Category Archives: Science

Cold Water

Cold Water In The Ground

This was a new learning adventure for my children.  We filled our empty bottles with fresh cold water that was pouring out from the ground. 

Why? Why would we fill water bottles with water from underground?

Because we were thirsty. 

We had explored the history and features of the park and played in the hot sun.  Now we were thirsty, very very thirsty.  Our water bottles were empty.  We needed water!

The water was fresh and vibrant in our mouth!  It was noticeably different from regular bottled water, and different from tap water.  

There was something very special about this water.  It was life giving.  You could taste the gift of life in the water.  It danced on your tongue.  The water was thirst quenching.

There along the road and a crystal clear creek, was a lovely cobblestone bridge.  On both sides of the bridge were places to fill your bottles / containers with fresh water. 

We met other travelers on the journey who stopped to fill their containers too. 
We actually stood in a line for a few minutes while other travelers filled their containers.  It gave us time to visit with them.  Their boxes were full of empty bottles, perhaps as many as 30 gallon bottles. With precision, efficiency, and experience, we watched the man ahead of us fill each bottle.  


He told us he has been filling 25 to 30 one gallon bottles with this fresh spring water for at least the past 6 years. His wife had grown up filling containers at this spring and it was a tradition they continued when they married.  He said it saves him a lot of money and tastes better than using the bottled water from the store.  He said it was quiet today, and he was glad for it as he usually has to wait in a long line before getting to fill his bottles.  Many people know of the health value, and come here to get this fresh spring water for their families.

The spring water is flowing from what is called an artesian well.  It is a an underground aquifer (a storage / collection area of water in the earth), and it has enough pressure that when you bore a pipe into it, it forces the water up through the pipe right out of the ground.  The water is clean, and cold at around 53 to 54 degrees fahrenheit.

You can read about the history of Richmond, IN and Wayne County for more information.

Check out these old postcards of the park and more details about the spring water here.

Further The Learning

I thought it would be fun to learn about springs, artesian wells, and water purity as a family learning adventure.  Here are a few resources my kids and I are enjoying.

Diagram of an artesian well.  The water coming out of the well is under pressure.  The pressure is caused by surrounding rock, soil, and clay, and because the water level in the aquifer is higher, or the saturation point is higher, than the opening or “head” of the well.

Artesian Well 
                                                                                                   image source

Why does fresh spring water taste better?
Well everybody’s tastes are different, but most people prefer the taste of fresh spring water.  I believe it is because it has a lot of dissolved minerals and it is oxygenated.  In addition to minerals that help with the taste, it also has more oxygen than other water we usually drink.  It is being stirred up as it travels up through the ground and pressure of the water mixes with air and increases the oxygen in the water.  Our bodies love oxygen.  Our bodies, and taste buds, like oxygenated mineral water.

Why is the water cold?
Ground water is insulated by rocks and soil from the earth’s surface temperature.  Therefore the temperature of most aquifers is approximately 50 +/- degrees fahrenheit. However there is some variations to this.  

Science Learning With Water

Fun Activity: Take an 3 empty containers, and in one fill with flowing spring water and check its temperature with a thermometer, in another fill with surface water from a creek, in another container fill with surface water from a pond or lake.  Compare the temperatures of the three different sources of water.  Which one is colder?  Which one is warmer? 

Pour each of the three water samples into a separate coffee filter.  What can you observe with your eyes?  Look at each coffee filter or a slide prepared with a water sample under a microscope.  What do you see?  Record your observations for each water sample.

Create your own water cycle.

Create your own water shed .

Create your own water aquifer in a tank.

Water Science, Math, Lapbooks, Unit Studies, and Literature Activities on my Pinterest Board Water Science and Activities.

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The Human Skeletal System

Amber Neal is back to share more wonderful homeschool projects she is doing with her family.  Her family has been studying the Human Body in their homeschool science schedule.  A few weeks ago, Amber shared their study of cells in How To Make An Edible Cell.   Today she is sharing several projects they did in their study of bones and the human skeleton. 

Please join me in welcoming Amber!!!

The Human Skeletal System

This week we continued our human body unit study with a study of the skeletal system. I like to start out the week with something fun that will build excitement for our study, or at least get the kids laughing a little. To accomplish this with the skeletal system I started Monday morning with bone shaped pancakes. To do this I made up the batter and used a measuring cup to do my best to make a long bone by pouring it out slowly on the griddle. This got my son laughing right away. Of course some of the bones “broke” during the cooking process (again making it very funny to be eating broken bones for breakfast).

To really make this topic come alive for the kids I found some great resources online. I also scoured the local library’s shelves for any interesting books on bones, skeletal systems, and the human body.

Each day we read a different book and did some kind of hands on project. I encourage you to look and see what books your local library has and use those. The books I used came from our library but really any books on the skeletal system will do. When you can’t find the books you want you can also use online sources and just read them from the computer out loud to your kids.

What We Did This Week

After reading the book, we talked about the five major functions of the skeletal system. I also created a worksheet for the kids to put in their science notebooks. They had to fill in the blanks as we went over each function. This helped speed along our study as compared to if I would have made them write these out completely. A little mom sanity moment because the worst thing you can do is to assume that everything is going to go as planned. It’s better to help things along where you can, to assure you get the information across in a way without seeming so monotonous.

Here is a picture of the worksheet:

The 5 major functions of the Skeleton are- Support, shape, protection, movement and making blood cells

Learning Can Be Fun…there are no bones about it!

Our project this week was to make a model of the bone. Sounds cool doesn’t it? First we flatten some homemade playdough out and put a pipe cleaner on top of it. All things that can be purchased at the dollar store for multiple bones. The playdough represented the bone marrow. It was supposed to be red but my little one had played with the red and the yellow and mixed it up a little bit (homemade playdough link at the bottom). The red pipe cleaner represents a blood vessel traveling through the marrow. You could also use a red string or anything else you have around the house that is similar. We just happened to have all this in our craft drawer.

We rolled up the playdough around the pipe cleaner (like you were making a snake). After rolling up the bone marrow and blood vessel we wrapped it in red streamer paper (we had a lot left from birthday parties so I wanted to use it up). This represented the spongy bone. Again, you can use whatever you have around the house. Wrapping two sponges around it would have been great too, and it would have helped them remember spongy bone but I didn’t have any and I wasn’t going to go to the store once we started so streamer it was for us! Being thrifty is the name of the game sometimes. Plus it allows you to use up all that extra stuff.

We then slid the wrapped portion into a toilet paper roll (the compact bone). We then wrapped the compact bone with a red string for more blood vessels. We didn’t cover it with a membrane but we talked about it so they knew it should be there.

We talked about each part of the bone and compared it to what a real bone would have looked like.

My son really enjoyed making this model of the bone as you can tell from this picture.

I found a really useful website Science Matters on the skeletal system,  as I searched around for materials to use.  She has lots of great ideas including an edible version of the bone. I used this woman’s site for help on the basic build of a bone, but again we elected to use materials that we already had instead of purchasing the items she described. It also helps with the frugal homeschooling side of the spectrum.

Throughout the week we would often refer back to this model when talking about the bones or after reading something about the skeleton. It also helped when anyone came over to our house. They would show them the model they made, and what the parts were. I could tell it did its job in making science fun, and learning at the same time.

Snack Time!!

To continue on the path of fun while learning we had to incorporate something a little tastier. Other projects we did this week included a really fun study of the bones of the hand. What could make this exciting you ask? COOKIES! Yes cookies. When in doubt of how to make a topic fun just add food and that will usually do the trick! I wish I could claim that I am just brilliant and I came up with this on my own, but I can’t. I was however smart enough to go surfing the Pinterest boards and find some great ideas for teaching the human body and this was one of them. This is the homeschoolers site I found this great idea learning bones of the hand with cookies on Almost Homeschoolers

Here are some pictures from our go at making Phalanges cookies. I love letting the kids cook together. It covers so many different subjects and life skills a
t the same time. We had been talking about fractions in math with my son so it was a great time to let him “see and touch” what certain fractions looked like. They first had to read the recipe all the way through.

Working together is a great skill to be able to do. It builds patience and encourages self-control on everyone’s side. This is definitely a character trait we are trying to build in our children. It’s always easier to just do things myself or just let my oldest whip through a recipe to just get it done easier, faster, and with less mess (and less fussing) . But then we are missing those teachable moments that we all look for.

After the dough was made up we used this diagram of the hand for our cookies. You can find the link on the woman’s site I listed above.

We followed her directions and this is what our cookies looked like before we baked them.

This is what our Phalanges cookies looked like after baking.

And what is the best part of making Phalanges cookies? Eating them!!

I had a hand shaped cookie cutter (that came from a playdough set we had) that I used to make cookies for the rest of my crew. I think they came out very cute-

I Can See Through You

Another project we did this week was to print out a “child size” skeleton and label the bones on it. The kids had to work together again on this project. They had to lay out the skeleton first and then tape it to the door. I didn’t have any space on a wall so we used the door. This is an eight page print out, but worth the time to see it all put up. It was great because my son could stand beside it and it was only a little smaller than him. After they labeled the bones we talked about the different types of bones (long bones, short bones, flat bones, and irregular bones). We labeled an example of each one on the skeleton.

You can find any diagram of a skeleton for your kids to label with or use a book. You can go as complicated or as easy as you want. Adjust it to fit the needs and age level of your kids. Just remember to make it fun. This is the link I found the skeleton to print out.

