Category Archives: Science

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

Please share.

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.

Gravity Play

My very active toddler (age 3) and pre-kinder (age 4) learned about gravity, force, and motion today with big brother who is in first grade (age 7).

This was accomplished with some pieces of track, a small ball, and a drop shoot (we used a toy with a hole to drop the ball through).

We have had this Fisher Price toy around for 11 years and it has always been a favorite toy at our house. The original ball looked like a rock, and we lost that years ago. It was supposed to land in a small truck that backed up to the toy.  But we have found lots of other uses with other objects over the years, including cars, dominos, marbles, small animals, other objects, and various balls.

There are three drop holes and each is a little different. One causes the ball to zig zag back and forth as it drops lower on a ramp. One has a bucket flapper that slows it down before it drops into a holding bin below, and one has a tunnel slide and shoots the ball out front of the toy.

Guided Learning

Generating a hypothesis:
What do you think would happen if you drop the ball through the hole?
What do you think would happen if you push the ball up through the bottom hole?
What would happen if you dropped a domino through the hole?

Our Experiment:
The kids repeated this over and over.  They placed the track under the opening to catch the dropped ball and guide its direction as the force of gravity propelled it. Eventually the ball rolls with its own momentum and finally comes to a stop.  It rolls because it is round. The round shape allows it the ball to make very little surface contact when it touches the track, and this reduces friction. The force of friction and the pull of gravity toward the ground is what eventually causes the ball to stop.

Why does the ball fall down?
Why does the ball roll?
How far does the ball roll?
Why did the ball roll down the track?
Did the ball keep going or did it stop?
Why does the ball eventually come to a stop?
Why didn’t the domino roll down the track?
What is gravity?
What is friction?

Further the Learning:
Learn about gravity, mass, and weight.

Falling Gravity Lesson Plans

Gravity Lesson Plans

Gravity Word Search

Isaac Newton Gravity Coloring Page

Jack and Jill Fall Down The Hill Coloring Page

Online Gravity Game at Primary Games

Gravity Guy Game at Primary Games

The kids can do this activity as free play, or as a guided science experiment. They can change their track to make a curve, or build additional height drops for the track. We put the toy up on a box, then put a track to the toy, then angled it down to another track. This incline angle causes the ball to roll faster down the track. There are lots of other creative variations you can use. Instead of using a toy as a shoot, try using a paper towel tube, a plastic cup with a hole, or a box with a hole cut in it instead.  It is also fun to put a cup, bell, or a bulls eye, at the end of the track.

In addition to children learning about science, engineering, and physics with this play, they also practice problem solving, eye hand coordination, gross and fine motor skills, and relationship skills by working together.

I love watching the children learn through play!

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

Please share.

Earth Worms

Early one morning, I was putting the trash out for the garbage man to pick up.  The air felt humid and damp.  I briefly looked at the grasss as I walked back to the house when I noticed two worms mating.  

A perfect homeschool moment!  So I did what any excited homeschool mom would do, I called for all the kids to come and see this amazing event.

I have been wanting to do an earth worm unit study.  Several months ago, I put lots of material together, but other things took precidense and I still have yet to do it with the kids.  I hope we can get this unit on worms done soon.

But today was a spur of the moment natural SCIENCE lesson.  I couldn’t believe what a great visual we had.
Two very long and large worms were stretched in both directions for a very long distance.  But at one end they joined a section of their bodies. 

I knew from experience of catching worms to go fishing that if they sensed any vibration on the ground they would quickly go into hiding down a whole.  Their stretched bodies were actually a quick get away plan.  They were ready to recoil in opposite directions, like two rubber bands. 

We all observed them for quite a while.

We noticed they were exchanging a white colored sticky fluid.  The kids guessed this white fluid might be eggs, or the worms might be fertilizing eggs.  We decided we would look up what this was on the internet when we got back inside the house later.

Eventually we did disturb the worms and they tried to dart away quickly.

They tried to hide in the grass, but we caught them, gently held on untill their bodies relaxed and let go of what they were clinging to, and brought them over to the sidewalk for a closer look.

