Friday, November 2, 2012

Candy Math and Science

     In hoping for a better day today I had tons of fun things planned.  I started each of the boys on Head of the Class this morning.  It's a great FREE on-line learning game for all subjects.  I set each child up with their own account (all monitored by my account) and set the learning range for them.  I was stunned as I sat here with Evan and watched him match simple words like "eye" or "hand" to the corresponding pictures.  I looked at him with joy and wonder and said "hey, you're reading?! How did you know that?!"  He was beaming and of the 20 or so words they showed he only got 2 wrong.  Ian had his turn next and learned about Paris and the Eiffel tower, an architects job, and Christopher Columbus.  Alec wanted to wait until after breakfast to have his turn but then Ian suggested we all take a trip to the grocery store.  The boys all agreed and we piled in the car.  I was a bit unprepared, I had a short list started but have recently been toying with the idea of trying to get our family onto a once a month grocery store trip.  I stumbled upon a blog the other day about a family who has started doing this and not only saves themselves time but money too.  I love my boys but I dread taking them grocery shopping with me and I thought if we can do this less often and save money too I've got to try it.  I love that it would free up more time for us to focus on school and fun so I decided to try and shop for enough food to last us until Thanksgiving to start with. 
      While they ran upstairs to get dressed, I ran into the kitchen to try and throw a list together while looking at the sale flyer.  I also grabbed some books so they could read on the car ride there and back.  Ian read Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? aloud to us all then once he was done Alec read us two chapters in our new book Junie B., First Grader:  Aloha-ha-ha!.  Ian grumbled a lot when he heard it was a Junie B. Jones book because "that's for girls!"  I told him I was afraid of that but I heard they were funny books so I thought it was worth a shot.  I told them we'd start reading it and if we didn't like it we could return it to the library and try something else.  I know Ian would cringe if he knew I was divulging this but we were all laughing at the antics of Junie B. and her classmates and are now on chapter 4. 
         Once home they finally ate breakfast while I put all the groceries away.  I had been pleasantly surprised to find that shopping didn't really take us all that much longer even though I was shopping for two weeks.  I was pleased with that but did not think of the extra time it would take me to finish putting groceries away.  I wash and prepare all fruit like grapes, pineapples, etc so they're ready to eat, I make a salad, I break down sandwich meat and cheese into smaller packages to freeze them and save for later... in other words I spent over an hour in the kitchen.  By this time I'm panicking thinking it's 11 o'clock and we really haven't started school.  I haven't eaten lunch, the laundry needs to be done, the dishwasher is full of clean dishes and the sink is full of dirty ones.  I'm stressing because our books and movies are due at the library today and I have no renewals left.  I finally stopped prepping food long enough to get the boys started on math.
       I gave each boy his bag of Halloween candy and told him to find his own spot on the rug.  We then dumped the bags out and I told them to sort all the candy.  I gave them some ideas and told them they could sort by chocolate, not chocolate, chewy, crunchy, or sort by color, whatever.  I didn't really care how they sorted as long as they sorted.  For the older boys, once they had it sorted I asked if they could sort it another way.  Once they'd sorted a few time I gave them grid paper and told them to make a graph showing their sort. During the sorting I was still in the kitchen putting away food and paused long enough to help Evan count and draw his grid. I was amazed that he counted all the way to 45 without making a mistake, once it was higher than that he needed some help but I was happy with what he was able to do alone.  The other two boys made their graphs all on their own and I was amazed that Alec could do that.  Ian had practice with graphs last year in school but I don't ever remember Alec doing anything like that.  We then talked about the results of our graphs and names for our graphs explaining what they were about.   Phew! We did math.  I know that sounds funny, but it's honestly how I felt.  And believe it or not I still wasn't done with the groceries (by now I'm realizing I need an entire day off once every few weeks to do groceries). 
Drawing the grid 
       I sent Ian upstairs to try his hand at laundry.  He switched the clothes around and I put little sticker dots on the machines so he knows where to turn the knobs to and he's offered to do laundry as his new job since he hates doing dishes so much.  I figured we could give that a try for a while and see how it goes.  I then had Ian and Alec work together to put the clean dishes away and by then I was finally ready for some candy science. 

    I gobbled down a quick yogurt as I rifled through the bags of candy to see what we could use.  They protested a bit at first when they asked if they could eat them later and I said no, not really.  But I patiently explained that no matter what I'd NEVER, EVER let them eat all the candy they had collected.  They finally agreed rather reluctantly to let me use some of the candy for science today.   I found so many wonderful experiments on- line and most of them were at  We tried all that we could with the candy we had.  We did a sink/ float experiment and realized that out of all the candy we tried only Kit- Kat and 3 Musketeers floated; Star burst, Nerds, Hershey Kisses, Sweet tarts, Skittles, Snickers, Dove bar and Gobstoppers all sunk.  Next we tried dissolving some skittles.  I had read an article that said the S was made out of an edible ink that stuck together and lifted off the skittles in one piece.  That didn't happen for us but we did notice that as they dissolved the colors did not mix.  They made perfectly strait lines where the colors met.  The boys thought that was pretty neat! 
Will it sink or Float?
Dissolving Skittles in water
          We did a citric acid test too.  Using a small bowl or glass of water we added 1 tsp. of baking soda and then drop in candies one at a time.  If they fizz or bubble they're acidic.  I was so glad the boys knew this before we even started. They told me it was like adding lemon juice or vinegar to the baking soda.  Not surprisingly the sour Skittles worked the best.  They fizzed so much we could barely see them.  We also found Sweet Tarts fizz a bit but Star burst, gobstoppers, chocolate, and nerds didn't do anything.  I demonstrated plate tectonics and fault lines using Snickers bars (that's found here).  We melted Star burst candies and discovered that they are actually pretty oily.  Then for our last experiment we predicted whether candy would dissolve faster in hot or cold water.  They readily agreed that if it was chocolate it would melt fast in hot water but they weren't 100% certain that sugar candy would work the same way.  We took hot tap water and ice water and placed a gobstopper in each one.  It was soon apparent that hot water dissolves candy faster.  I had many more experiment ideas but figured that was enough for one day.  
fizzing sour Skittles
Gobstoppers in ice and hot water
Melted Starburst
             After science we ate lunch and headed to the library.  We checked out over 20 books and put in requests for oodles more.  They all read books the whole way home from the library and most of the time we were in the library.  Most of our books are about animals, migration, Thanksgiving, and the Westward Expansion with the occasional truck and superhero thrown in.  I'm most anxious to read Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America's Cheapest Family (obviously this a book for me and not the kids).  The Economides (that's their name) have written many books on family finance.  They homeschool their children on a shoe string budget so I'm hopeful for some great tips, especially since my kids informed us last night that we're going to Hawaii in 4 years... Umm... Yeah,  I'm not so sure about that but I'm willing to try. 

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