Ancient Egyptian Cartouche Bookmark

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For history, the three oldest and I are traveling back through time with The Mystery of History, Volume 1: Creation to the Resurrection by Linda Lacour Hobar. There are a number of reasons why I like this curriculum so much for our family.  First, it works for a variety of ages at the same time.  When I’m reading aloud about the Mycenaens or the Trojan Horse, the older three (and sometimes even the three-year-old) are able to listen and follow along.  Secondly, it starts at creation and goes through history chronologically, making sure to highlight what is going on in various parts of the world at the same time.  It takes away from the disjointed feel of a lot of history curriculum.  The book encourages you to make a timeline so the kids can easily see what happened when.  We are all very visual learners so we have been having a lot of fun making our timeline.  My favorite part of Mystery of History, however, is the plethora of extra projects and ideas included in the text.  In case you couldn’t tell from all my art and experiment posts, I love to do extra projects with my kids!

When we studied early Egypt a few months back, one of the suggested projects was making an ancient Egyptian cartouche bookmark.  (It’s on page 95 in case you needed to find it.)  I loved the idea, and together we came up with our own version of this bookmark. A cartouche was a intricate box that featured pictures representing the name of an important person. You can learn more about cartouches here. 

Here’s what you’ll need to make your own ancient Egyptian cartouche bookmark: a piece of white cardstock, a pencil, scissors, an exacto knife, a glue stick, a hole puncher,  gold acrylic paint, black paint, gold pipe cleaner, and paper towels

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First, you will need to make two templates out of your card stock.  Draw a oval shape like the one above with the “handle” underneath, and cut it out. Then trace it again on your card stock and cut out a second matching shape.  On one of your templates, draw your name in hieroglyphics. (There is a key to the Egyptian alphabet in the back of the Mystery of History book, but if you don’t have that, you can use this easy site. You just type in your name, and it shows you what your name looks like in hieroglyphics.)

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Next, cut out the hieroglyphs with the exacto knife or a very sharp pair of scissors.  Don’t worry if you have some rough edges – they will smoothed out when you paint it later.

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Using a glue stick, glue the template with the hieroglyphs on it on top of the blank template.and let dry. Punch a hole in the top with the hole puncher.

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Paint the whole bookmark gold and let dry.

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Using a bunched up paper towel, dab a little black paint on top of the gold and smudge it around to give the bookmark an aged look.

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Finally, cut small pieces of the gold pipe cleaner and glue them to the bottom “handle.” Cut a larger piece to insert through the punched hole, and then twist it to secure it.

Now you’ve got a very fancy and mysterious bookmark indeed!  Use it to mark the latest lesson in your history book.

 

 

Egg Carton Crafts: Crabs

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We have made a lot of fun sea creatures with coffee filters (jellyfish, sea horses, and sea turtles); so now it’s time to move on to a new medium.  Our family of six eats a lot of eggs, giving us an egg carton or two every week to be creative with.  A few months ago, we studied crabs, and I thought how perfect an egg carton section would be for the carapace of a crab.

These snappy little crustaceans were a blast to learn about.  We borrowed multiple books from the library (our favorites being Crabs by Mary Jo Rhodes, The Magic School Bus Gets Crabby by Kristin Earhart, and A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle).  We examined hermit crabs at the pet store and found discarded crab legs at the beach. We watched a video about the amazing sandbubbler crab at National Geographic and learned about tiny crabs that help keep coral reefs clean at National Geographic for Kids.  In our research, we discovered that it is cruel to keep a hermit crab as a pet.  We learned about horseshoe crabs (not really crabs), spider crabs, and king crabs, but we decided that our favorite was the robber crab (also known as the coconut crab). Check out this video about this crab that likes to steal silverware and sneakers!

Now, let’s get on to making some cute little egg carton crabs.

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Here’s what you need to complete this project: two wooden spring clothespins, an egg carton section, paint, paintbrush, two flexible drinking straws, two pipe cleaners, two googly eyes, scissors, and glue (you can use school glue but I opted to use a hot glue gun for speed and security for the clothespin pincers.)

