Children’s Garden

Several weeks ago my two youngest kids went out in the backyard with rakes and began to clear away the detritus from underneath some trees right by our back patio.  We’ve attempted to make it into a garden several times, but never had proper soil.  The weeds of north Idaho defeated us.  My laziness defeated us. But after the boys spent a couple of days raking and planning and picking up sticks and pulling weeds I didn’t have the heart to tell them I couldn’t be bothered.  So my husband went to some friends who have horses and got manure and I went to the garden store with the boys and picked out some plants. Getting the Grown-ups Involved We talked about annuals vs. perennials.  We also discussed how the area where they had planned their garden was shaded by some large poplar trees and so we would need shade … click to read more

Design A Postage Stamp

Your kids can design a postage stamp of their very own.  How cool would it be to be a stamp designer? This printable can be used for lots and lots of things.  Here are a few ideas: Design a stamp about a famous person or event you are studying from history. Make a stamp similar to a coat of arms, that represents significant things about a historical person. After learning about a country, design a postage stamp that would highlight something or someone important from the country. Make your postage stamp feature an important invention or inventor. Create a stamp based on your favorite book, author, or character. Make a stamp all about you.  Draw yourself in the center surrounded by things that represent who you are. Design a postage stamp about an important scientist and their contribution. Make your postage stamp feature your favorite subject, or even the job … click to read more

Model Steam Engine

Instructions on how to build a model steam engine with your kids.

An engine is a machine that turns energy into motion.  Here we give instructions on how to make your own model steam engine from inexpensive materials. Read on for detailed instructions on building the steam engine and on how steam engines work. How A Steam Engine Works A steam engine works by heating water in a pipe, turning the water to steam.  As the steam heats the gases expand creating pressure.  The pressure can be used to move parts. In this diagram below you can see that water is run through pipes above a very hot chamber.  The water is turned to steam as it heats then the steam is heated even further as it runs through more pipes.  Finally the steam escapes with great force out a pipe (number 5) where it is used to create motion for an engine. A steam engine is an external combustion engine.  This … click to read more

Dissolving Ink Experiment

A dissolving ink experiment.

Get two clear jars or cups and fill one with water and the other with rubbing alcohol.  Using a waterproof (permanent) marker, write 2 of the same message – each on a sheet of tough paper (we used index cards).  Gently fold or roll up the messages and soak them – one in each jar of solution.  Now watch and see what happens over time.   What happens after 10 minutes?  An hour?  A day? (Different inks react differently, but most will gradually disappear over time in the alcohol, but stay legible in the water.) Different liquids dissolve different substances.  Alcohol can dissolve many inks while water cannot.  You can watch other things dissolve differently between water and alcohol too. Now Try This Dissolving Salt Experiment Put some water in a mason jar and add salt to it.  Stir it until the salt dissolves.  Now put some rubbing alcohol into a … click to read more

Wild Weather Notebooking Page

Storms and other damaging types of weather happen everywhere on Earth.  For this lesson, learn about six types of “wild weather” then create a notebooking page about these six damaging forms of weather. Here is some basic information and further resources to learn more about these weather types. Hurricanes Hurricanes are begun with thunderstorms at sea over warm ocean water.  A rising column of warm air thrusts up through the storm.  As the air rises faster the winds around the outside of the column begin to swirl around this center.  The storm gains energy from the heat being transferred from the ocean as it moves toward land.  Once the winds reach speeds of at least 74 mph and can be as high as 195 mph.  Though hurricane winds are strong enough to hurl objects through the air and tear roofs off buildings the greatest damage usually comes because of flooding … click to read more

Lava Lamp Density

You can make your own lava lamp to watch as carbon dioxide gas is released, creating a cool and colorful science show.  We’ll talk about density as we go along with the experiment. You’ll need: water a clear bottle or jar (we used a pretty wide jar, but narrow ones work even better as the bubbles are more visible against the outside walls) vegetable oil food coloring Alka-seltzer tablets And here’s what you do: Start by filling the bottle or jar about 1/4 full of water.  Add 12-15 drops of food coloring to it. Then fill the rest of of it up with vegetable oil.  Give the oil and water a few minutes to separate.  You’ll be able to see the two distinct layers, and because the water is more dense than the oil it sinks to the bottom. Drop Alka-Seltzer tablets in. If you want, you can cut an … click to read more

Egg in a Bottle, An Air Pressure Experiment

When we think of weather, we commonly just think about precipitation (rain and snow mostly) and whether or not it’s warm or cold.  We have to look a little bit deeper to see what actually causes much of the weather that we experience.  Air pressure is the main culprit.  Differing pressures account for most of the movement of air we experience.  When you see a storm, like this one seen out of the windshield of a jet cockpit, what you are really seeing is colliding high and low pressure zone.   We’re going to do an experiment so we can see the effect that air pressure has. What You’ll Need: A narrow necked bottle A peeled, hard-boiled egg A match What you do: Start by setting the egg on top of the bottle.  The egg won’t go into the bottle.  It’s too large to fall in, and the pressure is … click to read more

Ocean Lapbook

We did an ocean unit in our homeschool and I made these Ocean Lapbook printables.   Ocean Lapbook Assembly Each lapbook is made of a single file folder.  We refolded the folder so it has a cover with a center opening, one flap on the left and one on the right. Learning As You Go We spent several weeks on this lapbook, making one bit at a time as we learned about oceans.  For example, we watched a YouTube clip about the ocean zones and then labeled and colored in the ocean zones paper strip and glued it into the lapbook along one side.  On another day we read several books from the library about the ocean and ocean animals and made index cards about ocean facts.  We put the ocean fact cards in a pocket that is glued to the lapbook. Kids do the Work and Use Creativity The printables … click to read more

Ocean Currents

The ocean is never still.  Ocean currents are constantly moving and churning the waters.  There are surface currents and deep currents and upwelling currents.  All these currents move heat and nutrients around the world oceans.  The currents affect the land as well.  Here is an Ocean Currents Map showing some of the major surface currents in the oceans. Color the arrows in red for warm currents and dark blue for cold currents.  The major currents can be labeled with the help of a student atlas.  The rest of the ocean should be colored light blue. The currents that begin near the equator are moving warm water to regions nearer the poles, which warms these regions and helps the earth remain temperate.  The currents that begin closer to the poles move cold water toward the equator, cooling the hot regions of the earth. Besides the way heat and nutrients are moved around the earth … click to read more

The Ocean Floor

The ocean floor is covered with mountains, valleys, plains, and other features similar to the land surfaces of earth.  The ocean’s features, like land features, are a result of tectonic processes from deep inside the earth. The earth is made up of a hot inside and big plates of crust covering the outside.  These plates spread apart and squish together and grind past one another.  These actions cause the crust to buckle, fold, and split, which makes mountains and valleys. There are volcanoes under the oceans just like there are on land.  These volcanoes can build up into mountains, sometimes breaking the surface as islands.  The Hawaiian islands began as undersea mountains. Trenches are formed in places where one ocean plate is being pulled under, or subducted, beneath another ocean plate. Here is an Ocean Floor Map.  It shows some of the major mountain ranges and trenches that can be found … click to read more