Risky Reads: The Holiday Edition

Everything is awesome! #legokidsfest

So where the heck did November go?! I was looking back through the archives to make sure I didn’t use this image for last month’s Risky Reads … and then realized I didn’t do a Risky Reads post in November! I’ve scaled back my posting a bit on both blogs. It’s not that I don’t have lots to say or share, I’ve just been making a concerted effort during this holiday season to have balance in my life. And often that means shutting the computer and choosing other things. I have a feeling you guys understand.

In that spirit, I’ve found a few things around the web that have spoken to me along the theme of “Slow down. Relax. Enjoy what’s around you.” I hope you enjoy them, and I hope you’re enjoying this holiday season.

Sometimes I look around at all that we have, and I wonder why on earth we’re buying more things for Christmas! Do you struggle with this, too? I found this article very helpful and thoughtful: Practical Advice When Kids Have Too Much Stuff.

Where do you stand on the Elf on the Shelf? While I don’t begrudge the families who Elf, we don’t have one (much to Eli’s disappointment). I do find it somewhat amusing how divisive the little guy is, though! Who would’ve thought an elf could inspire as much debate as co-sleeping or breastfeeding?! (Although I agree with my friend, Shireen. Have your elf. Have fun with your elf. But the rest of us don’t need to see a picture of what your elf is doing every. single. day.) Anyhow, if you’re not crazy about the elf, but are looking for a similar tradition to share with the kids, consider these: Kindness Elves from The Imagination Tree and gnome/troll houses from Rain or Shine Mamma.

I really want to spend an afternoon making salt dough ornaments with the kids. I love these ideas for crafting with salt dough, because they can be adjusted to any age and they’ll all be beautiful in their own way. One of my favorite holiday traditions is looking over all the handmade ornaments the kids have made over the years. They’re the best.

I wish I could pass this post from Rage Against the Minivan on to every new parent on the planet. Repeat after me: It’s okay to ignore your kids sometimes. I felt especially compelled to share this with you as we stare down almost three weeks of winter vacation. You are not your child’s cruise ship director and you are not a bad parent for telling them to find their own thing to do. As the author so eloquently puts it, As Ecclesiastes says, there is a time to be precious about your kid’s childhood, and a time when you just have to get other shit done. (I’ve loosely paraphrased that verse.)”

Over on my personal blog, I wrote about 4 seemingly innocent traps that will derail your plans to have a simple Christmas. I speaketh from experience.

If you’re still wrapping up your shopping, don’t forget to check out the 2014 Risky Kids Holiday Gift Guide!

For more risky inspiration, follow us on Pinterest and like us on Facebook.  And if you ever see anything you think we’d like, please share it with us!


50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do): Play with Dry Ice

Looking for cool experiments to do with kids? Try these dry ice experiments inspired by the book “50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)!” Science for kids.


Play around with some super-cool, super-spooky dry ice.


  • Dry Ice
  • Towel
  • Pie plate
  • Cup
  • Fork or tongs

Possible Hazards:

  • Burns

How It All Went Down:

The kids have been begging to play with dry ice since the day we first got the 50 Dangerous Things book. The only thing that’s kept me from doing it was not having any dry ice, nor really knowing where to get some.

Lesson #1: I’ve come to learn that some grocery stores do sell dry ice. Just ask. If not, you can search for local ice distributors and they should be able to sell you some.

One day I got a delivery of perishables packed in dry ice and I did a little happy dance. We could finally do it! And then I put it in my chest freezer and waited a few days for a good time.

Lesson #2: Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide doesn’t freeze until -109 °F. Unlike frozen water, dry ice doesn’t melt in the traditional sense. It goes through a process known as sublimation, which means it goes directly from a solid to a gas. Which also means that when you leave it in your freezer for a few days, hype it up to the kids, and go to retrieve it? You’ll be left with nothing but an empty container and sad children.