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First, you will paint your carapace (the egg carton section) and pincers (clothespins).  Some of my kids used lots of colors and lots of paint, and others were much more sparing. Allow to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

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Cut each pipe cleaner into four equal sections so that you have eight legs total. Cut the tops off each flexible drinking straw underneath the bendy part.

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Start gluing your crab together.  I began with the pincers, asking the child how they wanted the pincers positioned on the body and then gluing them on.  I held them tight to the carapace for a few minutes while the glue set up.  Then I glued on the legs underneath the carapace, bending them out and then giving them a little bend in the middle for the “knee.” Finally, I glued the straws to the top of the carapace as eye stalks and added the googly eyes on top of those.

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These adorable crusty creatures make great decorations but can be useful as well.  Gabi’s crab sits on my kitchen windowsill and holds recipe cards with its pincers.  David gave his to his therapist, and she uses it at her desk to hold memos and photos.

And, if you are feeling pretty technical and want to be super accurate with your egg carton crab, go ahead and give him two more pipe cleaner legs.  Crabs are decapods, meaning they have ten limbs. We did eight because artistic license and all that. (and maybe I forgot that little fact when we were creating this craft?) Just maybe.

David and Autism Awareness

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Where does the time go?  Oh – laundry, dishes, meal times, snacks, playgrounds, play dates, learning, kisses, hugs, church, grocery shopping, bedtimes, baths, fishing strange things out of the toilet, avoiding the lego obstacle course on the way down the hall – oh yeah.  It makes sense now.

Still, I intend to squeeze my writing back into these crazy life.  I miss the outlet of writing down my thoughts and chronicling the adventures of our family.  Homeschooling takes a lot of time and work, yes, but I also want to write about it and share my ideas as well as my frustrations.  Autism is a journey with twists and turns that keep us on our toes, and I am disappointed in myself that I haven’t taken the time to write about where we are in that journey lately.

April, National Autism Awareness Month, would have been an ideal time to put up a blog post detailing the latest in David’s progress and improvements.  As I do every April, I chose a favorite photo of David from my albums and tinted it blue for my profile pic on Facebook.  David came up behind me while I was posting the photo.  “Hey, why am I all blue?” he questioned me, giggling a little.  I explained that April was a very special month, and in particular, I liked to join the “Light It Up Blue!” campaign each year to bring more awareness to autism.  He was very quiet after that explanation.  I thought perhaps he was confused by the word awareness and hurried on to clarify that it meant a knowledge of and interest in a subject or cause.  He interrupted me to say in a very matter-of-fact manner, “Huh.  I always thought autism was spelled with an and it’s actually an au! Weird.”

And that’s my David for you, always thinking about things in his way and often seeming to completely miss the point.  Later, I will often discover, he has absorbed what I said and will discuss it with me then, but in the moment, he will frequently choose to talk about something else, often unrelated.  His one-track mind can prove very useful in school when he is excited about the topic at hand.  Then he will spend hours immersed in the subject and willingly do writing and art and all sorts of things that he normally resists.  However, if  I am trying to change the subject, it becomes quite difficult and sometimes impossible.  This is a problem when we are all tired of hearing about Mega Man, Ice Man, Fire Man, Stone Man, and all the other characters that I ought to know by heart by now.  I am attempting to teach him to be more aware of others around him and to allow them to talk about their interests too.  This is challenging for him.  Even if he remembers to give the other person a chance to speak, he is impatiently waiting for his turn so he can get back to talking about what he is interested in.  Recently, at our church home group, I saw him walk over to a group of junior high girls.  He jumped right into his current favorite topic with no preamble and no room for anyone else to talk.  I watched, resisting the urge to step in and help.  The girls were doing their best to look attentive, but as the minutes ticked by and he showed no signs of winding down, they got a little desperate.  Finally, one of the girls interrupted him. “Hey, David, I bet you can’t count all the bricks in that fireplace,” she challenged him.  It worked!  While he turned to look at the fireplace and start counting the bricks, the girls made their escape to another part of the house.  He was unfazed by the girls’ evasion techniques and went on to find another unsuspecting victim. 🙂  In instances like these, I want to shout “He’s autistic, okay? He has a hard time going off topic and can’t read social cues!”  But of course I can’t.  It’s not an excuse, and I certainly don’t want people to pity him.  He has to learn how to operate in these social situations.  And how many times have I, his very own mother, pulled the same trick to get out of talking about the same topic again??

