Monthly Archives: August 2014

Miss Emma’s Choice (Summer of Science)

There was no educational component to this session, it was purely making explosions or creating goo. I chose the activities because I liked them, I had a good response from previous sessions, or I wanted to test out an activity. Gak was by far the favorite.

This was my final summer science session. All of the sessions were popular, and I will have to work in other science programs throughout the school year to keep the excitement going. I also have plenty of time to figure out what I’m going to do next summer.


1. Mentos Geysers. This was our first activity. I could not find my geyser tube, so I followed the instructions on Steve Spangler’s website for making one out of construction paper. The homemade tube works, but you’ll need to make a new one for each bottle (a few of mine lasted for two bottles, but you lose time removing and reattaching the tube). You’ll also want to have an awl or ice pick to create a hole to put the toothpick through. It is very hard to force a toothpick through multiple layers of construction paper.

We used: Coke, Diet Coke, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Diet 7up, Mountain Dew. Diet 7up performed the best, followed by Diet Coke.

2. Baggie Bombs. This was a repeat from the Acids & Bases session. This time we used two different sized baggies (lunch and quart) to see if there was any difference. I bought regular baggies instead of the sliding ones, and it made a huge difference (in a bad way). Always buy the slider bags. The regular ones (quart-size) didn’t pop. The lunch-size ones sort of did, but it was rather disappointing as a whole.

3. Gak. I decided to do a test run of making gak before the family science program. I used the recipe from PBS. What I learned is that it takes a lot more than 1 teaspoon of the Borax solution to make the gak gel together. We had to keep adding a little bit at a time until there was no more liquid mixture left. Fingers also do a better job mixing than craft sticks once you’re past the initial stages.


Almost-completed gak.

Sticky, Slimy, Gooey (Family Science)

The second, and final, summer family science program was all about sticky, slimy, and gooey things. I read one book and then dived into the goop. 18 children participated.

My 4-year old received this book as a birthday gift. It is popular in my house, so I figured I would try to create some kind of storytime around it. My favorite illustration is the one with the frazzled art teacher sitting on the floor huffing into a paper bag.

too much glue

Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre


1. Oobleck. The oldie, but goodie oobleck was our first activity. 2 parts corn starch to 1 part water. Food coloring optional. As families made (and played) with it, I explained what oobleck was and what they could do to make it act like both a solid and a liquid.

2. Gak. I tested this out last week at the final school-age science program. It was a hit then, and a definite hit this time as well. There are many recipes for it, but I mostly used the one from PBS:

4 oz white glue mixed with 4 oz water (pour water into empty glue bottle to get more glue out). Add food coloring. In a separate cup, mix 1 teaspoon Borax with 1/4 cup water (this is a modification from PBS, which calls for a 1/2 cup of water). Add 1 teaspoon of Borax solution to glue mixture (though you will ultimately need more than just a teaspoon), and mix with your fingers until it firms up.

I had the children pour the mixture onto sturdy paper plates to mix. They added small amounts of the Borax solution until all of it turned into a lump of gak.

3. Slime. This one came from Science Bob and is incredibly gross. Think of the saliva dripping from the alien’s mouth in any of the Alien movies, and you’ve pegged it (Slimer’s slime might also work). Very mucousy. The basic recipe is equal parts white glue, liquid starch, and water (I used 4 oz). Mix it together and prepare to be grossed out.


jlaw disgusted

Storytime: Gravity

I would no use Up and Down again. I didn’t think it was a very well-written book. It did not hold the children’s attention.

up and downno jumping

Up and Down (Rookie Read-About Science) by Patricia J. Murphy
No Jumping on the Bed by Todd Arnold

Books I Meant to Use
These two books were supposed to be what I read this morning, but I forgot I had them until this evening when I found a random stack of picture books in my computer room. I read them to my 4-year old last week, but forgot to put them back with the rest of the storytime books.

balancing act gravity chin

Balancing Act by Ellen Stoll Walsh
Gravity by Jason Chin

Other Possibilities
I Fall Down by Vicki Cobb

We did two activities (though one was an extension of the first). I brought a bunch of toy cars from home and set up several ramps using shelves. The children rolled the cars down the ramps. We talked about why that happens, and what happens if we change the incline of the ramps.

