#9 Acids and Bases

September 29th, 2014


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

Today we are talking about acids and bases, and we will be doing an experiment to show what happens when you combine an acid and a base. We are using Christian Kids Explore Chemistry by Bright Ideas Press to study elementary-level chemistry this year with my younger two kids.

First we went through the house opening cupboards, trying to find acids and bases. The book gives some examples of chemical names for acids and bases, and you can see if you can find those chemicals by looking at the list of ingredients for household cleaning products and food.

Here are some of the items we came up with:


  • Vitamin C–ascorbic acid
  • Tomato Sauce–citric acid
  • Face Cleaning Product–salicylic acid
  • Bubble Bath–citric acid
  • Soft drinks–phosphoric acid


  • Ammonia–ammonium hydroxide
  • Oven Cleaner–sodium hydroxide
  • Baking Soda–sodium bicarbonate

Acids and Bases Experiment

Now we are going to conduct a simple experiment that shows what will happen when you combine an acid and a base:

If you want to see this fun explosion in blue and red, check out these posts:



Don’t combine just any acid with any base, or you could create toxic fumes that could kill you.

So what is the difference between an acid and a base? Acids are chemical compounds that donate or give away a proton (hydrogen ion) during a chemical reaction. Bases receive a proton (hydrogen ion) during a chemical reaction. So when you see this reaction with the vinegar and baking soda fizzing, the acid (the vinegar) is giving away a proton, and the base (the baking soda) is receiving the proton. Isn’t that cool?

Unit Studies for Homeschool

September 26th, 2014


Have you considered unit studies for homeschool? Last night I did a live interview about unit studies:

Here are some of the questions we covered. We ended up talking about high school and other topics, too! We never got around to the burnout question, but I’ll cover it in a future hangout:

1. What is a unit study?

When you pull together all kinds of fun activities for one topic of study, you have a unit study. Homeschoolers will do unit studies about a certain time period in history or a science topic their children want to explore. When all subjects (besides math) are tied together, retention is higher. For a Renaissance unit study, you could enjoy watching Shakespeare in the park, write poetry, read about Leonardo da Vinci, and create your own invention.

2. How do you put together a unit study?

First you would collect books from the library about this topic. I always look for supporting DVD’s, which you have to be careful to preview before showing your kids. You can decorate a notebook about that topic, and have your children do fun writing assignments about what they are learning. Create field trips and hands-on learning experiences to go along with your study, and you will have mastered that topic.

3. How can you get ahead on academics through unit studies? How does that work?

You can definitely get ahead academically through unit studies in the content areas. Those would be history and science. We covered all the time periods in history several times, and we covered each topic in science in-depth. We ran out of science topics, and my kids were ready for high school science at age 10 because we had gone so in-depth on each of the topics. My son Stephen began high school Biology at age 10 and aced all his Biology exams. He now wants to be a microbiologist.

4. Do you have to do crafts if you use unit studies?

No, you do not need to do crafts if you do unit studies. But part of what unit studies stands for is hands-on learning. So you can cook a meal from the time period you are studying (that’s not a craft), or go on a field trip that correlated with that topic (which is also not a craft). Many families who do unit studies don’t do any crafts but instead create a notebook where they can bring to life that topic through drawings, creative writing, or 3-dimensional pages that have fold-outs or envelopes that you put something into.

5. How do you not burn out while doing unit studies?

That’s a great question and one that I’m asked a lot. I do unit studies in spurts. We might only read living books for 3 weeks, and then on the fourth week we do a ton of hands-on activities all back-to-back. If you’ve just had a new baby, you can read to the kids for a while. One year when I was exhausted from a new baby (or some other trauma in my life), I read great classic works of literature for the Middle Ages, and it wasn’t until I regained my strength by the end of the year that we did tons of hands-on activities like a Medieval feast and a huge cardboard castle. So you can homeschool with unit studies, and it doesn’t have to be labor intensive.

Esther Drawings

September 24th, 2014

esther-drawingsWhen we studied the book of Esther, my kids re-enacted the story, colored some Esther drawings, wore Esther masks, and celebrated the Feast of Purim! We caught it all on film for our Esther Unit Study located in the Unit Study Treasure Vault. Today I would like to show you some of the Esther drawings.

