Halloween Science Experiments

Get ready for some fun, hands-on Halloween science experiments! These are perfect for elementary aged kids. Some are spooky, some are gross and some are just plain fun. There’s something for everyone here. And each one explains the science behind the activity. Get ready to learn in a spooky way!

Halloween Science Experiments for Kids

I’m so excited to also be part of the big Kid Blogger Network Fall/Halloween Round-Up. We are giving away four $500 cash prizes. Yes, you heard that correctly. This is BIG, people.  More about that in a moment.

Ok, here we go. Halloween Science!

Experiments With Pumpkins

Ghosts, Bats and Other Spooky Things

Spooky Ingredients

Halloween  Linky Party 

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The Mega Cash Giveaway

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Win one of FOUR $500 cash prizes directly in your paypal account! This giveaway is open internationally. You must be 18+ years old to enter. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. Winners will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. Please see detailed terms and conditions below the giveaway for more info.

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Learning How to Tell Time

Learning how to tell time comes with practice.  Set up an easy time telling station at kid-eye level. This one is in our kitchen near the stairs. We all walk by it a hundred times a day. It’s been great practice for the kids and an easy way for me to point out times we need to keep track of throughout the day. We are learning how to tell time while we are on the go.

Telling Time Station for learning how to tell time throughout the day 

The clock station can be used in many ways, for all levels of learning how to tell time. Right now, my 5-year-old is learning to tell time by the hour and half-hour while my 8-year-old is learning more precise times.

See the one that says “Screen Time 4:00″? That is the super motivating one in our house right now. 

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What You Will Need

  • Face clock Choose one that is easy to read. I chose this one because it also has the time in 5 to 60 minute increments.

learning how to tell time at home

  • Digital wall clock Battery operated and about the same size as the face clock (these clocks are 10 inches).
  • Moveable teaching clocks. Package of 6. I got these at a local teacher supply store and I wish I could find a link for you, but I haven’t been able to locate one yet. 
  • Laminator  This is optional of course, but this is what makes the moveable teaching clocks have the dry-erase capability so we can work on various times.
  • Circle Punch
    (also optional). I just like the uniform look of a space to write the times underneath the moveable teaching clocks. There are a million uses for the circle punch.
  •  Command Hooks and Strips
    For hanging everything on painted surfaces and not leaving a mark when you remove them. How did we live before Command Strips existed? I truly don’t know. I use these for everything. I used the Velcro Picture Hanging Strips to secure the two big clocks to the wall. Even though they are hung with nails, being at kid level, I thought they may get knocked down so I used the velcro for extra attachment.

learning how to tell time

 

For more hands-on math learning, you may also like:

Follow along on Facebook for more ideas.

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Service Project Ideas for Kids ~ Easy Ways to Help Kids Help Others

So simple. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before.  My daughter has been collecting food bank donations each month this summer, but August’s donations were low. How could we get more before our trip to the food bank to drop them off?  We’d already cleaned out our pantry and bought a few items with each weekly grocery trip and asked friends and neighbors for help. 

community service ideas for kids

You see, each time we drop off the donations, the staff and volunteers at the food bank weigh the items. They show you, on the scale, how many pounds of food you just donated. What a concrete way for kids to understand how much they are helping! My daughter loves it. And she set a goal for herself to make that number of pounds go higher each month.

So there we were in August with a few bags of donations, wishing we could give more. And then it hit me:  The dollar store. Stay with me here.

I gave my kids $20 and challenged them to buy the 20 most nutritious items they could find, that were also the best deal for their money.  A snack sized package of crackers or a whole box of pasta?  A package of 3 juice boxes or a big jug of apple juice?  

What about protein sources? They found canned tuna and peanut butter.  What about fruits and vegetables? We didn’t find fruit but we found lots of canned veggies. We found flour and cornbread mix. Cereal and honey. We had a cart full! 

Twenty dollars got us 4 bags of groceries to donate. We had been particularly concerned about donating to the food bank over the summer when donations are at a yearly low and more families are in need because kids who normally get free or reduced-cost breakfast and lunch at school now have to stretch their budget even tighter.

We learned some other really important things from this experience, too.

