Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ladybug Rock Pendants

Ah, at last, the long awaited ladybug craft!  Sure hope you think it was worth the wait :)

So who doesn't love a rock painted like a cute little ladybug?  (rhetorical.  No need to respond).

To make one, just find a smooth-ish, oval-ish rock, and paint it.  You could go with the traditional ladybug red, but ladybugs come in all different colors, including black and yellow.

After your background color is dry, use a black paint pen or black paint with an applicator top, to add a head, a center dividing line, and spots--use red if your bug is black.  As you're adding the spots, keep in mind that ladybug spots are symmetrical.

Next, add a couple of googly eyes, or paint on eyes, if you prefer.

Cute, yes?

The Camp Scarlet kids took it a step further and turned theirs into pendants. 

To do so, use fairly small rocks, and glue a bale (or pendant base--we found a package of 3 for about $3 in the jewelry making section of a craft store--use your 40% off coupon) to the back of your painted rock. When it's dry, just string it up. We used yarn, but you could certainly use cord and add a clasp (which you can also find at the craft store).

We found these books helpful in our study of ladybugs:

This is a great book for explaining the ladybug lifecycle, with clear pictures and easy to understand text.  In fact, we read this book over and over with each new insect to remind the kids that the insect lifecycle is the same for every kind of insect.  I highly recommend this book.

Crawl Ladybug, Crawl! by Dana Meachen Rau

This is a very easy to read book with one picture plus a simple sentence stating a fact about ladybugs per page--great for kids who are learning to read.

The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle

I just love Eric Carle books, don't you?  In this cute book, a grouchy, dissatisfied ladybug learns to be grateful for what he has.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Home Made (Buggy) Shrinky Dinks

You guys! You have GOT to try this! I've been wanting to make bracelets using shrinky dinks with my Camp Scarlet kids forever, but haven't been able to bring myself to actually buy shrinky dinks--that stuff is expensive. 

When I found out that I could make my own shrinky dinks for FREE using materials from my recycling bin, you can bet I spent the next several months obsessing about finding number 6 plastic (polystyrene). 

Ask Hubby.  He'll tell you.

When I mentioned to my sis the other day, that this was the day she...well, let's just say that she was unable to match my enthusiasm for the project.  She's only 6 years younger than me, but apparently the shrinky dink craze had diminished significantly by the time she was old enough for them. 

Well, whether you got in on the shrinky dink revolution as a kid or not, this is a not-to-be-missed experience, combining science, art, and that undeniable "wow" factor.  Are you ready?  Grab your number 6 plastic and let's get started!

The polystyrene that you're looking for is the clear, non-expanded kind.  I found it in take-out containers (not the Styrofoam ones, the clear plastic ones), tops of some bakery goods, a plastic tray from a package of cookies, tops of disposable aluminum baking pans, and disposable clear plastic plates.  Once you know what you're looking for, you'll start seeing it everywhere.  Just look for the recycling symbol with a 6 in the middle.

Polystyrene plastic bottle

One of the grocery stores near us has a salad bar, allowing one to fill a container with salad fixings, and charging by the pound.  Those containers?  #6 PS.  The cashier did look at me a little funny when I walked up with just a stack of clamshell containers with nothing in them, but she got over it.  I also made Hubby save the take-out containers from a dinner out on our spring break trip and haul them, first with us to visit the in-laws, and then all the way back to our house, a round trip of around 850 miles.  He got over it, too.

Once you've got your plastic, cut it so that you have a flat sheet to work with.  Draw on the plastic using permanent markers (we used Sharpies).  You can either draw freehand, or place the image you want to draw under the plastic and trace.  We found some cute line-drawing bugs to trace.

Cut out the shapes, leaving a bit of a border around the colored part, and rounding the corners.  If you want a hole in your finished shrinky dink, now is the time to punch it.

Place the shapes, ink side up, onto a foil-lined baking tray, and place in a 350* oven until they've stopped moving (if that sounds a little strange, just try it, you'll see what I mean). At this point, you (and the children) need to be glued to the oven door watching the dinks through the window--it's very entertaining.  They will shrink to about 1/3 of their original size and be 5 to 6 times thicker.  Ours took about 3 minutes.

