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Thursday, October 29, 2015

The last October Learning Kid Linkup

Welcome back to our weekly Learning Kid Linkup!  We are so glad you are here!  

Is it just me or this October was truly the shortest October in the history of the world?!  One day last week it was October 1st and now it's the end of it and I still have a thousand items on my October to do list.  I will have them done by Sunday, won't I?

Are you going trick-or-treating this Saturday?  To help us pass the time in anticipation of a big day we put together a list of the funniest Halloween Books we have ever read.  I was surprised to see it stumbled over a thousand times.  And speaking of books.  Have you had a chance to check out our favorite books about strong powerful girls who know what they want and are not afraid to go for it?  Anti-Princess Reading List, if you please.  This week I posted a Literature Unit based on Pirate Princess, a book about a princess who doesn't care for tea parties, but likes a good challenge.

If you still have any green maple leaves left in your area, pick them before it's too late and try our color extracting experiment.  It was a lot of fun and I am soon going to sit down and write about what happened next, when we tried to put extracted chlorophyll back into plants.  

And now to the linkup!

We try to make it worth your while to linkup with us!  Every post gets pinned.  We also promote our favorite posts across our social media networks!  Three hosts mean triple exposure!

The featured post this week is 10 Robot Preschool Trays from Smarte Parte.  I love putting together trays for my kids, so I'm always looking for inspiration.

Grab a button, if you were featured.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Pirate Princess - Literature Unit with printables

science, math, geography, emotions, "the seven seas," compass, cardinal directions, treasure hunt, connect-the-dot

I create our literature units to bring excitement and fun to learning math, to enrich our reading experience, and to have something fun to do with our books.  I discovered that children's books offer great opportunities to learn about history, math, science, geography, human relations, and of course, language arts.  I find that literature units are fun for me and for kids and even though they are learning so much it doesn't feel like "school."  Each unit may contain some of the following: math problems, comprehension questions, art projects, vocabulary building exercises, trivia about things mentioned in the book, connect the dots, mystery pictures, story related activities, field trips suggestions and more. 

I developed this unit based on my kids ages (4 and 7) and their learning needs.  For example, currently my 4-year old has difficulties with number 13, so the math calculations included in this unit often involve number 13. You can adapt it to your kids, as you see fit. Due to the nature of some charts and graphs they couldn't be fit into the body of the message here but they available as part of the printables.   Click right here for Free Printable

Pirate Princess by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen is a fun, rhyming book about a brave princess who didn't want tea parties and fancy dresses, but wanted a life of adventure.  When she did end up on a pirate ship her first job is to wash the decks.  It wasn't her dream pirate job, but she did it anyway.  Her second and third pirate jobs are not as exciting either.  At the end Bea's talent is finding gold.  She is the mastermind of the whole pirate operation.   My daughter and my son both fell in love with this book, so when I asked what is the next literature unit they want me to put together for them they both agreed on this book.  I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did!    

1. Comprehension Questions
1.  What is Princess Bea dreaming about at the start of the story?
2.  How did she get on a pirate ship?
3.  Did Captain Jack let Princess Bea stay on board of a pirate ship or he asked her to leave?
4.  How do you think Princess Bea feels about swabbing the deck? (happy, sad, overjoyed, annoyed, disguised)
5.  What can you tell us about Princess Bea’s cooking?  Is she good at it?
6.  What happened when Princess Bea was ordered to “keep watch on the sea” in the crow’s nest?  Was that a good job for her?
7.  Why did Captain Jack tell Princess Bea to walk the plunk?
8.  What saved Princess Bea on the plunk?  (She smelled the gold)
9.  How did they find the treasure island?
10.  What did pirates do on the island?
11. What did they find?

12.  How did the story end?  Did Princess Bea return home or stay with Pirates?  How do you think her parents feel about her decision? 

2. Sequence of Events

Instruction: print, cut the cards and arrange in the right order.  You can laminate the page for durability, if you plan on re-using it.  (We do!)

“Bea dreamed of salt and sea.” 

“Bea laughed and climbed on board.”

“Jack handed her a mop and pail.”

“Ye’ll be our cooking wench,” Jack cried.  “So get down to the galley.”

“Jack roared, “Climb to the crow’s nest, Bea.”

“I think I’m smelling… gold!”

