#5 How to Build Atomic Models

September 1st, 2014

atomic-modelsThis post contains affiliate links. I was compensated for my work in writing this post.

Today I will show you how to build atomic models with styrofoam balls and with candy. You will see two very different models, and yet the protons, neutrons, and electrons are in the same locations. My kids are using the book Christian Kids Explore Chemistry by Bright Ideas Press. We are learning the composition of an atom.

In the center of the atom is the nucleus. The nucleus is composed of protons and neutrons. The electrons are much smaller, and they spin in a cloud around the nucleus.

When making a styrofoam model of a Lithium atom, you need 7 two-inch styrofoam balls and 3 one-inch styrofoam balls. Lithium has 3 protons (which you paint blue), 4 neutrons (which you paint yellow), and 3 electrons (which you paint red). We used acrylic paint because it’s brighter than tempera paint, and it sinks into the texture of the styrofoam. After painting the styrofoam balls, let them dry overnight.

The next day stab the yellow and blue balls together with toothpicks until the balls are touching. This is the nucleus. Now stab the three red balls further away with toothpicks. These are electrons. You have completed your atomic model of Lithium.

candy-atomNow let’s make a candy atom just for fun, so that you can see a variety of atomic models. You could also use play doh or clay to make atomic models. But candy tastes good, so let’s use candy.

We are about to make an Oxygen atom. Grab 8 green protons and 8 red neutrons. These are gum drops, and if they stick together, fine. If the nucleus isn’t sticking together, snap toothpicks in half and stab the red and green candies together. It should look like Christmas. Now grab two black pipe cleaners and twist them to make a circle. Watch the video at the bottom of this blog post to see how easy it is. Grab two more pipe cleaners and do the same thing, making a wider circle. Now watch how I place the 8 yellow electrons on the electron shells. I don’t actually stab the gumdrops. I show you a trick for how to attach the electrons:

Fight Depression with Truth

August 29th, 2014


I’ve been reading a lot about depression over the past few weeks, and I have experienced it myself. When your hormones are out of control and you can’t think clearly, you must fight depression with truth. It is not easy because everything inside of you wants to give up. You want to go to bed and never get up again. But the words that are going through your mind are not based on truth. If you dwell on something that is not truth, it will become more and more distorted until your reality is warped.

Depression is based on overly-inflated emotions (hormones) that cause you to magnify anything negative in your life until it is unbearable. It is a spiral that you go down in your mind, allowing your mind to dwell on one thing. It’s incapacitating. Sometimes it makes you want to take your life. Taking your life is murdering yourself, so of course when these thoughts cross our minds, we are tempted to sin. Murdering anyone in a pre-meditated fashion (including the killing of ourselves) is wrong, and Scripture says that there is always a way out of temptation, and we are never forced to sin. (I Corinthians 10:13)

Scripture commands us to take every thought captive (II Corinthians 10:5). This means that when my hormones are out of control and I want to dwell on everything negative in my life, I can stop. At the very minimum, I can put my mind on something productive. Force yourself not to dwell on the negative, and you break the spiral down. You don’t have to bow down and worship your emotions and go down every rabbit trail in your mind until you’re debilitated. You have a will. You can choose your actions. You are fully responsible before God for every action, despite how you feel.

Many times depression is demonic. I feel a brain fog and a heaviness, and I can’t get anything done. When that happens, I call a fellow believer, and she prays over me. So many times the fog lifts, and I feel fully rested instantly. I have experienced this in my life so many times that I truly believe that Scripture is right: our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers and the rulers of darkness (Ephesians 6:12). If you are serving the Lord in ministry in any capacity, this is especially true. You must fight through prayer. The prayer of others over me often breaks the grip of incapacitation through exaggerated hormones or brain fog.

We have two swords to overcome deception: the Word of God and prayer. They are REAL. They break down strongholds and transform lives.

