Signs of Fall

We've taken a break from regularly scheduled work, because I have what appears to be the flu...or too much stress (which tend to make me sick)...whichever it is I have managed to supervise math and spelling and make meals....and that's about it.

The weather has turned very fall-like. I had to dig out pants and long sleeved PJs. This morning they needed jackets to play outside. I am loving that it is so nice, they want to be out all the time and I can lay in the front yard with the lazy puppy and half-sleep while they play.

The tree in our front yard looses it's leaves yearly every year. No pretty colors for this one, just turns brown and drops them. There were enough of them to make a pretty decent leaf pile to jump in.

Hopefully we'll be back soon. I've been sick since Saturday night and no one else in complaining or coughing or feverish yet. I hope it stays that way.


Chemistry Unit- Day 4

Mixtures and Separation

First we talked about what a mixture was and they came up with some examples. Then I had them mix the first set of tubes in front of them- chick peas and sugar. And I asked them what the best way to separate them would be. Both Rylan and Cale said to add water at first, but I told them I wanted the sugar back, not have it washed away.

So we talked about the first way to separate a mixture: filtration. Cohen and Lakin poured out the sugar/chick pea mixtures into a colander to separate.

Then I gave them the second set of tubes- water and soil. Which Cohen and Lakin shook up real good while I had Rylan and Cale think of how to get the soil back out. They both agreed that the colander wouldn't work, but that a smaller filter would. So Rylan poured his out into a coffee filter to separate and while it drained we talked about an other option.

While we had been talking the second tube had been sitting there untouched. So when I asked them to look at it they saw the second way of separation: settling. We set the tube up on the shelf to allow it to settle completely.

Then they each got a one tube containing water and one containing sugar. I had them combine them and shake until the sugar was dissolved. Then I asked for them to give me the sugar back. I had them start by using the previous 2 methods. Cale poured his through a coffee filter, Rylan set his up to settle. And after some discussion we set Cohen's on the windowsill to evaporate the water and leave the sugar.

Since everyone agreed that evaporation would leave the sugar behind, I asked them for the water back too. If it evaporated it would be gone....

So we went into the kitchen to try distillation. We only caught a little bit of the steam to condense back into water then we just let the steam go and watched the sugar crystals form back in the bottom of the pot.

We talked a little bit about why you would want to capture the gas as it evaporated. How some gases are harmful to the earth or to people. Then they ate what they could scrape out...


The end of the season

It's the end of the growing season....we didn't do a fall garden this year so we are slowly getting ready to put the garden to bed. the chicken house is cleaned out and the manure ready to be spread. I would have rather waited to clean it out until I could directly spread it on the garden beds but after I flooded the chicken house a few weeks ago....well it needed to be done immediately, so it is waiting in the compost pile.

We have started to bring in the sweet potatoes. So far they have done pretty well. I've dug up about 4 plants and gotten a good amount of them.

The boys like ones like these...

They are white fleshed, which I have never had before. And I am not quite sure where to put all of them to cure....but I'll figure that out soon, especially when I dig up the remaining 40+ plants.

Our peppers did really well this year too...and we still get about 12 of them a week...

And these....

Our peanut plans didn't go so well...first ants ate most of the seeds I planted and we only were left with about 10 plants. Then the weeds got out of control and I could only keep up with the main the peanuts got forgotten....but I didn't let Paul mow the are and let the weeds grow just in case....

Yesterday I dug up 3 of the plants I could find and got a handful. Next year I think I'll plant them in between other plants, like corn, in the main garden beds.

And I am already planning next year....


Chemistry Unit- Day 3

Chemistry Unit- Day 3
How Matter Takes Up Space

background information: First we discussed what atoms are and how they come together to form molecules. We compared atoms to letters and molecules to words. We briefly looked at the Periodic Table of Elements.

Activity 1: Marshmallow molecules

Today we had a couple friends over to join in on our chemistry experiments. I gave each kid a sheet with a color key for the marshmallows- white were oxygen, pink was nitrogen, etc... We used Hydrogen, oxygen ,nitrogen, sodium and carbon. The sheet also listed a few common molecules that they would be familiar with.

Then they started building- starting with molecular oxygen. Then to carbon dioxide, water, vinegar, ammonia...

Baking soda is pictured above. We talked about symmetry, but since these guys are all under the age of 9, I didn't go into detail about bonds or any of that.

Then they built their own molecule however they wanted. While they did that we talked about how all the ones they made were different sizes and take up different amounts of space.