One evening, my neighbor knocked on the door. She’d just gotten some dry ice in her Peapod delivery, and knowing me well, thought I’d want some. I did another happy dance, but this time got right to the business of playing with the dry ice.

You can turn to Google or search Pinterest for all kinds of cools ways to experiment with and play with dry ice. Given that we had some in our hands at the moment and I didn’t have advanced notice to gather extra materials, I just let the kids play with it.

Lesson #3: As fun as dry ice is, you have to take some safety precautions. It is extremely cold, and touching it with your skin can cause frostbite. Always use some kind of protection when handling it, such as a towel, an oven mitt, or tongs.

Our dry ice was already broken into chunks, but if you’re dealing with a solid block you’ll want to break yours up. Wrap it in a towel and use a hammer. Be sure to wear safety goggles while you’re whacking away at it. Here are a few things we did with our dry ice:

Spooky Fog

Fill a pie plate halfway to the top with water. Using a fork or tongs, drop small pieces of the dry ice onto the surface of the water. You’ll observe the cool “fog” that makes for a spooky effect. This occurs when sublimation happens in water. Tiny, very cold carbon dioxide bubbles are formed. When these bubbles mix with the air, they cause the temperature of the air to drop. The moisture in the air near the bubbles forms the fog (this fog is perfectly safe, by the way).

Screaming Spoon

Dip a spoon (or your fork or the tongs) in hot water. Press the warm utensil against the dry ice and listen to it “scream.” What makes it do this? Well, the warm utensil speeds up the sublimation process. As the carbon dioxide gas is released against the utensil, the oscillations in pressure produce rapid sound waves that make the screaming noise.

Looking for cool experiments to do with kids? Try these dry ice experiments inspired by the book “50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)!” Science for kids.

Bubbling Potions

Fill a cup 1/4 full of water and add a drop or two of dishwashing soap. Drop in the dry ice and watch your potion “boil” and bubble. The soap in the water traps the carbon dioxide gas and forms bubbles. Instead of a soapy, wet mess, once the bubbles burst they simply disappear! Add some food coloring or drop in a glow stick for colored or glowing bubbles.

Looking for cool experiments to do with kids? Try these dry ice experiments inspired by the book “50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)!” Science for kids.

For even more inspiration, check out Steve Spangler Science.

You can read about the rest of our experiences with 50 Dangerous Things. Inspired by Gever Tulley’s book 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do).


Life Skills Every Kid Should Know: Build a Fire

how to build a fire with kids

In March I announced that we’d be starting a new series on The Risky Kids: Life Skills Every Kid Should Know. The response was wonderful – it turns out you agree that there are many things kids need to know beyond what they’re taught in school. You agreed with our suggestions for the series, and came up with many more life skills you’d like to see added to the list. You can find posts from the entire series on the Life Skills Every Kid Should Know page.

build a fire with kids

If I had to pick the top two Dangerous Things that freak parents out the most, it would be letting kids use sharp objects and anything involving fire. I completely understand. They both evoke images of immediate and life-altering injuries. And in the case of fire, of burning down the house … or the entire neighborhood.


It’s precisely because skills like these are inherently dangerous, that I passionately believe they should be taught at an early age. With the proper instruction and supervision, kids learn a healthy respect for these tools. And with early and frequent exposure, the thrill and mystique of fire or knives wears off. It becomes simply a useful skill they possess, as opposed to something mysterious and forbidden which they can’t resist the urge to explore in secret.

Learning to build a proper fire was something I was never taught. We didn’t camp or have bonfires as a kid, and so the only experience I ever had was lighting a candle. I’ve never even owned a charcoal grill (!), so my experience with building any kind of fire was very limited. When it came time to put our fire-building skills to the test, I was learning right along with the kids.

