Pop-Up Education Update + Naturally Colored Playdough

Pop-Up Education Update

Pop-Up Education is, mostly, a curriculum writing venture for Holly and me, Ashley. We each have extensive teaching experience; Holly as a science teacher, and I, as an environmental educator.

Our goal is to document lessons and enhance what we know, write it down, and organize it to share. Because teaching comes naturally to us both, we are also energized by gathering participants to test our curriculum in an organized way. From there, we convert it into curriculum guides and blog posts. Blog posts are free information, and curriculum guides we will sell.

Our first round of this process was with Simple Machines, Holly’s area of expertise. She designed unique simple machines curriculum for five one-hour lessons that we delivered at the Museum of Ventura County last month. We are currently editing the curriculum guide for that batch of classes, and expect it to be available for purchase by fall.

The next scheduled Pop-Up Education classes are a week of (ages 2-8) summer camp at Children’s World Camp Haverim for their first camp week in June. The week’s theme is Heal the World, Exploring Habitats and will draw from my (Ashley’s) experience as an environmental outdoor educator. Daily themes include exploring habitat boxes (I will write a blog post on those) and hands-on activities in their campus garden, such as holding worms from a compost bin, observing nature’s shapes through an old telescope, listening to the ocean in big shells, and camouflaging ourselves in the fruit trees. Photos and activity topics will be shared on social media, and specific camp lessons will be documented and available, later, as our second curriculum guide.

On the horizon are classes offered at Vita Art Center, located at Bell Art Factory on Ventura Avenue. Pop-Up Education, with Vita Art Center, plans to offer an extension to the Simple Machines class, making simple machine toys, and a separate class in Science/Art classes using chemistry and watercolors. We look forward to adding these art components to our classes and curriculum guides.

Meanwhile, as we plan these projects, we continue to work at our other jobs. Holly is an education professor and I work for our family outdoor store. We each have a young daughter and for them we create educational opportunities in our daily lives. Here is my latest activity with Charlotte at home.

Naturally Colored Playdough

Today, Charlotte and I made playdough with ingredients we had in the kitchen. I have seen homemade playdough recipes floating around, and really appreciate this option. The homemade stuff smells way better than the store-bought playdough, for one. Then, there’s the obvious reason of children playing with something natural, something that can be comfortably eaten. Natural food stores, like our local Lassens or Sprouts, carry a natural food coloring, so that’s certainly an option to color it.

Not wanting to take a trip to the grocery store today, we hunted around and found blueberries in the fridge. We smashed them for today’s playdough, and were pleasantly surprised to have a nice, soft batch of pink playdough on our hands. I have read about adding spices and want to try other foods for coloring, as well. Feel free to leave me ideas in the comments.

As we test playdough recipes, I will update with a post including what we liked. Also note that I expect to use some of our naturally colored playdough at “Heal the World” week for Children’s World Camp Haverim this summer, so any camp participants in June will experience them there. 🌿

Playdough Recipe

In a saucepan, mix together one cup flour, 2 teaspoons cream of tartar (spice section of the grocery store), 1/3 cup salt.

When thoroughly mixed, add one cup of water mixed with one tablespoon vegetable oil.

Set mixture on a low heat stovetop and stir constantly as it thickens.

To color the playdough, add drops of food coloring, or experiment with foods.

Easy Homemade Playdough recipe from Living Well Mom.


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