Make A Night Of It!

Take advantage of some especially nice summer evenings with a fun family activity under the stars.

Here are some suggestions:

· Observe the moon. Find out when the full moon will be and take some time to moon gaze. Bring a telescope along with you if you have one or view it through a cardboard tube. A spotting scope or binoculars can also prove useful.

· Have a bonfire. Take time to gather up some wood or purchase some from a local store. Find a safe place to start a fire and consider telling stories, roasting marshmallows, hot dogs, or bring a grill that goes over a campfire and cook up something your family will enjoy. Don’t forget a thermos full of hot cocoa! Alternately, some parks offer charcoal grills that can be used by the public. Check your local park for closure times.

· Star gaze. Take advantage of a moonless night. Set up a blanket or some chairs and take time to watch a clear night sky. Bring your telescope, binoculars, spotting scope, or cardboard tube so you can take better look. Print out a SKYMAP and take it with you to help navigate the evening sky.

· Have an evening picnic. Do something different by having a picnic in the early evening instead of the afternoon. It’s a great way to beat the heat of the day! Bring a flashlight along so you can play a game of flashlight tag. Glow sticks/items can be fun to play with too as it gets dark.

· Plan a camping weekend. Plan a camping weekend if possible. This can be at a real campsite, or in your own backyard. Some national parks offer cabins to rent as well. Take time to get away from the rat race and enjoy nature for a while. Being able to listen and watch nature without the traffic and bright lights can give you a new perspective and fresh your senses. Don’t forget to take time to moon and or star gaze while you are there.

· Watch and listen to what’s around you. Sit outside on a pleasant summer evening and take time to watch and listen to what’s going on around you. See how many sounds you can identify: Owls, birds, scurries, leaves rustling in the breeze, ect. How many night creature you can identify such as lightning bugs, mosquitoes, raccoons, opossums, frogs, cats, etc..

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Measurements of Spring

If April showers bring forth May flowers, how much precipitation does the spring season receive, and how much does the temperature change?

You can find out by doing the following simple experiments:

Capture rain and snow during the season, or for a month, and keep track of the day and night temperatures for a month. If you would like to record the whole season, find a weather site that keeps track of the weather conditions in your area, and grab the info you need to fill in the gaps. Otherwise, you can start any time you like, and go on from there.

Take pictures, draw your findings, or write them down. Use a calendar for the month too.

Measure Precipitation

To capture rain/snow, you can use a wide mouth container and a ruler.

Make a Rain Gauge

Measure Snow

What’s in the rain? As a bonus activity, find out what’s in your rain/snow by taking a closer look with a magnifying glass and a microscope. Instructions can be found in the offered link.


Keep track of the day and night time temperatures in Fahrenheit and Celsius. You can use the following formula, if you would like an extra challenge, or use the following site to get the conversion.

Fahrenheit to Celsius formula: Celsius (°C) = (Fahrenheit – 32) / 1.8

Fahrenheit to Celsius conversion

If you would like to keep track of the temperature in your area, get an inexpensive thermometer or have a little fun making your own with the instructions in the following link:

Make a thermometer

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Silver Items Silver – Information about silver, where it’s found, and minerals that contain silver.

LiveScience: Facts About Silver – Article offers some interesting information about silver, such as where its symbol (Ag) came from.

Ducksters: Elements for Kids: Silver – Page offers short facts and information.


AG Silver

Learn about the chemical structure and make up of silver.

Chemical Elements: Periodic Table: Silver

Chemistry Explained: Silver Gold – The Precious Metal Silver & The Mineral Silver

EnvironmentalChemistry: Periodic Table of Elements: Elemental Silver


The History of Silver Mines documentary – The Best Documentary Ever

How It’s Made Silver

How to clean a tarnished silver in 15 minutes at home (DIY Experiment)

What Does Silver Ore Look Like?

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Create Your Own Animal Study

A great way to begin your study is to make a list of animals you want to learn about, then brainstorm some ways you can learn about the ones you are most interested in. 

One of the easiest and least expensive ways to learn about animals is to get information from the library, used bookstore, or on line. Look for videos that feature or include the animals you are interested in too. If you have Netflix, Amazon, or another streaming service, search for your interests there as well. Our family LOVES animals and we’ve studied quite a few of them. You’ll find our animal resource pages listed here on this blog, they include links to other sites and videos. Some have game ideas, projects, and/or experiments.