They were wiggly, slimmy, and sticky.  After observing them for a while, we released them back into the grass and they quickly went back into hiding though they did not completely disappear down a whole.  We guessed they needed to recouperate their strength after our observations.  But we checked later and they were gone.  So we know they fully recovered and no harm was done from spending time with us in our outdoor classroom!

Here is a video we made during part of our observations.

Several months ago, we spent some time with a WORMOLOGIST at Roper Mountain Science Center. 

This was a great opportunity for us to see worms at different stages in their life cycle and learn about what they eat and how to keep a worm habitat at home.

I was amazed how small worm eggs, and baby worms are.  Here are worm castings (poop), worm eggs, and baby worms in my hand.

I will post more about the trip to Roper Mountain Science Center in a future story.  It is a great place for hands on learning.

When went back in the house,after observing worms in our yard, we looked up some information about worms.  Here is some basic info we learned:

  • Earth worms can live about 6-8 years, but if a worm’s skin dries out, it will die. 
  • Worms do not have eyes, but can sense light. 
  • Worms eat soil, leaves, and vegetation.
  • Worms are hermaphrodites.  They carry both male and female organs.  Mature worms mate by sticking together and exchanging sperm at the clitellum.  Both worms pass sperm.  Then the sperm mixes with eggs in both worms.  The fetile eggs develop an egg capsule, or cocoons, and worms deposite these in the soil.   
  • Baby worms hatch from very small cocoons. The worm cocoon is smaller than a grain of rice.


Earth Worm Unit Study

Here are some resources I am using with my kids for a Worm Unit Study and making a Worm Lapbook.  I’ll post a story and pictures here when we get our unit study done.  Check out these links if you would like to learn more about Earth Worms with your kids.

National Geographic

Virtual Worm Tour inside a worm

Make a WORM BIN with The Adventures of Herman


Earth Worm Science Experiments

Walking Earth Worm Science Experiment

Learning about Earth Worms Lesson Plans

Earth Worm Report from Eduplace

Primary Games Arena Quiz about Worms

Earth Worms Unit Study at Homeschool Share

Worm Unit Study from hcentralsa

Earth Worm Coloring Page

E is for Earth Worm Coloring Page

Earth Worms Coloring By Number Page

Earth Worm Coloring Page by Enchanted Learning

Compost Stew Activities

“…but early the next morning the LORD sent a worm to chew on the vine, and the vine dried up”.   Jonah 4:7

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

Please share.

Earth and Space

I love hands on learning! It makes learning fun. It breaths life into an otherwise hum drum, and possibly boring concept or subject matter.   My kids enjoy the process of “doing” much more than just “thinking about doing”.  It makes sense doesn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things in this life to learn about that are not boring.  But to have hands on opportunities while learning about them just changes the learning game altogether.  Kids “get it” or understand it much better and remember it better too.

Bright Ideas Press has a fun hands on science curriculum for homeschoolers called Christian Kids Explore.

From the Bright Ideas Press website:

“This user-friendly, unabashedly Christian science curriculum includes teaching lessons, gorgeous coloring pages, hands-on time, review sheets, and an awesome supplemental book list! You can choose from Chemistry, Creation Science, Earth and Space, and Physics. Award winning, college professors-vetted, and parent approved!”

So lets give it a look, shall we?


I was sent the Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space to review.  It is a large book and contains 360 pages.  It has six units divided into 24 lessons.  Each unit has lessons with reading, hands on activities, coloring pages, and vocabulary.  Each unit also has a historical timeline and a “wrap up” where the kids do additional activities and make a folder-book to “Show What You Know” .  There are also further reading suggestions and resources. 

This book was written by a very busy homeschool mother of three kids. Her name is Stephanie Redmond. In addition to being a homeschooling mom, she is a wife, Bible study teacher, author, and a military team leader. She has been married to her husband Andy for the past 29 years. Andy is an Air Force Officer. Stephanie says her main goal is to glorify God in all she does, and teaching her children from a Christian Worldview is a big part of that goal.

