DIY Patterned Playdough Roller

It really can’t get easier than this. It’s just hot glue on a toilet paper roll. Yeeeeep. Use your fingers to support the roll as you imprint it into playdough, or stick it around a rolling pin if it fits! We’ve made so many variations of this so far, including these mermaid scales and a honeycomb print!

Original idea from @playtime.messy.madness on Instagram!

IKEA Flisat Table to Light Table Hack

This is so simple that I hesitated posting it because, well, you’ll see! But this is by far the easiest way you’ll find to make your Flisat table (or any two plastic bins!) into a light table!


Ok get ready for it. Take a bin and put some fairy lights in there:

Put the other bin on top of it:

You’re all set! Have fun with your new light table! It works like a charm!

6 STEM Book Gift Pairings for Babies: A gift guide

Some of the best gifts for babies are books. They help their big eyes focus, help them learn about the world, and expose them to new words every day. Below, find some fun gifts to pair with some of this year’s most popular science books for babies!

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The product links below are affiliate links, buying from them will earn me a small amount of money with no extra cost to you. I appreciate your patronage! Also, I wrote some of the books included below so that’s a bit of a conflict of interest 😉


1. The Atomic Baby

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Nuclear Physics for Babies written by Chris Ferrie and Cara Florance (me!) uses colorful balls to explain the concept of radioactivity. Babies all over the world have been captivated by the Baby University series’ bold simplicity. To go with the theme, hone those fine motor skills and soothe sore gums with Manhattan Toy’s Atom Rattle & Grasper and the Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teether Toy which are both inspired by atomic models.


2. The Atmospheric Baby

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The sky and weather always grab my baby’s attention, and I describe the current atmospheric conditions to her just as something to talk about. If you or a baby in your life also pine for precipitation, this pairing is for you. Weather is part of Jillian McDonald’s beautiful and brightly colored series Hello, World! and would go perfectly with the wildly popular Grimm’s wooden Rainbow Stacker in 6-piece or 12-Piece. (Also available in pastel colors.)


3. The Microbial Baby

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There is a world all around (and on, and in!) us that young ones obviously can’t fathom, but if you or the parents have a tendency for teeny things, look no further. Bacteria and Antibiotics is an adorable introduction to the good and the bad of the microscopic world and also begins to teach about antibiotic medicines. The bright colors and expressive faces on the various bacteria will be sure to engage any baby. Pair this book with any of the adorably ridiculous plush GIANTmicrobes, including E. coli, MRSA, or the 4-Pack of the common cold, stomach ache, sore throat, and penicillin for some tactile and fine-motor fun.


4. The Chemistry Baby

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Organic Chemistry for Babies, by Chris Ferrie and Cara Florance, explains carbon’s amazing ability to make a vast amount of molecular shapes. Interlocking Building Disks from EMIDO are great toys to go with this concept. They can lock together to build endless shapes, and are also great for little fingers to grab and mouths to chew.


5. The Gravitational Baby

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This lucky theme has two wonderful books to chose from (or just get both!), Baby Loves Gravity! by Ruth Spiro and General Relativity for Babies by Chris Ferrie. What better toy to let a baby learn about gravity than balls. We have had the set in the link since my first daughter was born and they have been a staple in our home.


6. The Space Baby

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The adorable new release, 8 Little Planets by Chris Ferrie, takes you on a rhyming tour of our solar system explaining the features that make each planet special. Uncle Goose Planet Blocks are beautiful, high quality toys that pair nicely with this book.


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Snippet of Science: Newly Discovered Elements and Uncle Goose Periodic Table Blocks

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Who else has these adorable periodic table blocks from Uncle Goose? We’ve been given two sets, one for each kid, and today we discovered something was different between the first set from 4 years ago (bottom) and the new set (top). Four new elements had been named! I had no clue! (And bravo to Uncle Goose for updating them!)

The “U” words on the bottom row were official placeholders for these yet-to-named elements. They are Latin for the individual numbers in the atomic number (118 is ununoctium for 1-1-8). The atomic number is the number of protons in the nucleus. If the number of protons is changed, you have a different element; whereas, if the number of neutrons is changed (the other subatomic particle in the nucleus), you have a different isotope.

Fun thing about all these super heavy elements is that the scientists who got to name them MADE them. We knew their existence was possible, but you just don’t find these on Earth. The nucleus is so heavy and unstable that they decay to another element almost immediately. Elements after atomic number 104 decay within minutes or less, and elements after Uranium (92) are generally not found on Earth (with a few exceptions).

Why do scientist make these huge elements if they don’t last long enough to do anything with them? Elements on the periodic table are arranged in a certain way because electrons arrange themselves into predictable groups/patterns called orbitals. Arrangement of electrons in orbitals dictates an element’s properties. Elements in the same vertical period on the table have similar reactivities. Through some (I imagine) pretty complicated math, one can calculate the orbital filling order and energies and begin to predict characteristics of these elements that haven’t been made yet. Being able to make these short-lived elements is the first step to exploring their chemistry. And supposedly, things get pretty freaky around 164.

Get your set here (affiliate link will take you to Amazon). We’ve used our blocks quite a bit. We haven’t done any science-y things with them, just building and working on sounding out letters, but they are a cute novelty to have around!

Sources:
Morss, L., et al. (2006) Dordrecht: Springer ISBN 978-4020-3555-5

Karol, et al. Pure Appl. Chem. 88 (2016) 139.

Karol, et al. Pure Appl. Chem. 155 (2016)

Magnetic-Tile Circuits

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This project is for ages 3+ as it uses small parts which are 
dangerous when swallowed. Supervise young children.

Ready to make an already awesome toy even more awesome? All you need is less than $20 in special supplies (copper tape, LEDs, and button batteries), tape, scissors, and some magnetic tiles to start to snap together basic circuits.

If you don’t have magnetic tiles, you can also use these same supplies to make paper circuits.

Continue reading “Magnetic-Tile Circuits”