Use 3D Puzzles to Teach About Real World Locations

3D puzzles offer many different kinds of benefits to both children and adults. They will find that these puzzles offer educational, mental, and physical benefits to their lives. Children can learn much about their world by putting together a three dimensional puzzle. They can learn the basic structure of animals, transportation machines, and even landmarks and buildings. Discover how you can use 3D puzzles to teach about real world locations, improve brain function, and more!

3D Puzzle

3D Puzzles Cement Classroom Learning

Geography is a subject most children learn in school. Every student learns history. Both of those subjects have ties with landmarks and buildings. For instance, when a child is learning about Rome in the classroom it can be very beneficial to put together a 3D puzzle of the Coliseum. As the put together the structure, they will reinforce what they learned in the classroom about Roman architecture. If the puzzle is to scale, they will begin to understand how many people the structure could fit inside and therefore how important Gladiators were to Roman culture. As the puzzle is being put together, consider discussing the life of the Gladiators, who benefited, why people enjoyed this entertainment, and so on. In short, 3D puzzles are a hands on way to cement what a child learns during lecture and also helps to enhance the logic building centers in the brain.

3D Puzzles Enhance Logic Centers in the Brain

3D puzzles will challenge a person’s ability to solve problems in a greater way then a 2D puzzle can. A 3D puzzle deals with more space, more dimensions, and is therefore more complicated. Therefore, doing a 3D puzzle helps anyone who does them by increasing the logic centers of the brain. The problem solving skills are challenged and strengthened. Plus, these puzzles aid in increasing concentration and therefore help people learn how to think things through beyond the puzzle.

3D Puzzles Increase Other Skills

Putting a puzzle together is a rather complicated process that requires many skills. As we’ve already mentioned, puzzles help to stimulate the logic centers of the brain. Problem solving skills are improved, as is the ability for an individual to concentrate. Furthermore, people who do puzzles benefit from refining their fine motor skills. Putting a puzzle together requires some rather dexterous hand and finger movements. In the same vein, hand-eye coordination may be improved in both children and seniors that do 3D puzzles. In fact, there is some evidence to support that doing puzzles can help to stimulate the mind and may improve the memory in senior citizens.

Check Out Some Great Puzzles!

Check out some great puzzles! We really like 3D puzzles that help to engage our brains around real-world locations such as:

  • The Earth Puzzleball by Ravensburger 3D. How much real-world can you get than the globe? Putting together this puzzle is sure to help improve your geography skills.
  • Put together the Brooklyn Bridge when you’re in a New York state of mind, or perhaps the entire NYC skyline.
  • Connect with a US monument as you put together the Mount Rushmore 3-D Sculpture Puzzle by Milton Bradley.

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Four Fun Crafts You Can Do With Construction Paper

Kids and adults alike love crafting. In fact, crafting together can be a wonderful bonding activity. Set aside some time one afternoon this week and help your child strengthen their hand-eye coordination skills as well as their finger dexterity by working on one of these fun crafts. Plus, all of these craft ideas make great decorations or toys. Discover four fun crafts you can do with construction paper with the special child in your life today! Learn how to make swirly flowers, paper blocks, and more!

Swirly Paper Flowers

These Swirly Paper Flowers are a great craft to do with children, plus the final product is beautiful. This is an especially fun project to do right after reading Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, which is a great story and was a winner of the American Book Award. The flowers you make look a lot like the flowers, the lupines, in the story. It is also a great project to do in the spring to herald in the upcoming new flowers. Of course, a bouquet of these flowers would make a wonderful centerpiece to keep the gloom of winter at bay too, so make this craft whenever the mood strikes.

Construction Paper and Glue Chalkboards

Chalkboard paint is all the rage these days. Yet sometimes, finding something to paint on, getting your table set up for messy paint, and so forth, can be quite the production. Instead, try making these little chalkboards out of construction paper and glue. It is a great little craft to do because it is practical and inexpensive. Once your chalkboards are complete, sit down with your child and help them practice their letters and numbers. These little chalkboards are also great to help your child play with and learn math.

