Summer Survival – Science!

Ok y’all, so we took a vacation, and I got a little bit behind on this series, BUT, on our vacation we tried out a couple of these ideas, so I have actual pictures to share!  Woohoo!

So these ideas came from a variety of places, and I’m just compiling them into one little list for you… plus, you get a bonus idea that we did on our trip that turned out super fun! But first, the list:

Screen Shot 2019-07-02 at 7.05.19 AMIf you’re not an educator, or a science nut, you may want some more explanation on these… So… let’s break it down!

-Mix oil and water in a jar to make waves – take a spaghetti sauce jar, and clean it out thoroughly.  Fill the jar about half way with water, and add food coloring of your choice.  Stir it up, or close the lid tightly and let your kiddo shake the jar!  Then, ASK your child, “what do you think will happen when we add vegetable oil to this?”  Get them to make predictions, then try it!  Pour the oil in slowly, so they can really see how it doesn’t mix.  Then, screw the lid on TIGHTLY.  You may even want to put a couple drops of super glue on the mouth of the jar before adding the lid, just to ensure it doesn’t get opened.  Slowly turn the jar side to side, and show your child how waves occur.  Then, let your kiddo hold the jar and tilt it, turn it, and then finally, shake it really hard!!!  ***BONUS – if you have glitter and want to add glitter to the jar, that adds a fun element and it’s interesting to watch if the glitter sink or float through the oil!***  This activity gives you an opportunity to talk about density, and also about gravity and how it pulls.  This is also a good jar to keep around – if your child gets upset (sibling crap, right?) it’s a great time-out jar – have them shake it really good, and then sit and watch it until the oil and water are totally separate again!

oil and water bottles

-Ice Cube/Cement Experiment – this one is super easy, but you can modify it to make it really fun in lots of different ways!  Basically, on a hot day, set an ice cube on the concrete of your driveway or porch (in direct sun) and see how long it takes to melt totally!  While you’re doing that, play with other ice cubes!!  Use them to draw on the concrete.  It’s fun to first start the project inside, the day before – you can get super fun silicone molds at Dollar Tree, Walmart, or Hobby Lobby, and make your ice cubes be all sorts of fun shapes!  OR you can use a regular ice mold and put little items in the water – like tiny toy dinosaurs, buttons, or brightly colored pony beads.  As the ice melts, the items become accessible!  It seems crazy, and super simple, but you’d be amazed by how much it entertains your kids!!  (And aren’t we all about keeping their minds busy on something OTHER than a screen this summer?!?!)

-Make ice cream in a bag – ok, honestly, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve tried this one, but it’s on our summer fun list this year, and I think I want to try it while Gray is at “Mamie and Pappy Camp” at my inlaw’s house this year because Becca is my kiddo who REALLY loves ice cream.  Then, if it works well, we’ll add it to our fun “to do” list for camping trips!  Here’s the recipe I plan to use.  If you try it, let me know how it turns out!!!!  We’ll be doing ours in a couple weeks.

-Old pennies project – this one we’re actually doing today – watch my Facebook page for pictures tomorrow!!  The first step is to sort through your kids’ piggy banks… which could be as easy or as challenging as you want to make it.  You can have them sort all the coins, talk about values, who is on the coins, what they did for our country, etc.  You could count all the money, and plan for what they’d like to purchase… perhaps plan a lemonade stand to make more money to reach their goal.  Ultimately, you want to get about 5-10 really old, dirty pennies out of the piggy bank… so what you do to get to that point is up to you and the age/interest of your kiddos.  Then, in several small cups or bowls, you’re going to add a few different types of liquid.  Be sure to label each cup or bowl!!  Here are some liquids to try: lemon juice, vinegar, water, soapy water, Coke, apple juice, ETC – get creative!  If your kids are old enough, have them write predictions for each type of liquid and what it will do to the pennies.  Or, just discuss it!  Drop a couple pennies into each type of liquid.  Leave them on the counter, and come back around 24 hours later.  Record any/all changes (or talk about it).  If you want to extend it another day to see if there are more changes, draw it out as long as you’d like!  For your older kids, this is a great opportunity to talk about acidic liquids and what they do inside your body, too!

-Lemon juice and baking soda balloon project – ok, I’ve seen this one done a couple of different ways, but basically, it works best if you recycle a water bottle (or perhaps, the Coke bottle you used from the experiment above?).  Put some lemon juice in the bottle, and then add some baking soda and quickly place the mouth of a balloon all the way around the mouth of the bottle.  Watch the balloon expand, and talk about the gas reaction between the acid and base.  It’s also a good opportunity to talk about how important it is to talk about your feelings – if we hold things in and let them bother us, we can eventually blow up like a balloon, ready to pop… but if we talk through our feelings, or draw or write about them in a journal, it helps us get the pressure out so that it doesn’t  build up and make us explode!

