About Veronica

Mom of 3 and ex-teacher/administrator who loves to talk!

At Home Science: Make a Fire Extinguisher (Learn about O2 and CO2)

Fire Extinguishers
This is our first full week back to homeschool after the holiday break and I have decided to make it a science filled learning adventure! Today we learned about oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) by attempting to make an at home fire extinguisher.

First we got our materials ready:
baking soda
apple cider vinegar (any vinegar will do)
two small glasses
two measuring devices (we used graduated cylinders like these)
small funnel (we needed it to pour the baking soda into our glasses and graduated cylinder, but you could use a teaspoon)
kitchen towel or a small tray
flame igniter or long matches
paper towels (for clean up)

The first experiment that we tried was to extinguish the flame of the candle with the glass. We lit the tea light and then my daughter picked up the glass and placed the glass over the candle. Within a few seconds the flame extinguished and smoke filled the glass. We discussed that the flame needs oxygen, O2, to stay lit. By placing the glass over the candle we limited the amount of O2 that the flame had to use as fuel. Once all of the O2 in the glass was used by the flame the flame no longer had fuel and it went out.

The second experiment that we tried was to create a fire extinguisher by pouring carbon dioxide over the flame. This experiment did not work as planned because we could not start pouring the CO2 (created by baking soda and vinegar in a graduated cylinder) fast enough. So we went on to experiment 3.

For experiment three we measured out equal portions of baking soda and vinegar in our graduated cylinders. Then we placed a tea light candle inside the small glass on top of the vinegar bottle cap. We carefully used the funnel to pour the baking soda all around the candle. (We placed the candle on the cap for additional height.) Then we carefully poured in a small amount of the vinegar until the bubbles rose but did not cover the top of the candle. (We were careful to not pour the vinegar onto the candle flame.) We watched as the flame was extinguished by the CO2. CO2 is heavier than air so the CO2 took the place of the air at the bottom of the glass where the candle flame was therefore replacing the air/fuel for the candle flame and it extinguished the flame. We then tried to relight the candle with our flame lighter and could not. The flame would not ignite because we had the tip of the flame lighter in the area of the glass where the CO2 was filling the glass. We then disturbed the CO2 by blowing air into the glass. We tried to ignite the candle once more and were successful because we had now pushed he CO2 out of the glass and replaced it with air again, therefore providing fuel for our flame.

What did we learn?
-Air and all gasses take up space
-CO2 is created when you mix baking soda and vinegar
-CO2 is heavier than air
-Flames need oxygen
-CO2 extinguished flames

After these experiments were complete my children came up with all kinds of additional experiments they would like to try to get the CO2 to pour onto the flame using tubes and tape. I love how these kitchen materials were able to be used in a great way to spark learning and ‘ignite’ the flames of inspiration in my children! I LOVE homeschool!

The VERY BEST Mac-n-Cheese Recipe! (Gluten Free or Regular Pasta Works!)

Very BEST mac n cheese
I have been looking for a Macaroni and Cheese recipe that is just as fast and easy as the box stuff AND that my kids LOVE! I have finally developed it and I am sharing it with you today. I made this recipe gluten free but you can use regular pasta noodles and the recipe will taste just as good!

(I used organic rice noodles, cheese, arrowroot powder, mustard and cream.)

Ingredients:
1 lbs of brown rice pasta (or regular pasta)
8oz of shredded Colby Cheese
2-3 tbs of Arrowroot powder (corn starch can be substituted)
3/4 cup Heavy Cream
1 tbs of Yellow Mustard
Salt as desired

Directions:
Boil the 1 lbs of brown rice pasta to al dente via package instructions. Drain all but approx. 1 cup of pasta cooking water. In a seperate bowl add 8 oz. of your favorite colby cheese (shredded). Sprinkle on arrowroot powder (approx 2-3 tbs.) And toss until cheese is coated. Add 3/4c of cream, 1tbs of yellow mustard and stir until combined. Dump the entire cheese mixture into the pasta pot and stir on low heat until cheese is melted and smooth. Add salt as needed. You will never eat the box stuff again. (The same recipe can be used with regular pasta if you don’t want it gluten free!)

DIY Sunscreen That REALLY WORKS!

DIY-Sunscreen

I have searched for the past few years for a sunscreen that is chemical free and works on my children. When we lived close to the ocean we rarely had days over 80F and could always find a nice spot in the shade to play. The only time we experienced long periods of intense sun was when we were at the beach, and I chose to go with a commercial ‘all natural’ sunscreen. Otherwise we just used our common sense and clothes to help prevent sun burn.

