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April 23, 2014

Arbor Day is Friday

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: — dailynews @ 4:00 am


Everyone likes trees….and we all know we need trees.  But did you know the following?

  • One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people. U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • There are between 60 and 200 million spaces along our city streets where trees could be planted. This translates to the potential to absorb 33 million more tons of CO2 every year, and save $4 billion in energy costs. National Wildlife Federation
  • Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent and can save between 20 and 50 percent in energy used for heating.  USDA Forest Service
  • Healthy, mature trees add an average of 10 percent to a property’s value.  USDA Forest Service

Fun links that might be of interest–

And remember, fun learning is forever learning!

Ann Simpson

April 22, 2014

Earth Day, Every Day

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: — dailynews @ 4:00 am


What a great concept to instill in our children.  Yes, Earth Day is today, but it’s our responsibility EVERY day, to do what we can, to protect the Earth.  Choose actions that you and your family can continue throughout the year, whether it’s recycling, composting, donating unwanted items to charity or any of the ideas listed here–

And of course, have fun with it, because fun learning is forever learning!

Ann Simpson

April 21, 2014

Homeschool Science Fun – Volcano Cake

Homeschool Science Fun – An Explosive Volcano Cake

(This is just one of the FUN Homeschool Science articles in our most

recent e-Magazine, entitled Science Anyone?)

volcano 1

Some time ago, we threw a

Science-themed party for my son’s 9th!

The party activities, favors and prizes all connected to science in some way.

As did the “explosive” cake that we concocted for the birthday boy.

It’s easy and fun!

 What you need:

* your fave cake mix

* chocolate and vanilla frosting

* red icing writer

* plastic palm trees

* plastic dinosaurs

* number candle

* various sized round baking pans

* wooden board for cake display/aluminum foil


1.  Bake cake in varying sized round pans.
2.  Assemble cooled cake, once taken from pans, on top of one another using frosting as “glue” between the layers.   This is your “volcano” and can be sloppily assembled to look more realistic! You can even take some small “chunks” of cake to sprinkle around the final cake as rocks.  Pumice/ obsidian?
3.  Frost volcano using both flavors as well as red icing for lava.
4.  Arrange dinos and trees as you like and enjoy!


Until next time,



April 18, 2014

Homeschool Fun – Earth Day Pancakes



Earth Day Pancakes

(Earth Day is April 22nd)

This is a guest blog post written by Renae C.


Homeschool fun – start your kids off right for Earth Day by making these pancakes in the shape of the planet Earth! Simply take your favorite pancake mix (I like Krusteaz) and follow the directions. Next, separate 2/3 of the mix into one bowl, and 1/3 of the mix in another. In the larger bowl add blue food coloring and add green to the smaller bowl.




You will want a piping bag, or if you don’t have one on hand (I didn’t), then you can make a temporary one yourself. You will need some wax paper, which you should fold in half, and roll it into a cone. Tape the sides and you’re done.


pancake 3


Now that you have mixed your batter and you have your piping bag, you will need to load the green batter into the bag. Then pour the blue batter onto your greased skillet, making sure it makes more of a circular shape than an oval one. Take your piping bag and pipe green batter in the shape of the continents (or as close as you can manage!).

Finish the pancakes the way that you regularly would. I made my pancakes in advance, so all I will have to do in the morning is pull them out, heat them up, and serve.


last pancake


Renae C.  is a homeschooling mom and blogger.  She writes ‘More Than Mommy’ (


April 17, 2014

Earth Day is Tuesday, April 22!

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: — dailynews @ 4:00 am



Earth Day is Tuesday, April 22!

And if you completely forgot about it–here are some quick links–it’s not too late!  :)

Fun!   And fun learning is forever learning!

April 16, 2014

Learning Homeschool Science Through Photography



Learning Homeschool Science Through Photography

is just one of the many intriguing articles in’s latest e-Magazine, Science Anyone?  It’s certainly worth a read!

This article was written by Robert Krampf


One of the most common questions that I get from homeschoolers is, “What one piece of scientific equipment would be the best investment for our science studies?”

Let me start by saying that I have lots of toys…I mean pieces of scientific equipment.  The list includes several microscopes, a telescope, a geiger counter, UV lights, lasers, Tesla coils, Van de Graaff generators, cabinets full of chemicals, a human skeleton (reproduction), infrared thermometers, and those are just the things I can easily see as I look around my office. Any of them can easily lead to hours and hours of scientific exploration and discovery, but if I had to pick the one piece of scientific equipment that I use the most, learn the most from, and that has had the biggest impact on my understanding of science, the decision is easy.  My camera.

