Monday, August 28, 2017

Scrap Trash Robots!

Leisurely hours on a shaded deck during Grandma Camping days serve several purposes when the topic at hand is a crafty project or two. For one thing, the grandkids love to create. For another, they know that activity is encouraged here - paints and paper and glitter and glue always lay nearby. And for still another, a seat on a chair is grandma's welcomed landing place during a souped up week of energetic fun!

My artsy-craftsy soul renders it impossible for me to discard any humble household castoff. I see beauty and potential in each and every plastic lid, bottle cap, or spool that enters this space, hoarding all with vengeance. Those items joined scraps of wood, a choice of bonding agents, cans of silver spray paint, and the directive, "Build yourselves a robot, kiddoes!" for an hour or so of remarkable - and frugal - crafting creativity.

Craft glue, safe and perfect for smaller detailing, takes so long to dry. I manned a hot glue gun, following kids' instructions on where it needed to go.

My only other job was to watch the thoughtful creativity unfold.....

Pill bottle legs, wood block heads, paper tube arms....

Any packaging contraption works!

I loved the jet pack constructed from larger pill bottles.

Fully constructed and waiting patiently for a coating of metallic silver spray paint!

Possibly the very best part of any crafty project at grandma's - your very own can of paint!

I was impressed with the methodical way the kids built their scrap trash robots. Much attention to detail, balance, and symmetry. I attribute those skills to the problem-solving play they enjoy at home with science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) toys, including Lego sets. Next time, my (unsponsored) post will share several of my own buys that found the kids building and learning with enthusiasm.

Hope to see you here!

This is the fifth (and last) in a series of Grandma Camp 2017 posts that begins right here!

Monday, August 14, 2017

"Who Goes There?"

Grandma Campers are, by their very nature, explorers! They like to know stuff. Probing, seeking, speculating...."What is that made of, grandma?" "What would happen if we did it this way instead?" Encouraging and rewarding curiosity is the most challenging - and best! - part of this annual summer experience for me!

Last year, we brought home ladybug shaped rocks, painted them, wiggle-eyed them, and secreted them in neighborhood flower beds and mail boxes under the spine-tingling cover of night. How many would still be there the following evening?  Anxious with excitement, we had our answers when we ventured back to see!

But our backyard wooded lot consistently holds the best source of adventure and discovery. We've filled cardboard tubes with peanut butter and added a clever method for detecting critters who might enter for a nibble. Oh, they were there, all right, we learned the next morning, but speculation over what they looked like has hung in the air for over a year! Tiny footprints left behind are simply not enough!

We need to know, "Who goes there?" 

My purchase of a trail camera has been a satisfying investment. It's delighted even the biggest kid among us (me!). A trail camera is perfect for strapping to a tree, a foot or so above a carefully arranged peanut/corn/berry buffet of wildlife treats.

Daylight hours capture full color images (both video and still shots - audio, too!) of scampering squirrels and chipmunks. An occasional blue jay will swoop down to snatch a peanut. But our best mysteries are solved in the morning after all night monitoring. That's how we discovered our inquisitive raccoon guest. He's one of the wood dwellers who only come out at night!

I've coupled the camera with a wildlife guide that we consult daily during Grandma Camp. Clearly illustrated are animals we're likely to see here in the midwest - turkeys, white tail deer, opossums....pretty tame compared to the rattlesnakes and exotic lizards you Arizonians might be fortunate enough to capture! We envy you!

"Hey lady! We're out of peanuts again!"

But I might add some manufactured drama of my own when the kids get a bit older. We'll set the camera right around Halloween. Under cover of late, late night, wearing a spooky skeletal mask, I'll peer into the lens, grunt menacingly, and shake the camera vigorously before the screen goes blank! "Who goes there?" you ask? I don't think the kids are gonna want to know!

The classic Reader's Digest North American Wildlife Guide is a great resource for identifying backyard visitors. 

This is the fourth post in a series of 2017 Grandma Camp highlights that begins here. Enjoy! The fifth, and last is here!