Add Some Smoosh to Your Summer With… Marshmallow Math!

DIY Marshmellow

Slip some learning into your summer with marshmallow math! Your kids will love this tasty take on construction play and the benefits of construction play are nearly endless, including the introduction of basic science, math, architectural, and engineering principals and vocabulary.

So go ahead – try a tasty twist on traditional building with this fun—and edible!—construction activity. Using marshmallows and toothpicks, follow the step-by-step instructions below for a sweet summertime activity guarantee to keep those school skills sharp.

For our kid Makers who are reading this, make sure to ask a parent to help you with these projects and don’t forget to post your results on Facebook. And if you enjoyed this activity, you’ll find other DIY Creativity Camp activities on our blog!

Snack-ometry

Materials:

  • A box of toothpicks (plain or colored)
  • A bag of mini marshmallows (white or multi-colored)

How To:

  1. Insert the toothpicks into the marshmallows to design your own, colorful creations. Practice making simple shapes first.
    Step 1 - Marshmellow Construction
  2. Once you’ve got the hang of it, try creating more complex shapes and structures.
    Marshmellow Construction 2
  3. Try breaking the toothpicks into different sizes.
    Marshmellow Construction 3

When you’re done – and before you start snacking – please be sure to share your edible constructions by posting photos on our Facebook page. We also encourage you to build upon these projects and make them your own – change the materials, try a different construction, add something new – and share again!

Brain Boosting Benefits:

  • Encourages creativity and imagination
  • Introduces simple engineering and architectural concepts
  • Introduces key geometric shapes and vocabulary

Bonus! If your kiddos loved constructing geometric shapes with this exercise, they’ll love the shape-shifting, cube-contorting challenge of RiddleCube™ the Game!

 

Make Your Own Fun! Totally Unique, DIY Arts & Crafts Activities That’ll “Maker” Your Summer!

DIY Calder Mobile

If you can dream it, you can make it! The Maker Movement is gaining steam, with imaginative-types around the world creating their own electronics, robots, metalwork, woodwork, traditional arts and crafts, and more. Using found or repurposed materials, creativity, and a little elbow grease, artists just like the ones in your family are digging in and making amazing things, all on their own.

This month’s DIY Summer Camp is inspired by Makers! A series of blog posts will each feature step-by-step instructions for totally unique and kid-fun maker arts & crafts activities you and your child can create together. Not only are these art, construction, and music projects a wonderful opportunity for some serious quality time, but they’ll also inspire creativity and imagination, instill confidence, enhance problem solving skills, introduce basic math, science, and engineering, and develop motor skills. In other words, they’ll keep those brains busy over the summer!

Many participants in the Maker Movement share what they’ve made and how they’ve made it so others can give it a go. Please be sure to share YOUR wonderful creations by posting photos on our Facebook page. We also encourage you to build upon these projects and make them your own – change the materials, try a different construction, add something new – and share again!

(And for our kid Makers who are reading this, make sure to ask a parent to help you with these projects!)

 

Poetry In Motion

The father of the modern mobile, Alexander Calder, is best remembered for his amazing kinetic sculptures, featuring perfectly balanced or suspended objects that moved by motor or wind power. Follow the step-by-step instructions below, using objects you have at home, to make your own Calder mobile and get some hands-on practice with the concept of balance.

Materials:

Calder Mobile Materials

  • 20 Gauge florist stem wire (wire hangers will work too, but are harder to bend)
  • Construction paper
  • Foam sheets (found at craft stores or in the arts & craft section at your big box store). Construction paper will work as well.
  • Glue stick or hot glue gun
  • String
  • Pliers
  • Scissors
  • Pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • 10- 15 Paper clips (you may need more depending on your design)
  • Optional – downloaded printouts of our Racoon Rumpus  and Sea Squad designs

 Seasquad Design

 How To:

Step 1

  1. Using your pliers, bend a loop in the center of the stem wire.Step 2
  2. Stack two sheets of foam or construction paper on top of each other and cut a shape for the end of the wire. You can also use Raccoon Rumpus and Sea Squad cut outs.

    Step 3 AStep 3b

  3. Place one shape on a table, cover with glue, press one end of the wire into the glue, and press the other shape on top.Step 4
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the other end of the wire. The shape can be different, but if you want your mobile to balance, use a shape that’s similar in size to what’s on the other end.
    Step 5
  5. Hook three paper clips together, then hook the chain to the top of the wire loop in the center of your mobile. Now hook 3 paper clips together. Then hook the chain to the top of the loop.  This allows you to hang your mobile.Next, hook three more paper clips together and hook this chain from the bottom of the wire loop in the center of your mobile. You’ll hang the next piece of your mobile from this chain.

    maker7

 

  1. Use a wire cutter to cut another segment of wire in half, making a loop in each cut piece, and gluing additional shapes or characters to each side of each end.Step 7
  2. Using another piece of wire, make a loop in the middle and bend the ends into loops.
    Step 8
  3. Hang the two shorter pieces you just made (with foam or paper designs on the ends) from the two looped ends.Step 9

 

  1. Now, attach this structure to the paper clip chain hanging from bottom of the first wire piece.

Congratulations!You’ve made a Calder mobile. Now hang it in a breezy spot and watch it whirl! Experiment by hanging different sized shapes from the ends and adjusting the balance point away from the center. And don’t forget to share photos on our Facebook page. Here are some of ours!

