A Tasty Slice of Japan

Journey into Japan

“This is the best day of my life!” Adelynn squealed. “Because I had something fun today.”

Adelynn was having a great day because she was learning to make sushi with her classmates at Way Cool Cooking School. “I love sushi, and I love cooking!” she said.

But a recipe was not all that Journey into Japan students learned. Chef and cooking teacher Mary interspersed culinary tidbits, cultural history, and lots of comedy in her presentation.

On the menu was California sushi rolls with “fancy Asian sauce,” as well as candy sushi for dessert. Students sat around large prep tables with the ingredients for their rolls spread out around them. There was nori (seaweed pressed into a paper-like sheet), sushi rice, avocado, imitation crab meat, and cucumber.

“Making sushi is 90% prep,” said Mary. She started her instruction by asking students where sushi originated. When they all yelled out, “Japan!” she countered: “China!”

Like many culinary practices, sushi developed out of the necessity to preserve food. Chinese fishermen as far back as the fourth century knew rice to be absorbent and used it to preserve fresh fish.

Later in Japan, cooks began seasoning the rice with vinegar to add flavor. In the centuries following, sushi making has become a highly valued art form that Japanese chefs spend years mastering.

Until this week, Carys had never tried sushi. “The first time I had it was at Sakura yesterday,” she said. The class took a field trip to the Japanese restaurant for lunch. “We had chicken teriyaki, broccoli, and breaded pork,” Carys explained. “My favorite was the chicken teriyaki.”

Graham also enjoyed the Sakura lunch. “Next time I go to Sakura, I’m going to get the bento box, like we had,” he said.

On the menu today were uramaki rolls. Uramaki means “inside out”, which is appropriate, since the rice on this type of sushi is on the outside.

Mary and her assistant, Chef Lynn, walked students through the first steps. Cook rice, and press it onto a cookie sheet. The rice then gets “lightly pickled” with a mixture of salt, rice vinegar, sugar and warm water.

Students placed their nori on the sushi rolling mat “velcro side up” and were served the seasoned rice in a slab. “Don’t roll it up yet,” Mary said. “We’re going to play with our rice.”

Yara laughed: “But they always say ‘don’t play with your food!'” Yara was excited to make her own sushi, since she had tried it before. “I don’t like it with raw fish,” she said, “but with crab it’s pretty good.”

Next, students made the “fancy Asian sauce” by mixing together mayonnaise, ground ginger, soy sauce, honey, dijon mustard, and sriracha.

Lincoln dipped his finger in the sauce and made squished up his face. “I don’t know if I like it or not,” he said diplomatically. “It was okay, but I have my doubts it’ll taste good on the sushi.” In the end, he chose not to use the sauce in his roll.

The next steps were to spread the sauce and then layer cucumber slices, crab meat, and avocado on the nori. “Smoosh and smash the avocado on to the roll,” Mary instructed.

“We’re going to get squishy hands!” Zoe told her group. “Yea!!!!” was the response.

Graham did as he was told and then held up his fingers, dripping with “smooshed and smashed” green avocado. “It looks like I killed an alien!” he laughed.

Rolling the urimaki took finesse. Kaira slid her fingers underneath the nori on her mat and started to roll it forward. Suddenly she stopped. “It’s breaking!” she said as the nori collapsed under her fingers.

“Hers went kapooey!” said Mikkayla.

Mary – who was already acting as chef, teacher, historian, and comedienne – slipped into a new role: rice surgeon. “I have to perform rice surgery!” she said, slipping a fresh nori sheet under Kaira’s rice. “We just did a nori transplant.”

“The surgery was successful!” said Zoe.

The delicious lunch of handmade California rolls was followed by dessert. Using the same procedures they learned for layering and rolling, students created “candy sushi” with fruit roll ups, rice crispy treats, gummy worms, and Swedish fish. A colorful and tasty end to their culinary feast!

MN Nice Cream

Pay to the Order Of

What’ll you have on your vanilla soft serve? Brownie chunks, cookie dough, gummy bears? Fudge, fruity pebbles, or rainbow sprinkles? Oh, and don’t forget about the finishing touch – edible glitter.

Such were the choices of students in Pay to the Order Of yesterday when they visited the Minnesota Nice Cream ice cream truck at Summer Academy.

“You get to choose strawberry sauce, gummy bears, glitter,” said Landon, scooping up his colorful, melting ice cream. “I highly recommend coming to the food truck.”

