Kids at Home with MPPL Category: Maker Monday

Maker Monday: Cinnamon Playdough

This easy recipe creates a wonderfully spicy smelling playdough that will last weeks if kept in a sealed container.   

Playing with playdough helps with fine motor skills, hand strength, and creativity.  You can also use it to make letters and build letter recognition. You can add toothpicks, beads, dried pasta, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, and even feathers to allow for more creative play. 

Cinnamon Spice Edible Playdough recipe

Recipe from Not Just Cute with Amanda Morgan

Make a Holiday Card for Alden Gardens

crafting with colored paper, colored pencils, scissors and more

Help brighten the holidays for seniors by sending a handcrafted holiday card. The Mount Prospect Public Library has partnered with Alden Gardens in Des Plaines to send holiday cards to their residents. All you need to do is have your child create a card using any art supplies you have at home, making it as simple or as elaborate as they want. 

  • Then, send the cards to Alden Gardens: 
  • Alden Gardens 
  • Attn: Candice Mitchell, Activity Director 
  • 1221 E. Golf Road 
  • Des Plaines, IL 60016 
  • Write “MPPL Card Activity” on the front of the envelope. 
  • Cards will be held until safe to distribute. 

There are tons of ideas on Pinterest and elsewhere – here are some of our faves using supplies most of us already have!!! 

Simple Christmas Cards Kids Can Make

Tinkerlabs Cards for Kids to Make 

Good Housekeeping DIY cards 

If you would like service credit for this project, please contact the Volunteen Coordinators, Claire (cbartlett@mppl.org) or Amy (amerda@mpl.org). 

Maker Monday: Enchanted Engineering

Who knew that reading fairy tales could lead to engineering experiments?

Last month at our Zoom STEAM at Home event, we led kids through these fun building activities that were inspired by fairy tales. These projects are easy to do with stuff you probably already have around the house.

pencil bow and arrow

Robin Hood’s Bow and Arrow

Supplies: 2 popsicle sticks, (duct) tape, string, and an unsharpened pencil. 

You can experiment with different types of string and various lengths to see what works best. After you build it, place your pencil with the eraser on the string, pull back, and see how far your pencil goes! Just don’t aim at any screens or people please! 

The Three Little Pigs, Rapunzel, and Goldilocks and the Three Bears

For The Three Little Pigs, experiment with different materials to see what house is the strongest. You can use toothpicks, straws, LEGO bricks, or many other things you have at home. 

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For Rapunzel, try building a slide for Rapunzel to escape the tower. Our slide was made of toilet paper/paper towel rolls and tape. You can experiment with making the slide steeper so she slides faster, or more gradual so it’s slower. 

For Goldilocks and the Three Bears, try to build a bed that can hold the most weight (we used coins). Some ideas for materials are cardboard, bubble wrap, tin foil, and cupcake liners, but there are many things that would work for this activity. Once you’ve built your bed, stack coins and see how many it holds.

Have fun and keep building! For more activities to do at home, check out this page.

Maker Monday: Straw Bridges

Try making a bridge from common items and learn about what shapes work best with this project from the Museum of Science + Industry.

Materials

  • 35 non-bendy straws
  • Clear tape
  • Scissors
  • Meter stick or yardstick
  • 200 to 300 pennies
  • Small cup
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Two chairs or tables

Directions

Build your bridge using only straws and clear tape. Before you build, you may want to sketch your design and test out shapes to see which are the strongest. For example, when you tape straw pieces together to make a square, should you leave the center empty, or add more straw supports in the center?

When you are satisfied with your bridge, place it between two tables or chairs that are space at least 9 inches apart. Place the cup in the middle and add a few pennies at a time. Count the pennies and keep adding them until the bridge collapses. How many pennies did it hold? How did the bridge break? Can you change your design to make it stronger?

The Museum of Science + Industry explains what is happening:

Look at a steel or wooden bridge and often you will see triangle shapes making up most of the bridge’s support structure. These are called truss bridges. Triangles are structurally the strongest shape because they allow weight to be evenly spread throughout a structure, allowing it to support heavy loads. Truss patterns are used in other structures as well, such as roofs, radio towers, crane arms, and more.

To learn more about bridges and other exciting engineering, check out these books!

This Bridge will Not be Gray book cover

This Bridge Will Not be Gray by Dave Eggers: Available in print or through our e-library on Overdrive and Hoopla. Also available for MPPL cardholders as a STEAM Kit with Reptangles.

Construct It: Architecture you can Build, Break, and Build Again book cover

Construct It! by Jessie Alkire: Available in print or through our e-library on Hoopla.

Engineering-you-can-eat book cover

Engineering You Can Eat by Megan Borgert-Spaniol: Available in print or through our e-library on Hoopla.

Building-bridges book cover

Building Bridges by Tammy Enz: Available in print or as an audiobook on Hoopla.

Maker Monday: Solar Oven S’mores

smores in a pizza box solar oven

No campfire? No problem! Try making s’mores using solar energy with this fun project from WeAreTeachers.com.

Supplies:

  • pizza box
  • black construction paper
  • aluminum foil
  • plastic wrap

Directions:

Cut the “oven door” flap on the box. Decorate with markers if you wish!

Glue black construction paper to the bottom of the box. The black color absorbs the heat.

Glue aluminum foil to the inside of the door. The foil reflects the sun into the oven.

Tape the plastic over the opening of the door. The plastic wrap allows the air inside the box to heat up but keep the heat trapped inside the box.

Add a graham cracker, marshmallow, and chocolate inside the oven.

Place your oven outside in the sun. Use a wooden skewer to keep the lid propped open if needed.

Watch as the chocolate melts and the marshmallow puffs up from the heat! It may take 1-2 hours to fully bake the s’mores. Pro tip: these are delicious even with just the chocolate melted! 🙂