Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Tinker Crate - Hands on STEM projects!

Our first Tinker Crate arrived today. Tinker Crates are STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) projects that are delivered to your child each month. There is a different project that incorporates STEM and a wonderful way to supplement your home schooled child's Science curriculum. Each kit comes in a cute Tinker Crate box and is addressed to your child.

Each Tinker Crate comes with everything you need. You will not have to search around the house for items or run to the store. These are complete hands on experiments that teach critical thinking skills along with STEM concepts.

This month, we received the Lava Lamp kit. So. Much. Fun.

Here is the link to the Tinker Crate website: Tinker Crate
Please note that if you use the link that I have provided you will receive $10 off your order and I will receive a $10 credit. Thank you in advance and enjoy your Tinker Crate!                                                                  

Complete easy to understand instructions are also included in each kit.

The finished product and a proud child!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Anatomy of a Chicken Egg

Have you ever wondered what you are eating when you eat eggs?  Well, today we found out exactly what everything is called inside an egg and what their functions consist of for a growing chick.

We broke open an egg and observed it with a magnifying glass.  After cracking an egg, one can see something somewhat gooey inside the eggshell.  This insulates the contents of the egg.  The shell is the hard outer membrane. The yolk is similar to the placenta in humans.  It provides nourishment to the developing chick.  The white spiral bands on either side of the yolk are called chalazae.  They hold the egg yolk in place.    The part of the egg that is the egg white is called the albumen.  It contains water reserves for the growing chick.

We labeled the parts of the egg as shown above.

shell = outer membrane = protection
inner gooey part of shell = inner membrane = insulation
yolk = food source for the developing chick
squizzly white bands = chalazae = holds yolk in place
egg white = albumen = water reserves for the chick

Suggested Resource for this Lesson Shown Below

Friday, March 29, 2013

Turn Learning into a Treasure Hunt

Have you ever heard, "Mama, let's play a board game?" only to discover that no one wants to play the board games that are stacked up in the closet?  This is a great opportunity to create your own game!  All you need is a piece of paper, pencil, something interesting to hide and your imagination.

The best thing about this game, called Treasure Hunt, is that you can incorporate learning, fun, adventure and nature exploration simultaneously!  See the above picture?  I quickly drew a map of our back yard, gave mundane outdoor features exciting names, incorporated physical activity, math, reading, geography and following directions in a single FUN activity.

From the map (shown above):

Step 1  From the back door, take 42 steps
Step 2  Go South and spin 8 times
Step 3 Skip to the Magic Tree House
Step 4  Climb the Magic Tree House and read one Chapter of Stuart Little
Step 5  Run to the deck
Step 6  Walk past the grapevines
Step 7  Look under flowers

Suggested Book for Inspiration:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Adventures with Atoms and Molecules: Do Molecules Move?

Materials Needed
Glass of Water
Food Coloring


In order to observe how molecules move through water, we used food coloring so that we could see the molecules move.

The molecules moved slowly through the water.  We waited and watched the food coloring slowly fall to the bottom then swirl and wiggle to the top and sides.

After 20 minutes, the entire glass of water became a uniform color of light blue.


Molecules are so small that we can't see them, but we can see collections of molecules and observe how they move by using food coloring.  Molecules are constantly moving.  Liquid molecules move slowly and they wiggle and swirl to fill a space.

Resource Used for this Experiment:

Here's Another Great Resource:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Habitat Destruction Experiment

We wanted to find out how water becomes polluted, the methods that can be used to clean polluted water, the scale of difficulty of cleaning water after it has been polluted and if water can be cleaned completely after it has been polluted.  We started with a couple of gallons of clean, filtered water.  We added twigs, dirt, dead leaves, pebbles, olive oil, dish soap, plastic wrappers, tin foil, broken glass to simulate pollution from various sources.

Then we stirred it all up with a stick to mix it up and make it mucky like currents, waves, boats, wind do to rivers, streams, ponds and the ocean.

Then we attempted to clean the water.  We used a slotted spoon and a strainer and was able to get out some of the larger items, but not all of them.  We were able to get some of the suds out from the dish soap, but not all.  We were also not able to get the olive oil out and we noticed how it created a film on the surface of the water that felt heavy and well...oily.  We ended up dumping everything out and filling the tub up with fresh, clean, filtered water.  Guess what? The fresh clean water became polluted from what was left over previously.  We concluded that it is very difficult to clean up pollution and even when it rains and the Earth tries to clean its rivers, streams, oceans and when humans try to clean it up, it still isn't ever going to be as clean as before.

Many types of animals, marine life and other species depend upon water as a part of their habitat.  This is why it is important to keep trash and other pollutants out of the water!  We, as humans, also depend on fresh, clean water.  Even though we have sophisticated water filtration systems, our experiment proved how difficult it is to make the water clean and how impossible it is to make it completely clean.

This experiment was inspired by an experiment called "Habitat Happiness"on page 81 of  "The Kids' Wildlife Book" (shown below).  It is a wonderful experiment that gives guidelines and fosters critical thinking skills, as well as hands on learning as a way of teaching important concepts and meaningful outcomes.  It also leaves a lot of room for creativity and open ended exploration.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012



A book review of the biography of the Wampanoag Indian who, after living in England and Spain, returned to New England in 1619 and befriended the Pilgrims when they settled in Plymouth:  Squanto by Feenie Ziner, 1988 Book review written by Tennessee, age 13.

