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What is a Sunset?

Sunsets are such a beautiful picture of color and we often stop to enjoy those moments of nature.  But, what is a sunset?  This simple experiment can help explain this gorgeous mixture of colors in the sky to children.

First ask the question, what is a sunset?

*This could be in a science journal.  Older children can write their answers and younger  children can draw.  Keeping a science journal is not just for the classroom, it can be a great way to document and cherish your child’s thoughts, writing and learning as they grow.

Then, “We are going to make our own sunsets in a glass of milky water.”

You will need:

Glass of water (beaker if you have it)





1. Shine the flashlight through the glass of plain water. Ask, “What does it look like?”  (It looks white, like the sun when it is high in the sky.)

2. Pour a little milk into the glass of water and stir gently until it turns slightly white.  Have the children talk about what is happening.

3.  Ask what will happen when you flash the flashlight through the glass this time? then, Shine the flashlight through the water glass again. Observe, take notes and discuss what they see.  The light looks orange-red, just like the setting sun.

Explain: Particles of milk in the water cut out some of the colors in the light coming from the flashlight. Only the orange and red rays get through.  It is just like the dawn and dusk that we see with the real sun.  When the sun is low in the sky (morning and evening) its light passes through more air than at other times of the day. Tiny particles in the air stop a lot of the sun’s light.  The red and the orange light gets through.

If you are using a science journal (or writing this as a group on a board) write the question will adding milk change the light coming through?  Write your hypothesis and discuss as a group. If there are younger children or children that like to draw they can draw the experiment as it happens.  It would look like a step by step illustration. Complete the experiment and draw a conclusion.  After the results, have each child write if their hypothesis (or guess) was true.  Using this process even with the little ones drawing gets them acquainted with the scientific method.

Magnet Fun

Magnets have long been a mystery to children. They can push other magnets away and pull things towards them.  When I taught first grade, I always looked forward to the magnet science unit because the children just loved it and were engaged with the discovery of pushing and pulling.


This power drives the electric motors that are inside many common machines we use such as hair dryers and trains.

The earth is a huge magnet.  If you use a compass to find the direction it uses the earth’s magnetism to always have the needle point north.

A magnet can pick up objects made of iron or steel. The objects will stick to the end of the magnets.

Activity:  Is it Magnetic?

In a science journal, large board or paper write “Magnetic” and “Not Magnetic.”  Write it so they are on the top of the paper (board) making two columns.

Choice one:  Have items already chosen and out on table for children to experiment. (Write these objects on board.)

Advantage: This is good for smaller children that may need help with writing and spelling, shy children that may need help with the assignment (they can get the assistance of a friend) and easier to have control if you have a large group of children or children that cannot handle the responsibility of wandering a house or class.

Choice two: Have the children go on a hunt to find six magnetic items and six non-magnetic items.  The advantage of this choice is the children get to move around, make their own choice, be original and get to share their findings with others.

Next, have the students or your own children test which items are magnetic, recording each item in the appropriate column.

Last, share the finding as a group and discuss what they have found out.

Activity: I am Stronger!

Some magnets are stronger than others, you can test the strength of magnets.  Magnets can be purchased at teaching stores or hardware stores. Have different types of magnets in front of child. With each magnet see if they can pass the following tests.  Keep a note about each magnet to make a conclusion at the end on which magnet is strongest.

Test 1:  Using card board, draw a curved or squiggle line.  Placing the paper clip on top of the cardboard and the magnet under the cardboard.  Move the paper clip to the finish line.  You can mark the line on the cardboard to show where the paper clip stopped.

Test 2:  Can you get a paper clip out of a glass of water without getting the magnet wet?  Fill a glass with water and drop the paper clip in the glass. Next, place the magnet on the outside of the glass close to the paper clip and try to work the paper clip out of the water, without getting wet!

Magnets can travel through water.

All You Need is a Box

Running out of ideas for those long summer days or on a rainy day? All parents have witnessed the child who loves to play in the box and use their imagination. Well, how about those small shoe boxes or whatever size you happen to have in the house. I gave both children a box and pulled out all the little things that we have around the house that I should have thrown away.  I just knew they would be used and come in handy! It is good to re-use and recycle.

You will also need some glue, tape, scissors and markers to get started.  Next, your child may just take off and not need any help to get started . For the others, ask questions about what they like to play….dolls, cars etc. This may help them to make a choice to make a house for their little animals, design a car for characters etc. My son was into gadgets and rockets. Below you can see his control box that has been used for many missions to the moon.

For this project he wrapped white paper around the box, I cut the slit for him to put his sliding piece of cardboard in, a bolt served as his on and off switch and the plastic squares were around the home as counting squares and last a mosaic piece filled in as the last button.  Any tiny craft things would work including buttons, pom poms and stickers. My son was about six years old when he created this “thing” and I am thinking we need to do this again and see what he comes up with this time.  I do not have my four year old’s version pictured and I am sorry I do not have it because it was quite hilarious as she made a control box as well.  I love how different each child is and you can really see it when you let them have free reign of their projects and crafts.

