Archives for October 2012

Ivory Soap Mini Unit

Sometimes you need to look for an experiment that has dramatic changes. The Ivory Soap experiment does just that.  We have been enjoying our lessons with Christian Kids Explore Chemistry and today we added an extra experiment to our science plans.

History/Civil War
In 1837 Mr. Proctor and Mr. Gamble began making and selling soap and candles. During the Civil War government contracts to provide the Union Army with soap and candles kept the factory busy. In 1879 Mr. Gamble’s son developed Ivory Soap. Proctor and Gamble has a great PDF that outlines the history of their company.
•Fill up the bathtub with some warm water. Allow your Civil War soldiers to hand wash their shirts with Ivory Soap. Did they notice that the soap floats? If you have some other kinds of soap, see if they can float.

Soap is a form of matter because it takes up space. Describe its physical properties: size, shape, smell and color.
•Using a bar of Ivory Soap and another kind of soap, have your students fill out this lab sheet for the Ivory Soap experiment.

Half a bar of Ivory Soap

After two minutes in the microwave.


Steven Spangler shares information about Ivory Soap on his web site.

•Explain how when Ivory Soap was first made it didn’t float. About 3 years into the manufacturing the gentleman who was running the machine forgot to turn it off and went to lunch. This whipped a lot of air into the soap. He didn’t say anything to his employer but packaged the soap and sent it the stores. Later mail started coming in asking for more soap that floated.

Do you think the gentleman should have told his boss about his mistake?

  • What does the bible say about God turning bad things into good? Or confessing your mistakes?
  • Read Proverbs 21, verse 2 states: Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.

Bonus Lesson: The boys learned some life skills and cleaned the inside of the microwave after heating up a bars of soap.

Boys’ Bedrooms

Boys’ Bedroom

We have all heard about the “Man Cave”, that strong desire for men to have a space of their own. As a mother of 3 sons, I am pretty sure that need starts at young age. When my oldest son reached that tween age, the desire was quite strong.

What was I to do? We are a family of 6 living in 940 sq. foot house. No the boys could not share a room with our only princess. Well for Christmas that year my husband and I decided to give up our master bedroom, complete with a walk-in closet and personal bath.

First I purged everything I could since we were downsizing our bedroom. I emptied the walk-in closet of everything, even the shelves and racks. I painted the room a nice bright green. After quite a bit of measuring and planning, I made the 2-hour trip to Ikea to buy a loft bed. We had to assemble the bed in the room and leave one of the support bars off, so as to not block the doorway. No worries on stability, cause the bed would have to go through a wall to fall down.

Yes, the size of his new room was the exact size of the loft bed. But he had the space underneath for his desk, small bookshelf and cabinet. Luckily his dresser fits in the bathroom that connects to his room. Yes that would be the downside, the closet connects to the bathroom and not the bedroom, but then again it does make for another layer of space from his younger brothers. We did remove the door from the closet, at one time I think we were going to hang up some type of curtain, but it never became an issue. He shuts the door to the bathroom instead.

One walk-in closet is now a teen’s bedroom.

My younger boys had bunk beds in the new master bedroom, and that worked fine until boy #2 became a tween. Then I saw that same look in his eyes. Off I went on another trip to Ikea to purchase 2 more loft beds. Quite simply, I divided the room in half; bed, desk, dresser and personal toys on each side.

They do all share the same bathroom and someday when they move out I will probably gut the whole thing and remodel it.

In case you are wondering what the boys do for a closet, I have this lovely metal rack that holds there few hanging clothes and keeps their hampers underneath.


Come back next week and I will have a post on how my husband and I took the next size room and made it into an office by day and our bedroom by night.

There, Their, They’re worksheets

There, Their, They’re Worksheets

Sometimes students need to “see it” to understand.  My visual mind runs on overtime; so I am not surprised anymore at my boys need to “see it.”

I spent 2 days explaining the difference with there, their, they’re. I found tons of worksheets that had them fill in the blanks and posters that explained the definitions with more words, but nothing seemed to cement the difference in their minds, visually.