Learning With Movies

We added in some movies this week to go along with our study. The kids always enjoy movies and I like it because it gives me a chance to get some things done that I need to like cooking, cleaning, etc. These are the movies we watched. Both of these came from our library. If your library doesn’t have any ones that you would like to use, look on youtube.

     The Magic School Bus – The Human Body
     Eye Witness- Skeleton

*always preview movies before your kids watch them so you can decide on if they are appropriate for your crowd or not. I have talked to my kids about theories they may hear in videos, tv shows that do not match up with our faith so when they hear them they know how to process them.

The End Of The Week

At the end of the week we reviewed what we had learned this week. I like to make what I call a main objective for the study worksheet. I go through our books we have read and I decide what I really want to make sure they know in the topic and I type it up. I leave blank spaces so the kids can write their answers out. This is how we review. It has always helped me make sure I know what they know and if there is anything I forgot or didn’t cover we can go over it then. Here is a picture of one of my sons pages.

He is not crazy about writing and its one of the things we are working on with him. I find that for him I let him write some of the one or two words answers (or draw the answer) and I let him tell me the answers and I write them out for him. If the answer is really long then I just let him tell me and we talk and discuss it. I think it’s important to make this review time about what he has learned and not his writing ability which is stressful at times. Learning this has made our learning experiences so much better and less stressful for everyone.

To end our study, I let each kid watch the bone section and they each took the quiz. I found a fun site that covers all the systems in the human body. Each system has a little video, quiz, and even an activity you can do. Here is the link- Kids Health

This was a really fun week for us. I hope you enjoyed coming along with us on this learning adventure about the human skeletal system! Have a wonderful week and happy homeschooling! 

                                                         Amber Neal 
                                                        Child of God, Friends with Jesus, 
                                                        Wife to Superman, Mom to 3 Goofy Goobers, and
nbsp;                      Lover of learning!

Isn’t that just Awesome?!  Thank you Amber for sharing this great study of bones in the human skeletal system.  It looks like you all learned alot. We can’t wait to see what you will be learning about next. 

To all of our readers, we are so glad you stopped in.  Be sure to sign up for updates and subscribe through email.  Be sure to check out more stories in our Human Body science section too. 

Do you have a Human Body science project and story you would like to share with our readers?  Leave me a comment and I will be in touch.  Thanks!

Be blessed!

This post will be linked up with:
No Time For Flash Cards
Science Sunday
Raising Homemakers
Domestically Divine
Sharing Time

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How To Make An Edible Cell Cake

What is more fun than doing your science homework and eating it too?
A dear friend of mine, Amber Neal, is homeschooling 3 kids and recently did a fun edible science project with her family.    They are learning about cell structures and functions.  She expanded her kids ability to retain information while learning about the biology of cells by incorporating an edible model of a cell, and using a multisensory approach (including the eyes, ears, hands, nose, and taste buds on the tongue) into the learning equation.   Read on to see what a fun learning adventure they had…….

The Edible Cell

I actually saw the edible cell craft many years ago. I knew of other homeschoolers that had done this, but I never could really work it in to what we were learning. Then I found myself without a science topic to study for our Friday Science time I decided now was the perfect time! This was such a fun experience for us to do together as a family. My son (7) said this was the best science topic ever! 


After looking on several websites for ideas, I finally decided on making a cake and decorating it for our cell study. There are lots of great ideas how you can make an edible cell on the internet. Some people made big cookies, cupcakes, or jello molds for their cell study but in the end we are cake lovers—so cake won out!! This is what we did.

The Setup – Edible Cell Cake

I actually baked the cakes the day before we started. This way they were nice and cool, ready for the day’s assignment. I used some silicon baking pans that I had, but you could use just regular circle (8 or 9 inch) baking pans. Just make sure to use cooking spray or what you like to use to grease your pans well so the cakes will pop out easily. I came out with 4 small square cakes. After they cooled completely I iced them. I made my own icing up and split in into three different bowls. One I colored green for the plant cells. The second bowl of icing I left white for the animals cells. The third smaller bowl I made it a blue/ green color for the cell wall and cell membrane. I went ahead and iced the cakes, thus putting on the cytoplasm and the cell wall (plant) and cell membrane (animal). This made it so much easier for the kids to just jump in and start decorating, and helped control mess too (mom’s favorite thing)!

Another benefit to having them ready was the kids were very excited to get started the next day on Science. Throughout the morning they both kept asking me when it was time for science. I mean really wouldn’t you be excited to learn something if you knew cake was involved?

To go along with the edible cell I had printed out a few cell worksheets from Enchanted Learning and put them in the kid’s science notebooks. I included some of the links at the bottom of the post.

When everyone came to the table to start science I had the cells (frosted) sitting in deep pans, their science notebooks opened ready to go, and all the candy I was going to use ready in bowls. Then the fun started!

Learning About Cells
Using the worksheets I had printed out, we went through each part of the cells. We started with the plant cell and then ended with the animal cell. Each kid got to decorate both an animal cell and a plant cell. What an assignment right?  We used print outs that I got from Enchanted Learning. The top was the parts of the cell and the bottom part we labeled the cell with what we used to represent each part.


As we talked about each part of the cell and what it did they would stick the designated candy on the cell (cake). Once we did that they would have to write in their notebooks what we used in the appropriate spot. 


You may have also noticed I had my toddler sitting at the table for this learning adventure too. Normally I have a small sensory tray or a busy bag to keep her occupied, but with all the candy out that wasn’t happening that day! Since my normal tactics were not working I gave her a notebook and her special markers (they only come out at school time). She happily drew in her notebook and munched on some candy mix (M&Ms, goldfish, raisins, and pretzels). I am not normally a fan of candy but today was a little different, and in the science the exception was made! 
After we completed both cells we filled out a Venn diagram comparing the plant cell with the animal cell. I printed this one out from Enchanted Learning as well, but you could just draw one if you wanted to include this for your kids. 


I really recommend doing a Venn diagram. It really helped us to see the differences between the two cells. It also initiated a great discussion on why God would have made the cells different, what plant cells do that animal cells don’t, etc.

The End Process

Here is what our cells ended up looking like. (I had to snap these fast because everyone was ready to enjoy them!) 


Then came the really fun part!! Eating our yummy cells!! 


Each kid made two cells (one plant and one animal). Now having four cakes and only two students decora
ting we decided to share one cake each. I let them pick which one they wanted to eat and which one they would like to share with someone. The toddler was very happy they decided to share as well as their wonderful daddy who was home too. 


Learning is always much more fun when you get to share it with others!

While the kids ate their cells I read them a book I had gotten from the library about different kinds of cells (muscle, skeleton, etc). I drew out on our white board an easy and quick explanation of how cells divide and become more cells. We talked about the cells and I asked them a few review questions:

What was your favorite part of the animal cell? What did it do?
What was your favorite part of the plant cell? What did it do?
What do you think the funniest looking part of each cell was?

Whenever we do a science topic together I always like to ask the kids – Now that we learned about this, what does this tell you about God? How does this prove there is a God? How does backup what we believe? While I am not looking for long answers that are very in depth (even though I have gotten some) I want them to see that God is in everything and to see how amazing it is that He created this world and everything in it.

This was a really fun science topic for us to do together. The kids talked about this for a couple of days so I was really impressed with how much they really retained from making an edible cell. I think when you make something fun and you actively engage kids in the learning process they tend to remember it better. When I was in public school I learned about the cell from a boring textbook filled with questions with little bubble in answers. It was mind numbing to say the least. I am so happy that my kids will not have that same memory because cells are to fascinating to be boring!


Printouts of animal and plant cells:
I have a membership to Enchanted Learning. It is $20 a year and I have used it way more than enough to get my money’s worth! If you don’t want to buy the membership you can still use this site to gain a lot of your information that can help you draw it out yourself. 
            Enchanted Learning ANIMAL CELLS
            Enchanted Learning PLANT CELLS

I used this as a guide for what I could use for what part of the cell. You can use whatever you wish or even make the jello 3-D craft. This is the link for that

            Enchanted Learning JELLO CELL CRAFT
            (You can also Google edible cell and find other great ideas!)

Books I Used
I only used this book because it was one of the only ones at our library that I liked. I did not read the whole book (the first page is about sperm cells- so I left that part out of our study). 

            Cells Are Us / by Fran Balkwill ; illustrated by Mic Rolph
Look at your local library and see what kind of books they have on cells. I was always led to believe you had to read each and every page, just to gain the information that you needed from five pages of the book.  So remember, you don’t always have to read the whole book to get what you need. You can just pick the parts that are relevant to your study at the time. 

                                                                Amber Neal 
                                                               Child of God, Friends with Jesus, 
                                                               Wife to Superman, Mom to 3 Goofy Goobers, and
                                                               Lover of learning!

Thank you Amber for sharing your Edible Cell project with us!

Tasting is a great way to remember concepts. How can you forget that you love the taste of ice cream but you don’t like the taste of liver? How can you forget that you LOVE the taste of chocolate? I don’t think I would ever forget that I do not like the taste or smell of stinky cheese!  The brain remembers things we have eaten, how it looks, tastes, smells, and how we feel about it.  What a great idea it is to associate skills and abilities used while eating with our abilities to remember.

