Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Episode Twenty Five: Answer Their Questions

When I was young I remember my father telling me about the hard questions we asked him. My brother asked why was the sky blue, my sister asked where do mountains come from and I can never remember what I asked. What I can remember is that he tried his hardest to answer them and when he was exhausted with the follow up questions he said "go ask your mother". When mum got exhausted of those questions she said "go ask your teacher" and the teacher said "go home and ask your father". Classic.

The other day while doing some yard work my wife found a bird's nest. I don't think I'll ever cease to be amazed by the way a bird can construct something so intricate and so ornate. They are incredibly complicated and I've often thought about how I could recreate one but I'm convinced I couldn't replicate the attention to detail. Incredible!

My children were equally impressed and we all took turns looking at it and examining it; wondering what sort of bird could possibly come up with such a puzzling piece of architecture. We also talked about the different strands that were used; not just sticks and twigs but parts of shade cloth, polythene and moss. 

My wife wondered aloud how the birds transport the mud that is used to put it all together (really hoping it's mud, otherwise ew!). My eldest boy wanted to know whether birds get taught how to build nests by their mothers or was it just 'natural ability', as he put it. My middle boy asked if they needed to be reminded how to make nests or if they learnt once and remembered every time. My youngest girl was just happy to poke and prod away at the nest.

With these questions in mind we went inside and looked for the answers on the magical internets. I always think about how lucky my children and I are to be living at a time where all the answers are stored on an easy-to-use network that can be accessed by anyone with a subscription and the technology. I think about how in the past knowledge has been kept guarded by those with influence or wealth. It was held in universities and other establishments that you had to get accepted in to. If you wanted to learn about how the brain worked you had to go to the school that had the best information about the brain. Now days you just do a search on Wiki. It's so awesome. People, who in previous times, wouldn't have had access to this knowledge have begun to use it in all sorts of ways.

Answering your children's questions honestly, properly and effectively is probably the best thing you can do for them. You're teaching them to think, to explore their ideas. You're teaching them that their thoughts and opinions have value. Anyone with a child going through the "why?" phase will know that it's so easy to just give one word answers and dismiss all the questions. But actually indulging these questions can be a pretty fascinating past time. Children seem to have the craziest brains that come up with all sorts of weird and wonderful questions ( thinking). If you don't know the answer, show them how to find out. Or do a search together. Knowledge is power and you can either be like the university that held on tight to it's research and knowledge or you can give it out for free and see what your children do with it.

 If you're interested, a bird knows how to build a nest by instinct and by looking at the nest they grew up in. Birds don't need to be reminded how to make nests but aren't always great at it to begin with. Birds transfer mud and clay in their beaks when building nests. We also found this awesome BBC footage on YouTube - check it out:

Have fun!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Episode Twenty Four: Rakau Kanikani

The other weekend our family went to the Gypsy Fair which was visiting town. Amongst all the stalls was a stand that was selling 'Devil Stick's. I have never really been a fan of the term Devil Stick as it makes zero sense to me. Either way, my boys asked me if I knew how to use them and it turns out I did because we used to make them when I was little. Here's how:

For this idea you will need some bamboo (you will need probably need a couple of metres - if you can get it all the same sort of width/thickness that would be ideal), old car tyre tubes, insulation tape, a staple gun, scissors, a hand saw and a hammer.

You will need to cut three lengths of bamboo. The two 'handle' sticks, about 400mm in length and similar widths (as demonstrated above) and the 'dancing' stick which should be thicker if possible and about 500mm. Using a saw or loppers or whatever tool suits, cut off and spurs which are sticking out. You want to have a pretty smooth surface but still allowing for the natural shape of the bamboo with it's nodes. With the dancing stick, you can decorate it with the insulation tape. Near the middle of the stick get your kids to choose what colours they want to wrap around it for decoration.

The next job is a bit of a bugger but it has to be done. Cut your tyre tube width ways; either side of the valve is best as you can't use the valve or surrounding parts. Then cut off two widths at 100mm wide and put them aside for later. Then start cutting your tube into strips lengthwise about half an inch wide (sorry to go from metric to imperial measurements). This is time consuming and each strip needs to be as long and as straight as possible. You're going to be pulling on these strips so any nicks or cuts won't do.

