The Museum Blog

Category: STEAM

Wacky Art: Windsock Craft

By Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

I love this windsock craft! It’s an art project that is accessible to all ages and abilities - and you get to sneak in a little bit of science. Here’s how to make your own windsock:

Materials Needed:

  • Paper (printer paper, cardstock, construction paper, etc)
  • Markers or crayons
  • Crepe paper streamers or tissue paper cut into long strips
  • Tape or glue
  • A stapler
  • A hole punch or scissors
  • String or yarn

Directions:

  1. Invite little ones to decorate their piece of paper with the markers or crayons. If you have stickers or stamps, you could use those, too!
  2. Once their paper is all decorated, flip it over so that you are looking at the back
  3. Tape or glue the streamers onto the bottom end of the paper
    1. If you used glue, give it a few minutes to dry
  4. Pick up the paper and curl it into a tube/windsock shape
  5. Staple on the top and the bottom
  6. Hole punch or cut small holes on either side of the top
  7. Put your string through the holes
  8. Hang up your windsock!

The Science:

  • The science behind windsocks is pretty simple...if you put your windsock outside, you’ll be able to tell a few things:
    • If the wind is blowing
    • How much the wind is blowing
    • Which direction the wind is coming from!

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Pete the Cat Party- Painting Guessing Game

Colie Haahr Fullsizeoutput 43Ca

By Colie Haahr, CMNH Educator

Thank you for checking out our Pete the Cat Party video! If you followed along with the storytime, you know that Pete the Cat LOVES his white shoes, and his red shoes, and his blue shoes! He is even okay with his wet shoes! This blog post will walk you through setting up an art project guessing game, where kids can guess what Pete stepped in to change the color of his shoes.

Materials:

  • Paper- cardstock, construction paper, sketch paper
  • Watercolor paints
  • Paint brush
  • Water cup
  • White crayon
  • Drawings prepped ahead

Directions:

Prep Ahead: For this project, you will need to draw some pictures with a white crayon ahead of time. Each drawing should be an item that is mostly one color, and that we can imagine might change the color of Pete’s shoes. Here are some ideas:

  • Green: Spinach, Peas, Avocado
  • Blue: Blueberries
  • Purple: blackberries, grapes 
  • Red: Strawberries, Raspberries, Cherries 
  • Orange: Oranges, Carrots 
  • Yellow: Buttercups or Dandelions 
  • Brown: Coffee, Chocolate Cake
  • Black: Olives 
  1. Draw a picture of each item on a piece of paper using a white crayon
  2. Set up the water colors, paintbrush, and water cup for painting
  3. Play the game! Ask, “what do you think Pete the Cat could step in to change his shoes a different color?” Take a few guesses. 
  4. Now, choose one color and paint one of the pieces of paper, and see what happens! The picture you made with the crayon should magically appear
  5. The white crayon creates a wax resist, so the watercolors will not soak into the paper, and you can see the drawing in white.
  6. You can give away what color to paint each item, for example, “try painting this one red, and guess what is in the picture,” or let kids choose a color, and then ask “Is that what color strawberries are, or are they a different color?” 
  7. Play the game for each picture you made ahead of time.

Optional: kids can try coloring with white crayons to create a wax resist, then painting over it. 

Optional: you can also do this activity using tape to create an outline of Pete the Cat, and paint over it, then take the tape off when the painting is dry to see the design. 

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Wacky Art: Raised Salt Paintings

By Colie Haahr, CMNH Educator

This fun art project can double as a science project! Kids make designs with liquid glue, add salt, then carefully add some colors and watch what happens! The liquid water colors should be absorbed by the salt, and move along the glue and salt design right before your eyes!

Materials Needed:

  • Card stock or thick paper, construction paper works
  • Tray or plate work surface
  • Salt in a dish with a spoon to scoop it
  • Liquid glue - that kids can use on their own
  • Liquid watercolors or food coloring mixed with water
  • Pipette, eye dropper, or spoon

Directions:

  • First, make a design on the cardstock using only glue- lines work well!
  • Next, add salt to the glue so that the glue design is covered in salt. Gently pour the extra salt back onto your tray or into the trash. Similar to what you would do with glitter and glue- you want the salt covering all of the glue
  • Use the pipette to carefully add colors to your design. Only add a little bit of color at a time so you can see the colors move. Only add color to the glue.
  • The color should magically spread on your design as the salt absorbs the liquid
  • Let your project lie flat to dry, otherwise the colors will spread where there is no glue!