 It would be very easy to turn these lessons into a unit study. We added some of the material from Unit 6  into our Space Exploration Unit Study we have been working on in our homeschool.

Subject lessons your student will learn about in this book include:

Earth’s Creation
Facts About Earth and its Structure

Plate Tectonics

Introduction to Water
Glaciers and Icebergs

Introduction to Layers of Air
Atmospheric Pressure
Air Composition

Weather and Seasons
Cloud Formation
Thunderstorms and Tornadoes

Beyond Earth

Makeup of the Universe
Earth’s Moon
Eight other Planets

For each lesson, it is suggested to:
     read the lesson
     fill out a daily reading sheet
     make flash cards with the vocabulary words, lesson facts, and scriptures
    define vocabulary in science notebook
    hands on activities and experiments
    read the suggested additional reading to enhance the learning
    go on related field trips
    keep all written materials and photographs in a science notebook

For each unit, it is also suggested to:
    complete timelines
    color the coloring pages
    complete the unit wrap up review and quiz
    make a folder-book

This book retails for $34.95  There is also a pdf copy of the reproducibles for purchase too for $12.95 (and currently on sale for $7.95), or you can just make photocopies from the book.

Though the suggested age range for this book is for grades 3-6, it is adaptable for younger and older students.  I used this book with all of my kids ages 11, 9, 7, 4, 3, (but not the baby).
We worked on several lessons in the Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space.  We are currently working on Beyond Earth Unit 6.


We made some fun Galaxy Capacino to enjoy as we read through the lessons and completed the coloring pages in Unit 6 about Space.  It is basically home made hot chocolate, and while the mixture was swirling, we slowly dropped some instant coffee granules on top.  It made this beautiful swirl pattern and looks like a galaxy in outer space.  Read here to see how we make our homemade HOT CHOCOLATE.

While working through this unit, we also played in our Space Exploration Sensory Bin we made to go along with our Space ExplorationUnit Study we are doing as a family.

This is a great science curriculum resource for homeschoolers.  It is easy to implement and is clearly written.   It is written from a Christian perspective and includes scriptures and discussions about what it says in the bible. 

I am looking forward to doing a lot more activities and experiments with this curriculum.  We will be making a 3D model of the earth, reviewing plate tectonics with boiled eggs, making a speleothem, making an edible sedimentary rock, make a ground water aquifer, charting the moon phases for a month each night, and so much more. 

Titles available in the 
Christian Kids Explore science curriculum series include:

Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space  (Grades 3-6)

Christian Kids Explore Physics   (Grades 4-8) 

Christian Kids Explore Chemistry ( Grades 4-8)

Christian Kids Explore Biology  (Grades 3-6)

Be sure to check out the FREE SAMPLES listed on the links with each of the above curriculums.  There are several free lessons and activities you can do with your kids for each book.  It is a great opportunity to try the products free before you buy.

< /FONT> 

Bright Ideas Press Is Very Supportive Of The Needs Of Homeschool Families.

From the 
Bright Ideas Press website“Bright Ideas Press publishes curriculum that moms love. We promise to publish Christian-oriented curriculum that will fit into your hectic life, curriculum that is both affordable and easy-to-use with children of different ages at the same time. The team at Bright Ideas Press prays that our products and resources will not only simplify your life but also inspire, encourage, and enable you to effectively educate your children”.

Be sure to check out the TOS Homeschool Crew blog to read what others have to say about this science curriculum.


Disclaimer:  I was given the book Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space in exchange for writing an honest review.

Please share.

From Head To Toe

AIMS Education Foundation has a strong commitment to hands on science and mathematics education.  AIMS stands for  Activities Integrating Math and Science.   


AIMS is a non-profit company and their educational products are used by both public school and homeschool educators.  

        AIMS offers:

            Activity Books
            Essential Math
            Classroom Sets
            Literature Link Activities

You can read about their commitment to homeschoolers
here.  They meet state specific standards for public schools in Ohio, Texas, Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia.  You can view the standards alignment here.

