Mbira or Finger Piano

Did you see the Google doodle today? It’s a mbira.
Last year I had to instruct my 3rd grade Cub Scouts how to make one. I was worried because overly hyper boys with wire cutters and bobby pins seemed like a bad idea. So I pre-cut everything before the meeting. Once that was done, it turns out to be a pretty simple project.
Sort of. I still had a dozen boys and a few siblings, so I did enlist parent help.
You’ll need a piece of wood. This one is 5″×5″. 2 tongue depressers (large popsicle sticks). Bobby pins. Hot glue. Wire cutters. Optional: wood stapler and staples
1. Cut the bobby pins to different lengths. You can straighten them out to make longer keys. Obviously I kept it simple to 3 bobby pins. You may want to wear eye protection when you do this.
2. Hot glue a tongue depresser onto the board. We did ours about 1.5″ from the edge.
3. Hot glue or staple the bobby pins onto the tongue depresser. Longest to shortest.
4. Hot glue the second tongue depresser on top of the first.
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Tada. You can decorate them if you want. And they aren’t very loud. We did two other instruments that I will share soon.
More ideas to come. Stay safe. Stay sane!

Upcycle Broken Crayons

We’re all a little bored right now. Or were if you are lucky to move about now. Did you do a little cleaning? Are you cleaning out your drawers? Have you found a bunch of broken crayons?
First I used to put broken crayons in a plastic travel soap case with a small pad of paper, usually Post-It notes. I would keep this in my purse for times when we had to wait around for something like at the doctor’s or an adult’s house. Maybe your kids have lost all the crayons the restaurant gave them.
Here are some other ways to use crayons. Let the kids help you smash and break the crayons into smaller pieces to make it quicker for the crayons to melt.
1. Make crayons. Break the crayons into smaller pieces. Preheat the oven to 200. Put broken crayons into a muffin tin or silicon molds. Heat for 20 minutes or until melted. Let cool and pop them out.
2. Make crayons. Cheaper or without worrying about your tins and molds. Preheat the oven 200. Cover a cookie tray with foil. Place cupcake wrappers on the try. Put broken crayons in the wrappers. Heat for 20 minutes or until melted. Let cool and pull off wrapper.
3. Make crayons outside. This is for you, Arizona. Put broken crayons in cupcake wrappers. Put wrappers on a paper plate. Place outside. It takes about an hour. Bring inside. Let cool.
07182010 pics - up to 176
07182010 pics - up to 178 These left a grease stain, so hence the paper plate or something underneath the cupcake wrapper.
3.a. I’ve also done this in film canisters. Remember film canisters?
3.b. I wonder if this would work with molds. Hmmm….
3.c I hear it works with plastic medicine bottles. Hmmm…..
4. Make candles. Melt crayons. I prefer a double boiler technique, but you can melt in the microwave. Be mindful of what colors you mix together. Place a wick in a candle holder or baby food jar. Pour in melted wax. When making candles, often the wax will cool with a divet, so hold some wax back to pour in later. You can tie the wick around a pencil or place the wick between two pencils.
More to come. Stay safe! Stay sane!

Mail Time!

What is more exciting to open the mail box and have something other than junk mail and bills? Ok, a package. But also just mail from someone.
Kids rarely get mail. They love it.
Heck, stop at a mail box and mail your own kids mail.
Things to send in the mail:
1. Send origami that you just learned to make.
2. Send postcards you collected and never sent.
3. Send recycled post cards. You know that stack of cards you have and should toss? Rip off the front cover and send it as a postcard.
4. Send cards. Homemade or not. Random valentine cards left over from years ago. I have so much random stationary. I inherited it from my great aunts. Heck, I have a friend who seems to always be sick, so I send her Get Well cards even if I have no idea if she’s sick or not.
5. Make your own stationary. Remember when I talked about stamps? Use stamps to make stationary.
5.a. Draw your own stationary. I had an artist friend who would do this. It was so cool to see her art work.
6. Send stickers. Everyone loves stickers! I still send stickers to my friends.
7. Send homemade art. Same artist friend used to send me her art too. My dad has an old friend who is a cartoonist and would send my dad a cartoon every once in a while.
8. Send homemade bookmarks.

Send mail. It’s fun.

More to come! Stay safe. Stay sane.

Let’s Do Some Origami

Let me introduce you to some easy origami. Since I have a hard time trying to fold straight, so if I say this is easy, it’s easy. Origami is a fun activity to do inside, teaching kids (and adults) patience, persistence, and following the directions.

  1. A Whale

 

2. A Doll

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Step 1. Fold the left (or right, just pick a side) a third of the way into the paper.

 

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Step 2. Turn the paper so your folded piece is at the bottom of the paper. Fold your right (or left, just pick a side) a third of the way into the paper. Turn the paper so the white diamond shape is at the top.