Fiona said the class had been working hard and looking forward to this treat. “We run the concession stand at the high school,” she said, “and we’ve been saving up for this.” The students operate the snack bar that many Summer Academy students visit during their mid-morning break.

“Our teachers want us to sell, sell, sell!” added Micah. “So we sold as much as possible and in the end, as a reward, we got this ice cream.”

Riley piled brownies, fruity pebbles, gummy bears, and edible glitter on his ice cream. “It was hard to choose,” he said. “I love chocolate, I love cereal, I love gummies, so I chose these.”

“It tastes kind of weird, but I like it,” he laughed.

Prior to shopping at the MN Nice Cream truck, students designed and constructed model food trucks in class. “We got to make our own mini food truck,” said Brielle. Her food truck sold smoothies and chocolate. “Because I like eating both and making both,” she said.

Micah’s food truck sold pizza. “It’s my favorite food,” he said. He paused to vigorously chew a gummy bear. “There’s a lot of people in this world and a lot of them might have the exact same thought as me – they like pizza!”

Riley said he has learned a lot in Pay to the Order Of. “I’m learning how to run a really good business. It’s really helped me to see mistakes I’ve made in the past with lemonade stands and comic book sales,” he reflected.

One important lesson was how to market a product through attractive design. “I think I should try to make a more decorative stand next time. It would probably attract more people.”

Landon agreed that visual marketing is important when selling a product. “The ice cream truck is very clean,” he remarked. “It looks nice and people like that.”

In fact, it looks positively “Minnesota Nice.”

Submerged in an Underwater World

Ocean Adventures

It’s not often we get a glimpse into another world.

Students in Ocean Adventures today toured the Sea Life Aquarium at Mall of America for a glimpse into the world under water.

“I want to see sea turtles!” exclaimed Abby as the class descended the escalator into the deep blue of the aquarium entrance.

Abby wasn’t talking about just any turtle. The students were excited to see a particular green sea turtle.

“We want to see Seemore,” said Aubrey. Seemore, students learned, is a rescued green sea turtle who has become quite an aquarium celebrity.

“He got hit by a boat,” Emma explained.

“Yeah, his shell got opened by a boat and he lives here now,” Riley added. “He has a bubble butt and air got in his shell.”

We learned that Seemore, who is actually female, suffered from Positive Buoyancy Disorder as a result of the accident. When this happens, turtles are unable to dive and feed. Aquarists at the University of Minnesota created a weighted backpack that they fitted to her shell, enabling her to dive. Although we saw several rescued turtles, we’re not sure that Seemore was among them in the tanks today.

However, there was so much more to see. The first section in the Ocean Tunnel was Sturgeon Lake. “Oh, my gosh! That scared me!” yelled Zeke. The slow-moving body of an enormous creature cleared the curve of the tunnel directly over Zeke’s head. “Look at that thing! It’s sooooo big!”

“It’s an alligator gar,” Avery informed me as she identified creatures in the freshwater section. In addition to the gars, prehistoric-looking sturgeons slowly stalked the tank swimming side by side with small softshell turtles.

Eva got up close and personal with a grouper. “He’s staring into my eyes!” she exclaimed. She immediately knew it was a grouper. “I could tell because of the shape and color,” she said.

Eva’s favorite was “Dutchess” the sawfish, a fish with a long saw-like protrusion. Students learned that their saws – called rostrums – are used to sift out prey in the sand and then stun fish before eating them. Unfortunately, the species is endangered because of overfishing. While their rostrums are perfectly designed to catch fish, they also tend to snag in fishing nets.

As students glided through Shark Cove, they were challenged to find the elusive wobbegong shark who tends to lie on the bottom of the ocean.

It didn’t take long. “We found the wobbegong!” shouted Grace with excitement. Students came running from all directions of the tunnel. “Look! He’s over there!” Lying still between two rocks was a large shark with brown blotched skin. “He has these tiny little frills under his mouth,” Grace said, wiggling her fingers under her chin to mimic the frills. “He’s big and wide, but flat, and he likes to hide.”

Sharp-eyed students like Grace found other surprises in the tanks. Riley pointed to what looked like two perfectly round ping pong balls nestled in the white rocks. “They’re probably sea turtle eggs,” she surmised.