There website has a lot of free samples for you to try and help you get started with science and math activities.  There are two ways to see free samples.  Click here to view some free sample activities  per grade level.   To view the free samples in each product, click on a product you are interested in and then click on the sample /review link.

Here is a video explaining how to do an AIMS activity.

From Head To Toe

We were given the opportunity to review From Head To Toe.  This is a science activity book about the human body and is designed for grades 5-9.  However, we used it for grades 5, 3, 1, preK, and tot school too.  It is very adaptable and kids of all ages will enjoy the science experiments and activities.


The book is large and contains 269 pages.  It also comes with a CD for making printables, or you can copy them from the book too.    It retails for $24.95 from the AIMS website.

It contains 27 activities.  The table of contents is divided into eight chapters:
        Nervous System
        Circulatory System
        Respitory System
        Digestive System
        Urinary System
        Musculoskeletal System Sensory Organs
        Culminating Activities

The book is laid out really nicely.  In each chapter, there are rubber band books to make and read, models and experiments to conduct, coloring pages and worksheets to do, in addition to more pages on the CD.

Students make a rubber band book that explains the specific body system they are learning about.  The rubber band book is made by printing off pages from the CD or copying the page from the book and then folding it and securing it with a rubber band.  It is written with humor and is comic book style and keeps the kids interests. The students can color the pages of the rubber band book to enhance it too.

So far we have learned about the human heart from the circulatory system , and completed the whole chapter on the urinary system. 

One challenge I found with using the book is that the experiments require a few materials that I did not have on hand.  For example: I need to collect a few more materials for some of the activities to complete the chapter on the circulatory system, including an experiment creating a pumping heart model.  I had everything on hand except a tube connector that joins the openings of two bottles and forceps. 

        materials needed for the heart model:
                two 20 ounce plastic bottles
            connector tube
                metal washer, 1/4 inch
                two flexible plastic drinking straws
                nail with a sharp point
                permanent marker
                5 minute epoxy or glue gun

Lesson learned,  I need to plan ahead and gather all of my needed materials before I start a chapter.   It was my fault for not being prepared. I found this situation true with all the chapters, where I had all but one or two items needed to conduct the

You can view the first 37 pages of From Head To Toe
here, and make several rubber band books on the nervous system and circulatory system, color the activity pages, and do the heart model activity.  Your kids will have a lot of fun with this so please give it a try.  Its free!

Here are some of the fun pictures we took as we learned about the Urinary System:

In the activity called “Take Me To The Cleaners“, the kids learned about the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. They learned how the kidneys filter impurities from the blood that has returned from feeding oxygen to the cells of the body. Before the blood returns to the heart and lungs, it is filtered by nephrons in the kidneys. They remove the waste particles and mix it with water, and it becomes urine. Then they send the urine to the ureters which takes it to the bladder to be stored until the body is ready to urinate, or pee. The bladder has receptors that tell it when it is full and it is time to pee. The urine leaves the bladder and exits the body through the urethra. 


To understand the basics of how the kidneys work: 
    materials we used:
             coffee filter
             rubber band
             two clear jars (you can use any clear cups or jars)
             carrot juice (you can use any vegetable juice)

Number the jars 1 and 2.  Place the filter and rubber band over the opening of the second jar leaving a small indention in the filter to hold liquid.  

Place two ounces of carrot juice into the first jar.

Slowly pour 1 ounce of the juice into the filter covering the second jar.

You may have to wait a while for it to filter.  Go slowly and don’t rush it.

Observe what is happening.

The juice in the second filtered jar is clearer than the juice in the first un-filtered jar. 

The filter collected lots of particles of carrot and removed it from the juice.  The remaining filtered juice had no large carrot particles left in it.

This demonstrates how the kidneys filter out impurities from the blood for removal, and return clean blood to circulate in the body.