Next up you want to get a handle stick and staple the beginning of a strip of tyre tube to the top of it (you may need to hammer in the staple if the rubber is particularly thick) and wrap the rubber around itself once before wrapping it down the length of the stick in a diagonal pattern. Your dancing stick will grip on to the rubber on the handles and it will be a lot more effective if you're able to overlap the rubber on itself a little - about 5mm. Once you have wrapped it all the way down to the other end of the stick, staple it to the bamboo, wrap it around itself, staple again and cut off any excess. If your length of rubber is too short to reach the end? No dramas - just staple the end of the first length to the beginning of another length and keep wrapping it around the handle. Repeat the process for the other handle.

For the 'dancing' stick you want to do a similar thing but first we are going to use the widths of rubber we put aside earlier. Cut each one in half width ways and (as modelled above) make incisions about half an inch width-ways but don't cut all the way through - making a fringe type thingy-ma-jig. You'll need two of these to wrap around either end of the dancing stick. Staple the uncut (or in tact) portion of the rubber on to the end of the bamboo: these almost act as fingers which grab on to the handles and keep the dancing stick in the air for longer (check out the picture below to see what I'm going on about). Once you've stapled the two frilly parts to either end start wrapping another strip of rubber down the length of the bamboo. This time, instead of overlapping the rubber, leave a gap about 5mm thick and as you reach the middle of the stick you can increase the gap to 10mm so that you can see the colours of the insulation tape - then decrease to 5mm until you reach the other end of the bamboo.

Once all that is done - you're finished! It's pretty late as I'm writing this and I'm reading back on it really wondering if any of it makes sense at all. I hope it does. If not, I'm sure there are thousands of tutorials online that may explain it better or you can ask for help in the comment section or on our Facebook page. Now what? You have this set of rakau kanikani (or dancing sticks) and now you need to learn how to use them. Here is a tutorial for your convenience:

What did we learn? First of all I learnt to move my hand out of the way when I'm sawing and not cut my finger (the hard way). Secondly I learnt that tyre shops don't have so many tyre tubes hanging around these days. My children also learnt the value of team work and following instructions. However, the biggest take away lesson we got from this idea is that it's very hard to pick up something like a dancing stick or juggling balls and be good at it first go. This is super frustrating but a good lesson to learn. Things like these take time to learn and years to master. 

Have Fun!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Episode Twenty Three: Be Their Biggest Fan

I feel like I'm back in the swing of things now - I had a couple of weeks off from the site. I jumped head-first into this project and although it's been a great journey so far, sometimes it feels like my parenting is for the purpose and benefit of the blog. What I really want is for the blog to benefit from the parenting I already do. Does that make sense? So for those two weeks I parented for my children and not the audience I have through this site. Thank you for sticking with me and supporting Ideas For Dads. It's been a very cool journey for my children and myself so far.

The other night my middle boy had a fundraiser for his kindergarten - a bike-a-thon! The idea was that the kids biked around a track at one of the local schools and got sponsorship for their efforts. We filled up the form with sponsors and pledges and the excitement grew throughout the week. It's hard work being the middle child, I imagine. This felt like it was an event that was finally all his. Not a big brother's Cubs camp, not a little sister's first birthday but his very own event where the sole focus was on him.

After work on a cloudy, breezy day we rolled up to the school field with the rest of the bikers, families and support crew and got ourselves sorted. Before coming home from work I made up a few signs of encouragement to surprise him. The grandparents came along and joined us in cheering him on. There was no stopping him! He took off around the track before the event started and clocked his first lap. From there on in he was like a bat out of hell peddling around the track. 

The whole way around the track he had his head down, focused on the task. His concentration was absolute. I tried to get him to have a rest but he wouldn't have a bar of it. He was determined to get in those laps and earn the money for his kindergarten. It was an incredible thing to watch. However, as he passed his station of supporters he beamed from ear-to-ear. We would yell and clap our hands while he would smile and almost laugh but keep on peddling. He ended up doing seven laps!

Being a Dad, being a caregiver of any kind takes a lot of cheer-leading. Sometimes it's building your child up before they go out the door to face another day of school they don't enjoy. Sometimes it's convincing them they can do that really scary thing they have told themselves they couldn't possibly do. Other times it's very literal like what we did with my middle boy - or going to a school assembly and yelling and cheering while they receive a certificate. Who doesn't want to hear the roar of the crowd as they accomplish something? It's an amazing experience. That is a gift that really goes both ways: To see your children achieve something remarkable is a powerful experience. Just like them having you there watching it - witnessing their skill, their strengths is priceless.

