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kids zone

sunday morning i woke up with painfully sore legs. strange, considering i haven't worked out in over ten months.. unless, of course, you count my daily crazy run pushing charlie and ruthie in the stroller down eight blocks to get to eve's school in time for pick up.. (which, i'll admit, i kind of do count). after a few foggy minutes of stretching and trying to remember if i had any violent dreams, it came to me: the giant bubble. 


from 12-3pm on saturday eve's school held a fundraiser for a future science lab. in addition to the main event, i partnered with another mom and organized the "kids zone." in honor of the end goal, we put on a little exploratory science-y fair for the kids. it was so messy, and a little crazy but hilarious and so much fun. 


snail discovery. a ton of snails, hasta leaves, magnifying glasses and spray bottles (snails come out of their shells and move around a lot when sprayed with water, which actually makes them fun). the kids were fascinated. at three different points a group of kids ran up to me and, with arms about one inch from my eyeball, showed me the snails sliming their way up their arms. eve was not very interested. but ruthie, although she won't admit it, must have liked them; i have it on good authority that she gave one snail a good lick while holding it.. (no salmonella poisoning yet).. 

smell identification. jam jars, painted on the inside (to hide contents), small holes punched in the lid, and filled with common foods for the kids to smell and try to identify.  banana, orange, lemon, garlic, peanut butter and chocolate sauce. garlic was definitely tricky (although a lot of kids were pretty close- with guesses of "pepper" or "some kind of onion") but the chocolate syrup was particularly challenging.  "oh, i know this! what is it? what is it??" eve: "i can't believe i didn't know that because i love it sooo much."


the messy table.

mounds and mounds of homemade playdough for the kids to sculpt and mix to their hearts content.

big tub of GAK (glue, borax and water). at one point i heard "chicken fat! we need more chicken fat!" as the kids broke it apart and moved it all around. placing it on the edge of the table and leaving it alone, they would watch it slowly, slowly ooze and stretch to the ground without breaking, then scoop it up and start again. fake sneezes and hours of laughter were also involved. 

big tub of oobleck (2 parts cornstarch to 1 part water). playing with this mixture is one of six clear memories from my own pre-school experience. i loved it then and still do. roll it, squeeze it, hit it hard, try to move your hand quickly through it and it acts like a solid, but release the pressure or slowly let your hand sit and it acts like a liquid. "quicksand!" "ahh! my hand is stuck! really!" regardless of the smocks and rinsing bucket we provided, every kid was covered in white. admittedly, so was i.

the giant bubble. surrounding each child bubble after bubble was so entertaining that i didn't notice the 5000 squats i was doing. until the next morning. the bubble solution was amazing and got better and better by the minute. joy liquid soap, corn syrup and water.  hula hoop wrapped in cotton string to soak up more solution and trough made out of a dryer vent. stiff little kids watching the bubble surround them through squinted eyes, preparing for the burst. 

geysers. every 20 minutes i set off the diet coke/mentos geysers. the kids would count down, we'd guess how high it would go with three mentos, with five, with ten. then, pipe in hand to help get the mentos in all at once and to get it going higher, i set it off. the kids would scream, i would laugh as i watched their faces and tried to avoid the spray. i never did, and a few times i got soaked (it's what i get for looking down or at the kids instead of the geyser). luckily, diet coke is barely stickier than water.


after the fair i came home to try to clean up the three days of playdough, GAK and oobleck making.. i'm still finding bits and pieces throughout the apartment..  but mess, sore legs, diet coke hair and all, i am already making plans for next year. i am not satisfied with a tub of oobleck, i have visions of an entire kiddie pool of it, so kids can run across (or sink). i see secret messages, rainbow prisms, making silly putty with the kids, more geysers, more bubbles..  what else could we do? .. it could be seriously incredible. in fact, i may not be able to wait until next may/june. our own science party might be coming again soon.. i'm dying to try running across that pool of cornstarch and water.. 

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Reader Comments (72)

incredible bubbles! you guys must have blown their minds with them. looks like an awesome day :)

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPam Kirkpatrick

This sounds like so much fun...I am an adult and I am wishing I could have participated in all of these activities. I love it when kids have fun but are learning at the same time. This would be so fun for a smaller birthday party for a kid who loves science. Thanks so much for sharing your amazing ideas. Also, this is the first time that I have posted here but I have been reading for months. I just wanted to tell you how much I love, love, love the clothes that you create for your girls. They are darling. I love to sew to and would love to try to make some of the things you make for your girls into an adult size. Any suggestions? Thanks so much.


May 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

That sounds like one fun day, and the plaid jacket in the bubble picture is adorable!

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

you are the coolest mom ever. adopt me please :-)

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPriscila

Katie, you're so amazing! I can't wait to try some of these things with our kiddos... I know they'd LOVE it!