Paper crafts

Construction Paper Cubes

If you have a future engineer, architects, artist, carpenter, or a kid who simply loves to build things, try making these construction paper cubes. This is a very creative project that helps kids learn how three dimensional objects are made from two dimensional objects. Furthermore, it is a very flexible project that you can customize with a little bit of math. Make several cubes and then build something with those cubes. Allow the cube you make to be the base for a paper sculpture. The possibilities are endless when it comes to this project.

Paper Doll Chains

Paper doll chains are a great way to help your child decorate their room You can simply make the dolls with construction paper and tape them up on the wall. However, you can get really creative with these dolls. These dolls can be turned into their favorite fictional character, soldiers, police men, princesses, aliens, and/or whatever else your child wants them to be. Furthermore, you can have your kids make the dolls look like each other, their friends, or other family members. Change the template around a little bit and you can make paper chains that look like cats, dogs, trees, or anything else you can come up with. This is a great and simple project that allows for a lot of creativity.

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A Quick Guide to Toothpick Crafts

Any parent of a child under the age of 8 understands the prevalence of toothpicks in their day to day life. It's amusing, really, how these tiny craft sticks wind up everywhere – under couch cushions, in air vents, behind the refrigerator. They're an unquestionable staple for any little crafter, that's for sure. As a parent, you'll want to have access to a toothpick craft guide, so to speak, that you can reference whenever you need to entertain during craft time.

Pairs Well with Food...

Lacking in the adhesive department – no glue or tape lying around? Spring for food. Toothpicks make everything more fun, and food as at the top of that list. Make a house out of marshmallows, or gumdrops for a great learning experiences (depending on the age, skill level and intensity of the exercise), and will keep children occupied for a while. At its simplest, you can entertain a young child for hours creating 1 or 2 dimensional shapes. In a more complex way, you can introduce older children to facets of engineering and encourage them to strategically create their own free standing structures.

Toothpick Crafts

Great for Fine Motor Development

Your child will think it's all fun and games, but you'll have the quiet understanding that they're working hard on their pincher grasp. Take any object that's puncturable (styrofoam, or a rice crispy treat works great), and show them how to create a porcupine by pressing the toothpicks down into the center.

Helpful When Studying Chemistry

Most middle schoolers are all too familiar with just how boring chemistry can be. It's true – certain molecules look a certain way and have a certain name, and that's important! A fun way to help your kids learn these scientific facts? Use grapes and toothpicks to have them create the shapes of each molecule, and pair with a notecard of facts to memorize all the while. Create a matching activity where you pair your notecards with your toothpick molecules the night before a big test! 

Fun When Implementing in Art

Did you know that you can “paint” with a toothpick? It's actually different than painting with a brush; rather, you'll use your toothpick to pull paint off a page, leaving a trace white line in its wake. It's a different kind of painting that most every child enjoys, and it only takes a few toothpicks to create a really cool painting!

Lesson learned? If you've got toothpicks on hand, your opportunities for arts, crafts and entertainment are nearly endless.

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Fun Crafts You Can Do With Popsicle Sticks

There are so many great things that you can do with popsicle sticks! Here are a few ideas to help you get started doing fun crafts with your kids.

American Flags

What You Will Need:

7 popsicle sticks per flag

Red paint

White paint

Blue paint

Silver sequins – 9 per flag

Red sequins – 16 per flag

Glue

How To Make An American Flag Out of Popsicle Sticks

  1. Use a hot glue gun to glue all of the popsicle sticks together on the longest side. You should end up with a thick rectangle.
  2. On the very 1st popsicle stick, starting from the left, pain 1/3 of the popsicle stick blue.
  3. Follow step 2 for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th popsicle sticks.
  4. Then, use white paint on the 1st and 3rd popsicle sticks on the remaining 2/3rd s of the popsicle sticks.
  5. Repeat step 4 with red paint for the 2nd and 4th popsicle sticks.
  6. Then, use white paint again on the 5th and 7th popsicle stick, painting the entire stick white.
  7. Use red on the 6th popsicle stick, painting it completely.
  8. By now, you should be able to clearly tell that this is an American flag.
  9. Use the sequins to add some bling to your flag. Starting with the silver sequins, glue three sequins evenly dispersed in the blue section, where the 1st and 2nd popsicle sticks touch.
  10. Follow step 9 for where the 2nd and 3rd popsicle stick touch.
  11. Then, follow step 9 again for where the 3rd and 4th popsicle sticks touch.
  12. Now, use your red sequins on your 2nd, 4th, and 6th, popsicle sticks.
  13. Place three sequins, as evenly as possible on the red part of the second popsicle stick.
  14. Follow step 13 for your 4th popsicle stick.
  15. Then, on the 6th popsicle stick, follow step 13, except evenly disperse 10 sequins.
  16. Let dry and enjoy!