Experiment:

  • Here are a few ideas you can try to make this art project into an experiment:
  • Try using different kinds of salt, and see which kind works best (larger or smaller grains). Make a prediction before you try each one!
  • Try this project with sugar and with salt (use the same design for each), and see which works better, or if sugar works at all. 
  • Try color mixing by using primary colors to do the project. Can you get them to mix? Why or why not? 

Links:

www.cbc.ca/parents/play/view/art-science-salt-glue-watercolour-experiment 

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Walking Rainbow Experiment

Walking Rainbow

By Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

We share a lot of different science experiment projects at CMNH. Many of these experiments have instant results - things like vinegar and baking soda bubbling, popcorn dancing, and invisible ink appearing. What I really like about this “walking rainbow” experiment is that it takes some time to see the results (as in, it takes hours to fully see the results!) Although it may not be as exciting in the moment, it is a perfect experiment to practice making predictions and thinking like a scientist. It really gives young scientists time to think and hypothesize and even change their guesses throughout the day. 

To make your own rainbow you will need:

  • 7 clear cups--these can be glass or plastic, just make sure they are perfectly clear (not colorful)
  • Water
  • 6 paper towel pieces (this could be three large sheets cut in half, or 6 of the little half sheets)
  • Primary colors of food coloring or liquid watercolor

Set-up:

  1. Set out the 7 cups in a line
  2. Fill cups 1, 3, 5, & 7 about halfway with water
    1. Leave cups 2, 4, & 6 empty
  3. Fold your six paper towel pieces in half lengthwise and then in half again. Take that long skinny strip and fold it in half so that it can stand up in the cups (pictured above)
  4. Invite young scientists to help you add some food coloring to the cups. 
    1. Ask them--what is the first color of the rainbow? Red! Add about 6 drops of red food coloring to the first cup.
    2. What is the second color? Orange! That cup is empty though, so we will skip that one. 
      1. Add yellow to the 3rd cup
      2. Skip the 4th cup (green)
      3. Add blue to the 5th cup
      4. Skip the 6th cup (purple)
      5. Add red to the 7th cup and ask your scientists why they think you may have done that…!
  5. Next, carefully place your paper towel pieces in between each cup so that they are resting in the colorful water. 

That’s it for set up! Now it’s time to think like a scientist!

Ask your young scientists…

  • What do you think will happen with the cups?
  • Why do you think we left some cups empty?
  • What do you know about primary colors?
    • How do you think what you know about primary colors (that they make secondary colors) will come into play in this experiment?
  • What do you notice is already happening with the paper towel pieces and the water?

Feel free to have your scientists write or draw what they are seeing!

This experiment will take awhile to completely finish and make the rainbow design. It’s a good idea to either do this experiment at night before bedtime, make some predictions, and then wake up and see the walking water rainbow. You could also do this experiment first thing in the morning and then watch it change all day long!

Have fun making a walking rainbow and thinking like scientists! 

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Wacky Art: Tin Foil Printmaking

By Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

This printmaking is so fun and easy to do with materials you probably already have at home! The best part is it can be done over and over again with very little clean-up in between! Here’s how to get started:

Materials Needed:

  • Piece of paperboard (like a cereal box) or cardboard, slightly bigger than an average piece of paper (10in X 12in-ish)
  • Piece of aluminum foil that is large enough to cover the paper/cardboard. If needed, you can use two seperate pieces to cover the board
  • Tape
  • Acrylic or tempera paint
  • Cardstock, printer, or construction paper
  • A paintbrush
  • Q-tips
  • Paper towels or old kitchen rags

Directions (prep):

  • Make your printing board
    • Cut your piece of paper/cardboard to the appropriate size
    • Cover with aluminum foil
    • Fold the foil over the piece of cardboard and tape on the back so it does not move around
  • Prep/gather paint, brushes, q-tips, paper towels, etc

Directions (activity):

  • Drizzle a small amount of paint onto your printing board
    • NOTE: Start with quite a small amount, you do not want too much paint on there for this activity--you can always add a bit more!
  • Use the paintbrush to spread it out across the printboard so it is completely covered
  • Use q-tips to quickly draw designs and pictures directly into the paint
    • NOTE: Do this fast! Since you are using such a small amount of paint, it will dry quickly
  • Place a piece of paper onto the painted printboard and gently press down
  • Peel away to reveal your print!
  • Use a damp paper towel to clean your printboard, dry it off, and try again!