Now you can do whatever you want with them.  The Camp Scarlet Crew decided that necklaces would be better than bracelets, but you could also attach them to a keychain, make them into a zipper pull, make a luggage tag, a guitar pick, or whatever else you can think of!

 To read more about the science of shrinky dinks, click here.  Have fun, my friends!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ladybug Math (an addition file folder game)

Oh my goodness, I love file folder games.  Which is why it's a bit strange that I haven't made many, many more of them than I have.  However, when I saw this one over at Mama Jenn's blog, I knew I had to make it. 

Even not taking into account that it's a BUG, this thing is so.stinkin'.cute!  Added bonus: this file folder game is super easy to put together.  Oh, right, and educational.  That's the main reason I wanted to make it, of course.

 Just trace a bowl on red construction paper and cut it out.  Do the same with a glass on black construction paper, and glue 'em down to your file folder.  Add a black stripe and some eyes and you're set.  I covered my ladybug with clear contact paper to make it more durable.

 I cut apart a baseball card holder (don't tell MC!) to make the sleeve for the addition facts.  The top and left side are open to make it easy to slide the cards in.  You can even use a dry erase marker to write the answer on the sleeve and easily erase for the next card.

Mama Jenn suggested using a baseball card holder to hold the flashcards, but I ended up using a  No. 6 3/4 envelope, as you can see on the upper left side of the game.  I used a sleeve from the baseball card holder to hold the dots.

I used a 1" round punch to make the dots (thanks to a friendly Boy Scout for lending me hers), and you can print out the flashcards from here.

To play, simply choose an addition card and place it inside the pocket underneath the ladybug. Place the appropriate number of dots on each side of the ladybug, then count up all the dots and use a dry erase marker to write the total. Erase your answer and move on to the next card.

See?  What'd I tell ya?  Super cute, super easy, super educational.  Have fun :)

Here's what you need:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Craft of the Month--June

Here are the Camp Scarlet's Craft of the Month projects for June:
Homemade Sidewalk Chalk, Mega Bubble Blower, Homemade Slime

Friday, May 25, 2012

Five Photo Friday

A look back at our week--in pictures:

MC earned his purple belt.  It's slow-going, but he's plugging away at it, working toward red belt, and maybe eventually black belt...

MC and Sawblock attended the year-end Cub Scout camp-out. 
Here's MC (2nd from the left) with his Webelos den, looking rather contemplative.

Meet Super Hero Tiny--amazingly small, but about 10 times bigger than the first time we saw him, in this photo taken Tuesday (photo is NOT life size--those are centimeters).  We've seen about 12 itty-bitty monarch larvae this week.

We had a visitor on Wednesday morning.  I'm generally of the live-and-let-live persuasion when it comes to frogs, bugs, snakes, and other creepy crawlies, but I am not very forgiving when they show up where they do not belong. 

Like inside our house. 

This little guy (about 8 inches long, black with a red stripe) fell out of Roger's t-shirt when I picked it up to lay it out for him to get dressed.  I'm not going to bore you with the details of exactly what happened, but let's just say that at least one member of the household was screaming like a girl, and at least one family member ran away as fast as possible and jumped shriekingly on my bed, as I realized that yes, it was still alive, and a cool whip container and file folder were gonna be too flimsy to contain while lifting.

This is why I have a husband.  To remove snakes from our house (and yes, it's happened before, although that one was much bigger (they grow 'em big in WV)...)

Today was Caleb's last day of preschool for the year. 
We met at a park and the kids sang a few songs for us :)

Today was also AKD's 6th grade field day.  It's that crazy end-of-the-school-year time, when we've got something going each day at one or more schools.  Nine more days!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cute & Easy S'More Teacher Appreciation Gift

I usually shy away from food gifts for teachers, because it just seems like everybody gives food to teachers. And I personally wouldn't like it if everybody gave me food. I mean, I would like it, but I would like it far too much for my own good.

However, I am a complete pushover for punny gifts (that is, gifts involving puns) and I looove chocolate, so when I saw this cute free printable online, I knew we had to make them. My next step was to convince the boys that they wanted to give these to their teachers.

