A "real" day of school: Science Lessons & A Fun Math Game

At the request of my oldest son, who's not a huge fan of unschooling, I try to plan one day of lessons for the boys.  I try to keep things fun and as hands- on as possible.

Today we read What is a Liquid?  And did some experiments with liquid.

The boys knew most of the things in the book and even elaborated to tell me all about the water cycle.

 But they were anxious to finish the story since they had watched me set up the experiment and couldn't wait to find out what we were doing today.

I started with three disposable trays of cooking oil and 4 containers of colored water.

They used droppers to drop colored water into the oil.

Ian knew the oil and water wouldn't mix ahead of time but Evan thought they might.  Alec thought the water would make the oil part and separate.  They started dropping and immediately started making observations.

  • "The water beads up and sinks to the bottom." 
  •  Ian discovered that if you kept dropping colored water into the same spot the water bubble would grow and even break the surface tension of the oil.  
  • Alec and Evan tried mixing colors and had lots of fun with some hands on color theory.  
  • They found that if you stirred the mixture up little bubbles would appear.  
  • They discovered that if you sucked up water and oil into your dropper they would separate and water would fall to the bottom of the dropper.  
  • Evan discovered that if he sucked up just the oil from a corner of his try and squirted it into the center of a colored bubble the oil would make the water separate for a moment or two before finding it's way back up to the top.  
Once all the colored water containers were emptied we tried a second experiment.

water breaking the surface tension of the oil
Evan drops a rainbow of colors into his tray

Blue and yellow make green!

We re-filled each of the disposable containers with some more cooking oil and we used vinegar with food coloring.

They found the vinegar didn't mix and make larger bubbles as easily.

They were finally able to get large blobs of color and once again had fun mixing colors, breaking surface tension, and playing the bubbles and dropper.

For our finale we added baking soda to each of the containers.  I asked them what would happen, and since they are well used to baking soda and vinegar they predicted it would explode.   But instead we saw it fizzing.

When the bubbles were small we noticed that the oil kept the fizzing colors separated too.  I wasn't always easy to see since my boys had some pretty large colored bubbles by the time we added the baking soda.

They each asked for a pile of baking soda and experimented with dropping vinegar onto the baking soda.  Ian noticed that even after it appeared to have stopped fizzing that wasn't really the case.  He sucked up some baking soda from the bottom of his pan and discovered that it was fizzing.  He said that because the vinegar sinks, and the baking soda sinks, the fizzing sunk too.  It was a wonderful, fun, hands on experiment that they'll be talking about for days. 

colored vinegar in oil-- watching the oil separate the big green blob

We just added baking soda

Alec adds more colored vinegar to the baking soda

Ian really gets into it! Then watched the water bead up on his hands when he tried to wash them.

For math we tried a game called Five Cards Make 10.  I thought this might be a bit basic for Ian but it was actually quite challenging.  Using a deck of cards you take out all the 10's and face cards and deal each player 5 cards.  They have to find all the ways to make 10.  Ian was dealt an ace, two 2's and two 7's.  He immediately found 7+2+1 but with some coaching he saw that 7+ 7 -2 -2 would equal 10 as well as 7+ 2 +2 -1.

They were ready to quit after the first hand since this was hard and they just wanted to play regular war so I explained to them that one of the reasons I so readily agreed to teach one day a week is that I don't seem them challenge themselves.

If they think something is hard they quit and walk away.

I don't think they've learned as much in math this year as they have in reading and science and I think that's because I don't push them.

 They agreed to try a bit longer and Alec surprised me by coming up with 9 +7 +1 -7 all on his own!

After they were done the second round all three boys played war together.  I knew this was a great math lesson for Evan in particular.   They were LOUD, but giggling and having fun so I left them playing.

We decided to make peanut butter bars for snack tonight.  I found this easy, no- bake recipe that I had all the ingredients for so I printed it out.   While making dessert and packing lunches I was listening to the boys play.

Ian started making up all sorts of math word problems.

  • "If James went to the store and bought 7 gallons of milk and two dropped on the way home.  How many are left? "  
  • "James bought 18 million gallons of milk and dropped 9 million gallons.  How many are left?"  
  • "Tom was riding his bike and there were 20 kids standing in a line next to him.  He knocked 10 of them down and broke their wrist.  How many kids broke their wrists and how many were left?"  
  • He went on and on and all of the boys tried figuring out the answers to them all. 

 Ian had pulled out a kit he had received for Christmas to make a metal truck.  He's attempted to follow the directions and build it before but he's always run into problems in the past.  Today he tried again by sorting the pieces first and starting at step one.  (It's amazing how I can complain about something and then later the same day they contradict me-- wasn't I just saying they never challenge themselves?!). 

We finally cleaned up and got ready to meet at a local park for a nature hike with a homeschool group.  Now, when I say local, that's a relative term.  We looked on Mapquest and found it would take us an hour to get to the park and so we headed out with directions in hand and lunches packed for eating on the drive.

We listened to some more Magic Treehouse books on CD and enjoyed the sunshine.  We were looking so forward to meeting up with some old homeschool friends we hadn't seen in a while.

Linking Up With:


  1. Kids are amazing. I love the way they grow in leaps and bounds and sometimes need just that little push over the hump!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Favorite TV Shows Growing Up in the 80's and early 90's

Throwing a Fabulous 70th Birthday Party at the Last Minute

Things That Make Me Laugh