A couple years ago, my then 4yo and I embarked on a playsilks experiment. 

I tend to get a crafty idea, make a bunch of them, get tired of it, and move on. (Afghans, mei tai baby carriers, felt Christmas trees, car seat canopies, I’m looking at you!)

The playsilks were a similar project. We ordered about 30 of various sizes from Dharma Trading, used all of them as gifts as well as keeping for ourselves, and then we ordered another 20 or so scarves to do more, since it was such a fun and easy project.

We’ll probably repeat within the next year or two, as my girls are almost old enough to handle it.

The Artful Parent has a great tutorial, so I’m not going to try to reinvent the wheel.

What I did want to mention is how fun it can be to play with the color combinations. We have some monochrome scarves and some others that use 2, 3, or even more color combinations.

We use these scarves All. The. Time. Even my 6yo. We dance with them, use them as blindfolds, pretend to be superheroes, wrap our dolls in them, use them as tablecloths for pretend picnics.

They’re machine washable. (I know – the word silk scared me too) and have enriched our play tremendously.

Oh, and there’s also the sensory bonus of rolling in a pile of silk too. Pretty sure that happens on a not-too-infrequent basis.

I love open-ended play objects and that we’re using our own artwork. 

And no, my kids still don’t know that Kool-Aid is actually a beverage. 🙂 

A Simple Chromatography Experiment



I’m a sucker for simple experiments with common household items and dramatic results, and my 6 year old is currently in love with colors. The other day, he didn’t ask his cousin what her favorite color is. He asked what her favorite color group is (primary, secondary, or tertiary – spoiler alert: he likes the tertiary color group the best). And pretty much refuses to have anything to do with primary colors right now. Don’t ask me why. I really don’t know.

When I found this experiment, I knew it was going to be a winner.

Just like she suggests, we drew circles on our filters, labeled them with pencil, and then curled them and placed them in shallow cups so that only the tips were immersed in water.

We used a bunch of different (washable) marker colors on our 4 c coffee filters, and after the initial recommended circles, J also experimented with patterns to see how they would affect the outcome.

We then tried immersing the color in water and discussed why that didn’t work the same.

Have fun, and let your creativity run free!

Happy wondering.



The Art of Pairing 

Some time in the last year, I came across the term “strewing”. It refers to strategically placing toys and educational items to be “discovered” by your children. – here’s a pretty good overview.

I was intrigued. I’ve done a certain amount of this over the years, but I never knew it had a name. 

I’d like to introduce a second “level” to the concept that I call pairing. Simply put, it means placing unrelated items next to each other to invite your children to interact with those objects in new and novel ways. This encourages flexible thinking and problem solving, and you often pick up on some fantastic science concepts along the way.

Case in point: today, I moved a balance board next to a doll house. 

It became a merry-go-round. We would spin it (motor skills) and watch the figures fly off (centripetal force, momentum), we swayed it back & forth & looked at how much of an angle it took for them to slide off (friction, objects at rest tend to stay at rest). We put things in the center and near the edges and observed the differences. 

Note – this was all child-led, and I didn’t mention one science term as we were playing. We just observed how the world works and how two objects that ordinarily don’t fit together can make something new.

A few other ideas we’ve explored:

  • A balloon & a marble
  • Light Brite pegs & Play doh
  • Rubber bands & chairs

Your turn – what objects have you or could you use for unexpected interactions? The possibilities are endless! 

What to Pack for the Next Adventure

This post is a sister post to one I wrote about traveling with intense kids.

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When we travel, we don’t tend to have lots of extra room. Our Mazda5 has very little cargo room, and airplane trips have their own constraints. For that reason, we’ve gotten pretty creative and flexible in the types of things we pack to get the most value for our little spaces.

We love card games. They take so little room and are very flexible. While we don’t get these out in the car, they’re nice for hotels, airport waiting areas, etc. because they’re quiet(ish) and don’t typically require much room.

  • The Cat the Hat I Can Do That card game is great for 3-6 year olds, especially when needing to get those wiggles out in a hotel room.
  • We just discovered the game There’s a Moose in the House – a fun, interactive game where there can be multiple winners or ties. It says for 8 & up on the packaging, but we just played it with two 6yos this weekend, and it worked great.
  • Think Fun as a 4 pack of classic card games –  Crazy Eights, Old Maid, Hearts, and Animal Rummy that would probably also round out a good collection. We played a modified version of Crazy Eights with my 3yos, and they can handle Old Maid too.

