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Fluoride Science Experiment

January 31, 2013 - Author: admin

My boys love science projects. They love brushing their teeth less. Here was an experiment we tried that they loved and has spurred them into brushing their teeth better at bedtime. I got the idea off of Crest’s website, although I actually used Colgate toothpaste. Check out our photos then go to their site to get instructions and try it for yourself.

It all started with squirting some fluoride toothpaste into a glass bowl. Eli was pretty serious about it.

We dunked the egg in so roughly half of it was covered with the toothpaste, wrapped it with plastic and let it sit at room temp for four days.

After four days we rinsed it, dried it, let it sit for another full day and then put it into a cup of vinegar.

After about ten hours of soaking we took it out of the vinegar. I marked the treated side with an X. This treated side was still hardish, but the side not treated with the fluoride toothpaste was considerably softer.

I heavily emphasized to the boys how the toothpaste protected the egg and would in turn protect their teeth from food acids. They were in awe of the experiment and seem to be brushing better ever since.


No Comments - Categories: Projects, Science

Six ways to stay sane during the school day

January 30, 2013 - Author: admin

Perhaps I should be the last person in the world giving advice on how to stay sane, or maybe my own unending struggle makes me a near guru on the subject. I only have my two boys, but what boys! Anything not pertaining to Legos, Superheros, or guns may as well not exist and so writing, reading and arithmetic are usually a battle. Keeping my wits in the midst of a battle when there is also laundry to be done and lunch to be made can be an emotional tightrope walk at times. Here are some of the ways I have found to stay sane in the midst of chaos:

1. Forget about it. But if you have to, stop and clean. With kids home all day things can get messy quickly and there are always chores to be done. Try to ignore it until you are done with school for the day, but if you can’t, do a quick clean. Sometimes trying to keep it together mentally is easier with a clean space.

2. Breath. It sounds silly but in a moment of intense frustration the simple act of taking a few breathes can make a huge difference.

3. Make a snack. Take a snack break for yourself and the kiddos. Minds function best when properly fueled, plus it giver you some downtime to readjust, reset and refocus. It just might help your kids refocus too.

4. Take five. Five minutes that is. Sometimes you just have to take some time, step away to perhaps hide in the bathroom and say a prayer. Or give the kids a puzzle to work on while you enjoy a quick cup of tea or coffee. Bust out the playdough and hide in your room to do a short devotional. Five minutes in the midst of the day can be a God send.

5. Play some music. If it is not too distracting some gentle music can ease tensions and stress.

6. Call an understanding friend. Sometimes a shoulder to cry on is the perfect medicine. If you have a fellow struggling homeschool mom friend, all the better. Don’t make it a daily habit and keep your calls short. Think of is as a life line, just what you need to get to the next moment.


No Comments - Categories: Narrative, Uncategorized

Letter and word fun with Mega Bloks

January 18, 2013 - Author: admin

Pinterest can be a mamma’s best friend- assuming she doesn’t spend all her time pinning. It is quite literally my best homeschooling buddy. I’ve gotten more than a few ideas from the site and here is one I used recently, pinned from the site Filth Wizardry. A curious name for a blog, but I suppose so is mine.

The idea is to make your own Spinny Spellers by re-purposing Duplo or Mega Bloks. I’d never heard of Spinny Spellers myself, but I took one look at this idea and knew it would be a winner.

I suppose you could get some cheap labels, you know the Avery print-on kind? I didn’t have any on hand and decided to do this the night before so I used scrap paper and tape.  I made both individual letters and words. It worked just fine and was a big hit the next day during our Language Arts time.

Later when the blocks were put away and we moved onto sentence writing, Sam wanted to get the blocks back out to help him. I thought that was pretty ingenious and let him do it. He’s always happier when he can copy words verses trying to sound them out as he writes them down. A skill he’ll have to learn eventually, but for now I don’t mind him taking a middle step.

Since making these blocks for school two days ago both my boys have gotten them out just to play with. That’s how I know I’ve been successful.

No Comments - Categories: Language Arts

Learning with cards and board games

January 16, 2013 - Author: admin

I’m convinced the best learning happens while having fun, although my lesson plans don’t always allow for it. Today when Sam begged to play cards I quickly agreed knowing I could use his enthusiasm to teach. We played War with a twist, instead of flipping one card over we flipped two, added them and then whoever had the highest sum won that round. After War I taught him Speed which teaches you to be quick in recognizing which numbers precede or follow any given number. Something I felt like he could work on.

*Note: in both card games I removed the letter cards, that is A,K,Q,J.

My boys love board games and are always begging to play the ones that are too hard for them. Life, Risk, Apples to Apples. I think the bright boxes and exciting images intrigue them. Today I gave into their begging and brought out Up Words. I figured now that Sam is reading better and learning to spell that this game might just work. We didn’t keep score we just helped each other make words. It was much more fun than a work sheet and kept his attention a whole lot longer.

I’ve always been a big fan of board games, but today they found a new place in my heart.

I’m going to be keeping my eyes open for a kid version of Scrabble. I think I might be onto something- I’ve never seen Sam so interested in letters and words. As an added plus I might have a formidable opponent before I know it.

No Comments - Categories: Language Arts

Dry-Erase, Star Wars, Tic Tac Toe and letter practice

January 13, 2013 - Author: admin

Dry-Erase boards and colorful dry-erase markers have been my salvation when it comes to getting both my boys to practice letters. For Christmas my boys got a couple new Star Wars themed boards from grandma; I was thrilled. They are Star Wars fanatics so it was a double bonus.

