It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Mystery Solved … by SCIENCE!

We were reading Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day yesterday. Absolute classic children’s story about a little boy exploring the snow. We will be trying out some of Peter’s ideas in the coming days.

We’ll walk with our toes pointed out, we’ll walk with our toes pointed in. We’ll drag our feet to make tracks, and make tracks with stick. We might even try snowballs!

I’ve done all that before with small children. Yesterday, though, I stumbled across something new. When Peter goes in for the evening, he puts a snowball in his pocket for the next day. When he checks on his snowball before bed … it’s gone!

“Where did it go?” I asked the children. Because of course you chat about your books as you read. “Where did Peter’s snowball go?


Three pairs of eyes gaze back at me. Full of blankness. No inspiration there, at all, at all.

I point to the suspicious spot on the outside of his coat. “It sure looks like his coat is wet. Why would his pocket be wet like that?” Hint, hint…

Nope. More blankness. They truly don’t know.

Well, now. This calls for some investigation! So out we go to the front porch. Well, in the interests of efficiency, out I go. Scoop up a small bowl of snow, and bring it in. We peer into the depths and make our observations.

We discover that the snow is white, and cold, and a bit prickly under our fingers. (I think the “prickly” was their way of describing the ice crystals in there, or maybe just the intense cold on a warm fingertip.)

We put the bowl on the table and went away. Every few minutes we’d come back and have another look. And damned if the snow wasn’t getting smaller! And now there was water in the bowl, too! And maybe, maybe the snow isn’t as white as it was?

A few minutes later, we’re sure. No, the snow isn’t so white. In fact, it’s getting clearer. And there’s even more water in there!

Any ideas why?



It’s a mystery! Isn’t that exciting?!?

When the bowl is largely a small collection of watery slush, I give them each a tiny dollop of snow in their palms.

“Just hold it, guys. Hold your hands still and watch that snow. Tell me what happens to it.”

It’s a matter of seconds before each small pink palm holds nothing more than an even smaller puddle. They peer into their hands. They look at me.

“Well. Where’s the snow?”

Rory knows. “It’s GONE!”

“It certainly is! Where did it go?”


“You had snow in your hands. Now you have water. What happened to the snow?”

A light goes on in Grace’s face.

“Water!! At water! The snow is gone at water!”

And lo, there is much rejoicing, for verily, Grace is right. The snow is gone at water! I toss around some more words, including “frozen”, “warm”, and “melting”, but we have got the gist of it.

The snow is gone at water.

Toddler science is so fun.


January 5, 2012 Posted by | books, Developmental stuff, Grace | , , , , | 8 Comments

DIY Weather Calendar

A few weeks ago, our neighbourhood had its annual Yard Sale. Dozens, possibly hundreds of homes take part. Not mine, mind you, because I somehow managed to miss the announcement (dammit!). I woke on Saturday morning wondering why there was so much conversation in the street…

My husband took a stroll around, and came home with a goodish sized piece of… um… I’m not quite sure what this stuff is, really. It’s plastic, I’d say, quite flexible but not at all stretchy, about 2 mm thick and 80 cm square, dark blue on one side, white on the other.

Best of all, it was FREE!

“I have no idea what it is,” he said, “but I’m sure that, what with the new craft room and all, you’ll find something to do with it!”

He really is a great husband, and a smart one, too, because he was right! I’d bought a weather calendar a couple of years back, but had never been struck on the design. With THIS baby, I could make something that really suited my purposes.

Here is it! (Sorry about the glare…)

Ta-dah!!! This was my first version. I subsequently added ribbons to delineate the columns, and I like it much better that way.

I had a scrap piece of yellow bristol board that was almost the exact perfect size to hold the cards. “Almost” meaning that it was just a smidge too short, so I had to leave out one category of weather. You’ll note there is no “snowy” in this list. I wish I could do without it, but it’s sadly essential here in Ottawa. That’s okay. When we get to “snowy”, I’m pretty confident I can safely remove “hot”!

The weather pictures are glossy, but unlaminated, so I covered them all with transparent shelf paper. (Aka “Con-tact paper“.) The red embroidery floss is a simple loop — in at the front, through both layers, and back again — with the dangling ends tied in a bow at the front. The threads, see, make dividers between the stacks, keeping the cards neatly piled instead of all sliding into an untidy heap.

Now a small tangent. Once the calendar was on the wall, I decided it would be nice to give it some seasonal decorations. Not only do we learn about the weather, but the calendar can also help teach the children the days of the week (we talk about the weekends, even though they’re not shown), the passage of time, the idea of reading from left to right, the idea of charting information in row and columns, AND the passage of the seasons.

Wow. That’s a lot from a freebie piece of plastic from a yard sale!

Anyway. I decided we needed some seasonal decoration. I happened to have a nice glossy brochure from the NAC, which just happened to have nice, stencil-weight covers. I cut out a maple leaf and a generic oval leaf. Emily was more than pleased to do a bit of sponge-painting with a dab of red and yellow paint, and a tissue or two!

Let them dry, cut them out, and ta-dah! Lovely, simple, seasonal decor. The oval leaves I cut out with pinking shears, just for fun. (I sure hope my gran was wrong, and using good scissors on paper does NOT dull them…) But it’s a cute effect, nonetheless!

A closer look…

There! I am very pleased! The kids love to “do the calendar”. Emily, at 4.5, probably gets the most out of it, but 2.5 year-old Tyler enjoys it a lot. Baby Lily hollers “SUNNY! SUNNY! SUNNY!” whenever she sees the sunshine picture, which is something. I’m not convinced she makes the connection between the sun in the sky, the sun icon on the card, and the calendar on the wall, but hey, it’s vocabulary, right?

Oh, and yes, there is a garbage truck at the top of Wednesday’s column. Garbage Day is an IMPORTANT weekly event. Tyler in particular needs to know when Garbage Day is happening. He needs to know so that he can keep watch out the living room window, so as to see those WONDERFUL NOISY MACHINES going by. He needs to know so that if we’re out walking, he can hang on to the stroller on the side farthest from the street, in case one of those TERRIFYING NOISE MACHINES should have a sudden urge to leap onto the sidewalk and stomp on a small boy.

You never know.

Check out the “HOT” at the bottom of Friday. I put that on myself, after the kids had gone home. Friday was a weird day: at 2 in the afternoon, when, at this time of year, we’d be as warm as we’re going to get, it was 18 or 19C. That evening, after dinner, I stepped out onto the porch — and someone had cranked the thermostat out there! Holy Hannah! It got up to 27C, which, here in Ottawa in late September (and particularly at 7 in the evening) is nothing short of hot.


And captured, on the calendar, for posterity.

Fun times.

September 27, 2010 Posted by | Canada, crafts | , , , , , | 4 Comments