cooking over campfire

You might think there’s nothing to it, but there is definitely a method to building a good, lasting fire. I could explain it (which I did here), but this infographic from NPR’s Summer Science does a spot-on job:

how to build a campfire

Credit: Stephanie d’Otreppe, Andrew Prince and Maggie Starbard/NPR

When we build a fire in our firepit, we often have lots of other kids running around. There’s nothing like an open flame and the possibility of roasted marshmallows to bring all the kids to your yard. It’s such a valuable opportunity for real-time teachable moments in regards to fire safety. We teach things like having only one person in charge of the fire (and at the same time making sure there’s always someone in charge of the fire), what you can and cannot put in a fire, how you move around a fire (no running or horseplay), and how to put the fire completely out.

kids and campfires

Chances are you’ll never need to know how to build a fire for survival purposes. I have to say, though, even as an adult there is a strong sense of pride and accomplishment at being able to make fire from a match and a few sticks. If that’s not enough to stoke your interest in learning and teaching this skill to your kids, just remember the ultimate payout:




50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do): Explode a Bottle in the Freezer

50 Dangerous Things: Explode a Glass Bottle


Fill and freeze a glass bottle, and see the natural power of ice in action.


  • Sealable glass bottle
  • Plastic container (to hold the bottle bits post-explosion)

Possible Hazards:

  • Cuts and scrapes
  • Mess

How It All Went Down:

I can think of multiple times we accidentally exploded a bottle in the freezer as kids, but flipping through the 50 Dangerous Things book, I realized my kids have never experienced this. If you’re looking for somewhere small to start on your own 50 Dangerous Things journey, this is a good one. You probably already have everything you need, and it’s easy to do while you’re home and doing other things. Bonus: kids get really excited about breaking things, especially something as forbidden as glass.

The author suggests using a resealable soda bottle, but all of our glass soda and beer bottles had bottle caps, not screw tops. Empty glass vinegar, wine, or liquor bottles will all work. Just remember – the bigger your bottle, the longer it will take to freeze … and the bigger the mess!

Fill the glass bottle with water, and screw on the cap. Using a Sharpie, draw on the bottle where you think it will break. Place the bottle in a plastic container. This is a must, unless you want to spend an entire day picking broken glass out of your freezer. You can also cover the plastic container with a cloth to keep any stray glass shards from flying around your freezer.

Freeze a glass bottle

Now wait for your bottle to freeze. A standard home freezer will take at least an hour to freeze a small glass bottle. We used our deep freezer, which is colder and freezes faster. After an hour has passed, check the bottle by gently rocking the plastic container to see if the contents are frozen. Check back every 30 minutes or so to see if your bottle has broken.

Once the bottle has exploded (bonus points if you hear it!), carefully remove the plastic container and the broken bottle from the freezer. Observe your bottle and hypothesize about why it broke in the spots it did. You can repeat the experiment with different shapes and sizes of bottles, and compare how long they take to freeze and how differently they explode.

It’s kind of amazing how something as innocuous as freezing water can cause so much damage. How do you topple a mountain? Expose it to season after season of freezing water, which expands as it freezes and forms large cracks.

Exploded glass bottle

We joke about how most of the tasks we’ve completed in the 50 Dangerous Things book really aren’t dangerous at all, but this task gets the honors of producing our first real injury. I warned Eli over and over again that broken glass can be ridiculously sharp. Sure enough, he couldn’t resist and he sliced his finger open. I’ll warn you as well, but if your kids are anything like mine, it takes a teachable moment for the lesson (and the bandaid) to stick.

Broken glass injury

You can read about the rest of our experiences with 50 Dangerous Things. Inspired by Gever Tulley’s book 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do).


50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do): Boil Water in a Paper Cup

boil water paper cup

Task: Boil water in paper and watch two seemingly incompatible elements – fire and water – coexist!



  • Gas or electric stove (sadly and inductive cooktop won’t work)
  • Paper cup (must be unwaxed)
  • Water

Possible Hazards: 

  • Burns
  • Fire
  • Setting off the smoke alarm

How It All Went Down:

Boil water in a paper cup? Impossible, you say! I didn’t believe it either, but we had to try.

