Archive for the ‘Projects’ Category

Science is exciting, particularly when you can do it at home and make a big mess in the garden.  Some science experiments are so cool that even big kids like to have a go – you know on, ‘Wine Friday’, when you are being a rebel. Science experiments don’t have to involve expensive kits with copper sulphate in them to be great fun.  Kitchen cupboards and the corner shop provide the best ingredients for impromptu science afternoons.

The following five experiments are categorized into items used and different scientific concepts.

Vinegar And Bicarbonate Of Soda

These two ingredients can kick up a real stink when used in experiments, this is why it is advisable to set up a table in the garden and do it there.  These two experiments are really smelly but you will love them.

Bouncy Egg

You Need: Vinegar, uncooked egg in shell, a jar and a peg for your nose.

What to do: (This takes a bit of time so you could start it at the beginning of the afternoon)

  • Half fill a glass of jar with vinegar.
  • Put a raw egg in the vinegar.
  • Leave for two days.
  • Place egg in water and remove shell.
  • Feel how bouncy it is and shine a light through it.
  • Put on plate and cut egg to reveal yoke still intact.

If you haven’t got time to do this experiment – this video shows you what happens.

This happens because the egg is made up of calcium carbonate and the vinegar is acetic acid.  The acetic acid takes away all of the calcium leaving the egg soft.

What do you think will happen if you leave the egg on a plate for a day or two?

Inflating A Balloon Without Any Puff

You Need: Bicarbonate Of Soda, Vinegar, Balloon

What to do:

  • Pour the vinegar into a bottle.
  • Use a funnel to put some bicarbonate of soda into a balloon (That you have stretched a lot).
  • Put the balloon on the bottle neck – making sure it is firmly on.
  • Watch the balloon inflate.

Again watch this video to see what happens :-

This happens because the acetic acid in the vinegar reacts with the bicarbonate of soda and causes an effervescent chemical reaction.

What do you think will happen if you use more bicarbonate of soda?

Diet Coke, Mentos and Eggs

Experiments using these three ingredients cause excitement or are used as a warning about drinking Diet Coke in moderation.

Mentos And Diet

You Need: Lots of packets of Mentos, Diet Coke (still in its bottle) and goggles.

What To Do:-

  • Supervise all children (and silly adults)
  • Simply unscrew the lid off the Diet Coke
  • Put Mentos into bottle
  • Stand well back and wear swimming goggles

If you are too scared to do the experiment this video will give you a clue as to what happens:-

What is the minimum number of Mentos you need to make the fountain come out?

Egg In Diet Coke

You Need: 365 days, a jug you are not going to use for a year, a boiled egg and Diet Coke.

What To Do:-

  • Boil an egg
  • Fill jug with Diet Coke
  • Put Egg In Jug
  • Programme alarm in your phone for a years time
  • Go and enjoy yourself
  • Come back in a year and if it hasn’t been thrown away rince egg and see what has happened.

The egg shell is made from calcium – remember your teeth are made from calcium.

If you can’t be bothered to wait a year here is a time lapsed version of the experiment:-

Does Lemonade cause the same thing to happen?

Hydraulic Systems

A hydraulic system is used to increase or decreasing the force of a push by using different sized hydraulic cylinders.  Hydraulic systems are used all around us.  A good example is a brake in a car – you only put a small amount of pressure on the brake peddle but a lot more is used to make the car stop.


Children will have probably made a simple hydraulic system at school using syringes, tubing and water. Here is a video showing a girl using a hydraulic system to make a lift.

What other kinds of objects can you move using a hydraulic system?

You can find many more great ideas on the internet for wild experiments.  Children please make sure that you are supervised by a responsible adult to avoid getting hurt.



Generally you don’t really take much notice of the condition of playgrounds until you get a child’s eye view.  Parents of preschool children tend to spend lots of time in playgrounds giving their children fresh air and getting out of the house.  Our local Sure Start centre even provide a list of the locations of playgrounds in our area to visit. Therefore it is hardly surprising that you notice how worn out playground equipment is while you sit in your shattered mother of a toddler state.

The little playground near to us is very basic with just a slide, swings and a couple of rockers.  I did consider fund raising to update the equipment but only got as far as contacting  Playdale and a lady who seemed to know about how to raise funds for playgrounds.  My only major issue was that I didn’t know enough people to start a committee with.  Unfortunately the five years you spend with your baby is very fleeting and before you know it they are striving for independence so you don’t really see the playground equipment close up any more.

Once your child has made the transition from toddler to infant and you are starting to foray into the adult world, the shoddy swings and ancient slide suddenly don’t seem to be important any more. New parents take your place in the playground and if they are all like minded they could work together to improve the local playground.  This is exactly what happened in our area but the playground in question is to be a new one on a big stretch of road quite away from where we live.  The playground project is extremely ambitious and aims to fulfill the recreational needs of all ages including adults.

The NCB has produced a fact sheet on how to raise funds for your playground. You can request a funding guide from playground equipment companies like Playdale Playgrounds who have produced a funding guide. They also follow up the request by contacting you to see if they can help with your project.  Once you have read through all of the instructions you will have to form a committee and be prepared to write detailed plans so that people funding your project know exactly what they are paying for.  In some cases you may need to think about why your project is more important than other people’s so you can secure grants from different organisations.

Hopefully you will have some very creative and dynamic people on your committee who will be full of ideas for fundraising events.  Eventually after a lot of hard slog and dedication you will be ready to speak to your local playground adviser who will help you to confirm which pieces of equipment you would like and where you are going to put them.  Once an installation date has been agreed the playground equipment installers will come and set up your playground.  Most playground equipment companies provide maintenance contracts to ensure that your playground remains in tip top condition.

All that is left is for your local community to launch the new playground and welcome children and parents into your amazing play area.