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Up-Cycled Planters

By Colie Haahr, CMNH Educator

This is an easy, low-mess art project that kids can work on independently. Use old containers and washi tape to make an “up-cycled” planter. What is up-cycling? It’s using materials that would otherwise be discarded to make something new. We do many up-cycling activities at the museum to help reduce waste, and to allow kids to be creative with their projects by challenging them to think of new uses for things.    

This project provides a good opportunity to talk to kids about reducing waste, and some ways to do that at home. Up-cylcing is just one thing kids can do to help keep the earth healthy, and it’s a great way to cut down on art supplies and packaging if you are using things you already have.  The book Not For Me, Please! I Choose to Act Green, by Maria Godsey, is a nice story to read with kids that shows them some concrete choices they can make to help reduce waste. We recently added this book to our collection at the museum.

This is also a great project if you would like to give someone a hand made gift without getting out paints or any messy supplies! You can use the planter to grow something from seeds, or you can use it to put a small houseplant inside.  

Materials Needed:

  • Empty play dough containers with lids
  • Or: A different type of container that is safe to use 
  • Washi tape
  • Optional: scissors
  • A house plant, or soil and seeds for planting 

Directions:

  • The first step is to make sure the container you are using is safe to use and clean. Play dough containers work well. Be sure there are no sharp edges, and carefully supervise if you choose to use glass. Mason jars and other thick glass containers do not break easily
  • If you are using a plastic container, you may opt to poke a hole in the bottom with scissors for drainage for your plant. This step should be done by an adult
  • Use washi tape to decorate the outside of the container by carefully adding it one strip at a time
  • If you want to plant something, add soil and plant the seeds according to the instructions on the seed package.
  • If you want to add a houseplant that is already growing, carefully place it inside
  • If you are using a play dough container, use the lid to catch extra water under the planter
  • Ask: what three things do plants need to grow?? They need soil, sunlight, and water! Place your plant in a spot where it can get some sun, and be sure to water it! 

There are more up-cycle project ideas on the museum’s Pinterest account:

Links:

Check out some of our Educator's Favorite Up-Cycle Projects over on Pinterest:

https://www.pinterest.com/kidmuseumnh/cmnh-educators-picks/upcycle-projects/ 

Blog post that inspired the planters:

https://www.projectswithkids.com/mini-plant-pots/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=pinterest&utm_campaign=tailwind_tribes&utm_content=tribes&utm_term=296534802_8343706_112125

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Science Magic: Secret Rainbow

By Colie Haahr, CMNH Educator

This project is fun and easy, and only requires a little bit of prep ahead of time. Kids will enjoy magically making a rainbow appear by adding water to a paper towel. This activity is fun on its own, or it can be set up as an experiment that they can try a few times and record the results.

Materials Needed:

Paper towels
Washable markers
Black permanent marker
Cup for water
Tray or plates 
Pipette, eye dropper, or small spray bottle
Optional: Different brands of markers, highlighter, permanent markers, pencil, pen 

Directions:

  • Prep ahead: This project requires some prep ahead if you want to create a truly “secret” rainbow! You can create more sheets for kids to try as you go if they enjoy the activity! -Use a water based marker to create a rainbow on a paper towel. Remember ROYGBIV! 

-Thin lines work well for this- do not make them too thick because you need to cover them with permanent marker

-Use a black permanent marker to carefully draw over each line, hiding the colorful lines under the dark lines. 

-Optional: create shapes that are different colors, and use the same process to cover them with permanent markers. 

