Let’s go exploring – baby bird edition

Let’s go exploring – baby bird edition

I live in an “established” neighborhood – it’s been around for 30+ years, so the homes are are settled in and the trees are nice and mature. We don’t live far from my kids’ school, so we walk every day, and every day we take a path as a short cut.

For a few days, I noticed birds going crazy every time we walked up the path. The same two birds, a cardinal then a robin. Finally, it dawned upon me, they must be nesting. So, the next day, I walked slowly behind my kids as they ran up the path, and took note where the birds were flying from. And sure enough, on top of the City’s chain-link fence that borders the path, I found two nests within six feet of each other. Read more

Car combinatorics

Car combinatorics

I run a regular program at WPL called “Discover DIY” (formerly known as “Mini Makers”) for children aged 2-4. Each week I set up and run 1-2 new activities with the kids, interspersed with some story time.

Recently, I had an idea for a program for the kids where I could use up some scrap wood from my workshop. I would cut the wood up into regular-sized pieces, and give the kids instructions to make cars with them. I brought in some thin dowel to use as axles, some thick dowel pre-cut into thin strips and drilled with holes for wheels, and I brought in a power drill to make axle holes wherever the kids wanted with my help.

I was pleasantly surprised with the variety of the creations. These are kids aged 2-4, while they all have an idea of what a car is, it isn’t as cut-and-dry a definition as what an adult would have if you asked them to create a new car. Below is a sampling of the results of the kids’ work: Read more

Got to love it when a plan comes together

Got to love it when a plan comes together

On time and under budget to boot! Work tasked me with making five prize wheels. I estimated it’d cost $50 to do and got the go-ahead. Approximately it cost me:

  • $10 for the mdf to make the wheels
  • $6 for the dowel for the clicker
  • $10 for the hardware
  • $10 for the wood for the stands
  • Free! for the clicker (just a strip of plastic cut from a lettuce box)

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Laser cut snowflake activity

Laser cut snowflake activity

It’s that time of year! Christmas! I have put together a tutorial on how to make some quick snowflake decorations. This is a great activity for kids and adults, and can be used as decorations for the tree, gifts to be given, even little tiny add-ons for your presents. It is quick and simple, cheap, and awesome for last-minute ideas.

You will need:

  • Sheet of acrylic
    • available at most hardware and surplus stores. I used stuff 3mm thick.
  • Access to a laser cutter
    • often found at Makerspaces, some Libraries, Universities, and the occasional local service provider. I am a member at Kwartzlab (a Makerspace in Kitchener).
  • Inkscape installed on your computer
    • or any other vector editing software (Inkscape is free and Open Source)
  • Access to the Snowflake Generator site
  • Colourful permanent markers (I’ve used Sharpies without issue)
  • Glue gun and glue stick

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You may already know how to knit

You may already know how to knit

I was recently was bitten by the knitting bug, and I have just got it out of my system. I have knitted before, but I find the process too simple and repetitive and have a hard time relaxing (if something is too repetitive I get stressed out, I prefer a little variety/challenge to my simpler tasks). Plus, knitting with needles make my hands cramp easily. However, I taught myself how to knit hats with a loom, and I found it had just enough variety to its simple tasks that it became quite enjoyable.

The most striking thing I noticed, however, was how knitting with a loom was so similar to another activity, which may be familiar to parents of young children: Rainbow Loom! Read more