Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Cipher Code

Trick or Treat!  We hope you have fun solving this halloween riddle with our free cipher code printable.

Download it for free here!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Skittles Rainbow Density

We had our first Halloween fun the other night at trunk-n-treat, and Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean got just as much candy as you would expect you would get on Halloween night.  I have been wanting to conduct a few candy experiments and with a stash this big already, a candy experiment is what we will do. 

Luckily for me, most of the candy was skittles, which are not my favorite, but that means the girls will be eating all of it.  So, we decided to revisit our density experiment from our Float-Sink BLAST and conduct a Skittles rainbow density experiment.

First, we dumped several packs of Skittles into a bowl for the girls to sort into the different colors.  Once the colors were sorted, this was a great opportunity to add a little math into our fun.  We discussed counting by twos.  We added 2 red Skittles to a cup, and then Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean had to add an additional two orange Skittles to the next cup.  They continued this pattern until there were ten purple Skittles in the last cup.

To make colored water, we added two tablespoons of warm water to each cup of Skittles.

It only took seconds for the color to dissolve off the Skittles and color our water.  There was wax from the Skittles floating around, but that did not effect our experiment.

We had a lot of fun layering the different colors of Skittles to make a rainbow, but to be honest, the girls were more excited to see what it would taste like.  The rainbow still smelled like Skittles, and yes, it did still taste like a Skittle.

You will notice that Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean are wearing different outfits.  This is because mommy had a difficult time layering the liquids.  Finally, after the fourth try, I was successful.  First, I tried to slowly pour the liquid over the back of the spoon, but it mixed.  Next, I tried to use an eye dropper, but it mixed.  Then, I tried to use a syringe, but it mixed.  Finally, using a mini pipette worked.  I held the cup tipped to its side and slowly dropped the liquid down the side of the cup.  Be patient!  It does work!

Why does the colored water layer?  The sugar from the Skittles dissolves into the water.  Different amounts of Skittles were used for each color.  There were more purple Skittles which means there was more sugar dissolved into the water.  This made the purple water more dense. There were less red Skittles which means there was less sugar making the red water less dense.  The dense water sinks to the bottom of the cup, and the less dense water stays on top. 

  • Skittles- 3-4 fun size bags
  • bowl
  • cups for sorting
  • clear cup to pour liquid into
  • mini pipette
  • warm water
  • tablespoon
  1. Pour all the Skittles into a bowl.
  2. Sort the skittles into the different colors- 2 red, 4 orange, 6 yellow, 8 green, 10 purple (you can also sort into increments of 3).
  3. Pour 2 tablespoons of water into each cup.  The color will dissolve off the Skittles in seconds.
  4. Pour the purple water into the bottom of the clear cup.
  5. Hold the cup tipped at an angle and slowly drip the green water down the side of the cup.  Repeat with the yellow, orange, and lastly red.  (Keep the cup tipped the entire time and try to minimize movement of the cup.)
  6. Slowly, sit the cup upright to see your layers of color.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Space: Exploring a Comet

After exploring how meteorites make craters we wanted to know what other objects are flying around space.   Another object that is out in space is a comet.   We thought it would be fun to build our own comet and watch how it deteriorates over time.   More information about this activity can be found here.

We started by putting the ingredients for our comet together:
1.  First we crushed some dry ice while wrapped up in a bag.   We had a lot of fun trying to crush the ice as the bag filled with gas as were breaking it up.

2.  We poured 2 cups of water into a bowl lined with a trash bag.  Then added 2 spoonfuls of sand. Finally a spoonful of ammonia, and a spoonful of corn syrup and mixed it all together.

3.  Then it got fun.   We carefully poured in about 2 cups of crushed dry ice and mixed it up for about a minute - or until we felt it started to freeze.   Our counter top was covered in "mist".

4.  We (mommy) then quickly closed up the bag and formed a ball inside the bag with the dry ice and water mixture.  After about a minute we opened the bag and had a comet formed.

5.  We took the comet out and placed it on a plate and watched what happened over a few hours.  In a short time it stopped sublimating but we still had a frozen mass.   That slowly melted over time until all we had left were the water and the sand.

This was a great experiment to understand what goes into a comet.  We had the sand, ammonia, corn syrup (organic matter), water and dry ice.   We learned about how the comet will have gases from sublimation that can come out of the comet and how over time the comet will "melt" and become its individual pieces.