As you can tell from the picture of the completed gifts on my kitchen floor, I succeeded.

You can get the free printable (isn't it just the cutest?--I love the colors) from The Domesticated Lady.  I took a screen shot of the PDF, cropped it, and pasted it into Word, so I could make it exactly the size I wanted (and print more than 1 per page), but you could certainly make it easy on yourself and just print it.

Then throw a fun size Hershey bar, a marshmallow, and graham crackers in a bag (I got these little cellophane bags at Michaels years ago--can't even remember what I originally bought them for), and staple the bag topper to it.  The front says "we need s'more teachers like you," and the back has instructions for making s'mores in the microwave.

And there you have it.  Super easy.  In fact, the most difficult part will be getting the boys to remember to give them to their teachers.

Your turn: what's your go-to teacher appreciation gift?

BUGS! Glow-in-the-Dark Fireflies

I know I promised that ladybugs would be next, but we didn't get to them on Monday when Car was here, I was sick on Tuesday (so we didn't do anything), and Wednesday is my "day off".  Thursday dawned gray and rainy...
 and when the power went out, plunging us into semi-darkness, I decided it was a perfect day to work on fireflies (or lightning bugs, if you prefer).  They're just in time for Memorial Day picnics or camping trips, too.
This abstract looking thing is one of our fireflies, glowing in the dark.  Don't worry.  I've got some better pics--just not of it glowing.  Can you make out the antennae sort of in the middle/right, and the wings near the top on the left?
 In order to make a firefly, first we needed to know what they look like, so we read Fireflies by Nicole Helget.
This looks exactly like the pic above, doesn't it?
This book was written at a perfect level for my preschoolers, and would work for lower elementary as well.  It was interesting and informative--did you know that if frogs eat too many fireflies, they will glow in the dark?  My one complaint is that the typeface is all caps, which makes it a little difficult to read.

But, we found out what we needed to know, which is that fireflies have 2 eyes, 2 antennae, 6 legs, 4 wings, and a glow in the dark abdomen.  Then we set to work.

  • an empty 16 or 20 oz soda bottle, preferably green, with a cap (we found ours in recycling bins at the children's museum).
  • two beads
  • six pipe cleaners
  • construction paper
  • glue and/or tape
  • glowsticks (we used glow bracelets rather than glowsticks, because they were less expensive and I wanted the kids to have several chances to use their fireflies.  However, glowsticks will give a stronger glow)

Make It:
  1. Wash and dry your soda bottle and cap
  2. Paint the cap black, or color it with black permanent marker
  3. Glue on beads for eyes (I would recommend hot glue, but since our power was out, we used tacky glue)
  4. Twist 1 pipecleaner around the neck of the soda bottle, to form antennae
  5. Twist 3 pipecleaners around the body of the bottle to form 6 legs
  6. Twist the remaining 2 pipecleaners into 4 wings
  7. Replace the cap on the bottle, and arrange the legs, wings, and antennae so they line up correctly with the eyes on the bottle cap (legs down, wings and antennae up).  Glue or tape in place.
  8. Cut a piece of construction paper to go around the bottle and cover the leg pipecleaners, and tape or glue in place.
  9. Wait until dark, crack your glowstick, and place it in the bottle.

Aren't they cute?  These bugs will make a perfect nightlight for Roger on our next camping trip.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

To Do List--Three Things

A couple of months ago, I mentioned that I had completed my to-do list for the day before noon.  It was a not-very-ambitious to-do list, containing only 3 items, so perhaps not a very thrilling accomplishment, but I was pleased--at least I did something.  The post was a sort of tongue-in-cheek peek at a day in my life, exposing how silly it is to even have a to-do list in my world.  There is so much to be done every day and much of it is repetitious--the rest is unpredictable.  To-do lists don't do much in those circumstances.

I laughed at myself that day for putting only 3 items on my to-do list, but at least I did them.  Now, I think I was really on to something--I'm really liking the 3 item to-do list.  I don't make a to-do list every day (I really should--maybe making a to-do list should be on my to-do list), but about a week later I made another one, this time with 4 items.  I don't remember what those four things were, but I do remember that I only accomplished 3 of them.

