Superhero School Now In Session!

Is anyone in your house excited for summer? Ours too! But, if summer school were superhero school we don’t think anyone would mind a few extra days of class.  In fact, we’re counting on it! All of June we’ve dedicated the Cavern of Time to “Superhero Science” where kids can attend flight school or find out if they’ve got super strength!

Want to have your class study ahead? Start with Super Substances in your Superhero Science Lab. We’ve got three to get you started!

What you’ll need:

1 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup water
food coloring (optional)

What you’ll do:

Mix food coloring and water. Add cornstarch slowly and stir constantly. Make sure to scrape the bottom! Add more cornstarch and/or water as needed. When your ooblek is ready, you should be able to poke it with your fingers and have it feel very solid. But, if you tip your bowl, the substance should slowly start to flow like a liquid.

What’s happening:

You’ve created a Non-Newtonian Fluid; it doesn’t follow the basic, or Newtonian, principles governing all other fluids. Ooblek is a super substance because it can be a solid or a liquid and that’s a mutant ability if ever I’ve seen one!

Trivia: Ooblek gets its name from the Dr. Seuss book Bartholomew and the Ooblek.

Bartholomew and the Ooblek

You may have seen the next two Super Substances on our blog before, but they’re so much fun we think they’re worth sharing again!

Regular Gak


Magnetic Gak 





Story Time – Are You Ready to Play Outside?

Are You Ready to Play OutsideGerald, the elephant, and Piggie are all geared up to go play outside when, “PLINK”, a drop of rain lands on Piggie’s head. Who wants rain when you want to play outside? NO ONE! Well, no one except the worms! After some whining from Piggie, he and Gerald finally see how much fun the worms are having and they join in. Playing in the rain can be SO FUN, but what happens when the rain stops?

Will intelligent, Gerald, figure out how to keep the fun going for his friend Piggie?

Come to Wee Wednesday on May 28th and read Are You Ready to Play Outside? by Mo Willems and go outside to create fun of your own with sidewalk chalk drawings! (weather permitting)

Can’t make it to story time? Try making your own sidewalk chalk drawings and visit this link to hear a reading of Are You Ready to Play Outside?


Butterfly Lifecycle Mobile

Butterflies are beautiful and beneficial.  At the Clay Center we have Education Gardens Clay Center Butterfly Gardewhere we grow both vegetables and plants that attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies.  Why is it important to attract pollinators to a vegetable garden? When you attract pollinators they will help pollinate your vegetable plants like squash and cucumbers that rely on pollinators to help them produce fruit.  Bees make the best pollinators because their legs are shorter, so when they enter the flower to get nectar, their entire body gets covered Butterfly in Gardenwith pollen which is then taken to other flowers and deposited.  Butterflies have longer legs and a proboscis (an elongated sucking mouthpart) that keeps them from getting fully covered in pollen, but their legs and proboscis still pick up some pollen as they go from plant to plant making them beneficial pollinators.

The beauty of butterflies makes them popular in artwork as well as in our gardens.  The process of how a butterfly becomes a beautiful insect with dazzling wings is a work of art in and of itself.  Use this fun butterfly mobile to teach your kids all about the lifecycle of the butterfly!

What You Need:

  • Gallon Milk Jug
  • Simple 3×5 Butterfly ImagesButterfly Lifecycle Mobile
  • String (black and white)
  • Stick
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Beads
  • Mini-Poms
  • Glue
  • Packing Tape
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Permanent Markers

What You Do:

Cut your milk jug into various sections.  Make some pieces large enough to trace your butterfly images, smaller pieces to be cut into leaves and cut other sections into long shapes for flower drawings.

Butterflies lay eggs on the leaves or stems of a food source plant, so when the caterpillar hatches, it will have an available food source.

Egg Section of Butterfly Mobile:

  1. Cut smaller sections of the milk jug into simple leaf shapes Eggs on Leaf
  2. Cut tiny notches in both ends of the leaves to eventually attach them to the string of the mobile
  3. Color the leaf shapes and glue the mini-pompoms onto the leaf

NOTE: you can also use beads for eggs

The caterpillar is a long, worm-like creature patterned in stripes or patches. The caterpillar sheds its skin four times as it grows larger.

Caterpillar Section of Mobile:

  1. Put 2-3 pieces of different colored pipe cleaner togetherCaterpillar
  2. Wrap them around a pencil so they look like a striped caterpillar
  3. Slide the pipe cleaners off the pencil and bend them to give them the appearance of crawling caterpillars

When the caterpillar reaches full size, it attaches itself to a stem or leave with a tab of silk. The fourth and final shed is the chrysalis that the butterfly forms to protect itself as it transforms into a butterfly. It’s easy to think that a chrysalis is something the butterfly makes, like a cocoon, but it’s actually a hard layer of skin. Moths create cocoons, not butterflies.