craft time with popsicle sticks

Popsicle Stick Reindeer Ornament

The Christmas season is coming, which means many people will have Christmas trees and therefore need some ornaments. Reindeer ornaments are very simple to make.

What you will need to make reindeer ornaments:

3 popsicle stick  (per reindeer ornament)

googly eyes or a black sharpie marker

red craft balls

Glue

How to make reindeer ornaments out of popsicle sticks:

  1. Glue together two popsicle sticks so that they form a V. Then, use a 3rd popsicle stick and glue it horizontally on the V so that it is about 1/3 of the way down from the top.
  2. Glue on the googly eyes or draw them on with a sharpie marker on the original 2 popsicle sticks, that were used to make the V shape. Make these eyes about half way down on the popsicle stick.
  3. Glue on your red craft ball at the point where the two popsicle sticks overlap in your V.
  4. Tie a ribbon onto the horizontal popsicle stick so that you can hang it on the Christmas tree and enjoy! (And, you can write your name and the date on the horizontal part so that you can remember this ornament for years to come.
  5. Enjoy your new ornament!

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Make Your Own Coloring Books

coloring book craft

Coloring books can be a kid’s best friend, right? Well, you can make these even more interesting and fun by using your own personal photos to create a coloring book for your child. Here are the steps to using your own personal photos to create a coloring book:

Decide which photos you want to use.

When selecting pictures, it is best to use pictures that have a lot of contrasting colors and are in focus. This way, you will have a lot of clear and distinct lines and you will clearly be able to make out the picture later.

Next, use a software that will allow you to make edits to your pictures. Probably the most commonly used is Pixlr, not only because it is free but because it is very easy to use and allows you to make great coloring book pages. Open Pixlr or whatever software you prefer and find the image in the “open image from your computer” option.

Your photo will immediately appear. Then, go to the sidebar on the right and open the Navigator menu. This will allow you to move all around on your picture, zooming in and out.

Next, at the top of the page, hit the adjustment tab. Then locate the Desaturate option, this will turn your photo black and white.

From here, you’ll want to right click on your mouse and find Background in the Layers options, then hit Duplicate Layer. This will add a new layer that it will call Background Copy.

Then, go back to the adjustment options at the top of the page and select Invert.

Now, you put it all together with a little skill. Use the little box that has the two arrows at the bottom left corner. This will allow you to get access to the Opacity and Mode options. From here, you want to change your Background Copy layer from Normal mode to Add mode. This is going to make your entire photo go white.

Then, the Amount slider will pop up. Drag the slider to the right and the left to see how it is going to change your image. This will adjust the strokes in your image. Try to make it so that it is at a medium point, so that you can see the image clearly.

Next, right click on the Background copy again and hit the Merge Down option.

Hit the Adjustment menu and then select levels. A graph should pop up as soon as you select this option.

Move the slider pretty far to the right so that you can see your image get dark.

Then, move the grey and white sliders all the way to the left, which will leave you with dark outlines and almost all white insides.

Your image is complete! Follow these steps for other photos you want to use to make your own coloring book. You can also play around with this software to create your own images and edit pictures so that they are easier or less complex to draw.

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Three Great Outdoor Family Activities for Fall

Fall is in the air. It’s time to pull out those sweaters and fleece jackets. Pull out that crock pot, and put on some hot apple cider that is both delicious and makes your home smell like fall. Play in the fall leaves you rake up and run around the yard with your kids! The weather is not too hot and not too cold. It’s time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors with your family before the first frost sets in and winter blasts come our way. Here are three great outdoor family activities for fall.

