Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Naked Egg and Osmosis

I'll be honest here, the main reason I keep a blog is so I can go back sometimes and remember what we did. This is especially the case now as we are now in the high school years. One of the universities in our area actually requires homeschoolers to list a lab and explain it, even down to the materials that we use. This is part of their application process. So this will be helpful in remembering what we did. 

Anyways, I don't have very many pictures for this lab, because well - I dropped the ball as we had family in town and forgot to take pictures. 

The first step to this lab is to get a naked egg (or two depending on how you choose to perform the experiment). If you aren't sure how to get a naked egg, you place it in vinegar for 24 hours. It's a pretty easy process. 

The things you will need for this lab are:

Corn Syrup
Food Coloring
2 Naked Eggs (or 1 if you do it the way we did)

The experiment for osmosis can be seen in this video: We changed it up in just putting one egg in corn syrup and then putting it in water the next day to see the change. 

We're loving doing these labs as they are definitely reinforcing what my high schooler has been reading during the week in the text. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Our Edible Cell Project

My oldest had fun with this. We just used what we had in the kitchen to make her edible cell project. I offered to take her to the store and by candy to do it. However, being the smart girl she is, she said, "I don't want to waste money on candy I may not even like or eat." So we just used things we had on hand.

Everytime she was writing down the organelles in her "cell key," we were also going over the functions of them.

Fridays are our project days or lab days with biology. I'm loving the time with her doing these to make sure she is understanding what she is reading throughout the week. She seems to be loving it, too. Now that she is a teenager, I am savoring these moments.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Is it an acid or a base?

For this experiment, we used a red cabbage powder to determine if regular household chemicals or liquids were an acid or a base. You can make your own red cabbage powder. Click here to get instructions. You can also just do what I did and buy it offline. Red cabbage powder is the purple color indicator that scientist use to determine and measure whether something is an acid or base and it contains a natural pH indicator.

My oldest had fun doing this experiment with things around the house that she started grabbing more and more things from our cabinets to test it on. It's not every day that you hear your high schooler say, "This is cool," when it comes to science.

So we tested it on things like creamer, dish soap, vinegar, baking soda (dissolved in water), sugar (dissolved in water), lemon juice, etc. If it made the color pink or red, it was a base. If it made the color purple, it was neutral. If it made the color blue or green, then it was an acid.

It was a pretty simple experiment and you can take it a step further and get those pool strips that test water pH within a pool and actually try to indicate what the pH would be.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

We love Character Quality Language Arts

The school year is off to a great start and I thought I would blog about it. This year for my 7th grader, we are doing Character Quality Language Arts by Donna Reish. This isn't the first time we have used pieces of her curriculum. We did samples of the program last year. This year we are using it as our full language arts curriculum for my middle schooler. My 10th grader is also using Meaningful Composition, also by Donna Reish, this year as well. I definitely recommend it and I will say, I found this curriculum while looking into Institute for Excellence in Writing. To be truthful, I didn't want to pay that much for a writing curriculum I didn't know would work. So I came across Meaningful Composition as a MUCH less expensive option and with the Checklist Challenge, it seems to be very similar to IEW.

Meaningful Composition vs. CQLA:
Character Quality Language Arts incorporates everything into one. It covers spelling, grammar, vocabulary, writing, dictation, and if you want to get really technical it covers topics like history and science as well...only because you are writing and researching more about the passage of the week. Here's an example of my 7th grader's writing in our first week below:

I was extremely impressed that she took the time to research a little about the Franco-Prussian War to add it into her writing. She also even took it upon herself to look up synonyms to change some of her boring words. This is actually done in the Checklist Challenge after you write your rough draft. However, my daughter has already made it a habit and did it before doing the checklist. She was rewarded Starbucks yesterday for the time and effort she put into her three body paragraphs. Don't worry, I do test her to see if she knows what scrupulous and benevolent mean after she adds them to her essay.  I love that she knows to look for synonyms in her writing, as it is only building her vocabulary.

The end of our week ended with grammar quizzes, a spelling test, and a dictation quiz. Just in the first week I could tell this is exactly what my youngest needed and she did so well even scoring a 103 on her spelling test (I gave her 4 bonus words and she got 3 correct). With spelling always been her struggle, I was so excited for her. She is the writer of the family, however, spelling and grammar isn't her strongest point. So I am confident with how this year is going to go using this curriculum.

Here she is having to write prepositions and she is using a toy figure and toilet paper roll to list as many as she can think of.

