#3 Make Your Own Element Cards

August 18th, 2014

make-your-own-element-cardsThis post contains affiliate links. I was compensated for my work in writing this post.

Today I will show you how to make your own element cards for the Periodic Table of Elements. We are using Christian Kids Explore Chemistry by Bright Ideas Press to study elementary-level chemistry, and one of the activities throughout the book is to make element cards. You do not have to make element cards for every single element on the periodic table, but if you do, you can make this giant Periodic Table Puzzle!

You will need some blank 3 by 5 cards. We decided to write the chemical symbols with bubble letters that we color-coded according to whether the elements were metals or non-metals. You can further classify the metals if you want.

These are the pieces of information we wrote on each card:

  • chemical symbol
  • name of the element
  • atomic number
  • atomic weight

On the back of each card you can write any interesting information about each element. You can find this information in books or on the internet.

periodic-table-cardsTo facilitate putting together the Periodic Table Puzzle, you will want to look at the atomic numbers. The periodic table is set up in order according to the atomic numbers. Watch the video at the bottom of this blog post to see how the periodic table is arranged.

You can use these cards in many ways:

  • Make a Periodic Table Puzzle
  • Use the cards to quiz each other on elements and their symbols
  • Based on the color, learn which elements are non-metals.
  • Use it as an encyclopedia of each element on the back of the cards.
  • Learn the atomic numbers of common elements.

Take a look at how we arranged these element cards:

Solomon Unit Study

August 15th, 2014


This fun Solomon Unit Study includes dramatizations, drawings, and hands-on ideas for learning about the wisest man who ever lived.

We filmed our dramatizations for our Solomon Unit Study inside our ever-growing Bible section of the Unit Study Treasure Vault. These pictures were taken years ago when we first dramatized the life of Solomon. We crowned one of my sons King of Israel and grabbed a kingly costume that I had bought at a yard sale. We placed him up on a coffee table, with two stone lions beside him. Since we didn’t have lions, we used a bear toy and a dragon puppet. A servant fanned him off continuously, and he ruled with great power and wisdom.


In fact, Solomon is known for his great wisdom. God appeared to Solomon in a vision and said He would grant him any request. So Solomon asked for wisdom. This was such a great answer that God decided to give him riches and honor as well.

If you want to study the wisdom of Solomon, you can start with the story of two women. One baby was dead and the other was alive, and each woman claimed the living baby was hers. “Chop the baby in half and give each woman half the baby!” stated Solomon, and the rightful mother screamed to stop and give the living baby to the other woman, but to please let the baby live. The other woman said to kill the baby; if she couldn’t have the baby, neither should the other woman. Obviously Solomon knew who the right mother was!


You can draw a picture of this story, illustrating the two women, the baby, the servant, and King Solomon on his throne.


You can study the wisdom literature that Solomon wrote, especially the book of Proverbs. Here are two hands-on learning activities for studying the book of Proverbs:


The Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon and brought him spices. We put some spice bottles on a tray and handed them to the king. But a lot more treasure was given Solomon besides the spices. You can illustrate how rich Solomon was by drawing a pile of riches on top of King Solomon.


Solomon built the Temple for the Lord and dedicated the Temple with a beautiful prayer. His father David had made preparations for the Temple before his death. You could make a model of the Temple with Legos or with a shoe box similar to how we made the Tabernacle Model. You would need to add rooms on the sides and paint everything gold, but the set-up of the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies is the same.

Sadly, at the end of Solomon’s life, he turned away from God to idols because of his many wives. And thus ends the life of King Solomon.

To study the Word of God deeply with your kids, grab Using Simple Costumes and Props to Teach the Bible. You get this workshop free when you join the Unit Study Treasure Vault.

Cannon Beach Vacation

August 13th, 2014

cannon-beach-vacationWe just got back from our first beach vacation as a family, a Cannon Beach vacation! I loved the wide sandy seashores with the waves crashing against the sand. The iconic triangular Haystack Rock looks beautiful in the mornings covered with mist.

cannon-beach-cottageThis was our temporary cottage, two blocks from the beach. It was a miracle how we were able to book this on such short notice. It was as if God reserved this place just for us. It reminds me of the times I went to Panajachel as a kid (as a missionary kid in Guatemala). We would play games and look at the water and be disconnected from electronics.

cannon-beachI woke up each morning and had coffee on the front porch while spending time in prayer. The porch faced a couple of cottages with flowers. There was a huge tree in the yard across the street, and I would see blue jays, goldfinches, and hummingbirds as I sat in prayer before the Lord.