But just a few years ago we moved up to the ‘high desert’ and now we really get some intense sun and heat. My entire family LOVES to be outdoors and we are lucky enough to have a pool to get us through those dog days of summer here where the temps. can get to 115F. But this desert-like weather has put us in a situation where we really need a good sunscreen if we want to be outdoors.

So I went searching for a good sunscreen without the chemicals. Most of the choices I found were very hard to get out of the tube and even more difficult to rub onto a wriggling child. So I continued my search and I found this wonderful recipe by Scratch Mommy for DIY Sunscreen. With ingredients like beeswax, shea butter, coconut oil, zinc oxide, vitamin e, and almond oil, I knew I couldn’t go wrong in meeting my criteria for an ‘all natural’ sunscreen. But now….will it work?

Remember my kids LOVE being in the sun. My son plays football and sweats in the desert heat. We ALL love to hike and bike….and we have a pool. We have put this sunscreen to the test AND I am pleased to say that it WORKS!!!

I put the sunscreen on all three of my children. I have one 12yo, one 9yo (with sensitive skin), and one 7yo. We biked, hiked, and swam all weekend long. Morning, noon and evening we tested this sunscreen out and it has held up to the test. It is easy to apply–> smooth, creamy and it spreads very easily onto the skin! It cost just under $17 to make 8oz, which is a bargain in my book because when I order all natural sunscreen from Amazon I am paying that much for the product WITHOUT shipping. A little goes a LONG way. (I doubt that we will use all 8oz this summer.) It rubs in and is almost invisible. My husband said that if I didn’t tell him I put sunscreen on the kids he wouldn’t have been able to tell.

****BONUS***** This recipe is SUPER FLEXIBLE–> see confession below.

Here’s my confession: I am not very good at following directions AND this recipe worked anyway! I didn’t use the scale or the double boiler (I googled the equivalent weights for ounces) and I microwaved the beeswax and shea butter in 45sec increments. I grated the beeswax with a mini grater to help with smooth melting. I had a bit of zinc oxide left over about .5oz and I decided to throw it in anyway and added just a bit more carrier oil… AND this sunscreen STILL worked!

Here is a list of links to the ingredients so that you can see what you are looking for when you buy.

Zinc Oxide
(Don’t want to pay the shipping? Ask Scratch Mommy to ship you by emailing to scratchmommy@scratchmommy.com with the subject heading of… Zinc Oxide, Please …and she will ship some your way. She charges $3 per ounce. Shipping (in the USA) is $3 up to 5 ounces and $5 for any amount over that.)

Shea Butter
Bees Wax
Almond Oil (I used this kind, but you can also use olive oil from your kitchen)
Coconut Oil
Vitamin E
(the links above are affiliate links)

****Are you saying to yourself, “Hey…I want some….BUT…I don’t want to make it. How can I get it?” Well, Scratch Mommy does have a skin care products store where she carries this sunscreen and a whole lot more.****

Just click HERE to go to Scratch Mommy’s Skincare Store!

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Here’s a link to Scratch Mommy’s Original post about this DIY sunscreen! http://www.scratchmommy.com/diy-sunscreen-easy-make-need-recipe/. You can go there to find the recipe and directions on how to make this DIY sunscreen.

Learning Science Naturally: Grasshoppers!

Learn Science Naturally-grasshopper

We took home-school outside today because the weather was so beautiful! As we sat at our outdoor table with our books and we completed a lesson in science, it occurred to me that SCIENCE was all around us. So we did some exploring and found this little guy! My daughter named him Tom!

Learn Science Naturally-grasshopper2

We got out our science journals and took some observation notes about ‘TOM’ in his natural environment. He was happily munching on these tree leaves and we were able to see him using his mandible and palps. We took note of his antenna and how they moved around while he was eating. We decided we wanted a closer look so we carefully captured TOM (the grasshopper) in a glass jar and put the lid on loosely. Then we got our magnifying glasses out and did some closer observations.

We could easily see this grasshopper’s exoskeleton and we discussed how it would serve as protection for him. We were fortunate enough to observe him go to the bathroom too! So we talked about what we might see inside of a grasshopper–> A digestive system but NO bones!