My 10th grader is strong in spelling and grammar. However, her struggle has always been writing and getting her thoughts on paper and forming longer, descriptive sentences. So this year she's not doing the full language arts curriculum like CQLA. As I previously mentioned, she's doing Meaningful Composition. As I feel like we need to really focus and take more time there. Meaningful Composition is basically the writing portion only part of CQLA. However, it still has a checklist challenge to where she is putting in prepositional phrase openers, descriptive adjectives, and such. So while it has some grammar, it's definite focus is writing. She's always done so much grammar in the past (like Easy Grammar), this year we are going to truly focus on writing and literature.

With all this talk of curriculum, I thought I'd lay out what we are doing this year.

Here's my middle school plan for my 7th Grader:
1 Hour of Math-U-See Zeta
1 Hour of CQLA
1 Hour of Reading/Vocab (she will be doing a Book of Virtues Unit, as well as other novels (Island of the Blue Dolphin, etc., 80 Days Around the World), a biography, poems, and books to learn with history and science)

My high school plan for my 10th Grader:
Math-U-See Geometry
Meaningful Composition
American Literature - she's starting off with the Scarlet Letter, but it will include To Kill a Mockingbird, and other short stories, poems, and biographies (I take my guide from and tweak little things). She will be learning a lot of rhetoric devices.
Biology from Guesthollow
Spanish 2 from 
Personal Finance with Dave Ramsey's Foundations in Personal Finance

1st Semester Only: Current Events (elective)
2nd Semester Only:
Geography (some mixed in with current events and 2nd semester she will be doing more of this by itself with also reading of 80 Days Around the World with her younger sister)
Health - Ted Talk Health Videos, First Aid for Free (an online first and CPR course) (2nd Semester)

It seems like my highschooler has a lot on her plate. However, she is always so fast at her work and seems to get most of it done correctly every time I am checking it and going over it with her. She is just a fast learner, so it looks like I pile a lot on her, but she is always the one that STILL gets all of her work completed before her younger sister. My youngest takes a lot more time to do her subjects. I have two opposite kids...they couldn't be more different.

Anyways, here's to a great year! I'm excited to see how week two goes.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

I Got It From My Mama!

As we were getting settled in the car from a normal Friday afternoon park day (months ago by the way), my oldest daughter (13 at the time) asked, "Mom, can I tell you something?" She then preceded to tell me, "I was playing and then coming up to find you and I overheard someone's mom talking about me with other moms." I then preceded to ask her what she heard, who she heard it from, and so forth. At that point, I just told her that I'm sorry she heard that, we don't want to be like that, and to let it roll off her back and move on.  When kids are doing it to kids, or even when moms are doing it with can be easy to dismiss it and move on. However, when moms are talking about children...sometimes it is easier said than done for sure, especially on my end as a mother.

I bring this topic up, because today I had a an old friend message me and tell me about a very similar situation. However, I think it is a bit worse. I don't need to go into all of it, I shouldn't. However, I do want to say that in this particular situation the mom was gossiping, talking bad about, and encouraging other girls to share insults about my friend's daughter. That right there should really speak volumes and set off a few red flags.

Are we breeding "mean girls"?  Have you ever heard "I got it from my mama?" I don't think that children are mean intentionally. However, I do have to question lately from hearing or seeing situations this year, do girls learn how to be mean from their moms?

In a world of social media, sometimes I think it can breed feelings of competitiveness, not only amongst kids, but adults as well. I think it also can stir some jealousy and insecurities in both kids and adults. And "where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice." - James 3:16

For my friend's daughter and my own daughter, I feel as if they have such strong personalities, and the qualities they possess like being outgoing, self driven, determined, and good at sports make them targets unfortunately. They succeed at what they do but want everyone to like them, so while they try to make friends and be nice, it doesn't always work out that way. All kids are going to be kids, make mistakes, and going to have to learn to get through insecurities or jealous feelings. In the mean time, could we as moms not sit and tear other children down along with them to make our kids or ourselves feel better? We're supposed to be the adults. Maybe we can teach them to give compliments, praise, root for the underdog or even the one that is good at everything, everyone hates her. Maybe we as adults shouldn't be "judging" children. Maybe you don't like the mom of the child, but that's not the child's fault.

I know that I am not perfect, I remember just a little while ago in the car that I strike up a conversation with my husband and my husband had to stop me and say, "Is this a mom of one of the kids' friends? We need to stop this conversation and wait until we get home away from the kids." He was absolutely right! So we ended the conversation and waited until we were away from our kids. We need to be aware of ourselves, whether that's in talks with other moms, children, and even social media. Our children hear us, observe us, and mimic us. They hear us venting to our husband about another person that may be driving you up the wall. They hear you gossiping on the phone to another mom about a situation.  Let's be truthful, sometimes we need to vent...whether that's to a husband or a friend. We're all still learning how to handle emotions. What I am saying is, DON'T do it front of your children, your daughters. Your children become a product of everything they hear. They become a product of you.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Why Not Dissect a Chicken Leg?