“The excavated dirt and sand and rocks and roots and leaves.”

“Oooh!  We’ve found a treasure chest!”

“Each day, they hollered, “We all knows this Pirate life’s for Bea!”  

3. Vocabulary Comprehension

pirate – someone who steals from a ship at sea
brocade - a cloth with a raised design in gold or silver thread
chintz – a shiny cotton fabric with a flowery pattern on it
frou-frou – very heavily decorated and fancy
galley – the kitchen of a ship
dillydally – to move too slowly, to waste time
wench – a young woman
tentacle – one of the long, flexible arms of an animal; influence that reaches into many areas
sword – a weapon with a long metal blade
anchor – a heavy device attached to a boat that is thrown into a water to hold the boat in place;
a person who provides support and strength
vine – a plant with very long stems that grows up and around something
to gripe – to complain
to throb – to feel pain
suds – short for soapsuds, foam from soup
smirk – to smile in unpleasant way because you are pleased with yourself,
or glad about someone else’s trouble
to volunteer – to offer to do something without being forced to or paid to do

4. Geography Connection 
The Seven Seas
Photo credit:
The pirates followed Bea’s keen nose / Across the seven seas.”

Have you heard the expression “the seven seas” before?  What do you think it means?

In old times the term described navigating all the seas and oceans of the world, and not literally seven.  “Seven” has always been considered a lucky number and you will hear it often: seven days of creation, seven days of the week, seven wonders of the world, seven chakras of meditation, seven seas…

Today most geographers accept the following division of oceans of the world into seven bodies of water: North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific, Indian, Antarctic (Southern), and Arctic.  

However, oceans are more commonly divided geographically into the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic, and Antarctic (Southern) Oceans.  

5. Connect the dots
practicing numbers 1-30

Connect the dots and color the picture. Don’t forget to draw skull and bones on the flag.

Source: I turned my drawing of a pirate ship into a connect-a-dot to practice numbers 1-30.  To draw a boat I used instructions from Dover Publications book How to draw planes, trains and boats by Barbara Soloff Levy.

Here is how the final product will look.  The actual connect-the-dot is part of the printables pack.

6. Math Connection
Basic Calculations 

7. Secret Code
My kids love secret messages and special codes.  Every day I put something together for them and of course, they asked for a new one based on the book. 

1. Use the code to discover what Princess Bea and pirates found on the island.


__  __  __  __  __  __  __  __       __  __  __  __  __  
2a   2b  1b  1a  2c  1c  2b  1b     1d  2d  1b  2c  2a 

2. Use the code to uncover Pirates’ password, a secret word they use to know they met a friend.

C  E  I  N   P  R  S  S 
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 

__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __
5   6   3   4   1   2   7   8  

8.  Math Connection Skip Counting

[Part of printable pack]

9.  Science Connection 
Compass and Cardinal Directions

How did pirates of old know where they were and where they were going in the vast emptiness of the open ocean?  Stars could be used on a clear night, but the greatest advance in navigation came with compass.  The first record of compass comes from 1187.  Compass is an instrument that always points in the direction of magnetic north.

1. A magnet is what makes a compass point north.
2. The Earth is a magnet.
3. The earth’s core creates a magnetic field.
4. A compass points toward the top of Earth’s magnetic field. 

How to teach kids to use compass:
Step 1:  Start with teaching cardinal directions. What are cardinal directions?  Have you ever heard the word “cardinal”?  Cardinal means important, fundamental.  There are four main or “cardinal” directions of the compass – north, south, east and west.  If it’s not easy for your child to remember these four words, suggest the use of mnemonic device that helps to remember the cardinal points in clockwise order.  My kids like Never Eat Stinky Warts (North East South West). 

Step 2: Talk about why reading compass is important at the age of GPS.  Compass cultivates abstract reasoning and ability to visualize when problem solving.  Also, you never know when you might find yourself in the woods or on boat drifting across the ocean with all your fancy electrical devices out of power.   

Step 3: Line up the needle with N before you start the reading.  Now practice: 
1. Let kids practice outside by giving them directions to find north, south, east, and west and by having them determine landmark directions.
2. Print map of your neighborhood, map out a walking tour, and follow it with a compass.
3. As kids to bury treasure at the park, create a list of directions using cardinal points: i.e. “go five steps north, then 10 steps east.”
4. Older kids can design scavenger hunt that covers a large outside area

Practice Cardinal Directions 

Looking for treasure is fun, but Princess Bea needs your help.  Use directions to find a treasure.  Each square is one mile long.  