The next activity demonstrates how the bladder knows when it is full of urine (waste particles and water) and ready to empty (urinate or pee).    A balloon represents the bladder, and tape represents receptors on the bladder.  Place clear tape in a cross or x on two places, making two crosses or x’s on the balloon.  Gently blow a small amount of air into the balloon. Observe what happens to the balloon and tape.

Blow again adding a little more air.  Observe again.

Blow more air in to reach its maximum.

Ok, thinking that this balloon represented her bladder full of pee, she was a little reluctant to touch it.

Now release the air as if the bladder has emptied its contents.  Now the tape (receptors) recognize there is nothing in there.

I was very pleased with the book From Head To Toe.  It has a lot of substance.  There is a lot of fun activities for kids to do, plus coloring pages and worksheets too.   It does require a little planning to be sure you have all the materials on hand to conduct the experiments and build the models.

This book is hands on, our favorite way to learn.  I am planning to turn our projects and rubber band books from this activity book into a wonderful notebook/lapbook as part of our Human Body Unit Study.


If you would like to know what others on the TOS Homeschool Crew thought of this product, please read here.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the product mentioned above for the purpose of writing an honest review.

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

Please share.

Space Exploration Sensory Bin

I have been wanting to do a space unit study with the kids.  I had planned to do this at the start of the school year but I didn’t have a space bin ready, so I waited until I had some items accumulated.  I have several books ready, a telescope, some worksheets to make a lapbook, and have been collecting mini space stuff to make a space exploration sensory bin.

For at least the past six months, the kids have been missing a few toys they thought they had.  He, he, he, he…mom was sneaky!   If they got something space like to play with, and a few weeks would go by and they quit playing with it, and if mom finds it, then it went in the bin.

For storage purposes, I kept everything in a small clear bin that fit on a shelf in my storage room.  But when I was ready to assemble it, I put it into a large black bin to resemble being in outer space.

Yeah! I am finally ready to do our space study and build and use this bin.  Here is what I have been collecting.

The base layer has lots of black and clear beads of different sizes and shapes.  Then I added small dark blue, light blue pompoms and small black, blue, metallic, and other color marbles.  the next size was medium black pompoms, and medium silver white pompoms (these look awesome).    Then I layers in larger marbles that resembled planets.  Also a yellow golf ball that looks like a sun.  Some zoob balls that resemble meteors.  We had some glass beads, glass drop shaped spheres, and glass star shaped rocks too. 

The middle layer has all the planets in our galaxy, a moveable globe of earth, a large yellow golf ball for a sun, wooden stars, black and blue snap cubes that connect to build stuff or have holes that can be laced with string. I added black string and gold string too. Star shaped cookie cutters can be filled, used to trace, laced with string, or play with playdough, etc. There are also lots of glow in the dark stars, comets, and planets.

The top layer has lots of astronauts in white and orange.  A poseable astronaut with a removable helmet and backpack.  Lots of rockets, space ships, satellites, space centers, space capsules, land rovers, a wind up land rover, a lego moon explorer, a transformer space explorer, and another special space explorer that came with the poseable astronaut. 

This bin has so much to see and do.  I love it!  All the kids love it too.

This bin really captures the interest of the older kids too.  The first and third grader are busy playing and the fifth grader is drawing items in the tub!  Yahoo!

One of the activities we explored in the bin was the glow in the dark planets and stars.  The kids had so much fun with a flashlight, dark rooms, and holding glowing planets.

We will be learning lots about space related science stuff in the next few weeks.  I love this bin because it has so many hands on realistic science objects that we can use as props in our study in addition to just having lots of fun playing with them.  Check back soon for some space exploration adventures!

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

Please share.

Dancing In The Rain

Spring brings lots of new opportunities to learn from.  It also brings some rainy days.  My kids like to go outside.  We love to play in the yard, ride bikes and scooters on the road out front of the house, and play at the park.  But we don’t do those things on rainy days and this can result in some grumpy kids.

Rainy day conversation: 
Child: “Mom, its raining! 
Mom: “Yes it is.”
Child: “Can I go out and play?”
Mom: “No, it is too wet.”
Child: :”I don’t want it to rain.   I can’t go outside in the rain.  This day is no fun!”