We can incorporate tasting, smelling, and eating while we are learning a subject that normally might seem unrelated. The more senses a child uses in learning information, the more likely it is that he, or she, won’t forget it.

Be sure to check out other stories in our Human Body science section (more to come) and especially the Jello Edible Cell we did in learning about the human body!  It was a whole lot of yummy learning fun!

This post will be linked up with
No Time For Flash Cards
Science Sunday
Raising Homemakers
Sharing Time

Please share.

Human Anatomy and Physiology

When you are looking for a great science curriculum with a biblical worldview, it is hard to get any better than Apologia’s Exploring Creation series.  They have options for elementary students as well as junior and senior high students.


For the purpose of this review, we were sent Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Anatomy and Physiology suitable for kids in K – 6th grade.  We were also sent the Student Notebook.  Apologia has both a Student Notebook Journal, and a JR Notebook Journal for kids who may not write as well.  Either notebook journal works perfect with the curriculum.  Finally we were sent the Audio MP3 CD which is the author reading the entire course and can be listened to from the computer or an MP3 player.


The Exploring Creation With Human Anatomy and Physiology course products include:

                            Hardback Textbook      Retails $39.00
                            Student Notebook         Retails $24.00
                            Jr. Student Notebook    Retails $24.00
                            Audio MP3 CD              Retails $29.00

This science course is designed for students in elementary grades.  Apologia recommends the Hardback Textbook for grades 4-6; Student Notebook for grades 3-6;  Jr. Student Notebook for grades K-2 or students who are beginning writers.  The Audio MP3 can be used with any age and skill level, and it is read by the author Jeannie Fulbright. 

The textbook is a big, 265 page, brightly colored, science manual.  It is broken down into 14 Lesson chapters: 
            Introduction To Anatomy and Physiology
            The Skeletal System
            The Muscular System
            The Digestive and Renal Systems
             Health and Nutrition
            The Resiratory System
             Life In The Blood
            The Cardiovascular System
            The Nervous and Endocrine Systems
            The Nervous System Extended
             Your Senses
            The Integumentary System
            The Lymphatic and Immune Systems
            Growth and Development

The text book recommends breaking each chapter down into manageable sections that work well for your own family.  They suggest a two week schedule for each chapter, but you can adjust this to meet your own needs.   Every chapter contains fun experiments and hands on projects. Through out the course, kids will learn how to conduct experiments accurately and apply the scientific method.  There is a scientific method form in the front of the textbook that can be used each time your child conducts an experiment.

The curriculum places an emphasis on the child re-telling what they have learned through verbal and written prompts in both the textbook and the notebooking journal.  The journal contains templates to fill in and is a great place to record what they have learned.  Through out the course they will make various organs and body parts and attache them to a paper person project they have created and keep in their notebook. By the end of the course they have completed a hands on application of the human body form, organs, and systems.

Some materials are needed to complete the experiments.  Many of these materials are things you likely have around the house or are easily attainable at stores and online.  Apologia has provided a list of everything you need for each chapter lesson if you wish to attain the items on your own.  Apologia also offers optional science kits and a 
Blood Typing Kit too.   You can pick and choose what experiments you want to do to reinforce the lesson.  They want you to be successful and offer several ways to contact the
m with questions.  They also have additional website “EXTRAS” that go beyond the textbook, to help your child learn even more.

Our Experience

For the purpose of this review, we received the Hardback Textbook, Student Notebook, and the Audio MP3 CD


I spent some time reviewing the first two chapters before opening these with the kids.  I was amazed how well the materials are put together.  The textbook is colorful and easy to understand.  Most important, it gives glory to God through out the whole book. I loved the Student Notebook too.  It is jam packed with templates that correspond to the lessons and interesting activities. 

My 6th grader was excited to “jump in” independently and read the whole chapter 1 for himself and complete the exercises in both the textbook and the student notebook.  It says a lot about a product when a kid wants to learn the material on his own.  It took him about an hour on three to four days to read through the entire chapter. 

One of the assignments in the notebook is to draw a cell and label all of its parts.  As he read the textbook, he stopped every so often and filled in his cell in his notebook with the new part he learned about.

After reading all of chapter one himself, he listened to the audio of the chapter being read with the rest of the children.  The younger children are not strong readers yet and are able to benefit from either mom reading the text to them, or using the MP3 Audio of the book.  What a great resource.  You can read, or read and listen, or just listen.  So many options to meet different needs of your students.  I have one who loves to read, and one who hates to read, and these products met both of their needs.

I printed out and plan to have the younger children fill out the
free JR. Notebook sample  of lesson one that is available on the Apologia website.  I plan to order the Jr. Notebook soon so the younger kids can work through the rest of the book together with their big brother.  

Below is one example of the many experiments our kids are enjoying in this curriculum.

Experiment: Make an edible model of a cell. 

Use jello to represent the structure of the cell, and various candies to represent the different parts of the cell.

Mix packet of jello according to the directions( one cup boiling water, stir in packet of jello to dissolve, add one cup cold water), but add one packet of Knox plain gelatin powder and 1 additional cup of cold water.


The kids took turns making packs of Jello.  They made one bowl of lemon, and two bowls of pineapple.


Then we put this gelatin mixture into the refrigerator, and planned to let it harden overnight, but it ended up being 4 days until we got back to the project.  

While we waited for our jello to harden, I had the kids take the learning a step further.  I asked them to make a chart of the candies they would be using in side of their jello cells.  We forgot to purchase the NERD candy, so we improvised with smarties.   Here is our candy chart:
        jelly beans and peanut m & m’s = mitochondria
        skittles = lysosomes
        now a latter = golgi body
        fruit roll up = endoplasmic reticulum
        smarties = ribosomes
        cake sprinkles (tubeular) = centrioles
        jaw breaker = nucleus

Next I had them place the candies on a paper cell model.  This gave them a little extra practice before inserting the candy into the jello.  It also helped the younger children visualize the candy once it went into the jello when it was harder to see.


They used a knife to make a small slit in the cell membrane to insert the candy pieces.

They really had fun with this project.  This is a great hands on project to learn with.


We made three cells. Two turned out pretty good and one fell apart as the kids inserted the candies.

But none of it went to waste!  


Oh no, they were not about to waist this edible science experiment.  The kids jumped right in and gobbled up every drop!


Apologia curriculum is a win win at our house!  We are loving this curriculum, the science projects, and fun learning adventures!

Click here  to read what others on the Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say about this product.


Disclaimer:  I
received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

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Magnetic Fun

I have always been fascinated by magnets.  I loved to play with them as a kid.  Shhhh……I still love playing with magnets.  And so do my kids.

We have more than a few magnets around our house.   The kids enjoy learning about the science behind magnets as much as they enjoy playing with them.  I do have to be careful that no one puts magnets in their mouth.  They can be dangerous if swallowed.  But aside from that precaution, the children are free to play with them as much as they want to.

Teaching young children about magnets

A fun way to introduce magnets to younger children is through play.   There are so many great toys and fun objects to use for magnetic fun. 

Magnetic Toys

An inexpensive and easily accessible magnetic learning object are the magnetic numbers and alphabet letters available in grocery and discount stores. These are often available for $1 per package. We have quite a large accumulation of these.  Some of these letters and numbers are plastic and they have a small magnet attatched to the back.  Recently we found some words, shapes, and pictures that were laminated paper glued to a magnet.  These are great for spelling practice, matching, and making sentences.  The kids can play with these on the front of your refrigerator (unless it is not steal front, unfortunately this house had a “stainless” fridge and magnets don’t stick. The kids have missed playing on our fridge as we have done in the past). We currently use cookie sheets for letter and number magnetic play.

Toy trains are available with magnetized ends. This makes them easy to connect and disconnect. We love using the Thomas The Train products that have these. Some of our trains are going on twelve years of hard use at our house. These are a very durable toy.  Check out local garage sales and thrift stores to find good deals on these train toys.

We have a fishing game that has a magnet on one end (the hook) and it attracts the metal on the fish and wallah, your child has caught a fish. You can make a home made version by attaching a magnet on a string and tie it onto a stick to make a fishing pole. Then put paper clips on felt or paper cutouts. This is great to practice shapes, letters, numbers, matching, etc.

Another home made fishing idea is to use a chain necklace like the ones used on “dog” tags/ or chain from a key chain.  A magnet will stick to the chain.  Then just hold the magnet over other objects by the chain and see what happens.

Magnetic Construction

Another fun magnetic toy we play with are large cylinders, and spheres that have magnets in them.  We use these to build funny structures that hold together with the power of magnets.   I love these because they are brightly colored and can be used by kids of all ages. Even the younger kids understand the power of magnets using these construction pieces.  Read about my toddler’s funny “Happy Birthday” magnet line up.

You can make a homemade version of construction items by hot glueing or super gluing magnets onto craft sticks, popcycle sticks, paint sticks, foam shapes, blocks, or recycled items (lids, boxes, cans, bottles, etc).  I plan to make a version of these soon.  I have seen an adorable magnetized construction set all made with recyclables such as juice lids, tin cans, slinky, and more.   Set out a big tray of these items and let the kids use their imagination to build with.

Travel Games & Busy Bags

We have several wonderful magnetized travel games.  These come in many varieties such as: bingo, checkers, chess, funny faces, mazes, matching, and more.

These are just as fun to play with at home as they are on the road.   We use them for quiet activity time in the car, at appointments when the kids need to stay quiet, and at home.