  • 2 cups of crushed dry ice
  • 2 plastic bags
  • plastic bowl
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 spoonfuls of sand
  • 1 spoonful of ammonia
  • 1 spoonful of dark corn syrup (organic material)
  • plastic plate


  1. Place the dry ice in a garbage bag and hit it to crush into very small pieces.
  2. Line a plastic bowl with a plastic bag.
  3. Add the water, corn syrup, ammonia and sand.  Mix together.
  4. Carefully add the 2 cups of dry ice and mix slightly until starting to freeze.
  5. Pick the bag up and form the comet ball.  Hold the bag to keep the shape for about a minute.
  6. Open the bag and place the comet on a plastic plate.
  7. Over the next few hours watch what happens to the comet.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Floating Ghost Bubbles!

Can you tell we had a lot of dry ice to work with?   We did not mind though as dry ice experiments are so much fun.  We started by taking a closer look at the dry ice.  We poured a few pounds of dry ice pieces into a large plastic container with a towel below it.   After a while we noticed a mist was forming at the bottom of the container and wondered if we could learn more about it.  So what would happen if we blew bubbles over it?

Well those might look like bubbles that are just floating in the air but they are actually floating on an invisible sea of carbon dioxide or the gas from the dry ice.  They hung in the air and gently bobbed around the container keeping at about the same level.

One bubble touched a piece of dry ice and slowly froze.   You could see the outer surface freezing over and then the bubble started to fold in on itself as the air inside got colder.   The girls thought this was fascinating that we could make our bubble into a football!

We blew some more bubbles and even managed to get a big bubble to float around!

By now the girls really wanted to pop the bubbles.  Just to be safe we gave them spoons to pop the bubbles with as we did not want little hands reaching into the cold.   It was not long before they were putting the spoons on the ice.  Do you know what happens when you put a warm spoon on a piece of dry ice?   Try it and leave us a comment telling us what happened.   We probably found this result more fun than the floating bubbles!

After all our experiment fun there is only one way that we can end the day with all this dry ice - taking our container outside and pouring water over all the dry ice!

As you can see in this picture the gas is sitting inside the container and then spilling over the edge.   The carbon dioxide (dry ice gas) is heavier than air so it sinks down to the bottom.  This is why the bubbles will float over the dry ice.  The gas forms a heavier layer of air that the bubbles (filled with room air) will float on top.

  • Dry ice
  • Bubble solution and wand
  • Plastic container

  1. Break up dry ice using a mallet and pour a few pounds of pieces into a large plastic container.
  2. Wait a few minutes and then blow bubbles over the top and watch the bubbles float on an invisible sea across the container.
  3. At the end pour some water on the dry ice and see the large amounts of carbon dioxide form.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Tower of Spooky Bubbles

We have been having fun getting ready for Halloween!  It has been a great opportunity to do some fun experiments too.   Our first experiment made a tower of spooky, misty bubbles.

To get started we all took turns smashing a bag of dry ice to make small pieces.   

Then we set it aside and in a large plastic container, we place a plastic graduated cylinder mostly filled with warm water.  We added some dish detergent and food coloring and stirred it up.

Then we were ready for some magic!  We put a small piece of dry ice (using a spoon) into the cylinder and watched as a tower of spooky filled bubbles rose out the top!

The girls had a great time popping the bubbles and seeing a mist of "smoke" appear before them.  

We also repeated the experiment using a small plastic cup and it worked just as well to make the spooky bubbles!

This was such a great experiment to introduce the girls to the fact that dry ice sublimes or goes from a solid (ice) to a gas (smoke) without going through the liquid phase. 

** Caution dry ice can burn you if you touch it with bare hands.  Use gloves when handling dry ice and be careful with children near the ice.  However this was not intimidating for anyone that has not worked with dry ice before.


  • Dry ice (small chips - about a quarter in size)
  • Plastic cylinder or cup
  • Warm water (enough to almost fill your cylinder or cup)
  • Food coloring (a drop or two)
  • Dishwashing soap (about a teaspoon)


  1. Fill your cup or cylinder with warm water.
  2. Add detergent and food coloring to the water and mix together.
  3. Carefully (in a plastic bag) break up the dry ice to have small pieces (we used a mallet).
  4. Drop a small piece into your cup or cylinder and watch a tower of bubbles rise out.
  5. Pop the bubbles to see the "smoke".  Be careful not to let little fingers go into the cup.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Space: Why Does the Moon Shine?