Hiking

Hiking during the fall of the year can be one of the most fun things you do with your family. The weather is gorgeous and the colors are as well. Make the hike more fun by looking up the types of trees in your area and print out small pictures of the fall foliage. As you hike the trail, make a game out of looking for the various types of leaves. Let the kids enjoy identifying the leaves and the trees from which they fall. You can also make a list of pictures you want to take and let the kids take pictures. Print your pictures and make a scrapbook of your hiking trip.

Pumpkin Patch

Visit a Pumpkin Patch

Make a full day of fun and visit a pumpkin patch. Many local farms or country themed facilities host a pumpkin patch in the fall. There are usually tons of crafts and activities taking place there as well. You may even get to enjoy an authentic hayride or get lost in a corn maze. A day of enjoying festive foods like funnel cakes and candy apples is the perfect way to kick off the fall season. Take home a couple of plump pumpkins, and continue the fun carving festive Jack-o-Lanterns! Or take some paint and decorate your pumpkins instead of cutting them. They actually will last longer that way!

Bonfire Cookout

Have a bonfire cookout with your family in the backyard. You can easily make a backyard fire pit if you don’t already have one with simple directions from the internet and easy to find supplies. While you are cleaning your yard, collect branches and sticks to use as fuel for your bonfire. Stock up on roasting sticks, hot dogs and the ingredients for s’mores. Let the kids go to town making s’mores and roasted hot dogs for the family to enjoy. Wrap up in your fall fleece to enjoy your feast, the fire and the cool weather. You can go one step further and pitch the tent in the backyard for an impromptu backyard camping trip that the kids will love!

Don’t let fall pass you by. Get busy and get moving with the family, and enjoy everything the cooler weather and fall foliage has to offer. These three great outdoor family activities for fall will create memories your children will not soon forget!

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Colored Pasta Necklaces

Colored pasta necklaces are great for kids to make in order to practice hand-eye coordination and to let them flex their creativity. Discover how easy they are to make in this article!

Colored Pasta Supplies

  • Dried pasta in a tube shape so it can be strung onto necklaces. Anelli, ditalini, elbow macaroni, mostaccioli, penne, rigatoni, and rotelle would all work well in for this purpose. Cavatappi, the corkscrew pasta, would make for quite the challenge, although it is doable.
  • Food Coloring
  • Rubbing alcohol. (This is an optional ingredient that helps to dry the coloring faster.)
  • Plastic zip-top bags-sandwich size is fine. We prefer the brand ziplock
  • Paper towels
  • Trays

Pasta necklace

Directions to Color the Pasta

  1. Line your trays with paper towels.
  2. Put your pasta in the plastic bag.
  3. Add 3-4 drops of food coloring in the color of your choice and one Tablespoon rubbing alcohol. Seal the bag and shake. You want each piece of pasta to get coated in the dye.
    1. The rubbing alcohol helps to spread the coloring around more evenly, so you won’t have to use as much dye.)
  4. Pour the newly colored pasta out onto the paper towel lined trays. Remember that food coloring stains, so be careful during this part.
  5. Wait for the pasta to dry completely. This helps to prevent any color from dripping. The dry time is shortened if you use rubbing alcohol.
  6. You will want to do this with a few different colors and perhaps even a few different pasta shapes. This is so the pasta necklace activity can have an added layer of creativity and beauty. If you are at a loss at what colors to choose, you can never go wrong with prime colors.

Colored Pasta Necklace Supplies

  • Completely dried colored pasta, in several different colors.
  • Bowls to put the pasta in
  • Yarn or string
  • Scissors
  • Scotch tape

Directions to Make the Necklace

  1. Put the pasta into bowls. If you want to skip this step, you can put the pasta in piles on the table. However, we find that bowls helps to minimize any mess.
  2. Cut a length of yarn or string for your child’s necklace.
  3. Take one large piece of pasta and string it through. Then, leaving around 1-2 inches of a tail, tie a square knot around the pasta. This piece of pasta will now help the other pieces of pasta stay on the yarn.
  4. On the side of the string opposite the pasta knot, put a little bit of tape to act as an aglet and prevent the yarn from fraying as your child makes their necklace.
  5. Give the yarn to your child and let them string pasta onto the necklace. This presents a great teaching moment for you to teach counting and/or patterns.
  6. When they have completed adding pasta to their necklace, tie the two ends together. The necklace is complete.