 

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Step 3. Flip the paper over. Fold the bottom corner up.

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Step 4. Flip the paper over and draw a face. You can fold the top corner or leave your person with a point.

3. Another Doll. This is the one I used to make for my babysitting chargers.

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Step 1. Fold the paper corner to corner.

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Step 2. Open up the paper. Fold the left corner to the middle. Fold the right corner to the middle.

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Step 3. Fold the bottom corner up all the way until the fold is along where the corners met in the middle. It looks like a neat triangle.

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Step 4. Fold the bottom again, nearly in half. Looks like a cool boat. It sadly doesn’t float.

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Step 5. Flip the paper over. Those corners sticking out are the arms. Fold them in.

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Step 6. Draw a face. Fold the corner back for a flat head. The flat head is suppose to be a boy, and the point is suppose to be a girl. I’m sure it doesn’t matter.

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Fun with paper!

More ideas to come. As I finish grading essays and wrapping the school up. Stay safe! Stay sane!

Crafts with Glue!

I have a lot of easy crafts with glue because glue and paper are cheap and easy. (I feel like there’s a joke in there somewhere.) I am sure I will post more glue activities.

Another day in the madhouse here, just like it probably is at your house. My boys have school work, but it’s a struggle to keep them from not plugging in to YouTube and videos games not having anything else to do. So I’m pulling out art supplies and science experiments here.

It slightly reminds me of the horror when all three of my boys had Foot, Mouth, Hand Disease. Tornado E was 6; Tornado S was 4, and Tornado A was 1. I saw no other adult for a week. It was …. It was hellish.

So good luck, parents. You can do this.

(Some of these use food supplies; just remember the supply chain isn’t cut, and things will be back to normal soon.)

 
1. Glue and rice. Make a design with glue, sprinkle rice, shake of excess, let it dry. I was promised a glitter effect, but no. It still looks cool.
2. Noodle Mosaics. Have the child make a pattern with noodles. Perhaps various noodles. Glue them down.
2.a. Or let them just glue noodles down without any thought. It’s fine. You’ll get over it, and they will love it. Just grit your teeth and say nothing.


3. Rock Mosaics. Have the child make a pattern with rocks. Glue them done. Like the noodle mosaics, people make some awesome pictures.

3.a. Or let them just glue rocks down without any thought. It’s fine. You’ll get over it, and they will love it. Just grit your teeth and say nothing.


4. Bean Mosaics. Have the child make a pattern with dry beans. Perhaps a variety of beans. Then glue them down.
4.a. Or let them glue beans down without any thought. It’s fine. You’ll get over it, and they will love it. Just grit your teeth and say nothing.


5. Decorate those large noodle shells. We’ve done markers, glitter glue, fabric paint, googly eyes. It’s great.


6. Print out or draw a large letter or word. Have the child draw glue on it. Then have the child decorate it with buttons, noodles, rock, glitter, whatever you have. This is how I taught letters and words to my own sons.


Stay safe. Stay sane

Craft Ideas: These probably need supplies

Here are more craft ideas for kids or adults. Now my house has always had random stuff to do crafts, but now that I live with my parents, we have so much random junk. Anything my boys need to do a project, we have it.

I assume that I may not be normal. Many of you can still go to Walmart, Target, and the world-dominating Amazon. (Did anyone else see lightning and hear thunder? Just me. Cool.) I told my friends about these crafts before we sheltered in place. Not that many people are listening….

If you have the things, do the stuff. If you don’t, I have other craft ideas. Guys, not only have I been a parent for a while, I was also a Girl Scout leader and am a Cub Scout leader. I’ve got ideas for days.
1. Googly eyes! Glue them on rocks. Glue them on paper and have the child make faces around them. Glue them on milk carton lids. Glue them on plastic tabs. Glue them on signs.
2. Clear contact paper can make all sorts of cool sun catches. Between two sheets, kids can put cut up tissue paper, cut up streamers, leaves, twigs, flowers. I used to draw a shape before the kids put things on it, so I could cut out fun shapes to represent holidays or favorite themes. Cookie cutters make great shapes to trace.


3. Shakers. Get plastic eggs. Fill them with rice, pasta, beans, small rocks, buttons, beads. Each egg a different filling. Hot glue it.


4. Googly eyes on plastic eggs. Glue pompoms on it for feet.


5. Glue a pompom on the inside of the plastic egg for a body. Glue a second one on top the first for a head. Glue eyes.


6. Stamps. They’re awesome


7. If you have washable ink stamp pads, kids can make thumb prints. Just a lot of finger prints. Or make them into a flower with each print a different petal. Or fingerprints that a kid could add details to make them birds, bugs, or monsters. (If you get the nonwashable kind, their hands will be colored for 2 days, maybe 3. 4 tops.)