This was the first task we’ve encountered where I was legitimately worried that someone or something would get hurt! I had visions of flaming paper and torrents of boiling water spewing out at us. If you’re a little concerned as well, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place before starting. Make sure your cup is stable on your stove. If it’s tippy or doesn’t want to stand upright, wait to try until you’ve found a better cup. Have some tongs and a pan nearby in case you need to move the cup off the burner quickly.  Now on to the fun …

Fill the cup 3/4 full with water. Place it on the hottest part of the burner (over the flame or on the heating coil). Turn the burner on high and wait for the water to boil.

It takes longer than you think, and we were sure that our cup was going to burn or disintegrate before the water boiled. The bottom of the cup got very black … but it never caught on fire before the water boiled! How is this possible?

Water boils at 212°F … but paper doesn’t actually burn until close to 500°F. And while the water is (technically) very hot, compared to a flame it is much cooler.  Notice the spots on the cup that actually begin to burn – the very bottom edge and the top 1/4 of the cup – are the parts of the cup not directly touching the water.

50 dangerous things boil water
Once the water boils, you can either turn the heat off and VERY carefully lift the cup into a pan with tongs, or you can boil away the water until you’re just left with a charred, wet piece of paper. We quit while we were ahead (i.e. no flaming pyre or boiling water geysers) and turned off the flame. It was all over in a matter of minutes, but it’s something we won’t forget about for a long time!

You can read about the rest of our experiences with 50 Dangerous Things. Inspired by Gever Tulley’s book 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do).


50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Kids Do): Cook Something in the Dishwasher

Cook apples in your dishwasher! The Risky Kids


Task: Clean your dishes and make a snack at the same time – with the same machine!



  • Pint-sized mason jar and lid
  • 2 apples
  • 1 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons white or brown sugar

Possible Hazards:

  • Food Poisoning

How It All Went Down:

My kids are fairly accustomed, by now, to being on the receiving end of some odd questions that start with, “Hey, do you want to …?” But I believe I truly threw them off when I asked them if they wanted to cook something in the dishwasher. Clearly I had some explaining to do, as Elena assumed that we’d be throwing some raw chicken on the top rack right next to the glasses.

In Gever Tulley’s book 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do), he suggests a variety of things that can be cooked in the dishwasher (in appropriate packaging) alongside the dishes, such as chicken, hot dogs or vegetables. In doing my own research, I also found guides to cook lasagna and salmon in the ol’ Whirlpool. Perhaps you’re so intrigued you’d like to  get yourself an entire cookbook dedicated to the craft!

In the end we chose something simpler: Cinnamon Sugar Apples. It’s a dish I make often on the stovetop, but I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to let Elena create her own recipe and make it herself, from start to (very clean!) finish.

Why on earth would you cook something in the dishwasher, and how, exactly, does it work? Well, just to say you did is a good enough reason for us. But if you were especially concerned about energy efficiency, using one machine to do two jobs is a great way to conserve energy. A dishwasher uses jets of hot water to clean your dishes. Because it’s insulated and has its own heating element, it’s really not that much different than an oven – minus the soapy bubbles and water!

And why is this a Dangerous Thing? Attitudes are  shifting about what is safe for kids to do. Combine that with the rare incidents of kids getting injured by common household appliances that spread like wildfire via TV and internet, and you’ll find many parents choosing to restrict kids’ access and use of appliances. Learning how common appliances, such as dishwashers, ovens, and microwaves work, as well as how to use them, are basic life skills that every child will need before they head off for their own (hopefully) independent lives. Enough talking, though – let’s cook something in the dishwasher!

Cinnamon Sugar Dishwasher Apples


Cinnamon sugar apple prep

Core apples and dice or cut into thin slices. Place cut apples into the mason jar, adding a few pieces of butter to each layer of apples. Add cinnamon and sugar and screw the lid on as tightly as possible. Place jar in top rack of dishwasher.

Cinnamon Sugar Dishwasher Apples

Run the dishwasher at the hottest setting, and make sure the dry cycle completes before opening. Remove from dishwasher and enjoy!