If the weather’s not so good (which it often isn’t in December in the UK!) there might be a lot of trying to keep the kids entertained inside over the Christmas holidays. So I thought I’d share a few of the little arty projects we have done in the past that have proved quite popular, plus they are all Christmas related so bonus points for that!

Paper Snowflakes

The classic paper snowflakes!. Most kids will do this at school as well but it’s something that is fun and requires a bit of skill. It’s great seeing them see what they have created when they open up the paper.


Making Christmas Cards

This is something we attempt each year for the families’ Christmas cards. Admittedly, some years we have ended up loosing patience, or at least the first few are masterpieces and then they steadily go downhill as we realise just how many there are to do!


Baking Snowmen

Really fun and easy to do. Simple biscuit recipe topped with a marshmallow and icing sugar!


Bead Candy Canes

This one will encourage some patience and hand-eye coordination!


Snowmen Feet

This could get a little messy so a firm grip on a child with painted feet is needed! It’s extra fun because it is personal to them, plus they get to get a bit messy in a way they probably don’t get to that much PLUS they can be creative and decorate their snowmen however they like!


Make Your own Snow

Now I haven’t tried this one yet but it looks like it could be really fun! Instructions here.

homemade snow recipe 1

For a few more ideas, check out this blog post and this website

On Wednesdays I usually go to the library and sit in the peace and quiet and write and prepare my puppet shows.  I have found it very useful to take up as much space on the table and give out a silent growl when anyone comes near to the table, thus preventing them from wanting to sit next to me.

The project I am working on during this time is an adaptation of a Midsummer Nights Dream by the Bard himself.  I am intending to set up a drama group next year for children between the ages of seven to twelve so that we can explore and stage different genres.  The aim is for the children to have a solid understanding of the story, characters and the text so that when they do act it out in front of family and close friends they can confidently put on a Shakespeare play in the traditional way.

Presently I am writing the play as a story using ‘Shakespeare Made Easy’ as a guide.  I initially intended to write these notes as a fairy story for much younger children but realise that Shakespeare’s use of language and action means that I have to make thorough notes to ensure that I capture the most important parts of the play in my own adaptation.  I have to admit that I had never studied Shakespeare so thoroughly in the past because it wasn’t as essentially to really understand the play in order to explain it to someone else.

I have visited the Globe Theatre in London (Well the rebuilt one) and it was apparent that the plays were performed for rich and poor people alike, your class was determined by your location in the theatre.  Plays were written for everyone to watch and enjoy, I would say in the same way a soap opera is watched today but that would not be a suitable comparison as there is a great difference in quality.

Bearing in mind that the plays were written for everyone to enjoy, it is interesting to see that the language has not been compromised by the need to accommodate everyone’s level of understanding.  Maybe this was because the spoken word was used more frequently to pass on information and ideas than the written word.  For someone who wasn’t highly educated Shakespeare’s ability to draw images with words and develop such poetic sentence structure is amazing.  We see that poetry is high up on his agenda when Bottom and Quince decide that they need to write a prologue for their play and were debating on the number of lines they were going to write it in , off the top of my head I recall that they settled for eight.

Shakespeare definitely had comic timing and thoroughly enjoyed playing with the concept of irony.  The play is actually really funny and farcical, I am really looking forward to writing the script with the misunderstandings and silliness.

The plot of the play is quite simple; it is based on four pairs of ‘lovers’ on their own romantic journeys that get entangled in a fairy glade.  The first couple is Theseus and Hippolyte, the Duke of Athens and the Queen of the Amazons who met while in battle and decided to make love and not war.  The play starts four days before their wedding and the are feeling very impatient.  The second couple we meet are Hermia and Lysander who are in love but her father disproves the match and threatens her with either becoming a nun or death if she doesn’t marry his chosen suitor.  Thirdly we meet Helena and Demetrius, she is in love with him but he is in love with Hermia, and the more she is rejected the more she loves him.  Finally we are introduced to Oberon and Titania, the king and queen of the fairies who are squabbling over a little human child they both want to play with.

It is the discord between Titania and Oberon that causes the who situation to become a farce because Oberon wants to get his own back by making Titania fall in love with the next awful creature she sees by means of the juice from a purple flower.  Oberon being an old romantic requested that his jester Puck put the same juice on Demetrius’ eyes so that he would fall in love with Helena.  Of course Puck put it on Lysander’s eyes, who was eloping with Hermia and sleeping.  The first person he saw was of course Helena and he fell deeply in love her and abandoned Hermia.  When Oberon realised what had happened he ordered Puck to put the juice in Demetrius’ eyes so when he woke up he would fall in love with Helena.  This mix up resulted in both men being in love with Helena, hating Hermia and Helena hating all three because she thought that they were playing a trick on her.  Let me catch my breath.

Puck took the opportunity to create a monster for Titania to fall in love with by changing Bottom’s head into an ass’s.  She fell head over heels in love with him even if he thought it very strange.  Let me just explain the role of the six tradesmen in the play.  They were to perform a play within the play, ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’, which is about two lovers who were forbidden to meet by their families, this Greek play became the inspiration for Romeo and Juliet.  We can see that they would have fitted into today’s society quite well as they didn’t want to upset the ladies and decided to say a prologue at the beginning of the play to warn them that the sword fights were not real and that nobody would really get hurt and that the lion wasn’t a lion but a person.  This of course reveals the plot of the play and gives us a sense of how plays were put on in the sixteenth century.  There is an air of pantomime about the whole thing because women very rarely acted and their parts were played by men in masks.  I think that this element is Shakespeare’s way of letting people in the future understand how plays were staged and this will obviously determine how my play will be staged.

I think I still have half of the play to read before I can complete my research so will let you digest this post before I tell you more about this project.

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