinker Time at Home

by Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

Sorting: Exploring playing cards

  • Find a deck of playing cards and spread them out
  • Raid your recycling bin and find 2-4 containers (depending on child’s age, see below) and cut slits in the top so the cards can be dropped inside. 
    • I used large clear plastic baby spinach/mixed greens containers for this.
    • Some children will just have fun putting the cards into the slots - and that’s okay!
    • Younger children can sort them by color (2 containers)
    • Older children could sort them by their suit! (4 containers)
  • Invite your child to sort the cards! 

Art: Evaporation Science Art

  • Find a plastic container and a paintbrush 
    • The paintbrush should be one you don’t mind getting a bit dirty!
  • Fill the plastic container with water and go outside!
  • Paint designs on your driveway/sidewalk using the water
  • Watch and see how long it takes the drawings to evaporate
    • This activity is best done on a sunny day :) 

Sensory: Floating splashy transfer

  • Put out two mixing bowls
  • Fill both with water
  • Put items that float in one bowl
    • I used marker caps
  • Invite your child to use a spoon or scoop to move all of the items from one bowl to the other!
    • You could put items that sink and float in the bowl and chat about how moving them is different if they sink or float. 

Building: Recycling Bin Wonders

  • Raid your recycling bin and find a variety of items
  • Use them to build!
  • Give your child prompts like “Make a bridge!” “Make a house!” “Design a rocketship!” and challenge them to just use the items from the recycling bin
    • It’s fun to add little toys or other manipulatives to this challenge  

Continue reading

Polymer Science MAGIC!

Materials Needed:

  • Large mixing bowl or container (a casserole  pan would work!)
  • Plastic bag (I recommend quart size) filled ¾ of the way with water
  • A bunch of pencils or colored pencils--the sharper the better! 

Directions (prep):

  • Fill your plastic bag ¾ of the way with water 
    • You may want to fill a few because this experiment is very fun!
  • Sharpen your pencils
  • Prep the activity area with the bowl or casserole pan

Directions (activity):

  • Ask your young scientists if they think you can poke a pencil through a bag of water without spilling a drop (they will probably say “No way!”)
  • Hold the bag up over the bowl or other container
  • Carefully twist a pencil through one side of the plastic bag and then continue to twist through the other side
  • No water will spill!
  • Try it with the other pencils

Invite your young scientists to try on their own using bags of water and pencils

The Science:

  • Plastic bags are made of something called a polymer
  • Polymers have long strings of molecules that are flexible
  • When you poke the pencil through the plastic bag, it wiggles in between these strings of molecules and the molecules seal up around the pencil so that no water is spilled!

Extend the learning:

  • Spend some time looking on the internet for other household items that are polymers - you’ll be surprised by what you find! 

Continue reading

Terms & Conditions Privacy Policy