Cinnamon Sugar Apples Cooked in the Dishwasher

What are you brave enough to cook in the dishwasher?

You can read about the rest of our experiences with 50 Dangerous Things. Inspired by Gever Tulley’s book 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do).


50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Kids Do): Put Strange Stuff in the Microwave

CD in the microwave

Task: Experiment with electromagnetic radiation in the kitchen.



  • Microwave oven
  • Grapes (or grape tomatoes)
  • Unwanted CD

Possible Hazards:

  • Fire
  • Bad Stink
  • Burns

How It All Went Down:

When you’re on Day 5 of no school, with the kids having gone a grand total of 8 1/2 days in January, you start to think just about anything to entertain them is a good idea.  Even an idea that might start a fire.  But hey, in all fairness, with the windchill in subzero range, any kind of fire starts to sound appealing.  And so we decided to put strange stuff in the microwave.

Whether your parents condone it or not, I think there’s a part in all of us that wonders what would happen if we put _______ in the microwave.  And there’s also that jolt of adrenaline that comes from accidentally putting something in the microwave that doesn’t belong, like that one coffee mug you own with the decorative metallic rim.  It turns out the microwaves that are responsible for heating our food quickly are also capable of some cool science experiments with crazy visuals.  Impress the kids by spouting off that microwaves are really just magnetrons  hooked up to a high voltage source.  You’ll sound really important.

In 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do), Mr. Tulley suggests you try putting a CD, a grape and marshmallows in the microwave (though not all at the same time).  I suggest you start small with the grape and work your way up to the most impressive of the bunch, the CD.

The marshmallow is easy enough.  Just place a marshmallow on a microwave-safe plate and run it at full power for 10 seconds. We only had mini-marshmallows on hand, which aren’t nearly as impressive as the big ones.  This is also the perfect time to play around with marshmallow Peeps!

The book suggests you cut a grape almost in half, leaving the skin as a hinge between the two pieces.  You then place the grape on a microwave-safe plate, cut side up, and heat for 10 seconds.  If all goes well, your grape should arch and spark, essentially making a dielectric antenna between the grape halves. Ours didn’t cooperate, but this can be due to several factors, including the water content of your grapes, where you place them in the microwave, and the power of your microwave oven.  I figured it was the microwave gods warning me to be thankful I wasn’t cleaning grape plasma off the inside of the microwave and moved on to the CD.

I’ll admit, I was afraid of this one. I’d probably never do it again, but it was definitely impressive!  A CD contains a thin sheet of aluminum foil sealed between two sheets of plastic (news to me!).  Metal is a great conductor of electricity, so exposing it to microwaves causes the free electrons on the metal’s surface to move around like crazy.  Unlike stuff that’s supposed to go in the microwave because the waves are easily absorbed, the waves bounce off metal surfaces causing sparks and swear words to fly out of your mouth.

In order to see this in action for yourself, place an unwanted CD on a paper towel in the microwave.  Run it for 3 seconds.  Trust us on this one, 3 seconds is plenty of time!  Observe:

You’ll want to stress to your kids that while your game for suggestions of things to put in the microwave, all foreign objects must be subject to parental approval before they’re nuked.  Never nuke anything for more than 10 seconds at a time.  If there is a fire, stop the microwave but don’t open the door until the fire goes out.  And finally, remember that things can get insanely hot in a very short time in the microwave.  Use oven mitts or tongs to remove objects that have been microwaved.

A few other things I’ve seen tossed around as cool to microwave (but haven’t tried) are gummy bears, Ivory soap, light bulbs and whole eggs.  On the safer (and yummier) side, the kids are now intrigued enough to want to try cooking mini cakes and cookies in cups in the microwave.  I’m game for that experiment!

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever microwaved – on purpose or on accident?

You can read about the rest of our experiences with 50 Dangerous Things. Inspired by Gever Tulley’s book 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do).