I don't know what it is about the number 3, but somehow, it's doable.  It's not too much, but it's a start.

I don't know if you know this about me, but I am easily overwhelmed.  And being overwhelmed causes me to shut down and seek escape.  Let's face it: there are waaaaay more than 3 things each day in the world that deserve my attention.  And since we're being perfectly honest here, there is absolutely no way I will ever accomplish all of those things in one day.  Overwhelming.

But, I can choose the three that I wish to work on today, each day.  That, I can do.  Three things. 

Anything else is gravy.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A few follow-ups

Just look what happened--look what that boy did to my nice clean window:
Argh!  See?  I told you.  Washing windows is so not worth it, at least not in this house.

We have baby caterpillars.  Well, at least one, anyway--I haven't gotten outside yet today to check.  Yesterday I saw the smallest monarch caterpillar I have ever seen.  Smaller, even, than Tiny (who had been the smallest caterpillar we had ever seen up until yesterday--he's on the right in the first picture in this post).  This little guy was about 1/2 millimeter long, and he was less than 8 hours old (because I checked in the morning and he wasn't there, checked again in the afternoon and there he was!)

The monarch eggs are not the only eggs that are disappearing.  Yesterday after Roger and I showed the itty bitty caterpillar to Hubby, we decided to show him the bird eggs.  He climbed up on the ladder, craned his neck to look inside, and said, "three eggs."  What?!  Only three?  What happened to the other one?  Or were we hallucinating before?  I climbed the ladder as well, and sure enough, only 3 grape-sized eggs were in the nest.  Hubby hypothesized that a squirrel took it.

I forgot to show you one of our buggy foods!  And this one is so easy--you can do it tonight.  As I mentioned in this post, you can represent the butterfly lifecycle using pasta.  I was making spaghetti one day last week, and just happened to have 1/4 box of rotini and 1/4 box of farfalle (bowtie pasta), so I cooked 'em up, and served the kids caterpillars and butterflies with marinara for supper :)

And, last, but not least, I wanted to remind y'all that the FREE $2 MP3 credit from amazon is still available, until May 24 (that's Thursday, if you, like me, have no idea what the date is).  Just click the link, enter your favorite song, and share on Facebook.  The credit will be automatically applied to your account (and no, you don't have to buy the song you said was your favorite).  If you take advantage of this offer, click here to leave a comment on the original post, telling me what you got :)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

(lady) Buggy Snacks

I am having waaaaay too much fun with buggy snacks these days.  You saw my a few of my caterpillars the other day.  Well, on Thursday I made ladybugs.  It's the kids' fault, really.  Well, let me just show you.  First I made these:
 Aren't they the cutest?  Just a half grape for the head and a strawberry for the body, with mini chocolate chip spots stuck into the berry.  I cut a line down the length of the strawberry to define the wings.  So yummy!
I made these as kind of an appetizer for lunch.  And they were delicious.  Strawberries and grapes?  I'm there.  Add chocolate to it?  Over the top.

The kids liked their ladybugs, too.  They liked them so much, in fact, that they requested ladybug sandwiches to go along with them.  What?  That was not part of the plan.

I'm not one to shrink away from a challenge, however (at least not a bug-shaped-food challenge), so I put my thinking cap on, broke out the bread, made these:
That's a peanut butter sandwich (but really, you could use any filling...although I'm not sure how ham, for example, would taste with the chocolate chips, which means if you use a more savory filling, you might want to sub black olives or something for the spots), cut with a circle cookie cutter.  I used one of the leftover corners for the head, and frosted it with some leftover chocolate frosting.  I added a black decorator frosting line to define the wings, and chocolate chip spots.

So there ya have it--a couple of buggy snacks. 

I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to make mosquito-shaped food for next week, but I'm working on it!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Five Photo Friday

A look back at our week--in pictures.

This week, we planted our garden, such as it is.  Due to its less-than-ideal location, I've been sorely disappointed with low yields in past years, so I wasn't going to plant anything this year.  The children whined and complained I mean spoke persuasively on the topic of why we should plant a garden this year, so we planted just the bare minimum (one thing that each person wanted): pumpkins, sugar snap peas, sunflowers, and zucchini.  We'll be planting tomato plants in the next week or so.  I'll let you guess who wanted what :)

The boys went on a canoe camping trip--sort of a dress rehearsal for the Boundary Waters in July.  Sounds like they had a great time. 

