The Gift of Time

 One of the most important gifts we can give our children is time. By turning off the television you have automatically granted a child several hours a day for fostering an imagination that will lead to a lifetime of possibilities.  

When our children were young and they wanted to watch TV I told them that the world is divided into people who watch adventures and people who have adventures.  ‘Which do you want to be?’ I asked.  

Well, they gave the right answer —‘Have them’ — until they were about 13 years old — at that age I got the very blunt and righteous:  ‘I want to WATCH adventures.’  

‘Too late,’ I said.  ‘You are destined to have them.’ None of us, including our four now-grown children, have ever regretted it. Many a memory and story was made when the TV was off.  Begin today.  Jumpstart the fun with the following ideas, and remember, you are the boss! You are allowed to turn off the machine whenever you want, and begin the fun.


Squeeze Ball

This is a delightfully different squeeze toy that kids love to make and play with. Make several and learn to juggle! Not recommended for children under four years old.

What you will need:

• funnel 
• latex balloon 
• cornstarch 
Blow up the balloon several times to stretch it out. Place the funnel in the opening and pour in enough cornstarch to make a nice size ball. Tie the balloon off and squeeze away!  

Portable Colour Play

This project allows kids to play with primary colour mixing without making a mess.  

What you will need:

• 1/2 cup cornstarch 
• 2 tablespoons sugar 
• 2 cups cold water 
• paste or regular food colouring: red, blue, yellow 
• zipper-type sandwich bag

Mix the sugar and cornstarch together in a medium saucepan. Add the water and stir until dissolved. Keep stirring the mixture over medium heat until it turns slightly translucent and begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and cool. Next, divide the mixture between three glasses and stir in the food colouring to create a red, blue and yellow mixture. Add one spoonful of each colour into the sandwich bag, remove most of the air and seal. These look wonderful taped to a sunny window!

Colour Swirls and Twirls

This project is science at its finest — it piques your curiosity and invites speculation. You will be asked for the materials to do this one over and over!

What you will need:

• shallow pan of water 
• 3 tablespoons of cornstarch food colouring in squeeze bottles 
• straw, toothpick or chopstick 
Add water to the pan until it is approximately 1 1/2 to 2 1/2cm deep. Stir in the cornstarch; the mixture should be milky and slightly thickened. Add several drops of food colouring, then drag the straw through the centre of the drops slowly. 

What happens? The colours divide and swirl along the line of the straw dragged in the solution into identical and symmetrical shapes.  The cornstarch molecules allow the colours to rest closer to the surface of the mixture for the patterns to form.

Shake It! Make it! Ice-cream in a bag

Easy to make and delicious to eat! This homemade ice-cream makes a good group project as well.   

What you will need:

• 1/2 cup milk 
• 1 tablespoon sugar 
• 1 teaspoon vanilla 
• 1 4 litre size, zipper-type plastic bag 
• 1 zipper-type sandwich bag 
• ice  
• 1/3 cup rock salt

Fill the gallon bag halfway with ice and add the rock salt. Next, place the milk, sugar and vanilla in the sandwich bag and seal. Place the sandwich bag in the large ice-filled bag and seal it. Grab the corners of the large bag and shake it back and forth. In five minutes you will have ice-cream!

Published in Kindred, Issue 21, March 07

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