Saturday, April 27, 2013

Rock and Roll

Today is a continuation of yesterday's study of rocks and dirt, as well as a continuation of our study of transportation in social studies, with all things cars.  That's why I decided on the title for today's post --ROCK AND ROLL!  Enjoy!

You may remember the Sid the Science Kid video I posted yesterday, all about dirt.  In it, the children studied soil samples.  I thought it'd be fun to do the same, although I expanded on that idea and told Maggie we'd be collecting three samples from three different areas.  Also, I told her we'd be collecting three different kinds of rocks from different areas.  Here are the collection bags I made before we headed to the park.
Once home with our samples, we got into making comparisons and contrasts among our dirt samples and rocks, noting their textures, colors, and other characteristics. 
 The best part was checking out our samples under our mini microscope!
 Here are two of our rock samples, one so, so smooth, and the other rough and jagged.  We talked about why they might be different, and what would have made the one on the left so smooth. 
After that, for a little something fun, I decided to make the "Treasure Rocks" I saw at, using 1/2 cup coffee grounds (used or instant), 1/2 cup sand, 1/2 cup salt, 1 cup flour, and about 1/2 cup water.  To start, preheat your oven to 250 degrees, then pick some treasure to excavate from the rocks.  I chose some coin money for Maggie to add to her piggy bank.
 Next, mix all of your dry ingredients well.
 Gradually add small amounts of your water to your dry mixture, mixing constantly, until it's the consistency of dough.  (This means you may not add the full 1/2 cup.)
 Then, separate your dough into the number of rocks you want.  (I had six coins, so I separated my dough into six unequal pieces (for variety) for six separate rocks.)  Place your "treasure" into the center of your piece and cover well.
 Place your rocks (with treasures hidden inside) onto a foil-covered pan and put into your 250-degree oven.  Heat for 15 minutes, then flip over, heating for another 10-15 minutes more.
 Once they've cooked for 25-30 minutes, flip back over again, turn your oven off, and let sit in there to dry for several hours.  (Mine were in the oven for about five hours.  I thought they looked great!)
Ready to break into!
 Mags was very excited about this activity!  (I hadn't told her what the treasure inside the rocks was, so she was ready to find out!)  :)
 Breaking into our rocks ...
"Oooh, money!"
 After all that excavating, Mags came out 43 cents richer!  Score!  :) 
For a snack, we made the "Edible Rocks" as seen at, using
1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) finely chopped, white chocolate (or chips) or white confectionery coating, 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened, condensed milk, a pinch of salt, and 1/4 - 2/3 cup Oreo cookie crumbs.  (Later, for variety, you can also use 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder and a drop of red food coloring to make differently colored rocks.)  To start, you need to heat your white chocolate, with the condensed milk and salt, in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently, until smooth.
 Once melted and smooth, remove your pan from the heat and add in 1/4 cup of your Oreo cookie crumbs, mixing well.
 Here is what your mixture should look like.
 Next, separate your mixture into four separate bowls, for variety.  Leave one as is, then with a second bowl, add another 1/4 cup of your cookie crumbs.  (This will make the dark mixture you see in my bowl, at the top left.)  For a third bowl (bottom right), you can add 1 drop of red food coloring to get a pink rock shade, and for the last bowl, I added 1/2 teaspoon of cocoa powder for a browner rock.
 Once the bowls are mixed and colored, cover them with plastic wrap, being sure to push the wrap down, so that it's pressed against the fudge while it cools.  The site suggests allowing it to sit "at room temperature for about 30 minutes, until it is thick and no longer sticky," but I needed mine to sit much longer than that, more like an hour and a half!  (It probably has something to do with climate -- I live in very humid area -- but I did notice that the bowl with the extra cookie crumbs was ready to roll sooner than the other bowls.  Maybe the trick for you will be to add more crumbs than the recipe suggests.  Also, I had removed the plastic wrap for the last 30 minutes, which seemed to help, and I did note that the pink mixture, I guess because of that one extra drop of moisture, was the slowest to thicken and become less tacky.)
After that time, you pinch off pieces of the fudge and shape them into rocks.  Place your rocks on parchment paper to harden further before serving.  (Don't they look great?!) 
In the bowl, ready to be served!
 (Now that's a happy face!)  :)
 Here's my girl, tasting a "rock!"  :)
In our study of cars (and number bonds in math), I found this great idea for a math game using a toy car, two dice, a large piece of paper, and a marker.  (The site I found it on is, which is chock full of great teaching ideas.)  To start, draw eleven "parking spaces" onto your paper, like I did, below, numbering them from 2-12. 
Then, have your child roll the dice onto the paper, adding up the two numbers, to determine which space their car needs to "park" in.  Keep rolling and "parking" for as long as it's fun. 
 (She loved this activity.)
For our next project, we made an "Inspirational Traffic Light," which I recreated from the one seen on the Oriental Trading Company website (, using construction paper instead of foam pieces.  (Cut a large, black rectangle, a smaller black rectangle, and four circles, one yellow, one red, one green, and one black.
 After we glued the pieces into their proper places, I had Maggie write in the "STOP," "SLOW," and "GO" on the appropriate colors. 
For another snack, I made the little fruit cars I've been seeing on Pinterest (using apple slices, grape halves, and toothpicks), as well as these adorable little veggie stoplights that I found at (using celery, cream cheese, a wooden skewer, and bits of red, yellow, and green bell pepper).  For a fruit car, start by halving two grapes, so you get four "wheels."  Next, cut off an apple slice (about 1/8 of an apple or less), with the skin still intact, and push one toothpick into the flesh of each end, with the skin side up.  Add a grape half onto the ends of both toothpicks for your apple car's "wheels."  Cute!
For the stoplights, cut a celery stalk into a piece about three inches long, then spread with some cream cheese.  Cut a small circle out of each of your three bell peppers (I used a very small circle cutter) and push into your cream cheese, in the same order as a regular traffic light (red on top, green at the bottom, and yellow in the center). 
 Finally, skewer your traffic light and serve. 
A happy snacker!  :)
I also bought her the Usborne: Build a Picture CARS Sticker Book (, with all different car scenes (at the gas station, on a car ferry, at the carwash, etc.), which we decorated together.
And what's a lesson about cars without viewing Disney's Cars movie?
We have a few more "car projects" lined up, so stay tuned for our next post!

