• Protect your clothes and hands by wearing a smock (a plastic garbage bag will do) and thick rubber gloves.
• Most dyes found in Beijing are not typically used for tie-dye, so the colors will run after the first wash.
• Teach your kids about mixing colors: combine red and blue dyes to create purple.
• When dosing the white shirt with color, be sure the dye fills the creases. More is better here; the whites of the shirt should not be visible.
Water and oil are not good friends - they don't mix. Oil is less dense (meaning lighter) than water, so it floats on top. When the effervescent tablet or bicarb soda drops into the colored water, a chemical reaction begins - producing carbon dioxide bubbles. These bubbles surround droplets of colored water making them momentarily less dense than the oil. They rise up through the oil, until they hit the surface and the bubbles pop. The heavier water then drops back down through the oil to the bottom of the jar. Real lava lamps use two liquids that are very close in density, or weigh about the same, but don't mix. The heavier liquid down the bottom is heated, which causes it to become less dense and to rise to the top of the lamp. As the heated liquid rises, it cools down, becomes more dense and starts to sink.
From Our Archive: What's Fun In - Let Fly: The sky’s the limit at these eight kite-friendly venues in Beijing
As temperatures rise this month and the sun stays out longer, Beijingers will be gearing up for an annual spring ritual. Kite flying, a popular seasonal custom, is said to get rid of bad luck. Tradition dictates that the string be cut when the kite is high in the sky in order to allow the wind to carry away illness and misfortune. In the past, parents would tell their children not to pick up a kite on their way home; if one landed on your property, the only way to avoid bad luck was to burn it.
There are many stories surrounding the invention of kites, which are believed to have originated in China. The first kite was generally believed to have been conceived of by Chinese philosopher Mozi (墨子) during the Warring States Period (481-221 BC). His invention, which was shaped like a wooden hawk, was more accurately described as a kite-like flying machine. Years later, his apprentice – the legendary architect and carpenter Lu Ban (鲁班) – improved on his original design and made a kite that managed to stay in the sky for three consecutive days.
Time: 30 minutes plus decorating time
20cm x 20cm piece of cardboard
Two 5cm lengths of drinking straw
String (natural fibers work best)
Colored pens, pencils, crayons or paints
Ever since kids first started raiding wardrobes for dress-up costumes, there's been a market for fake mustaches. Whether your little ones are secret agents, cops or cowboys, a good set of whiskers will always come in handy.
Plain heavy stock paper
Heavy black paper
1 cup sugar
1lt cold water
Sprig of mint and slice of lemon for garnish.
From Our Archives: Bird’s-Eye View - Beijing Olympic Forest Park is a paradise for both birds and bird watchers
In an age when tablets often seem to replace babysitters, many parents are making an effort to wean their kids off technology and plug them into nature instead. Many interests sparked during school years stay with us forever; that is why familiarizing your children with the great outdoors when they are young is vital. However, it is not always possible to get out of the city for the weekend. Luckily, bird watching is one of those activities that can be enjoyed wherever you live.
You might be surprised to learn that Beijing is a birding hotspot. Over 450 different species of birds can be seen here, beating out other capital cities like London and Paris. That is because Beijing is an avian crossroads of sorts; an important stop on the way to breeding grounds in northern China, Siberia, and other places. Though birding is currently confined to a small but active community, the popularity of the pastime is growing.
Crafting your own Chinese chop
Whether it’s a birthday card or their latest crayon creation, all young artists should have their own distinctive seal, or chop, to make their mark. Instead of signing your name, stamp your own chop to give your works their own special look. Traditionally, Chinese chops were carved from stone with chisels, but pens and styrofoam are a lot easier for young hands.
After a winter trapped in the grey, chilly metropolis of Beijing, cabin fever and lethargy are common late winter woes. Now that spring has ousted winter, it’s time to get reacquainted with the color green, outdoor activities, and trips to the outskirts of the city. April is the ideal time to get in a few hiking trips before the intense summer heat sets in, and with two national holidays on the calendar, there’s no better month to plan a few out-of-city excursions – you may find yourself surprised that the Beijing area boasts so much natural beauty.