Category Archives: 50 Dangerous Things

12 – Play with Dry Ice

50 Dangerous Things (you should let your children do)

I’ve been meaning to pick up some dry ice, look up some cool stuff to do with it and let the kids see what fun dry ice can hold. I really meant to.

When another mom offered to bring it to our homeschool cooperative, I was really grateful. We would get to play with very little effort from….ME ūüôā This mom did a great job of both showing the kids the cool things that dry ice could be used to do and keeping everyone safe.

Big kids had fun, little kids loved it. This mom knew just what to show them that would impress them all. The dry ice was placed in a bag, where the gas it gave off expanded the bag until it POPPED! It was exciting for everyone.

Playing with dry ice was really neat.

Dangerous? Totally. One of the reasons I did not want to handle it is that I had never done it and was unfamiliar and I knew that touching it could result in burns. The kids were all really good at complying with the rule not to touch it and the mom that handled it did a great job.


25 – Look at the Sun

 50 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do

It’s only been recently that we even could attempt to look at the sun! There has been so little, for so long. Serendipitously, a class the boys attended recently at the Meadowlands Environmental Center (future post coming!) included viewing the sun as one of the activities. I was so glad that a professional naturalist was in charge of this one – someone with both high-tech and low-tech gear that would make this activity fun and safe. Our book gave directions for making a sun viewer, but the boys got a chance to use one of these. The telescope, with the use of mirrors, reflects an image of the sun onto the flat surface and allows the sun to be clearly seen, including sunspots. They were very impressed with what they saw. I can’t decide if we’ve cheated on this one. They viewed the sun, which was the challenge, but we did not construct the sun-viewer suggested. You can decide for yourself if we cheated ūüėČ

The second way they were able to look at the sun was with these nifty glasses.

DSC03518DSC03520 DSC03519 DSC03517Our future’s are so bright…well, you know the rest. It was cool to see the sun at all, but especially up close and personal like we did.

Dangerous? Totally, without all of the special paraphernalia. I don’t know how close your could get to really staring at the sun until it hurt your eyes, but the kids were cautioned against it anyhow. We were able to safely complete this task.

22 – Bend Steel

50 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do

Sometimes Gavin makes really big fires and sometimes we do ‘dangerous things‘ with them.

DSC02997I fetched our book when he informed me about the roaring fire he had started. We still had one more ‘fire’ activity to do and since I was able to wrangle up a steel coat hanger, we were able to do it.

The book encouraged us to bend steel by making it very, very hot in the backyard fire and thereby turning it super pliable.

DSC02998 DSC03001 DSC03000We could see the metal getting red hot and it was very bendable when we got it out. It was soft to the point of being able to make a curly cue around a stick.

DSC03004 (1)DSC03015 (1)DSC03016 (1)DSC03017It was as soft as a really thin wire or a rubbery rope. It was very cool.

Dangerous? Yeah, I guess it was. Ethan, Mikey and Sean were not interested in participating and just gave a casual glance to the super-hot steel. It may have been more precarious if the four of them wanted a part in the activity. But, it really ended up with Gavin playing with both the fire and the melty metal, and he is a capable handler of hot stuff. I did warn Gavin that one slip from the potholder would result in a very serious burn and he felt he could handle it safely and did so.

Now go and help your kids do some ‘dangerous things‘!

29 – Perform on the Street

  50 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do

Sometimes we plan ahead to add a new ‘Dangerous Thing’ to our list, and sometimes, they happen spontaneously like this one.

While walking through Central Park, Gavin spotted a guy with a homemade stringed instrument. As is Gavin’s custom, he stopped to watch. Gavin asked questions about the instrument, the man, in broken English, explained that Gavin should play it. The man set him up and showed him quickly how to draw the bow across the strings in long strokes. Continue reading

49 – Sleep in the Wild

Ethan, Gavin and Mikey have experienced¬†sleeping outdoors¬†on many occasions in several different settings. They have all been involved in Boy Scouts of America as cub scouts. Recently Gavin has ‘crossed over’ into Boy Scouts and has had the experience of¬†wilderness camping as well as sleeping at a campsite. The camp Gavin slept at has open¬†flap platform tents – open to the air and whatever might be sharing that space.
My boys have also¬†been¬†sleeping in the yard for several years.¬†Now and then they will decide to set up camp in the backyard and¬†“campout” for the night. Recently, Gavin and his¬†friend camped outside¬†in¬†his friend’s large, Long Island¬†backyard.