The book begins with Tisquantum as a boy, enjoying the day. An English ship is sighted, so Tisquantum and two others of his people named Samoset and Sassacomet left their village to trade. They talked for a while to the five men that had come on the boat in broken English, French, and gestures. They were invited aboard, so Tisquantum and Samoset came the next day. The day after that, Tisquantum and three others (Sassacomet, Manedo, and Skidwarroes) were kidnapped by the English people and stuffed into the bottom of the boat to be sold as curiosities. Once they reached England, Tisquantum and Sassacomet were separated, sold to different people. Tisquantum, Skidwarroes, and Manedo were taken in by a man named Sir Ferndinando Gorges. He treated them better than you might expect, attempting to teach them English and asking many questions about Maine (which is where he thought they lived).

Gorges was obsessed with America, and his entire adult life was spent trying to get people to explore the coast or make a settlement. Finally he got his wish, having control of two ships headed for Virginia. Tisquantum was not able to go on either of them. The ship carrying Sassacomet and Manedo was lost. It was later revealed that they had been captured by the Spanish and thrown in jail. In the meantime Tisquantum had missed yet another opportunity to leave.

Gorges’ colony failed miserably, most of the colonists dying of disease or cold. After his utter failure, no one really paid attention to his rambles about America. Tisquantum left him after this, eventually finding work at a farm. He worked there for six years, during which he grew up and earned the nickname ‘Squanto.’ He returned to Sir Ferdinando, hoping he had rekindled his efforts to explore the Virginia coast. After seeing the support that the Jamestown colony received, he did do exactly that. Tisquantum reunited with Sassacomet at Gorges’ castle, and for a while they were happy. Another Native American was brought to Gorges’, a man by the name of Epinow. Epinow told lies about a gold mine on an island that the English called Martha’s Vineyard. Gorges rose to the challenge at once and paid for an expedition to the island. Tisquantum did not go with Epinow and Sassacomet, however. He was hired as navigator for Captain John Smith, who had founded Jamestown and was now coming back to America to explore. He was the bunkmate of a man named Thomas Dermer, who was very fond of him.

On March 3rd, 1614, Tisquantum set foot on his native soil for the first time in over ten years. He reunited with his people, and was playing ball one day when he and twenty-one other men were baited and captured by a man called Captain Hunt. Tisquantum was sold to a Dominican monk in Spain, to work as a sort of mule. Eventually he was able to make his escape in a market, stowing away on a boat as soon as he could. He was, however, caught, and turned over to a man named John Slanie. He told his story, and Slanie took his side. Tisquantum spent some time in Slanie’s home, before going to work with John Mason in Newfoundland. Mason was displeased that Tisquantum was the only person that Slanie sent him, so he sent him to work on the lowest job he could find. For three months Tisquantum fished for cod, and at the end of those hard times he was told to establish connections with neighboring Indian villages to trade. There weren’t many offers.

Tisquantum reunited with Thomas Dermer, who was very excited to see him. Tisquantum had felt progressively worse over the past few months, and did not return the feeling. Dermer worked hard to get Tisquantum out of Mason’s control, as it was obviously killing him inside. Dermer went to Sir Ferdinando Gorges, who supplied him with a ship of two hundred men, allowing him and Tisquantum to leave Mason and explore on their own. Tisquantum learned that the area in which his people had lived was ravaged by a plague that had wiped out his village. Massasoit, the supreme sachem, believed it was the English who brought the plaugue, and ordered Dermer taken prisoner. Tisquantum was able to talk Massasoit into letting Dermer go, and Massasoit thought hard about what could’ve caused the plaugue. Tisquantum was reunited with Sassacomet and Samoset in a village of the Nauset tribe. 

On one November day, news came of an English ship, this time carrying women and children. The new visitors stole the village’s corn, angering the Nauset tribe. Massasoit made peace by saying that they would die during the winter anyway. The people were of course the Pilgrims, and they surprised everyone by surviving through the winter. They seemed too little to be enemies and hardy enough to be allies, so Samoset was sent over to their village to make first contact. They traded with him and wished him well, so Massasoit made plans to come over himself. He did a few days later, with sixty men in full militia, and Tisquantum as his interpreter. He was invited to the Pilgrims’ Common House, and he ate and drank with them. They made an agreement of peace, one that stood for forty years. After this Tisquantum taught them how to plant seeds and grow corn, as it is usually said. They later invited Massasoit to a Thanksgiving feast. He came with many other Native Americans, and they feasted for three days. Two years later, he died of a severe nosebleed while trading with the Pilgrims. They gave him a proper funeral and buried him in a place now known as Chatham.

Tisquantum had many admirable qualities. He was stoic even when he was hurting inside, and he never gave up his quest to return home. He tried to see good in all men, and he always did what was right. That’s probably what I admire the most. At any time, on any expedition, he could’ve run away to rejoin his people, but no matter what, he stayed until the job was done. That takes an unimaginable amount of self-control which I could never display.

Click the image below to learn more about the book:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Curious Journal of a 3 - 7 year old Astronomer: Planetary Exploration Across Various Artforms & Media

 Different ways of learning and exploring the solar system by California, from the ages of three to seven (2008 - 2012).                                               






                                Scented Markers

                               Crayons (on placemat at restaurant)





    Nectarines (used to represent the Sun)

Fruits and Vegetables

The beach (with balls of sand as planets).

The beach (with beach rocks as planets).

With beach towels and candles (the milky way galaxy)