My oldest daughter has been taking Biology, but really with an Anatomy emphasis, because she is thinking of going into the medical field. As we have finished learning about the skeletal system, integumentary system,  and muscular system, we ended a unit today dissecting a chicken leg.

My youngest was intrigued too, so of course, she did it with us. 

Many animal systems have skeletal systems similar to ours. Our leg is very much like that of a chicken including the femur (thigh bone), knee (hinge joint), fibula and tibia (smaller bones of the shin), cartilage, and ligaments that are all part of our skeletal system. We pointed out all of these things in our chicken leg. 
We even went a step further and broke the largest bone to observe the bone marrow. We talked about people actually can give bone marrow for people with life threatening diseases like leukemia. 
 I've never been a fan of dissecting anything, it always grossed me out in high school and I ended up letting my lab partner do most of the work...but I realize now it is different to see your kids dive in and learn. So now I can't wait for our next dissection!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


This is something I've definitely needed this year and I know I will need all four years. So I created an excel spreadsheet, as well as a PDF (I have an actual paper version in my high schooler's binder) to help make sure we are on track through these four years. I thought I would share what I use to help with planning out our goals for highschool. You can print one or download one yourself from my FREE PRINTABLES link.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Evaporation in Less Than a DAY!

So this week, my youngest daughter has learned about the water cycle. We have used In The Hands of a Child's Water Cycle Unit.

In the unit, we have to do an evaporation experiment. We have actually done one of these before years ago when learning about clouds. You can see my post here when we did it in 2012. This time there was a BIG difference! I'm about to tell you why. It was more than just a learning experiment of evaporation, it actually ended up being a learning experiment about WHERE water is evaporating from for my youngest and oldest daughter, too.

In 2012, we lived in Tennessee. When we did our water evaporation experiment in Tennessee, it took days or maybe even weeks for all the water to disappear. It definitely took a couple of days or a few for the water to even move down the cup. Now in 2017, we live in Arizona...that's right - the DESERT! Anyone see where I am going with this? With this experiment, we filled the water to the line we marked on the cup and put it out this morning and before the sun had even set, the water was gone! My youngest daughter was amazed because she slightly remembers the last time we did this. Her hypothesis was at least a few days (because we put a smaller amount in the cup than last time).

This became a lesson on the humidity in Tennessee versus the dry desert in Arizona causing the time of the evaporation process to be different. Because of the humidity, the evaporation project took longer and because of the desert and it being so dry here, it evaporated so fast.

Yay! Don't ya love it when an experiment turns into more than you thought it would?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Byzantine Art

We've really loved our Layers of Learning curriculum. The past two weeks we have done some map work on the Byzantine Empire as well as learned about Turkey and it's capital Istanbul (formerly known as Constantinople), read Anna of Byzantium, and definitely had some fun doing some hands on art.

We learned about holy halos in art, which are just circles surrounding the subject in paintings. Often this was painted on priests or other religious leaders. We did some chalk art drawings of our own.

We also learned about mosaic art. The girls had a lot of fun breaking up some old plates and doing this project. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Comparing Pepsi to Coke in this Presidential Election and Everything Else We Did!

This is the 2nd Presidential Election we have been homeschooling. You can see some of the things we did in 2012 here when my kids were a lot younger.

This year, we've really covered the election a lot deeper with watching debates, touching on the real issues, and learning about the electoral college. I'm loving how my oldest seems to really be forming her own opinions about this election and our government. She is taking her half a credit of government this year.

For this election, we've played Election Bingo with vocabulary. They loved this. We played a lot. You can find these for FREE at Growing Book by Book.

They enjoyed looking at some Trump vs. Hillary campaign ads. They actually went on to the candidates' websites to see their platform on issues. 

I also gave my girls an assignment of doing a Pepsi vs. Coke persuasive paper. The girls were to decide which one was better and tell me why I should think that. In writing their persuasive paper, my oldest even researched online surveys on the topic. The girls drew their own logos and came up with their own slogans for the paper they wrote about. My oldest daughter's drawing should really be an advertising campaign. I loved "A Volcano in your Mouth." She said she thought of that because of the fizz. She takes after her father who is in advertising, I guess.
 My oldest daughter's drawing

My youngest daughter's drawing

These are some links we used for learning about the Electoral College:
We also have a Learn Through History DVD about the election that we sat through for lunch one day.