Magnetic Dolls

My toddlers and preschoolers love to play with “dress up” the magnetic dolls.  They are similar to the idea of paper dolls, but they are made of wood, and are a whole lot sturdier and can withstand years of use. 

We gave them each a set of wooden magnetic dress up dolls for Christmas.
The girl doll came with dresses, skirts, shirts, pants, and shoes.  The boy set came with various costumes for fireman, policeman, super hero, pirate, construction worker, and a knight.  Both sets come with a wooden stand so the figure can be upright.  But you can also dress and play with it laying flat too.

They have had lots of fun playing with these and using their imagination.  These are great for developing eye hand coordination and gross motor skills as well as cognitive skills.   Both of these sets have been great for teaching about clothing, dressing habits, color coordinating, role play, and used when we talk about community helpers, and for free play.  We also like to get them out when a quiet activity is needed (like when the baby is napping), and when we read stories.

I would like to get them each a new set this year with more boy and girl figures and with more dressing options.  I will be looking for clothing  for the boy with different outfits, costumes for the girl, and clothing for more community helpers and dress up clothes for cultures around the world.&n
bsp; I would also like to find some pets like cats, dogs, and horses, etc. to play with.  I hope that by having more than one boy and one girl, we can do some fun role play with quick costume changes too.  Eventually I would love to create a space with a large magnetic board low on a wall with a small shelf at the base for using these wonderful learning toys, and also for using letters, numbers, and other magnetized objects.   


Experiment 1

Take two magnets and place two ends of them together.  What happens?  Now, turn one of the magnets around and place the two ends together again.  What happens?
Describe it in your own words ( if you place a south pole and a south pole together (or a north and a north), the magnets push away from each other, but if you place a south and a north end together, they pull together). 

Experiment 2

Collect various objects from around the house to test.  We collected pipe cleaners, keys, leather, cotton, crayons, pencils, paper clips, yarn, money, small toys, metal spheres, glass cup, plastic cup, and metal objects.

Have the kids hypothesize what will happen when they place the magnet near different objects.  Which objects will be attracted to the magnet?
Have kids investigate their hypothesis by placing the magnet near the object.
Did the object move toward the magnet?
Did the object move away from the magnet?
Did the object move at all?


Through play and investigation we learn and demonstrate that

        magnets have positive (north) and negative (south) poles
        opposite polls (one positive and one negative) attract each other
        like polls (two positives or two negatives) repel each other
        you can feel the force of attraction (pulling) and the force of repelling (pushing)

Want to know more?  Check out these fun videos:

Did you know the earth is like a great big magnet?  The earth has a magnetic field and this holds it in place in the universe, the orbit with the sun, and a whole lot more. 

At our house, we think playing and learning with magnets, no matter what shape or form, (and no matter how young or old you are) is a lot of fun.

Question: What magnetic toys do your children enjoy playing with?  We love to hear from you, thank you for leaving your comments below.

This post will be linked up with
No Time For Flash Cards
Science Sunday
Sharing Time
ABC and 123

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We absolutely love the Box Of I.D.E.As. study kit we received to review.  It truly is a box of ideas for lots of fun learning adventures.  We were sent the SALT box, and it is awesome! 

Box Of I.D.E.As. kit contains 10 or more packets of pre-assembled activities to do with your kids.  Each activity packet, called a module, is self contained in a re-usable gallon size zip lock bag. Each module contains a learning guide/lesson plan, and items for discovery, games, or manipulatives to complete the lesson plans, weblinks, learning extension activities, and a worksheet.  Each BOX of I.D.E.As. contains at least 10 worksheets for your portfolio, and an SAT style test about the subject covered.

Academic subject areas covered include: Science, Geography, Math, History, Economics, Writing, Vocabulary, Research, and more.  It is basically like a unit study, divided into 10 modules, and all the subject areas revolve around a central topic or theme. 



There are currently  6 topics or themes available.  They are recommended for kids ages 9 to 16, and can be self directed, but I think they are adaptable to just about any age with parental assistance.  They are available in both printed form and pdf form including:

 Pigs How pork is in everything we use from food, to soap and cosmetics, and organ and tissue implants, Pigs in the history of war, different cuts of pork, the job of a butcher, pig breeds, and more.

World War Two (3)  A closer look at Hawaii, Japan, Military, History, Economics, Pearl Harbor attack, and more. 

Eleven (3) Includes topics such as Veterans Day, US Space Program, US History and Geography, and more.

Salt (3) Includes topics such as History, Science, Preservation of foods, Geography, Gandhi and his historical salt march, etc.

Quilting (3) American History and alternate forms of communication, inventions, community projects, charity works, etc.

Laundry (3) Chemistry of bleaching, global water usage and stewardship, pollution, money management, business management, and more.

WWII Pearl Harbor is currently being reviewed by some of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  Be sure to see the link at the bottom to hear what they thought about using it in their homeschool.

Additional subjects are in the works and will be available soon including:
Mystery, WWII Kitchen, WWII Innovations, Olives, Pine, Cemeteries, and many more!


The Box of I.D.E.As. kits cost $79 for a box that contains 10, or more modules.   Extra modules of the consumables are available for a very small fee.   You can also buy the pdf version for $49. and print the kits yourself.  


The pdf version would be a great option for many homeschool families overseas to avoid shipping costs.  Also classrooms and coops might benefit from printing their own.  However, I definitely liked the actual box of pre-printed materials, as it made it so handy to jump right in and get started with no prep work required.  And it makes it handy if you want to take a module with you on the go.

MODULES in our SALT Box Of I.D.E.As. kit includes:

History Of Salt: lesson plan study guide; extension activities (find bible references for salt, research salt wars, compare food preservation methods with salt vs modern non salt methods, write a paragraph about a civilization impacted by salt and what it was like to live there at that time); web links; worksheet (writing assignment), Games with 45 salt timeline cards (played as a game; can also be used for additional learning activities).

Science Of Salt: lesson plan study guide; extension activities (field trip to the DOT to view a salt truck used on road maintenance in winter, research and list 25 things salt is used for, talk with a nutritionist or doctor about the effects of salt in the human diet); web links (make a salt volcano, floating egg in salt water, observe how salt is formed); worksheet (science experiment rock salt vs ice melt); 1/4 cup rock salt, 1/4 cup ice melt, 3 empty ziplock bags.

Very Salty: hypersaline lakes lesson plan study guide; extension activities (learn what salt lakes are used for salt production and the methods salt is collected, research the living ecosystem of two salt lakes, research why it is easier to float in a lake with a higher salt content then write about it and your conclusions); web links ; worksheet (math and geography and writing about salt lakes); 36 Salt puzzle cards (beautiful photo graphs of salt lakes with facts on the back of the cards, learn to calculate lake volumes, if you answer correctly then the picture on the reverse is correct).

Producing Salt: how salt is produced lesson plan study guide; extension activities (research if there are salt mines in the area where you live and take a field trip to see one, find out the pros and cons of the most expensive and least expensive methods of extracting salt from the earth, make a solar evaporator and find out how long it takes to work and compare how much salt you used to make the brine with how much you extracted); weblinks (video of midwestern salt harvest, salt mine in Poland, salt mines and oil deposits); worksheet (and investigate a news story about a salt mine and worker safety); salt activity mat and 24 salt habitat cards.

Language Of Salt:  how language and culture is impacted by salt lesson plan study guide; extension activities ( find the word for salt in several different languages and see how many places, roads and bodies of water you can find with that root word in that particular country, interview people and test their knowledge of salt idioms, write or chart your findings, look up the original literal meaning of sayings that use the word salt and find out what they really mean and how it has changed or not changed over time in modern society); web links; worksheet (salty sayings); 24 Said With Salt activity cards (game to match salty sayings and vocabulary words and picture cards).

The Salt March:
Civil Disobedience lesson plan study guide; extension activities ( find ways Gandhi peacefully fought British Rule of India, watch the movie Gandhi, research and list other activists who used some of Ghandhi’s methods and list them); web links; worksheet (The British in India history timeline); Marching for freedom map, 16 double sided activity cards.

The Wall That Salt Built: Great Wall Of China lesson plan study guide; extension activities ( Chinese trade items, Ming Dynasty research and write about what life was like for the people, why was Marco Polo important in European and Chinese history?); web links; worksheet (about how salt was used as money and power); 45 activity cards (Centurie
s, Components, and Sections game).

Need For Salt: Why humans and animals need salt lesson plan study guide; extension activities (where do animals find salt?, research and list health problems that occur from too much salt, research and list health problems that occur from a lack of enough salt in the diet); web links, worksheet (searching for salt in our foods, reading labels of 20+ items in your pantry); 2 Sodium Content Charts; a write on wipe off menu planner; dry erase marker.

Preserving With Salt: preserving with salt lesson plan study guide; extension activities ( research and make a list of foods still preserved with salt brine, research the smoking method of food preservation and write a paragraph about it, do an experiment preserving food with salt), web links; worksheet (Food Safety Math); 24 SALT cards; Preserving by Salt game board; Dice, 4 plastic game markers.

Salt Of The Earth: leading countries who produce of salt; extension activities (research how much revenue salt brings into one of the countries that are listed as a leading producer of salt, pick an exotic place that salt comes from and research what it is like to live there and write a paragraph about why or why not you would want to live there, take a field trip to the grocery store and check the salt isle to learn where salt products are manufactured and what countries it is from and if any are imported from oversees);  web links; worksheet (graph the top eight salt production nations, find the metric tons for three top salt producing nations); world map and 16 activity cards.