[part of printable pack]

Map the neighborhood with your preschooler here, print 2nd grader worksheets here, and have fun with those worksheets

  10. Emotional Connection
Don’t give up, Keep Trying

What‘s the underlying theme of the book?  “Underlying” means basic, important.  What do you think this book is about?  Very interesting answer!  Adventure is definitely a big part of this book!   How about Don’t give up, keep trying?  At first Bea was a deck scrubber and she wasn’t good at that.   Her second job was cooking and did pirates enjoy her dish?  No!  Still Bea was certain that pirate life is for her.  Her third job was a look out and how did she fare with that job?  She became sea sick.  But did she finally discover a job that was a perfect match for her?  Yes, she did!  She didn’t give up!  She kept trying and trying! 

Do you want to talk about what can help you keep trying, even when you feel discouraged by setbacks?  
 1. Can you think of a situation when you couldn’t make something work?  When you were trying to build a tower?  LEGO project?  Handwriting practice?   Head stand?  Did you feel mad?  Did you perhaps think, I will never be able to make it right?  It’s normal!  It happens to everyone at some point.  The first thing you need to do is to take a deep breath!  Try it now with me!  It’s not easy to remember to breathe when you are mad, but I will remind you. 

2. After a few deep breaths, it’s a good time to ask yourself, “What went wrong?”  Is it because the larger pieces were on top of smaller pieces?  Is it because your hand is tired?  Is it because you can’t seem to find balance?  Try to learn from mistakes.

3. Plan a new approach: you know how to make it not work, now let’s try something else and see if it will make a difference.  Maybe not!  But it’s fun to try. 

4. Everyone has a different talent.  Princess Bea was not good at cooking and maybe with a bit of practice she can learn to cook wonderful meals for the entire crew.  Maybe not!  There are things we will never be good at.  It’s fine.  Everybody has a special talent.

5. Do you know what is “sense of humor”?  It means being able to see humor in everyday’s situations.  Laughter makes everything better.  When you laugh, your brain receives a message that everything is ok.  You can talk more about laughter with this article from How Things Work.  

Note to parents:
1. Children often look at adults for tips on how to handle frustration and failure.  How do you handle failure?  Do you berate yourself and say things like, “I’m such an idiot!  How did I forget to pay bills, buy milk, put gas in a car?”  You might notice your children model your behavior.  Be a positive role model.  Forgive yourself and move on. 
2. Help your children develop social relationship that provide support.  Peers are good, but also encourage relationship with other caring adults like family members, neighbors, parents of playmates.  Not only they can provide emotional support and direction in child’s life, they also provide child with confidence “I have lots of people who got my back.”   
3.  You can talk more about self-motivation with this site and this book.     

Additional Learning Activities:
1.  Make a list of main events of the story and construct a story map.
2.  Put yourself in the shoes of Princess Bea and tell us what she feels at different points in the story.  
3.  Dramatic Play: act out a favorite scene from the book.  Now switch places and pretend to be a different character.
4.  Find some Pirate Party Foods inspiration with this post from Betty Crocker
5.  Enjoy imaginative play with this set of pirate toys.  

What are your favorite Pirate books?

Free Printable

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Leaf Stencil and Learning Kid Linkup

Welcome back to our weekly Learning Kid Linkup!  We are so glad you are here!  

Autumn is that time of the year when we get obsessed with leaves.  Every day we go for a walk and bring home piles of leaves.  We organize them by color, shape or variety.  We play "store" with them (with real money!).  We eat them (well, some of us, anyway).  We also love doing projects with them.  Leaf stencil is a nice project because kids can do it on their own and then we can use their work as postcards and send them to friends and family.

What you need
Tempura paints

Leaf Stencils
1. Place a leaf on paper.
2. Stick a sponge into water, squeeze the water out, then dab the sponge into the paint (we picked autumn colors).
3. Dab the sponge around the edges of the leaf on the paper to create the stencil
4. Lift the leaf and allow to dry
5. We cut the paper out and glued it to a folded green paper.

And now to the linkup!

