Friday, August 26, 2011

Homeschool projects 101

Let me begin by confessing that I am not a "project" person.  I never liked history or science projects in school, probably because of the research/write-up aspect of them.  However, my kids LOVE projects (we haven't gotten to the scientific method yet, just wait and see what they think of projects come 7th grade!).  It doesn't matter if it's art, history, or science....they love to do hands-on activities.  I guess that's normal for most kids. 

Luckily (or maybe unluckily) for me, our curriculum this year is loaded with hands-on projects and activities.  Some are simple, like going outside at night and finding different constellations, and some are more involved, but for the most part, with just a little planning, we can pull them off. 

This week we have been studying how Jesus is the bread of life, John 6:35.  In addition to studying the spiritual aspect of the "bread" satisfying our spiritual hunger and biblical examples of actual bread satisfying our physical hunger, we also did an experiment learning about yeast and the role that yeast plays in making bread.  We will also make some homemade bread next week, but that's a regular occurrence around here, so it doesn't really qualify as a "project."

In our yeast experiment we used two empty glass coke bottles and filled one with warm water, yeast and sugar.  The other we filled with warm water, yeast and salt.  After mixing well, we capped each bottle with a balloon and then watched to see the results.....

They might not remember that the sugar and yeast produce carbon dioxide, the gas that causes bread to rise (or fill up the balloon in this case), but I think they will remember that yeast needs sugar and not salt in order to work.  Of course, they thought the best part of this experiment was drinking the root beer in order to have empty bottles!

We have also been studying the Pilgrims and Pioneers recently, as well as reading in Little House on the Prairie.  Our second project this week was making homemade butter from cream like they did in the pioneer days.  Of course, we did not go out at 5am to milk the cow or use a butter churn, but the kids still enjoyed it.  We took advantage of modern technology and used a handheld mixer to beat the (store-bought) cream until it separated into butter and buttermilk after a few minutes of mixing.  Then we drained off the buttermilk and rinsed the butter well.  We lightly salted it and then let it harden in the refrigerator before taste-testing....

The butter was homemade....the rolls, not so much.
By the way, apparently it was successful, as Eli is now asking if we can get a milk cow so that we can always make our own butter....

I'm slowly coming around to the idea of incorporating more projects....if only they were self-cleaning!

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