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Monster Tongues, an Easy Jell-o Snack

HalloweenHalloween Snacks is right around the corner, so why not make a delicious and fun snack for your kids (and kids at heart) to celebrate the season? Discover a recipe for Monster Tongues, an easy Jell-o snack. Of course, if “monster tongue” is too graphic for you, you could always call them Jell-o pinwheels. These snacks will go over great at your next Halloween party! Plus, Jell-o contains gelatin, which is a healthy ingredient that promotes digestive health, healthy hair, skin, and nails, plus much more!  Furthermore, these snacks are so easy it’s ridiculous!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (3 oz) JELL-O Gelatin, any flavor you’d like.
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 ½ cups Mini Marshmallows (we prefer the Jet-Puffed brand)

Stovetop Directions

  1. Grease an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Heat the water until boiling.
  3. Add the Jell-O. Stir until it is completely dissolved.
  4. Reduce heat.
  5. Add marshmallows and stir continuously, preferably with a whisk, until they are completely melted.
  6. Pour into the prepared pan.
  7. Refrigerate for an hour or until set.
  8. Loosen the gelatin layer from the pan by running a sharp knife around the edges.
  9. Starting at the bottom edge, roll the gelatin up tightly with clean, dry, hands.
  10. Cut the pin wheel log into ½ inch slices. Cover. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Microwave Directions

  1. Grease an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Mix gelatin and water in a medium sized microwave safe bowl.
  3. Microwave on HIGH for 90 seconds.
  4. Stir until gelatin is entirely dissolved.
  5. Mix in the marshmallows.
  6. Microwave on HIGH for 60 seconds, or until marshmallows are mostly melted.
  7. Whisk the mixture until the marshmallows are completely melted into the Jell-O.
  8. Pour into the Prepared pan.
  9. Refrigerate the pan for 45 minutes or so, until it is completely set.
  10. Loosen the gelatin layer from the pan by running a sharp knife around the edges.
  11. Starting at the bottom edge, roll the gelatin up tightly with clean, dry, hands.
  12. Cut the pin wheel log into ½ inch slices. Cover. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

This recipe makes 8 servings of 2 monster tongues (pinwheels) each.

Other Suggestions

  • After you slice the pinwheel log, unroll a small part of each pinwheel so they look more like tongues.
  • If you so desire, slice the pinwheel log in wavy or jagged lines instead of straight ones to create more texture for the monster tongue.
  • Remember to keep each “tongue” from touching the other while they are chilling. It is best to store them in separated flat layers. You can separate them easily using wax paper.
  • If you are making this for a large Halloween party be sure to make several different batches with several different flavors and colors of Jell-o. If you choose contrasting colors, they will be sure to pop on the snack table!

Image Credit: pixabay.com

 

DIY: Make a Colorful Kite for Kids

There’s probably not a nicer sight than a colorful kite flying against a blue sky with a few puffy white clouds. But you don’t have to go out and buy a fancy kite to fly with your kids. It’s actually pretty simple to make your own. Even better, making a colorful kite for kids is not only a craft you can do together but once it’s finished you can experience your kid’s joy as she dashes around outside watching her kite in action.

Supplies You’ll Need:

Crafts knife

Two flat sticks: ½” wide x3/8” deep x 42” long and ½” wide x3/8” deep x 38” long

60 feet or more of string or twine

Elmer’s glue

Vellum or paper, 45 x 45 inches (pick the color you want to use for the main background of your kite)

Pencil

Paint, glitter glue sticks, crayons, and colorful markers

Crepe paper and ribbons in various sizes and colors

Fast-drying glue

Kite

Instructions:

1. Use the crafts knife to carve a lengthwise notch that is ¼ inch deep into both ends of each stick. The notches need to be deep enough to tightly hold the string or twine.