We try to make it worth your while to linkup with us!  Every post gets pinned.  We also promote our favorite posts across our social media networks!  Three hosts mean triple exposure!

The featured post this week is How to teach Vocabulary with Great Books from All Day Mom.  It's a great blog and it has many wonderful ideas for you to explore.  Check it out!

Grab a button, if you were featured.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Funniest Halloween Books We Have Ever Read

funny Halloween Books kids literature Halloween Jokes Goodnight Goon Space Case Halloweena Over in the Hollow

It has been observed by many wise men and women (the names elude me now) that laughter is the best medicine.  It has even been recorded that laughter can prevent stretch marks, cure diarrhea and fix a very bad case of halitosis.  I haven’t actually seen these records, but I only have to look at my kids to know it's true.  Not a single stretch mark between all of them, and they do laugh all day. 

I am convinced humor is a muscle.  The more you work it, the funnier things are all around you.  That’s why children laugh all the time.  Their humor muscle is in the top shape.  But how do we start losing the muscle tone?  Yesterday when I was helping my 2-year old to put his socks on, I put one on my ear.  “Voila,” I exclaimed triumphantly, “I finally discovered what sock are REALLY for!”  My 2-year old laughed hysterically, while my 7-year old tried hard not to.  I could see the corners of his mouth spreading in a smile as he stopped himself and said, “It’s not funny!” 

So what is a parent to do?  I think just always be willing to laugh is a huge step in the right direction.  I try to make humor part of our daily interactions (Playful Parenting will give you a lot of ideas to get started).  I try to make jokes and be receptive to silly situations (as when I started writing with the wrong side of a pen).  I try to encourage my kids’ attempts at humor and laugh at spilled milk. 

I also try to create a humor rich environment.  We print funny cartoons and attach them to a bulletin board.  We write down funny jokes (handwriting practice), so we can tell them to all our friends (sorry, friends).   We look for books with nonsense words, silly rhymes, joke books, books with riddles, puns and other wordplay.  And just in time for the season here is our pick of five Halloween books that make us laugh.     

     1.  Space Case by Edward Marshall

This book rivals, in my head, for the most hilarious children’s book ever with Falling for Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox.  It has everything a good comedy should have: funny plot, funny characters, and a lot of humor.   A creature from space lands at the corner of Maple and Elm on Halloween night…  It’s a strange looking thing, but nobody seems to take notice.  Kids think it’s another trick-or-treater, mom and dad thinks it’s a toy, and a school teacher thinks its Buddy’s space project.  What makes this book so funny?  I know that I find it funny for reasons much different from why my kids find it funny.  They like the idea that people they see dressed up on Halloween night might actually be aliens.  They wouldn’t mind an alien to spend a night in their bedroom either.  And they think Buddy’s mom and dad are … hmm.. not paying attention to details.  In my opinion, it’s only on a surface it appears to be a funny story about an alien, while on a deeper level it’s an intelligent parody on the facts of life.  Actually, without here entering into many details, I will go as far as to say, Space Case is a fine example of a high literary achievement and a case study for philosophy of life, science, psychology, and aesthetics. 

     2.  Frankenstein by Ludworst Bemonster

Madeline’s lovers of any age will enjoy this monstrous parody.  “In a creepy old caste all covered with spines, lived twelve ugly monsters in two crooked lines.”  Mrs. Devel (the keeper) doesn’t have an easy time keeping an eye on her monsters.  They yell, whine, wet their beds and even try to eat a reader’s dad.  One day Miss Devel senses “something is not right” and discovers Little Frankenstein is missing his head.  Dr. Bone is called in and the poor thing is taken to the hospital to get fixed.  But oh no, now all the monsters wish to loose their heads.  This rhyming book is humorous, entertaining for parents and kids and perfect for Halloween.  Author’s own illustrations are imaginative and not too scary.  I really enjoyed the irony and the clever parody on the original Madeline prose.  We compared two books side by side for the first lesson in literary parody.

3.  Halloweena by Miriam Glassman

This book is not only a funny Halloween story, it’s also a humorous parenting tale.  When Witch Hepzibah finds herself in charge of a human baby things are bound to become hilarious.  “Having a baby around the house meant a lot of changes for Hepzibah.  She had to pull all the poison ivy from her garden… finding time to make potions was hard… To top it all off, good baby-sitters were hard to find, so Hepzibah gave up her wild nights out with the ghouls.”  No wonder “she was going batty.” 

