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Magic School Bus Science Kit, Mold and Fungi

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Can I just say “Eeew”??! When I set off this year to do a better job helping my kids learn science at home after school, I didn’t know it would involve mold and dead rodents.

Actually, maybe I should blame this on Santa. He bought my daughter a subscription to the Magic School Bus Science Club  through a 50% off deal from Homeschool Buyers Co-op.

Here’s our latest kit:

Mold and Fungi

Mold and Fungi

This is the first kit we’ve gotten that is next to impossible to recreate at home. It came with a bunch of things I wouldn’t know where to buy: petri dishes, test tubes, Agar solution, etc. I guess you could find that on Amazon, but it would end up costing a lot more than $12.

Anyhow, here’s a look at some of the experiments we did:

This tray lived on my kitchen counter for almost two weeks.

This tray lived on my kitchen counter for almost two weeks.

After 2 hours, yeast blew up the balloon!

After 2 hours, yeast blew up the balloon!

Normal, dirty hands touch side A, Clean hands touch side B.

Normal, dirty hands touch side A, Clean hands touch side B.

A week later something is growing on the A side!

A week later something is growing on the A side!

Hard to see in the picture, but stuff is growing in this dish too. Yuck!

Hard to see in the picture, but stuff is growing in this dish too. Yuck!

The great news is my kids will hopefully have a better time remembering to use soap. 😉

For more posts about our Magic School Bus science kit adventures, click here.

 

Magic School Bus Science Kit, Magnets

Hide your infants!

Hide your infants!

Our latest Magic School Bus Science Club  purchased through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op was all about magnets. Thank goodness we don’t have any babies in the house because I’ve very paranoid about small childrend eating magnets. (I get worked up just thinking about it.)

But for a four-and-a-half year old, this kit was fun.

A lot of the experiments involved (included) iron filings, which wasn't as messy as it sounds.

A lot of the experiments involved iron filings, which wasn’t as messy as it sounds.

I

Okay, this one was messy when big brother opened up the bag…

The classic "magnet on a car" experiment.

The classic “magnet on a car” experiment.

Making  a compass.

Making a compass.

The total time commitment for this kit was about thirty minutes. It required no unusual at-home materials and was really easy to teach.

But I must confess, I threw all of the magnets away in the trash when we were done. Just in case!

 

The Magic School Bus Science Club, Solids, Liquids and Gases kit

The Magic School Bus "Solids, Liquids, and Gases" kit

The Magic School Bus “Solids, Liquids, and Gases” kit

“Santa” brought Jenna(4) a subscription to the Magic School Bus Science Club this year. It was a 50% off deal through Homeschool Buyers Co-op. That comes out to $12 a kit, which is totally worth it.

A lot of these experiments you can do at home for free. The only drawback is that you won’t have the teaching script to read from. I’m not going to lie, the script is pretty nice because it’s so foolproof. But if you go to the library and check out some books, you’ll probably be fine.

Here are some titles to look for:

The Magic School Bus Gets Baked in a Cake: A Book About Kitchen Chemistry

Solids, Liquids and Gases (Starting with Science)

Experiments with Solids, Liquids, and Gases (True Books)

Here are some experiments to get you started:

Dancing raisins. You need raisins and fizzy water.

Dancing raisins. You need raisins and fizzy water.

Drop the raisins in the water and watch what happens.

Drop the raisins in the water and watch what happens.

First the raisins sink because they are heavy. But then the gas bubbles (which are light) attach to the raisins and lift them up to the surface.

Blow up a balloon. You need at 2 liter bottle, vinegar, baking soda and a balloon.

Blow up a balloon. You need at 2 liter bottle, vinegar, baking soda and a balloon.

Drop baking soda and vinegar into the bottle and attach the balloon.

Drop baking soda and vinegar into the bottle and attach the balloon.

If we had used a 2 liter bottle this would have been better. What happens is that the baking soda and vinegar make carbon dioxide, which takes up room and forces the air out of the bottle up into the balloon. Our dinky little bottle didn’t have enough air in it to blow up the entire balloon. Note to self, buy 7-Up!

Fizzy tablets and water.

Fizzy tablets and water.

The citric acid and the baking soda inside the Alka Seltzer tablet react to produce the gas, which is lighter than water, so the bubbles rise to the surface.

Milk goop: you need milk and vinegar.

Milk goop. You need milk and vinegar.

Mix 4 parts milk, 1 part vinegar. Wait 10 minutes.

Mix 4 parts milk, 1 part vinegar. Wait 10 minutes.

The vinegar causes the protein casein to separate from the milk. The result is an ancient type of Egyptian glue.

More goop. You need cornstarch and water.

More goop. You need cornstarch and water.

Mix two parts cornstarch and one part water. Use your hands!

Mix two parts cornstarch and one part water. Use your hands!

This is an experiment you have to feel to understand. The result is not exactly a liquid, but not really a solid. It changes forms depending on how you squeeze it.