Later, I usually overhear this song as they sit sadly by the window:
“Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day!”
or this song:
“It’s raining, its pouring, the old man is snoring….”

So pitiful, just pitiful is their reaction to staying inside!  So many toys and indoor games we could play today, why do they have to feel so sad about the rain? 

What if I change the answer to “Yes, you can go out and play in the rain”?  It’s a crazy thought I know, but we haven’t played in the rain in a long time.  Winter is over, and spring is here.  What new adventure could we have?  What learning could take place?  Would they still be sad?  What if we explore the rain without a raincoat or rain boots?  Could we explore it in our barefeet?  One thing is for sure, they are going to get wet!

Explore The Rain

What is rain?
Where does it come from?
How does it feel?
Is it hot or cold?  Is is dry or wet?
Why does it feel wet?
Why is it so small?

Experiments & Observations:

Observe the rain falling to the ground from the sky:

Observe flowing water and standing water, or puddles, made by the rain:

Feel the rain:

Taste the rain:

Splash in the rain:

Make footprints with rain:

Lots of footprints:

Marching in the rain:

Running in the rain:

Falling down in the slippery rain:

Dancing in the rain:


The rain falls from the clouds in small drops.
The rain can fall fast or slow, and can have variations of small or very small drops, which creates heavy or light rain.
The rain drops fall down to earth because of gravity.
The rain drops tastes like water. The water is similar to water in the bathroom shower.
The rain feels wet because it is water.
The water from the rain flows downhill until the ground becomes flat, and then the rain can’t move.  Then the rain becomes a water puddle. Eventually the puddle will disappear as the water seeps into the soil and some of it evaporates into the air.
The water makes the dry dirt wet and muddy.
The rain makes the ground slippery as it mixes with dirt.
The rain feels cool.
The rain makes your hair and clothes wet.  
The rain makes your body feel wet and cold.

Child: “Mom, doesn’t the rain just make you want to dance?”
Mom: “Yes, just like the rain drops we saw dancing on the ground as they fell from the sky.”
Child: “Mom, thanks for letting us go outside and dance in the rain.”

New Song: “I’m singing in the rain, just singing in the rain, what a glorious feeling, I’m happy again..”

                          You can learn while dancing in the rain!

“I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit.”  Leviticus 26:4

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

Please share.

Good Eats

My kids and I love watching Good Eats on TV.

If you haven’t seen Good Eats, you don’t know what you are missing.  It is like watching a good comedy mixed with science, history, geography, common sense and food.   I love watching the host, Alton Brown, work his comedy style into learning where food comes from and how to prepare it.

Watching Good Eats is like going back in time to the best science show on TV called Beakman’s World, and putting his laboratory in today’s kitchen.   Alton is a wacky science teacher who is also a great chef!  Or he is a great chef who is also a wacky science teacher….anyway, he gets my kids, and myself, absolutely happy about cooking and food science.

How can you laugh while learning about lamb, chocolate, tea, cupcakes, etc?  Give Alton 30 minutes of your time and I am sure you will laugh and learn something new.  

Yes, we often learn about cooking and food sitting right in our living room, instead of the kitchen.  Later, in the kitchen, we talk about the things we learned through cooking programs and especially the fun learning we did with Good Eats.

Here my nine year old, and three year old, get ready for the Good Eats program to start.

Just before the episodes start, I serve the kids a yummy snack.  Then I call everyone to the living room to take a seat and get quiet. 

Here is my 11 year old, holding his baby brother, and sipping on a homemade glass of Mocha Frappe as he enjoys today’s episode of Good Eats.  He plugs away at his school work all morning to get it done in time to watch the show.  He really “gets” the comedy and science that Alton Brown teaches in his programs. 

Today we learned about lamb, its history, how it is raised, different cuts of lamb, and how to prepare the rack of ribs into the shape of a crown.   Alton took us to the farm, to the butcher, to the supermarket, and to his kitchen.

