School Projects

Fun Projects

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Science Experiment #22

"Head and thorax, abdomen, abdomen.
Head and thorax, abdomen, abdomen.
Six legs, two antennae, and sometimes wings.
Head, and thorax, abdomen, abdomen." 
(Sung to the tune of "Head and Shoulders, Knees, and Toes")
That's the song the Wisconsin Explorers book used to teach proper insect recognition, so that is the song the kids sang, at the top of their lungs, as they wandered the backyard in search of "bugs" to capture and examine during last Thursday's weekly science activity.
They managed to catch the two insects most common to our yard: mosquitoes and ants.
We examined the insects and identified their various parts and then filled in the workbook pages.
When we were done we squashed the mosquito and returned the ant to the tree we found it on.  Just doing our little part toward survival of the fittest!

Happy science, everyone.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Making Snacks

Last week when my nieces were over and I made them do a science lesson, what they really wanted to do was make cookies for a snack.  Unfortunately it was the day before my grocery shopping day so I didn't have many of the necessary ingredients to make chocolate-chip cookies.  They kept begging to make a snack, so finally I found some flour tortillas and cherry pie filling and let them experiment.  They buttered,
scooped pie filling,
 tasted pie filling,
 rolled in aluminum foil,
 and after warming them in the oven they tasted them.  They got mixed reviews.
It was fun to see the cousins working together to make their snack, even if it wasn't cookies.  Next time I'll try to have chocolate chips available.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Weekly Science Experiment #21

Earlier this week it rained quite a bit in our part of the country, and when that happens two things show up in our yard with amazing rapidity: mosquitoes and mushrooms.  I dislike mosquitoes too much to focus any scientific attention on them, but mushrooms don't suck my blood and are thus fair game for exploration.  Some of my nieces were at our house again today, so they were forced to join in the science "fun."
I told them that they were going on a mushroom hunt and to find and bring back as many types as possible (I also reminded them to not taste anything and to wash their hands and arms really well afterwards, so don't worry too much).  They found four specimens - three growing out of the ground and one on the bark of a dead oak tree.  Ian was quick to realize that the three ground types they found were all growing where tree stumps used to be, which was a good opportunity to explain that mushrooms are involved in the decomposition process and are different from green plants in how they live and grow and also in their structures.

 I didn't have a mushroom guide or any other material to show the kids, so we mostly looked, touched, and commented on the things we saw.  Then the kids went off to play and I tossed the fungus in the garbage.
(When the kids found the "thing" growing on the dead tree, they also knocked a big chunk of bark off and discovered an ant nest underneath.  It was interesting to see the ants scurrying around and trying to get their white eggs back undercover - it was a cool side note to the mushroom hunt.)

Happy science, everyone!

PS - if you happen to know the names of any of these mushrooms, please comment!

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Brother-In-Law Project

I think I have mentioned here before that camping is a project, so I wasn't going to do a post about our most recent trip (our 11th summer in a row of us camping with my sister and her family), but since my brother-in-law asked "Is this going to show up on your blog" after every innocent photograph I took I decided that I would do a post in his honor.  We'll call it "The Brother-In-Law Project."
On Friday night the "BIL Project" involved roasting and eating marshmallows and s'mores.
On Saturday the project included hiking,
children getting their faces painted at the Waubeka Flag Day celebration,
a nature lesson on Bluebirds,
and Flag Day fireworks.
On Sunday the "Brother-In-Law Project" consisted of hiding from the rain, taking down a soggy camp, and finally some time spent at the Ozaukee County Pioneer Village.
A good project was had by all brothers-in-law present.

Happy camping, everyone.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Weekly Science Experiment #20

This week's science experiment is really more of an activity, but it teaches kids to observe the world around them, so I think it fits in here.  Each summer since Ian was three years old I have headed off to the nearest State Park Office and picked up that year's "Wisconsin Explorer" workbook for each of the kids (this is Cam's first year).  
These little workbooks are filled with naturalist-themed activities that kids can do either in the state park or at home.  Once enough activities have been completed, the kids can turn return the forms that are included in the book and get a neat patch in return.  There are nine books and patches altogether, three for ages 3-5, three for ages 6-8. and three for ages 9-11.  Ian is working on his sixth badge, Brynn on her fourth, Blair on her second, and Cam is working on his very first badge, so these books are a summertime tradition in our family.
This week we decided to learn about birds and feathers.  The activity in the little kids' book was to observe a Robin and draw a picture of what it did.  Since it was raining outside we relied on observations made out the front window.  The older kids' book had them find a feather and decide what sort of bird it came from and how it was lost.  Thankfully Ian has a "look what I found, Mom" feather collection, so we didn't have to slog around the wet neighborhood to find a feather.
 It was a fun way to spend a soggy afternoon indoors, while still learning about the world we live in.