Creativity is the key!

“Creativity is a great motivator because because it makes people interested in what they are doing.  Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea.  Creativity gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone. Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting.”   Edward de Bono

*Edward de Bono wrote and studied about the brain and creativity. He was the author of The Mechanism of Mind and introduced the term “lateral thinking.”

Why Does the Moon Shine?

Have you ever been asked or wondered why the moon shines? This simple demonstration will show children of all ages why the moon shines!  When demonstrating to a child, do not give away any answers…instead ask them questions and let them discover the reason why the moon shines.  This discovery gives them ownership and usually more excitement about learning.  I always try to remember it is all in the presentation and allowing them to discover the answers so they can take ownership of their learning.

You will need:


bike reflector


This experiment is done at night time. Point the flashlight at bicycle reflector and then turn it off.

Questions to ask:

What did you notice?

Is the reflector glowing?  (Ask when flashlight is on and off.)

Does the reflector give off light?

How are the moon and reflector the same?

For younger children ask specific questions such as what do you think the flashlight is supposed to be?  (The sun.)  What is the reflector in our activity? (The moon.)


The reflector only glows when the flashlight is on it.  The reflector, like the moon, does not give off light.  It reflects light  in different directions.  The moon only reflects light from the sun.  Without the sun, there would be no moonlight.

The moon revolves around the earth so sometimes we can see more of the “lit up” side and sometimes we can see less.  This all depends on where the moon is in it’s orbit and how much of the lit up side is facing us.

Cool discovery!

To extend this idea:

Younger children can draw a picture of the moon and if able to write…write a sentence or new fact about the moon.  Also, a perfect night to read “Goodnight Moon” by margeret wise Brown.

Before the experiment:

If you keep a science journal at home have your child or children write the question, “Why does the moon shine?” and then a hypothesis as to why they think the moon shines. If you prefer to discuss the guesses and then have them write down the results. sketching a picture with the journal entry will help the to remember the experiment when reviewing their journal.


Have children make a model of the Earth, sun and moon. A shoebox would work well for them to hang their models.  Or have them use dough to shape the Earth, moon and sun according to size. (Have them research size so they can have the proportion correct.)


Spread out some blankets or chairs on a clear night and just observe the moon. This may lead to more questions, observations and discovery.

Older Children can do more detailed research:

This simple experiment gives a glimpse into the reason as to why the moon shines, have your older kids research more about the moon.

For example, the moon is actually dark and the reflective coat cannot be seen up close.  They can look up about Albedo which is the measure of an object’s reflection of the Sun’s radiation.  There is much to learn and have the older children present their findings.  Allow them to be creative with their presentation.

Little Miss Picky-Spelling Game

Children love to play games and anytime children are involved in learning without knowing it they will be more involved. So, this game is based off of a spelling game I used to do in the classroom.  You can easily modify the game for ages four through eight years old.  In the example, I will use letters but older children could be learning suffixes and non-suffixes, compound words  and non-compound words or adjectives and non-adjectives .  This should be a fun and short way to reinforce spelling and word properties at home or in the classroom.


Write the heading “likes” and “dislikes” on the whiteboard or paper.  Then have the child or children guess what little Miss Picky might like to eat.

SHHH….. Do not tell them what she eats. As they guess, write down their guess in the appropriate column.

For this example, Miss Picky will only eat foods that start with the letter “S.”  But it could be only words with a long o sound, short a sound, two syllables, five letters….you get the point.

The object of the game is to discover the pattern of Miss Picky.

So on with the example:

In the “Likes” column you may see; spaghetti, strawberries, sandwiches, squash.

In the “Dislikes” column you may see jelly, tomatoes, bagels, oranges etc.

*If you have a few more minutes and they have guessed the pattern, allow them to come up and continue the list.

*Artsy people can draw a Little Miss Picky and write the accepted words on her body or dress.  If you are using this in a classroom, laminate Miss Picky and use a dry erase marker each time you play!

WORD MATCH-Simple Activity for Beginning Readers

Perfect activity for emerging readers, practicing spelling words and makes a great center for classrooms.  This is so simple and easy to organize. Choose the words your child or students need to practice. Then, write or print the words on a list. Then print the words again large and cut the letters apart as in the picture shown.  I used sentence strips, I just love them!  Place everything into a bag or plastic container. The list of words can be taped to the front of the container or bag.

If you plan on keeping these, I would organize by color or some other system so you can easily pull out the words you will need. For example, colors could be a code for easy to difficult, or grade levels or the week of the spelling list.  Use what makes sense to you. Happy spelling!

Do The Stars Shine During The Day?

This fun and easy lesson demonstrates that the stars are always shining!