Over the last two weeks I took off I really looked at the aim of this project. I know what I'm offering to you, the reader. I know what I'm hoping to add to other Dad's lives - that's pretty much spelt out very clearly now. The question I faced was what did I want my own children to get out of this website? If you get right down to it, all I want to give my children are great memories: I want to do things with them that they might not recall exactly as they get older but they can know with certainty that I was there, I was 100% in the moment with them and I showed them that they can do anything.

Being their biggest fan is one of the best ways you can do all of those things.

Have fun!

(Also, I would like to thank my wife for taking such awesome photos which have made the the last twenty three ideas look incredible. Thank you!)

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Episode Twenty Two: The Tasting Game

This is a game that I used to play with my sister when we were younger. I don't know how it started or what crazy book or magazine we read it in, but it was a huge hit. This is 'The Tasting Game'. 

It works like this: one person is blindfolded while the other people feed them different edible items. If the blindfolded person can guess what the food is, they get a point! We usually play four turns per person, so whoever guesses the most out of four is the winner. Easy.

On the face of it this game looks like a game of skill, a game of who has the best sense of taste - but it's not. It is a game about trust. It is a great team-building exercise for warring siblings, of which I have two.

If everyone takes part, then chances are you will be the one on the receiving end of whatever weird and wonderful food your family give you. If you give your little brother a teaspoon of Baking Soda, what might you receive in return? This game is Instant Karma in motion.

To keep things fair and enjoyable I usually try and steer things in a yum, yuck, yum, yum pattern. For four turns you have at least one gross food to taste and three nice ones. It keeps it fun and will reign in unruly brothers and sisters who just want to feed their siblings cocoa powder, salt and avocado.

At the moment in our house there is a lot of talking about treating others how you wish to be treated. A lot. So this game has been quite a helpful tool. What was interesting was our eldest boy who is struggling with treating his brother as an equal was terrified of playing this game. Maybe a weeks worth of bossing his brother around was going to come back to haunt him. With a bit of coaching we were about to keep the middle boy within the rules of the game - but it was a real awakening for both of them.

As I was instigating the foods to be tasted, I had to have a go. I was petrified but luckily Mum was there to save me from who knows what. I had sugar, a gross jam I usually refuse to eat, chocolate chips and an ice cube. Not so bad!

Have fun!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Episode Twenty One: Cornflour Paint

Some ideas take a lot of planning or forethought. Some weekends I have grand plans of trying out two or three ideas for this website and other weekends I just want to hang out with the kids with no pretense. These photos and this idea is from a day when I literally just threw some things together and hung out with my family. It just so happened that my wife captured it on film/memory card.

For this idea you will need corn flour or corn starch (same thing apparently), food colouring, water and a muffin tray. In each divit of the muffin tray put two tablespoons of corn flour, two drops of food colouring and enough water to make it runny - not super waterey but of a consistency that it can be painted with a brush.

It was a hard weekend and I just wanted to sit outside, take some time out and 'be' with my children. Luckily for me the corn flour paint kept them enthralled for quite a while. In fact they used up the first batch I made myself and so I talked them through making their own mixture.

I originally found this idea on Pinterest and that's something I've been thinking about as we get closer to the half year mark. This site has become less about creating the amazing ideas and more about carrying out the cool ideas you see on the net - and showing you that it can be done. Sure, I will still use my own ideas moving forward, but there has been a real shift towards trying out things we've all seen but thought it would be too much hard work. I hope you're cool with that.

The take away lesson from this idea is that spending time with your children can be spontaneous, it can be unplanned and still be fun. Sometimes, with this site in mind, our activities can turn into big productions which is cool, but they don't have to be. The little ones will still be curious about what you're up to.

Give this one a go, the kids will love the chance to get messy and paint all over things. The paint washes off so it's no dramas. It's not as tricky as it looks, I promise!

Have fun!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Episode Twenty: Making Sherbet

When I was at intermediate school we did manual. I don't know what they call it these days but it consisted of Metal Work, Wood Work, Sewing and Home Economics. In Home Ec' one of the first recipes we followed was sherbet. It's very simple but it tastes fantastic and it doesn't require any baking, frying or freezing. All that is required for this idea is Icing Sugar, Baking Soda, Citric Acid, Tartaric Acid and Raro (or any other powdered drink) - the recipe can be found at the bottom of this post.

I took a few days off work this week for the school holidays so I could hang out with my kids and have a bit of a break from work which had been pretty hectic. We managed to fit a lot in but only managed to get photos of the sherbet idea. We played Lego, entered a kid's fishing tournament and generally mucked around. It was awesome!

