Ocean Shadow Box

September 18th, 2017

ocean-shadow-box

If your kids are learning about underwater sea creatures, why not make an ocean shadow box? It is super easy and will re-enforce the children’s learning about ocean creatures.

The first thing you will want to do is paint the box blue. It helps if a shoe box is a plain white color on the inside. We taped black construction paper around the outside of the box, but you could paint that black if you want.

In other shadow boxes we’ve made, we have spray painted the entire shoe box black, both inside and out. This is a great backdrop for any scene. If you are creating sea creatures from the deep, it is appropriate for your water to be black, especially if you make a flashlight fish out of clay, and place an LED light inside!

painting-shadow-box

Let the paint dry overnight, and then you will want to attach a plastic aquarium plant to the bottom of the box. Use clay to attach the plant to the box. (Make sure your shoe box is on its side when you decide where the ocean floor will be!)

Pour white school glue on the bottom of the scene, gluing around the plastic plant as well as the rest of the ocean floor. Pour sand on top of the glue and shake it off.

play-doh-manta-ray

If you have some small plastic ocean creatures, you can hang them with white thread to the top of the box. I used strong packing tape, but you could also use duct tape.

We added a rock and some walruses to the top of the box, along with some dolphins splashing out of the water. (See the picture at the top of this post.)

play-doh-hammerhead-shark

You can also create ocean creatures out of clay. We make a manta ray, a hammerhead shark, a starfish, a whale, and an anemone. If you study and shape one sea creature per day, you can add to your collection. You can display your creatures on built-in cardboard shelves that you have painted blue or black to match your shadow box, hot gluing the shelf into place.

simple-ocean-shadow-box

You can also make a simple ocean shadow box by spray painting a box black, adding a goldfish in a small fishbowl, and throwing seashells or any other ocean toys into the display.

Homeschool High School Room Tour

September 11th, 2017

homeschool-high-school-room-tour

Come on a tour of our homeschool high school room!

When a homeschool family transitions their students into high school, your homeschool space will begin to change. You will need an environment that looks more elegant and suitable for teens, not baby-ish. You want your teens to not be embarrassed to bring their friends over.

Homeschool High School Room Video Tour

We filmed a tour of our updated homeschool room for teens. Take a look at the environment you might want for accomplishing the academics you need for high school:

First of all, you need a computer desk with a computer. If your teens take high school math at a co-op, you might not need this area as much as you would for a computer math program for upper level math. We use Teaching Textbooks for pre-calculus and other higher-level math.

We also use computers for Spanish (Rosetta Stone), typing essays, studying Khan Academy for SAT preparation, etc. Your teens obviously need access to a computer in order to be computer literate. Also, if your teens have not learned basic keyboarding skills, you will want to make sure they know how to type fairly quickly before they go to college.

On the top of the computer desk, you can have a globe, a model of something, or flags stabbed into some sand. Hands-on models for high school science can also be stored on top of the computer desk.

high-school-homeschool

To increase the elegance of the space, you will want to get rid of all the toys that your teens have outgrown. Bold primary colors are for younger kids, so earthy tones look better for teens and adults. You can improve your living space by adding good lighting and plants. If you don’t have sunshine, high quality silk plants can make your homeschool high school room look like a resort.

You will want a desk or other flat space that is empty, so that your student has a place to work on vocabulary cards, tests, or any other written work. If you don’t have a separate homeschool room, you can always use your dining room table. One drawback of using the dining room is that if your teen is taking a timed SAT practice test or other timed test, they will be in a main thoroughfare instead of in an area where they can be alone without distraction.

high-school-white-erase-board

You will also want a white erase board, especially for your high school lab sciences. It doesn’t need to be as fancy as this one, which we picked up at a yard sale. You can probably find one at an office supply store, but a simple white erase board is equally effective.

We used this white erase board especially for chemistry as we wrote out huge equations. We also used it for grammar lessons. A white erase board is versatile and can be used to illustrate any point, even in history or Bible class.

My husband made a small wooden platform for speech class or small skits. We placed a rug on top of the platform, as you can see in the video.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of our homeschool high school room. This should give you some ideas for transitioning your students as they grow into teens!

For hundreds of hands-on high school activities, join the Unit Study Treasure Vault!