Good luck! Stay safe! Stay sane! We’re all in this together.

Maturity

Tornado S and I have been reading Harry Potter together. We’re on book 4.

Tornado S: I’ve decided what I want to be for Halloween.

Me: Oh yeah?

Tornado S: Lord Voldemort.

Me: What?! (Come on. Still? Why? Why always a villain?! Why can’t you like heroes?! Honestly!) Really? How about Harry Potter? You would make a great Harry Potter. Or a student from Slytherin House.

Tornado S: I could go as a Death Eater.

Me: (Somehow that’s worse!) What? Why? Why must you always be a villain?

Tornado S: I went as the Emperor for years, and you were ok with it.

Me: Oh, honey. I wasn’t. I was just waiting for you to grow out of it.

Tornado S: I did grow out of it. I grew out of it to Lord Voldemort.

UGH!!!!

Mini

We were at a school function for the older boys, and Tornado A and I were trying to get through the crowd to the other end. We ran into two teachers from the elemenatary school. The 4th grade teacher had taught both the older tornadoes and had a son in Tornado E’s grade. The kindergarten teacher had taught Tornado A and had a daughter in Tornado S’s grade.

4th grade teacher: I don’t know. What do you think? A mini-Tornado E or a mini-Tornado S?

Kindergarten teacher: That’s a tough one. But I think a mini-Tornado S.

4th grade teacher: It is tough. I see both. But I have to say a mini-Tornado E.

Tornado A beamed, and I laughed. We left them to their conversation.

Me: What do you think? Tornado E or Tornado S?

Tornado A: I look like Tornado E.

Me: (leaning down to whisper) I think you’re a mini Tornado A.

Tornado A’s smile grew larger.

We are our own.

Philosopher Princes

I’m a sucker for intelligent, funny boys. While the humor comes from the bloodline, I blame the drama boys who easily linked their crazy sense of humor to philosophy, engineering, pop culture, and literature. And so it was just a natural step that I encouraged the same thing from my own boys.

I’ve written dozens of posts on their sense of humor, and dozens more to come, but lately it’s the intelligence that catches me off guard.

My boys do not seem to inherited the quick-witted, street-smarts, jury-rigged intelligence that haunts my family. Perhaps I should just drop a box of wood, gears, and tools at their feet and see what happens. Although, I do see glimmers of it as they build unique Lego structures.

But what my boys have inherited is my lust for knowledge, the delver of something in books, something hidden that must be found. We have “scientific” books on monsters. The boys fish for articles and videos on video games and their theories. The why stage never ended.

Why are they burning Nikes?

Why does Grandma get so mad?

Why did our President say that?

Why can’t you take me to school?

Why do we have to have spinach again?

Ah, life’s mysteries. (Because spinach is good for you, and I’m hoping the taste will grow on you. Do you need to hear the hummus story again?)

But my favorite part of this intelligence is the connections. The boys come up with a theory, work it out in their heads, and then present it to me in a mini-lecture. On video games, on movies, on characters, on history, on philosophy. Marvel, DC, Trump, classmates, teachers, 9/11, environment, racism, sexism, Hello Neighbor.

They want my input. Without asking, they wait for the judgement. Did they guess right? Did they put the pieces to make the right shape? Is it strong enough?

Hoping I’m doing the right thing, I ask questions, prod their theories, correct assumptions, help recalibrate their understanding. I marvel as they try to figure out human understanding, to figure out how to solve the world’s problems, remembering that at their age, no one would listen to my philosophies.

I look forward to the day of peer-to-peer discussions with my own philosopher kings.

The Awful Game of Bowling

I have probably mentioned before my dislike for bowling. I was forced to go bowling several times a week all summer long for most of my childhood. My mother is a bowler. And bowling was torturous. No bumpers. No granny rolls. We had to mind our hold, our steps, our releases. In short, I know how to bowl.

And my boys enjoying bowling. I blame my mother. She has grand schemes of bowling every week or every other week. She insisted that I sign the boys up for free bowling, which I did.

So a few days ago, we went bowling. While the boys have gone bowling with their dad several times, it became painfully obvious that no one has taught them to bowl. Then because they are my stubborn boys, they insisted they knew what they were doing and that they didn’t need any help. Sure, kid, whatever you say.

So this is the first time I have ever witnessed a ball being thrown in a way that it looks like an air hockey puck bouncing and rebouncing off the sides of bumpers. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a ball be thrown and it hit the bumpers to collapse the bumper and then slowly return to the bowler. I have never seen until that day a pin fly out 2 yards to get stuck in a bumper. I’ve never seen a pin land in a way that it shut down the lane. This was the first time I watched a ball spin half-way down a lane and then spin back to the player. I was highly perplexed.

It’s also the first time I got 3 strikes in a row.

Now my mom wants to go again.