Saturday, March 21, 2020

INDOOR GAME: Laundry Basket Ball

This fun game was useful during hot Texas summers, but I figured I'd share it now, with so many cooped up due to Covid-19.  Hope you all find it as fun as we did.


  • Laundry Basket
  • Large Ball (beach ball or rubber/plastic ball best...avoid hard balls)
  • Masking Tape or Washi Tape
  • A blank wall


1.  Set an empty laundry basket against a blank wall (remove any glass picture frames or similar items from the wall...posters can stay).

2.  3 to 5 feet away from the basket (or further if you have room), put a short line of masking tape or washi tape on the floor (paralel to blank wall)


1.  One player at a time will guard the basket.   Their goal is to keep others from throwing the ball into the basket.   Toddlers and very young children may stand, others should kneel in front of the basket while guarding.  The ball may be hit back or caught, but if caught it must be thrown back immediately.

2.   All other player lines up behind the tape.   Whoever is in the front will try to throw the ball into the basket (younger children may stand, older children must kneel).   When the ball is blocked/returned by the "guard" those in the back can help to grab and return it to the person throwing.

3.  Once someone throws the ball in the basket, they become the new goalie, and the current goalie goes to the end of the line behind the tape.  You may make a 1 minute time limit to get a basket if that becomes an issue (in which case the person throwing would go to the back of the line and give the next child a turn). 

4.  Children may keep their own score of how many baskets they got, but I've found scores aren't really necessary. 

5.   Game plays until a certain score is reached, or until everyone is worn out. 

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Photo Flashback: 2016

This week in 2016 I saw this wasn't just the color that caught my eye.

but what was written on the side of it....

Friday, May 3, 2019

Ancient Egypt and the Science of Making Mummies

In our homeschool we often combined history and science.  Here is a lesson, and experiement, we did about the Science of making mummies.   Even if you're not homeschooling this would make a fun summertime activity for kids.

For this lesson we used the unit study "Science of Ancient Egypt:  Mummification" (which was part of a larger bundle on Ancient Egypt by Dr. Dave's science which I bought after falling in love with his free sample unit on The Nile).   We had already read about mummification in various local library books about Egypt, but this covered some things that the other books didn't about the science involved in the process (like how microorganisms are involved in breaking down bodies, and how Natron, the salt mixture the Egyptians used in mummification, prevented these from growing by removing moisture).

While the Unit Study was labled for 4th - 7th graders, we did this when my son was a 1st grader with a Kindergarten sized attention span.   I felt like the material was engaging and kid friendly enough for him to handle even though it was meant for older kids...especially since he loves science.  (And I was right)

Some tweaking was involved though.  Because of his age I didn't try to cover the whole unit, since I knew that would be an attention span stretch.  In stead I  used a couple of pages from it for this lesson, and I did what I always do...added some tactiles and visuals, and of course, lots of questions. 

First, we reviewed Egyptian mummification with this video...

Then, before we dug into the text, I took my son outside to see something I knew had been sitting out by the fence in our yard...the remains of a dead bird.   I knew it would be a great example of what happens to an animal after it dies...and how microorganisms take part in that process (though I'm sure ants took a part too).

I pointed out the bones and the beak and the feather, and asked my son "What do you think happened to the rest of it, all the bird's muscles and stuff?"

He gave a guess about the bird going to heaven (theology lessons pop up when least expected, don't they?).

"Well, the Bible doesn't say whether birds go to Heaven.  Some people think they do, and some people don't, but we don't know.   But when people go to Heaven it says God gives us new our old bodies stay here when we die.   So even if animals go to Heaven it doesn't mean their bodies do too.  So what do you think happened to the bird's body?"

I let him give a couple more guesses and then said, "Lets go inside and find out!"  That got him interested and he listened intently as I read the whole page in the unit study on "Preserving the Body,"  which talked about how microorganisms break up and consume dead things and how the mummification process prevents that.

At that my son expressed some fears about microorganisms eating I told him about how when we're living that our cells have ways of fighting bad bacteria and germs, and that other bacteria lives in our body and doesn't hurt us.  But when someone or something dies than its cells die too, and so the microorganisms then start to eat the dead cells.

For older kids, you can find a more detailed answer to that question here.   The video below doesn't directly answer that question, but does describe the process of decomposition.   I don't suggest this very young children because some of the illustrations could be scary for them, but it would be great for most older kids.   After minute 2:27 it talks about the problem of burial space/cost and some solutions, and you can decide whether you want to share that or stop the video there, since that isn't really as relevant to the topic.

After reading the "Preserving the Body" section, we skipped the next page ("Salt) to come back to after we had done our egg experiment (as it gives away the end), and read the first paragraph of "The Chemistry of Salt."  This first paragraph talks about how salt is a mixture and how there are different kinds of salt (even baking soda is, chemically, a salt).  So, I showed him some.

Aw, the salt looks like a funny monster face.
Click on it to see the different salts enlarged.

