525/600:

A Year of Trying to be a Better Mom

Making Butter August 4, 2010

You know how when you cook a special recipe that requires ingredients like heavy whipping cream and you never use all of it? Well, I made such a recipe recently. I’ve been wondering how to use up the rest of the whipping cream before it would expire. I suppose an obvious answer would be to whip it…and make whipped cream…but I had nothing to eat whipped cream on. Though don’t think I’m above eating whipped cream by the spoonful. I mean…no, no, I never do fat-tastic things like that! Never.

Anyway, I was browsing activities to do with preschoolers and came across these instructions for how to make butter. The only required materials were whipping cream and a jar with a lid. I had all of those. Perfect!

Supplies: Whipping cream with a lidded container

Now all I had to do was pour the whipping cream into the container and shake. In about 10 minutes time, the directions said, we would have butter. And, I’m not gonna lie, these are the thoughts that went through my head, “Wow. Only 10 minutes. Why don’t people make their own butter more often?” And I was also imagining it would turn out all lovely and smooth, like a tub of Country Crock or something. Um. No.

This is what we started out with

After 10 minute of shaking, there's some butter

After 20 minutes, still has liquid in it

After 30 minutes. Dang. This is why people don't shake their own butter. It's still liquidy (though you can clearly see the butter)

And here is what Zach looked like, shaking the butter, during all of this time.

Beginning shakes, enthusiastic

After 10 minutes, a little tired out

20 minutes?? Mom...I'm all done shaking...I'll just sit here and sip my milk while you finish up. Kay?

Don’t worry, we alternated shaking turns. And while we were shaking, of course we had to sing shaking appropriate songs. Like “Shake your booty” (except I changed it to “Shake Your Butter”…clever). At the thirty minute mark I decided to call it done. We could see that there was, in fact, butter in the container. No need for a whole tub! So, we did a taste test.

Getting a small sample

Yep, tastes like butter

Then I drained the rest of the liquid and put the butter in the fridge. Maybe we’ll use it on toast tomorrow morning!

It looks like cottage cheese, but it's butter

What did Zach learn? About physical changes. Shaking up the cream churned it into butter. It was a little science experiment. I asked him what he thought the cream would do (he didn’t know, obviously). He did say it went poo poo on the potty. Um…can you tell we’ve been talking about THAT lately?? Then, as we were shaking it up, I asked him to feel the differences in how the cream felt in the container. It was pretty interesting, at about 3 or 4 minutes into shaking, I could tell we had probably produced whipped cream, the container felt much lighter and you couldn’t hear liquid sloshing around. Then after 3 or 4 more minutes, the liquid sound returned.  The fat particles from the cream were separated out from the liquid, the fat was sticking together in the butter. At least, that’s my explanation for it. Pretty neat. Oh–and tasting the butter adds a sensory experiment to the learning. We didn’t do this, but it probably would have been a good idea to taste the cream before making it into butter, to talk about the differences.

What did Mommy learn? All of the above. Plus…use a lot less cream next time! And shaking butter is hard work. THAT’S why people just buy it pre-made. Though, maybe I could whip it in my Kitchen Aid? Maybe I’ll perform a mommy science experiment some other time when I have about to expire cream to waste.

Advertisements
 

Sidewalk Chalk Paint August 2, 2010

Zach loves to paint. He also love to be outside. So, when I saw this activity on No Time For Flashcards, I knew he would love it.

Doing activities outside these days takes careful planning. Since we live on the 2nd floor of our condo building, it’s not just a simple matter of stepping outdoors to get to the yard. There are stairs to navigate. And 2 babies to carry. And a toddler’s hand to hold. And supplies to bring. Just getting set up takes me 2-3 trips up and down the stairs. By now though, I’m an old pro at getting the whole kit and caboodle down to the ground level.

Here are the supplies for today.

Cornstarch, water, food coloring, brushes to paint and stir, containers to hold the paint, and a tennis ball

First, I simply poured a bit of water and a bit of cornstarch into the containers (I have no exact measurements here) and stirred until I got it to about the consistency of milk. And that’s Whole Milk, rather than Skim Milk.

While using the paintbrush to stir, Zach kept saying, "Making circles. I'm making circles."

After this (and all of my aforementioned efforts at getting downstairs), rain thwarted our plan! Drats!! Never fear, I have no problems using sidewalk chalk upstairs on the deck, dry, under our awning.

Next, I had Zach help me squirt food coloring into the mixture to color it. This requires A LOT of food coloring. And by A LOT, I mean…think red velvet cake a lot. Don’t be shy, just put food coloring on your grocery list for next week if you try this!

Zach liked this part best, he went to town adding the food coloring to the cornstarch mixture

Once the color is mixed into the cornstarch and water, it’s time to have fun. We tried “painting” with a tennis ball by soaking it in the chalk paint and bouncing it on the deck. This lasted all of 3 throws before the ball rolled off the edge of the deck and down to the yard, but it does make a cool effect. Kind of Jackson Pollock-like.

Dip the tennis ball into the chalk paint

Fresh tennis ball paint splatters

This is what they look like dry

After the loss of the tennis ball, we turned to paint brushes. Zach painted the deck and asked me to draw him pictures. We made circles, rectangles, triangles and hearts. He asked me to draw snakes. He even asked for a birdcage! Apparently, while watching Jack and the Beanstalk, the Giant keeps a golden goose in a birdcage and Zach had it on his mind.