Experiments 2 and 3

The next 2 experiments dealt with how mixing different types of matter/molecules effect the volume. We started off adding 25 mL of water and 25 mL of water. We measured out the amounts and they each took a guess as to what the volume would be when they combined the 2 tubes....most guessed 50 mL. Which was correct.

The next part we combined unlike matter/molecules. We measured 25mL of water in one tube and 25 mL of alcohol in a second tube. Then they recorded their guess as to what the final volume would be. Most thought it would still be 50mL, Rylan thought it would be less.

When they combined them the result was just under 50 mL....and we talked about how the alcohol molecules were a different size than the water so they fit together in different ways.

Experiment 4:
This was the second experiment dealing with mixing unlike matter. The kids filled their tube up about half way with salt. Then added water to a couple centimeters above the salt and marked the level on the outside of the tube. Then they took their guess- after shaking would the level of the mixture be above, below or at the line . 2 said at, one said above and one said below. Then they shook

And recorded the result- under the line. And we talked about how shaking evenly distributed with molecules of salt and water, making them take up less space.

Experiment 5: Visualization

This final exercise was to see how the different sized molecules share a set volume. We started off with large "molecules" which were marbles. They took a guess as to how many scoops of marbles it would take to fill the tube. Then they filled them up...and recorded the actual.

Then I asked them if the tube was really full? There was a lot of empty space in between the large molecules. And I asked them to guess how many scoops of "smaller" molecules it would take to fill up the tube the rest of the way. So they started to add scoops of popcorn kernels to the tubes until they were full.

Finally I asked them if it was full again, and then to guess how many scoops of "tiny" molecules it would take to fill the tube. Some said zero some said 20....then they added sand...tapping the tube after each scoop to fill in all the gaps.

Once that was done I asked them what would happen if they had started with the tiny sand. Would they still be able to fit 10-12 marbles in their tube?

They gave it a try- here are Cale's. On the left was 12 scoops of marbles, 6 scoops of popcorn and 8 scoops of sand. On the right he got the 8 scoops of sand and 6 scoops of popcorn but only 1 marble could fit. Since the sand "molecules" could fit so close together the larger marble "molecules" couldn't fit in between them.


Chemistry Unit- Day 1 and 2

Day 1:

This was a quick lesson since we had our co-op classes in the morning and had a vet appointment in the afternoon. But we started with discussing matter. What it was and the 3 major forms it takes. We gathered some items and I had them sort them into solids or liquid, or both.... venn diagram-style using yarn circles. Once they were sorted we added the 3rd circle for gas. I had them look over each item to see if any of them had gas in them. They did immediately see the air bubble in a couple of the liquids and the air inside the dogs squeaky toy.

We also talked about the properties of solids, liquids and gases. And since I put up a posted of the periodic table of elements we had a short talk about that, atoms and molecules.

Day 2:

We started off reviewing the definition of matter again. Then we tested to see if certain object did indeed take up space and have mass. So using our scale and balance they tested for awhile. Then I asked them about gases. If it weighed anything. Cale said no. Rylan remembered we had done this particular experiment before and said yes. So we took 2 balloons on either side of the balance. They were equal. Then Rylan blew up one balloon. And they guess if one side would be heavier now. Then it was easy to see that the gas inside the balloon 1. took up space since it was visually larger than the deflated one and 2. it had mass since it was heavier blown up

Next we talked about the behavior of the molecules in solids, liquids and gases. We started off with a demonstration using marbles in a box. To demonstrate solids, the box was filled completely so that they could barely move. This shows that the molecules move slow and are packed closer together. Which is why solids are hard and don't form to the shape of the container they are in. For liquids we removed some marbles so that they could roll around a bit and move faster. We removed even more to show that the gas molecules can move very fast.

Once that was done we talked about the 3 forms of water and how the molecules would be moving in there. How the colder water gets, the closer to being ice (solid) the slower the molecules will be moving. And the hotter water gets, the closer to steam (gas) the faster the molecules will be moving. We filled 1 tube with cold water and 1 with hot. They gave their guess as to which tube would mix the color quicker- the cold or hot. (Pictured above) The cold wasn't too much slower, but it took longer to get a uniform color than the warm water.

From here they wanted to try really cold and boiling water. So we filled 1 tube and stuck it in an ice bucket and boiled some water in the microwave for the second. This time the results were much more dramatic. The boiling water mixed almost instantly. The colder water started off pretty well but stalled once the dye hit the bottom where the water was even colder.