cannon-beach-2My kids always woke up earlier than I did. My husband sometimes couldn’t sleep, so he would sleep in the latest. One night he got up and walked along the beach. He stumbled upon gorgeous tide pools with gigantic star fish at 3 in the morning. I’ll talk about the tide pools in a separate blog post, since we took lots of pictures.

cannon-beach-3My kids would play games, make a puzzle, or build card houses while they waited for Alan and I to wake up. Then we would go to the beach, where we dug a huge hole, built forts, and flew a kite. I enjoyed sitting and reading a book about spiritual warfare. There was a juxtaposition between what I was reading and the peaceful ocean scene, but it gave me new insight to understand many events from the past few months. Spiritual warfare is all about fighting deception. It’s interesting how it all boils down to that.

building-card-housesThe kids buried themselves in the sand. I’m not sure why anybody would want to do that, but here they are. When we walked down the beach to look at tide pools one afternoon, we saw lots of sand castles, which I will post in another blog post. Apparently Cannon Beach has an annual sand castle contest in June, and the sand castles are even more detailed.


One afternoon we hiked through a rainforest and saw some beautiful scenery. I’ll do a separate blog post on that, since we got so many great pictures of the rainforest and the beach from above. (The three ocean pictures above were taken from the vantage point of the rainforest, where you have to climb part of a mountain.)

We found lots of jellyfish. This was the largest one we saw, about the size of two hands. We also collected sea shells and small rocks, and I might make a collage out of them and post it on my blog later.


The kids were wanting to play games, so here we are playing Settlers of Catan. The game went on much longer than it should have because of all the sheep jokes.

playing-gamesThe sunsets on the beach were beautiful. On a couple of the nights, Alan built a fire on the beach. You are allowed to do that, as long as you follow the rules. We dug a small hole in the sand and built our fire.

sunset-at-cannon-beachWe ate some s’mores with marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers. We looked out over the ocean that reminded me of the majesty of God.

fire-in-firepitI sang some hymns to the Lord while the kids giggled and chewed on their s’mores. This was truly a vacation to remember!


#2 Filtration Experiment

August 11th, 2014

filtration-experimentThis post contains affiliate links. I was compensated for my work in writing this post.

Today we will be doing a fun filtration experiment where salt goes through a filter like magic, while sand remains behind. This is one of the experiments in the book Christian Kids Explore Chemistry by Bright Ideas Press. The book provides a chart to fill in as we examine the salt and the sand at the beginning of the experiment.

You will need some sand, some salt, a funnel, a coffee filter, a mason jar or large drinking glass, a pie plate (without pie in it!), a glass measuring cup, a bowl, a teaspoon, and a stirring spoon.


Place 2 teaspoons of salt into the bowl. Add one teaspoon of sand to the salt, but don’t mix it yet. It helps to put salt on one side of the bowl and sand on the other side. Now you will want to taste the salt and the sand. You can spit out the sand when you are finished tasting it. You will have to watch the video at the end of this blog post to find out what my daughter said the sand tasted like.

Look at the salt and sand and feel it with your fingers. Which one is more coarse? Write that down on the chart. What color is the salt? What color is the sand? Are there any other characteristics your kids would like to mention about the salt or the sand?


Write down each of your findings on the chart provided in the book, and then doodle all over the rest of the paper as if you were a mad scientist. Just kidding. You don’t need to doodle.

filtration-doodlesNow mix the salt and the sand together with a spoon. This is called a mixture. Pour 100ml of water into the salt/sand mixture, and stir for 60 seconds until the salt has dissolved.

Place the coffee filter into the funnel, and put the funnel on top of the mason jar. One child can hold the funnel while the other child pours the salt/sand/water mixture into the filter.

filter-experimentThe water will go through the filter, but the sand will be left behind.

Where did the salt go? It disappeared!

Pour the contents of the mason jar into a pie plate, and leave it for a few days. When the water has evaporated, voila! The salt grains re-appear like a magic trick!

evaporated-saltWhat happened? The salt became smaller when water was added to it, and the salt was then able to go through the filter. How sneaky is that?

And the fun thing is that the salt crystals re-appeared larger than what they were at the beginning of the experiment!

salt-crystalsTake a look at the filtration experiment, as we recorded the whole experience on video:

David and Goliath Unit Study

August 8th, 2014


We did a fun David and Goliath Unit Study for our Bible class. It included a retelling of the story by candlelight, a dramatization, and fun crafts and hands-on projects to bring to life this famous Bible story.