DIY Calder Mobile 2DIY Calder Mobile 1

Brain Boosting Benefits:

  • Encourages imagination and creativity
  • Demonstrates cause and effect
  • Enhances fine motor skills
  • Introduces simple engineering concepts including balance

Hey, Look—it’s Pete the Cat®! Say Hello to Every Preschooler’s Favorite Feline

If you’re a preschool parent, you probably know Pete.  Pete the Cat® is the star of more than 20 New York Times best-selling books, developed by celebrated author and artist, James Dean.  Pete enjoys movin’, groovin’ and schoolin’…and his white shoes of course. And kids LOVE Pete!

Pete The Cat Connect the Dots

Get your kids’ creative juices movin’ and groovin’ with this Pete the Cat® connect-the-dots coloring sheet,  perfect for preschoolers!

And when your kiddo is ready for pretend play, our Pete the Cat® Puppet-on-a-Stick™ is the perfect prop!  Kids can put on a puppet show starring Pete, their favorite furry friend, or you can use Pete to make story time even more fun.

Pete the Cat Puppet-on-a-Stick

Carry on the creativity with a  Pete the Cat® Puppet-on-a-Pen™! Great for drawing, doodling, or practicing the A, B, Cs, these retractable ballpoint pens are working puppets, too! Just pull the lever to move Pete’s mouth.

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Pete the Cat® is always ready for fun, but he’s also there when it’s time for schoolin’. Let Pete help teach your kids fundamental preschool and kindergarten skills including reading, math, science, social studies, and more, with our Pete the Cat® Hot Dots® Jr. sets.  Each set includes two spiral-bound, interactive card sets with 200+ activities, an interactive Pete the Cat® pen, award certificate, and reward stickers.  Already love Hot Dots Jr. and just want the Pete pen? It’s available separately too.

Learn Here, Learn There, Learn Everywhere! Slip Some Learning Into Your Everyday – and Night – Outings

20150706_DayNightLearning-650

There’s so much to learn, even over the summer! Indoors and out, day and night, the world is filled with things to see, touch, smell, and discuss. Take the tips below to heart—we’re sure they’ll inspire some great ideas for sneaking in fun learning opportunities everywhere you go this summer.

Learn All Day!

  • Leave It! Check out the leaves and flowers around your home. Look at their veins and discuss how they’re used to distribute water and nutrients (just like ours!). Take them home and press them between two sheets of wax paper inside a heavy book to get a better look. Older kids might enjoy our Nancy B’s Science Club™ Nature Keeper and Tree Diary!

Nancy B's Science Club Nature Keeper & Tree Diary

  • That’s the Rub! Collect different natural materials – leaves, bark, grass, flowers – and try a crayon rubbing! Just place a piece of paper over the object, peel a crayon, and rub the long, flat side of the crayon on the top.

Rub Leaf Activity

  • Shell It Out! Collect shells at the shore. Compare and contrast their sizes. Sort them by color. Explore their different textures using descriptive vocabulary.

shell-learning

  • Get Your Head IN the Clouds! Find fun objects in the clouds or take it a step further and learn some basic cloud facts – clouds are groups of teeny tiny water drops and ice crystals that are so light they can float. (STOCK PHOTO OF CLOUD)

Clouds Learning

  • Find It! Wherever you are, be on the lookout for shapes, colors, letters, and numbers. Point them out and identify them for your child. See if your little one can find another square, the letter “A”, or the number “3”.

learning outside

 

Learn All Night!

  • Shine It! Take a flashlight—our GeoSafari® Night Explorer Flashlight is a great choice—out back and see what you can see. Are the flowers open or closed at night? Can you find any birds? Bugs? Which animals are out at night? Where do the others go? Introduce the concepts of nocturnal and diurnal.
  • In the Dark! Nighttime is a great time to introduce the basic science of the Earth’s rotation. Choose an object (chair, rock, table) to represent the sun and place a flashlight or lantern on it. Have your child stand in front of the object and spin around once, slowly. When the Earth (your child) is facing the sun (your chosen object), then it’s day time. When it’s facing away from the sun, it’s night time!
  • Moon Shine! Share some fun facts about the Moon! Did you know that the Moon is actually made of pieces of Earth? A large object hit our planet four and a half billion years ago, blasting large rocks out of the Earth and into space. These rocks eventually came together to form the Moon. There is no air, water, or life on the Moon, but astronauts can go exploring there with the right equipment. Looking for more fun facts? Check out the GeoSafari® Talking Telescope.
  • Man or Mouse..err…Bunny? Does your child see the man in the Moon or the bunny? Ask for a story about whichever she chooses. How did it get there? What is it doing? Can it see us? Will it ever come down? Is it all alone?

rabbit-or-man-on-moon

CHANGE IT UP! THE SOPHIA WAY WOMAN’S SHELTER

Sofia's Way

A Little Bit Goes A Long Way Toward Ending Homelessness

In June, EI’s team fundraising efforts were contributed to The Sophia Way Women’s Shelter in the Seattle/Bellevue area of Washington state. Selected to be the recipient of our company-wide monthly fundraiser by Christine Johnson, EI’s National Sales Manager, the shelter aims to end homelessness for single, adult women in the area.

Christine, who lives in Seattle herself, has spent time with several of the women who live at Sophia Way and appreciates that the organization not only shelters them, but also provides the support and tools they need to find permanent housing and become independent.

Providing shelter, life skills training, social services and supportive, permanent housing, The Sophia Way shelter indeed offers a path from homelessness to a home of one’s own. The shelter’s Day Center provides prepared meals, laundry facilities, computer and phone access, and other services to 480 women each month, while the overnight shelter houses 21 homeless women each night. Additionally, the shelter operates a winter facility, housing up to 40 women and children each night throughout the colder months of the year. For more information, please visit www.sophiaway.org.