The secondary activity was showing that two objects will hit the ground at the same time even if they have different weights. I used the example of: “If I held you in one hand, and a car in the other, and dropped both at the same time, you would both land on the ground at the same time.”

Storytime: Magnets


magnets stuck

Magnets: Everyday Science Level 1 by Karen Latchana Kenney
Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

Other Book Possibilities
Magnets Push, Magnets Pull
by Mark Weakland


1. Is it magnetic? I assembled trays containing both magnetic and non-magnetic objects. The children each chose a magnetic wand and held them over the objects to see if they would stick.

2. Magnetic Marble Art – There were two options for making art with the marbles: (1) Use a spoon to take a paint covered marble from the paint bowl, put in on the paper plate, and then hold the plate while waving the wand underneath. (2) Squirt a very small blob of paint on the plate, put a clean marble in it, then hold the plate and wave the wand underneath.

magnet edI hung up the artwork behind the circulation desk once the paint was dry. Some of the children only agreed when I said they could take their plate home with them after next week’s storytime.

Acids & Bases (Summer of Science)

The third science session, on August 5th,  focused on acids and bases. I should have planned more activities because we were done in 45 minutes. I also figured out that 1 hour is probably the right length for this kind of program instead of an hour and a half. 12 children attended, so a decent number.

This was also the session where I asked if there was any interest in science programs during the school year. Based off their responses, I’m going to give it a go. Art bots in October on a Tuesday evening.

We started the session with the “school” part. What acids/bases are –

acids: citrus: sour taste
bases: soap: taste bitter: feel slippery

The pH scale, indicators to tell where a substance is on the pH scale, and what chemical reactions are.


1. Foam at the Mouth – My husband introduced me to this a couple years ago, and it was a hit with my daughter (not so much my Girl Scouts when I did it with them). It was also a hit this time. I made extra packets for several of the children to take home to show their parents.

Recipe: equal parts citric acid, baking soda, and powdered sugar. Maybe 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of each. A little foams a lot. A cup of water to clear out the taste when the reaction is finished.

The citric acid and baking soda react when saliva is added (make sure to have the children take a swig of water first to wet their mouths, it will increase the amount of foam). The powdered sugar helps with the taste. I put the mixture in larger plastic cups so they could double as foam holders. Towards the end, it will taste salty (acid/base reactions create salt).

2. Acid or Base? – I made red cabbage litmus papers and chose 3 acids (vinegar, pickle juice, soda) and 3 bases (dish soap, conditioner, antacids) for the children to test. I thought about printing up a results sheet so they could write down observations and attach the litmus papers to, but I did not. This activity took all of 5 minutes, which was incredibly short given how long it took me to prep it.

acid base

3. Baggie Bombs – I used the instructions from Science Bob. We ended up doing it twice (increasing both vinegar and baking soda the second time) because the children absolutely loved it. Make sure to use slider-closing baggies.

Rockets (Summer of Science)

On Tuesday, July 22nd, we had our second Summer of Science session: rockets. Sixteen children participated (the best yet!). I was lucky enough to have a woman from the local chapter of the National Rocketry Association run the session. I had called her for ideas, but she was willing to come in and run the program – a huge weight off my shoulders.

She started out the session by talking about and showing the different kinds of rockets she has made with her three daughters – what materials were used to make them, the charges used to power them, and the processes of launching and landing.

The main activity was straw rockets. To make them, you wrap a strip of paper at an angle around a pencil, taping the bottom. Pull it off the pencil, fold the untaped end and tape it. Add fins. To launch, put the rocked on the short end of a bent bendy straw then put the long end in your mouth and blow.

The second part of the program was  supposed to be launching water rockets, but I didn’t realize I had forgotten the fins/valve until I started to set up for the rocket program.  I had also initially wanted to do stomp rockets, but our patch of grass is poorly situated – it’s somewhat small, and there would be a good chance that rockets would end up in the street or on the roof. Launching in the parking lot would have damaged the rockets. You win some, you lose some, I guess.

2014 Graphic Novels / Manga (First Half)

Because putting everything I’ve read in the first half of 2014 into one post would be too long…

My manga/graphic novel reading addition was not adversely effected by graduate school. In fact, I read more than I have ever because they’re just so darn quick to zip through.  A lot of the manga is scanilated (bad me for reading it) because a lot of what I’m interested in is not printed in English. Some of the series I really like have peen published in German, so if I want to get my hot little hands on them, I’m going to need to brush up on my languishing German skills.

