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!