Making Dirt Cake:
April Showers Bring…..Mud!
- A fun thing to make during spring time is Dirt Cake! A favorite with my own children, this makes a great Girl or Boy Scout snack. My sons Jason and Steven are both Eagle Scouts.
- Line terra cotta pots with Saran wrap and put layers of dirt cake inside. Stick Gummi worms around the top and then stick a realistic-looking red silk geranium in the pot. You not only have your table decorations but the snack as well!
- When someone asks: “Where’s the snack?” You can reply: “It’s on the tables. We’re eating dirt tonight!” Have a helper scoop out their dessert onto a small paper plate and then plop a worm in the middle. Kids gobble it up with a plastic spoon.
- When I make it with my Y5’s I use clear plastic cups so that they can see the layers.
- This recipe will make enough to fill 25 - 9 0z. clear plastic Solo cups ½ full.
- You don’t want to eat more than that because it’s a sweet treat! Enjoy!
- A large plastic bowl + another bowl or empty ice cream bucket to dump “dirt” in as it is made.
- Masher. (This can be the big wooden kind or a metal potato masher)
- 2-3 packages of Double-Stuff Oreo Cookies. I like to have that extra package to allow for spillage + sometimes parents come to help and bring siblings.
- If I have leftovers, I make extra cups for the principal, secretaries and librarian and include a little thank you note for all they do. They enjoy this snack as much as the children.
- 25 - 9 0z CLEAR plastic cups (Solo makes them)
- 4 cans of ready-made chocolate pudding. (If you can find dark and light pudding that would be awesome to show the various shades in your layers. You need 2 cans of each.)
- 25 spoons
- I serve it for snack so the beverage I have is a gallon of white milk.
- If your students are chocolate milk lovers you can substitute chocolate milk and call it mud puddle drink, but I find that drinking chocolate milk is a bit much with the sweetness of the snack.
- I ask for a gallon because this is a “thirsty snack” and my students sometimes drink 3 small Dixie cups of milk when they eat dirt cake. Since this is a special snack and milk is healthy for them I allow refills.
- Small Dixie cups for the milk
- 24 Gummi worms.
I have a different child that provides snack each day so I ask that mom if she can bring milk for the beverage and one package of cookies.
During Open House in the summer parents sign up to volunteer to be called upon to bring in items for special events.
I send a note home explaining Dirt Cake and ask these parents to provide the other items. I ask a week in advance so they have plenty of time to get the things in before Dirt Cake Day.
- I call 6 students up at a time to watch and participate. They mash up 2 cookies at a time with the masher in the bowl.
- Head’s Up: Tell them to go slow and keep the cookies inside the bowl. Things tend to fly if they get a bit wild mashing.
- You want them to mash them up, but not too fine, so you still have chunks., but look like the consistency of dirt.
- I empty the bowl into an ice cream bucket as each child mashes their cookies so things don’t fly out of the bowl. The chunks of cookies look just like topsoil.
- When all of the cookies have been crushed, you are ready to begin layering the cups.
- You can do this or you can call your students up to do this.
- Put a layer of dirt in the bottom.
- Then spoon in a layer of chocolate pudding.
- Then another layer of dirt.
- Then a layer of pudding. ( Alternate light and dark chocolate pudding if it was available.)
- You will have just enough dirt left to sprinkle some on each of the cups.
- Stick a Gummie worm in the middle and tuck in a spoon.
- Children take their cups to their desk along with a napkin!
- I’m not sure how, but quite a few get chocolate on their faces.
- I pour the milk and bring it to them while they chomp away. Yum Yum!
Click on the link for my dirt cake letter home.
Bunny Head Cupcakes:
Hop on down to the grocery store and buy a box of white cake mix and follow the directions to make cupcakes. Get a can of white frosting and a package of white coconut. After you have frosted the cupcakes have your child sprinkle on the coconut. This will be the bunnies fur. Cut a black jelly bean in half for the eyes, push in a pink jelly bean for the nose, cut a thin piece of black licorice into 6 small pieces for 3 whiskers on each side, cut a red jelly bean in half for his mouth.
We painted tiny Popsicle sticks white and inserted those for the bunny ears and then re-used them each year, but if you want your entire cup cake edible you could snip off the side tips of wafer cookies, frost the tops and gently insert them, or for very short ears tuck in two white Good 'n Plenty pieces.