-Egg and vinegar experiment – I posted on my Facebook page about this experiment here – go check it out for photos and more ideas that were shared in the comments!  This is a super fun and easy one to do.

-Identify cloud shapes – this is a great one to do outside on a cloudy day – you can lay on beach towels and just look at the sky – OR, you can even do it in the car on a road trip, or just randomly encourage your kids to do this around town as you run errands!  Check out this seahorse we found while on our trip to Palo Duro Canyon!



-Collect wildflowers to press… it’s just that simple!  Press in a heavy book and check on them a few days later!  They can be awesome kept in layers of contact paper as bookmarks, too! 🙂

-Build a popsicle stick bird house (or bird feeder) – this is a fabulous pattern/design shared here… and we plan to make these later on this summer to hang up at our new house!!

-Celery Coloring – we also started this one today, so be sure to check out my Facebook page tomorrow for photos of this project and tips/ideas!

-Blowing distance experiment – this one is super fun, and easy!  You’ll need some painter’s tape to tape on your hard floor (tile, linoleum, wood, or concrete) and a measuring tape.  You’ll also need several random items, like a small ball, a little toy car, some Legos on wheels, a paper cup laid on it’s side, etc.   You’ll also want a marker or pen to write on the tape.  Have your kiddos make a large L shape on the floor with painters tape, and make measurement marks on the long side – up to 12″ (or further, if they think they can blow the objects that far!)  Then, they’ll lay down on the floor on their tummies, and start each object at the short tape line.  They’ll blow as hard as they can to get the object to roll.  You might want to mark where it stops with a sticky note flag.  See which child and which object can roll the farthest.  This one is GREAT for a rainy day when they are going stir crazy and need something DIFFERENT to get them busy… laying on their tummies and blowing uses different muscles than they use in regular activity, too!

-Evaporation project outside – this one is great for older kids on a week when you know it’s going to just be hot and sunny all week long.  On day one, record the temperature at your start time (whenever that may be).  Carefully measure one cup of water into a clear container.  (A plastic cup that you can mark on with a sharpie is the best!)  Be sure to mark where the top of the water is before you set it in the sun.  Then, check on it every couple of hours to watch the water disappear!  For your older kids who are recording in a journal, they can measure how many in/cm change occurs.  They can try the next day setting it out at a different time to see if it evaporates faster/slower at different times of the day.  OR, they could also try evaporating different types of liquid!  Does apple juice, for example, evaporate as quickly as water?  For this, be sure you have your cups exposed to the sun exactly the same amount of time, and are setting next to each other so they for sure receive the same amount of sun.

-Outdoor Scavenger Hunt – you can search for different shapes, colors, or even things that start with the letters of your name!  I’m working on creating some outdoor scavenger hunt sheets, that should be on my Teachers Pay Teachers page next week!  Be sure to look for those – I’ll have one freebie, and the whole set will be $2.00, and will cover a variety of themes and interests!

-Target practice with sidewalk chalk and sponges – this is a super fun one… just draw a target on your driveway or porch, and have a bucket of water and sponges… practice throwing the sponges from different distances to see if you can hit the target!  For extra math practice, include numbers for points for each ring, and have your kiddos add up their points with each throw!

-Build an obstacle course and complete it!  This one can be great for ALL ages – even toddlers can get involved in this one… and you can do them indoors or outdoors, getting as creative as you want.  Use recycled materials, furniture, blankets, lawn decor, etc – depending on where you are doing it and how messy you want to get.  Perhaps even have your kiddos work together to create a trophy for the one who can complete the obstacle course in the fastest time!  Get together the neighbors, cousins, or just compete within your household!  Who can win?  It IS important for kids to work hard on something, and not win the trophy.  This is a great way for them to have a lot of fun setting it up, use some math with running a stopwatch, use some art to create the trophy, and then there’s only ONE winner.  Celebrate that person, and then everybody gets to enjoy popsicles as a reward for their hard work and dedication!



solar oven amores

I found this AMAZING camping activity packet before we went on our trip, and it has some AWESOME Solar Oven Smores info in it!  I don’t want to steal Cristina’s thunder, or her ideas, so I’m going to just highly encourage you to purchase her packet (and check out her blog here).  I know $6.00 seems a bit high, but she has put a TON of work into this packet, and there’s some really cute stuff in there.  My kids have LOVED her book, “If you give a Moose a Marshmallow” that is interactive and included in the file.  Your kids will love it, too, even if you aren’t camping at all this summer!  You could camp in your very own living room with sleeping bags and turn on a sound reel of crickets chirping, make Solar Oven Smores, and just pretend you are camping, while enjoying your A/C and your own bathroom just steps away!  🙂  NOTE: We made our Solar Oven Smores for lunch time – we set it up at 11:40am, and by 1:15pm, they were ready to eat!  We did modify her solar oven plan a tad b/c I didn’t have any tape or glue in the rv, and I didn’t have clear wrap, so we used a ziploc bag in place of the clear wrap, and a couple bandaids instead of tape!  (Hey, you use what you’ve got, right?  Lol!)