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We then did a bit of research and were able to name and label his body parts on some pictures that we drew. We also learned some facts about grasshoppers like:

  • Grasshoppers can jump 20 times their own length. We measured our grasshopper using a ruler and then calculated the distance that he could jump by doing the multiplication!
  • Grasshoppers can live on every continent except for at the poles. We took out our globe and named all of the continents that grasshoppers could live on.
  • There are more than 18,000 different species of grasshoppers. We looked at some pictures of various species online.
  • Grasshoppers are herbivores and only eat plants. We drew the conclusion that they could do some real damage to our vegetable garden based on the amount of leaves he had already eaten on the tree where we found him.
  • We recalled that the Magic Tree House book, Twister on Tuesday, mentioned the damage that a swarm of grasshoppers could cause to crops and even household items like clothes and sheets.

Grasshopper collage

There were many other observations and discussions that we had based solely on discovering a little grasshopper in our backyard! I encourage you to take science outdoors the next time you get into a learning ‘slump’ and see what you can discover!

Resources:
Below are some of the resources we used for our learning:
*Bug Facts.net: http://www.bugfacts.net/grasshopper.php
*EHow- Interesting Facts-Grasshoppers: http://www.ehow.com/info_8503914_interesting-grasshoppers-kids.html
*Twister on Tuesday: http://amzn.to/1mfIGnm

Homemade Finger Paint AND Finger Paint Printing

DIY Finger Paint

My daughter wanted to do some finger painting and we were fresh out of finger paint. So I whipped together this recipe that ‘slips’ just like finger paint does beneath the fingers.

Materials:
1 tsp of dish soap
2 tbs of tempera paint

Then I gave her a piece of finger paint paper (high gloss) and let her go. Well, it didn’t take long for her to fill that paper….and the next one….and the next one. AND I noticed that she was just enjoying the texture and the color mixing of the paint and not really painting any particular picture. So the next part of this art project was pretty creative.

Finger Paint Printing

I decided to get out one of our plastic serving trays and put the finger paints directly on the tray. She enjoyed swirling the colors together. Next she used her finger to ‘carve’ a design of a face out of the paint. It was a really good face and she wanted to save it….so we decided to make a print out of it. She got a regular piece of construction paper and carefully put it on top of the paint on the tray. She barely pushed on the paper because she didn’t want the paint to ‘smoosh’ beneath the paper and lose her design.

Finger Paint Printing 2

She carefully peeled up the paper and she saw her print. Her brother began talking to her about printing in the ‘old days’ and how her art was very similar to the ‘old style’ of printing. She continued to print another copy of the face. Then she got more finger paint on the tray and made a new drawing.

Finger Paint Printing 3

This project was such a great tactile experience but also a great lead-in to learning about the history of printing. We looked up pictures on the internet of old printing presses and found some books at the library. Check out the links below!

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A link to the biography of Johannes Gutenberg: http://www.ducksters.com/biography/johannes_gutenberg.php

A link to the International Printing Museum in Carson,CA: http://www.printmuseum.org/

Tornado in a Bottle

Tornado in a Bottle

I lead a small book club for home-schooling students in my area. The book that we discuss at our meetings always comes from the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne.

Mary_pope_osborne

This month’s book was Twister on Tuesday. It was an exciting tale about the main characters, Jack and Annie, and their magical trip to the past to visit a one-room schoolhouse on a prairie in the mid-west. During their trip they experience a twister (tornado) and save a group of students and their teacher by knowing about a storm cellar located below their school house.

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After our book discussion I plan an activity for the students that is relevant to the story. This time I planned the ‘Tornado in a Bottle’ activity.

Here’s how we did it:

Materials needed:
2 water bottles of the same size (one must be empty.)
1 washer that fits on the top of an open water bottle without falling through.
Duct tape
Food coloring (optional)

Assembly:
1. Place the washer on the top of the empty water bottle and fasten it down with two small strips of tape.
2. Carefully open the other water bottle and put a few drops of food coloring into the water. (Too many drops will make it difficult to see your tornado.)
3. Carefully place the empty bottle (with washer attached) on the top of the full bottle with the two openings facing each other. Make sure the openings are aligned.
4. Use the duct tape to tape the two bottle necks together. Use small pieces to get your alignment perfect. Then finish off with several large overlapping pieces to insure a leak-proof seal.

Directions for the Tornado effect:
1. Flip the bottle with the water to the top position by lifting your bottle set by the full bottle. (If you flip by holding the empty bottle your seal make break under the weight of the full bottle of water.)
2. Carefully give your top bottle (one with the water) a swirl by holding the necks of your two bottles with one hand and your other hand will move the top bottle in a fast circular motion. (If you don’t do this part the water will just ‘glug’ into the bottom bottle.)
3. The vortex or ‘tornado’ will form as the water moves from the top bottle to the bottom bottle.