We also pack a couple items that get kids running when they have a chance to get outside. For a car trip, a small bottle of bubbles is great (or pick one up at the local drug store along the way). We also love our Aerobie. It’s easier to throw than a Frisbee and doesn’t hurt as much if it hits you. Plus, its slimline design means that it backs so easily to take anywhere. I tend to also keep a pack of balloons in my purse or diaper bag. You blow one (or more) up and have an instant party with the the under 8 crowd! (and their parents, too!)

For books, I like to get half-sized books and flashcards. They’re easier for the kids to hold and work with in cramped quarters. Usborne has a wonderful variety of options for sticker and doodle books in their pocket books sets. Contact your local consultant, or search on their website  — or I often get their stuff used on Amazon or Ebay.

For snacks, these Rubbermaid Mini Takealongs are just the right size for prepackaging dry snacks, dried fruits, and even peas or grapes.

We’ve recently also discovered magnetic tins, which are great for the pincer grip once you’re out of the putting everything in the mouth stage.

And for car trips, the Etch-A-Sketch is still a classic, as are audio books, pipe cleaners, and plain old colored pencils and activity books.

We try to limit tablet time and video games because they cause our sensitive kids’ brains to go into overdrive, which can lead to meltdowns of various sorts.

All in all, we’ve found that we need less than we think we do. Travel in and of itself is exciting enough. The highlight of last weekend’s drive home from Pennsylvania? Eating Sargento Cheese Sticks while driving next to a big Sargento cheese truck. That thing was cool. SargentoTruck

Scooter Circles

IMG_20170523_090347933 (2)

So… the picture quality isn’t great, but you see those curved lines behind the scooter (aff link)? That was this morning’s math conversation. When you go straight with wet wheels on a 3 wheeled scooter, the center (rear) wheel is equidistant from the two sides.

What happens when you turn? Is it possible to get the rear wheel to actually meet or go outside of the lines of the front wheels? What happens if you go backwards?

What else could you do to test this out?

And what materials could you use if you wanted to try this again inside? Any ideas?


Happy wondering!



This post contains affiliate links.  Any links to resources on the Amazon website are part of the affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. There is NO pressure to buy. 🙂

Coffee Filter Parachutes

I love finding simple, creative ways to explore with my kids. When I came across this idea for coffee filter parachutes, it fit the bill because

1) – we already had coffee filters and pipe cleaners (chenille stems)

2) – it required very little finesse or talent. Pinterest and I don’t get along very well. 

3) – the possibilities for exploration were endless

 We started out mostly following directions.

Then my kids became curious – they tried different combinations:

  • Beads weighting the stems in different locations
  • Holes in the filters in various locations
  • Centered and non-centered stems

After that, I stood on a chair, and we raced them, 2 at a time, predicting which would be fastest, slowest, & why, and then testing their hypotheses.

Today, we gathered up all our chutes and headed to the local playground. 

There we further tested our chutes with the added wind variable (plus the crumpled variable from being handled so much). It was a blast.

A couple things we learned: we had the little 4c basket shaped filters. This probably would have worked better with a larger size, and if you’re working with little kids especially, make sure the pipe cleaner ends get bent down so no one gets poked in all the excitement.

Happy parachuting!

What variations did your kids come up with? 


Last year, as I was bringing my kindergartner home for the summer, I knew that we would need some kind of guidance, at least for the first couple of weeks, to keep us from the “I’m bored!” “What can I do now” stage.

My then-five-year-old is a creative, out-of-the-box thinker. If you give him options A&B, he’ll choose C. If you offer A-E, he’ll choose F, or a combination of the above. Because of that, I was careful to create a more open-ended document that we could use together.

We didn’t end up actually filling anything out last summer. Instead, we used the categories as starting points of different ways to think of productively going about the day.Summer Plans 2016

If this is helpful for you, great!

Am also attaching as a .docx file (Summer Plans 2016), in case you’d like to take this and modify for your own use. Enjoy! And happy summer!