The sherbet idea worked well for us because all three children were able to scoop out the ingredients with no hassle. The measurements were easy and the only real preparation was shaking it all up in small container with a lid. 

The cool thing about this recipe is you can show them how each ingredient adds it's own layer to the final mix. So I explained to them how the icing sugar acts a base and gives it volume. Then we explained how the baking soda mixes with the Tartaric Acid to give it the fizz (I demonstrated this by adding baking soda to a glass of water and getting the boys to drop a pinch of Tartaric Acid into it and seeing what happens - try it!). The Citric Acid gives it that bitter taste and the Raro gives it the flavour.

Once they got their head around the different ingredients we could experiment with amounts of ingredients used. If you cut back on the baking soda, what happens? If you put in too much Raro what happens to the consistency of the sherbet? We had a great time making our own mixtures and trying each others to see how they stacked up. The boys loved this idea so much that we did it again the next day!

Sherbet Recipe

Two tablespoons of Icing Sugar
1/2 teaspoon of Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon of Citric Acid
1/2 teaspoon of Tartaric Acid
Two tablespoons of Raro (or juice powder)

Add all of the ingredients into a small container with a lid. Put the lid on, shake, shake, shake and serve!

Have fun!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Cool Stuff: Make 'em Laugh!

I try really hard not to just steal all the best videos from The Kids Should See This but I can make an exception for this one.

This right here is my middle boy's favourite video online at the moment. A great scene from Singing In The Rain. Check it out below:

Have fun!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Cool Stuff: Sharing Your Hobbies In Motion

A while back I posted the idea Sharing Your Hobbies. One of my hobbies is collecting vinyl or records. Another unofficial hobby is watching things on YouTube, especially documentaries about record collectors.

While watching an episode of the Crate Diggers series on record collectors, I spotted a great moment with legendary DJ Eclipse and his young son. The first scene really shows how much joy children can get out of your hobbies. Check it out below.

Have fun!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Episode Nineteen: Take Their Cue

One rainy Saturday morning I asked my youngest son what he thought would be a good Idea For Dad. I was taken aback when he suggested washing the car! I'm not making this up.

As it was a rainy day there was no way we were going to get outside to wash the car so we ended up doing something else instead. But his suggestion of washing the car kept coming up. Finally, a sunny Saturday morning rolled around and he got his wish. We washed the car together, just him and I.

So what's the deal here? We have covered 18 great ideas so far and most of them have been parent-driven. You are directing the activity and leading the charge. You come up with the great ideas and your children love the new and exciting things you are doing with them. But sometimes it's OK to hand over the reins to the kids. What do they want to do? What would they do if they could choose anything in the world. Don't be surprised if they ask for a repeat of an idea you've already done. I can't guarantee they will ask to wash the car like my youngest boy but you never know.

My boys often want to wrestle but the timing is never great. Sometimes I've had a long day and am not in the mood at all. Sometimes I've gone to the gym on the way home from work and am feeling particularly sore. Or sometimes their little sister is demanding all of my attention - that happens a lot. You may find there is something that your children ask to do but the timing is never right or it's just not possible. Why not set some time aside to make it possible? Ask them what they feel like doing, take your cue from them. If they struggle to think of something, remind them of that one activity they always nag you about and suggest that to them. 

Letting your children  take charge and set the rules is a great thing to do for them. Not only are you granting them the chance to set the agenda, you're sharing the duties. You're giving them a chance to use their noggin. What is the wildest and craziest idea they can come up with? You're exercising their imagination. You are saying to them, "OK, your ideas have merit. I will listen to and value your suggestions". How often when they have friends over have you said, "Now it's Emily's turn to chose the game". Bingo, same theory here.

Just as an aside, I tried to figure out what is appealing about washing the car. There are two factors in play here: One) My son has always been the type to muck in. If we're doing yard work he'll roll up his sleeves and dig holes, spread fertiliser and hammer nails. He has always been this way and I really think he gets a lot of joy out of helping people out with their chores. Helping Dad with the car seemed to bring a big smile to his dial. Two) It was a great one-on-one activity. Something that only the two of us did. Not entirely by design: My eldest boy was inside reading books and wouldn't even consider coming outside to help us. That isn't a criticism of him, it's more an illustration of how different these two boys are. It is what it is.

My youngest son really enjoys doing jobs with just the two of us. I'm trying hard to think of what other tasks I've been putting off around the house that I can turn into an idea for him. One can dream.