David turned eight at the beginning of April, and he is now standing as tall as my shoulders.  He is quickly changing from little boy to growing young man. He is making tremendous strides in physical therapy and occupational therapy.  In September, he could not catch a ball with one hand and could barely throw it with any accuracy.  Now he does both with confidence.  His balance is better, and his fine motor skills are improving. There is still a lot of work to be done to build up his core strength, but we are working on that with various exercises each week. When we were doing Monday School with our homeschool co-op, I received great reports from his teachers.  He had one class – an art and literature class – that he particularly struggled in because he gets easily overwhelmed by projects and creative thinking.  His teacher was patient and helpful, and he learned a lot.  I asked him what he learned and he said, “Not to take an art class again.” Ha!

People love being with David and working with him.  He is charming and sweet and really does love being with adults.  I love having a conversation with him, trying to get a glimpse into that complicated head of his.  I cannot imagine him without autism – it is an important part of who he is. We will always be looking for ways to help him and encourage him along this journey.  I feel blessed that God saw fit to give him to us, and I do not take my duty and my privilege as his mom lightly.

(For more information on communication difficulties and difficulty reading social cues for autistic children, check out this helpful link at Autism Speaks.)

Coffee Filter Crafts: Sea Turtles

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Last week, I woke up to a dreadful discovery: my Keurig machine was not working. After several desperate attempts to fix it, it became clear that a new machine must be purchased. Stat.   And so we carted away the old machine and said hello to a shiny, red, and most importantly, operable model to fuel my daily caffeine needs.  I briefly considered getting a regular coffee maker, but ultimately opted for the convenience and ease of a Keurig.  Therefore, my giant pack of coffee filters is still ready for crafting projects.

In keeping with our ocean animals unit study, we decided to make sea turtles next.  (You can find instructions to make coffee filter jellyfish here and coffee filter sea horses here.)  Sea turtles were a favorite to study around here – we probably spent over two weeks examining the lives and habits of these cute sea creatures.  We borrowed lots of sea turtle books from the library – my favorite was Turtle Summer: A Journal for My Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe.  It tells a real-life story of a mom and her daughter helping sea turtle babies get to the ocean safely with beautiful drawings and photographs of sea turtles and other ocean life.  There are fun and thought-provoking activities included at the end of the book.  Of course, we also love the drawings and easy-to-understand text of Gail Gibbons’ books, and her Sea Turtles is no exception.  For our online resources, I found this link to a free sea turtles unit study and used some of its printables, like the Sea Turtle Anatomy Matchbook.  The kids enjoyed tracking sea turtles on SEATURTLE.ORG.  Sea World’s website also had a lot of information on sea turtles for the kids to practice looking up.  Netflix and Hulu and YouTube are all great resources for sea turtle videos – this one was my kids’ favorite: 

All right, let’s make some super cute sea turtles!

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Here’s what you will need: lima beans, washable markers, styrofoam bowls, chalk pastels, craft glue, paper, and of course, coffee filters.

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First, flip the bowl upside down and glue lima beans all over the top and around the rim of the bowl.  Let dry completely before going to the next step.

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Next, get out those markers and color all over those lima beans!  (Painting them would work too, but we needed a break from painting around here.)

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Now, take two coffee filters and fold each of them in half. Color them with your chalk pastels however you like.  To keep the chalk dust from rubbing off your sea turtle project, spray the filters with a fine mist of aerosol hairspray.

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Then, cut each of your folded coffee filters in half and glue them to the underside of the turtle’s body (the bowl) as shown.  Cut out a triangle shape and a turtle head shape from your paper and glue on in the appropriate spots.

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Use the markers to decorate the turtle head and tail.  Your colorful sea turtle can sit (swim, I mean!) nicely on a shelf, or you can use thumb tacks to hang it on the wall.

Did you know that leatherback sea turtles can weigh up to 2,000 pounds?  That’s like half my minivan!  Thankfully these coffee filter sea turtles are a lot lighter (and a lot cuter than the leatherback, in my opinion!)

