Enjoy Fun and Simple Experiments with Tabletop Scientist Books

Are you a homeschooling family needing a break from your in-depth semester-long science curriculum, but still want to have some interactive experiments as a part of your lesson plans?

Have you struggled to find accessible, compact science units to work through?

I have a great solution for you!

Enjoy Fun and Simple Experiments with Tabletop Scientist Books @Education PossibleI received a copy of this curriculum as well as financial compensation for my time to write an honest review and for administering the Giveaway. All opinions stated are mine.

Hands-on Science Books

Tabletop Scientist, a series of books from Dover Publications, is a wonderful choice for families who want to have some fun with science.

My family reviewed:

  • The Science of Air – Projects and Experiments with Air and Flight
  • The Science of Light – Projects and Experiments with Light and Color
  • The Science of Sound – Projects and Experiments with Music and Sound Waves
  • The Science of Water – Projects and Experiments with Water Science and Power

Each book is 32 pages long and contains 12 different experiments, based on a main scientific subject.

The instructions for each activity are easy to follow and include quite a few pictures showing each step of the process. A quick look at the “What You Need” area will tell you what to gather before beginning each experiment.

One of the last pages is actually a timeline, starting in the B.C. era, moving all the way through to modern times. These dates highlight some important moments in the book’s subject. For example, in The Science of Water, students will learn that in 1805, H₂O, widely recognized now as the chemical compound of water, was first proven by Joseph Gay-Lussac.

Just past the timeline is a glossary that defines all of the specific scientific terms used throughout the book.

Enjoy Fun and Simple Experiments with Tabletop Scientist Books @Education Possible

Learning about sound waves.

A few of the other topics covered in The Science of Sound include stereophonic hearing, the speed of sound, and soundproofing.

Two Things I Loved about Tabletop Scientist

Of course, there were many things I appreciated about this series of books, but these are two of my favorites.

The Price is Right

Not only are the books themselves cost effective, so are the experiments. They all use typical household items or products you can easily find at your local store, so it’s easy to gather what you need.

I love this because there have been many times that I wanted to do an experiment with my kids, but had to order special parts to get it to work. Because I’m a busy homeschooling mom, I frequently forgot and we moved on, without completing the activity.

When I can grab things from my pantry, I’m more likely to add hands-on activities into our lesson plans.

Multiple Relevant Experiments

I’ve been teaching our science co-op for a few years now, and it’s often a struggle finding enough interactive activities to drive home a lesson. As I mentioned above, with the Tabletop Scientist books, each topic has 12 experiments supporting it.

This is wonderful!

Sure, the experiments cover different concepts, but they still relate to the overall subject.

Enjoy Fun and Simple Experiments with Tabletop Scientist Books @Education Possible

Science for Elementary Students

These four books focus on science principles commonly talked about during the earlier school years. If a parent works alongside them, there is no reason why elementary children couldn’t enjoy the science projects included in these books.

Enjoy Fun and Simple Experiments with Tabletop Scientist Books @Education Possible

Middle School Science

So if the books work for elementary students, are they appropriate for older kids?

YES!

Although the subjects may seem simple – air, light, sound, and water, the science behind it isn’t. And that’s part of what makes this series special. The pages not only include the experiments, they also teach students the scientific principles.

I gave the books to my middle schoolers and told them to have fun. And they did!

After reading through the experiments, they gathered the materials and completed the activities together. Then they told me what they did and we talked about the process and the principles behind it all.

Because we have gone over these subjects before, it gave my girls a lot of confidence going through the books without me. They were proud when they worked through an experiment and really understood why it worked (or didn’t).

Enjoy Fun and Simple Experiments with Tabletop Scientist Books @Education Possible

Go Further with these Extension Ideas

  • Use the glossary at the back of each book as the basis of a vocabulary and spelling lesson.
  • Have your older children choose a famous person or important scientific moment from the history page to research and study further. You could also have them write a paper or prepare a presentation based on what they learned.

The four books that are a part of the Tabletop Scientist series are only $6.99 each. A great value!

You know what is even better? Dover Publications is offering all of our readers a special discount code, that can be used on anything!

PLUS they’re letting us give away these awesome books I’ve been telling you about!

Save Some Money and Enter to WIN

We love our friends at Dover and we’re so excited that they’re letting us thank you, our incredible readers, with a discount code and giveaway.

So, make sure you:

  • Head over to the Dover Publications website and use discount code WHBI to receive 25% off your order (offer ends 11/1/15)! Don’t forget – this code works on your entire order, not just the Tabletop Scientist books.

Enjoy Fun and Simple Experiments with Tabletop Scientist Books @Education Possible

  • Enter our giveaway below to win your own copy of: 

~ The Science of Air ~ The Science of Light ~ The Science of Sound ~ The Science of Water

That’s right. One winner is going to receive a copy of all 4 books in the Tabletop Scientist series!

