Tag Archive: Kids


Even cousins and neighborhood friends joined in.

This has been the summer of science. Summer is now done and we didn’t get to do nearly as much as I’d wanted. That’s mostly due to me. My back. Hi, Internet, have you met my back? It is the ruiner of fun, the pooper of the party.

I take copious notes for each lab. I know how to take notes because I had Mrs. Loyless in 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th grades.

I’ve been laid up with back suckage most of the summer, but the few days that I’ve been able to DO things, we’ve done science labs. These labs have been ROCKIN’! I signed up for this deal for a summer science camp from Supercharged Science for an e-class type summer camp. It’s run by me and I’ve probably spent more time getting ready for the classes than the website suggests that I do, but I like to be prepared.

We learned about air pressure. We learned about Bernoulli’s Law. We learned about flight. We did experiments dealing with air pressure using water. We made a Cartesian Diver which demonstrates air pressure. We explored Bernoulli’s Law by playing around with a windbag made from Diaper Genie bags. We built a variety of paper airplanes and birch wood airplanes. Mainly, we had fun while the kids (and the adults, too) learned new things. (I failed to document these experiments photographically)

Using a battery pack, alligator clip wire leads, and LED’s, we learned about the flow of electricity and that diodes are “one way streets” for electricity.

We did get to go to my parents’ house toward the end of summer to see DJ and Mae and their dad. Abshie and Timmus came with us. I brought along the necessary lab supplies.

The first thing we did was learn about molecules and their parts. We learned about electrons and ions and electricity. We learned some basics through some static electricity experiments, during which we made our hair stand on end with a balloon, picked up styrofoam peanuts and bits of confetti, spun a meter stick around as it balanced on a spoon, and bent a stream of water. All with a balloon!

Motor and a rheostat

Then we broke out the electrical components and built simple circuits. First we lit up LED’s. We learned about making a series with the LED’s. Then we learned about conductivity. I gave the kids a list of things and asked them if they thought those things would conduct electricity. We tested their answers with our simple circuits. We learned about amps vs volts to find out why our little circuits weren’t a danger to us.

Simple switches made with index cards, brass fasteners, and paperclips.

We modified this simple circuit in a few ways. First we put buzzers in place of the LED’s. Then we added a push-button type switch so we could control the buzzer sound. Then we learned the concept of the switch by making one out of an index card, brass fasteners and paperclips. We learned that switches are like stoplights for electrons.

Adding switches.

We added motors that turn clockwise or counterclockwise based on the polarity. I couldn’t find propellers that fit these motors anywhere so we improvised with tags made of duct tape (this was the kids’ favorite part, I think). This helped to reinforce the idea of positive and negative. We replaced the switches with rheostats and potentiometers. We learned that these devices can control the speed of the motors by limiting the electrical current passing through them. We learned that rheostats were the best at motor speed control as they seemed to be more sensitive and able to run the motor at very low speeds.

DPDT switch made from an index card, brass fasteners and paper clips.

Then we upped the difficulty level and made double pole double throw (DPDT) switches. It’s a concept used in “4-way” switches which allow you to turn one light off and on from multiple locations.

Motor and potentiometer

We took these circuits and applied them to “robots” a few days later. But that’s a whole other post.

Some more pics from our circuits lab.

We almost couldn’t move on from this because they liked it SO much!

****NOTE***** “Droppin’ Science Like Galileo Dropped the Orange” is original to the Beastie Boys. It is from the song Sounds of Science from their Paul’s Boutique album.

Even The Littles got in on the circuit action.

Everyone was very proud of the circuits they made that worked.

Clothespins and Acrylic Paint

Chore pins.

I’ve been working at getting my kids to do more around the house with more regularity. This summer I taught all three of them to sweep the floor, mop the floor (with a swiffer), dust (dry feather dusting), vacuum, empty the dishwasher, rinse off their plates, wipe the table, clean the toilets (both wipe the outside and scrub the bowl), clean the bathroom sinks, clean the bathroom vanities, change the laundry around, put away their clean clothes, and disinfect all hard surfaces like light switches and doorknobs.

They do a pretty good job, outside of not moving anything around when they wipe down a surface and using an entire bottle of toilet bowl cleaner on three toilets. In one day. They put things in odd places when they empty the dishwasher and they prefer to sweep the floor with the dustpan broom rather than use the actual broom sized broom. Whatever.

Also, Pieces is learning to wash himself and Pynni is washing her own hair, which includes the application and subsequent rinsing of, conditioner. To varying degrees of success.

These things were prompted by two things. First, my back has been all sorts of trouble for me this summer and has ruined a multitude of plans I’d made for our summer days and vacations. That being the case, I can’t really bend over to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer and pushing a mop around is just not going to happen. Somehow, I have to take the pressure off my husband from having to do his job/responsibilities plus all of mine minus the schooling. I needed to relieve the guilt and frustration from my shoulders because of my inability to keep up with any housework whatsoever.

Yes, that says “police office”. It means get your crap out of the office and put all things where they go. My kids get it.