Now that we have started learning about space, Jumping Bean and Jelly Bean are more inquisitive than ever!  I am so excited that they love this unit of study and look for activities to answer all their questions with fun experiments.  So, why does the moon shine at night?  It is really quite simple.

To demonstrate why the moon shines as night, Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean construct an easy photometer.  First, a piece of white paper is taped to the wall and a cardboard box is propped upright with white paper taped on to it as well.

Next, a few thick books are stacked on top of each other in front of the white paper taped to the wall.

Rest a flashlight on the stack of books with it pointing towards the white paper taped to the cardboard box.  Just like the moon, the white paper on the wall shines in the dark when the flashlight is turned on!

Why does this happen?  Earthshine is light that reflects off the Earth onto the Moon.  The shine of the moon is actually light bouncing off the Earth.  The light bouncing off is seen on the shadowed, or night side, of the moon.  Therefore, the moon appears to be shining even though it is a rock.


  • 2 pieces of white paper
  • cardboard box
  • flashlight
  • large books- we used 3
  • ruler
  • tape
  1. Tape the one sheet of white paper to the wall.
  2. Tape the second sheet of white paper to the cardboard box.
  3. Place the cardboard box in an upright position 12 inches away from the first sheet of paper.
  4. Stack the books on top of each other in front of the paper taped to the wall.
  5. Place the flashlight on the books pointing towards the paper taped to the cardboard box.
  6. Turn off the overhead light and turn on the flashlight.
  7. Watch the light bounce off the paper on the cardboard box and shine on the paper behind it taped to the wall.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Space: Meteorite Craters!

Ok - this has to be one of most fun (and ended up being very messy) experiments that we have done in a while!  Even little Bear got into it!  Can you guess what we were learning?

As we have been exploring Space we have enjoyed reading the Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System.  What is great is that each time we read it we learn something new!   On the page all about how the children explore Mercury we noticed that there were lots of craters on the surface.  So we decided to make our own craters from meteorites!  (inspired by this activity on Science Buddies)

Our planet surface was a box with about a third of a bag of flour poured in - this experiment is best done outside or on a large dropcloth.

Our meteorites were balls of different sizes and materials.  The first ball we dropped into the flour was a small, hard bouncy ball.

It left a small and rather deep hole!  So we randomly selected the next ball which was a soft, medium sized ball.  The girls predicted it would make a bigger and deeper hole.  They dropped it in and.... well we don't have a good picture but it made a wide and shallow hole.   This was a great discussion for how not only the size but how dense the ball/meteorite is and how that can make a difference.

Our last ball/meteor was the largest ball and also a bouncy ball.  It made quite a spray as it landed on our planet surface.

Some of the flour even filled up the small, deep hole.  Now we could really see how different sizes made different sized craters and how the material affected how deep they were.  We then had a great time experimenting with different meteorites and patterns: from trying to make a meteor fall inside an existing crater, to using textured balls to give different surfaces to our crater, to small pebbles and finally our own feet!!

The girls had a great time playing and learning and even feeling how the surface can change!  The best part was that we could reset our surface anytime with a gentle shake of the box.


  • box
  • flour
  • balls of different diameters


  1. Pour about a third of a bag of flour into the box and shake the box gently to create a smooth surface.
  2. Drop a ball into the flour.  Note the size, shape and depth of the crater.
  3. Repeat with additional balls and note how the crater changes depending on the density and circumference of the ball.
  4. Play and explore how different objects create different sized craters.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Solar System: Playdough and Planets

"Why is the moon still out Mommy?  It is morning time.  Why can we not see the sun when it is night time?"  These are frequent questions I hear from the curious minds of Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean.  These curious minds prompted me to look for fun activities to teach about the solar system, and I found this fun playdough activity from I Can Teach My Child.  The activity is quite simple, especially if you use store bought playdough, but it is still a great way to teach about the planets in our solar system. 

Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean begin by making playdough for our activity.  They wanted to make their own so the playdough could be black.

 As you can see, our playdough is not black.  We added all the food coloring we had and this is the color we got.

As we watch a short you tube video about the solar system,  Jelly Bean and Jumping Bean add different sized balls, pom poms, and even a kernel of corn to represent the planets.  They place them in order along the orbital rings- Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

We can't forget to put rings around Saturn and Uranus.  Rubber bands were added to represent the rings.

