Category: Fun at 4

{Science} : Index Card Tower

One day while searching Pinterest, I came across this STEM activity using index cards.  I was intrigued because it is building things, which my boys love, but it was also a cheap science activity that could be used in a larger group setting, like the  homeschool group we started.


Index Card Tower

index cards

The children were divided into pairs, and were given a stack of index cards.  They were told to build the highest tower they could only using the index cards.  They could manipulate the cards in any way they needed, but they could only use the cards I had given them.  We had the pairs move to different areas in our house so that they could not see what the other groups were doing. After a given amount of time the kids walked around to see, analyze and learn from the different groups.

This activity was a lot of fun with a large number of kids, because you were able to see so many different thoughts when it came to building the tower.  We would not have seen the different building ideas, had it just been the boys and I.


Thing 1 and his partner’s tower


Thing 2 and my creation.  (I was Thing 2’s partner, but I really didn’t help much because I was off taking pictures.  I just came back
a couple of times to talk to him.


Thing 3’s tower.  In order to keep him from messing up Thing 1 and his partner, I gave Thing 3 his own cards so he could create.


Thing 3 also built this dog after the activity was over.


Have you ever built with index cards?

{Science} : Fingerprinting

One thing I wanted to do with our school this year is to have more fun.  One area it is easier to have fun while learning is science.  A couple of weeks ago (yes, I’m that far behind), we learned about the uniqueness of fingerprints.

First, I showed the boys pictures of fingerprints on the internet.  We discussed how fingerprints are used to identify people and talked about how there are three different types of fingerprints.

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Next, using black ink, we fingerprinted everyone in the family, even Daddy Cameron.  I think everyone had a whorl except Thing 2, who only had arches, if I remember correctly.

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The boys thought it was pretty cool to see what their fingerprints looked like.  I thought it was interesting to see how the boys’ fingerprints were so different, especially since they have the same parents.

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Have you ever done any fingerprint studies?

Solar Oven S’mores

My goal for the school year is to do some fun science activities with the boys, on top of Thing 1’s regular science curriculum.  We really like science around here!

Today we made Solar Oven S’mores.

solar oven smores

Solar Oven S’mores
(found directions {HERE})

Supplies:smores,collegetri 005
Pizza Box
craft knife
Aluminum Foil
Glue stick
Black Construction Paper
Clear Packing Tape
Clear Plastic (I used 2 1-gallon zipper bags)
Graham Crackers
Chocolate bars
Ruler, stick or dowel (used to hold box open)



1. On the top of the pizza box, draw 3 sides of a square on the pizza box approximately 1 inch from the edge.  You do not want to draw a line on the edge of the box where the fold is.  Use a craft knife to cut out the three sides of  the square that you drew.

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2.  Glue aluminum foil to the bottom (what would be the inside of the box) of the flap. Make sure the shiny side of the foil is showing. Try to keep it as wrinkle free as possible.

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3. Glue aluminum foil to the bottom of the pizza box.

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4. Then tape a piece of black construction paper on top of the foil that is on the bottom of the pizza box.

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5.  Cut the zipper top off the top of two zipper bags.  Next cut down the sides of each bag so that you have two flat sheets of clear plastic.  Then, lay the bags flat and tape them together so that you have a larger sheet of clear plastic.

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6.  Take your large sheet of clear plastic and tape it to the underside of the lid to close the hole that was created by the flap.  You might have to trim the plastic.  You want to try and seal it as airtight as possible to trap in the most heat.

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7.  Take your solar oven outdoors and place it in direct sunlight with the flap opened toward the sun.  To make one s’more you will want to place a piece of chocolate on one graham cracker and a marshmallow on the other.

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8.  Close the lid to the box and then use a ruler to prop open the flap.

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9.  Depending on how hot it is you can have yummy s’mores within 30 minutes to an hour. Enjoy!

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The first batch of s’mores we made we let sit in the 95 degree heat for 45 minutes.  The chocolate was really hot, Thing 2 accidentally touched it and said it hurt.  The marshmallows were gooey on the inside, which made them easy to assemble.

The second batch only sat out for about 15 minutes in the 95 degree heat.  As before, the chocolate way pretty hot, however the marshmallow was not nearly a gooey.

We came to the conclusion that we should put the marshmallows out first so that they had a long time to get gooey and then add the chocolate at the end since is so stinkin’ hot outside.

This experiment also lead to an interesting discussion on how black absorbs the light and converts it to heat, thus the reason for the black paper at the bottom.  We also talked about how it is important when you are going to be outside on such a hot day to try and wear light colors so that your clothing is not absorbing the light.

Also, when we went back to do the second batch of s’mores we noticed that we could see each graham cracker square from the first batch on the paper.  The black paper that wasn’t covered by the graham crackers had faded.  So this lead to a discussion about sunscreen and how it protects us from the sun.  We will probably do an experiment soon using different sunscreens.

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Over the next few days I am sure we will find a few other things to make it our solar oven.  What ideas do you have?


{Science} : Thermometer Fun

The boys hear me talking all the time about the temperature, especially this spring, since one day the high will be 89 and the next day it will be a high of 55.  Thus I thought it was time to show the boys what I was talking about, when I talked about temperature.  It also helped that this was part of Thing 1’s science curriculum this year.

 thermometer fun

Thermometer Fun


1.  Fill a cup half full of water and add some ice.  Let this sit, while you go outside and place your thermometer in a shady spot on the ground.  Wait for 3 minutes and record the temperature.

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2.  Place your thermometer outside in the sun and wait three minutes. Then record temperature.

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3.  Place your thermometer inside your house on the floor.  Wait three minutes and then record the temperature.