We looked at regular salt, coarse ground sea salt, Himalayan sea salt, Epson salts, and baking soda.  I left these out on a dish for him touch and play with while I read the next paragraph about natron.  When we got to the last paragraph about where the Egyptians got natron (in the Natron Valley, in the Nile Delta), we looked it up on our map. 

MAP TIPS:   Most ancient Egyptian maps won't have the Natron Valley labeled.    It's located on the west side of the Nile Delta (the river area shaped like a V where the Nile meets the Mediterranean.   "Wadi El Natrun" is it's current name, which is actually Arabic (so, a later name).   In Coptic (the language descended from the ancient Egyptian language), it is called Šihēt, meaning "Measure of the Hearts."    (This may still be tied to it being a source of the natron used in mummification, since in ancient Egyptian religion, the heart was weighed before a person could enter the afterlife).  

Egg Mummy Experiment
After that we did an experiment where we mummified a hard boiled egg.  I've seen this done with apples too, or a whole chicken.    Several day into our experiment, we read the page on "Salt" that we had earlier skipped, after making guesses as to why our egg had shrunk and hardened.  

  1. Hard boil an egg (or two if you want to have a "control" egg...see section below).  Peel off the shell.
  2. Measure the egg with flexible tape ruler and write down results.  (Dr. Dave's science has a supplementary printable resource that has charts you can use to record and graph these, but it costs extra, and it would not be too hard to make your own chart.)
  3. Weigh egg and write down results.
  4. Mix an equal amount of salt and baking soda to make an approximation of natron (you can just use salt in stead)...enough to cover an egg.
  5. Put the egg in a cup or open container and cover completely with natron mixture.
  6. Uncover egg and repeat steps 1 - 3 every day for several weeks until the weight and size remains constant.

We also put another egg outside in an open container to see what happened to it (but did not measure it, because I knew after a while we wouldn't want to touch that one).  In stead we took pictures.


Below are our pictures of our egg mummy (left) and control egg (right). OK, yes, that first picture is the same egg reversed...cause I didn't take a picture of the mummified one before we put it in the salt.  It's not consecutive days because we didn't take a picture every day (the days shown are as follows:  Day 1, Day 2, Day 5, Day 9, Day 12), and the sizes are not completely to scale, though I did try to show how they shrunk (it was a little more dramatic than the pictures here shows, actually).  But you can still get the general idea.

Click to see larger pictures.

(We missed taking a picture of the mummified egg that last day shown, but I thought the changes in the other egg were interesting).   The control egg eventually withered away to nearly nothing and we tossed it.  The mummified egg eventually turned rock hard and gray, but alas I didn't take a final pic. I left it outside and then forgot about it a long time and it was gone (guess it didn't stay forever, but we live in a humid area, not the dry Egyptian desert).  Plus, some animal may have eaten it. 

This was a fun lesson and my son really enjoyed it.  I would recommend this experiment for any kids interested in mummies.    

More Mummy Activities
We didn't do the following, but any of them they would make a fun addition to this study.

Read more of my history posts at...

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Monday, April 22, 2019

Kitchen Tip

So, this is super simple...but if you get the large jars of peanut butter, and you can find a knife that's short enough, you can just keep the knife in the jar.  

Saturday, March 23, 2019

HEB Faves

I love HEB!  Yep, they give my kids balloons, they have two seater shopping carts, helpful employees (at least at my HEB), and great fresh produce.  I also happen to love many of their store brand products...some even more than name brand!  Here are my top ten favorite HEB/Hill Country Fair Store Brand Foods:
HEB Fruit Spread (Jam)
Their fruit spreads are delicious, have less sugar than most jams (and only one gram more than Smuckers Low Sugar jam), and even come in a cute jar!

HEB Creamy Tomato Herb Soup
Tastes just like La Madeline Tomato soup, only cheaper!

HEB Bake Shop Bran and Wheat Bread
Where else can you get healthy bran bread?  I've never seen it
anywhere else in a grocery store!

HEB Granola Bars
I personally think both HEB and Walmart store brand granola 
bars taste better then Quaker.  They're moister...Quaker's are more dry.

HEB Fruit/Veggie Drinks
That's not the actual name for it, but they're the type of drink like V8 splash
I think they taste just as good too.

HEB Oatmeal
Just as good as Quaker, and cheaper.

HEB Nacho Cheeze Chips (Dorito Style)
Not sure if that's the name for them, but they are the ones that are like
the original Doritos.  I can't tell the difference!

These sandwhich rolls are made daily and you can get them for 4 for a dollar in the fresh baked bread section.  LOVE IT!

Hill Country Fair Strogonof 
Hill Country Fair may not technically be a store brand, but since it's store brand price and I've only ever seen it at HEB, I'm counting this.  We love Strogonof but have someone in our family with egg allergies.  Hamburger Helper has eggs.  The Hill Country Fair version doesn't...and tastes close enough for us..

HEB Creamy Creations Ice Cream
Oh, this stuff is good.  Super creamy, and no eggs (an essential if you have egg allergies). 

I'd love to here what your favorite store brand products are!