-Optional: Set up the color mixing part of the activity the same way coloring two circles next to one another in primary colors (red and yellow, red and blue, and yellow and blue)

  • Place one of the prepared paper towels onto a plate or tray that is okay to use for an art project (it may get marker ink on it!), with a cup of water and pipette or spray bottle
  • Make a prediction- ask: what do you think will happen when we add water?
  • Ask kids to slowly add some water to the picture
  • The rainbow will “magically” appear when the water based marker dye spreads, and the permanent ink stays in place
  • Try the same method with color mixing, or the colors hidden behind shapes
  • Let the artwork dry completely, and some of the dye will stay on the paper towel once it dries. Too much water can cause the color to wash out completely
  • Alternatives: This also works with a tray of water, and kids can carefully place the paper towel in the water and watch what happens. 

-Make an experiment! To make this a true experiment, try using different types of writing utensils, like markers, pens, pencils, highlighters, etc., and testing each one to see if water changes anything. Compare different brands of markers to see which ones work the best. Make predictions and write down the results! 

Science Information: 

For this activity there were two types of markers used, and they were made of different types of dyes or inks. One was water soluble, and one was not. If the experiment went as planned, the water based markers should have spread color out on the paper towel. These markers have dye that is water soluble, which means that it is able to dissolve in water. 

The permanent marker has a different kind of ink or dye, and it is not water soluble, which means that water will not wash it away. The permanent marker is alcohol based, so it will dissolve in alcohol. If rubbing alcohol were added to the paper towel, it may have changed the permanent marker, but because only water was added, the permanent marker stayed the same.  

The paper towel also played an important part in making this activity work. This activity did not work well on other types of paper, like card stock and copy paper. Paper towels are absorbent, and designed to absorb or suck up liquids. If the paper were waxed paper or something similar, the water would bead up into droplets because water molecules like to stick together. Water molecules still like to stick together on paper towels, but there are tiny air pockets in paper towels, and a soft cellulose material that allows the water molecules to move around the paper towel together. 

References:

https://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/how-do-paper-towels-absorb-water.php

https://www.thebestideasforkids.com/surprise-rainbow-activities/

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Oil & Water Mixing Sensory Bottles

by Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

There are so many fun experiments that you can try using oil and water. If you’re at the grocery store and thinking about picking up one or two items for your young scientist’s “at home chemistry station” I definitely recommend a big jug of vegetable oil. It’s inexpensive, easy to find, and can be used for tons of science! 

This experiment does some simple MESS FREE oil and water mixing. I especially like this experiment because the experiment itself is quick and can be done over and over again. Some people also use these oil & water mixing bottles as sensory bottles - moving the oil back and forth and watching the gentle waves it makes can be very relaxing. Who doesn’t need a bit of extra relaxation these days? 

Here’s how to make your own:

Materials needed:

  • Small jar or container with a lid that can be securely screwed on (plastic or glass--although with very young scientists you may want to go the plastic route and duct tape that lid on there, too!)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Food coloring

Directions:

  • Fill your container halfway with water
  • Pour vegetable oil in to fill up the rest of the container
    • Watch and see what happens!
  • Add a drop of red or blue food coloring
    • Watch closely again! 
  • Tightly secure the lid of your container
    • Optional: add some duct tape to really seal it in place
  • Watch as the oil and water in your bottles become completely separate and the drop of food coloring makes its way down to the water portion of the bottle - it will take a few seconds. 
  • Gently move the bottle around and watch the oil and water - they stay separate when moved gently
  • SHAKE your bottle! Really shake it and watch as the water and oil temporarily mix
    • What else happens?!
  • Watch closely again as the oil and water slowly separate

The Science: 

There are several different science “happenings” going on during this experiment. 

Oil & Water:

  • Your scientist’s will notice that the oil and water do not mix! The oil sits on top of the water and it always will. This is because water and oil are immiscible. Basically what this means is that water molecules only want to hang out with other water molecules and the same with oil molecules. The oil sits on top because it is less dense or less heavy than the water so it happily floats on top of it. 

Primary/Secondary Colors:

  • Vegetable oil is used for this experiment because it is yellow in color. If we used another kind of oil, like baby oil, you would have to purchase oil based food coloring which isn’t all that easy to find. The yellow vegetable oil automatically gives us one of our primary colors. Blue or red food coloring is added so that when you mix, you get a secondary color! 
    • There are lots of great books you can read/find videos of online to explore primary/secondary colors, check out: 
      • Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh
      • Mix It Up by Herve Tullet
      • Monsters Love Colors by Mike Austin

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