4.  Now place the thermometer between your hands.  Wait three minutes and record the temperature.

5.  Lastly, place the thermometer in your cup of ice water.  Wait three minutes and record the temperature.

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Once we had all our temperature readings, we graphed them onto one big thermometer that I had drawn on our whiteboard.  (Too bad I didn’t get a picture, it looked pretty good!  The boys and I then talked about how changing locations and time of year would affect the temperature reading.  For example, what would the thermometer do during the winter, in the snow.

This conversation then lead to a discussion about why I suggest they play in the shade during the summer when it was 100 degrees outside.  Or how I know that they should probably wear coats, even though I haven’t been outside.  I think I gave away some of my mommy magic, but it was fun.

How have you explored using a thermometer?



{Science} : Oil vs. Water

Another one of the science experiments that the boys and I did a couple of weeks ago was to investigate how oil and water interact.

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Oil vs. Water

Food Coloring
Cups (we use plastic test tubes that we have from a science kit)

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1.  Fill one cup about half of the way full of water.  Fill a second cup half way full of oil.  At this point I let the boys touch the water and the oil so that they could feel the difference between the two liquids.

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2.  Drop a few drops of food coloring into the cup with water.  The boys then noticed how the food coloring mixes with the water, turning the water blue.

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3.  Drop a few drops of food coloring into the cup with oil.  Observe how the food coloring makes bubbles at the bottom of the cup, instead of mixing with the oil, like it did in the water.  This happens because food coloring is made primarily of water.

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4.  In the last cup fill the cup a third of the way with water.  Then add about a third of a cup of oil.  Notice how the water sits on top of the water.  This is due to the fact that water is more dense than the vegetable oil, so the oil will float on top of the water.

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5. Now drop of few drops of food coloring on top of the cup with both the oil and water.  Make sure to point out how the food coloring sits at the bottom of the oil, but just atop of the water.

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6.  Use a pencil and push down through the oil.  You will notice that the food coloring will go down and mix with the water just like it did before.

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The boys thought this was pretty cool.  After we had done the steps listed above, Thing 1 really wanted to try to mix the test tube with both the oil and water up.  So he shook it for a minute or two and it was fairly mixed up.  Then we set it on the counter and over the next couple of days we watched as the oil and water slowly separated again.

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What experiments have you done lately?

{Science} : Leakproof Holes

A couple of weeks ago, I set up a series of different science activities for the boys to do.  I am just now getting around to blogging about the rest of them.

Leakproof Holes

Leakproof Holes

zip top bag
sharpened pencils

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1.  Fill your zip top bag with water and make sure there aren’t any leaks.  Our first bag had a hole in it to start with.

2.  Take  pencil and slowly stick it into the bag, and out the other side.

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The bag should not leak.  This demonstrates some of the properties of plastic formed by polymers.  Polymers are molecules strung in long repeating chains.  The chain stretches around the pencil and then tightens around it, so the water doesn’t escape while the pencil is in place.

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The boys thought this was pretty cool and continued to stick pencils into the bag.  Then they thought it was fun to watch the water come out as they pulled the pencils out.

What fun experiments have you done lately?


Cleaning Pennies

There have been several times that the boys have complained about the smell of vinegar when I clean, however, they don’t complain as much as Daddy Cameron.  Thus I thought it would be good to show the boys the cleaning power of vinegar.

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Cleaning Pennies

pennies (the dirtier the better)
3 cups/bowls
liquid soap

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1.  We began by talking about the different ways to clean things.  Thing 2 mentioned water.  Shortly after Thing 1 mentioned soap and water.  I then introduced the vinegar, which they immediately recognized from the smell.

2.  I then let each boy set up one cup.  Thing 3 set up the water cup and dropped his pennies in.  Thing 1 set up the soap and water cup.  Thing 2 set up the cup with 1/2 cup of vinegar and 1 tsp of salt.

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3. We then let the cup sit for about 15 minutes.

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When we looked at the pennies after 15 minutes, Thing 1 immediately wanted to change his hypothesis from soap and water to the vinegar.  The pennies in the vinegar and salt solution were pretty shiny.

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This was a great visible example of why I use vinegar to clean our house.

Have you ever cleaned pennies?

Apples Go Brown

How do we keep apples from turning brown?  The boys and I did a little experiment to find out.

Apples Go Brown

Apples Go Brown

small bowl
lemon juice
paint brush
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1.  Cut the apple into at least 3 pieces.
2.  Take one piece and  place it in the bowl.  Then cover it with just enough water so it is cover.
3.  Use a paint brush and paint both sides of an apple slice with lemon juice.

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4.  Take the last piece and do nothing too it.
5.  Let it sit out and observe the changes.

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When the apple is exposed to open air, chemicals in the apple combine with the oxygen to turn the apple brown.  The lemon juice helps protect the chemicals in the apple.

The boys thought it was pretty neat to see what a little bit of lemon juice can do.  They also enjoyed eating several pieces of apple.  Experiments with food are always a winner!

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Have you painted your apples with lemon juice? 

Our Butterfly Book

On Monday, the boys and I headed to the Texas Discovery Gardens.  The boys loved the butterfly house.

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While we were walking through the butterfly house, Thing 1 came up with the wonderful idea of taking pictures of the butterflies and turning it into a book.  Luckily for him I was already trying to take pictures of the different types of butterflies.

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I took all the best pictures of the individual butterflies and inserted them into a publisher document.  I intentionally left the pictures blank so the boys, mainly Thing 1, could identify and write out the names of the butterflies.

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The boys were super excited about their book and Thing 1 has done an amazing job of identifying the different types of butterflies.  Our field trip turned into great reading and writing practice. YAY!

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When he finished identifying all the butterflies, I bound the books so that each one has a reminder of our trip.

What have your field trips inspired in you?


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