Here are some great field trip ideas!

Books, videos, and websites are excellent learning tools, especially when you can’t learn about animals first hand, but learning via experience and observation is even more awesome. Here are a few of the ways we’ve learned about animals first hand. Don’t forget to bring your writing journal, sketch book, paints, or camera. Oh and maybe an animal guidebook too!

  • Go outside. Your own yard or neighborhood may have a variety of animals you can watch on a daily basis. Consider bringing some to you by putting up a bird feeder. If you dig in the dirt, you may find bugs, worms, moles, and other interesting creatures. Take some of those worms fishing with you!
  • Start a compost bin.Turn your food scraps into a bug experiment.
  • Go for a hike. If you have a park, preserve, or a wooded area near you, check it out to see who’s there. You may be pleasantly surprised.
  • Visit a wildlife preserve. Do a quick search on line or talk to other people who may know of a wildlife preserve in your area.
  • Visit a pet store. Make arrangements with a pet store to get a tour. You can do this with a group or a few families if they won’t allow a private tour. Ask questions.

  • Talk to a pet owner. Make arrangements to visit someone who owns or cares for an animal you are interested in learning about.
  • Go to a zoo. There are all kinds of zoos these days! Check and see if there is a specific zoo or center that features the animal you are most interested in learning about. Get a zoo membership so you can visit as often as you like and to stay informed about the special programs they offer. Don’t forget petting zoos too! You’ll get to touch the animals while you’re there.
  • Visit an aquarium. If you are into sea creatures/life, then you’ll want to visit an aquarium. If you have a zoo membership, some aquariums will allow you in for free or offer you a discount to visit them.
  • Visit an estuary. If you are near or can get to the wetlands around you, you’ll be able to check out all the different types of animals while you are there.
  • Go to the beach or inter-coastal areas. A less expensive way to see local sea life is to visit the areas around the ocean. You’ll be able to collect shells, observe various birds, crabs, sand fleas, and other creatures while you’re there. You may even see a dolphin surfing in the waves!
  • Visit an animal sanctuary. Check your local listings for people who run/care for a sanctuary. Some places allow visitors in for a small donation – money or food for the animals.
  • Visit an animal shelter. Dogs, cats, rabbits, etc.. love to get pet and played with. Check with your shelter before you go to see if they allow this and what’s required if they do.
  • Go to a science center. Many science centers will have a small area with live animals and programs related to them.
  • Arrange for an animal related program. Most places that feature animals will have a tour or some kind of program you can arrange to attend. Find out if you need a group or can join a scheduled tour.
  • Check out a local pond, lake, or another body of water. Observe the animal life all around you. Visit during different times of the year to see who the regulars are and who braves the cold weather.
  • Walk through a public garden. If you have the chance, plan a trip to a public garden and you’ll get to see a variety of insects busily pollinating the flowers and foliage.
  • Plan a trip to Sea World, Busch Gardens, or Animal Kingdom. These places make great family vacation spots!
If you are really interested in animals and want to get more involved, here are some things you can do…
  • Volunteer. Most places need all the volunteers they can get. Many require kids to be a certain again, or require a parent to accompany minors. Some of the places to inquire at: Zoos, aquariums, sanctuaries, shelters, animal clinics/vet offices, science centers, specialty animal facilities (ex: reptile house), etc..

  • Become a docent/volunteer for an animal related program. If you really know your stuff, some places will allow teens to docent or help with a traveling petting zoo.
  • Get a pet. One of the best ways to learn is to experience it for yourself long term. Research all you can before you take the plunge.
  • Join an animal rescue project. You can join something with local meetings, or that sponsors theme related festivals and awareness programs such as Turtles, whales, sharks, manatees, water preservation, etc.. Check out a local Audubon society too.
  • Look for programs. Keep your eyes and ears open for program opportunities that feature animals in your community. Libraries sometimes offer programs that feature animals – ask them if they have anything schedule or make a suggestion.
Many zoos offer courses and classes, they won’t be free, but it can make a great gift idea or a budget goal.
Honestly, this short list only scratches the surface of some of the awesome ways you can learn about the animal kingdom first hand. 
Please help make this list longer by leaving some suggestions in comments.

