Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Perfect Pet

I came across a Family Fun craft book in the reference section of the library the other day that was full of really clever ideas. This little fish bowl is the first one we have tried. To make your own you will need:
 fish bowl or jar
styrofoam (clean meat tray or egg carton)
permanent markers (be careful!)
fishing line or thread
stones or beads (make sure they will sink)
heavy washers, bolts or beads 

I started by cutting a few fish shapes out of a styrofoam egg carton. After cutting out a few I wondered why I was doing it when my 4-year-old was sitting right next to me. So she drew and cut a few herself. Then she colored them front and back with permanent markers. Next we used a pin to poke a hole in the bottom of each fish. Hollin counted the fish to determine how many pieces of thread she should cut (I would suggest fishing line if you have it). She was able to string the thread through the holes but needed help tying it on. We then tied the other end to a button to act as a weight to hold the fish in place. She filled the bottom with a layer of stones and beads, carefully set the fish on the bottom and poured in the water. The plan was to watch as our fish floated to the top, held in place by the button on the bottom, but silly Mommy never thought about the fact that the button may not be heavy enough to sink and hold the buoyant foam fish in place, so all of ours floated to the top.
This little problem was easily the 4-year-old who carefully pulled each fish out, cut off the buttons and explained to me that we needed something heavier to hold them down (I did get it, but was speechless over her complete understanding and ability to solve the problem). We found some heavy bolts and washers in the tool box and retied the strings. She dropped them in and sure enough, we now have a lovely little bowl of fish who do not poop and do need to be fed.
Another thing I like about this activity is that we were able to talk about the different lenghs of string and how they will affect the look of the fish bowl--not to mention the cool science lesson in buoyancy.
I think it would be cute to fill a mason jar with stones and a foam fish, tied to a washer and ready to float. Then send it to a friend with instructions to add water. Or leave the fish white and let the recipient color them themselves. Might just make a nice little birthday present.