Want more ideas?  I’m posting on my Facebook page a lot, plus, I’ll have the Summer Survival – Art Projects edition coming SOON!!

Summer Survival – Procedures

Y’all, it’s here, and it’s HOT!  (I wish I could say I’m talking about some amazing sale on some exotic something or other, but you know what I really mean – the summer.  It’s DANG HOT!  And it’s still only June!)  So how are you doing, mama?  I mean, really.  Are you surviving?  Or are your kids killing each other and you?  I’m honestly stuck somewhere in between.  But we really are doing pretty good at not killing each other – yet.  (I do not anywhere on this blog claim to be the perfect mother, nor have I figured out how to keep my kids from killing each other.  If you figure that out, PLEASE let me know!)

Some of the simple procedures I’ve put in place have been helping, and I thought I would share them with you to give you a few ideas and get your wheels turning on things that might work for your family!  I’ll be doing four of these Summer Survival posts – with ideas for activities and things you can do both at home and out and about, too, so be sure to check back over the next few days for more ideas!  But let’s first start with the basics – procedures.

A friend of mine, Jenn, from Lemondrop Learning, shared a fabulous checklist on her Facebook page a little while back, and I immediately printed it out and stuck it in clear plastic sleeves for my bigs.  Each day, in order for them to get to just lay around the house and have screen time, they have to have completed everything on their checklist.  And YALL!!!  OMG!!!  It’s AMAZING!!!!  We’ll be using this checklist for the rest of forever for weekends, holidays, any day that we’re not in school.  Because it’s brilliant.  And I’m in love.  And honestly, the kids enjoy it, too!  They are proud of themselves when they mark the items off, and it helps them feel accomplished and also gives some self awareness for what they are actually doing instead of just roaming around aimlessly.  I’ve also noticed them lose track of time while doing the “required” activities because they’re having so much fun… that it ends up being HOURS before they even ask for a screen!!!  Seriously.  Y’all NEED this checklist!  So – the checklist – from Kimberly at Natural Beach Living, can be found here!  Be sure to go print yours out ASAP, and then start using this with your kids – because it WILL change your summer.  I promise!

For both kids, I used their favorite color marker to write their name and color the title (it’s the little things…) and then for days that we are going somewhere in the morning and they want to take their kindles, they must do the top 5 AND their workbook pages before we leave… see below for info about the workbooks!


Ok – so beyond this, I have also set in place specific chores at a set time for both of the bigs, because I was lacking in this area since we moved.  Before, they had a list of chores, and received stickers for completing them, and they were great about it… and then the house went on the market, the chore sheet had to come down, and well… yeah.  So, I have reinstated some of the chores they had before, but with specific assignments – mainly, Gray takes out the recycling each evening after Elle goes to bed, and while he’s doing that, Becca unloads the dishwasher.  This routine allows me to get the dishes loaded (I prefer to do that myself rather than having her do that) and the dishwasher started before I go to bed – or in the morning… whenever I choose to do it.  And it also helps Gray to not feel like he’s getting “picked on” by having to do “hard work” by himself.  Yes, seriously, y’all he is the biggest whiner since the beginning of time when it comes to feeling like something is “unfair.”  But whatever cuts the whining, then I’m all about it.  Do your chores at the same dang time then!!!  LOL.  Y’all.  Seriously.  These kids MAY be the death of me.  But, if you have multiple kids, you know what I’m talking about – think about what it is that you can set in place to help you work SMARTER, NOT harder!!!  I was getting frustrated about needing to load the dishes, but not wanting to do her job for her… and getting upset by the overflowing recycle bin… so this new routine is working WONDERFULLY!!!  Sometimes it’s just about looking at your daily routines and seeing what you can modify to make life easier for everyone!!  (Also – side tip – I emphasize to the kids all the time that in our family, we work together for the betterment of EVERYONE – and we talk together as they are doing their family chores about how much it helps our family when they do their jobs, and how important they each are!  You’d be surprised how much their chins lift and their lil chests puff out with pride for their work!!)