Enjoy Fun and Simple Experiments with Tabletop Scientist Books @Education Possible

Enter using the Giveaway Tools widget below. This Giveaway is open to residents of the USA. A winner will be selected at random using the Giveaways Tools widget. Dover Publications will mail the books directly to the winner.

Good Luck!

How to Create a Beautiful Habitat Butterflies will Love

With warm weather settling in, many of us are shifting our attention outside. Is your backyard calling out for a little oomph this year? Turn your need into an engaging science lesson for your middle schooler by studying botany and insects – butterflies and the plants they need to thrive.

You can learn all about these majestic creatures by building your own butterfly garden.

How to Create a Beautiful Habitat Butterflies will Love @Education PossibleThis post contains affiliate links.

Over on Enchanted Homeschooling Mom, I share some tips for starting a butterfly habitat. Luckily, it doesn’t require much space or many plants, so it’s the perfect project for the whole family.

Let your Teen Get Creative

After you’ve designed your space and planted the plants, let your middle schooler add some special artistic touches to the garden.

How to Create a Beautiful Habitat Butterflies will Love

One of the easiest projects to do is to make a stepping stone. For extra convenience, we used this mosaic stepping stone kit, but with only a few materials, you can make one without a kit.

You’ll need:

  1. Mix cement according to package instructions.
  2. Pour it into the mold. Smooth out the surface – this will be the top of the stone.
  3. Draw any designs you want, then add your glass gems/stones. Make sure you push them down, so they’re surrounded by cement.
  4. Set it aside to dry on a flat surface. After 24 hours, remove the stone from the mold.

It’s really that easy. It took us less than 30 minutes to make the stepping stone above.

Here are some more fun DIY ideas:

How to Create a Beautiful Habitat Butterflies will Love @Education Possible

Give the butterflies extra incentive to visit by making a feeder for them.

This project will give your teen an opportunity to express themselves. All they need is some rocks and paint to create something beautiful.

Use this tutorial to create a butterfly puddler.

How to Create a Beautiful Habitat Butterflies will Love @Education Possible

If you want a fancier puddler for your butterflies, consider this one.

Turn your aluminum can into a unique creature to watch over your plants.

The Science of Butterflies

Interested in spending some time learning all you can about caterpillars, butterflies, moths, and their habitats? Consider using these resources. They’re two of our favorites!

How to Create a Beautiful Habitat Butterflies will Love @Education Possible

Hopefully, we’ve inspired you to make your backyard beautiful this year by creating a space specifically for these amazing pollinators.

Do you have a butterfly garden at your house?

Butterflies-Flutter-By-3D-Cover-2

This Valuable Tool Makes Studying Wildflowers a Breeze

What is the difference between wildflowers and flowers? What wildflowers are found in each state? Do wildflowers belong to botanical families?

This Valuable Tool Makes Studying Wildflowers a Breeze @Education PossibleThis post contains affiliate links.

Every year, as part of our science studies, we spend some time revisiting botany, usually focusing on a specific theme. To avoid burnout, I try to vary the particular topics we investigate.

As you can guess from my questions, this year we’ve been focusing on wildflowers.

So I didn’t have to plan everything myself, I turned to Wonderful Wildflowers from NaturExplorers. This 57 page eBook gave me a framework for our lessons and ideas for science labs.

A bonus ~ it not only covers science, but also subjects like art, math, history, and writing.

While there is plenty of information included on the background pages, there’s more than enough research you can do on your own or as a family.

Personally, as the mom of a teen, I appreciate this. I prefer to have questions we can ponder and activities to choose from, rather than being spoon-fed information.

Why this Unit Study Works for Us

  • Excellent Notebooking Pages

The 15 notebooking pages included were the perfect guide for our study of wildflowers.

One of our favorites was the Flower Shapes pages. After we researched all of the shapes, we used them in a scavenger hunt. The girls tucked the papers into their nature journals and when they found a wildflower shape they didn’t have, they sketched it in their book.

  • Geography 

As we were learning about the 50 states, we made sure to research what wildflowers are in each region of the country.

  • Hands-on Projects

With pages of learning activities to choose from, we had no problem expanding our wildflower studies while being creative.

  • Nature Walk Suggestions

The unique nature walk ideas gave us incentive to head outside to get a closer look at the flowers we were studying.

This Valuable Tool Makes Studying Wildflowers a Breeze @Education Possible

This unit study is perfect for families with young children, older kids or a combination of the two. Whatever your child’s age, you’ll find appropriate learning activities to complete. Just like with any curriculum, you can pick and choose what works for your family.