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbrandi

Ah, WOW! What fun. Makes ME want to go to preschool. Thanks for the awesome summer-outside-play-learn-messy-cool ideas!

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermama-aya

Hi Katie,

I am running a pattern and sewing community website, together with my partner Nora Abousteit, out of Brooklyn called BurdaStyle.com.
Our colleague Alden came across your blog the other day and our entire office is completely hooked on it ever since. It has entertained us a lot but we were especially impressed with your kid's clothes.

We were hoping that you would be interested in having on of your creations be featured and offered as a pattern on our site. If you email me at my above address, I could give you all details about how that would work.

Best Wishes and I hope your legs feel better soon!

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBenedikta Karaisl

I just came across your blog and it is amazing. Amazing sewing, amazing ideas, amazing apartment reno. so inspiring. thank you for sharing.

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjones

what a fantastically inspiring post! thanks!

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdaria

Nice work, Katie...every part of this day was well planned and painstakingly prepared! I am an elementary science teacher (K-5) so I sympathize with all the time it took to prep and even more to clean up. Steve Spangler has a ton of great videos on this site for more ideas for you...just google him. You can also check out him with the huge vat of Oobleck on Ellen here:
Not sure if you've seen it or not...but it can be done! I did it in a kiddie pool last year and it was a scream! Cheers,
~ jillian

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJillian

Wow! Such great ideas...I can't wait to plan something like this! Your kids' school is lucky to have such a fun and creative parent to help out...

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersk

So So FUN!! These picture are GREAT!
I would love to have you guest on my blog. Do you have an email address I can send you details at?

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrandy

Looks like a fun day! I just have to do a mini version on this in my own backyard!

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

how very mythbusters-ish of you- that looks like such a blast! must try those massive hoop bubbles - my kids are obsessed with the mini versions, imagine the squeals at one of those babies! do you have a Coolest Mum crown? Feel I need to move to Brooklyn and become best friends with you in the hope some cleverness/coolness/creativeness rubs off...

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbelinda

Please tell me how you made the doughnut shaped pool that contained the bubble stuff. What is it made of? My TEENAGER(!!) wants me to make one for her party.


May 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Mary

miss mary-
our trough is made from a flexible metal dryer vent, cut in half, lined with some vinyl and a lot of duct tape along the sharp edge. kind of a pain, but it worked out well for us and doesn't require an excessive amount of bubble solution. alternatively, you could get a kiddie pool and put a step stool in the middle. or an old tire cut in half (a tractor wheel would be best to fit the bigger hula hoops, this is what my sister's school uses with great success. unfortunately brooklyn doesn't have a lot of old tractor wheels hanging around.. if i were back in my home town, it would be a different story..).

be sure to make the bubble solution 24 hours in advance. then let it sit, preferably outside, uncovered until time of use. it "toughens up" really well this way. if you don't allow enough sitting time, the bubbles are weak you won't get the bubble past anyone's knees..

good luck! your daughter and friends will love this. when they're tired of being inside the bubbles, they can use the hoop to make fantastically long beautiful bubbles. endless fun.

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkatie

Katie are you for real? I mean besides the fact that I know you and have been in your physical presence I would think that you could not be the real thing. Please at least tell me that you lack a serious amount of sleep. If not, I am just not quite doing justice to the 24 hours that have been allotted me, and heaven forbid, i don't even have kids yet!

What I'm trying to say is frankly, I want a portion of your coolness, and maybe we can have a science day in Oregon?

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

Ditto to all the comments which have already been written. Just thought I'd add that your amazing talents and wonderful blog is being appreciated and used for inspiration all the way over here in Australia. Thank you.

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkate

Charlie is the bubble is hilarious!

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterminnesota:madre

Yah! I feel as smitten with you as everyone else. Not just the AMAZING clothes you sew and the fact that you look great schlepping laundry across Brooklyn but you are soo original and humble about it--geez girl, these Science experiments are fantastic. I too feel like moving to Brooklyn and becoming your BFF.. thanks for sharing. seriously. THis would be so great for a kids b-day party. I think I'll do the bubbles too. question? what's is it equal parts dishsoap corn syrup and water? also, same question for the GAK. Thanks. Oh and what did you wrap around the hulahoop I hate to be so specific and annoying but I'd hate to go through all this and then wrap the hula hoop in something that doesn't work as well.

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHaydee

makes me wish i was a kid again. all those activities are seriously so awesome! fun day!

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterliko

WOW! so fun!

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErin

thank you. We will prototype it this weekend, and make up the "solution" tonight!

Miss Mary

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Mary

What fun. I love all the ideas. Looks like the adults had as much fun as the kids!

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

You're such an awesome mom! That looks like such a fun party.

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterrachael

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