Alton is very funny.  In the next picture I’ve posted he is impersonating the food police.  He often disregards the USDA suggestions on cooking temps, eating things raw, culturing, etc.  I think that is one reason I like him so much.  He uses experience and common sense to guide him and doesn’t rely on everything the government says is right or wrong in preparing food; much like the Weston A Price foundation in many of his suggestions.  Though he does not totally live by the suggestions of Weston A Price either; and thats another reason I like him.  Though I love much of what the WAPF teaches, I don’t agree with everything, nor do I implement everything or live by a strict set of cooking rules as they do.  Many times when  I owned my healthy food store, folks who were devout followers in the WAPF movement would ask my opinion on things, and I would tell them that they needed to remain flexible and do what worked for their family and not get stressed out about eating everything 100%.  It can take an incredible amount of time to soak all the grain and nuts you use, or ferment, or only use organic, etc.  This is not always feasible.   Alton is flexible and he goes with what works, what is healthy in moderation, and makes life fun and interesting.  He is my kitchen hero!

In each episode, Alton takes us various places to learn amazing facts about food.  Sometimes we are in a foreign country, a super market, in his oven, microwave, cabinets, the sink, the freezer, and other obscure places, or we might even find ourself in a petri dish with other molecules.  He places the camera from different vantage points and you really feel as if you are right there in the refrigerator with him.  Some parts of his episodes are like being at a theater or in a play. Characters dress up and take you on an adventure.   I love his style of communicating and teaching. 

Today’s lesson on selecting, preparing, and cooking a Rack of Lamb, which is a very expensive dish at restaurants, became a simple process that you can easily make at home, and Alton showed us how.

Here are some short video clips of Good Eats that I found on YouTube.  These episodes will give you just a taste of what Alton’s “comedic science in the kitchen” is all about and how he takes something that seems complicated and makes it simple to understand and recreate in your own kitchen.

Learn History and Science About Brunch and Eggs Benedict. 
Part 1  Learn how to make English Muffins.

Learn History and Science About Brunch and Eggs Benedict
Part 2  Learn about eggs. 

Learn Science While Making A Pound Cake

Science of Fish and Eating Sustainably

Learn the Science and Method of making Banana Pudding

I am using this Good Eats program as part of our life skills training in our homeschool.  The program is only 30 minutes long and comes on TV Mon-Fri. on the Food Network at 11 am in our area. We try to watch the program two or three times a week.  

But if you don’t have this channel, or don’t have TV, check out the huge variety of FREE Good Eats videos on YouTube or on the Food Network online.  You can also find Alton Brown’s cookbooks in stores. 

Homeschooling in our living room with Good Eats is great!  Thank you Alton Brown for making food science entertaining and memorable.

Please share.

We Do Lego Education


My kids are getting a double dose of a great STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics learning program.  I am teaching a local Lego and Robotics Academy 4H club with my kids and several other families.   Each month our families get together to learn about STEM through fun hands on activities with Legos and Robots.

We recently started using a kit called Lego Education We Do. It is a beginning Robotics program.   We were able to order the complete kit (W991527) with the parts, software, curriculum $199.95, and the complete set of additional extension curriculum too (W991837) $179.95   thanks to a donation from one of our club members who recently won product credit in a Lego Education contest and generously donated some of their winnings (see the story here about their family and the video).

By teaching the class,  my kids get to be my guinea pigs so to speak.  I am teaching them as a proto type I guess so I can work out the kinks in my lessons, and my program can flow smoothly during the 4H meetings.  So my kids are getting to learn it at home as well as in our 4H club as I prepare the lessons for the class.

My kids anxiously await the opening of the kit.

Though the kit is small, there is an amazing amount of learning that can be done with it.   It comes with curriculum, software, and the box filled with parts.   Besides Lego building bricks, some of the other parts in the box are a motor, tilt sensor, motion sensor, USB hub. 

You can buy the items separately or buy them as a whole kit.  The whole kit (box of parts, curriculum, and software) comes with everything you need except a computer.   There is also an extension set of curriculum and activities you can buy to extend the learning after you master the first set of curriculum.   