Have fun!

Cool Stuff: Why Is Money Money?

One of my favourite games when I was young was a New Zealand board game called Poleconomy. One of the best things about this game was the fact that it had $1,000,000 bills. As a kid, I always wondered why I couldn't just take those notes to the local Toy World and buy whatever I wanted.

The YouTube video below explains why the money we use holds value and why we can't buy things with a banana. Pretty cool.

Have fun!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Cool Stuff: Snails Eating Lettuce

One night when I was young, my Mother was putting me to bed. She asked me to be quiet for a minute and then make a list of all the noises I could hear. We ended up with thirteen sounds that we could hear.

I always think of that when someone talks about silence or a room being quiet.

In this YouTube video, insects are put into a totally silent room and then recorded with microphones to hear things you would never imagine are possible. What do to centipede footsteps sound like? Find out below

Have fun!

Monday, 30 September 2013

Cool Stuff: Getting Kids Cooking

As I mentioned previously, I'm no gourmet chef. But I still can see the benefits of getting in the kitchen with my children. My very kind and bodacious cousin sent this great video my way which I am sharing with you.

Jamie Oliver's Getting Kids Into Kitchens series. A very cool take on five plus a day.

Do you have any child-friendly recipes? What are they?

Have fun!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Episode Eighteen: Harvesting Ginger Beer

Two weeks after we put the batch of ginger beer it was harvesting time! After about a week the boys were asking every day if it was time to try some so it was a great exercise in patience. I'm pretty happy to report that none of the bottles had exploded nor caps popped off. Success!

Facts first: The carbonation was perfect. A great amount of bubbles fizzing up after twisting the cap. However, a week or so after opening the first bottle, opening a new bottle became a fizzed out affair - almost like popping a champagne cork. Watch out for flying caps and froth.

One thing I found, and someone else mentioned this, the ginger flavour wasn't strong enough. I'm trying to figure out what I'd do differently next time. I think we may add two teaspoons of ground ginger each day feeding our bug, or maybe grate some ginger root into the mix? Any suggestions are welcome.

Our ginger beer was enjoyed with a hot batch of Sunday scones. All in all we were pretty proud of our handy work. Sharing in the spoils of our hard work and patience was a pretty cool moment and a really nice way to spend a Sunday.

I'm interested to see how everyone else got/gets on with their own batches of ginger beer. Again, if anyone else has any suggestions for getting a stronger ginger taste I'm interested to hear them.

Have fun!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Episode Seventeen: Painters Tape Target Practice

There have been a lot of rainy day activities trialled in our house lately. I'm very much looking forward to Summer and being able to get out and play around with some of the outdoor ideas I've got stocked up. In the meantime, here is an idea that is the perfect rainy day distraction.

All you need for this idea is painters tape and a newspaper. Seriously.

Stick the painters tape across a doorway in a criss-cross fashion and get your kids to thrown scrunched up balls of paper at it. I found this idea online and I thought it was so simple that it had to be tried. In the original idea, the aim of the game seemed to be getting the paper balls to stick to the tape. Instead of using a door way I used a clothing rack I happened to have lying around and it worked a treat.

I thought an interesting variation of the idea would be to make a 'hole' and make that the goal. So, five points were given if you could get the ball through the goal and, after realising how hard it is to get the balls to stick to the tape, 3 points were given for that feat. This point system may work well when you have children of different age groups. Littlies may find it hard to score a goal. My middle boy got it first go but then struggled for a while after that.

I have to say, I was pretty surprised how long the boys stayed interested in an activity so simple. It is a great idea for hand-eye coordination, for aim and friendly competition. We played this for about 45 minutes. A few hours later we had a visit from the grandparents and they dragged the stand out and started up another game with their Koro, with no real prompting from me. I was stoked.

It really goes to show, organising activities don't necessarily have to be big productions. Just a simple $2.00 roll of painters tape can be all it takes to engage with your children and keep them giggling while the rain comes down.

Have fun!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Episode Sixteen: Sumo Wrestling!

For this idea you need one of your larger size t-shirts and two couch cushions. Pretty simple, really!

This idea was spotted on Pinterest and I decided my boys would love it. Here's how we got on.

A father putting a cushion under a t-shirt

Get your kids to put one of your t-shirts on, hopefully they are swimming in them. Then chuck a couch cushion underneath their shirt so they have a big Sumo belly. I wish there was more to it, but there really isn't.