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That was a lot of  fun! We still have two more experiments to do before we finish the kit: making slime and a bouncy ball.

For more information about the Magic School Bus Science kits, visit the Young Scientists Club website.

The Magic School Bus Science Club, Human Body Kit

The Magic School Bus "Human Body" kit

The Magic School Bus “Human Body” kit.

“Santa” brought Jenna(4) a subscription to the Magic School Bus Science Club this year. It was a 50% off deal through Homeschool Buyers Co-op. That comes out to $12 a kit, which is totally worth it. (That deal expires on 1/12/14 btw, so if you’re reading this post way off in the future try hunting around on Groupon, Homeschool Buyers Co-op, or maybe the Young Scientists Club FB page for a discount.)

Here’s what the Human Body kit was like:

This dismembered soda bottle and balloon represents your lungs breathing in air.

This dismembered soda bottle and balloon represent your lungs breathing in air.

This straw, balloon, water and plastic person contraption represents the circulatory system.

This straw, balloon, water and plastic person represent the circulatory system.

A taste test with cocoa, sugar, lime juice and salt.

A taste test with cocoa, sugar, lime juice and salt.

Synovial Fluid in ear experiment: First you put glitter on top of a jar of water. It will float.

Synovial Fluid in ear experiment: First you put glitter on top of a jar of water. It will float.

Next, you spin the jar around. When you put the jar down, the glitter will keep spinning. This represents how the fluid in your ear keeps moving even after you stop, making you feel dizzy.

Next, you spin the jar around. When you put the jar down, the glitter will keep spinning. This represents how the fluid in your ear keeps moving even after you stop, making you feel dizzy.

Some of these experiments you can easily recreate at home. Try checking out The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body from the library first, or else watching the video on Netflix.

What we do Afterschool

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In our state, half-day Kindergarten is only 2 hours and 4 minutes long. That’s why Afterschooling is so important for my daughter. Here’s a brief look at what we’ve been up to these past couple of weeks.

Kid Writing: "A bee is just right."

Kid Writing: “A bee is just right.”

 

Dot-Letter-Writing

Dot-Letter-Writing

 

Piano Lessons

Piano Lessons

 

Handwriting

Handwriting

 

Spatial Thinking Skills

Spatial Thinking Skills

 

Science experiments

Science experiments

 

More Science Experiments

More Science Experiments

 

Art Class

Art Class

 

Cooking--works on math!

Cooking–works on math!

 

Library visits and lots of reading

Library visits and lots of reading

 

Barbie Phonics

Barbie Phonics

 

Reading Eggs

Reading Eggs

 

We’ve been so busy, I haven’t had time to blog! Btw, If you’re interested in any of these resources, here are some Amazon links to get you started.


Mead 48166 Learn to Letter Tablet, 10″ x 8″, 40 Sheets

Phonics Fun with Barbie (Barbie) (Phonics Boxed Sets)

The Magic School Bus – Chemistry Lab

10 Pack FROG STREET PRESS SMART START K-1 STORY PAPER 100

Half-Day Kindergarten Afterschooling Plan

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In our neighborhood, full-day Kindergarten costs $3,600. Half-day Kindergarten is free, but is only two hours and 40 minutes.  All of the research I’ve read says that full-day Kindergarten makes a difference. I have an “I Brake for Moms” column coming out next Sunday, explaining the issue.

If you’d like to take a look at the research yourself, here you go:

Education.com’s Full-Day vs. Half-Day

Fact Sheet from the Children’s Defense Fund

Full-Day vs. Half-Dad Kindergarten; In Which Program Do Children Learn More?

In our neighborhood, if you take out all of the minutes from lunch and recess, full-day Kindergarten means 5 hours and 15 minutes of instructional time per day. Half-day Kindergarten is 2 hours and 25 minutes. (Please note, I don’t mean to be dismissive of the importance of recess. Children learn a lot on the playground.)

So if we were to chose half-day Kindergarten, could I somehow Afterschool enough to get in the extra 2 hours and 50 minutes a day? Yes; definitely! Here’s how:

An Afterschooling Plan for Half-Day Kindergarten

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Language Arts Block, 60 minutes

*** Alternative*** One Reading Eggs lesson combined with 30 minutes of parent read aloud

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Choice Time, 30 minutes

  • Full-day kinders would likely be getting this at school. This thirty minute block would be a chance for my child (and I) to unwind while I got the next activities set up.

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Math, 30 minutes

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Specials, 30 minutes

Homework (from school), 20 minutes

TOTAL TIME = 2 hours and 50 minutes!

The cost of this Afterschooling plan would be about $350, including the uber-expensive science kits. I could splurge and get the Highlights kits too, and still come in way under $600. Or I could go the other way, and do the whole plan for practically nothing. I’d just swap about the math section for this page of free activities here.

What’s half-day Kindergarten like in your state? Are you stressing out about registering your child for Kindergarten too?