Salt Of The Earth

In the Salt Of The Earth module, we were given a world map, 16 country & salt production cards, a game board, a reproducible graph worksheet, and a lesson plan sheet.

We learned where in the world salt comes from. 

We learned how much salt is produced by the top producing 16 countries.

We played games with the fact cards and put the countries in numerical order based on how much salt their country produces each year.

Next we graphed the salt production of 8 countries, in tons, on a graph. The module came with a worksheet and I made copies of the worksheet for each of my children to do.  Once completed, this worksheet can go into a portfolio or a lapbook or notebook. 

It was suggested in the extension activities of this module to take a field trip to the grocery store to see how many kinds of salt we could find and where they come from.  But, I seldom venture to grocery stores or other public places, other than the park, with all six kids in tow without my husband to help. So we opted to take a trip to our kitchen cabinet and pulled out various salts we had on hand.  We looked at the labels of each one to see where they were produced.  We had salts from Utah USA, others that said USA, and two varieties from France, one from the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal, and several more.

We decided to make a display of the different salts on a plate, and label them.  We wanted to take a closer look at different kinds of salt.  Each of the kids took turns putting a spoonful of salt on our display.  We placed a label next to each salt so we would know what it was.  We made a display with seven different salts.


We wanted to see the salt crystals with our eyes, compare the different sizes of salt crystals, and feel them with our fingers. It was very interesting to feel the different varieties of salt. We especially liked to feel the larger salt crystals. They feel hard, and are cube like. They resemble the look of small pieces of ice and some look like sand.

We tasted each salt to learn which kinds we liked the best.


Of course, I have tested many salts in my kitchen over the years, and I know hands down, my favorite salt is Celtic sea salt from France.  I use it for cooking and salting before serving the food. It brings out the flavor of everything, and I love it!  My third choice of a sea salt for taste and affordability is a sea salt from Portugal.

Eden Celtic Sea Salt

Salina Naturally Celtic Sea Salt

The Himalayan salt is one we enjoy, but use sparingly due to the cost of it.  But it is nice to serve when we have company.  It is a lovely faded pinkish white color and has a light flavor.  It It makes a great conversation topic with company.  It also sticks nicely to popcorn!

Himalayan Salt

But I keep several other salts on hand for different purposes. The salt from Utah is called REAL Salt. I buy it in bulk (5lb to 25lb bags) at a good price and store it in mason jars. It is high in minerals, and it works wonders when you need a home remedy to sooth a sore throat.  I use it in my baking too.

Real Salt

Table salt, kosher salt, and rock salt are cheap to buy and work for melting ice in science experiments and melting ice for making ice cream.   I have used kosher salt many times in making broths, canning, and so forth.  I don’t personally use table salt in my cooking or serving at my table as I believe it has been altered by human hands during the manufacturing process and it is not a healthy salt to consume. Table salt is a by product of the mining industry that mines other minerals such as copper. Our family uses natural salts in either sea salt, or real salt for consumption.

You can find a variety of salt in grocery stores, healthy food stores, and online. If you are interested, there are some great and unusual salt options available. I love using the salts from Hawaii, and smoked sea salt on meat. There are salts that are black, red, pink, grey, white, etc. Get a little adventurous and challenge your taste buds to a test to see which salt you like the best!

Language Of Salt

It is surprising how many of our words and phrases historically have salt as the root.  Over time, many of the original meanings have been lost on the newer generations, but the word or phrase itself has remained.  Countries all around the world face this same situation.  All human life is dependant on salt, and interestingly, salt is part of every language and culture both literally and symbolically. 

Matching up the word or phrase with the original meaning.

Completing our worksheet about the language of salt.


Preserving With Salt

Preserving With Salt Game


Lay the provided color coded question cards on the game board.  Set out your game pieces. Roll the dice.  Move the number of spaces corresponding to the dice.  Answer the question correctly, keep the card.  Answer the question incorrectly, leave the card and the play moves to the next player.

The first person to answer enough questions correctly, and acquire the Letters / Colors to spell the word SALT wins the game.

Part of the learning with salt included details about food preservation, and human preservation through mummification.  Several web links were given on the subject of mummification.

We are planning to do a science experiment and preserve some foods with salt, but sometimes opportunity guides the day and we found another “preserving with salt” experiment to do first.  The kids found lots of slugs outside after it rained one afternoon.  There must have been over 20 slugs just in one small area of the front yard.

Slugs are moist and prefer moisture.  They become more active when the ground is moist from dew or rain.  They can only survive in moist environments.

We wanted to learn what would happen if salt was put on a slug.  We used one of the slugs we found in the yard for this experiment. We talked about this experiment would kill the slug.  The kids and I agreed to allow this slug to die so we could observe the effects of salt, and dehydration, for the sake of our science investigation.  

We observed the slug after an hour and it had shrank in size by half.  We left the slug to continue to dry out with table salt overnight and checked it the next morning. I was really glad we did this experiment outside and not in my kitchen!

The salt was saturated, the slug had shrunk even more and exploded droplets of liquid in about a six inch radius.  It had also oozed a liquid down the rail
ing and pooled on the porch.  YUCK!

The kids added more table salt to see what would happen again.  We will leave it for another day and see!  Again, I am so glad we did this experiment, and I am so glad we did it “outside”!  We will save preserving fruit for our “inside” hands on learning experiment.


So what did we think of the Salt Box Of I.D.E.As.?  We loved it!  This is a fascinating way to learn.  It is hands on.  It contains a wide variety of activities related to a central subject, just like a unit study.  It give several internet links for further research and videos to view.  All we need now are a few library books, and make a lapbook to round out this unit study on salt.  We are going to see what books we can find on the subject and continue our learning adventure!  We still have a few modules to finish about salt, and we are going to continue with this the fun learning adventure.

Please stop over at the 
Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read more reviews about the Box Of Ideas products.


Disclaimer:  I received the BOX Of I.D.E.As. SALT mentioned above, as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, at no cost to me in exchange for writing an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my personal opinion.

This post will be linked up with
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Raising Homemakers

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Hearts For Hearts Party and Clean Water Workshop

Got a minute to lend your ear?  I have got a story to tell you.  I was recently given the opportunity to host a Hearts for Hearts Girls Party.  My objective was to review this product, invite several girls to this party to discuss the Hearts for Hearts Girls doll line, talk about the charity World Vision, and share in some great party fun together. 

The Plan

I commenced to planning the party.  I was sent two dolls, some bracelets, pretend passports, and a list with suggested party games and finger food ideas to host the party with.  But as I put the party plans together, it soon became apparent that boys were interested in this party too. 

I spoke to several girls about coming to a doll party, including my neighbors and my own daughter.  They were thrilled!  Several families I spoke with had both daughters and sons.  The boys were a little jealous that the girls were going to have a party and boys were not invited.  All the children agreed they would like to participate and requested that boys be included as well as girls.  So we expanded the party into a learning workshop.  I sent out invitations by email to all our friends and both girls and boys accepted. 

Then I got really busy gathering up additional materials such as art supplies (permanent markers, stickers, construction paper, scissors, crayons, glue, hot glue, pipe cleaners, recyclable),  a globe of the world, two Green Science Clean Water science kits, extra sand, charcoal, pea gravel, filters, containers, 6 brightly colored 1 gallon buckets, 1 five gallon bucket, 4 gallons of drinking water, four different coloring pages printed back to back, and lots of supplies, plates, cups, rice, lentils, rolling pin, crock pot, electric skillet, etc.  I secured the shelter at the local park to host the party/workshop.  

This party/workshop turned out to be AWESOME!  It lasted four hours and included a meal too.  I am so glad we did this. Check out what these awesome kids did to learn about Hearts for Hearts, World Vision, and Clean Water.

Hearts For Hearts & World Vision Charity Organization

World Vision is a charity organization that does a huge outreach in developing countries around the world. They have many programs like sponsoring a child, micro loans for start up business, building houses and schools, food, medical care, and more.  World Vision also has a program called the Clean Water Project, and puts wells in villages so safe clean water is accessible to everyone.

World Vision has partnered with Hearts for Hearts Girls dolls by Playmate Toys, to reach our youth of today and help them see they can make a positive difference in people’s lives. Hearts for Hearts dolls are beautiful life like dolls fashioned after real girls from various countries around the world. The dolls are dressed in authentic clothing and accessories from their culture.

You can read about the dolls and the real girls stories and diaries on the website  
Currently, there are 8 different dolls available:
            Nahji from India and her language is Hindi
            Zelia from Brazil and her language is Portuguese
            Dell from the USA and her language is English
            Lilian from Belarus and her language is Belarusian
            Tipi from Laos and her language is Lao
            Consuelo from Mexico and her language is Spanish
            Rahel from Ethiopia and her language is Amharic
            Lauryce from New Orleans and her language is Creole.

Each doll also comes with a story book explaining the life of the real little girl the doll was inspired by. Each of these real life girls are doing something amazing to help their community overcome the lack of basic needs like clean water, sanitation, housing, education, poverty, and more, and their inspiring story is in the book.  Each time a doll is purchased, proceeds are sent to World Vision to further the humanitarian projects in the country the doll featured.

There is a lot of great information for kids on the website.  There are some interactive computer games too .