You will need:

paper hole punch, index card,white letter envelope and a flashlight


Punch about eight holes in the card

stars lesson

Place the index card into the envelope

Hold the envelope in front of you with the flashlight about two inches from the front of of the envelope and over the index card (Do this in a well lit room.)

Do you see the holes?

(The holes in the index card are not seen when the light shines on the front side, away from you.)

Now, move the flashlight behind the envelope, holding the flashlight about two inches from the back of the envelope.

(The holes are now seen when the light comes from behind the envelope and towards you.)


Light passes through the holes no matter where the flashlight is directed, but only when the surrounding area is darker than the light coming through the holes can they be seen. This is true of stars. They shine during the daylight hours, but the sky is bright from the sun’s light so the stars just blend in.  That is why stars are most visible on dark nights and away from city lights.

Bringing Art to Your Home

As I try to instill art and culture into our home, I find it is hard to find the time. So, I am  looking for simple and fun activities to do with my children before they grow up on me!  It can be challenging to squeeze in these art lessons now that both children are in school and the days zzzzoom on by. So, this year I am going to have an artist wall for about a month. On this wall we will add facts, quotes and pieces of art found online, in magazines or on postcards.  Although we have been to the art museum, I am hoping to visit this summer with fresh new artist eyes!

I will post on our experiences and include our art projects as we go.


First, get  a large binder. This will become the artist binder. As your family studies an artist you can put the information into this binder. If you have a bulletin or wall you can place into the binder after displaying for the week/month. Try to keep the facts and art work 8×10 size, so it will fit into the binder. They do have larger scrapbook sized books that would also be nice and then you could have larger sizes of artwork from the children.

Next, give each child an art journal. This can be a binder or notebook. I got my children a sketch book that has no lines.

*Tip: limited on wall space, use a science bulletin board that folds into thirds. You can display and easily put in the closet when company comes over.

Deciding your artist could come directly from the children or look into what artists you have at your closest art museum. As for me, I am starting with Gauguin because I just taught about him at my son’s school for art masterpiece and I already have a book. So, whatever your method, get started!

First session with your children or class:

Give them art journals and decorate front, include name.

Introduce artist name.

Ask what they know about artist? Make a list.

Ask what they want to know? Write responses.

Leave a blank paper labeled “What we Learned about ……”

*Write as group on large paper/poster board or dry erase board OR have each child write in their own art journal.

This could end first session or you could read book on artist or show some of the artwork and discuss what they think of the shown pieces.  All of this can be found at library or on-line.

Looking forward to sharing about our first session and artist, Gauguin.

POOH BEAR DAY January 18

Did you know that there is a day just to celebrate Pooh Bear?  The day is in honor of the English author, A.A. Milne.

Choose a story and read aloud as you munch on some Pooh Bear Treats!

Pooh Bear Sandwiches

Children can cut their own bread with a bear shaped cookie cutter. Mix peanut butter and “hunny” and have children spread on their bear shaped bread. Yum.  we toasted our bread first, and then cut out. I have heard you can freeze the bread before cutting.

Pooh Bear Tasty Treats


    1/4 cup crushed wheat flake cereal
    3 tablespoon honey
    1/4 cup peanut butter
    1/4 cup nonfat dry milk solids
    Non-stick cooking spray

Reserve two tablespoons crushed cereal. Mix honey and peanut butter. Gradually add nonfat milk, mixing well. Spray hands with non-stick cooking spray (or butter)and shape into 1/2 inch balls. Roll in reserved cereal. Chill until firm, about 1 hour. Store in refrigerator. Adult help may be needed and makes about 24 treats.

Pancake Fun

A yummy in the tummy way to practice letters for the little ones!  Using your favorite pancake recipe, look at mine below, make the letter of the day or the child’s initials on the griddle.   Or, as a class focuses on the letter “P” have a pancake snack and serve up letter P pancakes. Yum!

In the younger grades it is fun to read “If You give A Pig A Pancake” and have pancake snacks that day, as well as other literature activities. If you are in a school, please check your policies. As when I taught, we brought the griddle in the class.

One way is to write a letter on the pan let it cook until you see bubbles. Then pour batter over letter to make a “normal” pancake.  The image is in the pancake. Have fun with this, you can make smiley faces etc.  Also, note that you will need to write the mirror image for letters like “L”  or they will be backwards!

Or, just write a large letter to be the pancake itself. A turkey baster works well, but I just used a spoon for mine.

The whole family agrees that this recipe is the best so far.   Hope you and your family or class have a yummy in the tummy pancake experience!

Basic Pancake Recipe


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, stirred or sifted before measuring
  • 2  teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter


Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1 1/2 cups of milk; add to flour mixture, stirring only until smooth. Blend in melted butter. If the batter seems too thick to pour, add a little more milk. Cook on a hot, greased griddle, using about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook until bubbly, a little dry around the edges, and lightly browned on the bottom; turn and brown the other side. Recipe for pancakes serves 4.

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