On election day, we split up the votes for Pepsi and Coke. I secretly divided electoral votes from Al Gore vs. George Bush. I wanted them to see popular vs. electoral. We colored the map here: of the red states and blue states. Afterwards, they were told about how in the 2000 election, the popularity vote went to Al Gore, but the electoral college vote went to Bush. Great lesson! I loved how they got excited about whether the states were turning red or blue. 

All this makes me anxious and excited for Election night! They are going to be glued to the television watching history being made. I can already tell with their interest level in it this year. 

Tomorrow we finish up our unit and I plan to take them to the polls with me to vote. We plan to play this computer game,  "Win the Whitehouse." Finally, we'll settle down in front of the tv with our maps (get a map here) to color in the electoral votes counting who gets to 270 first. It's been a successful election year, at least in our homeschool studies. 

In this year, it is amazing to see my high schooler grow as her own person. She actually has shared a different opinion at times on who should be president, even thinking differently than my husband and myself. However, there are times we give our arguments and like much of the country - she's baffled at how we could choose either of the two candidates. She's truly learned in depth about some issues that she didn't know even existed in her childhood years. She's even questioned, "What's the point of us voting if we have the electoral college?" This is why I love homeschooling. I love seeing her grow, form her own opinions, and question the things we as a country do and what could be done to change it. It's truly amazing to watch. 

A friend shared this on Facebook and I wanted to reshare: "No matter what happens on election day...No matter the outcome Tuesday evening, please don't loose your sh** because, I promise, the sun WILL come up Wednesday morning. We all have to live here together and keep the kids safe."

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Greenhouse Effect Experiment

We have been using Layers of Learning  and we've enjoyed it so much. This is a "new to me" curriculum. We are loving it. It works with the style my girls learn best which is "hands on".

Our science experiment today was learning about the Greenhouse Effect. Note: Before the experiment, we went over what the Greenhouse Effect was. She obviously didn't understand until after the experiment since her first guess on what was going to happen was wrong. This is why we like to learn hand's on. Here's one of my daughter's lab reports which show the method and materials that we used. At the top of her paper you can see her guess or hypothesis. She guessed wrong and her conclusion was at the bottom of what the actual outcome came out to be. She learned that the gases in the atmosphere are what give us this greenhouse effect and why we are warmer than we would be without them.

In case you can't read it. We used two jars and filled both with 5 ice cubes. One jar we put a sandwich bag over. Then we set them outside for an hour and took their temperatures when the hour was up.

The jar without the bag at 74 degrees.

The jar without the bag at 78 degrees.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Is Your Blood Type Compatible?

The youngest is learning about the human body this year. In the past, we've done a lot of experiments with the human body, but this one experiment was really fun learning about blood types.

Here is another activity we've done on blood:
I'll eventually get a chance to group all of our human body activities because I have more on my blog.

There are 4 blood types: O, A, B, and AB. We discussed what a donor was, what a receiver was, and why it matters for doctors to know if the blood types are compatible when someone donates blood. We talked about antigens and how a patient could become very sick if their body rejects new blood.

This experiment was simple.

All you need is:
Two colors of food coloring (Red and Blue work best, but I only had yellow and blue. So that's what we did.)
Dry Erase Marker

1. Fill each cup halfway with water.
2. With the dry erase marker, label each cup with one blood type.
3. In the cup labeled A, put in 2 drops of red coloring.
4. In the cup labeled B, put 2 drops of blue coloring.
5. In the cup labeled AB, put in 2 drops of blue and 2 drops of red coloring.
6. Stir the water to blend colors in.
7. The cup labeled O is left with clear water.

Continued steps to start experiment:
1. To determine if the blood types are compatible, choose one cup of water to be your donor blood type.
2. Look at what will happen if you were to pour that water into each of the other cups (the receivers).
3. If the water of the receiver cup changes color, then the blood types are not compatible. If the water doesn't change color, then that blood type can receive your donor blood.
4. We put a check mark if the receiver blood can accept the donor blood and an x if it couldn't.

You can find this experiment with the chart at

My youngest thought this was so fun and she is type O blood. So she loved figuring out that her blood type is the universal donor (able to give to all other blood types).

How Much Salt Does it Take to Make an Egg Float?

The oldest is doing Oceanography this year. She had a reading on "Why is the Sea Salty?" from Wonderopolis. At the end of her reading we completed a lab on making an egg float.

 Of course, I made her do a write up on her lab for portfolio purposes. 
  • We've done a similar experiment in the past called Sink or Float. You can find that here