It only takes giving a few small items to teach your child about the importance of helping others,  to experience what it is like to make a difference.

And this:

One of my biggest challenges with my kids was dispelling the myth that people who need food from the food bank are not dressed in rags with dirty faces and no shoes, like in the movies. People who need food from the food bank look just like us.  

It’s a Daddy who lost his job, and he was the sole breadwinner in his family.  His family lives in a suburban neighborhood much like ours.

It’s our friend who just got divorced and is struggling to raise her two kids on her own.

It’s a family who came from another country where work was scarce and poverty widespread, just like my own great grandparents, and it’s hard to make a life here; To help your family here and try to send money to the ones left at home who continue to face the bleak circumstances you left behind.

It’s a family who manages to get by most of the year, but in the summer, when their kids don’t get breakfast and lunch at school, they can’t quite make it to the next paycheck. Then the car breaks down. And their tight budget is simply stretched too far. 

More Small Ways Kids Can Have a BIG Impact In Their Communities

What touches your child’s heart?  Start there and help them find a way to help others. We chose this activity because it was something my daughter cared about. I got swept up in her enthusiasm.  My oldest child loves dogs, so we found a way for him to volunteer, even at a very young age, with a rescue organization. 

Show kids how to use technology and social media to bring attention to their causes. Just mentioning what your child is doing on Facebook brings awareness to the cause close to their heart. We started an email account for my daughter so she could email family and friends explaining her service project and requesting donations. 

Designate your child’s favorite cause as your charity of choice when you shop on Amazon, using their Smile program. A percentage of proceeds will go to the charity you select. I rotate the charities my kids care about on a monthly basis so each one gets something, and then I make sure to tell my kids, “I bought some books today and some of the money went to the dog rescue.” 

For more unique service project ideas for kids, click here.

 

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Homeschooling Moms: 5 Ways to Take Care of Ourselves Right Now

This post is graciously sponsored by Brave Writer. Disclosure.

It’s often the last thing on the to-do list: Ourselves.  Moms have a million things to do to take care of our families and our homes and our jobs and our many commitments. Add homeschooling to that and you can almost understand why well-meaning friends and strangers say, “I don’t know how you do it.” 

Homeschooling Moms: 5 Ways to Take Care of Ourselves Right Now

Here are 5 Ways to Care for Yourself as a Homeschoolng Mom

  1. Find Your Tribe.  Whether it’s a couple of other homeschool moms, a whole group, on-line or in person, find people who get you and get your family and your style of homeschooling. Run stuff by them: your curriculum plans, your struggles, your triumphant moments. Lean on them as needed.
  2. Seek Out Mentors.  This is different from your tribe.  Your tribe is in the trenches with you. Mentors have gone before you and have the advantage of hindsight to share with us. You can find them in real life, or by reading blogs or forums on the internet. They are there and they are wise.  Soak it in.
  3. Find the quiet.  What quiet?, you ask. I know. My house is loud, too. Find a time of day when everyone is asleep that is also the time that you are most likely to be able to be awake. Stay up really late or get up really early. I’m a morning person so guess what time it is when I am writing this? It’s 6:20 a.m.  I have coffee and it’s quiet here.   
  4. Let It Go. Sorry for the Frozen reference and now you have that song in your head. Again. But, picture this instead. You carefully plan and prepare learning activities for your children. Perhaps they even looked up at you with big eyes and said, “Mommy, can we learn about SPACE next?”
    And so you stayed up late cutting out cute planet printables and gathering supplies for an asteroid experiment and planning a themed snack to eat while you read the library books you reserved and checked out on the subject.  You are pretty darn proud of yourself for being so organized.
    And then the next day, they hate it. They refuse to do the printables, reject the snack and fuss and whine, “Whhhyyyy do we have to read this book? It’s so  boooooring.”  
    You’ve invested so much time and effort and you think, This is what we are going to do today, darn it. Don’t. Let it go.  Go outside and tromp around in the woods instead. Go visit Grandma and let them eat too many cookies. Build giant forts or Lego towers. And then look for the learning that did happen. I promise it is there. It’s just not the learning you planned for that day. It is the physics of the Lego tower, the family history lesson of Grandma’s stories, the science of bugs and plants in the woods.
  5. Restore your faith in homeschooling just a little bit each day. I’ve been reading Julie Bogart’s new book, A Gracious Space: Daily reflections to sustain your homeschooling commitment.  If you follow Julie’s Brave Writer page on Facebook you are familiar with the gems she shares that encourage homeschooling moms. I reshare them on the Creekside Learning Facebook page often. The book takes all that wonderful wisdom and presents it in 50 essays, designed to be read one per day. It’s like a homeschooling mentor mom has come into my kitchen and handed me a warm cup of coffee and this wonderful little daily dose of encouragement to start my day.  Here’s an excerpt from the book:

    It’s so easy to feel behind, or like you aren’t doing enough. In fact, when our kids are good at their schoolwork and get finished quickly…we might be tempted to undervalue the effort…Pay attention to the things that are working, to the peace you feel, to the smiles on your kids’ faces, to the well being of your family.Value what you are doing well. Celebrate it! Trust that ease in your day is a sign that you are on the right path.

 More About the Book

A Gracious Space is a beautiful collection of 50 essays designed to be read one per day and “intended to help you sustain your brave homeschooling commitment. Restore your faith in yourself, your hard work, and your children. Take a little time each day to remember why you do what you do.”  Deep breath. Don’t we all just need that?

This is the Fall Edition (first in a series). It comes in PDF, iBooks, and Kindle formats and you can order it right from the Brave Writer site. It’s $9.95. 

Gracious Space Fall

Win a Copy of the Book

Julie Bogart has generously offerred to give away 5 copies of her book to Creekside Learning readers. 

 
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Julie Bogart | Author of A Gracious Space

Julie Bogart | Author of A Gracious Space

 Julie Bogart and I are collaborating on Pinterest to gather more resources that support homeschooling parents. Follow along:   Follow Julie Kirkwood, Creekside Learning’s board Support for Homeschool Parents on Pinterest.

From A Gracious Space: Daily Reflections to Sustain Your Homeschooling Commitment, by Julie Bogart

 

 

Instead of Asking Kids What Grade They’re In, Ask This

It never fails. Out in public, when my kids meet new adults, the grown-ups ask the same question:  What grade are you in? Sometimes it’s preceded with How old are you? and often it is followed by some variation of a school related question:  Are you glad to be off of school for the summer?  or Why aren’t you in school today? Is school out today?, depending on the season. But it is almost always about school.

Instead of asking kids what grade they're in, ask these questions instead.

I have one kid who smoothly fields these questions, one who is too little to be asked (much) and one who freezes. Every. Time.  My daughter does not want to be in a grade. Grades are for kids who go to public school. This isn’t something I taught, her, it’s just how she feels. We’ve tried discussing possible responses to this question but when it happens, she looks at me to explain, yet again, to another stranger who asks, “What grade are you in?”

I know they mean well. This person, out of kindness, is trying to engage with my child. These questions are automatic. It’s just what people say. There is no harm being done here. I know this. But I can’t help thinking, Is there another way to connect?

Isn’t it interesting that kids don’t ask this of other kids at nearly the same rate as adults? Here’s what kids say: 

Hey, do you play Minecraft? 

What’s your name?

Lets go on the swings.

Wanna play freeze tag?

Maybe adults could say those things or, in case they really don’t want to play freeze tag, here are some other ideas. 

Instead of asking, “What grade are you in?” how about these questions instead:

What’s something you are really good at?

Do you have super powers?  No? Well, if you could have a super power, what would it be?

What’s the best part of your day today so far?

What do you like better: the mountains or the beach?

Do you like horses/motorcycles/Legos?

Who is the silliest person you know?

What’s the most disgusting thing you’ve ever eaten?

Do you like to play with dolls/video games/cars/etc.?  What’s your favorite?

In memory of my Uncle Fred:  How’s the wife and kids? 

What is the strangest sound you could possibly make?

Say, have you ever met the President of the United States/Olaf the Snowman/any minions?

Do you have any pets?

What’s your favorite animal/color/etc.?

I’m taking a survey. I think kids should get to stay up as late as they want and parents should have to go to bed early. What’s your opinion?

What would you add to this list? What other ways can we engage with kids in fun, interesting, and playful ways?