A camera?  How can a camera be a piece of scientific equipment?  Here are just a few of the scientific uses that I find for my camera.


Imagine that you walk out into your backyard, and hear an unusual bird song.  Looking around, you spot a small, brown warbler singing in a nearby bush.  You get a quick look through your binoculars, and then it flies away.  You rush to your bird books, and quickly realize that there are a LOT of small, brown warblers.  Was there a white marking just above the eye?  How many bars were on the wing?  How good is your memory?


Now imagine the same situation with your camera.  In those same few seconds, you can take several photos.  Even if they are not beautiful, crystal clear pictures, they usually have enough detail to let you make an accurate identification.

I use my camera for identifying many things besides birds.  Photographs of wildflowers are much easier to identify than the wilted remains of a flower collected on a long hike.  Photographs of insects also let me identify the plant they were eating, which is often a valuable clue in identification.  On a hike with my camera, I can identify dozens of plants, animals, and fungi without collecting a single specimen.  Even better, I have documentation of my sightings.  That can be especially useful if you see something rare or unusual.



Digital Collections

Once you start identifying things, the next step is to put them into a collection.  When I was in school, we had to make an insect collection.  That involved collecting one hundred kinds of insects, killing them, identifying them, and pinning them on a board with a label.  While we learned some about the insects, this was far from ideal.  Many students are disturbed by having to kill the insects.  Once the insects were dead, the colors often faded and soft bodies shriveled.  That makes identification difficult.  The final result was a box of dried up insects, often missing body parts that was thrown away when it was time to move on to the next topic in science.

Digital collections have tremendous advantages.  You don’t have to kill the insect.  Your photographs have the true colors of the living creature, usually in the environment where it was found.  If you are patient and observant, you can often capture the same insect at different stages in its life, following it from larva to adult.

Your digital collection does not have to stop at insects.  I have digital collections of local plants, birds, mammals, snakes, lizards, spiders, clouds, weather, fossils, rock structures, protozoa (taken through my microscope), and animal tracks, just to name a few.

Scientific Journaling

You can learn a tremendous about of science by keeping a science journal.  My wife keeps our garden journal, recording when new birds show up, when different flowers bloom, etc.  Even if you don’t keep a written record, you can use your digital collections as a science journal, thanks to something called metadata.


If you take digital photos, you probably use software to keep track of all the pictures.  If you dig around in that software, you should be able to find an option to show you the metadata for each photograph.  Metadata is a wonderful array of information that your camera stores inside each photograph.  The metadata tells you what the camera settings were, but it also tells you the date and time when the photograph was taken.  The metadata from my collections helps me keep track of everything from when specific plants bloom to when migratory birds come through.  I can look at the metadata from all my photographs of Rufous hummingbirds and get an excellent record of when these birds migrate into our area, and when they leave each year.

More and more digital cameras, especially the cameras in cell phones record GPS locations in the metadata, making it incredibly easy to tell exactly where a photograph was taken.  I find this especially useful for geology.  One quick photo lets me easily keep track of the exact location of new fossil or mineral sites.


Probably the best part of scientific photography is that you see so much more.  A short hike that would take most people thirty minutes can often take me several hours when I am hiking with my camera.  I may stop to photograph a new flower, and notice some aphids feeding on the plant.  Getting closer, I might see ants moving among the aphids.  As I move to photograph them, I might find an unusual mushroom growing nearby, lichens growing on a rock, or footprints from a raccoon.  One discovery leads to another and another and another.  It is not unusual for me to spend an hour in one spot, photographing things that I never would have noticed without my camera.



Robert Krampf, also known as The Happy Scientist, has spent the past forty years helping people see that science can be exciting and understandable.  He and his wife Nancy live in southwest Utah.  His website ( has a wide variety of videos, experiments, the Science Photo of the Day, and many other science resources.  He uses a variety of cameras, ranging from a Nikon D7000 to the camera in his phone.


April 15, 2014

Adding DIY Projects to Your Homeschool Science


Adding DIY Projects to Your Homeschool Science

is just one of the articles in’s latest e-Magazine.  You might want to check it out!  :)


Finding inspiration, planning a project, making the project, and sharing what you’ve made with your friends is a blast!