I talk about my struggle with depression and thoughts of suicide in my spiritual warfare audio (which is free). I also talk about depression during pregnancy, and what I did to overcome it in another free audio: Controlling Your Mind. Please don’t feel helpless. Grab control of your life regardless of your hormones, and ask God to transform your mind so that you can still accomplish your life purpose here on earth.

Tide Pools of Cannon Beach

August 27th, 2014

tide-pools-of-cannon-beachThe tide pools of Cannon Beach were beautiful. Here are some pictures we took on our recent vacation to Cannon Beach. You have to look up the tides of Cannon Beach in order to find out when the low tides are, so that you can find the tide pools. There are no tide pools at high tide because the ocean is covering the area. It’s only when the tides retreat and leave behind pockets of water that you will find beautiful creatures residing in their midst.

tide-pools-of-cannon-beach-4If you go to Haystack Rock (the triangular rock jutting out of the water), you will find the best tide pools there. We went at three different times of the day, and there is a big difference in what you see. When we went in the afternoon, there were lots of people, and it was hard to find even one sea star. We finally found one, and after half an hour at the tide pools, we had located about five sea stars in total. There were lots of anemones and hermit crabs.

tide-pools-of-cannon-beach-2The second time we went was in the early morning around 6am, which is a much better time to go. Not very many people were there. We saw a large crab and many other creatures we hadn’t seen the previous afternoon. Best of all, we saw maybe 50 different sea stars, all hugging each other and overlapping sometimes. It was beautiful. Up on the rock you could see puffins nesting, if you looked closely with binoculars. I’ve always loved puffins, so this was a nice surprise.

barnacles-at-cannon-beachThe sides of the rocks were covered with barnacles and other shellfish. The rocks were alive, as you could hear them clicking shut. My son saw a couple of mussels opened, and he touched them before they retreated into their shell and snapped shut like a Vanus Flytrap!

tide-pools-of-cannon-beach-3Here is my daughter picking up a hermit crab. She liked the hermit crab to walk along her hand. After playing with it for a while, she placed it back into the water.

hermit-crab-cannon-beachKelp covered a lot of the rocks as well. In the early morning, you could pull back the kelp like a curtain to find crabs, fish, and other sea creatures that were hiding from the light.

kelp-of-cannon-beachMy husband went to the tide pools at 3am one night when he couldn’t sleep, and he said the tide pools were spectacular! He saw enormous sea stars that were two feet across. He saw crabs that scurried away when he shone his flashlight on them. The colors were beautiful as he shone his flashlight on the sea creatures in the tide pools in the middle of the night. Unfortunately my husband didn’t take a camera with him, and the tide pools themselves were an unexpected surprise.


As we sat around the campfire one night, my son Stephen wanted to hear more about the tide pools in the middle of the night. My husband’s description seemed incredible, and we wished we had another night in which to grab flashlights and explore the tide pools when they were thriving with so much life!


#4 Mixtures and Compounds

August 25th, 2014


This post contains affiliate links. I was compensated for my work in writing this post.

Today we will be identifying mixtures and compounds by looking at different substances and trying to figure out if the ingredients are chemically bonded together or not. My younger two children are using Christian Kids Explore Chemistry by Bright Ideas Press, and this is one of the fun experiments in the book.

You will want to take out 6 bowls and make 6 labels. 3 by 5 cards folded length-wise are perfect for the labels. You can write with a black marker the following mixtures and compounds:

  • mustard mixture
  • sand/salt mixture
  • sugar compound
  • salt compound
  • water compound
  • water/oil mixture

elementary-level-chemistryGo ahead and examine each of the mixtures and compounds to figure out why they are mixtures and compounds. The hardest one for my kids was the mustard. They thought it was a compound because it looked like one substance, but mustard is made up of different powdered ingredients (solids) and water. There is no chemical bond between the ingredients, which is why it is a mixture.

