Paris in the Spring

In April Jeremy was running the Paris marathon, so Sam and I tagged along for the ride! We didn’t actually get too involved with the marathon itself, in fact we headed for the other side of town and the Jardin de Plantes (outside the Natural History Museum), where we came upon this beautiful cherry blossom carpet.

And these glorious poppies!

We were excited to discover that one corner of the Jardin de Plantes is given over to the Menageries (the zoo), so off we went exploring…

Neither of us had actually seen real live giant tortoises before. As Sam pointed out, they were as big as sheep!

A lizard in the reptile house showing us his strange skin close-up.

Walking through the gardens toward the museum buildings, the afternoon light was beautiful.

And to top it all we found a new friend. Our very own (very adventurous) giant tortoise!


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A couple of months ago Sam got really into volcanoes. We visited the permanent volcano exhibition at the British Museum, and started reading lots about them, finding out about the different types, and looking them up on Google Earth (we found Etna in Sicily, and Kilauea in the Hawaiian Islands, among others). These are some of Sam’s pictures:

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Don’t throw it away, take it apart!!

Our old DVD player had given up the ghost…

So we decided to have a look inside…

It was like a whole new world!…

Sam got to work straight away with the pliers cutting out as many wires and bits as he could.

An hour later we had lots of little components which we weren’t quite sure what to do with…

Ah but then we got an idea… little creatures of course!

I’m so glad we didn’t just throw it away. Can’t wait for the next household appliance to break now! Just kidding đŸ˜‰

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Freezing Fire

Sam had the idea that he wanted to freeze fire. So this is what we came up with…

We made some cut out flames from thin card and pushed them onto cocktail sticks. We pushed the cocktail sticks into a piece of polystyrene that Sam wanted to include in the experiment. We sat that in a big pot of water, with some food coloring in it for effect. But of course it floated, and we wanted the flames and the polystyrene under the water…

…so we turned it upside down (the flames were now in the water), and put the pot lid on upside down, so that the handle held everything under the water. Then we put the whole thing in the freezer.

Next day we had this.

It was fascinating – some really beautiful patterns had formed in the ice.

We put the whole thing in warm water to loosen it out of the pot.

It looked like a big birthday cake! It was frozen onto the handle which now became a stand.

And here is the frozen fire!

And some details of the ice.

It really was worth taking the time to look at the details in the ice and the patterns which had formed.

Now we started t melt the ice on top

It was in essence a very simple experiment but it really was fascinating to watch how the ice behaved. We really did feel like in our own way we had frozen fire!

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Simple Paper Flowers

We got inspired by the arrival of Spring this week at our Crafty group. I wanted to work out a way to make paper flowers which were so simple that the children (4 and 5 year olds) could do quite a bit of the making themselves…

You’ll need various colours of tissue paper, pipe cleaners, odd buttons, and plastic bottle tops (the flat ones – as in the back of the photo below).

This is the most fiddly bit: first push a short end (about 1.5cm) of the pipe cleaner through one or two buttons, then fold it over and carefully push it back down the other hole in the buttons. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just fairly secure.

Now cut various colours of tissue. you can cut a few layers together, or individually. Try experimenting with different scissors, or different shapes – they don’t have to be round. Children could cut their own shapes and it really doesn’t matter if they’re not perfect, it’s more about the effect of the layers.

Now push the pipe cleaner roughly through the centre of the circles (or whatever shapes you’ve got). If you’ve made a lot of layers, you may need to do this in stages, so it’s not too tough to push through. If you hold the papers secure, children should be able to push the pipe cleaner through…

Make a small hole in a plastic lid. I used the pliers’ point to do this, or you could use a bradawl.

Then push the point through from the inside of the lid, to open up the hole a little from that side. Make sure it doesn’t get too big, but is big enough to be able to push the pipe cleaner end through.

Thread the lid onto the pipe cleaner, with the cup side heading toward the underneath of your flower, as shown here.

When you get up to the paper…

…continue to push a little further, and the flower will bunch up!


You can fiddle about with the layers a bit to get a look you like…

Happy Spring!

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Junk drink!

Mixing potions is a great activity for a rainy day… or any day come to that!

Sam decided to design a drink.

When it was ready he looked at it and pronounced “Yuk!” Maybe it needs some more work…

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Spin Painting with Ink

If you have a spin painter, you might like to try using watered down ink instead of paint.

We put our ink in pippet bottles to make it easier (and more fun) for Sam to use.

We got some really nice results which were a little different from the painted experiments we have done with the spinner in the past.

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