Graphic Novel Favorites
saga16th gun 1rat queenssoulless 1

*Saga, vol 1 – I own all three volumes, but sacrilegiously have only read the first one. I need to read the rest. It’s a space opera, and I love that the characters are complex – the good guys aren’t completely good and the bad guys aren’t completely bad.
*Soulless, vols 1-3 – Because the novels are perennial favorites, I invariably read the GNs at the same time.
*The Sixth Gun, vols 1-6 – I would have never picked up this series if it hadn’t been mentioned by an author I saw at a conference in May. She said it wasn’t a genre she usually read, but liked how the female main character developed. I agree with her. Becky, the female lead, starts as naive (but not wimpy), and as the story progresses, becomes more worldly and confident with her new-found power. I am looking forward to seeing who she turns into.
*Rat Queens: Sass & Sorcery, vol 1– What’s not to love about this? Rat Queens is a bundle of awesomeness. It’s crass and sarcastic, violent and bloody, and had me snorting at some of the comments the characters made.

Graphic Novels
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant
The Sandman, vols 1-3
Friends with Boys
The Professor’s Daughter
The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec: Pterror Over Paris/The Eiffel Tower…
Mystic: The Tenth Apprentice
The Lost Boy
Zita the Space Girl

Manga Favorites
321 lievehoney d ropsbeelzebubiron-maiden
private-prince-1crazy-girl-shin-biahorimiyaseraph 1

*Kyou Koi wo Hajimemasu / 3 2 1…Liebe! – The first of my “the guy is outwardly an asshole, but just needs the right woman to set him straight because deep down inside he’s really caring” stories on this list. I bought the last volume in German because the scanilation wasn’t up yet.
*Honey x Honey Drops – Admittedly, the storyline is really jacked up, and the female lead needs to have her head checked, but I still liked it even though I wanted to throttle some of the characters. It is one of the series I’ve read twice (in Jan and Apr). It is also one of the series I will most likely buy in German. It is my second “the guy is outwardly an asshole, but just needs the right woman to set him straight because deep down inside he’s really caring” story.
*Beelzebub – A delinquent becomes the adopted father of a son of Hell. Hilarity and hijinks ensue. It can be violent and the humor is a bit off, but it was a fun read.
*Shishunki no Iron Maiden – One of the main focal points of the story revolves around girls who develop armor-like iron protrusions on their body once a month. The main character is a girl who has this condition, but manages to keep it a secret (the government takes away the girls who are special). This manga really, really needs to be translated and published.
*Private Prince – Viz is putting out Happy Marriage?! (by the same author), and I hope they publish this one as well. Yes it is a “the guy is outwardly an asshole, but just needs the right woman to set him straight because deep down inside he’s really caring” story, but again, I  really liked it.
*Crazy Girl Shin Bia – There is a part of me that would love to fall into an alternate universe in a similar situation. It’s not the best written thing out there, and the female lead can be a pain, and you can figure out fairly quickly how it’s going to end.  I don’t think it has been published in either English or German, which is a shame because I would buy it and read it over and over.
*HorimiyaCompletely different from all of my other favorite manga. This is a quiet slice of life story between a popular girl and a loner guy who have different personalities/appearances at home. A chance meeting puts them on the path to friendship and dating.
*Owari no Serafu / Seraph of the End
I learned of this series because Viz recently started publishing it. Of course I then went online and read the scanilations. However, I like the story enough that I’ve bought/pre-ordered all the volumes available. It’s a different twist on the vampires/end of the world scenario.

*Most of these I’ve read as far as the scanilations were available online. Some I read in print.
Maid Sama
Watashi xx Shinasai! / Missions of Love (thought it was awful)
Dengeki Daisy
Monster Musume
Hirunaka No Ryuusei (Stopped reading, want to throttle both the male/female leads)
Faster than a Kiss
Blood Lad
Millenium Snow
Crimson Spell
Only Serious About You
Totally Captivated
Ultimate Venus
B.O.D.Y. (Stopped reading, want to throttle both the male/female leads)
Virgin Ripper
Ware Ka Diablo
Midnight Secretary
Demon Love Spell
Barajou no Kiss
Maoh: Juvenile Remix, vol 1
Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives (Couldn’t even finish the first volume)
Mitsu Aji Blood