I liked that I didn’t have to adapt this study to fit the needs of my older students because it already included unique projects, suitable for teens. Ideas like writing a speech for a garden club meeting, debating whether a wildflower is a weed or a flower or researching the government’s connection to these flowers.

Four of my teen’s favorite hands-on activities:

  1. Sculpting wildflowers out of clay.
  2. Adding wildflowers to her nature journal using colored pencils and watercolors.
  3. Coming up with a list of flowers and characteristics to find during a photo scavenger hunt.
  4. Completing crafts that incorporated pressed and dried flowers.

This Valuable Tool Makes Studying Wildflowers a Breeze Education Possible

If you’re planning to study wildflowers, simplify your life by using Wonderful Wildflowers from NaturExplorers. It’s a valuable homeschooling resource.

What is your favorite tool to teach about wildflowers?

Wonderful-Wildflowers-3D-Cover

Middle School Chemistry: Solids and Liquids {FREE Printable}

Is there a way to “see” the density of liquids? You bet! It all depends on density.

Density is the mass of a substance per unit volume (how much space it takes up). You can determine density by dividing the mass by the volume – D=m/v.

The volume is based on the space something takes up, how it fills a container (for liquids). Mass is dependent on atoms. Specifically, what’s the mass of the atoms, how tightly are they spaced, and what’s their size?

Middle School Chemistry: Solids and Liquids @Education PossibleThis post contains affiliate links.

So, back to our original question. How can we see the density of liquids? Let’s experiment.

Layering Liquids

Materials:

  • Quart canning jar (or a similar sized container)
  • Measuring cup(s)
  • 6 ounces of honey, water, vegetable oil, and rubbing alcohol
  • Food coloring
  • A handful of small objects (we used a ping pong ball, LEGO piece, peanut M&M, raisin, marble, and a piece of a tea light candle)

You’ll want to use this Layering Liquids Experiment printable – it includes helpful data sheets for your older students to keep track of their findings.

Experiment

What do you think will happen when you add all of these liquids to the same container?

Think about the liquids you’re using and how their densities compare to each other. On your sheet, order them according to what you think their density is.

If you have a kitchen scale, measure the mass of each liquid before you add it to the jar to see if your hypothesis was correct. Don’t forget to log it on your sheet.

  1. Measure out 6 ounces of honey. Without touching the sides, pour it into the jar. Feel free to use a funnel if you’d like.
  2. Measure out 6 ounces of water. Add a few drops of food coloring and mix well. I would recommend a dark color like blue, red or green. Slowly pour the water into the center of the jar.
  3. Measure out 6 ounces of vegetable oil. Slowly pour the water into the center of the jar.
  4. Measure out 6 ounces of rubbing alcohol. Slowly pour the water into the center of the jar.

Are your liquids stacked on top of each other? Pretty cool, huh?

So, why did it happen? Why do the liquids separate when they’re in the same container instead of having them all combine into one solution? What does it say about each liquid’s density? Make sure to write down your answers.

We learned all about the states of matter thanks to the Standard Deviants, found on Discovery Education. Bill Nye also has a video about The Phases of Matter.

What about the density of solids compared to the liquids?

Middle School Chemistry: Solids and Liquids @Education Possible

It’s time to test the density of solids and how they compare to the liquids.

First, write down what you think will happen when you add the small objects to the jar. What layer do you think each object will end up in?

Next, carefully drop each object, one at a time, into the jar. Give them a few minutes to settle and then record your findings.

Our kids had a blast discovering new things about solids and liquids during our co-op class.

Don’t forget to download this Layering Liquids Experiment printable.

What is your favorite experiment for studying solids and liquids?

Discovery Education Using Videos in Your Home School featured

How to Teach Math to a Musician

Guest post by JK Mergens

Ludwig van Beethoven is considered to be the greatest music composer of all time. He was a musical genius, but surprisingly he struggled with math his whole life. Sir Isaac Newton, on the other hand, was a physicist and mathematician. He was recognized as one of the most influential scientists of all time, but the only interest he had in music was the science behind it.

Both referred to as geniuses, but clearly their minds were wired differently; one musical, one mathematical. We may not all be genius, but I do believe that almost everyone can be described as either musical (creative/artistic) or mathematical and recognizing which one your student is can help you teach math.

How to Teach Math to a Musician - Education Possible

After homeschooling my son from birth to college, writing a math curriculum, and talking to hundreds of homeschooling parents, I believe that musicians and artists require a different approach when it comes to learning math. They have brilliant minds, but they process numbers differently. So I have developed some unique ways to help teach math to musically wired minds.