 

 

Crystal Science: How to Make Your Own Magic Crystal Coral Reef

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A few months ago, the kids and I played around with making our own crystal snowflakes. (how to and amazing results here)  It really had nothing to do with anything we were studying but hey, it was winter and we weren’t getting any snow so we needed to make our own. Or something like that.

Anyway, we loved growing the alum crystals.  I spent some time on Pinterest looking for other ways to grow crystals.  Currently, I have pinned to my Science board to try these sparkly crystal geode eggs (good Easter project, anyone?) and these overnight crystal gardens.  While I was perusing the many ideas on the internet, and pondering many sciency things, I remembered the magic crystal trees that I had purchased as a kid and then grown at home.  Does anyone else remember these?  Apparently, there are still versions of those scientific little wonders for sale.  When I saw the familiar puffy crystal branches, it immediately made me think of coral.  What if we could grow our own magic crystal coral reef?  That would fit in perfectly with our ocean unit study.

If you search “how to make your own magic crystal tree,” you’ll find dozens of websites with clear instructions.  It seemed like it would be fairly easy to adapt it to a piece of coral instead of a pine tree.  And so we attempted to make our own crystal coral reefs with fantastic results.  Get these supplies if you want to try it for yourself:  one or two pieces of cardboard, table salt, ammonia, Mrs. Stewart’s bluing, scissors, pencil, water, food coloring, and a glass dish.

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First, you will need to draw and cut out your coral shapes from the cardboard.  (Note about the cardboard:  it cannot be coated, like cereal box cardboard, and should not be too thin, as it would fall over with the weight of the crystals.  I used the cardboard backs of some legal pads I had.  They worked perfectly.)  The kids looked up pictures of various types of coral online and chose two different ones to draw.  Draw it once on the cardboard, cut it out, and then trace it again on the cardboard to be cut out a second time.  You can see that we tried a short coral version and a tall one.  Don’t make it too tall!  Cut a slit from the bottom center of one of your cardboard pieces halfway up the design.  Cut another slit on the other piece of cardboard halfway down the design.

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Now you can put your pieces together to give your coral a 3D effect.  Simply slide the two slits together and spread the piece apart until they stand nicely, as in the photo above.

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Next, it is time to mix your solution.  (A word of warning: keep your work area well-ventilated as ammonia has a very potent odor!)  In your glass dish, mix the following:  3 TBS bluing (get it in the laundry section of your grocery store), 3 TBS water, 3 TBS salt, and 1 1/2 TBS ammonia.

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Then drip some food coloring over your cardboard coral structure and carefully place it into the solution in your glass dish.

Now comes the waiting part, but don’t worry, you won’t have to wait long.  The next day, Mikey came racing into my room shouting that I needed to come and see the coral now.

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Sure enough, tiny delicate salt crystals had gathered on all the points of our cardboard coral reefs.  It is near impossible to avoid with over-excited children, but please do your best to not touch or bump the crystals in any way.  They are extremely fragile.

Two days later, the tiny salt crystals spread out over the cardboard a little more.

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The kids were delighted to find blue, green and yellow tinged crystals sprouting up everywhere.  For some unknown reason, the crystals were unaffected by the red food dye.  In a few more days, the shorter coral structure was almost completely covered in crystals while the taller structure experienced crystal growth about three-quarters of the way up.

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At this point, the finely detailed, sharply pointed crystals of the first two days softened into a more pillowy design.  Doesn’t it look a lot like coral?  Check out the similarities:

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(White Coral, fine art photograph by Mary Deal, from fineartamerica.com)

The crystals do not last more than a few days before they start falling and shattering into little piles of powder.  However, seeing a simple piece of cardboard burst into hundreds of beautiful little crystals is pretty amazing.  And of course, being a good, responsible homeschooling mom, you are going to want to know the science behind it all, right?