And the final product- our playdough solar system!  This activity is really easy and quick to put together, but so much learning is involved!



  For the playdough:
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cups salt
  • 1 1/2 T cream of tarter
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • food coloring (optional)
  • glitter (optional)
  For the solar system:
  • playdough
  • different sized balls, pom pom, corn kernel
  • 2 rubber bands
  • toothpick

  1. Make the playdough- mix all the dry ingredients in a large pot.  Add the water and food coloring to the dry ingredients.  Cook over medium heat until the ingredients form a ball.  Remove the playdough from the pot and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Knead the dough until fully incorporated.
  2. Add glitter to the playdough.
  3. Pat out the playdough to form a circle about 18 inches in diameter.
  4. Place the largest ball in the center of the circle- this is the sun.
  5. Draw 8 rings around the sun to represent the orbital rings.
  6. Place one ball or pom pom on each orbital ring.  These are the planets. 
  7. Optional watch the solar system you tube video as you place the planets on your solar system. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Simple Machines Review the Apple Farmer Way

Wondering what to do with all your apples from a visit to the local apple farm in the fall?  How about some apple math and a composite simple machine activity?

We have had a lot of fun learning about some of the simple machines:  pulleys, ramps and wheels.  So today we decided to explore how we can put these together to do a more complex task.  We setup a little apple farmer tractor and trailer on a trail.  The tractor is powered by a bag that could hold weights attached to the front axle along a path (piece of a cardboard box).  A pulley was attached to help change the direction of the string over the edge of the table.   So we have wheels on our tractor, a pulley redirecting the string and a potential ramp.

We needed to add weights to the bag to pull the tractor forward.  Seeing though this was a little heavy we decided to use apple slices as our weights.  This was also a great way to talk about fractions.  We started talking about how one apple did not give us very many options when it came to adding different numbers of weights and how cutting it up could give us more pieces.

So first mommy cut it in half or two pieces.  Mommy then cut each of those in half to get quarters or four pieces.  Finally mommy cut the quarters in half to get eights.  We played around with the slices talking about how different combinations gave different fractional values.

Now we were ready to start.  How many apple slices did we need to add to make the tractor move.  1... 2... 3!

Three apple slices were the same weight as the tractor and our tractor moved forward a bit.  Now how many slices would we need if we lifted the ramp?  1... 2... 3... 4... 5!

We removed all the slices and made the ramp higher.  So would we need more or less slices to move our tractor?  1... 2... 3... 4... 5... 6... 7!

What was great to see was that the girls had a strong intuition that it was harder to go uphill and could guess that you would need more apple slices to pull the tractor up the steeper hill.  Even though they knew this they were still excited when it the tractor moved!

But what will happen when we change the weight of our tractor?  Or in the case of our story - the farmer was now harvesting his crops and needed to bring his apples home.  First we put the apple on the trailer and moved the tractor around and the apple fell off.  So we decided to make sure our apple was secure we should tape it to the trailer.   Bug suggested that this might need more slices to move the tractor up the ramp as the trailer was heavier.

So we put in the same number of slices as before and it did not move.  So what would happen if we added another apple of almost equal size to the bag?

Whoo hoo!  It moved!  Our tractor was able to pull the apple up the ramp!

We had a lot of fun with this activity using our different simple machine together to help our apple farmer!



  • 3 apples
  • toy tractor and trailer
  • string
  • pulley
  • piece of cardboard
  • ziploc bag
  • books
  • tape


  1. Make a small hole in the corner of the ziploc bag and tie the string.
  2. Tape the pulley to the bottom of the cardboard.  Tape the other end of the cardboard to the table so that the pulley end extends over the edge.
  3. Thread the string from the bag over the pulley and tie onto the tractor.  
  4. Move the tractor to the start of the cardboard so that the bag is off the ground.
  5. Cut an apple into eighths.
  6. Put one piece of apple at a time into the ziploc bag and watch to see if the tractor moves forward.
  7. When the tractor moves forward, stop and count the pieces as you take them out of the bag.
  8. Raise one side of the ramp with a book and repeat steps 6 and 7.  Note if more or less apple slices were used.
  9. Raise the ramp even higher and repeat steps 6 and 7.
  10. Tape an apple to the tractor or trailer and repeat adding apple slices. The tractor should not move so add the additional apple and see what happens!