Enter the chores. They learned and they do without complaining, but I have been having to remember what needs doing and whose turn it is to do it. I read a blog post by Marie Rippel of All About Learning Press that gave me an idea. And I totally STOLE it and RAN! Woo!

Weekly chores. One per day per kid.

I got the foam door knob hangers, but decided to hang them on the wall by the kitchen so I can monitor them easier. Also, I decided that many chores only need to be done once a week so I made a list of chores that are clipped to the green hanger. One for each kid for 6 days a week. They do one per day. Easy peasy.

They LOVE this. Probably because it’s new, but they have been staying on top of their chores. And I can walk by and see that Chi hasn’t wiped the table today and I can glance at the table and see that it needs wiping. “Chi, please come wipe the table!” Done.

So far so good and much less stress and things stay picked up and at least wiped and dusted if not completely, thoroughly clean. It’s a start.

ps. I’m going tomorrow to get a referral to a PT. Then I will be starting PT again. I HATE PT, but it worked out so well the last time, I’m not going to put it off.

Timmus: I, also, have my cwocks. (crocs)

Pieces: Cwocks?

Timmus: No, cwocks.

Pieces: …cwocks?

Timmus: No. Not cwocks. Cwocks!

Pieces: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

(They crack me up.)

I’m trying to be thankful. I’ve been living in Thwarted Land and unable to help my daughter in anyway. I feel like I’m throwing money at an issue that isn’t any closer to being diagnosed, or recognized, much less resolved. Doctors look at me after a round of tests shows that my daughter has “Perfect Vision!” and “Excellent Muscle Control!” and “Absolutely Nothing Wrong!” and they smile and beem and generally act as though I should be grateful. One part of me is, surely, but it seems to be very deeply buried. No, I don’t want there to be anything wrong with her. I don’t want her issues to be something awful. BUT SOMETHING IS WRONG and when that doc tells me there’s nothing, THEY AREN’T HELPING. They are closing off an open avenue. I try to see that they are narrowing the options of what is going on with her, but all I can see is that they seem to think that answers all the questions. IT MOST ASSUREDLY DOES NOT!

So in my efforts to try and view the world through less fogged glasses (HA! GLASSES!!) (In other news, I may be losing it.) and try to find the silver lining (it’s faint and hard to see these days), a list of what I should be thankful for (I’m sure I’m thankful, somewhere in my heavy, frustrated, broken, depressed and completely at a loss heart/brain).

I’m thankful for:

  1. My kids. They are well behaved and respectful. They are healthy and loving. They are illegally cute and make my heart expand painfully in my chest (no, it’s not heart problems, I had it checked).
  2. My husband. He didn’t fight me on getting Chi tested for his various pervasive developmental issues even when he wasn’t in complete agreement. He let Momma’s instinct lead the way. He has supported me in my writing efforts and my crazy homeschool notions. He tells me he loves me every day and holds me when I don’t feel strong enough to press onward (like during this time right now). He has worked his ass off so I could stay home with our kids and will work extra contracts if we need extra money for, oh say, a replacement car.
  3. My husband not being dead. Two weeks ago he was in a major car accident that totaled his Civic. A guy going 70 mph tried to merge with stopping traffic during rush hour and crushed the back, drivers’ side quarter panel of the Civic sending it into a spin that then hit the oncoming car and flipped it up over the hood of the Civic. In the end, the only part of the Civic not crunched was the front and rear bumpers, the driver’s side door, and the top of the car. Hubs walked away with a bump on the head and a lot of sore muscles and a severe case of shock. But he walked away. Yeah, I’m really thankful for that.
  4. My parents. They are ever supportive of me and my family. They are there if I have need of love, support, crying shoulder, advice, an ear, whatever. They don’t always agree with me, but they love me unconditionally and that. is. awesome.
  5. My brothers. I’m crazy thankful for them even if they are driving me crazy. T-bow has stepped up and been there for us without our second car in the form of Hubs’ ride to work. He also potentially risked his life to see if we were okay when our house alarm sent a silent signal to the alarm company that our house was being broken into at 2am last Friday. When no one could get a hold of us, he got dressed and came to check on us. Being a man of brains and no gun, he watched the house until the cops showed up. In the end it was a security system malfunction, but I am thankful that he cared that much. Doodle moved away, but I’m thankful for him all the same.
  6. My sister-in-law. I’ve been friends with her since 3rd grade. Having her here, in the city we live in, has been a blessing. We hang out and support one another. We trade off childcare whenever we need it. She has helped me a BUNCH during all of my many health crises. There really aren’t words enough to express my gratitude and thankfulness for her.
  7. My closest of close friends. They don’t live nearby, but I love them like sisters all the same. I miss them with a fierceness and I long for their presence. We can’t see each other often enough, and that’s a fact.

I guess I could list all the little mundane things I’m thankful for, but I’ll leave it here. Being thankful can be a process, and this process has made me feel thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving. In that non-supporting-the-genocide-of-an-entire-peoples kind of way.