RAINBOW Play Dough
This recipe helps teach children that primary colors make secondary colors. I feel “seeing is really believing.” This is a fun way for students to do that. During April we’re reviewing all of the secondary colors. Knowing our colors is a report card standard. We study rainbows in March and continue that study through April so this “experiment” also relates to that bit of science.
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 4 cups of water
- Red, yellow, and blue food coloring
- 1 medium sauce pan
- 1 mixing spoon
- Sandwich-size Ziploc Baggies
- Mix cornstarch, water and sugar in saucepan until thick.
- Remove from heat and wait for it to cool
- Put the mixture into the Baggies.
- Add one drop of each of the primary colors
- Have children gently squish the Baggies to make the different colors
You can also use your regular Play dough recipe. Tell your students to keep the bags closed so that they don’t get the food coloring on their hands. If you add a few drops of alcohol this is supposed to keep the dye transfer down.
Our rainbow song: To the tune of All Around the Mulberry Bush: There’s red and orange and yellow-green and blue and purple too! Look I made a rainbow!
We review that red + yellow makes orange; yellow + blue makes green and that blue + red makes purple. I write these out as equations (red + yellow = orange) on our white board and follow this up with a change bag magic trick using colored scarves which go in and then I produce the new colored scarf! They LOVE it! Check out the magic videos by clicking on the link. The color trick is the 8th one down.
We study storms during April. I have a hand-held "tornado maker" that I bought at a science store. I also bought the gizmo that you attach to two plastic pop bottles so that you can invert the bottles, twirl and swirl and make a tornado.
With a little bit of experimenting, I've discovered that you can make a pretty good tornado of your own. You can do this as a science-art extension with your students/children and have everyone bring in a clean clear 16 oz plastic soda bottle with a cap. The rounder the botter the better the tornado will work. Here's how to make one:
- A 16 oz clean clear soda bottle for each student. Make sure that it has a cap.
- CLEAR liquid dish washing soap.
- Silver glitter
- Blue food coloring.
- My city panorama border
- Glue stick
- Elmer's glue
- Black permanent marker
- Write students' names on the bottom of their bottles with a black permanent marker.
- Fill up the students' bottles with water 'til they are almost to the top.
- Leave about 3-4 inches not filled.
- And 2-3 drops of clear liquid dish soap to each bottle.
- Add one teaspoon of silver glitter to each bottle.
- Put Elmer's glue on the cap's threads and screw it to the top of the bottle so that it will be glued shut.
- Students rub a layer of glue with their glue stick on the bottom of their city skyline and then wrap it around the bottom of their bottle. (You can omit this part if you want.)
- Students should hold their bottles by the neck and turn them upside down. Instruct them to rotate their wrist a few times in a CLOCKWISE motion.
- When they stop rotating (twirling) a tiny tornado should form inside the bottle!
Click on the link to view/print a city skyline strip to make with your soda bottle tornado. I've made two different kinds for your students to choose from. They'll need 1 1/2 strips to go entirely around their bottle.
- Bag of twisted pretzels
- Jar of cheddar cheese spread
- Jar of peanut butter
- Jar of cream cheese
- Stalk of celery
- Sunflower seeds
- Raisins and/or craisins or dried apricots
- Thin pretzel sticks
- Wax paper
- Plastic knives
- Paper towel
- Pitted black olives.
- Cut celery into 3 inch sticks and wash well.
- Dry celery on a paper towel.
- Using a plastic knife have child fill celery to overflowing with their choice of peanut butter, cream cheese or cheddar cheese.
- It's great to make an assortment of butterflies, because they will all taste and look different.
- Have them gently squish the celery (thorax) face down on top of the middle of the pretzel (butterfly wings).
- Using a dollop of whatever "glue" (peanut butter, cream cheese, cheddar cheese) that they want they can decorate their butterflies with raisins, craisins, sunflower seeds, or cut up pieces of apricots.
- Cut an olive in half. Add some filling to use as "glue" and put the olive (butterfly "head") on top of the celery end.
- Use two sunflower seeds dabbed in cream cheese for eyes.
- Carefully insert two thin pretzel sticks in the head of the butterfly for antennae.
- As children finish making the butterflies they can lay them on wax paper.
- These are so yummy they are hard not to eat as you make them. Snitching the ingredients is also delicious.