Tornado in a Bottle 2

Why does this happen?
While the water wants to flow to the bottom bottle because of gravity, the air needs to flow upward toward the top bottle to fill in the space of the missing water. By swirling the bottles and creating the vortex, you have created the most efficient way for the water to flow quickly to the bottom bottle by swirling around the outside of the bottle while simultaneously allowing the air to move to the top bottle through the ‘hole’ in the vortex.

To complete the bottle assembly I grouped the students into pairs and they assembled one bottle set at a time. I distributed the duct tape in sections to each student set so the students didn’t have to fumble with tape and scissors while steadying the bottles for assembly. The entire project took less than 30 minutes for 5 student pairs to complete. The students really enjoyed swirling their bottles to create the ‘tornadoes.’ Some of the moms enjoyed watching the ‘tornadoes’ so much they continued to swirl them after the kiddos had run off to play at the park!

Here’s a link to the book, Twister on Tuesday: http://amzn.to/1mfIGnm

To learn more about real tornadoes you can visit this site: http://www.weatherwizkids.com/weather-tornado.htm

Make Your Own Kite

Make your own kite

There is something about kite making that is whimsical and fantastic. Ever since the first time we watched Mary Poppins together we have LOVED flying kites on a windy day. This year my daughter wanted to make her own kite just like the one in Mary Poppins. So we looked up a few ways to do it and got crafting.

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Step 1: We did not have a thin dowel rod, so we glued and taped a few Chinese Take-out chop sticks together.

Step 2: My daughter painted a design on a large sheet of craft paper and then we cut it into the traditional diamond shape.

Step 3: We lined up our chop sticks to extend through the center of our kite to the points and then looped string around all of the four sides.(We used butchers string for use in the kitchen but any sturdy string will do.) We folded the sides of the kite paper over the string and carefully glued and taped down the edges.

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Step 4: We pulled the string that is resting on the tip of each chop stick tight and tied off the bottom of the string to complete the frame around the kite.

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Step 5: We taped the string to the chop sticks at each corner to secure them together and make a sturdy frame.

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Step 6: We tied a small loop of string on the center chop stick. This string serves as the attachment point for our long kite string.

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Step 7: We tied on a very long piece of fabric as the tail to the bottom of the kite. (We used an old sheet that we cut into strips. We started off with a 6′ kite tail but the kite spun in the air, so we added another strip of fabric and ended up using a 12′ kite tail to steady the flight of our kite.)

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I hope that you will sing “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” with your kiddos while you fly your homemade kites!

All About Frogs– A Reading Comprehension Set of 2 Matching Games and a Student Book

Frog set cover

We LOVE springtime at our house! We always try each year to raise tadpoles into frogs. (You can search on this BLOG to see some accounts of our attempts.) Last year was the first time we were able to collect eggs from a local stream and raise the little critters into frogs.

California Tree Frog May 2013

Watching the metamorphosis in person was incredible. My children expressed the emotions of parents when they watched those little eggs ‘give birth’ to those tiny fish-like tadpoles and then again as the tadpoles grew! When the little critters grew legs my kids became excited to learn more about the changes that were occurring. It was amazing to learn about the development of lungs in our tiny little friend’s bodies.

Finally when they grew into full-fledged frogs and they absorbed their tails my children also got to experience the feeling of ’empty-nest’ when we released them back into the wild at the same place where we collected the eggs. We will try again this year to collect some frog eggs! And along with our observations we will set up our science center with the two matching games I just created to review the facts we have learned about these wonderful amphibians!

Frog set

My All About Frogs Set includes 2 matching games (Total of 32 cards) and a 10 page student book. The student book is a non-fiction book containing facts about frogs including topics such as classification, diet, hibernation, metamorphosis and others. A teacher fact sheet about frogs is included. Teachers can review the facts with their students, students can read the student book and then play the matching games. The games are made to be self correcting so they are perfect as a follow-up in a learning center, in small groups, or for independent play! Common Core Standards Covered: RI.2.1, RI.2.3, RI.2.10, RI.3.1.

book (6)

I also have this 4D Frog Puzzle from Amazon.com that expands our frog learning center and takes the science learning to an anatomical level. We compared this model to a similar model of a shark that we have in our science collection and also discussed how our bodies are similar and different in comparison to a frog’s and a shark’s.

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Hands-on learning in science is a MUST! Try my All About Frogs:Reading Comprehension Set of 2 Matching Games and a Student Book to help your learners become more engaged in learning the facts about frogs!