Some of the funniest moments of the book come from charming illustrations.  The page in the narration where the witch is trying to conjure up Lizard Tongue Teething Biscuits, while the baby is trying to get into her dragon’s eye brew is priceless.  If you ever tried to cook a dinner, while watching a cranky little baby you will certainly relate. 

This book is witty.  Most of the subtle humor will be lost on little children, but they nevertheless find this book hilarious and enjoy the allusions to the fairy tales.  My kids even named their latest Barbie Halloweena after the heroine in this story.  

     4.  Over in the Hollow by Rebecca Dickinson  

Over in the hollow where spiders spin, mummies lurch, werewolves howl and witches zoom things are never dull.  Bright and colorful illustrations add a wonderful dimension to the story and kids always want to study every funny detail.  The rhymes are funny and lighthearted and are based on old Appalachian poem.  I think all kids enjoy words that imitate sounds and this book is full of them.   There are also many words that create wonderful visual images.  The funny rhymes progress from 1 to 13 and I can’t think of a better way to practice counting.  My children and I fell in love with this book on a first try, which was last Halloween and the book hasn’t been out of a reach for long ever since.  This book is a win all around.    

5.  Goodnight Goon by Michael Rex

The idea of turning every kid’s beloved classic Goodnight Moon into Halloween tale is brilliant.  My kids know by heart the words of Goodnight Moon and it adds a certain level of excitement.  “In the cold gray tomb / There was a gravestone / And a black lagoon / And a picture of… Martians taking over the moon / And there were three little mummies rubbing their tummies…. “  I don’t know about you but I’m impressed with all the neat and awesome rhyming.  Nothing feels forced and out of tune.   We like the detailed illustrations by the author himself.  

My friend just mentioned that The Spooky Wheels on the Bus by Elizabeth Mills was a big hit in her house, so we are checking that one next.  

And now because I want to finish the post on a positive note, I am leaving you with The Wittiest Halloween Jokes, Riddles and Puns from Psychology Today.   

I would really appreciate any suggestions for funny Halloween books because I would like to keep this list growing.  What are your favorite Halloween Books and Jokes?  

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Instagram Photo Challenge and Learning Kid Linkup #15

Welcome back to our weekly Learning Kid Linkup!  We are so glad you are here!  

Blogging is not just about writing and promoting content.  Blogging is also about making friends and having fun together.  So my blogging friends and I decided to have some Instagram fun.  We call it November Instagram Challenge.  As you can see on a photo below we have a list of prompts associated with each day in November.  Each day we will share a photo that relates to that prompt.  Do you want to join the fun?  All you have to do is post your photos on Instagram each day with a hashtag #hsmomsdaily (Homeschooling Moms Daily).  And if you don’t have time to participate you can check out what we are sharing by looking for our hashtag.

And if you want to follow me on Instagram that would be great too!  Just click HERE

And now to the linkup!

Meet your hosts for Learning Kid Linkup:

Eva from Kid Minds 

Melanie from Tree Valley Academy

We try to make it worth your while to linkup with us!  Every post linked up with us gets pinned.  We also promote our favorite posts across our social media networks!  Three hosts mean triple exposure!

The featured post this week is Life Cycle of a Pumpkin from Embark on the Journey.  I think no matter how busy you are in your homeschool, there is always some time for pumpkin fun.  Give it a try!

Grab a button, if you were featured.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Maple Leaf Science: how to extract chlorophyll and paint a duck

science for little kids, chlorophyll extraction, maple leaf art, why fall leaves change colors

Something interesting happens when you add maple leaves to alcohol.  Do you want to hear what?  I should probably start in the beginning.

One day I was sitting in a backyard watching my 2-year old wash maple leaves. 

After the leaves are thoroughly washed, they are usually dried with towels.  The whole activity (if I am lucky) lasts long enough for me to read a couple of pages in a book without pictures. 

This particular day I didn’t have a book to read.  I stared at the sky.  I looked at the clean leaves and started wondering what else can we do with clean maple leaves. 