So I created this hand out that color coded the words and added pictures. Then I wrote up 10 sentences with different usages of the words. I had my son underline the sentence with the color that matched the color of the correct there, their, they’re. He used his handout as a reference sheet in the beginning. Then I found some great pirate themed worksheets, which quickly got his attention and allowed him to transition to filling in the blank with the correct word.

Yeah, he can now “see it”

There, Their, They’re worksheet for you to use in your homeschool.

Now I am off to make some handout on the spelling rules. Yesterday he read the rule that started with “If the word ends in a y…”

Well he started looking for words ending in “ay” not “y”


Chemical Reaction VS Physical Reaction Science Experiments

Smoke Bomb Collage
A chemical reaction is when one or more substances become one or more different substances.

A physical reaction is when you change the appearance of a substance and can return it to its original state.

Now to do some experiments that demonstrates these two reactions. I choose to use a rusty piece of metal, Diet Coke and Mentos, and smoke bombs.

First I placed the rusty metal on the ground and then set up the Mentos to drop into the Diet Coke. Even through my kids have seen the Mentos reaction before, they did not mind doing it again.

Which one is a physical reaction? Which one is the chemical reaction? My main question was, “which one is going to give me a new substance?” (Now I am trying to trick them some by using a physical reaction that looks like a chemical reaction)
Since I cannot make the rust return to being a metal, I have a chemical reaction. If I could catch the CO2, I could return it to the soda, and only a physical reaction has happened.

Now since my chemical reaction is a little boring, watching metal rust, I decided to make smoke bombs. You need stump removal and sugar to make the smoke bomb. Stump removal can be found in the lawn and garden section near the pesticides.

Taking 1 1/2 cups of stump remover to 1 cup of sugar and in a pan over low heat you want to caramelize the sugar. Once you have the dark brown liquid pour it into a blob on aluminum foil to cool. Once it cools, it will harden and then can be removed from the foil.

We placed ours on a stepping-stone and made sure no flammable items (leaves/grass) were near the smoke bomb. We lit it with a lighter and watched the reaction. It was awesome! I got to be the cool mom for the day.

Now you have a good reason to make smoke in Chemistry!  (Here is a little youtube clip of a bigger one we made )


Supporting Local Christian Radio Stations

88.7 The Bridge


Three times in the last 13 months I have been awoken in the early hours of the night to medical emergencies. After providing basic care until the paramedics arrived with the ambulance, I knew up next would be the 25-minute drive to the hospital.

I can’t even begin to describe how fuzzy my brain was from lack of sleep and the sheer determination needed to drive the car safely to the emergency room each trip. Even though I don’t remember exactly what songs were played, what I do remember is being able to turn 88.7 The Bridge on and being reminded that I was not alone.

Naturally I prefer to listen to the station during the daytime hours, but knowing they are playing “The Right Song at The Right Time” even through the night brings me such encouragement for those emergency drives to the hospital.

I want to give a big shout out and say “THANKS 88.7 THE BRIDGE FOR PLAYING MUSIC ALL NIGHT LONG”

Do you have a local Christian radio station near you? If you can send them some pocket change, an email, phone call or cupcakes and encourage them in what they are doing. I know they have other stories of how listeners have been affected by listening; they may share some of them with you. Then you will find yourself encouraged. A Win, Win situation.

Driving with Teens

Driving with Teens

The first day my son had his driver’s license and drove me home, his only comment was “Mom you make a terrible passenger.” Oops, guilty has charged. I never thought of myself as the over protective mama until the first car pulled out in front of us and we had to break hard.

How do mother’s of teen boys survive this passenger seat? In my mind this is the son who doesn’t remember to put the clean trash bag back in the trashcan, is he going to remember all the rules of the road? For 6 months I have been vanquished to the passenger seat, oh help me!
(In our state new drivers must drive with a licensed driver over the age of 25 for the first 6 months)

The first thing I did was put on the kneepads and throw myself on the floor and prayed. Lord it has been a long time since I have prayed for his safety. There is a huge difference to toddlers running around and teens who can drive cars. Once again I am reminded of God’s sovereignty. How many times has he kept me from accidents, how many times has He held my hand through accidents? Yes a lot on both accounts. Once again I must surrender that he is not just my child, but belongs to the One who created him.