David and Goliath Unit Study

1. Read or re-tell the story of David and Goliath.

First you will want to read or retell the story from I Samuel 17:31-58. It’s easiest just to read it, but one year I lit a candle and told the story to a group of boys in Cub Scouts. I talked in a hushed voice as I described the fear the Israelite army had when they looked at Goliath. I described how large he was, and that he looked impossible to beat. As a complete opposite character, David was young, inexperienced, and without armor. Who would win the battle? The boys held their breath in anticipation, even though they knew the story, because the firelight was flickering off the walls, and they were scared.

To refresh your memory, you can watch this 4-minute video:

2. Dramatize the story.

Even if you have no costumes or props, you can have your kids re-enact the story of David and Goliath. Have one tall kid stand on a chair. If you have some plastic armor, you can put that on him. Then have David wear a simple tunic, with 5 smooth stones in his pouch. The sling can be a thick strip of soft leather.

3. Make a slingshot.

If you want to make a modern-day slingshot, just find some forked sticks outside and use rubber bands to fling marshmallows across the room. But the slingshot back in Bible times looked more like a strip of leather tied together in a loop, and you would put the rock (or marshmallow) into the strap and sling it around. You can find a tutorial on how to make a cool slingshot here.


4. Measure out how tall Goliath was.

Measure out 9 feet on your wall, and make a large butcher-paper giant. Then have your kids stand beside it to see how large this man really was. You can simplify by stapling colored paper to the wall without drawing a giant in armor. You can see what I mean by looking here.

5. Listen to the song “Only a Boy Named David.”

6. Draw pictures to illustrate the story.

The kids can draw a picture of either before the giant fell, during his fall, or after he was down. They could even make a cartoon strip of each stage. My kids once made a flip book with the story of David and Goliath, where the stone came little by little out of the slingshot and toward Goliath’s head until he fell. There were about 12 pencil sketches stapled together, and you flipped the pages to see the action.


7. Talk about how you can overcome any obstacle if you have faith in the Lord.

God is greater than our enemies, and He controls all the atoms in the universe. When we trust in the Lord, He does mighty things in our lives.

If you enjoyed this David and Goliath Unit Study, you will love all the other Bible unit studies inside the Unit Study Treasure Vault. Bring Scripture to life for your kids with every book of the Bible!

#1 Chemistry Tools

August 4th, 2014

chemistry-toolsThis post contains affiliate links. I was compensated for my work in writing this post.

Today we are starting a new series of blog posts about Elementary Chemistry using Christian Kids Explore Chemistry by Bright Ideas Press. Each of the chapters has a fun hands-on activity as well as a simple explanation of chemistry concepts. Don’t panic if you flunked out of chemistry in high school. This book will help you to understand chemistry concepts if you’ve never understood them before.

In the first chapter we examined the ingredients of common household items to see that chemicals are everywhere! We eat chemicals all the time. Sucrose, for example, is sugar. You will find sucrose in many cereals and desserts.

We were astonished to discover that my hair spray listed alcohol before water in its ingredients list! This means that the hair spray contains more alcohol than water, since the ingredients are listed in order, with the first ingredient being the most abundant.

introduction-to-chemistry-toolsBecause I am teaching high school chemistry to my older two sons, I ordered all this cool chemistry equipment. I describe each of the chemistry tools in the video at the bottom of this blog post, explaining what each tool is used for. You do not need any of these tools for the elementary chemistry, as long as you have a glass measuring cup with measurements on the side. Most people already have this in their kitchens.

Let’s use a couple of these chemistry tools to learn how to measure liquids. We are using a graduated cylinder and a beaker for this simple activity from the book. All you do is pour the liquid back and forth three times.

chemistry-tools-elementaryLook at the markings on the side of the beaker to measure how much liquid is in the beaker. Now look at the markings on the side of the graduated cylinder. If you are doing this experiment at home, use smaller amounts of liquid so your kids don’t have to interpolate (or make an educated guess) about how much liquid is in the graduated cylinder. The orange juice went above the highest measurement, but this might happen in real life as well. My kids guessed that it was the same amount of liquid.

chemistry-tools-2If you pour a liquid back and forth too many times, you might get smaller readings for your liquid. Why? Because some of the liquid has stayed in the container, along the sides and bottom of the container. We noticed a slight change, but it wasn’t a big enough change to matter much.

Take a look at our chemistry tools and our simple measuring experiment:

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