Sitting is not my natural state of being so I got up, took some of the dried leaves in a house and put them in a blender.  I once read that the moisture content of fall leaves is 85-95%, so it came as a surprise that virtually no moisture came out of the leaves.  Actually, the leaves felt pretty dry to the touch.   I don’t know what normal people would have done at this point, but I dumped the crushed maple leaves in a large pot, added some water and boiled them for 10 min, 30 minutes, 60 minutes.  

I was just curious if the water will turn green and if yes, would the color be intense enough to use as a green paint. 

The water did turn green, but the color was pretty light.  The lightness of the color didn’t stop my son from wanting to paint with it. 

From four-years of school chemistry classes I vaguely remembered that the mildly alkaline quality of baking soda sometimes helps to bring out colors (i.e. it does a good job of bringing out blue color out of red cabbage).   However, playing with baking soda didn’t do much to improve the intensity of color in our maple leave mixture. 

So the next natural step seemed to be alcohol.   My grandma, who was a chemist, used alcohol on everything, from bugs to kids and everything in between.  (I’m sure you don’t want to try her cold remedy on your child.  You do?  Ok, add crushed garlic to a drop of food grade industrial alcohol and make a child drink it.  Oh so you changed your mind?  I thought so).  Alcohol turned out to be the best thing to extract the color from maple leaves!  In case you want to try this experiment at home I will now outline the steps for you.

How to Extract Chlorophyll 
from Maple Leaves

What you will need
  • Fresh Maple leaves (we washed them, but feel free to skip this step)
  • Alcohol (we used the regular Isopropyl alcohol 91% sold at Walgreens as first aid antiseptic)
  • Food processor or Blender (we used food processor equipped with a S-blade. I once blew up our smoothie blender doing one of my science experiments, so now I’m very cautious about using that kind for projects)
  • Pot with water
  • Mason Jar
  • Cheesecloth

 1. Remove stems from maple leaves.  (My kids LOVE this step. You can use the stems to practice alphabet).

2. Add maple leaves to the blender and process until all leaves are the same consistency.  (NOTE: You can add whole leaves to the alcohol to achieve the same result, but you will need bigger pot and more alcohol).  

3.  Fill a pot with a few inches of water and place over medium heat.  Place mason jar with alcohol in the pot.  Note: In our experiment: we used 2 Tablespoons of alcohol for each ½ cup of mashed leaves.  Make sure your leaves are entirely covered.  

4. Once alcohol warms up (NOTE: alcohol is highly flammable, you only need to get it warm and no more), add leaves to the mason jar and wait 15min, 30 min, 60 min.  Check on the color as you are waiting.  This is the exciting part!  You can see the alcohol turning dark green color!  It’s the pigment from the leaves moving into alcohol.

5. Now you can put small portion of leaves onto a cheesecloth and squeeze the liquid out. 

My kids were absolutely amazed! And so was I!

Look how strong the color is!  We used a dropper to transfer some chlorophyll to a wine glass just for the sheer pleasure of watching it swirl and twirl on the way down.

art and science of maple leaves

  Another thing we will try next time is acetone.  I didn’t have any in a house for the a long time because I stopped using it for removing nail polish but I remember doing many exciting experiments with it. 

Start by looking at green maple leaves with your kids.  Magnifying glass makes it even more fun.  Ask, Why are leaves green?  This is a great answer/guess!  I like how your mind works.  Have you heard of the word “chlorophyll”?  The green color in a leave comes from chlorophyll [klor-uh-fill].  Chlorophyll absorbs sunlight and helps plants manufacture their own food by the process called photosynthesis

Do you know why maple leaves turn yellow and red in a fall?  Interesting answer!  Along with chlorophyll leaves contain yellow and orange cartenoids.  Those additional colors are masked by the greater amount of green coloring.   As autumn days gets shorter and colder, maple leaves stop producing chlorophyll.  Once the chlorophyll is gone, green color disappears and other colors become visible.  That's why maple leaves become red, yellow and orange in a fall! 

I. Painting with chlorophyll

This is a finger painting.  This picture was painted by dipping index finger into the extracted chlorophyll.  Doesn’t the color look great?  Conventional finger paint move over!  What’s more chlorophyll paint didn’t fade over time. 