If you would like more tips for designing one of a kind studies, please read these posts:

Design Your Own One-of-a-Kind Study

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Meteorology Resources

Wikipedia: Meteorology – History of the topic, meteorologists, equipment, spatial scales and more.

Environmental Science: What is a Meteorologist? – Find out what meteorologist do, types of meteorologists, where they work, their salary by state, requirements, what they study, and more.

Nat Geo: Meteorology – Facts, info about meteorology, Scales of meteorology, history of meteorologists, and meteorology today.

Scholastic: Meteorology – Explains what meteorology is, scope, and development of modern meteorology.

Weather Wiz Kids: A weather site designed to help kids understand weather. Includes information and experiments.

Weather for Kids: Types of weather. Click on a picture and learn about that topic.

Easy Science for Kids: Being a Weather Forecaster – Info about being a weather forecaster, fun facts about the occupation, and other info.

National Weather Service: Weather Science content for Kids and Teens – Summer Weather camps, Jetstream: The National Weather Services Online School for Weather, Severe storms laboratory, and others. What is Meteorology? Definitions, History, and Facts.

Funschooling & Recreational Learning: Cloud Resource Page, Tracking Hurricanes, Autumn/Fall, & Snowflake Science

YouTube: Meteorology Playlist – What is meteorology, what can you do with a degree in meteorology, predicting weather and more!
Here’s one of the videos you can find in the list…

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Real World Science Skills

Not only are we born mathematicians, we are scientists as well!
Science is about exploration, observation, experimentation, comparing, questioning, predicting, timing, evaluating, measuring, preparing, drawing conclusions, theorizing, and many other things. Many of these skills are done so quickly in our minds, that we hardly take notice of it happening.

Kids and parents can explore science and have a great time discovering how fascinating this subject is.

Here are some of the topics that can be found within this site. If you have a topic that you would like to see covered, please leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you out.



Zoology & Animal life

Scroll down to learn how to make butter

Earth Science



Snowflake Science


Winter Solstice

Solar Experiments


Apollo 7

Phases Of The Moon

The Sun


Emergency Preparedness Resources

Tracking Hurricanes

Gardening & Plant Life

Rocks & Minerals

Play In The Sand


Benjamin Franklin’s Glass Armonica


Hot Air Balloon

Hula Hoop


Optical Illusions 

Water Balloons



Science of Light



Niels Bohrs

Coming Soon…

Archaeology – Cryptozoology – Earth wonders – Force – Forensics – Gravity – Lightning – Meteorology – Oobleck – Paleontology – Slime – Stars – States of matter – Vibration – Water – Wind

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Apollo 7

Wikipedia: Apollo 7 – Information includes: Crew, background, mission highlights, insignia and more.

Smithsonian National Air  & Space MuseumApollo 7 (AS-205) – Info includes: First manned test flight of the CSM and Summary of Events. Facts, Crew, Images.

NASA: Apollo 7 – Mission Objective and Mission Highlights. Photo of Launch.

Funschooling & Recreational Learning: Phases of the Moon – Moon Resources Include: Moon cycles, names, tides, videos and more.

YouTube: Apollo 7 Playlist – Footage and information about the first manned mission. Plus, videos that show you how to make a variety of rockets.

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What is a Rainbow and how does it work?

How Stuff Works: What Causes a Rainbow? – Answers the question. Also, How Rainbows Work.

Wikipedia: Rainbows – Learn about rainbows.

About: Rainbows – For older kids interested in how a rainbow is made and some of the mathematics behind it.

Fun Rainbow Activities

First School: Rainbows – Activities for preschool aged children.

Enchanted Learning: Rainbows – A variety of rainbow crafts.

DLTK: Rainbow Activities – DLTK has fun rainbow activities for kids that include, coloring pages, crafts, puzzles, recipes and more. Rainbow Coloring Pages – Offers a variety of rainbow coloring pages.

Universal Preschool: Fun With Rainbows –  Rainbow activities and book suggestions for you and your young child. Rainbow Codes:  A fun game that adds an element of science.

Rainbow Videos
Please check out my YouTube Playlist for rainbow related information and experiments! Here’s one of the great videos you can find there.
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Cook Your Lunch Outside!

If it feels hot enough to fry an egg outside, why not take advantage of the sun’s heat to cook up your lunch!

You will need: A takeout container with a lid or a metal container and aluminum foil, a cookie sheet, potholders, an area that gets at least 2 hours of direct sunlight in the morning and afternoon, and something to heat up.