These dolls are a great inspiration for kids and adults.  They are adorable to play with.  They are a beautiful collectors item too.  They would make a wonderful gift to a special child in your life, a classroom, and a sunday school room too.  These would be so nice to have in quiet play areas in offices too, such as a realtor office or dentist office.  It would be awesome to teach cultural awareness classes with these dolls.  I would love to have the whole set as they are very special dolls with a wonderful message of courage and love for the needs of others. 

The Need For Clean Water

Did you know that less than 1% of the entire world’s water water is available for drinking and accessible to people?  1%.  Think about that for a minute.  The other 99% of water is filled with salt, or is frozen, or is deep underground.  Does this amaze you?  It amazed me as I researched this topic.

Wow, less than 1% of the earth’s water is accessible surface water in the form of lakes, rivers, and streams.  All other water is either too salty to use in the ocean, frozen in glaciers, or stored in underground aquifers. Though the USA and many developed countries have access to clean water (because of an abundance of natural and man-made lakes, rivers and streams, and technology to purify polluted water, desalinate salt water and access underground water), the majority of people on the earth do not have easy access.

Many people on earth have to struggle to access clean safe water.  Many go to extreme measures to acquire water.  Some folks walk several hours a day to a location that may have water that is disease carrying, and get a bucket of water and walk back home for several more hours and repeat this every day. The water may be so dirty, that they are often sick with parasites, virus, bacteria, and many die from these conditions. 

If only 1% of the water is available to use, how do people get enough water to drink, bathe, cook, clean, water their animals, water their crops,
and other things we need water for?

Every day at least 3,000 children die from diarrhea as a direct consequence of a lack of safe water source.  What?  You thought children die from a horrific accident, or some invisible mosquito carrying disease?  Well, some do die from these, but the biggest killer of children is a lack of safe drinking water.

As a Christian, this weights heavy on my heart.  Jesus felt it was so important to offer a cup of water in “his name” and refers to this in the scriptures.  Yet, thousands of children and adults are dying because there is no access to a cup of clean water.

Hearts For Hearts Party & Clean Water Workshop

This whole issue of “Clean Water” became the mission of our party / workshop.  We had 16 kids (nine girls, and seven boys), 6 moms, and 2 babies attend.  This was such a great group of kids / families all together.  This was my favorite party / learning workshop I have hosted all year.  I love talking about cultures, geography, and science.

One of the dolls I was sent was Naji from India. She is absolutely beautiful in representing her ethnic and cultural background. We chose to focuss our workshop around this doll and on the need for clean water in rural villages in India.  

First of all, the kids listened to me describe the need for clean, safe, potable water in the world.  Then we compared how they access and use water at home on a daily basis, and how kids in developing countries such as India use water. 

We talked about how they get their water each day in the USA.  We started off by having the kids identify all the ways they acquire and use water each day:
            shower / bathe
            make food
            wash dishes
            wash clothes
            flush toilet
            wash hands
            brush teeth

They also identified other groups in the USA who need water for specific tasks:
            farmers to water crops and water livestock
            producers who make products that use water during the manufacturing process
            farmers to wash produce before selling it to the public or to the stores
            water power plants
            doctors and hospitals need water to clean their instruments and prevent 
            the spread of disease
            cars need water to cool the engine, etc.

Then we talked about how a child in a village in India may have to wake up and walk several miles to fetch a bucket of dirty water to bring back and use for drinking, preparing food, washing dishes, washing clothes, bathing, etc.  She may have to make several trips to get enough water for the day.  It may take her several hours and she might not be able to go to school because she is too busy fetching water for her family’s needs so they can survive.  The water could make her or her family sick with diarrhea and parasites.  But they must have water, so she continues on despite the risk.

Make It Relevant:

Learning is living it! Exploring life with hands on experiences my kids and I can relate too.  I teach in a very hands on way.  I wanted to convey to the kids some aspects of what life is like with difficult to access water resources.  I wanted to make it relevant for them and enrich their learning experience.


We divided the kids into three teams.  Each team was given a bucket and a small dipping cup.  They had to walk a long ways (per the kids) from the picnic shelter to the public bathrooms to get to a location where water was accessibleThis activity represented a child in a village in India walking several miles to fetch water from a local watering hole or stream.


Then they needed a way to collect the water.  There water was available from a small sink.  Their buckets would not fit under the faucet.  They had to use their small cup to fill their buckets with water from the bathroom sink.  It took a long time to gather enough water to fill their buckets.

Then carry the full bucket all the way back to the shelter.  The water was very special and they were given instructions to be very careful not to spill it.  This activity represented a child in an Indian village carrying the water several miles back home to their house in their village for their family to use.


One team was able to make it back with a full bucket, without spilling a drop, and the other two teams spilt just a little along the way.  But over all, all three teams returned with their bucket of water intact.

Science Experiment:


Next, the teams made their bucket of water into a yucky mess with sticks, coffee grounds, dirt, trash, rocks, and hair.  This represented the polluted water that many children must use in developing countries as they have no other resource than the filthy water in the local lake or water hole that animals and people all use.  

We examined a clean water filtration experiment from a Green Science Clean Water kit and learned the various parts of a basic filtering system.  See the picture above: gravel, sand, charcoal, and a filtering membrane (this is a coffee filter, but you could use layers of cloth, cotton, or other materials).

Then the three teams built their own filtering systems to try to clean the polluted water to make it usable again.  Each team was given a pop bottle cut in half, a screen, rubber band, a filter, charcoal, sand, and gravel to create their own water filtration systems.  


They carefully scooped up their polluted water from their supply buckets, carried the polluted water to the table, and slowly poured it into their team’s filtering system.  They were amazed at how each layer of the filter removed debrie and contaminants.

This science experiment helped the kids understand how to remove pollution from contaminated water.  The water would still need to be sanitized before using for human consumption.  If people in developing countries had access to materials to build adequate filtering and sanitizing systems, they can turn bad water into useful water for human needs.

Count The Cost:

Do dig a basic well for a few families, costs about $5000 -$12,000 depending on where in the world it is drilled.

To dig a deeper 900ft well for a village with a storage tank can cost as much as $30,000 or more.

If you would like to know more about how a well is constructed, please see the description on wikipedia about water wells.

Costs to build a water treatment facility can vary widely depending on the extent of the processing systems built and the number of people it will serve.  I researched small facilities with costs of about $3 million dollars, to average size $30 million dollars, to larger facilities costing $300 million dollars and more.  

Coloring Pages:

The kids were given coloring pages that included geography, technology, engineering, and science to further their learning.    I love to further the STEM Initiative with kids(Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).  These were great coloring pages with an educational message!

One page explained how water is drawn from a lake, filtered, transported, cleaned and sanitized, stored, and then accessible to homes through various piping and sewer systems.  This page comes from a mini book with Thirstin, a small character that teaches kids about water.

Another page explained how underground water is available in a water aquifer, and can be accessed through a well then piped into a home.  This page is also from the Thirstin mini book.

 The next coloring page was a world map with places to label seven continents, by Crayola.

And the final coloring page was a map of India, made by Homeschool Creations.

Giving Banks Craft:

Next the kids decorated giving banks.  The purpose of the giving bank is to help save up their loose change to send to World Vision Clean Water Projects.  Parents were sent a link in an email to know where to send their donations.  

Each child used a container with a screw type lid (such as a peanut butter jar, ovalteen jar, grated parmesan cheese jar, etc.)  This was a good way to recycle these containers.  The kids will be able to reach their hand in to count their savings with the screw type lid and large opening. Counting their savings is a great way to practice math and life skills and help them keep track of their giving goals.


Kids could decorate their banks however they wanted.  We had various art supplies available on the tables.  Some drew scenes and messages on construction paper, then glued it to the jars. 


Others drew right onto their jars.  Many used various different stickers to create their masterpiece.  Some used special scissors to cut shapes of paper. 

Some used a hot glue gun to attach different items such as bottle caps, toilet paper tubes, and jewels, to their jars and make their creations stand out. 

This was a very creative and open time for the kids to express themselves.
We ended up with banks that looked amazing.  Some were decorated to look like water in lakes and rivers. 

Some were animals such as pigs, birds, and dinosaurs.  Some of the creations were very personal for the kids.  One looked like a river and a person was collecting gold from the water.  One looked like a well for a village.  One was a sign with a message about giving to help others. 

Counting Coins:

When the kids were done decorating their banks, I gave each one 25 pennies to get started saving money in their giving bank.  They had fun counting the coins and hearing them drop into their banks.

Fellowship & Meal….and a Cooking Lesson!

After designing our giving banks, we ate a meal together.  I invited all of the moms to bring something to share for our meal.  We had a great selection to fill our plates and stomachs with including sandwiches, vegetables, fruits, chips, dips, and more.


Keeping with a focus on India, I brought dahl, rice, and chapattis to share, and another mom brought raita.  This would make a complete meal in India.  I learned to make these dishes while living in college among students from India.  My best friend was from New Deli, India.  We met at an International Christian Fellowship meeting through a missionary, and we spent five years together doing everything and sharing our lives, and her way of life became a huge influence on me. 



I will post more about the recipes for these dishes, and about my life living among Indian and other international students in future stories.  I will come back and link up the recipes here in case you would like to make these dishes too.  Basically dahl is a mixture of red lentils, sauted onions, spices, and water cooked together.  The rice is a mixture of 1/2 Jasmine rice, and 1/2 Basmatti rice, water, sea salt, and ghee (clarified butter).  The raita is a mixture of plain yogurt, cucumber, herbs, and sea salt.  The chapattis (bread from India) are a mixture of flour, water, milk, sea salt, oil and cooked on a hot skillet.