An Afterschooling Plan for Half-Day Kindergarten

In our neighborhood, full-day Kindergarten costs $3,600. Half-day Kindergarten is free, but is only two hours and 40 minutes.  All of the research I’ve read says that full-day Kindergarten makes a difference. I have an “I Brake for Moms” column coming out next Sunday, explaining the issue.

If you’d like to take a look at the research yourself, here you go:

Education.com’s Full-Day vs. Half-Day

Fact Sheet from the Children’s Defense Fund

Full-Day vs. Half-Dad Kindergarten; In Which Program Do Children Learn More?

In our neighborhood, if you take out all of the minutes from lunch and recess, full-day Kindergarten means 5 hours and 15 minutes of instructional time per day. Half-day Kindergarten is 2 hours and 25 minutes. (Please note, I don’t mean to be dismissive of the importance of recess. Children learn a lot on the playground.)

So if we were to chose half-day Kindergarten, could I somehow Afterschool enough to get in the extra 2 hours and 50 minutes a day? Yes; definitely! Here’s how:

An Afterschooling Plan for Half-Day Kindergarten

IMG_3261

Language Arts Block, 60 minutes

IMG_1882

Choice Time, 30 minutes

  • Full-day kinders would likely be getting this at school. This thirty minute block would be a chance for my child (and I) to unwind while I got the next activities set up.

IMG_3168

Math, 30 minutes

IMG_0015

Specials, 30 minutes

Homework (from school), 20 minutes

TOTAL TIME = 2 hours and 50 minutes!

The cost of this Afterschooling plan would be about $350, including the uber-expensive science kits. I could splurge and get the Highlights kits too, and still come in way under $600. Or I could go the other way, and do the whole plan for practically nothing. I’d just swap about the math section for this page of free activities here.

What’s half-day Kindergarten like in your state? Are you stressing out about registering your child for Kindergarten too?

Science Kits by Mail

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Sorry about the dearth of blog posts recently. Our schedule right now is completely packed. The good thing is that brains are being fed, kids are being exercised, and the house is (marginally) clean.

I still want to do more science with my kids. That’s been on my mind ever since we went to the Pacific Science Center a couple of weeks ago. I just don’t have time to plan anything.

Yesterday, I saw that Homeschool Buyers Co-op has a deal going on with the Young Scientist Club.  I’m not familiar with this particular kit, but we have used a lot of the other products that the YSC also carries, like the one pictured up top and The Magic School Bus kits. Those kits have been fun, educational, and engaging, but not perfect. Every single one we’ve tried had at least one thing about it that I wished was different.

But… The idea of science experiments arriving at our door every single month without me having to do anything is really appealing. Even expecting imperfection, I’m intrigued. My eight-year-old son Bruce is thrilled with the prospect.

So I went ahead and placed an order for a 12 month subscription. The grand total was $157.92. That comes out to $13.16 a month, which isn’t too bad.

On November 25th Homeschool Buyers Co-op starts a similar deal with for The Magic School Bus kits. I’ll probably sign up for that plan too, because it will be a good fit for my four-year-old daughter Jenna.

Unfortunately, shelling out all that money for science kits is really expensive. I would hate for my blog readers to think that Afterschooling is only for people who can afford it.

So here are two top-notch, lower-cost alternatives from the homeschooling blogosphere:

  1. Science Without a Net
  2. Learning to Be a Scientist

I also have some Afterschooling science ideas on my Pinterest Board.

As for our house, guess what Santa’s bringing? Who knew they made science kits at the North Pole!

Science Kits


We have tried out several science kits for Bruce (6y) over the past couple of years, and the Young Scientist Series is one of our favorites so far. Each kit comes with almost all of the materials for three separate experiments, along with three scripts for the parent to read.

The first kit we tried was Set 3, “Minerals, Crystals, and Fossils”. This kit was great, and I highly recommend it for birthday gifts or summer fun.

The second kit we tried was Set 1, “Recycling, Scientific Measurement, and Magnets”. This kit was not nearly as good as the first, but that is mainly due to my own reluctance to actually let Bruce do the first experiment, which involved making paper. I remembered the 1st/2nd grade class doing this experiment at my old school, and I can still vividly picture my friend Michele’s ruined blender! There is no way I am going to let paper-making go anywhere near my Vitamix, which is my favorite kitchen appliance of all time! I still have the all of the materials for this experiment however, so the next time Doug goes up into the attic he can bring down our old blend and Bruce can start making paper.

Additional science kits we have tried that are fun, but not quite as well scripted as the Young Scientist Series, are the Magic School Bus kits. When Bruce was four and a huge fan of Ms. Frizzle, we bought two of these kits. Bruce had a lot of fun with them, but I can’t really report fully about what they were like because Jenna was newborn at the time and he worked through a lot of the experiments with the wonderful teenager we hired to take care of him while Jenna and I napped. These were the two kits we had: