Peep Battle!

29 04 2011

Before Microwaving

We had quite a few marshmallow chicks hanging around and getting stale, so we named them, armed them with toothpicks, and let them battle in the microwave!

Check out the video below to see what happened.

We wanted to know more about what was going on and found a great explanation from the Exploratorium. Marshmallows are basically made of sugar and water (plus gelatin) that are wrapped around a bunch of air bubbles. When a marshmallow is heated in the microwave, two things happen. First, the heat of the microwaves softens the sugar. At the same time, the heat makes the molecules in the air bubbles move around faster, making them push into the walls (of softened sugar). This pushing makes the gas bubbles expand, and that makes the whole marshmallow expand!

You can try this at home with any type of marshmallow (not just ones shaped like animals). Be sure to place your marshmallows on a plate or paper towel, or you’ll end up with a molten mess in your microwave! Our marshmallows were fully expanded in 45 seconds, but depending on your microwave, it should take between 30 seconds and 1 minute.

Note: This experiment should be done with adult supervision.

A New Way to Dye Eggs

24 04 2011

There are many different ways to dye eggs. One new way to dye your eggs this Easter holiday or for the spring is with crayons!

All you will need are white eggs, tongs, crayons and an empty egg carton. First, you must hard-boil the white eggs. After the eggs are finished boiling, remove them from the pot with the tongs. Dry them off and let them rest in the empty egg carton.

While they are still a little warm, color the eggs with the tips of crayon. To make it easier, remove the paper from the the crayons and color the eggs with the sides of the crayon.

In order to create a speckled effect like the purple egg in the picture, grate the crayon and sprinkle them crayon shavings on top.

These waxy eggs are very slippery, so be careful not to drop them as you are turning them around!

Once you have finished coloring them, let the eggs dry for about an hour.

What is your favorite way to decorate eggs? Be sure to let us know!

Reading with Babies: ACM Book Drive Continues

20 04 2011

Olivia is one of our favorites! Wed love a copy of "Olivias Opposites" for our library!

Here at the Austin Children’s Museum, we’re in the middle of our April Book Drive. We’ve received some generous donations already – thanks to everyone who has come in to the Museum and brought a book and all those who have donated money to the cause. Check out our book wish list and our first post about the Book Drive to find out more about how you can participate.

Since the focus of this book drive is the Museum’s Early Childhood Library, we wanted to post about reading with babies and toddlers. Reading aloud to babies and toddlers does a lot for their development. According to, reading aloud:

  • teaches a baby about communication
  • introduces concepts such as stories, numbers, letters, colors, and shapes in a fun way
  • builds listening, memory, and vocabulary skills
  • gives babies information about the world around them

Reading is also a great way to bond with your baby – starting a reading routine is a great habit that can continue long into a kid’s childhood.

Classics like "Corduroy" would be great additions to the Early Childhood Library.

When we do story time for early learners here at the Museum, we look for simple books that have nice pictures. Books that have repetitive structure, words and sounds are particularly fun.

For big groups of kids, we look for books that have interactive elements. For example, in a book about farm animals, the reader can ask “What sound does a duck make?” and everyone can chime in with their best “Quack, quack, quack!”.

What are your favorite books to read with babies and toddlers? What are your best tips and advice for engaging story times?

Don’t forget to bring your little readers the Museum during Baby Bloomers on Mondays and Cub Club on Saturdays and participate in the book drive!

Make Your Own Friendly Insect Collection!

18 04 2011

Insects are everywhere – and they are more noticeable than ever in Austin as the weather warms up. We’ve been seeing big, yellow, Swallowtail Butterflies flapping their wings downtown near the Children’s Museum. We’ve always loved insect collections, but we’d rather leave nature like we found it (and not kill any insects) so we made a friendly insect collection using paper and craft supplies.

If you’d like to make your own, you can download our Insects of Texas Coloring Page here:


Color in the insects using crayons, colored pencils, or markers.

You can keep the insects on the coloring page, but if you’d like to cut them out and put them in a box to look more like an insect collection, gather some scissors, a lid from a shoe box, and some glue.

Cut carefully around the outside of each insect. Place a small dot of glue on the back of each insect and place them into the box lid. Fold the butterflies in half along their bodies so that their wings will bend upwards.