We already talked about crystals and how they form in this post.  In this experiment, crystallization does take place, but only after some other scientific processes occur first.  The first process that has to happen is capillary action.  That’s really just a couple of fancy words to describe how liquid sometimes defies gravity and goes up instead of down.  In plants, water can travel up thin tubes called capillaries to give the entire plant the necessary hydration for survival and growth.  You can see this happen when you stick a stalk of celery into a glass of colored water.  If the tubes are skinny enough, the surface tension of the water enables it to basically “climb” up the walls of the tubes.  Liquids will also climb the fibers of a piece of paper or cardboard.  This video is a great demonstration of this:

In our coral crystal growing experiment, the solution in the glass dish climbed up the fibers of the cardboard.  That’s when the next scientific process took place – evaporation.  Evaporation is the process of liquid molecules escaping and becoming gas molecules instead.  We put ammonia in the solution because it evaporates much faster than water.  The ammonia and the water molecules escaped the cardboard and became gas molecules.  The bluing and the salt were left on the cardboard to begin the next process – crystallization.  Because the solution was so saturated with the bluing molecules and the salt molecules, these molecules are able to combine and form crystals, much like we discovered in the previous post about crystals.  The bluing is a colloid, which is one substance that has another substance evenly dispersed throughout it.  Some good examples of colloids are mayonnaise, our blood, and hair gel.  (You can watch this little video by Martha Stewart on how to make your own colloid with starch and water that does some pretty cool things!)

Oh, and since this is part of our ocean study, it might be a good idea to study up on coral – what is it, where do you find it, and why is it important to the earth?  There are lots of resources online for this, but I’ll leave you with two.  First, here is a link to a free homeschool unit study on coral reefs.

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And, as always, here is a short but educational video on coral reefs:

Have fun learning about these magnificent structures of the deep as you make your own magic crystal coral reefs!

Crystal Science – Make Your Own Snowflake

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Back when we were in a flurry of activity (ha, do you see what I did there?) preparing for Hosanna’s Do You Wanna Build a Snowman party, the older kids became obsessed with snow and snowflakes and basically anything white and cold and fun.  We rarely get any real snow around here; so we settled for cutting out paper snowflakes, spraying fake snow in our windows, and building snowmen with homemade magic snow (link here to awesome recipe).  One day, when everyone was going stir crazy and I was desperately trying to think of a fun but educational activity to do, I remembered a crystal growing project I had done with my General Science class at home school co-op.  I figured that we could take out the typical string and use something else to make it into a snowflake.  The results ended up being quite sparkly, perfect for our snow obsession as well as a little lesson on crystals.  Here’s how to make crystal snowflakes and learn a little about crystals at the same time.

If you google “growing crystals,” most sites will give you a formula using borax.  Borax is great and is pretty sturdy; but alas, I did not have borax when we commenced this experiment.  I decided to use alum instead.  Alum makes beautiful crystals that are much more fragile and will not last a long time; however, they grow very quickly and you will see results within hours.  When you purchase your alum, make sure it has potassium in it or crystals will not grow.  I got mine in the spice section of the grocery store.  (In case your kids ask you what alum is, its official name is potassium alum, and it is used for pickling and other household activities.  It is also found in your can of baking powder, unless you buy the fancy expensive kind in the natural foods section labeled “without alum.”)

For this experiment, you will need:  alum, a white pipe cleaner, a drinking glass or mason jar, a pencil, another pipe cleaner (any color), fishing line or thread, scissors, and water  (You also need a small pan and access to a stove.)

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First, prepare your materials.  Cut the white pipe cleaner into three pieces of equal length and then twist them together in an asterisk shape. *  Tie a piece of fishing line or thread to one of the points on your “snowflake”.

Now, make your solution.  Put enough water to fill your glass or jar into a small pan and heat it to boiling on the stove.  When the water is boiling, remove the pan from the burner and wait for the boiling to stop.  As soon as the boiling stops, start adding alum to the water and stirring with a heat-resistant spoon.  Keep adding alum until it will no longer dissolve.  (This is evident when the water is cloudy and will not clear up.)  Allow the solution to sit in the pan for a few minutes until it is again clear and any extra alum has settled to the bottom of the pan.