I Love My Job

One of the perks of my job is that I get to talk to homeschooling moms across the country every day. They call or write to me when they are having difficulties teaching math. Over the years, I have talked to, oh I don’t know, probably one thousand homeschooling moms about the problems they are having with math. Each story was unique, but over time I started to see a pattern; a common denominator, if you will. I noticed that every time I had a discussion with one of these homeschooling moms, our conversation would almost always end up with me asking the same two questions. And I always got the same two answers; EVERY time!

What Two Questions?

I would listen to the moms describe the person who is struggling to learn math (sometimes it was mom) and then found myself asking, “Is this student a musician or possibly an artist?” And every one of them answered, “Yes.” Then I would ask them if that same student could answer 18 + 7 in just a second or two and every time they answered, “No.” This lead me to believe that there are two different types of minds; those that are numerically wired and those that are musically wired.

Is your child musically wired?

Numbers or Music

Me? I’m a numbers girl. I can memorize long account numbers, everyone’s birthday, and dozens of phone numbers. I can solve math in my mind and I enjoy working on a tough problem until I get the exact right answer. My husband, on the other hand, is a musician. He can tune a guitar by ear. He can learn to play a song just by listening to it; on several different instruments, I might add. He has an artist’s mind and enjoys adding his unique touches to everything he creates; he’s everything that I’m not. Unfortunately, math has no room for creativity. You either have the right answer because you followed the rules or you have the wrong answer because you went on your own. Needless to say, math wasn’t his favorite subject and I quit high school band.

Can a Person Be Both?

stringsWhen I started homeschooling our son, I noticed he was musical, like his father. I had to teach him to sort numbers in his mind like I could. It didn’t come naturally to him like music did. He needed lots of visuals, explanations that made sense to him, helpful tricks, and quick reminders. After that, he was able to excel in math. In fact, by the time he was 16 years old, he enrolled in college and was hired to be a math tutor; at the college! Today he is a successful engineer who plays guitar and records music in his spare time. So it is possible to be both numeric and musical, but the way a musician/artist learns is different.

Visuals

Fractions are one of the first concepts to stump a musician. There are so many steps involved when adding fractions and even more when converting a mixed number into an improper fraction. So I have created the Fraction BlasterThis one page, front and back, free printable, lists all the steps necessary to add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions. Have your student keep this guide handy when working with fractions for a quick reminder and less tears.

Music and Numbers Find Common Ground

Do you know how to read music? I’m just talking about the basic stuff; quarter notes, half notes, and whole notes. Well then take a look at the video below. A musician will learn more about fractions and decimal numbers from this short video than he/she will by reading an entire chapter from a math book.

Helpful Tricks

Have you ever heard of the 9’s trick? It’s the best way to learn how to multiply by 9; I still use it. Watch The 9’s Trick video and in about 2 minutes you’ll learn an easy way to recall the answers. Already know how to multiply by 9? Then try the Elevens Trick. This video will teach you how to solve a problem as big as 11 x 32 in just a second or two.

Quick Reminders

Fractions aren’t the only stumbling block in math. There are a lot of math concepts that are easily forgotten. Things like multiplying with a decimal point, finding the area of a right triangle, and finding the slope of a line, are all tough to remember at first. That’s why I created the Big, Big, Bookmark.
Big Bookmark

This two-sided sheet has quick reminders for all of those concepts and more. Print it for free and then keep it in your student’s math book until all of them are learned. Think of these cards as their math training wheels; soon they won’t need them at all.

Theorems and Postulates

High School Geometry has, by far, the most to remember. I sat down and typed all the Theorems and Postulates in small print and it took over seven pages! So I designed a better way to present them. I organized them into five different categories: Angles, Triangles, Quadrilaterals, Polygons, and Circles. I omitted the ones that are rarely used in a proof and combined some of the converse statements, until I got them down to five sheets (front and back with drawings). I call these sheets Smart Cards and you can print them for free.

Smart Card

Math Can Be Taught

If you are struggling to teach math to a budding musician, you may just need a different approach.   He might not be naturally wired to sort numbers in his mind. Ask the big question to find out. “How much is 18 + 7?” If you don’t hear 25 within two seconds, then you’ve got yourself a little Beethoven. Have your student take my free Interactive Placement Test to find out what’s keeping him/her from becoming the next Sir Isaac Newton. I’m not sure if you can teach someone to be an artist, but one thing is for sure, MATH can be taught.

We would like to than JK Mergens for sharing this helpful information with us! 

 

JK Mergens married her high school sweetheart, Mick, nearly 30 years ago. Together they homeschooled their only son in Washington state. JK Mergens is the author of the Learn Math Fast System. Her articles have been published in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Red Deer’s Child Magazine, and Edmonton’s Child Magazine. Check out her website, LearnMathFastBooks.com to read more articles about math and homeschooling.