July 29, 2012

Egyptian Collars

 I would love to say that we have been working diligently on our studies, but we haven't.  Not even close.  My sister came into town and we have been partying so madly that none of us have yet recovered.  But that is what summer is for--lakes and swimming pools and barbecues and chocolate.  Oh wait--chocolate is an all-weather food, but you get my drift.
 We did manage, however, to start our Egypt unit.  We read two books (I'll tell you about them in a different post) and made Egyptian collars.  I got the idea from here.

 My son liked his so much that he made one for his dog.  Pretty sweet.
I also managed to bottle 19 quarts of green beans and 6 quarts of beets last week, so I guess I'm accomplishing something amidst the frenetic partying!

July 18, 2012

Homemade Yogurt Revisited

Hello Everyone,

I am sure you all make your own yogurt and are pros and all that--but I thought I would give you this link anyway.  I started making my own yogurt awhile ago, but lately mine hasn't been turning out that great.  I used the heat it on the stove, wrap it in a towel, and then let it sit overnight in the oven with the light on method.  It worked beautifully at first but lately I couldn't get my yogurt to thicken up.

Well, I think I know why.  I don't think I heated it up high enough, and then I didn't give it enough time to cool off before I added my yogurt (I use Greek Gods and I love it).

When I was web surfing the other day I found a blog post about crock-pot yogurt that was really helpful in explaining why you need to heat it and then why it needs to cool off.  I made a batch of yogurt using this crockpot recipe yesterday and it turned out AMAZING.  It was so thick and perfect.  I took a cup out like she said and it is currently in my freezer, so I'll see how that works as a starter for my next batch.  Awesome.

July 12, 2012

Dew, Frost, and Humidity

 We are alive and we have been doing school--in between hiking and splash pads and general summer stuff, and foot and mouth disease.  I like this year round experiment so far, but I do have to be extra diligent to make sure we get stuff done.  The last few weeks we've been working on our weather unit.  Science experiments really help take kids' minds off feeling sick and prevents quarantine boredom.
 In the top two pictures we were playing around with making dew and dropping the freezing point below freezing using salt.
 Here Cowen is showing you the sling psychrometer we made to measure humidity.  It actually worked really well and the kids liked checking on the computer to see how the humidity in our house compared with the outside humidity.  I, quite honestly, expected it to be a bust like many of the science experiments I attempt with my kids.
 I am lucky in many ways.  One of those ways is that my dad goes through the textbook adoption process fairly often (he works at WSU in the ed department and many local schools ask the university for their recommendations) and when he does, he gets to keep the textbooks and materials submitted for review.  When that happens, he often passes on the stuff to me.  I've donated quite a bit, but the science binders are awesome and cost a ridiculous amount (I have thought seriously of contacting Houghton-Mifflin and telling them to market these binders to homeschoolers with a reasonable price because I think they are put together perfectly for homeschool moms and I really love them--maybe you can buy them for a reasonable price and I just couldn't figure it out from their mind-numbingly inefficient website).  I also have hundreds of dollars worth of math manipulatives out of textbook adoptions.  Sweet.

The biggest prize, though, are these science binders.  They are set up to encourage a hands-on approach to science so every concept is briefly explained, followed by an experiment you can do to illustrate the concept.  I also really like the vocabulary and unit assessments.  The assessments are short but they cover the material really well and I like that there is some follow-up without me having to come up with it.  There are no textbooks with this program, which is another plus for me.  This way, I look through the binder at the topics covered and I go to the library and find the best possible books to supplement.  That is how I like to do things anyway, so it works out well.  Also, I like that it organizes everything for me.  Science is just not my strong suit, so I need more outside help and these fit the bill perfectly.

The binders are organized by different types of science (earth, life, and physical) and ages.  I don't have all the kindergarten/1st grade binders but it doesn't matter because I have the same topics covered in the 5th/6th grade binders.

Here are the binders they have available for life science in order of age:
Life Cycles
Aquarium Habitats
Terrarium Habitats
Human Body

Life Science:
Rocks, Soil, and Fossils
Rocks, Erosion, and Weathering
Exploring Space
Weather and Water

Physical Science:
Matter and Heat
Force, Motion, and Machines
Energy and Matter
Magnets and Electromagnetism

PS--You can get some of these from used bookstores for about $25 but it is really hit and miss.  Actually, I just went to the website again and some of the kits were very reasonably priced--I think I was looking at classroom packs?  Maybe?  If you are interested Houghton-Mifflin has a phone number.  I would try this first: 1-800-426-6577.  You can see some of the stuff in the binders here: http://www.eduplace.com/science/hmxs/.  Just click on the title of the binder in which you are interested.

And lastly, here is Miriam putting ice in her mason jar experiment.  She dyed the water inside yellow (I would have gone with another color . . .) to show that the water droplets on the outside of the jar come from water in the air and not in the jar.  If the water on the outside of the jar came from inside the jar, the water would be yellow.  You see?  Miriam did.  Cowen . . . we had to explain it a few times.  :)

Good luck with science!  Heaven knows I need all the help I can get in that area!