II.  Creating with pulp
And what about the pulp inside the cheesecloth?  We couldn’t just toss it away!  Oh, no!    

I drew a maple leaf on a piece of paper.  We covered it with A LOT of glue and then stuck the pulp to it.  Voila, 3D maple leaf.  Sprinkle it with green glitter generously and look at it lovingly any time you feel like you don’t do enough projects with kids. 

Extension activity
If green plants are green because they contain chlorophyll, does it mean that adding chlorophyll to some plants will make them green or greener?   I had to find out!  I picked white flowers from the backyard and put them into a wine glass filled with water and extracted chlorophyll. 

What do you think happened?  Do you think white flowers turned green?  I will leave you in suspense for today as this is a subject of another post. 

Do you like maple leaves?  What are your favorite leaf projects?  

Related Post:
 Plant Science: chlorophyll as a coloring agent

Friday, October 9, 2015

Create with Edible Legos (no corn syrup recipe)

no corn syrup LEGO candy fun with LEGOS

If anyone will do this, it will probably be you,” said my friend sending me a link to LEGO candy tutorial from This Colossal website.  Would we ever!  This is the stuff we live for! 

We now have done edible legos a couple of times, tried different recipes and I can tell you from experience this here is the best recipe for edible homemade gummy legos there is.  By trial-and-error I discovered a couple of tricks that help make clearer pieces with less work.  As the extra bonus the final product is not sticky!  And something I don’t mind my kids to actually eat. 

Are you ready? 

It is so simple you would be surprised what took you so long!

The recipe below is for one tray!  It means, if you use this set with 4 trays, you will need this recipe x 4.  The pic below has everything you need for 4 trays.  If you think, oh gosh, I really don't need to buy another thing that will be used just once and never again.  Think again!  This mold can be used for a variety of projects: homemade LEGO soap (is a huge hit in our house), cake topper (use any favorite cake recipe and then royal icing for details), LEGO ice (for sensory play), chocolate LEGO candy (next on our list), and finally LEGO crayons (check out this tutorial from STEAM powered family). 

Ingredients (for 1 tray)
1 package Knox Original unflavored Gelatin (for the texture)
1 package Jello-O flavored Gelatin (for the color and flavor)
1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon Water (might need 1-2 teaspoons more, if the mixture it too lumpy)

Lego molds
8 oz jelly jar

You can use flavorings and sweeteners, but I try to stay away from that stuff.

1. Pour powders into the water and stir.  If you end up with a huge lump that doesn’t dissolve add an additional teaspoon of water.

2. Let jelly jar rest for 10-30 minutes. Gelatin will continue absorb water.  I have discovered (by having to stop in the middle of the project to go put baby down for a nap) that if you wait longer, the foamy layer is thinner and the percent of clear mixture is higher). 

3. Bring a pan of water on a stovetop to slow boil.  Put mason jar(s) in the water.  (As you can see the consistency varies depending on which child mixed the powders.  It doesn’t matter!).

4. Melt the mixtures until it’s all of the same consistency.  Stir it well in the beginning, but avoid stirring once the foam starts forming on top.  If you mix this foam into the mixture, the Legos won’t be as clear.    

5. Let the mixture sit for a while at room temperature.  I would say probably at least half an hour.  At this point we usually put the shoes on and go for a walk.  (Definitely check the temperature before you let kids stick a finger into the mixture). 

6. When it’s ready the foamy layer on top should create a solid layer that you can pick with the spoon and pull away.  Voila!  

7. The clear liquid under the film is what goes into the molds.

8. If you are inpatient put the trays in the fridge for half hour.  If you are ok with waiting just leave it at room temperature as the recipe doesn’t need cold to set. 

9. When LEGO pieces are ready, they pop right out and ready to be eaten or played with.  

Note: if you want your LEGOs to be stackable put a lego tray on top of your mold to create the grooves.

As you can see the LEGOs are pretty clear.  Some pieces are better than others, but kids are not bothered by any imperfections.  They are on top of the world. 

I highly recommend this for your next project with kids.  It’s pretty quick, not too much mess and it’s good for hours of Lego Fun.  The more we do it, the more steps kids can do on their own without my prompts.  It’s a great learning experience!  The last time we did it, they did everything on their own and just brought me the jars when they were ready for melting stage.  They would have been happy to handle the melting too, but I don’t feel comfortable yet with letting them next to the open fire.

What will you create with your edible LEGOs?   Have you tried LEGO candy before?