If you think about it, tackling a DIY project is quite literally project-based learning!

And adding DIY projects to your Science curriculum – it’s a GREAT combination.

So, in the spirit of DIY education and home learning, here are some links to some great do-it-at-home science projects:

What are you interested in?  Just enter your search words! is a place for people to share what they make. Billed as the world’s largest show and tell, the site has more than 100,000 DIY projects ranging from cupcakes to robots (and also robotic cupcakes.) Plus, offers many fun contests .



April 14, 2014

Soggy Cereal Homeschool Science!


How to Teach Science during Breakfast… Soggy Cereal Science

This is just one of the FANTASTIC and INTERESTING articles in’s latest e-Magazine.

It always amazes me to see so many people think they need expensive equipment to teach the basics of science.  Newton did not need a digital scale to study the effects of gravity and Einstein did not even use a calculator to construct his famous equation – E=mc2.

In fact, many of the historical giants of science never had access to expensive equipment and used nothing more than a pencil and some paper.  It was ideas that made their science come alive.

And you can do that too!  All you need is a curious mind and the following four concepts that will change the way you look at the natural world:

  • Atoms: Everything is made of atoms.
  • Density: The amount of atoms within a specific area of an object.
  • Diffusion: Areas with lots of atoms tend to move to areas with fewer atoms.
  • LawofConservation: Atoms cannot be created or destroyed, only rearranged.

These four simple concepts can be easily applied to nearly every scientific explanation that you encounter.  Let me prove this to you over a bowl of cereal.  Go grab a box of Cap’n Crunch or Cheerios and let’s get to work!

Atoms for breakfast

First, you should know by now that everything within a bowl of cereal is made up of atoms.  The bowl, spoon, milk, and cereal itself are all made up of atoms.  Within each solid piece of cereal you may find billions of atoms, all vibrating against each other.  That’s right!  All atoms within a solid, even the ones that bind together to make Corn Flakes, are moving a little bit.

Atoms within liquids act a little differently – they move around a lot faster because they contain a lot more energy.

Density Dilemma or “Why does my cereal sink so quickly?”

To begin with, what happens when you pour your milk over a bowl of cereal – does the cereal sink or float? It probably floats!  But why?

Well, if you compare a spoonful of milk with a spoonful of dry cereal, the number of atoms within the milk would be far greater than those of the cereal.  This is because the density of the cereal is less than the density of the milk.  When you mix two objects together of different densities, the one with the lower density floats.

Quick!!! Eat your cereal before diffusion takes over!

You can thank diffusion for the unfortunate (and soggy) end for those last few pieces of cereal in your bowl.   This squishy transformation takes place when the huge amount of fast-moving atoms inside the milk slams through the vibrating atoms within the cereal.  Simply put, the atoms within the milk diffuse into the atoms within the cereal.

And with all the milk being absorbed, it quickly increases the density of the cereal.  This is the reason why your cereal sinks to the bottom of the bowl as a spongy pile of goo.

Now if you choose a more sugary cereal you may have a few more minutes until your bowl becomes filled with a dissolved gummy slime.  Why?  It takes a little longer for the milk to diffuse into the cereal because it has to dissolve the sugary coating first.

That’s why your Cap’n Crunch will float on top of your milk a little longer than your Cheerios!

You can’t break the Law at the breakfast table…

All those soggy chunks of cereal may sink to the bottom of the bowl, but they cannot disappear after soaking all day in the sink.  They might break apart and change shape, but your soggy Corn Flakes will never lose a single atom.  Don’t forget the Law of Conservation – atoms cannot be created or destroyed, only rearranged into new structures.



Written by Scott McQuerry. During the day, Scott (aka – Mr.Q) is your average, everyday high school science teacher humbly going about teaching the masses for the past decade or so.  He loves hearing from families who use his Classic Science Curriculum and looks forward to providing many more resources in the years to come.  Check him out at The Lab of Mr.Q –

April 11, 2014

Homeschool Science – Rock Nature Study


Rock Nature Study is just one of the GREAT articles in’s lastest e-Magazine, entitled Science Anyone?

It is written by Kathy Balman–she actually has TWO articles in this edition!