At the Ray Lagoon, Damon shared his discovery of an underwater camera display. “I saw some really good close ups and images of stingrays,” he said, as he manipulated the camera around the pool. “One of them even opened their mouth at me when I was turning the camera. I also got to see a stingray’s nose. It looked like a hole, like 7 feet deep, and it was kind of dark.”

Damon looked at the images on the display, and then peered over the edge into the pool to figure out where the camera was located and how it worked. “You can see the camera moving under the water,” he said, pointing.

At the touch pool, Aubrey reached her hand into the water cautiously. “I touched a sea anemone,” she said. “It felt like so squishy!”

From ethereal floating jelly fish to squishy anemone to powerful predators, the young ocean adventurers truly experienced another world today.

Rockin’ Castles

Rock World

You know it’s going to be messy when the hallway leading into the work area is covered in plastic paint tarps. But it’s understandable. Medieval stone masons were not known for staying clean when constructing castles. And, Summer Academy teachers are never afraid of letting kids get their hands dirty, when it’s in the name of authentic learning.

Rock World students recently played the roles of stone masons and architects to learn more about using rocks in construction.

“We’re making rock castles,” said Eleanor. She scooped a gray rock through a paper plate of white paste and pressed the stone against her cardboard frame.

“We made the skeleton, then we covered it with grout and rocks,” added Avery. The structures’ skeletons were constructed from cardboard, cans, bottles, and other recycled objects.

Avery’s castle design involved “two little castles and a bridge with an overhang connecting them,” she said.

Eleanor’s structure was similar. “They said to start simple and small, so I made two small pillars and a wall,” she said. “There is an area in between so there’s a place for people to have fun and throw parties.”

The middle section of Eleanor’s party palace was filled with cotton pads. “It’s a filler so I can get grout and rocks on the top,” she explained.

“…so it doesn’t collapse,” Avery added.

Josh missed the memo about starting “simple and small”. His mammoth structure featured four towers and a large courtyard with a castle dwelling in the middle. “It’s just what I think of castles,” he said of his design.

Nate also thought big. “If I had to do it again, I’d probably make it smaller,” he said. “I’m struggling because I’m running out of time. The rocks have fallen over and over again. However, I’ve been catching up slowly, but surely.”

Friends at Nate’s table sorted through the bowls of large and small landscape rocks. “I’ve seen some granite rocks in here,” said Aidan.

Aidan said they were using rocks and grout because that is what builders used in the past to build castles.

“They didn’t always get it right,” Brayden said about medieval architects. When castle construction didn’t work, “they would have to try again.” His own strategy for successfully building the rock walls was to “try to find rocks that fit in the spaces,” he said.

I think Brayden’s King and Queen will be quite pleased with his thoughtful craftsmanship.

Pinball Wizards

Incredible Machines, Devices & Gizmos

Four boys crouched on the floor in front of a cardboard pinball contraption watching Lucas play. Alex, the creator of the Space-themed pinball machine, kept track of Lucas’ progress as his ball dodged obstacles and racked up points.

“375 points!” Alex exclaimed when Lucas’ ball finally hit the gutter.

“Oh, gosh,” reacted James, “this is going to be hard to beat!”

Lucas was humble about his record-breaking play. “I had a lot of luck,” he said. “There was a chance I could have died, but the ball bounced back.”

Elsewhere in this tinker’s paradise of devices and gizmos, Tom applied finishing touches to his own machine. “There are some important mechanisms that make a pinball machine work,” he said. “It’s got these rubber bands, and these strings. These are really important for activating the levers.”

He pointed out paper obstacles scattered across the surface of his machine. “These obstacles control where the ball will go.” He tugged the stretchy band that launched his marble. “You have to figure out how the ball will launch,” in order to judge placement of the obstacles, Tom said. “The best decision is to test the ball to see where it goes.”

Tom’s pinball machine featured the big Hollywood sign on the hills overlooking the famous Southern California city. The drawing of a broad red carpet leading into a theater further represented his theme. “Hollywood is where movies are made,” said the young film fan. “You think Hollywood, you think movies.”

Gabriella’s colorful rainbow-themed machine could be spotted from across the wide gymnasium. “I just thought about it, and the first thing that came to my mind was rainbows,” she said. “It was super fun to make.”

Gabriella worked on creating obstacles for the marble to run through. “I tested it out and saw the marble went there a lot so I put my tunnels there,” she said, pointing to a curved line of three rainbow arches near the top of her board.