Another routine I’ve set into our day is of course, reading.  We have always read to our kids before bed, but now that they are older and we’re reading throughout the day, you might think we’d lax up on that.  NO!!!  Bedtime is still the best time to snuggle up and read together with my kiddos, and I’d never trade that time for anything!  BUT, because we read a LOT of books, the little summer reading challenge from the library to read eight books was a joke.  So, I upped the ante.  I said that since the theme was the moon to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, their eight books recorded on the library sheet HAD to be about the moon (fiction or nonfiction – their choice)!  And I created this summer reading chart for them to record ALL of the books they read!  (It’s a free download over on my Teachers Pay Teachers page!)  It’s got spots for 100 books, and what I’m doing with my kids is that when they complete a row (read 20 books), they get a Blue Bell Fudgesicle (a huge incentive for my kids!!).  When they complete all 100, they’ll get a special trip to our favorite frozen yogurt place.  They are SUPER excited about it, and it has really gotten Gray excited about bringing me books to read.  I also told him that if, by the end of the summer, he can bring me a book and read it to me COMPLETELY on his own, I’ll let him color in TWO ice cream cones.  Becca also gets to color in two ice cream cones for each Harry Potter book she completes.  They are so excited about reading, and this is keeping them going, for sure.  It also cuts out Becca’s desire to only read chapter books, and I have found her pouring over picture books and reading to Elle and Gray like crazy to count those books!  WHATEVER gets her reading all types of books, makes me happy!! 🙂  I love how it also spurs their competitiveness – they want to get their fudgesicles at the same time, so if one has more books than the other, they’ll go check the chart and count how many books they need to read to catch up.  It’s WONDERFUL competition, and I encourage it.


We are also excited to try the Summer Reading Bingo challenge that my friend Jenn (mentioned above) has created – you can find it on her Facebook page!  Plus, I just learned about Barnes and Noble AND Lifeway Christian Stores that are having reading challenges this summer… although I’m getting frustrated because I’m struggling to find info on their websites… if you know more about these two events, PLEASE share with me so I can pass along to other readers!!  There are just so many great ways to encourage your kids to read!!!!  Make sure it’s a part of your DAILY routine.  (I also *hope* to be sharing more of our favorite book titles over on my Facebook page this summer… so be sure you’ve “liked” and are “following” my posts!)

Another great way to avoid the “summer slide” is to add a daily workbook into your procedures.  Around here, it’s just something that must be done.  Like homework.  Except that y’all, I found some workbooks that the kids aren’t complaining about doing!!!  SERIOUSLY!!!  Gray actually asks for his workbook.  I also can look at what they do for the day and will let them count it as their writing/art activity for their checklist to get their kindle if it applies, so there is that… lol.  Elle also loves coloring while they are working on their workbook pages, so it’s kinda fun for them to do them all at the same time.  I am NOT an affiliate for EvanMoor publishers, but I sure do love these books since I discovered them, and as a teacher AND a mom, I can highly recommend them.  (And I can honestly say, I’ll be buying these for my kids every summer from now til they age out of them!!!)  They simply have a front and back of a sheet to do each day of the week, a star to color in for each page when it’s completed, and then for the older kids, there is a space to write about the things done each day, a reading log to color, and for the younger kids, there is a space to draw a picture of the favorite thing they did that week.  There’s a good variety of activities in both of the books we have, and I’m pleased with the amount of time it takes them to do the pages, as well – they are quick and not stressful, but have some good content that they do have to stop and think about.  Plus, they use super bright colors and lots of pretty pictures, which keep the kids intrigued.  I really like all of the fine motor practice in the PreK to K book, too!  So I highly recommend you grabbing these books – I found them at my local Lakeshore Learning Store, where I love using my teacher discount card, but here are the Amazon links for your convenience.  (I’m no longer an Amazon affiliate – these are just links to help y’all!)

PreK to K 
K to 1st
1st to 2nd
2nd to 3rd
3rd to 4th
4th to 5th
5th to 6th
6th to 7th

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Above all else, make sure that you are employing CONSISTENCY with your kids this summer.  For moms who aren’t educators, you may think, “this is their break from school, they should just be able to relax and have fun!”  This is true, HOWEVER… school is set up on a daily routine, with clear expectations for behavior AND academic achievement.  And it’s set up this way not only because it’s more successful that way, but because KIDS are more successful that way.  They NEED clearly explained expectations and structure to thrive.  They need scaffolding to help them be successful.  So even if all you’re expecting them to do is not kill their siblings, they need guidance on how that’s going to look in your home.  They need rules and structure that are clearly defined, and then they need you to be CONSISTENT on how you enforce those rules and provide that structure.  They grinch and complain, I know, but try it for a week – see if I’m right.  Provide them structure and consistency and watch your own life get more manageable.  

Check back here very SOON for my next installment of this Summer Survival Series – where I’ll be sharing super fun and EASY science experiments you can do with your kids – some of which don’t even require purchasing ANY materials – you’ve already got the stuff laying around your house!


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