Two boys getting ready to sumo wrestle

To make things interesting, I made a Sumo ring using painters tape on the carpet. From all my time watching Sumo wrestling highlights on television as a kid; the first one to put a foot out of the ring or get knocked over loses. We made it two feet out of the ring.

Two boys sumo wrestling

Sometimes a bit of rough and tumble is just want the doctor ordered on a rainy day. As long as there are boundaries and the warriors know the rules, I don't see anything wrong with it. Our rules are: the head and face are out of bounds. No punching, unless that is part of the game (one of our sons is a future Mike Tyson). Also, the oldest boy has to let the middle boy win occasionally - this is usually done with a bit of a sly wink - otherwise what's the point? 

Two boys sumo wrestling

Learning each others strengths and limits can be a good thing. I didn't grow up with my older brother in the house as he was a lot older than me. So seeing these two boys scrap and bicker constantly has been a real eye opener for me. Luckily, with activities like this, they are able to get that aggression out in a controlled environment. Sure, we could separate them and discourage them from fighting and wrestling, but, as these photos will probably show you - they had a whale of a time.

Two boys sumo wrestling and a baby watching

Seriously, how fun does this look?

Two boys sumo wrestling and having fun

Have fun!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Episode Fifteen: Making Ginger Beer

When I was young my Aunty made ginger beer with my cousins and I was always jealous of the fact that they got to do that and that they got to reap the fruits of their labour. So, inspired by those exploding bottles, I decided to make my own ginger beer with my own children.

Using a recipe I found in a magazine we got to work: On the first day we started our bug using water, sugar, yeast and ground ginger. Then, every day we added to our bug. Each day for a week the boys took turns putting in the sugar and the ginger. It got to the point where first thing in the morning my youngest boy would wake me up by saying "Dad, we need to feed the bug!". It was exciting stuff.

After a week the bug was looking pretty settled and smelt like real ginger beer so it was time to create our brew. Using a large pot we poured in some water, a heap of sugar, some lemon juice, cream of tartar and our bug. Each of us took turns to add the ingredients. Even my baby girl got to stir the potion.

Once it was all mixed we filled out bottles. After a warning from Dee and a friendly caution from one of the contractors who was painting our house, we decided to use a mixture of glass and plastic bottles. Apparently the bottles are liable to explode so they were all put into a big black rubbish bag, tied up and put in the garden shed. Hopefully if the pressure gets too great and they do explode, the theory is that all of the mess will stay contained within the bag. Fingers crossed.

Although I wanted to rewrite my childhood and finally get my own experience of brewing ginger beer - there were also some great lessons for the kids in this activity. The slow process of feeding the bug can't be rushed so we learnt patience. We all took turns adding to the bug and adding the ingredients to the final mixture so we learnt about sharing the load. Finally, we will have some sweet homemade ginger beer to drink and to give away to our friends so we learn the value of hard work and patience.

We couldn't resist having a little sip to see how it tasted before we bottled it. We're currently on to our first week of fermenting with one more to go. Once it's time to do the taste test, I'll be sure to post the results. In the mean time, here is the recipe should you want to give it a crack:

Ginger Beer Recipe

Warm water
2 tsp yeast
2 tsp raw sugar
2 tsp ground ginger

This here is your bug. Fill a large jar (hipster points for Mason jars) three quarters full with warm water. Add the rest of the ingredients then cover loosely. Don't tighten the lid or who knows what will happen! Then, every day after that for a week add 1 tsp raw sugar and 1 tsp ground ginger. Once a week is up, you're set.

3 cups raw sugar
2 tsp cream of tartar
1L boiling water
5L cold water
2 lemons worth of juice

This is your mixture. In a large pot or bucket add the sugar and the cream of tartar then pour the boiling water in there (might be a good idea to do this yourself). Give that a bit of a stir so that all of the sugar is dissolved. Once you've done that, pour in the cold water and your bug (but DON'T add the sludgey stuff from the bottom). Give that a short stir then throw in your lemon juice. Give it a good stir and then pour into your bottles. They say to store your bottles in a cool, dark place. Apparently these bottles can explode from the awesomeness of ginger beer so make sure wherever you are storing it, you're not too attached to or it's at least cleanable. I just chucked ours in the shed to avoid all that hassle.

With your left over sludge you have two choices: chuck it out, or, start again. If you want to start again, fill the jar to the top with water then tip out half (or give to a friend to make their own!) then fill again to three quarters with warm water and away you go.

Have fun!