Sunday, August 26, 2012

Light and Color Lab

Add all the colors of light together and you get white? But add all the colors of paint/ink together and you get black? Really? These concepts are often a bit difficult for students to grasp. I introduce this lab asking if students have ever printed off an images from their computer but the colors were all wrong. That's because monitors use additive colors and printers use subtractive. 

This lab consolidates labs on subtractive and additive color. I knew there was a difference, but when studying color, I didn't find a lab that helped students to compare the two. So I wrote my own. (Free printable of student handout along with teacher answer key at the end of this post!) This lab is not a high level of inquiry--instead it is collection of several demos and activities to help students solidify what is true about color and light. I used this lab with middle/high school students, but used parts of it with my 5 year old! If you have a class of 25 or more, you might choose to set this this lab up in stations where they rotate to various activities.  

Comparing additive and subtractive colors

You don't need any materials for the section on comparing additive and subtractive colors. This is a chart that students fill in as they learn about the properties of these two color systems. Here is a look at the answer key. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Box Day 2012

Its official...we're a homeschooling family. I won't lie, I'm super excited and super scared at the same time. Who am I, this publicly trained educator, this professor of future teachers, who plans on keeping her kid out of the public schools?  What am I doing? However, I also have a sense of peace as I feel this is what we are being led to do at this time. I'm choosing to  move forward, knowing its our path for now, and believing that Sonlight will help us along our way. 

The teacher in me, is excited. I only recently learned (from Erin at Usual Mayhem) that "Box Day" is celebrated among the Sonlight community. And I was glad to learn of this important day. While many of of my friends are posting photos of their kids and their first day at public school kindergarten, I am seriously wondering, am I really doing what is best for my kid? I even remember my first day of kindergarten (ok, I remember because I have photos). So I love the idea of the Box Day photos!  

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Sour Cream Coffee Cake is a generational family favorite. While being the most moist coffee cake you'll ever eat, it has a great story! My Grandma lived on the farm in Iowa and remembers going to "town" with her mother (my great-grandmother). It was a demonstration in town. (I'm not exactly sure what this means. Maybe some of my family can help full in the rest of this story!) The measurement for butter is this way because they made butter on the farm. The title of this recipe was originally "Quick Coffee Cake." However, in this day and age, I don't consider it quick, so changed the name! Nevertheless, enjoy. 


  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar (separated)
  • 1 egg
  • butter-size of an egg (6-7 Tbsp)
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon 


Cream together 1 cup of sugar with butter. Add egg and beat well. Dissolve soda in sour cream and add alternately with flour. Pour batter into a greased 8 x 12 pan.  Mix cinnamon with 1/2 cup of sugar and sprinkle on top. Poke top with fingers (or handle of a my son is doing here). This allows the sugar mixture to bake down into the cake.

Bake 25 minutes @ 400.

It is wonderfully delicious and of course is great with a cup of coffee. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Glowing Water Beads

A lot of you have had your kids play with water beads and so I thought I'd give it a try. I'd bought Clear Water Pearls and so when I saw this post at Train Up a Child and Growing a Jeweled Rose about using the glow water (that we also used to make glow in the dark Oobleck) I was super excited!  

I explain how I made my DIY light box later in this post. The key to making the beads glow is emptying the ink from a highlighter into water, then soaking them as the directions say.  The texture of the beads themselves is wonderful--an amazing sensory experience, no matter your age. We first played with the beads in several shaped glass containers, and different amounts of beads. 

Left alone in the closet (that's where we had the lightbox and black light set up) Caleb had a whole storyline...something about a war, with good guys and bad guys...ya know, the usual little boy story! Then we also played with the beads by themselves on top of the lightbox. I couldn't resist the suggestion of spelling out his name.  They rolled around a bit but we were able to get it to work. 

I really wanted my 15 month-old to be able to enjoy this experience too, but as soon as I set him loose, he had a bead in his mouth. So, to solve this problem, I put the beads into a zip-lock bag! Go-ahead and say it...Genius! The texture is missing from the experience, but it is still really cool to look at, and the beads still respond to a baby's touch. And yes, that's my baby sitting on top of the lightbox! 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lab Notebook with Early Elementary

With summertime, comes cool bugs! July brought us two new bugs--a walking stick, and a freshly molted Cicada. I'm proud to say, my son always points them out to me. I thought I'd share the photos of our bugs and use this as an opportunity to share how we enter these into our science lab notebook.  

Photograph and Discuss  

The first step in the process is, of course, to capture the moment. I've become very conscious of balancing the time it takes to photograph an event, with being an active participant in the moment. I really don't want the photos to become to focus, I want to be talking and interacting with what's happening. I want to be alert to what learning moments can be pulled out of any situation. (I'm geeky like that!) Do any of you struggle with this? I don't want to pose photos, but capture them as they happen, and not be upset if I don't get the shot I wanted. Its the experience and discussion that occurs that matters!   

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Starting Handwriting Without Tears with Great SuccessI

So this week, after I put my 15 month old down for a nap, Caleb looked at me and said "Mom, what letters are we practicing today?" What a change this is from a kid who wouldn't even practice writing his name! And the reason is the Handwriting without Tears curriculum, the "Get Set for School" series.

This is the very first curriculum I have bought, knowing that we will begin homeschooling kindergarten in the fall. Before researching handwriting curriculum, I knew NOTHING about teaching handwriting. My son had already begun learning handwriting in a preschool program where they were learning D'Neilian, but I knew I needed to find a learning system, not just a style that worked for us. What attracted me to "Get Set For School," is that it was designed by an occupational therapist and an early childhood teacher who took into account the physical abilities to young children as they begin writing. Everything they describe about teaching handwriting just made sense. They teach capital letters first because most of the letters are straight lines, and are least likely to get confused. The Get Set for School program only teaches capital letters and the wooden pieces all help drill in these concepts. A lot of though went into the order in which letters are introduced, is based on how the letter is formed. For example, the child learns the letters L, F, E, (and other like these) first because they start in the upper left-hand corner (by the smiley face) and have a straight line that goes down.

So I went ahead and bought the "My First School Book," the Teacher guide, and the large slate (not shown in photo above). I wasn't sure how the system would work for us, so I didn't buy the wooden letters instead I cut them out of foam using the template provided in the teacher's guide. (I store the letters in a lingerie laundry bag.) I explain this process in my post about the Mat Man...a must see, I video taped my son putting Mat Man together for the first time! Hilarious!)