Jordan devised a unique storyline for his game. “You are a delivery person at the pizza place and you’re delivering pizza to all the houses,” he said. The base of his pinball machine looked like the blueprint of a neighborhood, complete with an aerial view of houses and the pizza parlor. A successful delivery occurs when the pinball passes through an obstacle placed on one of the house floorplans. “If your marble goes into the parking lot, that means no one wants your delivery,” Jordan explained.

Josiah is an artist as well as an engineer. His “Avatar-The Last Airbender” pinball machine is based on the animated television series of the same name. “It’s a really good show,” Josiah said. “It’s all hand drawn. I thought, well, if they can do it, why can’t I?”

His obstacles represent characters and dark forces within the series. “These are the Fire Nation ships hiding behind rocks.” Josiah pointed to paper cutouts of boats. “If your ball gets stuck behind there, the Fire Nation takes your ball, and you lose.”

This is the kind of engineering I can get behind – design that turns into fun!

Elements Aflame

A Chemist’s #1 Tool: The Periodic Table

“We’re doing something called a flame test lab,” explained J.J., looking smart in a white lab coat and safety glasses. “We’re testing different chemicals to see if they’re flammable. Most of them are flammable and most have flames that are colorful.”

To illustrate, a young chemist at the next table gently pushed a wet wooden stick into the Bunsen burner flame where it momentarily flared bright pink. “Do it again! Do it again!” urged Ace.

The group was testing lithium chloride. Ace entered the results into a lab report, color coded by the colors of the burning elements. “I’m filling it out in rainbow colors because of pride month,” he said.

Hunter explained the process. He held up a thin wooden coffee stirrer, which, in the chemistry lab, is called a “splint”. “We’re setting a splint in a chemical mixture for two minutes,” he said, pointing to a test tube filled with colored liquid. “Then we’ll set it in the flame.”

Hunter’s first chemical reaction trial involved copper (II) chloride. “Oh, I see it!” exclaimed lab partner Evelyn. The flame flashed an aurora borealis of blues and greens. “The copper reacts with the flame,” Evelyn explained.

Ace’s group prepared to test iron nitrate. They were unable to perceive a color change the first time the splint hit the flame, so they dipped it again. The flame flashed orange-ish briefly, then settled back into the cool blue of the Bunsen burner fire. “I think it might be orange,” Ace said, entering the element and the result into the lab report, in, of course, orange ink.

Students tested 12 different elements in the flames, said Giulia. The flame testing was just one of several activities that day involving elements of the Periodic Table.

“What we did first was we had to make slime. It wasn’t normal slime, because we used chemicals,” J.J said.

“It was sodium borate and polyvinyl alcohol,” added lab partner Walker.

“After that we had to do some math to make kool-aid,” J.J. continued. Actual kool-aid, that they later drank, said Teacher Elizabeth Genskow. Students calculated how much kool-aid to weigh out in order to make different concentrations.

Hopefully, the concentration was just right for a refreshing drink in the end.

Wiggles at the Works

Inventions & Engineering

Can you think of a more appropriate activity for wiggly young engineers than to create Wiggle ‘Bots?

Today, Summer Academy’s inventors and engineers learned all about electromagnetism, circuitry, and the engineering process during a hands-on lab at The Works Museum in Bloomington.

Students started their lab experience with a battery, copper coils, magnets, and a domed plastic base with protruding metal pieces on either end. Their task? To figure out a way to make the coils spin on the base.

Have you ever seen what happens when you give kids a few unique objects and a simple instruction? Magic. Absolute magic.

“Put your coil up here and give it a push,” Elysia suggested to her tablemates. She pointed to her coil resting on the metal protrusions. “When I put my magnet here, I can feel it rotating.” She hovered her hand over the rotating coil and exclaimed in excitement, “This is so magnetic!”

Elysia added more magnets to test a theory. “Hmmm, it doesn’t change it that much, other than slowing it down,” she found.

Olivia’s coil got turning so quickly that it flew off the base and onto the far side of the table. The young engineers around her gasped and delighted in this result. “Oh, that’s hot,” Olivia discovered as she picked up her warm wayward coil.

Gavin discovered that a magnet can be key in starting the coil spinning. “You can jump start it with a magnet,” he said. Gavin and Julian tried different configurations of magnets and discovered interesting results. “You can either jump start it or stop it,” Julian said.

He and Gavin also tested a theory that it wouldn’t work without a battery. They removed the battery from the base and the copper coil stopped spinning immediately.