Rylan wanted to go even further, so we placed the dye on see how quick it would mix

At first they thought it was going quicker than expected

Only to realize the ice wasn't mixing, the dye was just mixing with the water as it melted....

and they went back to their original guess- that it wouldn't mix completely until the ice melted.


This little guy and his 11 brothers and sisters were abandoned in an old cemetery last weekend. They were 3-4 weeks old and not yet weaned from their mother. They were left in the heat and the rain with a handful of food and spilled water.

Luckily they were found. By a friend of a woman who runs a pet rescue group. She took all 12 in, syringe fed them all replacement milk and got them eating solids. They were tiny and need of a lot of love.
We sell our eggs to the woman who runs the rescue, who also owns a children's second handshop down the street from us. We went there on Wednesday and got the whole story and spent 30 minutes outside playing with them- bad idea for 4 kids and a mom with weak hearts when it comes to animals. We all wanted one. But then there was the $125 adoption fee. So we left to think on it. But they reminded me so much of my Bailey as a puppy that I kept thinking of them.

Wednesday night, one took a turn for the worse. He was on IV fluids, force fed formula and very lethargic. I fed him when we visited on Friday and he was pitiful. We chose the one we wanted to adopt when they were ready.

Saturday at noon I got a call. All the puppies were sick. Some were eating, some were not. Most likely with Parvo- which can be devastating in puppies. She wasn't equip to handle round the clock feedings for 12 puppies. She had to take them to the shelter in an hour and wanted to know if I still wanted one. She said she'd give it to us, just to promise to get it neutered. We decided to take our chances, not wanting to send them all off to their deaths.

We brought him home and he was pitiful. But he was eating. Weak, had lost a lot of weight in the day since we had seen them. But we forced formula on him. Paul brought Pepto and pedialyte home. By night he was begging for food and playing. He kept us up all night- we have him in the bathroom- because he was lonely. He's eaten 2 cans of food in a day and a half. I'm not sure what they had was Parvo or not, his recovery was so quick. I'm cautiously optimistic. We plan on taking him to the vet tomorrow to get him checked out and make sure he is healthy enough to be around our other animals.

Somewhere out there, there is a person who owns a dog. A dog that will probably have more babies. More babies they won't want to take care of. More babies they will essentially kill because they refuse to get the mom spayed. We are blessed to have a clinic just down the road from us that offers low cost spay/neutering. They even offer free vouchers and reduced fees for low income. They also take in and rescue the unwanted. Our pup's brothers and sisters didn't have to die. There were people who would have saved them, if only they could have stayed with their mom a little longer and been given a chance to get strong and healthy.


Field Trips Galore

Today we had plans to go with our local homeschooling group to the Tennessee Valley Fair for a 'Down on the Farm' program. Since it is Tuesday and Paul is off....he was coming with us, but he also had class all morning- and we were going too. So we dropped him off as his first class at 9:20 and went on to our first destination:
Fort Kid

I remember when they built this playground, they held a contest when I was in the 4th grade for us kids to design a playground. One of my friends won and they used some of her designs when it was constructed. It's huge. It's wood. Twists, turns, bridges, slides, tire swings, tunnels, towers....

An hour later we went on to destination #2....the McClung Museum on the UT campus. We go here a lot when we go with Paul to class. It's a small museum. Lots of artifacts, a few dinosaur fossils, Australopithecus skeletons, Native American art and lots of other archeological and geological history of Tennessee. No pictures there....I was busy holding a tired and hungry Lakin...

So on to #3....lunch in the UT Gardens. We've been here a handful of times in the summer...drawing plants, smelling flowers, IDing herbs, passing time....

After lunch we stopped to smell the roses.

Lots of them

Lots and lots of them

I think the orange were the family favorite

Purple roses have always been one of my favorite....

Once we smelled every variety of rose in the garden...we picked Paul up and headed to the Tn Valley Fair....

Where tired a little boy woke up to play in a bucket of wheat, and pet chickens and sheep and rabbits and horses and cows...

And envy the size of these butternut squash

And look at lots of antique tractors

They asked to go on rides and they asked for ice cream. I said the rides were pretty expensive and that we could get [cheaper] ice cream on the way home. And they said lets go. Not many kids can go to a fair and not care about the fancy rides and games. But you should have seen how excited they were at the vegetable display....true farm boys in the making