These two boys¬†also¬†engaged in Dangerous Things #28, #43 and #45 all in the same evening! That’s just how they roll ūüėČ As I write, Gavin is packing to leave for another friend’s house and I have heard that their options for sleeping are the loft of a barn and a previously hand-constructed shelter the two friends built¬†recently.
I am sure these traditions will continue in (or rather outside of) my house. Soon they will have to take their little brother out and initiate him into the clan called “They-Who-Sleep-Out-In-The-Yard”.
I love when they sleep out there – it’s just¬†so good for them¬†and everyone should do it at some point. I hope my boys gets lots of opportunities to sleep under the stars. Have your kids¬†slept in¬†the yard?
Dangerous?¬†Depends on who your ask. I have had strange reactions from people to allowing¬†my kids to sleep in the yard. I have been asked¬†if I’m worried about animals – nope, or people ‘stealing’ them – nope. I am not afraid and I think it is good and safe and a wonderful experience.
‚ÄúThe woods were my Ritalin. Nature calmed me, focused me, and yet excited my senses.‚ÄĚ
‚Äē Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

42 – Break the Recipe Rule Book

“Hi Auntie, can we do some ‘Dangerous Things’ today?”
That’s how the ‘Breaking the Recipe Rule Book’ entry got started. One of the first things Gavin and Sam decided to make was ‘tea’. Out in the backyard they chose some leaves from my herb garden and some other things they know to be edible from the lawn – clover & dandelion. When they found out the I owned a mortar & pestle, they were thrilled. They also chose to use some spices from my cabinets and the concocting began.

Gavin chose a tea ball and Sam the boil and strain method. Both teas were creative and tasty.
They followed the directions in the book of collecting ingredients and preparing the pan. It was interesting to hear them negotiating what would go into their ‘cake’. I was merely a spectator and photographer. They agreed that flour, milk, oil and eggs were necessary. Then the ‘big idea’ came to them – a S’mores cake – so chocolate chips, marshmallows and crumbled graham crackers were added.¬†They also both agree that baking soda was necessary although neither of them could articulate why. They discussed measurements and amounts.

It was totally edible, fairly spongy, and very sugary! Recipes rules were definately broken Рseveral times I wanted to tell them that they would need some salt or that is waaaayyyy too much vanilla Рbut that would have ruined the exercise.
Dangerous? These kids are competant at loading stuff into the oven, so I think it was pretty safe. I will admit that tasting it required some bravery from the rest of us. You will definately get mom (or dad) points for giving your kids free reign of the kitchen for a little adventure in cooking.

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure.
In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.‚Ä̬†
‚Äē Julia ChildÔĽŅ

11 – Throw Rocks

Ethan’s activity of choice since he could walk, and grab a rock in his chubby little hands, was to throw rocks. We¬†gave him appropriate places to do it, his favorite being into a little stream behind my mother’s house. He spent lots of time with my mom just throwing rocks as a little kid.
All my boys enjoy throwing rocks (is that like saying they all like candy?) I have gone places with the intention of allowing them to throw rocks into a stream or a pond only to have other mom’s telling their kids repeatedly to ‘put the rocks down’! My kids would shoot me a glance to see what I expected of them – go right ahead I would tell them.
I taught them very early on to throw rocks when there was nothing between them and the water Рlike other people! I also showed them when and where we would throw rocks and where we would not. I feel like because they had chances to do it when they wanted Рthey were willing to abstain when  I asked them to.
Let them throw rocks! It is fun and feels really good – go ahead, try it.
Dangerous? A little bit. The risks are mild if the parameters and settings are right. ÔĽŅ
What we remember from childhood we remember forever – permanent ghosts, stamped, inked, imprinted, eternally seen. ~Cynthia Ozick