AKD's grade held a Culture Fair on Thursday, highlighting cultures in Africa, Asia, and South America.  AKD created a movie about Peru for his project, and he and his friend Con-Man made and sold Churros at the fair.  It was CRAZY in there.  Imagine 450 or so 6th graders, plus another 250 or so parents and teachers milling about in an area approximately the size of a regular middle school gym, which is half taken up with various projects and food stalls, and you'll have an idea what it was like.  If they were trying to recreate the crowded and confusing atmosphere of a bazaar in some of the countries the kids studied, they succeeded.  I'm amazed and grateful that we made it out alive.

We found eggs!

(Sorry about the blurriness) 
That mama bird is persistent, I'll give her that.  After building a nest on one of the pillars of our porch and having it callously ripped down by my husband, she built another nest on top of another post and promptly laid four grape-sized eggs in it.  I guess we're in for some more baby birds (and a big mess) in a few weeks.

We've been seeing the first Monarchs of the summer flitting about, so we decided to check our milkweed plants for eggs.  And here they are!  Babies are due in 1 or 2 days :)  I'm not quite brave enough to raise them from eggs, but I'll probably bring in a few soon after they hatch.  Hmmm...better start thinking of names.

And that's five pictures...BUT also this week, MC went on a field trip to various places in our town, including a local park with a gorgeous view, a historical building, EMS, Fire, and City Hall, along with a couple of businesses.  I was supposed to go along (and take at least one picture to share with you all), but I decided it would be better to stay home to save my child from the embarrassment of his mama getting sick in the middle of 40 third graders (I am feeling better now, by the way).  *Sigh* Oh well, I've got one more chance to go on this particular field trip...

Free MP3 Credit available again

Hello friends--

Just wanted to let you know that there is another FREE $2 MP3 credit available from  As I mentioned before, many songs are priced at just $0.99 on Amazon, so you can use this credit to snag two free songs!

All you need to do, is go here, and enter the name of your favorite song.  Then click the blue "share and claim" button.  The $2 credit will be automatically added to your account, and expires on May 24.

Happy (free) shopping!  Come back and let me know what songs you got :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

BUGS!--Butterfly Life Cycle

As I mentioned in this post, all insects go through the same life cycle, from egg, to larva, to pupa, to adult, and back to egg again.  Since the Camp Scarlet kids are getting a little older, I thought I should start being a little more intentional about injecting a little science into their experience, so during our entire BUGS! theme, I'm sneaking in little life cycle snippets, emphasizing that every insect goes through these four distinct stages in its life.

Earlier this week, we decided to make a visual representation of the butterfly life cycle.

First, I created the lifecycle document, just a circle divided into four sections, with arrows pointing around the circle (click here to print your own copy).  Next, from this website, I printed out the words for each stage of the cycle, using dotted lines for the kids to trace.  I cut them out and pasted one in each quadrant of the circle.

I cut a leaf out of green paper for our egg, and a branch out of brown paper for our pupa.  Then we set to work on our lifecycle, using our fingerprints and little stamp spots.  The kids traced each word, then added their fingerprints.

First, the egg, using just the tip of a pinky finger:

Next, the larva, or caterpillar, using the tip of an index finger:

Next came the pupa, or chrysalis, using the side of a pinky finger:

And finally, the adult, or butterfly.  We used thumbs for the upper wings, and index fingers for the lower wings.

I added a few details with a black marker and we were done :)

As an alternative to fingerprints, you can use pasta to diagram the butterfly lifecycle--use rice or orzo for the egg, a spiral pasta like rotini for the larva, shell pasta for the pupa, and bowtie pasta for the butterfly, as explained here.  Pasta is less messy, but fingerprints are much cuter :)

If you're looking for a good book to read about the butterfly life cycle, try Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert, which has gorgeous illustrations, and details the life cycle of 4 different kinds of butterflies.

Or The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is a great one, too.

Have fun!  Up next: ladybugs :)

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