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Summer's Here - Now What?

Now that you've got more free time, you might enjoy trying some of the many projects and articles we've presented in Kidspace over the past year. Build a birdhouse, make some giant bubbles, or create some really gooey slop, for instance.

You can find more Kidspace stories (free!) in your local library's microfilm collection. Look in Tuesday-dated Monitors starting June 25, 1996. You can also read past Kidspaces (words only) on the Monitor's Web site. Go to and click on "Archive" at the bottom of the page. Type in "Kidspace," then click on "begin search."

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Make a Gallon

Of Bubble-Blowing Liquid

For longer-lasting bubbles, make this ahead of time and let it sit overnight. (For more on bubbles, see Sept. 10, 1996 Monitor, Page 16.) You will need:

3/4 cup blue Dawn dishwashing liquid (use 1/2 cup if it's 'concentrated' Dawn)

2 to 3 tablespoons glycerin (available at drugstores)


a container to hold a gallon of liquid

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Fill a one-gallon container with water. (A thoroughly rinsed-out one-gallon milk jug works well.) Pour out a little more than 3/4 cup of water. Add the dishwashing detergent and glycerin. Mix. Top off the jug with water.

In Boston, glycerin costs $2.60 for 4 oz., enough for two or three batches. It makes the bubbles stronger.

To make the giant-bubble maker at left, loop a three-foot piece of string through two plastic drinking straws, and tie it. Add tape to use as holders. To use it, hold the straws together and dip them in the bubble liquid. Lift them out. Slowly draw the straws apart. Blow gently, or let the wind create your bubble. Move the straws back together to pinch off the bubble.

Make a One-Board Bluebird House

You will need: a 1-by-6-inch pine board five feet long; galvanized nails or screws; a hinge; and a screw with a washer to hold the top on securely. You also need a saw that can cut the angle between the top and front pieces, and a drill. The easiest way to make the oval opening that bluebirds prefer is with a drill press, but you can use a coping saw instead. The birds won't mind a bit.

Drill holes in the bottom for drainage, and in the sides for ventilation. Hang it about five feet off the ground in a safe spot. Fledglings live on the ground for a few days and are easy prey for cats and other predators. Clean out the box in the fall, and take it down so mice won't winter in it. Put it up again in early March. Sometimes bluebirds will raise a second brood in July. (For more about bluebirds, see March 4 Monitor, Page 16.)

Make Your Own Gloppy Polymer: 'ExploraGoo'

A science teacher came up with this recipe, which she sold to a toy company (no, it's not Play-Doh). The toy company added a preservative and fancy packaging. But the science teacher retained the right to share her invention with science museums across the country, so long as they did not breathe a word of its trademarked name.

This version is from San Francisco's Exploratorium. It's reprinted from "The Science Explorer" (by Pat Murphy, et al., Henry Holt & Co., 1996). You will need:


plastic wrap or waxed paper

a four-ounce bottle of white glue

two large plastic containers or glass bowls

measuring cup


food coloring (if you want)

measuring spoon (teaspoon)

Boraxo powdered hand soap or a box of borax (in the laundry aisle)

small plastic container with a lid (margarine tubs are perfect)

1. You'll need a grown-up's help. This is really, really messy stuff. Put some newspaper on your kitchen counter or table. Then cover the newspaper with plastic wrap. (ExploraGoo sticks to paper.)

2. Pour the bottle of glue into one bowl. Add 1/2 cup of water and some food coloring. (Try 10 drops of yellow and five drops of green.) Mix everything together.

3. In the other bowl, put 2 teaspoons of Boraxo powdered soap (or 1 teaspoon of borax powder). Add 1/2 cup of water and stir until the borax is dissolved. (You may still see a few specks of the soap.)

4. Pour the colored glue-water mixture slowly into the borax-water mixture. A big glob of ExploraGoo will form!

5. Reach into the bowl with both hands and pick up the glob. It will be very, very, very slippery. Pick up as much as you can. (There will be a little water and some pieces of goo left in the bowl. That's OK.)

6. ExploraGoo will get less slippery the more you play with it. Let it slide back and forth from one hand to the other for a few minutes. If you put it down, make sure it is on the plastic wrap, not the paper. Don't put it on carpet, furniture, or clothes either. It's sticky stuff. Don't put ExploraGoo in your mouth. It tastes yucky and it is not good to eat.

Do play with it, try to bounce it, cut it, roll it. Let it ooze through your fingers. Store it in a plastic container with a lid. It will last for a month or so. When it starts to ooze water, it's time to throw out that batch and make some more.

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