Sand and salt don’t chemically bond together when placed in a bowl, so that one was obviously a mixture. The sugar, salt, and water were obviously compounds because the elements combined chemically to produce a new substance.

oli-water-mixtureLast but not least was the water/oil mixture. We poured water and oil into a bowl, and they definitely didn’t combine into a new substance. In fact, they remained as separate as ever! We tinted the water blue to show how the water (blue) and the oil (light yellow) are not even wanting to mingle together. You can see in the video that something unexpected happened with this last mixture, which resembled fireworks!


A Time for Everything

August 22nd, 2014

time-for-everything“There is a time for everything under the sun,” says King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived. Late in his life he wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, which describes how meaningless life is without God.

Solomon looked at the cycles of nature, including the seasons and the water cycle, and he says that there is nothing new under the sun. Every event has its place: there is a time to be born and a time to die. There is an appropriate time for every activity under the sun.

My children chose a verse from chapter 3 and illustrated it. First we divided the paper into four parts. The first two opposites went in the top boxes, and the second two opposites went in the bottom boxes. In the illustration at the top of this page, my son showed that there was a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance. When someone passes away, it is appropriate to grieve. And yet if your business is finally blessed by God and prospers, it’s time to rejoice and praise the Lord. Dancing around or laughing is appropriate when God blesses us.

ecclesiastes-drawingAnother one of my sons drew pictures to represent a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones. Maybe you are skipping stones on a lake, or gathering stones to build a well.

There is also a time to be silent and a time to speak. Many of us need to keep in mind that sometimes it is best to remain quiet rather than always voice our opinion.

ecclesiastes-drawing-2My daughter illustrated a time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot what was planted. Sometimes a plant will take over the whole yard, and it needs to be uprooted to contain it. You can see the effort the man is exerting in the picture.

A Time for Everything

All these drawings remind me of the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” by the Byrds, which is a perfect conclusion for this topic:

How to Build a Sand Castle

August 20th, 2014


We saw sand castles on Cannon Beach as we were walking to the tide pools, so we snapped pictures of some of them. I have always loved sand castles! The best ones have a specific method for why they hold together so well. Here are some tips to building a sand castle, followed by a fun video showing each of these steps.

How to Build a Sand Castle

Step 1: Carve a circle, build a trench, and dump the sand in the middle of the circle.

Carve a circle with a shovel in the sand, the area where you want to build your sand castle. (You could make a square or rectangle instead if you want, like the picture above.) Then start digging a trench at the circle line, piling the sand in the middle of the circle in a big heap.


Step 2: Get buckets of water, and dump them into the middle of the sand pile.

You need lots and lots of water, so go back and forth from the water to the sand circle, dumping the water in the middle.


Step 3: Build the castle mountain, from which you will carve the castle.

The woman in the video used a large bottomless bucket to build the main part of her castle, but most of us don’t have that. Instead, you can just build up a mountain of wet sand, packing it down tight as you go, because you will want to carve it next.

Step 4: Carve the castle.

Carve the shape of the castle little by little, starting at the top and moving down. You can add stairs, windows, castle turrets, and other details. Use a simple table knife if you don’t have sand sculpting supplies. You can also use buckets filled with wet sand, turned upside-down.


Step 5: Add the final details.

Add bridges and carve the shape of bricks into the walls of the castle. You can get as elaborate as you want. Then stand back and admire your work.

sand-castle-bridgeHere is a fantastic video I found on how to build a sand castle, using each of these steps:

We saw a Lord of the Rings sand castle as we were walking along. My husband and sons thought the Mountains of Mordor were super cool!

lord-of-the-rings-sand-castleHere is a closer picture from above the Lord of the Rings sand castle, showing more of the terrain:

lord-of-the-rings-sandcastle-2We thoroughly enjoyed these sand castles! Every June there is a sand castle contest where even more spectacular sand castles are built!

Related product: The Wonderful World of Sand and Dirt

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