Next, set up the experiment.  Carefully pour the solution into your glass or jar until it is high enough for your snowflake to fit.  We used a juice glass and filled ours about three-fourths.  If you can, try not to pour the alum that has settled in the bottom of the pan into your glass.  This is called decanting, or separating a mixture into liquids and sediment.  As you can see in the photo, we were not terribly successful in our decanting.  Then take your pipe cleaner snowflake and dangle it in the solution.  It is very important that the points of the snowflake do not touch the sides or the bottom of the glass.  When you have it at the right place, tie it to the pencil and reinforce it by wrapping it with the other pipe cleaner as shown in the picture.  DSC_0017

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Be sure to put your set-up in a safe place out of the way.  We set ours back on the kitchen counter where they couldn’t be disturbed for several hours.  (Also, we have a certain three-year-old around here who loves to stir things up and add things as she “cooks” so….)  As you can see, each child had his own snowflake to grow.  We have a color system in our house that makes life so much easier.  Gabi’s color is green, David’s is blue, Mikey’s is orange, and Hosanna’s is purple.  That means Gabi drinks out of the green cup, uses a green plate, has a green bin for her shoes, etc.  It makes it a breeze for me to know who left their cup in the living room again, and most importantly, there is no arguing.

Anyway, I digress.  Call it a free tip.  So let your experiment sit for several hours, checking on it from time to time by looking through the glass, NOT by touching it.  After several hours have passed, or the next day as I like to call it, carefully use your pencil to lift the snowflake out of the solution and lay it gently on a clean surface.  Remember that the alum crystals are very fragile and have a tendency to get knocked off easily.

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This is when you get to do the observation of the snowflake.  Have the kids touch it and feel the various shapes that make up the crystals.  Look at the crystals with a magnifying glass.  See if they can find a repeating shape or pattern in the snowflake.  Gently tap one point of the snowflake with a pencil to knock off some crystals and examine those crystals more closely.  What do they look like?  Are they symmetrical?  Then you can teach the kids some facts about crystals.

Facts about Crystals: Going Beyond the Fact that They are Super Sparkly and Very Fun to Look At

1.  What is a crystal?  It is a mineral that is made up of molecules that form a repeating pattern.  These molecules band together to form a shape that is then repeated over and over again.  Take out a crystal of sugar and look at it under a magnifying glass.  Do you see that it is shaped almost like a football?  Now look at a crystal of salt.  You should see that it is shaped like a cube.  What shape did you find in your snowflake?

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In this picture, you can see points that look like pyramids.  Alum crystals actually have an octahedron shape (two pyramids stacked on top of each other).  There were actually dozens of nearly-perfect octahedrons on our snowflake the second time we did the experiment, and they were all visible without a magnifying glass.  When studying crystals, you will find hexagons, tetragons, and other shapes as well.

2.  Where do crystals come from?  Crystals form in two different ways.  The first is by evaporation of water from a mixture.  This is what we did in our experiment.  As the water evaporated, the alum powder formed into tiny crystals.  The second way is by cooling of a liquid as it starts to harden.  Expensive crystals like diamonds are formed when magma hardens slowly over time.  Maybe you have seen rubies, emeralds, and amethysts.  These are all crystals that have formed in nature by evaporation or cooling.  Of course, snowflake are ice crystals that form when water cools very quickly in the atmosphere.

3.  Why do crystals have sharp edges and angles?  Crystals have symmetry.  Symmetry is just a big fancy word that means “the same all around.”  There are a few different kinds of symmetry that you can find in crystals.  The first is called rotational symmetry.  Basically it means that when you spin the crystal around, it is the same from all sides.  Think of a ferris wheel.  Every time you spin it, it looks exactly the same.  The second kind of symmetry is reflection symmetry.  In this case, one half of the crystal is a mirror image of the other.  Think of a butterfly and how the wings look like a reflection of each other.  The third kind of symmetry is inversion symmetry.  Imagine that you can put a straight line through the center of the crystal and then spin the crystal around that line as if it were an axis.  This is what you see in our experiment.  It is very similar to a toy top.

Want to know more?  Learn what the terms cleavage, isometric, and monoclinic mean, and find out what crystals are used for in the videos below.

And if you want to watch a snowflake form its crystals in time lapse, check out this link!  It is very mesmerizing and illustrates all the principles of crystals we have learned.