Chrysalis Section of Mobile:

  1. Roll a section of packing tape into an elongated chubby wadChrysalis
  2. Tie a piece of white string to one end of the packing tape and wrap the string until the entire packing tape wad is covered
  3. Tuck the last end of the string under one of the wraps and tie it. Leave a little bit of string loose for tying the chrysalis to the mobileChrysalis Close



Depending on the species of butterfly, sometimes after days or even months, a butterfly finally emerges from its chrysalis! In this stage of life, butterflies can fly to find food, mate, lay eggs, colonize new habitats and help pollenate plants!

Butterfly/Flower Section of Mobile:

  1. Trace or color the milk jug sections with at least 3 butterfly images and three flower sectionsButterfly Tracing
  2. Cut out the butterflies and flower sections as desired
  3. Cut a 4-5 inch section of pipe cleaner and string a few beads on one end
  4. Wrap the pipe cleaner around the center of the butterfly Making Butterflywith the beads on the front side. Twist the two pipe cleaner ends together at the top and curl them over to make antenna

Completed ButterflyPutting it All Together:

  1. Tie a piece of black string to each end of the stick to make a hanger and to attach your leaves with eggs
  2. Tie three long strings to hang down off the stick to hold the butterflies and flower parts of the mobile
  3. Attach the leaves with eggs by cutting little notches in each end of the leaf and sliding them onto the hanger string
  4. Attach the caterpillars to the stick by tying them with black string or gluing
  5. Tie the chrysalis to the branch using the piece of string you left loose
  6. Attach the butterflies to the end of each hanging string by tying the string to the pipe cleaner body of the butterfly
  7. Attach the flowers by cutting little notches in each end as you did with the leaves
  8. Hang your mobile in a window and enjoy!

– Kayte (mobile designed and assembled by Jamie)






Story Time – The Painter Who Loved Chickens

A painter with a unique ambition dreams of leaving the city to buy a farm and paint his favorite subject: CHICKENS! Sure, painting fine portraits ofThe Painter Who Loved Chickens “people, penguins and poodles” will do for now, but not forever. Will his chicken-painting dream remain a hobby or will someone share his love for chicken paintings and help make his dream a reality?


You can find out when we read The Painter Who Loved Chickens by Olivier Dunrea on Wednesday, May 21st during Wee Wednesday!

What things in nature do you like to paint or draw or photograph? Make your own favorite nature artwork and share with us what you’ve created!

When you come for Wee Wednesday, stop by our art gallery to view Every Living Thing: A Closer Look at Nature. In this exhibit, you will see works by many different artists who are inspired by nature.



The Hunt for Treasure Begins

It’s treasure, treasure everywhere! Our newest exhibit, The Hunt for Treasure, opens for a member preview today and to the public tomorrow, Saturday May 17, 2014!  Whether you spend your time using a metal detector or learning to be a safe cracker, we think you’ll have so much fun you’ll want to keep the treasure hunt going at home or in the classroom!

For the youngest kids ready to search, why not create a treasure hunt in a bottle?

Plastic bottle (mini or regular)
Small items of varying sizes and colors
Hot glue gun & hot glue (optional, but highly recommended)

Discovery Bottle Supplies

1. Gather supplies! I raided our craft supplies for anything that would fit in the mouth of the bottle I’d decided to use. Everything from colored pasta and plastic dinosaurs to wayward puzzle pieces and buttons!

2. Fill your bottle just over half-way with sand.

3. Add items!

Discovery Bottle 5

4. Cap the bottle and shake it up to gauge how much you’ve added. Then, add more until you feel you have a good mix, but haven’t made it too full!

Discovery Bottle (sideways)

5. Hot glue the cap so no little ones can make messes or get at the small items.

6. Decorate the cap.

7. Explore! Discover! Spy the treasures in a bottle!

Discovery Bottle  (Finished)


Ifyou’ve got older kids and an adventurous spirit, take the treasure hunt into the wider world and get geocaching! You can get started by visiting the official site here. Or, make your own school-wide geocache.

Happy hunting!





Story Time – Old Bear and His Cub

Stop by the Museum on Wednesday, May 14th for Wee Wednesday and read Old Bear and His Cub by Olivier Dunrea with us! Old Bear and His Cub

Little Cub doesn’t always want to do what he’s told, but he knows that Old Bear loves him and does his best to take care of him.  However, when Old Bear catches cold, it’s Little Bear who gets to do the care taking.

Bear mothers often make great parents, they teach their cubs how to find and gather or hunt food.  Cubs typically stay with their mothers for the first whole year of their lives and sometimes longer.

Try this fun word association game about bears!


Magnetic GAK!

Magnets can be both natural and man-made.  They are objects or materials that produce a magnetic field and attract metals such as iron and steel.  Not all metals are attracted by magnets; a few examples include brass, copper, zinc and aluminum.

A polymer is a chemical compound formed from long chains of the same molecule group that repeat over and over.  You can think of it as paperclips linked together to form a chain.  Like magnets, polymers can be both natural and man-made.  Natural polymers include the juice of rubber tree and aloe plants and man-made polymers are things such as plastic bottles, latex paints and chewing gum.

Typically polymers are not magnetic, but check out this video to find out how to make a polymer that is attracted to magnets!

Click here and look for Ed-Venture Experiments to find more details about how to make a magnetic polymer!