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'Trees Make Perfect Pets' - Read and Rise April 2021

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases - at zero cost to you.

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  This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases - at zero cost to you.

'From Seed to Plant' - Read and Rise April 2021

 


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  This is probably one of my favorite activities to do with kids when we are learning about plants and how they grow. Growing beans in a jar...

How to Grow Beans in a Jar

 


This is probably one of my favorite activities to do with kids when we are learning about plants and how they grow. Growing beans in a jar lets you see up close how a little seed can turn into a large plant!

This activity pairs really well with the story, "From Seed to Plant" by Gail Gibbons. There are actually instructions on how to grow your own bean at the back of the book!



We use paper towels rather than black paper - I'm thinking the paper was used to have a better contrast between your bean and the background so you can see the growth better. But we've always had good luck with paper towels! Keep reading to see how we set up our experiment.

Step 1: This year we used 8oz wide mouth mason jars. I layered 2 half size paper towels and folded them down about 2/3 of the way so they'd be as tall as the jars.


Step 2: Roll up the paper towels.


Step 3: Put the rolled up paper towel in the jar, spread it out, and pour in 1/4-1/3 cup of water. You want enough water so the paper towels can absorb it and be soaked, but you don't want the water level to be so high that the beans are sitting in the water. Once the paper towels are soaked, the water level shouldn't be higher than an inch or so. If there's too much, pour a little out before you add the beans. 


Step 4: Carefully slide some beans about halfway down between the paper towel and glass. We used pinto, chickpea, and black beans. I labeled the sides of the jar with each child's initial and the date we put the beans in so we'd know whose it whose and how long they've been growing.


Step 5: Watch them grow! A couple of the beans sprouted tiny roots by the end of the next day. This is what we have after 5 days! 


The jars don't have to be placed in a sunny spot, all you have to do is make sure there is a little bit of water in the bottom of the jar so the paper towel stays soaked. It's an easy job for the kids because they can glance in the jar every day and see if it needs a little extra water. Once the beans have grown out of the jar, they will need sun and soil to keep growing strong. So at that point you can either plant them or toss them. 

Feel free to repeat the activity as many times as your child wants! Happy sprouting!




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  This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases - at zero cost to you. When I ...

'Emma Ren: Robot Engineer' Book Review

 


This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases - at zero cost to you.

When I saw this book on Kickstarter, my first thoughts were "Ooh! I'll have to add this book to my list when I do my women and girls in science post next February!" It also gave me the idea to do a series of female-focused Story-Based STEAM activities leading up to International Women and Girls in Science Day 2022. But I was getting way ahead of myself because the book is not even available for purchase yet and February 2022 is a long way away!


What I was able to do in the meantime was get in touch with the author, Jenny Lu, and she was gracious enough to share her storyboard with me so I could read the story with a few of my Cardboard Kids. 


"Emma Ren: Robot Engineer" is a story about Emma, a young girl who loves building things and tinkering with her father. One day, her teacher announces that they will be building robots in teams and battling them at the end of the week. Emma is really excited about this until her teacher pairs her with a boy who thinks girls can't build robots. Emma shows a lot of poise and restraint and remains calm and kind while showing the boy that girls can, in fact, be robot engineers.

I love the pictures! - Ani, 3


Initially, I wasn't crazy about the boy in Emma's class who insisted that girls didn't know anything about robots. I try to avoid negative talk like that and just focus on showing my children who they can be. However, after I thought about it, I feel like it is beneficial to have a book like this mixed in with all the rest because it encourages dialogue about what girls - and boys - can or can't do. After reading it with my children, we talked about how even though in reality there is no limit to what you can or can't do, some people have old-fashioned and outdated notions of what are appropriate roles for girls and boys. The story also showed us a great way respond if we do ever come across anyone who says we can't do something. Emma didn't let anger take over and she kept calm and respectful, while standing up for herself.

I liked how Emma proved the boy wrong! I also loved the robot competition, I couldn't wait to see what happened! - Emma, 6

 

I asked my daughter how she would respond if someone told her that girls don't play Minecraft and this is the response I got:

I'd say, have you seen me play?!?! Girls can do anything! - Lil C, 9

 


Squidgy didn't have much to say about the story, but he did grab his tablet and start playing CATS: Crash Arena Turbo Stars before I even finished reading the story. The kids have the game on their Amazon Fire Tablets (we have the Amazon Kids+ subscription so they have access to TONS of games and books). Basically, you build vehicles that you can customize with various wheels and attachments like drills, scoops, claws, and saws and then you battle another vehicle and see who is left standing at the end. So I think Squidgy enjoyed the battle bot part of the story. All the children expressed interest in building robots, especially battle bots, in the future so I do envision this book to be a great one to pair with a variety of robot STEAM activities! I can't wait to try out all my ideas and share them!