Last week on a trip to the library we picked up a couple Star Wars books and I found Sam loved going through the book coping down the names of his favorite heroes and villains from the book onto his new board. As an added teaching moment I also had him sound out the names he didn’t know.

Later in the week we busted out the boards again for some Tic Tac Toe inspired letter practice. After a few games of the usual X’s and O’s I had the boys pick other letters to play the game with. It was purely by innocent coincidence that they picked the following two letter. Luckily only mom realized the irony.


No Comments - Categories: Language Arts, Silliness

A book review on Big Ideas For Little Kids

January 5, 2013 - Author: admin

Sam and I have been making our way through the ancients, or at least the children’s versions of the ancients, for our reading time during the school day. We’ve read through their children’s Bible, some early mythologies, a comic on the Trojan War, and about Odysseus. Currently we are reading Aesop’s Fables, but the next is Plato and Aristotle. I have not had much luck in my search for 1st grade readingmaterial on those two Greeks, however I did stumble upon a book about teaching kids philosophy that got me excited.

Big Ideas For Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy Through Children’s Literature by Thomas E. Wartenberg,

“includes everything a teacher, a parent, or a college student needs to teach philosophy to elementary school children from picture books. Written in a clear and accessible style, the book explains why it is important to allow young children access to philosophy during primary-school education. Wartenberg also gives advice on how to construct a ‘learner-centered’ classroom, in which children discuss philosophical issues with one another as they respond to open-ended questions by saying whether they agree or disagree with what others have said.

From my first glance at the book covers I was intrigued. One of the main reasons we decided to homeschool our children is because we feel public schools don’t do a great job teaching kids to think. With emphasis on testing and college prep, there is little time to spend on logic, critical thinking and certainly not philosophy; but philosophy is a helpful building block for many other subjects.

Big Ideas For Little Kids is written for teachers to use in the classroom, but even if your home class size is one the material is still relevant. Wartenberg gives an easy to follow list of “advice for leading a successful philosophical discussion among elementary-school children”. He also includes tables, charts, and discussion questions to help you and your child/children dissect the story. From Frog And Toad Together by  Arnold Lobel to Emily’s Art by Peter Catalanotto and topics such as epistemology or the philosophy of language, this small book covers a lifetime of lessons.

The book is a great tool for any teacher mom, but I think especially for those with inquisitive kids. My Sam is a question asker. While I try to remain patient through his barrage of daily questions, I rarely give them the full attention or time they deserve. I look forward to going through the stories and questions recommended by Wartenberg and being able to give Sam a special time each week where his questions are not just discussed (although not necessarily answered), but also highly encouraged.

Chances are you can find this book at your local library as I did, but if not it is easy to get online at retailers such as Powell’s or Amazon. You can also check out Thomas E. Whartenberg’s website, Teaching Children Philosophy or his philosophy site for middle school children,  What’s the Big Idea?

No Comments - Categories: Product Reviews

Links to look at

January 2, 2013 - Author: admin

Just wanted to share a few links to the blogs of some fellow homeschooling parents:

A father of homeschooled children and his ministry to fathers:

Simple inspiration for simple moms:

From homemaking to homeschool there is a little bit of everything for busy moms:

photo by: Ed Yourdon

No Comments - Categories: Links & Blogs

Just for fun “Science Experiment” for little fingers

December 12, 2012 - Author: admin

About once a week we do real science experiments at home, but it’s never enough for my boys- they constantly beg for more.  I had seen a blog a while back, wish I could remember which, where a mom gave her girls a bunch of colored liquids in different bottles and let them pour and mix to their heart’s delight. Basically I decided to do the same thing except I added some powders and ‘chemicals’. I used food coloring to tint bottles of water and also bottles of vinegar. In addition I put out little bowls of corn starch, baking soda, salt and yeast. Things that would cause some little reactions as they mixed and poured because my boys love to see things bubble.

It was actually less messy than you might think. Of course the towel helped and the baking soda and vinegar also doubled as cleaning agents.

1 Comment - Categories: Projects, Science

Upcycled Advent Calendar

December 1, 2012 - Author: admin

I’ve been wanting to do an Advent calendar for a while, but haven’t really found anything I like. The ones with little candies or toys don’t excite me because the last things my kids need this time of year are more toys and candies. I like the devotional style Advent but I haven’t found any I think my two rambunctious boys would enjoy, so I decided to do a little poking around Pinterest. I saw some good ideas and then pooled them together to make my own.

Every year I save my Christmas cards because I hate throwing them away for one, but also because I love to reuse them. I use them in various craft projects, but this might be my favorite yet. I cut down the cards and added embellishments to some. After arranging them to look like a tree I assigned each one a number.

My last step was to pool Pinterest and friends for their favorite activities and traditions to do around the holiday, then I compiled a list of twenty-four that I thought would work well for our family.

To the back of the cards I affixed fun family things to do like watch a Christmas movie, put on jammies to drive around to look at Christmas lights, and make hot chocolate. I also intermingled a good dose of service oriented stuff like taking Christmas cards to a retirement home, taking change and hot chocolate to a bell ringer, and make goodies for the neighbors.

Our Advent is not super spiritual, but I like that. At least for now, while the boys are young, the activities are left wide open. There is room for dialog and discussion about what we are doing.

I put the Advent calendar up last night and already today the boys are excited to see what’s behind the cards. They have peeked, but luckily they don’t read well enough yet to know what they say completely. I’m excited to do it with them, to start a new family tradition and bring some real meaning into Christ-mas.


1 Comment - Categories: Uncategorized

Black Friday thought

November 23, 2012 - Author: admin

No Comments - Categories: Silliness