Zach painting the deck (don't worry, rain will wash this all away, just like it does with chalk)

My repainted deck

What did Zach learn today? This project is kind of neat in all of the areas of learning it encompasses. It covers science: similar to our tie dyed milk experiment, you can talk about what happens when you mix things together. What will happen when we add cornstarch to water? The water turns white. It thickens. What will happen when you add color drops? The mixture changes color. We learned about colors. We learned about shapes (which is a building block to learning math). He got to be creative and creativity helps him have an open mind and develops problem solving skills.

What did Mommy learn? How creative Zach is getting and how he is starting to connect one activity to the next. Watching a movie translates, through his imagination, into the art and activities he does. Oh, and a tip for my friends. If you’ve just paid for an expensive manicure, wait until it wears off to do this activity. Here is what my hands looked like at the end of the day:

My dye stained hands. Don't worry, it washes.

 

Day 37: Tie Dyed Milk May 25, 2010

Tie dyed milk. No, not a fashion statement. A science experiment.

This activity came to me from my friend A.  It’s from THIS website. She’s actually the one (whether she knows it or not) who introduced me to the No Time For Flashcards blog, where I get many, many ideas from. So I knew this would be good. Thanks A!!

The experiment is super easy to set up, uses common household items (I did not need to buy anything to do this). The concepts in the experiment can be taken as deep and complex as you want them too. I mean, it talks about chemical bonds and molecules! My 2-year-old is NOT ready to grasp the concept of chemical bonds and molecules. But he is ready for things like, “Watch this!” and then, repeating it, “What do you think happens now?” and let’s not forget, “What color is this?”, “Can you use the green one?”, etc. He may or may not be WILLING to answer me, but a mom can try.

Supplies:

A dinner plate, food coloring, 2% (or whole) milk, dish soap, cotton swabs

Zach and I headed out onto the deck and I set everything up. I said, “Hey, let me show you something cool”. I set the supplies up and was getting ready to grab the food coloring when Zach decided HE wanted to do it. I probably should have jut let him, but the controlly mom in me told him no (I was freaking about the mess…since when, right?!). From that point on he only indifferently watched me do this, but I did get a little bit of participation out of him. My husband and I thought this was the coolest thing though!.

Zach reaching for the food coloring saying, "Color back! Want color back!" which means, "Give that to me. NOW."

So the first thing I did was pour the milk onto the plate (I actually used a pasta plate, which is a bit deeper than a regular dinner plate) and let it settle so it was still. Then I took and added one drop each of red, green, blue and yellow food coloring (color lesson!) into the milk, pretty close together.

Color in the milk

Then I took a regular cotton swab and dipped the tip into one of the colors. It is important to note that I did not stir the color, just dipped the swab in. Then I asked Zach to watch what happens. It’s pretty uneventful. Mostly the cotton swab turns from white to green and the milk lies undisturbed.

Dipping the plain cotton swab

We repeated this for another time or two. Then I dipped the cotton swab in some dish soap. I said to Zach, “Watch the milk move now! It’s going to move fast!” Then I dipped the soap covered swab into a color in the milk. Magic happens!

It disperses. Magic!

Then I let Zach try it out.

This time I let him do the food coloring drop. He was very good.

Dipping the swab in the soap

Making the milk move

Then I let him swirl the swab around a bit and it started to look like a tie dyed t-shirt. Or even a Van Gogh painting! So we talked about that. We went to the library last week and picked up a book called Make Van Gogh’s Bed by Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo. It’s a “touch the art” book with pictures of very famous paintings and portions of those paintings have been made interactive and touchable. And while these activities are to reduce the amount of TV Zach watches, I have to say I was amazed as we were reading these books that he recognizes some of the paintings from watching Little Einsteins on the Disney Channel. I guess TV isn’t ALL bad. Anyway, here is the book.

Here is a painting in it (I’m sure you recognize it!):

Starry Night by Van Gogh

And here is what the milk looked like at the very end, similar?? Maybe it’s a stretch, but it was good to discuss art with Zach!

Kind of swirly and starry looking, like a Van Gogh painting

Anyhow, art look-alike or not, I made sure that Daddy read Zach that particular book before bed tonight.

What did Zach learn today? Hopefully a little bit about questions and answers and the scientific process. 2-year-olds (or young children in general) are naturally “scientific”. Whether they vocalize it or not, they are always experimenting–“What happens if I push this button? Oohhh…it makes a noise. What if I push it again? And again? And again?” That’s how they learn. It’s fun to teach them something that sort of naturally flows with that line of thinking. “What happens if I touch the blue color? Oooh, it moves. What about the green color? It moves too!!” Oh, and maybe an art lesson too (and colors, yada, yada).

What did Mommy learn? Well, this: “When you add soap [on the cotton swab], the weak chemical bonds that hold the proteins in solution [in the milk] are altered. It becomes a free-for-all! The molecules of protein and fat bend, roll, twist, and contort in all directions. The food coloring molecules are bumped and shoved everywhere, providing an easy way to observe all the invisible activity.” according to the writers of the experiment.