2. Place the middle of the short stick over the long stick about 9 inches from one end of the long stick. This will form a “T” shape and will be the basis of the frame for your kite.

3. At the intersection of the sticks, use string to tie them solidly together. Tie off the string in a knot and cut off any excess. Coat the string lightly with glue to help keep the sticks stable.

4. Starting at the top of the long stick, thread string through each of the notches all the way around. Do this twice, being careful to keep the string taut. Finish at the top where you started and tie a knot but don't cut the string just yet. You’ve now created the kite’s frame.

5. Next, you’ll need to make a place to attach the flying string. This is called the bridle. Pull the knotted string back from the top and tie it off where the sticks intersect. Now, cut the string but leave a 3-inch tail.

6. Place the frame flat onto the vellum or paper, and lightly draw an outline of the kite frame using the pencil. Be sure to add an extra 3/4 inch all the way around when drawing the outline. This is called the sail. Eventually you will fold the extra paper over the string and glue it.

7. Using scissors, cut out the sail, then set the frame aside until the sail is decorated.

8. Use the paint, glitter, crayons, and markers to decorate the sail with whatever design your child imagines. When your child is finished decorating, let the sail dry for 10 minutes so the designs don’t get smeared.

9. Place the frame flat against the sail. Pour fast-drying glue onto the edges of the sail, and fold the sail’s edges over the string. Let the kite dry for 5 minutes.

10. Tie the remainder of your string to the bridle tail (the 3-inch strip you left hanging) to create a flying string. Use the crepe paper or ribbon to make a kite tail that will dance in the wind.

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3 Handmade Glitter Painting Ideas

Paintings can be so much fun to put up on your walls – they can make a basic house into an awesome home! It is so much fun to go shopping for them, and find that perfect piece.  But they can be So. Expensive. Getting true, unique paintings can run anywhere from 20 dollars from an amateur painter to thousands of dollars. This isn’t exactly conducive to decorating your house on a budget.  So why not make your own?  Many people add paintings to their home for a splash of color – for a bright spot in their day. Some even choose to have an entire wall painting created! If you like bright, sparkly paintings, the cost is rarely worth it for multiple decorations. So how do we fix this?  Here are a few ideas.

  1. Psychedelic

 

If you like paintings just for color and prefer abstract to concrete paintings, this style is just for you.  Incredibly easy to do, Simply take some balloons and fill with a glitter/paint mix.  Make sure they are tied off well.  Now, take them outside and attach to a canvas (make sure you have plastic on the ground, you don’t want a glitter sidewalk!). Take some darts, and have fun letting the colors mix and create a crazy painting!  If you’re noticing any parallels to a scene from the Disney Movie Princess Diaries – that is the inspiration for this style!  I have a few paintings I have created this way, and it is a lot of fun – and colorful too!

Glitter

  1. Walls!

Do you really LOVE glitter?  Paint an entire wall!  A fun (and easy) way to do a Glitter wall is to stay a little more uniformed.  The glitter is a unique touch onto a classic wall. First, apply whatever coat it is that you prefer for a base (beige, red, blue, etc.). Next, grab a glitter topcoat (you can actually find these in most paint stores, or special order!). Take the glitter, and paint it over the wall.  I actually prefer to do this more creatively – paint different shapes or designs, and have the wall become a unique work of art on its own!

  1. Cut outs.

Lastly, have some fun with cut outs!  Similar to the wall idea, use a large area (whether it is a large canvas or a wall, either works!) Paint the backdrop a darker color (I like navy blue!).  Next, find cutouts of animals and shapes that you like, and create your very own painting!  You don’t have to be a master painter to do this, and for those not as steady with a brush, this is a great alternative to the Free design style suggested above.  You can make an entire scene, or randomly put cutouts of your favorite things onto the walls. The best part about these?  You can add something that is both attention grabbing, but not being overwhelming or very abstract.  It creates a large, bright splash of happiness in your room, and can be all sorts of colors or designs.

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