Repost: Squash Pennies on a Railroad Track

Over the holidays I’m taking a little time away from blogging. Throughout the week I’ll be reposting some of the most popular posts from The Risky Kids archives. This post is from Lisa. Even though she hasn’t been able to write much lately, she’s still very much a part of The Risky Family. We miss your hijinks, Lisa, Thomas and Ben!

Task: Squash Pennies on a Railroad Track



  • Pennies (or other coins)
  • Tape
  • Active train track
  • Train schedule

Possible hazards:

  • Death by train
  • Awkward conversations with the police
  • Projectiles

How it all went down:


We live about three houses down from an active railroad track – as in a train comes by every five minutes or so.  After living here for about five years, I hardly notice the train but our visitors are always a little shocked at the noise and vibrations.  I don’t want my kids playing on the tracks, so I loaded them into the mini-van and drove to an access point just down the street.  (I know, my kids are going to figure out that they can walk to the tracks, but somehow it made me feel better to have the illusion they could only get there by car.)


We duct taped 13 pennies to the track, then went home and waited for a train to pass.  Surprisingly, we only found two pennies when we returned.  The duct tape was melted to the track and the pennies were flat – I mean flat!   I wasn’t expecting them to be this flat.

Nothing like a squashed penny to drive home the point of the sheer weight and force of a train.  It was cool, and I think that the kids learned that getting run over by a train is a very bad thing


  • Pick a portion of the track that is very straight – you want to see and hear the train coming from a long way away.
  • A location next to an automated crossing gate is good – the bells will warn you as a train approaches.
  • Don’t try to place pennies on the track if you can see or hear a train or crossing bells. Obviously.  According to Tulley, because of the unfamiliar size of train engines, our brains can’t accurately judge the speed and distance of oncoming trains.  If you can see or hear it, get out of the way.
  • If you see a spot of the track is brighter or shinier than the rest, tape your penny there. That’s where the wheel makes the most contact.
  • Mark the spot with a stick on the ground.
  • If you’re waiting there for the train to pass, stand at least 30 feet away from ALL tracks.  A flying penny will put your eye out.
  • To ensure the safety of the train and the track, never put anything larger than a coin on the tracks.
Want more?  Read about the rest of our experiences with 50 Dangerous Things. Inspired by Gever Tulley’s book 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do).

Repost: DIY Slingshot

Over the holidays I’m taking a little break from blogging. Throughout the week I’ll be reposting some of the most popular posts from The Risky Kid archives.  Slingshots are still a big hit at our house, and if we ever see a stick that’s a good candidate for a slingshot we feel compelled to pick it up. You never know when it might come in handy! This fall we hit the jackpot on slingshot ammo: acorns and hickory nuts. Add a target or a pyramid of plastic cups and you’ll have hours of target practice fun.

Make Your Own Slingshot

Task:  Make an awesome shooting tool.


Forked stick

Rubber bands (Medium to long rubber bands work best. You can always tie a couple together if you don’t have bigger ones on hand.)

Scrap of leather or cloth

Pebbles, peas, flower buds, acorns … pretty much any small object for ammunition.

Clear area  (without people, pets, or other things that might get damaged)

Possible Hazards:

Danger to others (depending on your aim!)

Projectiles (you’ll shoot your eye out!)

Property damage


How It All Went Down:

In a circumstance of happy coincidence, Eli and I found the perfect forked stick on our way to throw rocks.  Therefore, that’s my first piece of advice if you want to make your own slingshot:  always be on the lookout for the perfect stick.  Nothing will slow your weapon-making roll like not being able to find a single useful forked stick when you want one.

After that, it was pretty simple.  We chose a piece of fairly thin, supple leather for our ammunition pocket.  Elena followed the instructions and put the slingshot together herself in about 5 minutes.  It’s a sturdy little weapon (okay, we might have needed a little bit of duct tape), and it’s been fun for the kids to work on target practice.  It’s not hard at all to launch a pebble a great distance … it’s the aim and accuracy that takes lots of practice.

