A lot of our activities these next two weeks will involve something kids of all ages LOVE--mixing up potions for play. With some household ingredients and a few teaspoons of imagination, you'll cook up some great recipes for exploring science and sensory play. I use this also as an opportunity to talk about how magical science can be. Beginning our week in the usual theme of Mad Science Mondays, I decided to have the boys try their wands (and hands) at making Wizard Slime.
The recipe is pretty flawless because you can add more liquid starch if it is too sticky and it will become stiffer. Add too much and it's rather stiff and bouncy, but that can be fun, too! The boys started by pouring their glue and water into their cauldrons and mixing it with a "stirring wand" (I offered toy wands and chopsticks for this). They added in the liquid starch from a squeeze bottle and began to stir. It immediately starts to form into slime! They added in their glitter and their hands and worked the slime (with some help from me and a little more liquid starch as needed) before digging in to play. They asked for some toy bugs to use with it, so we added those in as well.
When it was time to clean up I
The next day's Potions Class was outdoors where the boys used a giant bowl and some spoons, about 1 1/2 cups cornstarch and 1 cup water (dyed green with food coloring and prepared in a glass flask because it looks extra cool!) to mix up their own Confusion Concoction (aka: Oobleck).
The science end of this involves explaining and exploring non-newtonian fluids. It's messy. It's fun. It's pretty fool proof as you can add more water or more cornstarch as needed for thinner or thicker consistency. Outside is definitely a great place to do it, but if you're brave enough to try it indoors, you'll want to set down a drop cloth of some sort.
In our first transfiguration class, the boys arrived with their wands ready to practice their first "spell" [science experiment], growing crystals! For this activity, we used pipe cleaners (in Hogwarts House colors), clear glass vases (you can use a bowl or glass), hot water and Borax powder. The boys also brought their magic wands and used some "stirring wands" (chopsticks) for mixing the solution. You'll also need some twine or fishing line, skewers or chopsticks and measuring cups/spoons.
I prepared the Borax solution in advance by heating up some water in the kettle and letting it cool just a bit. I used about 3 TBSP Borax powder per cup of hot water. The boys wanted to help mix the solution. They shaped their pipe cleaners as they desired. You can even shape them into letters of your name! I helped tie them from the chopsticks with some twine and we placed them into each of the jars, trying to keep them separated from the sides, bottom and each other. Then it was time to use their wands and say the magic spell (they chose "expecto petronum!") and wait. Waiting is the hardest part! But even in a couple of hours, you'll begin to observe crystals forming on the bottom and sides of the jar and even on the pipe cleaners themselves. When they are completely crystallized, you can display them in a sunny window.
The science end of this involves explaining how a suspension works and how the solid particles of the Borax powder remain suspended in the solution and connect to the jar and the pipe cleaners and to each other to form crystals. S had an amazing moment of scientific thinking when he wondered if ice and snow were forming. We thought about that and whether it was cold or whether our room was cold enough and decided that this was not indeed ice or snow, but that snow and ice are crystals, too!
Quidditch Practice: This daily class gets us all moving in one way or another. I prepared some "Quidditch hoops" in our backyard using garden stakes, hula hoops and duct tape plus a couple of traffic cones to help prop them upright. The boys used their Quidditch brooms (made from a large branch, dried grass/weeds and wire), balls and their imaginations. They also invented a game called "Water Quidditch" that involves shooting water through the Quidditch Hoops and even C got in on the fun using a large bowl of water as her Quidditch Hoop and some balls of her own.
Daily Quidditch practice helps the students hone in on their broom flying skills, ensures that everyone gets moving a bit and helps us prepare for any future tournaments...stay tuned!
We'll be back with more soon and until then...