Kid’s Movie: All The Way to the Ocean

Back when I owned a store I had the distinct pleasure of working with Joel Harper number of times while promoting his wonderful book called All The Way to the Ocean  which you can purchase on Amazon here.

Well his wonderful book has recently been turned into a movie, and you can preorder it now for $4.99. Check out the trailer below.  Way to go Joel!!!

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The Adventures of Science Mom: Raising Silkworms

It’s SPRING and in our house that means it is SILKWORM time. There is still time for you and your family to embark on this fun adventure for less than $10 (that includes shipping!) You can order yourself 50-eggs at this website

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Raising silkworms is fun and easy, especially if you have a mulberry tree in your neighborhood. I live in Southern California and they are abundant in our area. If you are unsure what a mulberry tree looks like, here is a Google images search. The only thing that is challenging about raising silkworms is that you need a CONSTANT supply of fresh leaves because the worms get their water from the leaves. The link above where you can buy your eggs also has something called Mulberry Chow that you can feed your silkworms in case you don’t have trees in your area. Here are the steps to raising your silkworms.

  1. Hatch eggs: When you get your eggs if you live somewhere warm you can sprinkle them onto a piece of tissue paper, if  you live somewhere cold you should allow them to hatch in the plastic bag or petri dish that they arrive in. It is important that worms be in warm room temperature conditions (77-85-degrees-Fahrenheit) for them to hatch and for the first week of life.
  2. Grow worms: When they hatch they are TEENY, about the size of a small eyelash. What is amazing to watch is that they will grow to be about the  size of an adult finger!!!    Once they hatch move them into a cardboard box (the lid of a large pair of shoes or from a ream of printer paper is perfect). You want something that is flat at the bottom so that the worms don’t get lost crawling under flaps. I used a small wooden tray with a lip of about an inch. If you have 5-worms that make it to full adulthood, they will need all of the space available in a shoebox. It takes them about 4-weeks to get to the stage where you spin cocoons. As they are growing, you need to give them new leaves once or twice a day.
  3. Cocoon: I try not to move my silkworm box at all, but ESPECIALLY when they are cocooning and inside their chrysalis it is VERY IMPORTANT to not disturb the worms. They will be malformed moths or they will die if you jostle them during this period. It is FASCINATING to watch the silkworms during this phase. Their cocoon is made from a SINGLE THREAD that they wind around themselves in a very trance-inducing neck movement. I can watch them for a long time. They will emerge out of their cocoon after about 10-days
  1. Moth: When they emerge from their cocoon they are now silk moths. They have been bred to be too large to fly, so you don’t have to worry about them taking off. If you are lucky and more than one hatches around the same time, then you will end up with more eggs that you can refrigerate and use next year!

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More care information is available here.

Here are a bunch of awesome silkworm life-cycle diagrams for kids of all ages to describe the process. For pre-schoolers I use the one that allows them to color the different stages.




The Adventures of Science Mom: Volcanoes

I am a big believer in paying attention to what your child expresses interest in and then teaching him or her around that concept in as many ways as possible. Over the summer my family did a road trip through the desert, and my daugher was captivated by all the dormant volcanoes and the evidence of their eruptions. I’ve taken this interest and been diving deep with it through books and YouTube videos about volcanoes, and through tactile experiences such as the one pictured below.

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What you see below is the second volcanoe she has made.  The first version of this activity was generated by a science kit I had purchased where they included a playdough like modeling medium to work with, however, that material did not hold up well. All of the exposure to liquids caused it to melt apart. So I gave my child a small slab of regular clay which she played with for a few hours and then finally shaped into a volcano shape. I then gave her white glue that I had colored with green paint and she painted the volcano and then we let it air  dry in the sun for a few days. The glue helps to waterproof the clay.

The  key to this part of the activity is to help your young one think about how the shape of the volcano will affect the way the “lava” oozes out of it. You want the “cavity” portion of your volcano to be about an inch deep and  about an inch across. This will allow you to put in enough material for an  interesting chemical reaction to take place and not get lost in a deep hole. Then give your child a small quantity of yeast and baking soda (I reuse the small containers that come with herbal supplements for this purpose) and a few ounces of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar in squirt bottles. I have my daugher wear protective goggles when she does science experiments. These are the ones I have and they are FANTASTIC! Make sure to place all the materials in some sort of tray to catch all the liquid. You can also add some red watercolor to the liquids to give your lava a red hue!

With a small spoon have your child put a small amount of baking soda in the volcano and then add a little bit of vinegar. Watch what happens. Rinse out the volcano and have them do the same thing with the yearst and hydrogen peroxide.  The two difference chemical reactions are very different. After the experiment I had my daughter do drawings of the two reactions and explain to me in words how they were similar and different.

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It’s a really fun way to spend a few hours, and the best part is you can repeat it! Repitition is such an important part of learning.  Just because you might not want to do the activity again, doesn’t mean your child won’t want to! Have fun and be a spark in the world!