We’re on the prowl for more perfect sticks.  One slingshot isn’t going to be enough, especially over the summer.  They’re fun and very portable and the envy of the neighborhood.  Every kid wants to try it and every parent yells at the other kids to get out of the way (rightly so).  Without realizing it, the kids are learning about aim, trajectory, effect of ammunition size and shape … basically their own little hands-on version of Angry Birds.

If you just can’t find that perfect stick or you want to bypass the whole DIY bit, you can purchase a ready-made slingshot.

Make a Slingshot

Slingshot how-to

  1. Make a pocket for your slingshot.  Cut a small rectangle out of leather or a scrap of sturdy cloth.  You can either tie the rubber bands to the pocket, or cut two small holes at the edges and loop the bands through.
  2. Assemble the slingshot.  Tie the rubber bands to the ends of a forked stick.
  3. Gather your ammunition and get ready to shoot!  Place your ammunition in the pocket and trap it by pinching with your thumb and forefinger.  Hold the handle steady at an arm’s length.  Pull back on the pocket, aim, and fire!
  4. Have fun coming up with different targets and ammunition.  Aluminum cans, paper bulls-eyes and lines of action figures make great targets.  Of course if you have terrible aim, you can always start with the broad side of a barn.
Did you ever own or make a slingshot as a kid?  If you make your own, I’d love to see your photos on our Facebook page!

Want more?  Read about the rest of our experiences with 50 Dangerous Things. Inspired by Gever Tulley’s book 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do).


Repost: Lick a 9-Volt Battery

Over the holidays I’m taking a little time away from blogging.  Throughout the week I’ll be reposting some of the most popular posts on The Risky Kids to date.  This post was the very first “Dangerous Thing” we tried, and one of my first posts ever.  It continues to be the most popular post on The Risky Kids, as well as our most viewed YouTube video.  Every few months or so I get treated to some variation of “You are the worst mother ever” in the YouTube comments, which I proudly see as a badge of honor.  Enjoy!


Lick a 9-volt battery to see what electricity tastes and feels like.


9-volt battery

Aluminum Foil (for extra credit)

Possible Hazards:

Shock (duh)

How It All Went Down:

First of all, I would like to thank Eli’s latest ear infection for prompting me to pull out our new Exergen Temporal Scanner.  Our fancy new thermometer just happened to come with a 9-volt battery.  We had kids, we had a battery, we were ready to get this 50 Dangerous Things show on the road.

Elena was eager and ready to try licking the battery.  Eli?  Not so much.  Knowing that his reaction would most likely be priceless, I did what any reasonable parent would do.  By the time our bargaining was over, Eli managed to walk away with a pack of M&Ms and the promise of a new LEGO Ninjago mini-fig.  I got to stick a battery on his tongue and capture the best battery face ever.  Win-win.

Have you ever tried this?  I remember doing this as a kid. Not because my parents read a book about it (my mom owned one parenting book – Dr. Spock), but because someone dared us.  Our parents were off doing what parents did back then: mind their own business and get stuff done.  Unlike my house today, batteries weren’t stored in a clear, well-labeled container out of reach of children.  They were probably stored next to the chain-saw in the garage.  I bet we had to dig through the ones dripping with battery acid to get to the good ones.   Try it at least once.  It’s not painful.  Elena gave it a 2.5 on the pain scale.  It does taste weird, though.  It’s not something you can pin-point (Eli suggests poop, of course), since the electrical current stimulates random nerves on your tongue not associated with a specific taste.

Elena and I also tried chewing on a wad of aluminum foil, which conducts a weak electric current when mixed with the acid in your saliva.  I forgot the cardinal rule of chewing foil: KEEP IT AWAY FROM ANY FILLINGS.  Yowza.  Thank goodness we didn’t get that on video.  These ones are much better.

What are you waiting for?  Go ahead and lick a battery.  We dare ya.

Want more?  Read about the rest of our experiences with 50 Dangerous Things. Inspired by Gever Tulley’s book 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do).