In debriefing the session, the Works teacher asked the students to share what they had noticed.

“Two magnets made it work really fast,” shared Daymani.

Gavin concurred. “We put three magnets on ours and it went really fast.”

For the second activity, students learned the role of power sources, load, switches, and conductors and insulators as they created a circuit with four connections.

Once completed, the circuits were attached to a clear plastic cup in a way that, when operated, made the cup move, jump, and, yes, wiggle. Roland connected his circuit and watched his Wiggle ‘Bot bounce across the table, the motor roaring like a tiny motorcycle. “It’s so fast! It’s like an airplane!” he said.

Once the ‘Bot is operational, students will decorate their creations.

William loves everything he has learned so far in Inventions & Engineering. “We got to build creations like circuits,” he said, “and we learned about how solar power works.”

Hayuu agreed. “We always get to design things.”

Other students also enjoy the opportunity to build and test new creations. “I like it because I really like making stuff,” said Gavin.

Ethan said he invents and creates at home. “I’ve made six solar robots!”

Cole creates structures out of Legos. “I make new Lego things,” the engineer shared. “I make my own Legos without even any directions, like houses.”

Andrew is also an aspiring engineer. “I take apart my old toys and I see what happens and how they work.”

Inventions & Engineering is perfect for curious young creators!

Throwing Pots

Clay Studio

My fellow blogger, Erinn, and I have kidded that we need to wear hazmat suits, or, at the least, lab coats when we cover Summer Academy classes. We never know what amount of paint, slime, or other messiness will be a part of our day. Today’s mess? Wet, gray, clay blobs squirting through the fingers of young potters.

It was our favorite day in Clay Studio – watching students transform gray lumps of earth into works of art on pottery wheels. Emilia agreed to walk us through the process of “throwing a pot”, as they say in ceramics parlance.

She adjusted the foot pedal on her right side and settled onto the stool. She slapped a ball of clay back and forth in her hands. “I’m just rounding it now,” Emilia said.

With a “whack!”, she slapped the rounded mound onto the wheel. “I’m putting water on it and centering it,” she continued. Her goal was to create a pitcher to become part of her pottery collection.

She cupped her hands together, one on top of the clay mound and one to the side, leaning her whole body over the wheel. “I’m pushing down and to the side, too,” she said, as she started the wheel turning.

She molded the blob, occasionally dipping her hands into cloudy gray water and wetting the clay. She explained that the water keeps the clay from drying out. “It would be deformed if it was dry. It wouldn’t slide through your hands.”

Meanwhile at a neighboring wheel, Ayanna used a small, wet sponge to shape the sides of her creation. “I use the sponge so I don’t scratch my hand on the wheel,” she said.

Ayanna’s bowl started to take shape, a nice lip forming around the edge. Suddenly, the lip separated, tearing from the bowl and crumpling in Ayanna’s hands. Blobs of clay squirted in all directions as she squished the destroyed piece through her fingers (I’m still scraping dried chunks from my arms and pants…). With a good-natured shrug of her shoulders, she turned her attention back to the piece remaining on the wheel, and kept it spinning.

Jaridan was ready to remove his intact bowl from the wheel. He pulled a piece of nylon string taut between his hands and lowered it to the wheel near the edge of his bowl. “You just put the string on the bottom, press down with your thumbs, and slide it under,” he said. “It’s to remove the bottom.” He carefully pulled the fragile clay structure toward him, supported only by the string along the bottom. He balanced his “bat” (a wooden tray) on his knees and slowly guided the bowl onto its surface while Erinn and I held our breaths. Phew – success!

In addition to throwing pots, clay artists also worked in other techniques. Evelyn was putting final touches on a clay whisk. “My theme is baking, because I love to bake,” she said. “I’m making a whisk, a little cake stand, and little bowls for frosting and other things.”

She held up her whisk and explained how difficult it was to keep the rounded pieces shaped. (Picture a wire whisk and imagine how hard it would be to replicate the delicate wire loops in clay.) The thin pieces of clay bending toward each other kept collapsing. Her solution was to ball up small pieces of paper and stick them inside the loops. “I learned you can fire paper and it will basically dissolve,” she said, “so I crinkled paper up and used it as a mold to shape it.”

Creative solutions by clever kids!