Happy science, everyone.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Camping or CAMPING?

There's camping, and then there is CAMPING.  Do you know what I mean?  Well, let me explain.  Regular old camping is what happens when a family loads up their gear and drives to a campground, sets up their tent or camper in beautiful weather, has fun during the day doing relaxing camping activities, cooks marshmallows in the evening, goes to sleep at night in a tent (or camper) where the windows are open to catch the breeze so you don't get too hot, and then goes home at the end of the trip saying "that was lots of fun".  CAMPING is when seven moms load up their thirty-two kids (plus one on the way) and go camping as a group (with the dads mostly away at work), the weather is chilly, the activities are not relaxing (imagine 20 of those kids riding bikes around the loop - I'm thinking bike safety school might be in order if we ever do a repeat), marshmallows are inhaled at an alarming rate, raccoons make their presence very clear, the nights drop into the "very chilly" category, and the kids scream "THAT WAS AWESOME!  WHEN CAN WE GO AGAIN?" on the car ride home.

Which one do you think more closely describes our recent trip with our homeschool group?  I really hope you picked CAMPING!

When we could pry the kids off their bikes, we took nature walks,
ate all kinds of tasty camp food,
(pancake batter pre-mixed in a milk jug gets a big thumbs up from me)
and visited the nature center.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Weekly Science Experiment #19

I've missed a few science experiments due to our family vacation and some other activities, but I am trying to get back on track.  Experiment #19 was especially entertaining because I pitted my four children against four of my nieces (who we were babysitting for an afternoon) in an epic "Battle of the Butter."  It was the giggliest battle I've ever witnessed!

I issued each family a pint-sized container of heavy whipping cream and told them to see which team could shake it into butter first.  They shook and passed and shook and passed from older to younger and back to older again.  Soon they were convinced they had butter.  I told them to shake again.  They did, but the littlest team members soon dropped out and lost interest although the competition stayed high between the older cousins.
 After about 10 minutes of shaking they were POSITIVE they had better inside those boxes.  So I opened them up and found.....drum roll please.........foamy heavy whipping cream.  They were rather disappointed.  So we dumped the liquid into my mixed and started it going.  After it mixed for a while they got to taste real (but unsweetened) whipped cream.  
 Further mixing finally produced real butter, which they also tasted.
I think they got a good lesson in how much work it takes to produce the foods we eat and how thankful they should be that they don't have to churn their butter every day!

Oh, and the science?  (Watch out for highly technical jargon here.....) Heavy whipping cream is a liquid with tiny blobs of fat floating around in it.  When you mix it, the tiny blobs of fat bump into each other and stick in a clump.  The more you shack, the bigger the clumps get until eventually you have butter.

Happy science, everyone.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Having Fun Helping Mom

Well, we are getting set to head off camping again this afternoon so prepare yourself for a future post featuring some sort of camping related project.  Today, however, I thought I'd show you a little project the kids did for me not long after we got home from our vacation.  It was a belated Mother's Day type project, where they had fun making stuff to feed their mom's addiction to storage containers and organizational aids.

The first step took me several months, although it wasn't difficult.  I had to collect and save empty cereal boxes and toilet paper tubes.  With my family, the chore is maintaining a supply of FULL cereal boxes and toilet paper rolls, not collect the empties.  TMI?  Sorry.

Anyway, the next step was to cut the top of the cereal boxes off, leaving a short box the height of the toilet paper rolls.  I suppose you could measure and mark straight lines, but we just sorta eye-balled it and it worked out fine.
 Then that short box was wrapped in colorful duct tape (being sure to overlap the top edges because cereal boxes give nasty paper cuts!) and the tubes were set inside.
 Finally, makers and colored pencils and pens and other writing implements were placed inside the tubes, which help keep them from flopping all over the place and falling to the bottom of the box never to be seen again - a situation which my children recognize as something that "drives mom bonkers" and that should be avoided at all costs.  They may not abide by my OCD rules, but they at least are aware of them and realize the consequences of their purposeful non-compliance.
The kids really liked this project, and I really like my new storage containers, so win-win!

Happy Monday, everyone!