Saturday, November 7, 2009

Experiences -- Fun, Lasting (and in this case), Cheap!

When I was a kid, we lived in a nice ranch house in a nice neighborhood. Directly behind our house was a bridge that crossed a double set of railroad tracks that came and went as far as I could see. Often the open cars would be carrying coal stuffed to the brim, and every jostle would litter blocks of it onto the ground.

My main playground in the days before abduction was a concern, were those tracks. I'd climb through a hole in the fence to the left of my back yard and slide down the steep embankment, skidding in my Keds. Occasionally grabbing on to the hand hewn beams supporting the bridge to steady myself, my fingers might get sticky from the tar on the wood, but it made it easier to collect the coal. I brought them back and my mother would put the coal in a saucer, mix up some solution with amonia and food coloring and we'd pour it over. Before long there'd be a fantasy garden of pastel colored powder that had grown on the coal. Did you ever do this?

CLICK HERE to find a recipe for it.

And it calls for bluing... if you don't know what it is, it's an old time concoction used for whitening fabrics. There is a company called Mrs. Stewart's that still put it out and you should find it's little blue bottle with the red and white label amid laundry detergent -- in a mom and pop store or an old five and dime. CLICK HERE to read more and maybe through their site you can order it. There you will also find mention of pre-made kits for a similar project using salt. Apparently there are all kinds of uses for the bluing... who knew.

I know that some Science Museum shops and creative toy catalogs sell kits, so if you need to you can do that. I just find it's extra fun to do it the old fashioned way...

The original kit was called Magic Rocks and apparently it is carried by Target stores. CLICK Here for a link to see what it looks like and find a store in your area. I suggest calling first before you drive out, having the clerk find it and keep it for you if they can. It's not a common item.

The Smithsonian has a set for growing chrystals which you can find HERE for about $19.

Thanks to Mrs. Stewart's link for the graphic.


Renee said...

I have never heard of this.

A dream time where children were free to play.

Love Renee xoxo

Donna in AL said...

I printed the instructions. I gave it to my niece for her to do with her three little ones. They are the perfect age for a project like this!

Sizzie said...

Ah Sydney, it is fun to think of you playing in that dangerous playground, but it was a happy memory, isn't it. : )