Summer and Schedules

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“Mom, please can I play my video games now?”  my younger son whined.  It was 8:00.  In the morning!   Apparently, summer had hit us fast and hit us hard, and I was not prepared.  Without the structure of a typical homeschooling day, the kids were fighting and complaining and driving me crazy.  And that particular day, I’ll admit, I caved.  The part of me that wanted to get a lot of work done around the house without being bothered by the kids said, “Sure!  You can play your video games.  Just turn the sound down, please.”  And he (and the other kids) proceeded to play their games for THREE HOURS STRAIGHT.  Their rooms weren’t clean, and their chores weren’t done.  They hadn’t touched a book in days, and their creative spirits had jumped out the window a while ago.  I’m not proud of that, folks, but it happened.  Imagine then whose children were ungrateful little demons for the rest of the day?  To make matters worse, they were being all sorts of terrible when it came time for bed. With the sun still shining brightly outside (thanks a lot, long summer days!), they jumped out of bed and on their beds and teased each other and got entirely too many “visits” from Mom or Dad to help them get back in bed.  A change was definitely needed.

I missed the homeschool routine.  However, I am not by nature a very organized person.  I was always the teacher with the messiest desk (hangs head in shame).  I love to do things but don’t always have a good plan about how to do them.  Still, it was abundantly clear that we needed a summer schedule to make it through these days.  I talked to my husband about the bedtime issue.  We both were very tired of dealing with kids-who-just-won’t-go-to-sleep-no-matter-what.  He suggested that we wake them up earlier in the morning so that they would be more tired at bedtime.  Six am was the decided-upon time. (because we are both such morning people, ha!) Then I sat down to write out some sort of schedule for the first day on this new plan of super organization.  I doodled all over the page and made a ridiculously detailed, down-to-the-minute schedule.  It said things like, “Get the kids started on cleaning their rooms while I take a shower after working out – 7:30 to 8:00 am.”  I wrote in some school practice time (sorry, kids!) and some outside exercise time, as well as lots of fun things like chores and library trips.  I glanced at the clock and realized that it was already 10:30 pm.  If I were going to be getting up at the ungodly hour of six am, I had better be getting myself to bed.

Well, I lay there for a good hour and a half, trying to will my body to go to sleep.  The night owl in me fought against this obnoxiously early bedtime.  When that alarm clanged out at precisely 6:00 am, I was in no mood to better my life with organization.  I hauled myself out of bed and prepared to awaken the kids.  The girls, it seemed, had already gotten the memo and were bouncing around the living room, waiting for breakfast.  The boys were a different story.  David grudgingly got out of bed, but Mikey was determined to stay asleep in his bed.  I finally coaxed him  into the living room, where he grumpily climbed onto the recliner and went right back to sleep.  “Well, day one,” I thought.  “You’re certainly starting off with a bang.”   Breakfast took longer than I planned.  Hello, mom of four?  Did you not remember how long it can take to get the hordes gathered at the table, agree on a breakfast choice, make the breakfast, serve it up, and eat it?  Because surely then you would have scheduled more than a half-hour for such an effort.  Hosanna kept interrupting my workout, stepping squarely in front of me and crying as she clung to my leg.  Okay, so the shower wasn’t going to happen until 8:30 am, but I could still recover the rest of my day, right?

Wrong.  The kids took the “clean your rooms” command and internalized it as a “let’s take all day to move stuff around our rooms” idea.  Frustrated, I tried to sneak in some laundry and dishes time while they all whined about how hard I work my “slave labor”.  Sigh.  But school practice was going to happen.  I managed to get through the devotional time and a couple of math worksheets before the complaining started again.  Handwriting practice, naturally.  The clock said noon, but I had planned lunch at 11:30 am.  How could we be falling so far behind?  The day dragged on.  I doggedly continued to abide by my written-out schedule and tried in vain to make it work.  I felt tired after dinner, as if the whole day had been in vain.  Then came bedtime.  Blessed, blessed bedtime.  Baths, teeth brushing, hair brushing, stories, and prayers – and then sleep.  Every child was asleep within minutes of going to bed.  Hallelujah!

So we hit some snafus in my “perfect” schedule.  And maybe the kids were a little slow to warm up to the idea of having a super organized day.  And perhaps I am reading a book or two about organization right now before I go to bed.  But, with that small victory, I just might be encouraged to get up again tomorrow.

At 6 am.  Girl, get to bed already!