Friday, April 26, 2013

"A Little Dirt Never Hurt"

Happy Friday!  Mags has been sick, but we did manage to get quite a few things done today, including those darn "letter critters" we never finished putting together from last year's curriculum.  Well, today, they are done and here for you!  Also, we started our study of rocks, soil, and dirt, which we'll finish up tomorrow afternoon with more ideas after today's post.  Here is what we got into today ...

To finish up our "letter critter series," here are the last two letters, Y and Z.  We got the idea for Y at, but simply recreated the yak using pieces of construction paper, as you can see here.  (Maggie likes to hang them on the refrigerator with the same letter magnet as the letter illustrated.)
Then, I gave her some yarn (which starts with y) and scissors and told her to cut the pieces to make an uppercase Y and lowercase y for me. 
And for Z, we copied the idea out of our old Alphabet and Counting workbook by American Education Publishing, page 56, using pieces cut from black and white construction paper, a googly eye, and a glue stick. 
 After that, we put the last two letters on our letter counting sheet, which we've been adding to all year, to keep track of the number of letters in our alphabet, and to make a master sheet for code writing.  (Scroll down.)
 Here is our master sheet, and the first code word which I will have Maggie decipher -- her name!  This should be fun!  (She won't even realize she's practicing her handwriting and spelling!)
We then got on to our phonics learning for the day.  Here's Mags, manipulating one of her "word family eggs," this one representing the -en sound.
We then read our Usborne Phonics Readers: Hen's Pens by Phil Roxbee Cox, which I purchased at, with my other Usborne Phonics Readers.
So, then it was onto our science lesson for the day -- rocks and dirt!  We have been learning about the composition of the Earth and how mountains are created.  It was time to discuss erosion and how we get rocks and dirt from those mountains.  To start today's lesson, I sang her a song out of one of our Scott Foresman: Science textbooks (which I picked up at an old book sale years ago and really just pull out as extra resources when I can).  It is a song about the erosion of mountains into rocks, and is sung to the tune of "Frere Jacques."  I thought it was a great addition to this lesson!  It goes like this:
"Mountains and Rocks"
(by Gerri Brioso and Richard Freitas)
There's a mountain.
There's a mountain.
Here's a rock.
Here's a rock.
The rock came from the mountain.
The rock came from the mountain.
How is that?
How is that?
There's a river,
By the mountain.
Rushing by,
Rushing by.
Wearing down the mountain,
Breaking off some pieces.
Making rocks.
Making rocks.
Just like mountains,
Just like mountains,
Rocks change too.
Rocks change too.
Wind and water change their
Size and shape and texture.
Day by day.
Day by day.
We then read more about the erosion process and the everyday things we have that come from rocks in this book, DK: Eye Wonder: Rocks and Minerals by Caroline Bingham.
 I knew she'd be fascinated, too, with the sparkly treasures found in rocks, so we also talked about the things we found in this book, DK: Eyewitness Books: Crystal & Gem by Dr. R. F. Symes and Dr. R. R. Harding.
It was then time for some fun -- "mining" for our own treasures, using this inexpensive kit I got on clearance at Michael's craft store! (This was worth more than I spent, actually!)
We read the informative booklet that came with the kit, then got to work, excavating our own treasures!
 Digging ...
 We found our first gemstone!
 Digging some more ...
 Check out our finds!
 Twelve in all!  This was one happy girl!
 We then used the chart in the booklet to identify what kinds of gemstones we found.  Here, Mags is cataloging them.
 Looks like we found one each of all of the birthstones!  :)
 The last thing we did was pick a gemstone to place into a little ring form that came with the kit to make our own jewelry!  Here is Maggie's ring, with the "peridot" in it, for her birth month!  (She LOVED this activity!)
After we finished excavating, we watched the "Rock Song" on our Sid the Science Kid: Sid's Backyard Campout DVD, then watched a video on dirt, Sid the Science Kid: Dirt on Dirt, which I have added here for you.  (Tomorrow, we will be completing the dirt experiment featured in the video.)
 And how can you study dirt without eating a dirt cup?!  Here is ours, simply made with chocolate pudding, crushed Oreo cookie crumbs, and gummy worms.  So fun!
A happy girl!  :)
To be continued ...