Do you have a little geologist? My kids are fascinated by rocks. They have jars and containers full of them. We recently moved into a house with a very nice backyard. In the back corner of the yard is a retaining ditch which the children have turned into their personal excavation site. They don’t find anything too exciting, but they have tons of fun digging in the GA clay finding large pieces of quartz and granite (the two most common rocks in GA). Recently during a cold, rainy day we decided to explore the children’s rock collections more closely. Armed with some of the helpful resources below, our rock collections and helpful tools (magnifying glass, nail, penny, piece of glass, measuring tape, and a magnet) we were ready to get to work. We had lots of fun and covered science, history, geography, math, reading and writing in 2 hrs.




Here are 10 awesome resources to help you conduct you own rock study!

1) I made this Rock Observation Journal page for my children which you can grab for FREE

2) Rock treasure box idea and free printable from Handbook of Nature Study

3) Types of Rocks & Rocks Cycle Video for Kids by on YouTube

4) Fun rock craft idea

5) History Scribe – Rocks and Minerals on CurrClick

6) The Students Elements of Geology and Geology and Minerals Unit Study (Kindle)

7) Rocks and Minerals Unit Study from Homeschool Den

8) Interactives Rock Cycle

9) – great website for investigating rock and mineral types

10) Rock lapbook

Kathy Balman quit her full time job in July 2011 to become a stay at home/homeschool mom to her two children. Besides being a full time mother she is also a devoted wife, blogger and a social media manager. She lives in Georgia just north of the hustling and bustling city of Atlanta. When she is not tending to children she enjoys blogging, scrapbooking, hiking, geocaching, arts/crafts, traveling and watching movies. Read more about her homeschool journey on her blog,


April 10, 2014

Get Outdoors and Hands-On with Science


Get Outdoors and Hands-On with Science

is just one of the GREAT articles in’s newest e-Magazine entitled Science Anyone?

Springtime is a great time of year to take learning outside. Your children will be itching to get out, and you can build their science skills by helping them observe nature the way scientists do.

Have you ever seen a young child get down on the ground to see ants marching into their hill or heard them squeal with delight at the sensation of cool mud squishing between bare toes? Children are great observers, but they may not connect their own explorations with the work scientists do.

Help your children make the connection by taking a nature walk. As they explore, encourage your children to use their senses of smell, hearing, sight, and touch to observe changes in springtime. Feel the mud. Listen to the birds. Look at the bright green of new leaves. Smell a lilac or an apple blossom. Then, talk about what your senses helped you discover.

Ecologists, botanists, and other scientists who spend time in nature keep field logs to help them remember their observations over time. Before your second nature walk, make or find a field log. It can be a special notebook, pages on a clipboard, or simply a few sheets of blank paper folded and stapled along the crease.

When your field logs are ready, take a plant walk. Have children date each page as they work. Use words and sketches to record observations. If the children’s language skills outpace their writing skills, let them dictate observations to you. Remind children that field logs are a tool to help them remember. Entries don’t have to be perfect. The words don’t have to be in sentences. The sketches don’t have to be masterpieces. They’re simply a way to remember what was seen and observed.

Here are some tips for making great entries in a field log:

Use Adjectives. Adjectives help describe the particulars of what students are observing. A new leaf may be “yellow-green” or “fuzzy.” A tree may be “tall and straight” or “short and bent.” Its bark may be “rough” or “peeling.” These adjectives help distinguish one plant from others.

Make Comparisons. Encourage your children to make comparisons as a way to give clear and memorable details about the plants they see. A seedling might have leaves that are “as small as the nail on my pinky.” A tree might be “taller than a house.” A flower might be “whiter than the snow.” With each comparison, your children will be strengthening both their observation and language skills.

Sketch what you see. Use some pages in the field log for sketching. It’s often easier to convey the shape of a leaf or the configuration of branches by simply sketching them. Ecologists and botanists use sketches as an important part of their field logs.

Collect samples. Many botanists collect samples of the plants they’re studying and press them in their field logs to examine in greater detail later. Before children start collecting, make sure they understand that samples should be taken only from plants that are found in abundance. Since plants get their nourishment through their leaves, these must be collected sparingly to allow plants to survive.

Compare observations over time. Take field logs along for walks once a week or more. It’s a great way to compare the changes in plants that take place over time. Compare leaf size on one bush or tree over the course of several weeks. Measure a seedling each day or each week to note its growth. Observing and recording will help your children learn about plants while developing great science skills!

Children can build strong science skills from a young age by learning to think like scientists.



In the K-2 science curriculum, young learners are encouraged to build a science foundation through a combination of interactive, online learning activities, offline resources and hands-on activities. Look for more fun science activities at





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