Have you seen any interesting insects in your backyard recently? Draw your own insect and add it to your collection!

Spring is Here: Haiku

15 04 2011
The Haiku is a traditional Japanese poetry form, although it is practiced around the world in many different languages today. Haiku are very short poems that follow a strict structure. They only have three lines. The first line has 5 syllables, the second line has 7 syllables, and the last line also has 5 syllables. Traditional haiku feature kigo, which are words that express a season.  We thought that writing haiku poems would be a great way to celebrate Spring, National Poetry Month, and Mathematics Awareness Month!
Spring begins shyly
With one hairpin of green grass
In a flower pot.
Richard Wright

Richard Wright was an influential African American novelist and writer. Many people don’t know that he was also a poet. Richard Wright wrote more than 4,000 haiku over the course of his lifetime!!
Let’s break down Wright’s poem to take a closer look at the Haiku structure. We’ve put dashes between each syllable:
Spring-be-gins-shy-ly    (5 syllables)
With-one-hair-pin-of-green-grass    (7 syllables)
In-a-flow-er-pot.    (5 syllables)

Can you write a Haiku that celebrates Spring? If you do, share it with us in the comments!

Spring Is Here: Your Own Discovery Pack

13 04 2011

There are many things for you to do outside in this nice spring weather. Whether you are on a scavenger hunt or a picnic, there are always things to observe and learn. To help you discover new aspects of nature, Family Fun has compiled a list of items for you to bring with you while taking a stroll outside.

A few items you may want to bring along with you to help you discover more in nature  include:

  • A water-filled spray bottle to spritz on spider webs and color changing rocks. You will be able to discover the different ways these objects look in nature.
  • Strong magnets to run across soil in order to see if iron bits are in it. If there is iron. it will surely stick to the magnets.
  • A magnifying glass to discover new things that are in plain sight!
  • Your very own soil slides can be made by taking note cards and cutting 1/2 an inch square in the center. Then, you place tape where the square is. Take your note card with you and place the sticky side on the soil to create your soil slide.
  • A color-coated egg carton to collect some treasures from nature. Take an egg carton and paint the egg compartments different colors. On your nature walk, you can collect different things in nature like leaves and rocks that match the colors of your different compartments.

Here's an example of the color-coated egg carton from Family Fun.

You can throw all of these fun things into your picnic basket or put it in a pouch to take along with you on your scavenger hunt!

Book Drive!

7 04 2011
Here at ACM, we’re having a book drive during the month of April! We’re hoping to expand our collection of early childhood books, which are used in our Baby Bloomers and Cub Club programs. We talked with Vy, who is our Education Program Intern and one of our staff members running the book drive, to find out more.

What types of books is the Museum looking for?
Vy: Children’s books for ages 0-3; visitors are more than welcome to share their child’s favorite books that they are willing to donate.

What qualities make a book great for ages 0 – 3?
Vy: Books that are colorful, have simple rhymes, and beautiful illustrations!

Why is it important to read to babies and toddlers?
Vy: Books give children a chance to learn about this amazing world. You find yourself talking with children about many topics that don’t usually come up in daily conversation. This adds to their knowledge and improves their vocabulary. They also learn about how to read. These pre-reading skills include everything from how to hold a book, which ways to turn the pages, even the direction that print is read. Reading to children gives them a chance to listen to rhythm and rhyme of words. This will help children learn phonics, which is the connection between letters and sounds. All of these skills will help the children in your care become successful readers. It’s never too soon to begin reading. Some people think that since babies won’t understand all the words, you shouldn’t read to them. But babies love books. Babies develop eye muscles by looking at pictures and learn many words from books.

There are several ways you can get involved:
  1. Bring 1 new or 3 gently used books in exchange for free admission to Cub Club or Baby Bloomers!
  2. Donate books for ages 0-3. We would especially love books from our wish list!
  3. Give spare change, and we’ll buy books. Several businesses have agreed to collect money on our behalf. So far, Texas State Optical, New Mandarin Chinese restaurant, and Chicoine Chiropractor (all three on S. Congress & E. Oltorf) have collection cans for the book drive. We’ll also have one here at the front of the Museum!

Vy’s favorite books to read at Storytime are The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss. What is your favorite book?


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