If you're interested in supporting Jenny's Kickstarter Campaign or in learning more about the project, please visit her Kickstarter Page, Emma Ren: Robot Engineer - Promoting STEM Education.


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  This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases - at zero cost to you.  When w...

How to Make a Cardboard Igloo - Arctic Unit Study

 

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When we began our Arctic Unit Study, I just knew I wanted to build a cardboard igloo. But I also knew I needed to improve on my building skills and use what I learned from my failures with the Haunted House Box Fort


The first thing I made sure to do was to use two boxes that were the exact same size for the octagon shape of the igloo. That in itself made my life much easier because I didn't have to cut anything or try to accommodate for taller or wider panels. 



The second - and possibly best - improvement I made was to toss the tape and use Makedo SCRUs for cardboard construction instead. The kids got them for Christmas and they are SUCH a game changer. They got the Makedo Toolkit and Connector 40 pack. Between the two sets they have 68 SCRUs in two sizes, a SCRU-DRIVER, a SAFE-SAW, and a MINI-TOOL.


The SCRUs hold the cardboard together much more securely than tape, they're easy to readjust, and there's no yards and yards of tape ending up in the garbage! One thing I will mention, though, is that the end of the SCRU-Driver is hard plastic that ends up digging into your palm so I would recommend wearing a glove if you're going to be building something that involves a lot of SCRUs.



Step 1: Open up two boxes of the same size, stand them up and arrange into an octagon shape. Secure the edges with SCRUs or tape. 



Step 2: Cut a curved opening for the entrance. Another improvement off the last box fort? I made sure to make the opening wide enough that I could crawl through...



Step 3: Here's where I ran into a bit of a snafu. My original plan was to cut down in between the side panels and begin folding the domed roof just above the doorway. However, the boxes I used were double-ply which meant the only way I was going to be able to fold them was to score the boxes where I wanted to fold them. In hindsight, that probably wouldn't have been too much work, but at the time it seemed like too much effort. So Plan B went into effect and the dome began higher, where the top flaps of the box were. 


Full disclosure: I did not measure anything. I simply picked a flap to start with, pushed it forward to what looked like a good angle, scored and folded the flap that would go behind, and secured them with a SCRU. I repeated all the way around until all the flaps were angled in and secured together. 



Step 4: Using scrap pieces of cardboard from a single-ply box, I shaped an arch entryway and secured it to the main part of the igloo. 



Step 5: Complete the dome. I got 8 pieces of cardboard (of the same size) that were about the same width as the walls of the igloo - each piece was the side panel of a box plus a flap on top. One at a time, I secured them to the angled flaps and used the same score and fold method to attach the pieces. 



Step 6: Fold the top flaps down, cut to shape, and secure. Because I didn't measure back in Step 3, then flaps didn't line up perfectly because all the panels were not folded at exactly the same angle. But this wasn't a huge problem. I was able to cut and fold the pieces so they all closed up pretty nicely with a little skylight left in the middle. 



Step 7: Cut small windows all around to let some extra light in. Furnish with pillows and blankets to make it nice and cozy inside so you can read a book about the Arctic!

The igloo may not have ended up EXACTLY as I had envisioned it, but all in all, I think it turned out really well and was definitely an improvement on my first box fort!



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  This month we are celebrating the earth and the amazing plants and creatures out there! First up, birds! Once spring comes, there are bird...

'Birds Make Nests' - Read and Rise April 2021

 


This month we are celebrating the earth and the amazing plants and creatures out there! First up, birds! Once spring comes, there are birds in our yard tweeting and chirping and singing almost all day. We love watching them, identifying ones we're unfamiliar with, and trying to figure out which bird makes which call. Lil C especially loves it once the summer rolls around and we can see all the kid birds around the yard. Last year there were a bunch of kid robins and 3 kid cardinals that we'd always see together.

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We've been talking about birds all week, and observing the many birds in our yard. We collected a variety of nesting materials and left ...

Build a Nest STEM Activity with 'The Perfect Nest'


We've been talking about birds all week, and observing the many birds in our yard. We collected a variety of nesting materials and left it outside for the birds, but unfortunately no one seemed to want anything from our pile! To see what we collected for the birds, check out my "Birds Make Nests" post.

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