I brought the dough for the chapattis and taught the kids how to make them.  They loved this!  The kids pinched off a walnut sized piece of dough, roll it into a ball with their hands, then roll it out into a thin circle with a rolling pin.  They learned to turn the dough each time they rolled the pin over it so it would keep a nice circle shape. 


Then they placed their chapatti onto a very hot electric skillet being careful not to get burned
.  It took about two or three minutes, and then they flipped the chapatti like a pancake over to the other side.  The chapatti was done when it got small brown spots on both sides.  It tastes like a tortilla and is kind of a cross between a tortilla and pitta bread.  It is delicious and a lot of fun to make!


The kids also played on the playground, and enjoyed each other’s fellowship playing games and talking together.


More Party Fun:

Each of the children received a pretend passport.


The first page includes a place to draw a picture of themselves, and write down some personal information and what country they are from.

Inside the passport are colorful pages with the eight different dolls listed, their names, country, language, and how to say hello in their language.   Then there is a place to put a stamp or sticker on each page after the children learn to say hello in that language. 

Each kid who attended the party / workshop received a Hearts for Hearts Girls bracelet to remind them of the fun we had together today, but more importantly to remind them of other kids in the world who need clean water and other basic needs and that together we can help make a difference.

We also held a raffle drawing for a door prize.  The winner could have their choice of prizes.  The kids had so much fun picking out their prize. 

All of the kids wished they could have won a clean water science kit and a doll.  I wish I had one of each prize to give to each kid who came today, but that wasn’t possible on my budget.

All of the kids went home with a coupon their families can use to buy a Hearts for Hearts Girls doll at a discount.  These dolls are wonderful to play with and enjoy.  They are very well made, posable, and have authentic clothing and accessories.  Everyone will love playing with them.  These coupons are a great way to buy them for a birthday or holiday gift, or just for fun, at a discount. 

Hearts for Hearts Girls dolls are available at Toys R Us,, and the Hearts for Hearts Girls website.  Keep your eyes open as they will soon be in more stores too.  Proceeds from sales of Hearts for Hearts Girls dolls goes back to World Vision to support various projects to help people with basic needs to better life for all of mankind.  This is a great charitable cause to support and teach your children about.

Please read the World Vision website if you would like to offer support or learn more about the Clean Water Projects.  You can connect with Hearts for Hearts Girls on Facebook and on the Hearts for Hearts website.

Disclaimer:  Special thanks to Hearts for Hearts Girls and Mommy Parties for giving me this review party opportunity. I received the Hearts for Hearts Girls dolls and bracelets mentioned in this story in exchange for hosting this party and writing an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own, and also of those who attended the workshop.  

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Sunprint Fabric Squares

We hosted a fun Solar Science Workshop in the park in July.  The was one of my favorite workshops we did this year. It was jam packed with so much learning fun.  Be sure to read about other workshops we have enjoyed this year and all the fun learning adventures we have been doing at Take Action Tuesday.

Our Solar Workshop contained learning activities about the Sun and Solar Power. 
This Solar Workshop story will be posted in two parts:

                Solar Science Workshop Part One: Sunprint Fabric Squares

                Solar Science Workshop Part Two:  Solar Ovens and Solar Power.


you heard of Sunprint Fabric? 

Click Image To Close

It is a special fabric that captures the energy of the sun to make a “reverse” photograph.   It comes in craft kits and is fun for both kids and adults.  This learning project targets NAEYC Curriculum Area for Cognitive Development: Creative Expression and Appreciation for the Arts.

To make this craft, it is a simple process of gathering items you would like to photograph, placing them on the Sunprint Fabric, placing all of this in the sun, waiting 15 minutes, rinsing the fabric in cold water, and letting it dry.

The fabric starts out a green color, but after it is exposed to the sun, it turns blue.  Once you have rinsed it, the area that was covered by the object you placed on it turns white.  It is like a white shadow of the object.  Any of the material exposed to the sun becomes blue, but material not exposed becomes white, thereby making a shadow type of photograph of the object that was placed on it.

You can place just about any object you want onto the fabric as long as it lays flat and makes contact with the material to block the sunlight from getting to the material.

I brought a huge box of random toys for the kids to choose items from, and some of the kids gathered items they found in the park too including plants (flowers and leaves from weeds in the grass), wooden sticks, and rocks.

Each person made their own personal art with items they put together.

After 15 minutes in the sun, the kids rinsed their fabric in cold water.


Then laid them out to dry.  As the fabric dries, their art appears.  It was amazing to see these green squares of fabric transform into blue and white works of art.

On a recent trip to Roper Mountain Science Center in Greenville, SC my family enjoyed looking at several beautiful quilts made using the sun printing process. 

These quilts were beautiful and the details of the photographs on the fabric were amazing.  You could see lots of details in each one. 

I encouraged the kids at our Solar Science Workshop to take their finished Sunprint Fabric Squares home and frame them for their wall, or turn it into a pillow or something they can enjoy for years to come just like these quilts we saw at the museum.  Other ideas are to sew several together to make a collage, a beautiful quilt, a curtain, or sew one square onto a shirt, etc.  These would make wonderful personalized Christmas gifts to give to grandparents from their grandchildren.  So many great things these can be used to decorate with and learn about science and art too.

Sunprint products come in both fabric and paper kits and are available at Discount School Supply online store.  You can buy the kits in different sizes.  The 25 pack of Sunprint Fabric Squares retails for $20.99   The 12 pack of Sunprint Paper Kit retails for $7.44 and they have a large 12 pack of Sunprint Paper in a kit that retails for $12.99.  They offer free shipping on orders over $79. 

We had such a fun time creating these special works of
art and learning about the power of the sun.  The Sunprint Fabric Squares were a perfect art / science craft to do with the kids for this workshop.  I want to thank Discount School Supply for asking us to review this craft project.

                                                 Arts & Crafts on Any Budget! 

Disclaimer: I received the product mentioned above in exchange for writing an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own honest opinion.

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Discovery Scope

My children and I are enjoying using the Discovery Scope for our homeschool adventures.  We are seeing the world around us in a whole new way over the past six weeks.  

The Discovery Scope is a small lightweight tool that goes with us everywhere and allows us to see microscopic details of things. That’s what we are doing, observing the world on a microscopic level, but not in a ” traditional science lab”.  Oh no, we are not in a traditional lab, but instead we are using the world as our science lab, and we can conduct our observations right where we find something interesting to look at. 

We are having so much fun.  I have been taking the Discovery Scope with us to the park on Tuesdays and Fridays, and we are using it in the house, and in the yard too.  It has really enhanced our walking and exploration time at the local parks. We are blessed with some very beautiful parks here in WNC.  We are looking at soil at the baseball fields,  plants in the soccer fields and play areas, the water in the ponds and creeks, sand in the sandboxes, the insects on tree branches, flowers, seeds, and so much more.   In the next few weeks we hope to share our Discovery Scope with some friends during a Take Action Tuesday learnign program we host in the park.  We plan to use it in a Sea Weed Science program and for some other things too.


The Discovery Scope is a small lightweight, hand held, wide-field microscope that fits in your purse or backpack and can go everywhere you go.  It has a 25x magnification and is great for looking at just about any object you are interested in.

My kit came in a small zip-lock plastic container and it fits into my diaper bag or purse very well.  We also have taken it stashed in our back pack and it leaves us lots of room for taking along other items for our learning adventures too.

It uses natural light instead of a light bulb. You don’t need a power source, and you don’t need a prepared slide to view with it like traditional microscopes, though it does come with an optional quick slide as well as several helpful tools and it all fits into a small kit that hardly takes up any space. 


Though it may look simplistic, it is a revolutionary technological tool. 

Though it is compact, at only 3 inches long, it is an engineering marvel and it will advance your student’s understanding of the world around them.

Description adapted from their website:

Advantages of Discovery Scope®

Sturdy:  Discovery Scope is practically indestructible. If your Discovery Scope experiences any problems during normal use – in the home, classroom, or field – we’ll replace the defective part, free.

Child Friendly: Young people of all ages love Discovery Scope. Children of about age 6 or 7 and up usually need about 2-5 minutes of instruction to master the use of Discovery Scope. It’s a great educational tool for children because they can share their discoveries with other children or adults. Discovery Scope encourages children to explore and enjoy nature.

Pass It Around: You can focus on a specimen with Discovery Scope and then pass the ‘Scope around so that everyone in a group can see. It’s great for teaching, for sharing with the family, and for opening the minds of others about the world of the small.

Ideal For Field Use: Discovery Scope is so convenient and compact, it can be used anywhere you go. With no metal parts, Discovery Scope will never corrode. It’s small enough to fit in a loose pocket or a small nylon bag. It’s ideal for backpacking, park exploring, kayaking and all outdoor activities.

No Stray Light: The optical pathway is a dark tube, capped with an eye cup. This eliminates all stray light, giving you the best possible view of the subject, whether it’s a tiny flower, the eyes of a spider, or the swimming legs of a water flea.

It Does The Holding: The subject is held in place in front of the lens by the unique holding system. Once the subject is in focus, it’s fixed in place; until it moves or you move it. You can easily observe your subject for many minutes, or come back to it later.