Sitting in the passenger seat, I have come to love the handle near the roof. I have no idea why those handles are there, but for me, holding it tight keeps my mouth shut. Cause I really shouldn’t point out every possible scenario of car accidents we could encounter. When my knuckles turn white from the grip, I remind myself that my son needs to hear the things he is doing right. “Son you did a good job merging into traffic” “Glad you remembered your turn signal.”

My son is a quiet reserved kind of guy. We never really know what he is thinking, but put him behind the driver’s wheel and he gets chatty. Oh, what a blessing to me, I just have to give him the keys and sit in the passenger seat and he will talk!

While I am riding in the passenger seat, I am reminded that God has a plan for my son, that I can not protect him from everything, and the Lord is growing me as much as him.

Oh the Lord does have to grow me! Once we get experienced in driving, he will graduate high school and move out! I just put June 1, 2013 on the calendar for his graduation date! I can’t imagine what my knuckles will look like then.

But I know I still have lessons to learn in the passenger seat. So I am going to sit back, enjoy my son’s chatting and be reminded of Psalms 118:24 “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

12 Practical Tips for Homeschooling Through a Short-Term Crisis

12 Practical Tips for Homeschooling Through a Short-Term Crisis

(In other words, “Homeschooling in Survival Mode”)

Periodically in my life I am faced with unexpected events that bring my routine to a screeching halt, mainly from emergency hospital visits.

My Baker’s Dozen list for homeschooling through a short term crisis:

1) First gather up all your expectations and hide them in a box, write them down for later or just plain pretend they don’t exist at the moment. Your only expectation at this moment is survival mode.

2) Go and buy 3 boxes of cereal and a gallon of milk for breakfast. If you really have guilt over not serving those hot breakfasts, buy instant oatmeal. Otherwise some Cocoa Puffs will be a bright spot in your kid’s day.

3) Forget the laundry. You can mix whites, darks and colors. Just throw in the washer what you need to wear for tomorrow. (Although I would avoid wanting a red shirt.)

4) After you pick up the cereal, grab some lunchmeat, bread, and a bag of apples. Sandwiches can be quick and packed if the need arises. Most school-aged children can make sandwiches themselves.

5) It is possible to do the basic school subjects one day and do history and science on the other day. This way school time can be cut in half. If necessary declare it an unplanned holiday for the week.

6) Pay an older child to grade papers, read books out loud or plan some activities.

7) Ask your children to do jobs that are normally yours around house. This is a moment to allow children to grow in different areas. They may just surprise you on what they can do.

8) Use paper products instead of dishes. It really cuts down on the kitchen work. We keep an emergency stash of plates,bowls, cups and silverware for emergency use only.

9) Pull down the boxes of Legos, grab a pile of blankets, or give them an empty box filled with tape and paperclips and allow them to build a project on their current history or science topic. Learning can happen outside of the school books.

10) Ask for help! Be specific. Some friends are faithful to pray for you. Some friends will take your kids for an afternoon. Some friends will bring you a meal. Some friends will listen to you cry. Let them know your needs and what would help you the most.

11) Accept help! So you just ignored number 10, you don’t want to bother your already busy friends. Don’t say “No” for them. Ask them and let them be the judge of their schedules. If they offer a meal say, “yes” even if you are capable of cooking. You can use that time to reconnect with your family or do a load of laundry.

12) Don’t forget to check in with how the kids are handling the crisis. They may have suggestions or need to know how things are going. Pray with them and remind them that God is in control.

13) When the crisis is over, take a break, or maybe a day trip. Better yet a vacation! You need to rest! You need to reconnect. I know the piles of laundry are over taking the bedroom  and the house is a disaster. Take a break! You will be able to tackle those mountains better when your mind and body are rested. (Although I would double-check that the bills are paid)

What do you do at your house to survive a short term crisis?