Here are some of the things we like to cook outside in about 30 minutes or so:

Chili beans and hot dogs (thawed).
Baked beans.
Canned or frozen corn with butter, salt and pepper.
Ramen noodles.
A melted cheese sandwich. (A solar melt!)
Refried beans with cheese and flour tortillas.
Buttered instant rice with black beans.

And for dessert, S’mores!

Put your food in food grade container and place it on a cookie sheet in the sun. To keep unwanted pest out of your food, put it up high rather than on the ground. Check the food in 15 minutes with a potholder and mix, or turn your food if it’s not ready. Then check it again in another 10-20 minutes and enjoy.
Beans tend to take a bit longer, about an hour.

Have a picnic lunch outside when your food is ready.

To find out more about cooking with the sun, check out my Solar Cooking post!

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Experiments You Can Do With The Sun

Have some fun with the sun by doing solar experiments!

You Will Need

 A hot sunny day, dark colored construction paper, various objects that won’t melt: A key, leaf, pencil, scissors, etc., crayons, cookie sheet, potholder, aluminum foil, a glass jar, tea bag, old crayons, inexpensive XX-large garbage bags, rubber bands, scissors, 25+’ string, and a wide open space

Make Solar Prints

Choose a flat, sunny location, put a piece of dark construction paper on in, then place variety of objects that won’t melt on top of the paper (key, leaves, shells, pencil, etc.) and leave it in the sun for 30 minutes or so. Compare the areas that were exposed to the sun to the covered areas. 
If it is windy, place a small rock on top of lighter objects.

Make Sun Tea

Fill a clean jar with water, add a tea bag, cover, and place it in the sun for an hour. The jar may be very hot so have a potholder handy to take off the lid. Remove the tea bag, stir in some sugar, add fruit and ice to the jar if desired, and enjoy.

Refresh Old Crayons

 Refresh old crayons by turning broken ones into a whole new mixed up version. You will need some old crayons (paper removed), aluminum foil, a cookie sheet, and a potholder to do this. Cookie cutters can be used to make cool shapes, otherwise you can carefully shape aluminum foil. Put your shapes on a cookie sheet, cover the bottom of the aluminum foil with crayon pieces, and leave it in direct sunlight for 30 minutes or so. Check on their progress from time to time. If the crayons do not melt well, cover the top with plastic wrap. Once the crayons have melted, allow them to cool for a bit, then grab some paper and see how they work.

Make A Solar Balloon

This experiment works best in a wide open space such as an open field, park or large backyard. Open up an XX-Large bag such as a leaf bag or something bigger, fill it with air, and close it with a rubber band. Tie a really long string around the rubber band, leave it in the sun and watch what happens. Watch the following video for another way to make a solar balloon.

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The Sun

The Sun

Did you know that as hot as it may be during the summer months, the sun is actually further from the earth than during the winter months? It certainly doesn’t feel that way!

Here are some questions to consider…

  • How does the sun heat up the earth?
  • Why is it so hot during the summer and cold in during the winter?
  • How are we protected from the sun’s rays?
  • How does the sun benefit our lives?

The following resources will help answer these questions…

Everyday Mysteries: Why is it hot in the summer and cold in the winter?

NASA: Sun: Overview of our star & Ultraviolet Waves

Sunlight and The Earth – How the sun benefits the earth.

Mirror: 15 Reasons Why The Sun Is Good For You

NMSEA: New Mexico Solar Energy Association – Projects and information about solar energy

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Wikipedia: Spirals
– Spirals and helices, 2D spirals, 3D spirals, In nature, As a symbol, and In art.

Mathematische Basteleien: Spirals – What is a spiral? and types of spiral.

Wolfram MathWorld: Logarithmic Spirals – Equation offered.

Phi: 1.618: The Golden Number: Spirals and the Golden Ration – Article: Fibonacci numbers and Phi are related to spiral growth in nature.

Discover Magazine: Article: Why Is Our Universe Filled With Spirals?

Original Beauty: Spirals In Nature – Site offers a photo gallery of spirals found in nature.

15 Uncanny Examples of the Golden Ration in Nature – Site offers pictures and information about spirals and the Golden Ratio.

Fibonacci in Nature – Site talks about Nature’s Numbering system and offers picture examples.

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