Come see more tours of homeschool rooms: Back to Homeschool School Room Week

Dry Ice Volcano Cake

September 4th, 2017

dry-ice-volcano-cake

Look at this super cool dry ice volcano cake we had for my son’s natural disasters themed birthday party! I was brainstorming different ways to make a volcano cake, and I’ve never seen this done before, so I thought it would be fun to make. I wasn’t disappointed, and it was fairly easy to make!

Start by baking two cake boxes, for a total of four round cakes. Cool the cakes and place them in the fridge.

Put foil on a square piece of wood or cardboard, and tape the back. Up-end one round cake onto the center of the foil. Grab a chemistry flask and cut a circle with a knife around the edge of the flask. Remove the small circle of cake, and place the flask inside.

inside-volcano-cake

Cut circles into the other cakes, and slide them like stacking rings on top of the flask until the entire flask is hidden. If you have a taller flask, you will have to bake more cakes. This will result in a taller volcano.

chocolate-volcano

Place the entire stack in the fridge to cool. Then you are ready to sculpt the volcano. Look at the video demonstration to see how I shaped it:

You can do whatever you want with the scraps of chocolate cake that you cut off the volcano. At this point, you want to place the cake back into the fridge before frosting it.

carving-volcano-cake

Frost the cake with chocolate frosting, spinning the cake to get the icing to be smooth. You can cover up any mistakes you made with the icing.

frosting-volcano-cake

Feel free to poke in plastic palm trees at the bottom of your volcano to add authenticity. This was my husband’s idea, since they were left over from a Hawaiian themed party we did for my daughter years ago. You can buy plastic palm trees at a party store.

make-a-volcano-cake

Pour hot water into the volcano. Plop dry ice chunks into the volcano. (You can buy dry ice at most grocery stores, and it’s inexpensive.) Now you will see the volcano smoking downward in an incredible way!

erupting-volcano-cake

Make sure to watch the video above to see how cool this dry ice volcano cake turned out!

Tour of Panajachel, Guatemala

August 28th, 2017

tour-of-panajachel-guatemala

Another highlight of our trip was our tour of Panajachel, Guatemala. Growing up as a missionary kid, my family used to go to Panajachel once or twice a year to rest. The mission had a property that could be used for missionaries and other Christian workers. I loved this time we had as a family–without television and phones–to connect through conversation and card games.

Tour of Panajachel, Guatemala (video)

We ended up going on another boat ride to Santiago, which is right across the lake. This was the only lake town I ever visited as a child, so it was fun to go on the longer boat ride a few days before with my friend Christie’s family. Each town is unique and beautiful in its own way.

Guatemala is famous for its volcanoes, and Lake Atitlán is surrounded by them! Here is a picture of my family in front of a volcano:

family-panajachel

The lake reflects the blue of the sky, and it is tranquil until the late afternoon winds. As a child, I would sit on an inner tube, waiting for a boat to come by and make some waves.

lake-atitlan-guatemala

Through the clear water on the shore you can see pebbles and rocks, which is why we wore flip-flops when entering the water. When I was a kid, I would collect different-colored rocks and seashells along the shore.

rocks-at-panajachel

We walked through Panajachel and realized that the town has grown in size and become more commercial, especially along the lake shore. It used to be that there were no shops on the shore of the lake. Now there are several rows of shops and restaurants crammed along the entire length of the shore, sometimes on stilts.

market-panajachel

Each of the places we stopped had many booths filled with typical Guatemalan cloth and souvenirs. Shopping at Guatemalan markets is fun because you are able to bargain with them about the price. If you have white skin, people think you are rich, so they start the price higher than what they are expecting you to pay. If you think the price is too much, you can offer a more reasonable price.

panajachel-panorama

When leaving Panajachel, you must stop along the mountain and take pictures because the natural beauty of the area is breathtaking! This was a wonderful conclusion to our Guatemala Adventure!

Did you miss our previous Guatemala Adventure posts?

  1. Our Guatemala Adventure
  2. Río Dulce Boat Ride
  3. Tour of San Felipe Castle, Guatemala
  4. Tour of Tikal, Guatemala
  5. Tour of Flores, Guatemala
  6. Tour of Cobán, Guatemala
  7. Coffee Plantation Zipline Tour
  8. Meeting Our Compassion Child in Guatemala
  9. SETECA Seminary, Guatemala
  10. Tour of Antigua, Guatemala
  11. Lake Atitlán Boat Ride

To follow my MK posts and musings, like my Missionary Kid page. And if you love to read about missionary kids, buy the book!

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