Elephant Toothpaste: A Science Experiment to demonstrate an exothermic reaction!

Elephant Toothpaste

Elephant Toothpaste has been floating around the internet long enough for the Mythbusters to take notice and do a segment on it. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvGJ3LZbhDA&list=PL0A5590CEE7F2EC3B&index=3 Skip ahead to 1:55)

So what is this stuff? Is it really toothpaste for elephants? No…but this experiment does have a VERY cool reaction and can be used to demonstrate an exothermic reaction. Here’s the definition for an exothermic reaction: An exothermic reaction is a chemical reaction that releases energy in the form of light or heat. This experiment emits HEAT! Make sure that you exercise safety when pouring the peroxide into the bottle and with the chemical results while the experiment is occurring. After the chemicals have reacted completely the foam is just water, soap and oxygen so it is safe to touch and clean up by rinsing down the drain. YOU DEFINITELY DON’T WANT TO EAT THE FOAM! (Just in case you get any ideas of using the foam as real toothpaste….DON’T!)

Elephant Toothpaste2

Here’s the ingredient list:
•1 clean 16 ounce plastic/glass bottle
•1 clean pint sized water bottle (the smallest one you can find)
•1 tray
•1/2 cup 40-volume Hydrogen Peroxide Liquid (40-volume is a 12.12% solution, ask an adult to get this from a beauty supply store or hair salon)
•1 One Packet of Dry Yeast (about 1 1/4 tablespoons)
•3 Tablespoons of Warm Water
•1 Tablespoon of Liquid Dish Washing Soap
•10 drops of Food Coloring (your choice of color)
•Small cup
•Plastic Gloves
•Safety Goggles/Glasses

What to do:
***Place the bottle onto the tray–>this will help you clean up once your ‘elephant toothpaste’ has erupted!***
1. In the small cup mix the warm water with the yeast packet and set it aside for 30 second to 1 min.
2. Have an adult put on the gloves and the safety goggles. Measure and pour the hydrogen peroxide into the bottle. (Remember the bottle should be on the tray.)
3. Add the food coloring to the bottle.
4. Add the dish soap to the bottle and gently agitate the bottle to combine your ingredients.
5. Finally pour in the yeast/water solution. Do this quickly because your reaction will occur as a result of this step.

Take notes! The foam will begin to rise inside the bottle. You will begin to feel heat coming from the foam once it begins to flow from the bottle. The heat is a result of your chemical reaction and it is called an exothermic reaction.

Now formulate a hypothesis: What will happen if you use the smaller bottle for the same experiment. Try it. What happened? Were you right? Why or why not? Take pictures and write about your experiment!

My kids LOVED this experiment. If you can’t get the salon hydrogen peroxide, regular grocery store peroxide (for minor cuts, etc.) will work…your reaction just won’t be as powerful. This is a wonderful opportunity to get your reluctant writers to write about what would happen if you changed the amounts of the ingredients or used a larger bottle instead of a smaller one. The possibilities are almost endless.

Valentine’s Day Learning! Math Facts Practice AND Poetry!

Valentine's Day Post

Since I home-school I like to keep holiday learning light and fun! Today is Valentine’s Day and Friday so I decided to do a couple of craft projects for school today.

I have two children home-schooling with me. My son is in third grade and my daughter is in first grade. I could make two separate lessons but WHY do that when I can just differentiate the same lesson for my two learners!

Here’s what we did for math
V-tines Math Flip Flap Puppy
(Click the picture for a closer view.)

You have probably seen this cute little cut and paste Valentine’s Day puppy before AND we made him more interactive by adding addition (for my first grader) and multiplication (for my third grader) facts on the pieces. Then we made each piece a ‘flap’ by only gluing one edge down. Under each ‘flap’ we wrote the answers! Differentiated, math fact practice, Valentine’s Day craft fun! Yay!

Here’s what we did for language!
V-tine's Poem
(Click the picture for a closer view.)

We took the traditional poem:
“Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Sugar is sweet
And so are you.”

And we used the beat and rhyme pattern to make our own poems about things that interest us. My son chose dinosaurs and aliens.

“Dinosaurs are real.
Aliens are fake.
Candy is good.
But you are a cake!”

Both my children learned a lot about beat and rhyme within poetry from this simple assignment which they thought would be VERY easy. It was a challenge to not use any of the original poem! First we mapped out the original poem on our white board to show which lines rhymed and which ones didn’t. Then we started brainstorming by developing the two rhyming lines. Then we filled in the other lines.

Who says school can’t be fun-filled and creative? Happy Valentine’s Day!