One of my sons drew a banquet hall, since Esther invited the king and Haman to a banquet three times, trying to work up the nerve to ask the king to spare the lives of her people, the Jews.

esther-drawings-3Esther had to approach the king without permission, so she risked being put to death. The laws back then were extremely severe, and kings were treated like gods. Here is a drawing of Esther bowing to the king before speaking her request for him to come to the first banquet. She looks a bit like an acrobat, and my husband laughed hysterically when he saw this drawing.

esther-drawings-2One night the king could not sleep, so he had an attendant read some boring pages about the history of his reign. Suddenly he realized that he had never rewarded Mordecai the Jew for overthrowing a plot to kill him. When Haman walked down the hallway, he was called in to see the king. “What should I do for the man that I seek to honor?” he asked Haman.

Haman replied that he should ride on the king’s donkey and wear a royal robe and be led by a high official. That’s because he thought he himself would be honored. In an ironic twist, the king tells Haman to perform all those things for Mordecai the Jew, whom Haman hated!

mordecai-drawingHaman had been trying to put Mordecai to death by building a gallows for him, but in another twist of fate (God’s providential plan), Haman was hung on his own gallows. You will have to watch the fun video in the Vault, where my husband acted the part of Haman. We all shook rattles and booed whenever Haman came onto the stage as we were re-enacting the story of Esther. We had a great time!

#8 Breaking Covalent Bonds

September 22nd, 2014

breaking-covalent-bondsThis post contains affiliate links. I was compensated for my work in writing this post.

First I am going to explain what covalent bonds are, and then we will be breaking covalent bonds in a fun experiment. We are using Christian Kids Explore Chemistry by Bright Ideas Press to learn about ionic and covalent bonds. I explain the difference between these two bonds in the video at the bottom of this blog post. I use candy to explain the bonds.


You can make the candy Oxygen atoms by attaching 6 green gumdrops and 6 red gumdrops to represent the protons and neutrons in each atom. You will need 6 yellow electron gumdrops as well. Attach them to the pipe-cleaner circles, which are made by twisting two pipe cleaners together.

Now make sure that each Oxygen atom is sharing two of its electrons with the Oxygen next to it. You will see a total of two covalent bonds (4 electrons are being shared altogether, because each atom is sharing 2 electrons). Covalent means sharing. The atoms are sharing electrons.

alka-seltzerSo how do we break this sharing? How to we break a covalent bond?

We can do this easily by plopping two Alka Seltzer tablets into a glass of water. The water causes the covalent bonds to be broken apart, and the result is that carbon dioxide is produced in the form of bubbles.

alka-seltzer-explanationTake a look at how we performed this experiment involving breaking covalent bonds:

Nehemiah Rebuilds the Walls

September 19th, 2014


People made fun of Nehemiah for rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. It seems like when we’re doing God’s work, we’re under constant attack.

After reading the book of Nehemiah, my children made drawings entitled “Nehemiah Rebuilds the Walls.” They drew a wall being built, and people laughing at the Jews for rebuilding Jerusalem. The walls had been torn down and set on fire when King Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem in 586 BC. King Nebuchadnezzar also burned the Temple at that time and stole all the Temple treasures.

Seventy years had passed, and according to the book of Jeremiah, God would move the heart of King Cyrus to allow the Jews to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild it. Ezra had taken thousands of Jews back to Jerusalem, but for some reason the walls had still not been rebuilt. Nehemiah heard about the broken-down walls of Jerusalem, and he wanted to do something about it. He wept and felt a burden for God’s people.

nehemiah-drawingEven though Nehemiah was cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, the king allowed him to take a group of people back to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls. Scripture makes it clear that prayer is what caused the king’s heart to be won over.

When Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, he rode on a donkey at night, surveying the walls to see what sort of damage there was, and seeing what would be required to build the walls back up. He later met with the officials of the city to draw up a plan for the reconstruction of Jerusalem.

When they started rebuilding, they made a lot of progress. Sanballat and Tobiah were the enemies of Israel, and they taunted and made fun of the Israelites for rebuilding the walls. They said that if a fox stood on the walls, the walls would topple down.

sanbalat-and-tobiahMy son who drew this picture of Sanballat and Tobiah has another guy hiding in a bucket. I’m not sure why the short guy is hiding in the bucket, but I just wanted you to know that it’s not a disembodied head. There are plenty of disembodied heads in Scripture (John the Baptist, Goliath, Saul, etc.), but this is not one of them.

nehemiah-rebuilds-walls-of-jerusalemThe people of Israel worked really hard and finished building the walls of Jerusalem in 52 days! That’s just crazy incredible! It showed that the power of God and His blessing was on this project.


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