Building a Rainforest, One Layer at a Time

Exploring Habitats Through STEAM

Will carefully slid a clear plastic bead onto a toothpick stuck upright in clay. “It’s the forest floor, with nutrients,” Will said about the thick brown clay in his paper bowl. The bead, he explained, “is a worm and it goes first because worms are on the ground.”

“Yeah, the clay is the ground, the dirt,” otherwise known as the decomposer level, clarified Hance.

First and second graders in Exploring Habitats Through STEAM today worked with scientist Asteroid Atom to create model rainforest habitats. “Asteroid Atom”, as he asks the kids to call him, is from the science education organization, High Touch High Tech.

“Grab some sun, and throw it in your leaf!” Atom shouted. The kids repeated the chant and mimicked grabbing the sun and smacking it into an imaginary leaf.

“We also throw water and sugar in our leaves,” said Emerson, “so it makes oxygen.”

“It makes energy, remember?” reminded Lucia.

At their table, Leah, Ramona, Lucia, and Emerson finished their “worm on a stick” decomposer level and looked for the next layer of their forests. The girls referenced a colorful rainforest stratification diagram. “It shows what the rainforest looks like,” Ramona said. “It looks like a little tangle because of the vines!” added Emerson.

Lucia pointed out the four labeled levels on the diagram. “It shows the layers of the forest,” she said.

For their next level, the girls cut colored stars out of construction paper. “The stars are the leaves,” Leah said. Lucia added, “And they’re in colors because the rainforest is colorful.”

The students arranged the stars at the tops of the toothpicks to represent the trees on the next layer of stratification. Ramona started cutting out a hand shape, but wasn’t clear what the hands represented. “We don’t know yet,” she said.

At a neighboring table, Wesley provided an unlikely suggestion: “Maybe they’re for punching all the leaves!” he teased.

Asteroid Atom passed out photographs of the forest canopy and asked students to discuss what they saw. “There are trees,” noticed Brody, “and a whole bunch of branches.”

Wesley looked at pictures of the animals who live in the canopy. He peered closely at a photograph of mossy green branches: “Is that like a sloth or something?” he asked.

Oliver noticed that “the leaves are smaller and the animals are bigger,” in the canopy.

Giana added, “And, it’s higher up!”

Atom talked about how branches in the canopy overlap, creating a habitat for more than 50% of the living things in the rainforest. Jase figured out the mystery of the paper hands. “Because trees are like this, covering the floor.” Jase put his hands together, interlocking his fingers to demonstrate how the tree branches overlap.

Jase grabbed a popsicle stick, stuck one of the hand shapes on top, and wrapped it with a purple pipe cleaner. “This is the vines,” he said, creating that “little tangle” that Emerson found so charming.

Free Expression


As the Bloggers, we try to schedule times to cover and photograph classes and their activities. But sometimes, in traversing between one school and the other, we wander into amazing experiences.

Yesterday we encountered fencing lessons on the lawn with Castles, Kings & Other Things. Today’s surprise capture involved enthusiastic young artists, covered in paint, slapping colors onto long canvases in front of Highland Elementary.

Buckets of brightly colored paints lined the edge of the lawn, creating a rainbow on the grass. Students dunked their bare hands or brushes into the liquid color and ran to the canvas to add a new element. One young lady folded over from the waist and slammed her paint-covered hands to the canvas, Twister-style. When she rose, two stark red prints remained.

“We’re making abstract art,” explained Sawyer. “I think it’s not really about symbols or something specific. It’s a bunch of different things and everybody has a different idea of what it is.”

“We’re using rollers, paint brushes, and even our hands,” said Kiersten. “We could use our feet, but nobody is.”

Louisa tried a technique that she described as “kind of cool. I get paint on my paintbrush, and tap the paint brush on the middle of my palm.” She pantomimed the technique with her hands. “Then I bring it low to the canvas so it can splatter.” Louisa learned how to splatter when she took a watercolor class. “We did this with water, so I wanted to try it with paint.”

Louisa’s Jackson Pollock-esque contribution could be seen in bright dots of fluorescent yellow highlighting the splotches of color and tiny handprints.

Grayson washed his hands in a bucket of water, to little effect. “My arms look like a tree now,” he laughed, holding out his hands. Brown paint spread from his fingertips to the middle of his forearms. He had mixed the brown himself. “Basically, you mix a lot of warm colors together – like red and orange – and you get brown,” he said.

It didn’t look as if those arms were getting clean anytime soon. Heads up, Mom!