The initial kit is designed to build  20 “Getting Started” lessons, and 12 robotic models in four themes (three in each theme). 

Amazing Mechanisms (focusses on physical science):
    Dancing Birds
    Drumming Monkey
    Smart Spinner

Wild Animals (focusses on technology):
    Hungry Alligator
    Roaring Lion
    Flying Bird

Play Soccer (focusses on mathematics):
    Goal Kicker
    Goal Keeper
    Cheerful Fans

Adventure Stories (focusses on language, drama, and answers questions of WHO, WHAT, WHEN, AND WHY):
    Airplane Rescue
    Giant Escape
    Sailboat Storm

Getting Started

Basically, before building in the theme models, there is a series of 20 “Getting Started” models that are very simple steps to introduce the kids to various concepts. 

In the beginning “Getting Started” exercises, you build a model of a basic drawing, and practice programming the software to tell the model (motor and brick parts) what to do, and make observations of what happened.  Each lesson builds on the foundation of the next, so the kids are understanding how each part worked that was built upon the last part.

In the simplest of explanations, the software is a set of computer commands that display in blocks on the computer screen.   They are basically drag and drop into place concept.  For example, to command the motor to move, you drag and drop into place the block that looks like the motor on the screen.  Tell it how many seconds you want it to turn.  Which way you want it to turn.  If you want it to pause.  If you want music or sound effects to play.  If you want additional things such as it to sense movement or sense tilt before or after it moves, etc.   

When we first opened the kit, we familiarized ourselves with the different vocabulary, the various parts, and the software.  Then we completed 1-10 of the 20 “Getting Started” lessons.

Here are just a few selected examples of the lessons to tell you about things we learned.  I won’t write about every lesson, but here are a few tidbits from a couple of the lessons.  The lessons are much longer than what I have written here and fill a page with what to do and questions and answers.

Lessons 1-10:

1) Motor and Axle
    Connecting the motor and axle together.  Then connecting the motor to the usb hub.  Then 
    connect the usb hub to the computer.  Move the blocks on the computer screen to show:
    start; turn motor this way; and stop the motor.   Then the kids explain what happened and
    what they observed, and learn why it happened.

2) Gears

3) Idler Gear

4) Gearing Down (slowing down the movement by using a small gear on the axle and a large gear).
    Build the model shown in the diagram.  Program the motor to start; and turn 10 rotations; and stop.  The smaller gear turns fast in one direction. The large gear turns slower in the opposite direction.  The larger gear turns slower because it only turns part of one rotation for every rotation the smaller gear turns.  The small gear has 8 teeth.  The large gear has 24 teeth.  The small gear must turn three rotations to turn the large gear 1 rotation.

5) Gearing Up ( speeding up the movement by using a large gear on the axle and a small gear).

6) Tilt Sensor (causes a pause in the motor while waiting for a tilt in a certain direction).

7) Pulleys and Belt
    Build the model with the various parts shown in the diagram, including adding the pulleys and belt.  Program the motor to turn.  The motor turns the axel, turns the pulley, the pulley turns the belt, the belt turns the se
cond pulley.  This is called a belt drive.

8) Crossed Belt

9) Decrease Speed (slowing down movement by using a small pulley on the axel, a belt, and a large pulley). 

10) Increase Speed (speaking up by using a large pulley on the axel, a belt, and a small pulley).
    Build the model shown on the diagram.  Program the software to start the motor; how long to run the motor; play a sound effect, stop the motor.   These pulleys are moving in the same direction, and speed increases because the small pulley turns faster than the large pulley.

This is truly a great product to learn with.  It is simple step by step instructions, questions to test understanding, and clearly identified learning objectives.  I am very pleased with the quality of this curriculum.

My kids are excited too.  Lego makes learning fun.  You are playing and learning at the same time.  Lego Education We Do is a fun way to learn about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.  

I can’t wait to do these lessons next week with the kids in our club. 

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

Please share.