Light Makes the Difference: The secret to great micro/macro viewing is great lighting. With Discovery Scope you can move the entire imaging system and the specimen into any light conditions you want. You can easily get light to bounce off the front or side of the subject, or you can shine light directly through the subject to see details right inside.

When you look at a square foot of your yard or park, what do you see? How would you like to carry a practical tool with you, where ever you go, that allows you and your children to view the world around you in a new and exciting way? Would your kids be excited, and like to conduct science and art projects on a whole new level?

The Discovery Scope Basic Kit retails for $40 and comes with several attatchments and useful tools: one Discovery Scope, multi use chamber holder, one quick slide, two clear view chambers, one water dropper, one mini clamp. You can also order a camera adapter, and other accessories, and the Discovery Scope is also available in a Naturalist Kit with a custom pack too.

Our experience:

I used a digital camera, and the camera on my cell phone, and took these photos.  I could also have made simple videos with these two tools already in my possession.  But I do hope to acquire the Discovery Scope camera adapter someday to make shooting these pictures and videos easier, because it can be difficult to keep the focus when trying to capture the pictures.  The adapter would hold everything in place for you and make it much easier.  Here are some of the amazing things we have been looking at with our discovery scope: 

A patch of grass.

A flower head of a weed we found at the park.

Clover flowers.

A mature dandelion flower head.

Here we compared different salts.

Here is Coarse Mediterranean Sea Salt (France),

French Celtic sea salt (Brittany Isles),

and Real Salt (Utah).

Need other ideas for investigations?  Try out some of these we have been doing:

1.  Look in the pantry and observe:
grains (oats, wheat, rye, rice, corn, millet), nuts & seeds(cashews, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, almonds, sunflower, pumpkin, etc.), flours (all purpose, whole wheat, corn, spelt, rice, potato, etc.),  sugars (sucanat, demera, turbinado, evaportated cane juice, rapadura, white, powdered, etc.) pastas (whole grain varieties, rice varieties, regular semolina varieties spaghetti, elbow, penn, rigatoni, etc.), spices, etc.

2. Observe local water sources (ponds, creeks, lakes, rivers, ocean).

3. Observe fresh fruits and vegetables.

4. Observe tree leaves from different trees.

5. Observe insects.

6. Observe small creatures.

7. Observe sea shells.

8. Observe toys.

9. Observe different soils and sand.

10. Observe a variety of plants and their parts: flowers, stems, roots, seeds.

11. Observe animal poop.

12. Observe various rocks and minerals.

There are so many ideas, you will never get bored!

I definitely recommend the Discovery Scope for every family, homeschool, classrooms, teachers, and one for grandma and grandpa too.  It is a must have for homeschoolers!  I’ll be encouraging my friends to get one of these wonderful Discovery Scopes and I will be sending some out to family and friends as gifts.  These are wonderful, easy to use, take anywhere tools your family will love.


Read the TOS Homeschool Crew blog to see what others had to say about the Discovery Scope.

Disclaimer:  I received the product mentioned above, as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for writing an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own honest opinion.

This post will be link
ed up with
No Time For Flash Cards
Science Sunday
Raising Homemakers
Sharing Time

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Snikiddy and the Snack Lab

I hosted an outdoor learning program in the park this past week.  Homeschool families joined me and we had a science program and food tasting lab we called the “Snack Lab”. 

The main goal was to help kids identify healthy snack choices.  But we also had a fun adventure learning about our taste buds and sampling sweet, sour, bitter, and salty food options.  We also did a product sampling and giveaway of Snikiddy All Natural snacks.

The kids spent some time answering questions and sharing about their favorite snacks.  They learned to identify their personal favorite combinations: salty and crunchy, sweet and juicy, sweet and crunchy, sour, etc. 

Then we discussed some healthy and not so healthy snack choices.  Using lots of plastic toy foods, we grouped the healthy choices and not healthy choices on different plates.  We discussed why some foods are healthy snack choices: nutrients including vitamins and minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, good fats, and proteins.  We also discussed why some foods are bad snack choices: artificial colors, too much sugar, bad fats and hydrogenated oils, and artificial ingredients. 


Then the kids took turns trying out several different healthy food choices that met these different criteria: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, crunchy, soft, juicy, etc.  After tasting the food, the children identified and described what they were tasting. 

Bell peppers were bitter and crunchy.

Lemons and Limes were sour and juicy.


Grapes were sweet and juicy, carrots were sweet and crunchy, and so on.  The kids tried out several fresh snacks.  However, I forgot to cut up the apples, even though I brought several apples with me and a cutting board and knife along.  I just ran out of time and forgot to do it.  Sometimes the pollen in the air makes me feel like my head is in a cloud!

We discussed several more fruits and vegetables and protein snacks that we did not have on hand, but would make good snack options too, like fresh broccoli, celery, cauliflower, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, bananas, cheese and crackers, and so on.  Most kids said apples were their favorite fresh food snack. (go figure, the one choice I didn’t serve them, but they saw it on the plate, sorry guys!).

Next we sampled some varieties of salty and crunchy snacks.  We discussed lots of options like popcorn, nuts, crackers, pretzels and various chips too.  Most kids said either popcorn or pretzels were their favorite salty and crunchy snack.

On each plate the kids tasted Snikiddy All Natural snacks. We were sent five different bags to try.  The variety included: Baked Fries: Sea Salt, Barbecue, and Cheddar Cheese; Cheese Puffs: Grilled Cheese ; and Eat Your Vegetables: Sour Cream and Onion.  

Snikiddy All Natural snacks are made with healthy wholesome ingredients, are gluten free, wheat free, preservative free, no corn syrup, no hydrogenated oils, and have no artificial colors or flavors.  You can read about the ingredients on the links posted above. 
From the Snikiddy website: “ …Snikiddy® creates products for families actively looking for healthier foods that satisfy their snack cravings. The Snikiddy brand is a portfolio of better for you snacks that are simple, wholesome real products for families.


After the tasting lab, the kids and some of the parents took a snack survey.  I came up with the questions myself and printed them out on paper.  I cut the sheets of paper into 10 rectangles a little bigger than buisiness card size.  This way I could fit 50 surveys on 5 sheets of paper.  It was much cheaper to print this way than print out 50 sheets of paper. 

They answered these questions on the survey:

    1. Do you eat snacks? 
         a) Yes  b) no

    2. Which answer is a snack? 
         a) apple  b) popcorn  c) chips  d) all

    3. What is your favorite salty snack?

    4. Which Snikiddy All Natural snacks were your favorite?
        a) Baked Fries: Sea Salt , Cheddar, Barbecue
        b) Cheese Puffs: Grilled Cheese
        c) Eat Your Vegetables: Sour Cream and Onion


Four of the parents helped me serve the kids all of the various snacks and take the survey.  After the tasting lab, they went to each child and took down their personal answers on the survey forms.  The parents squatted down like you see in the pictures at eye level with the kids and got their honest open opinions.  This was such a big help, as it a
llowed me to focus on teaching the kids and taking pictures. 

I love homeschool families and their servant attitude.  Truly these families encourage me to do more and more, reach my full potential, accomplish my goals, and be the best I can be.  You know they are teaching all these kids the same thing too.  Wow, all these kids reaching their goals and full potentials, awesome!  All this encouragement and support makes teaching the kids absolutely fun!  I just want to say a big “Thank You!”  I just love everyone of them!

After our sampling and survey of the Snikiddy snack foods, the kids and parents were free to eat as much of the various snacks as they wanted.  Oh, it was so yummy, and there was plenty to eat today. They ate everything except the bell peppers. 

The kids also made a snack bag / goodie bag craft to take home bags of Snikiddy snacks.   I supplied them with various craft supplies and they could decorate their snack bag anyway they wanted with crayons, colored pencils, and cut outs. 


After our craft, we filled their snack bags with Snikiddy All Natural snack bags.  This was such a treat to take home.   Then we drew names for giveaways.  Some kids won large boxes full of Snikiddy snack foods. Wow!


Some kids won Snikiddy Art Kits.  These kits are wonderful and fit nicely in a backpack, purse, or desk.  They contained 8 pastels, 12 crayons, and 8 colored pencils all in a handy plastic organizer kit for crafting lots of arts and crafts.


There were way to many pictures from today to share them all with you.  But as you can see, we learned allot about nutrition and healthy snack choices, science with our taste buds, and we had a lot of learning fun! 

Everyone loved the Snikiddy snacks.  When it came to picking favorites, the most favorite by far was the Grilled Cheese Puffs.  All of the parents also enjoyed the Snikiddy snacks and several asked where they could buy them for their kids.  I am glad to share this information, because these snacks really are delicious, kids love them, and many families with allergies or on special diets can eat them. 

Snikiddy is available for purchase in lots of stores and online.  Check out the Snikiddy website to find a retailer near you.  They also offer a free coupon at the top of the product page. 

Snikiddy also offers contests and giveaways.  Right now they have a Summer Escapes Sweepstakes going on.  Stop over to and enter their contests for a chance to win great prizes!

Disclaimer:  I was sent the product mentioned above in exchange for writing an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my personal opinions, and I also gathered opinions from the folks I shared the product with and expressed them in this review as well.

This post will be linked up with:
No Time For Flash Cards
Science Sunday
Sharing Time
Raising Homemakers


Please share.