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One of the programs that we’ve been using this year with our fifth grader, Zachary, is Christian Kids Explore Chemistry from Bright Ideas Press (aff link). He has been loving the hands-on projects that tie in with the program and learning so much about chemistry as we work through our text.

We work through one chapter a week: reading, review, and a hands-on project and it is just the right balance of independent work and learning. Our atomic cookie skillet model and atom models were both a part of our hands-on learning.

Save 15% on Christian Kids Explore series

Right now you can save 15% on the Christian Kids Explore books (aff link) – from Biology, Physics, Earth & Space, and Chemistry and beyond. No code needed as the prices all currently reflect the sale prices.

Both Biology and Earth & Space were written for students in grades 3-6, but the simplicity of the activities and clearness of teaching makes them easily adaptable for younger students as well. Every activity was designed using inexpensive and easily accessible resources. The book is laid out so the reading, worksheets, coloring pages, vocabulary, activity instructions and more all come in one book. This makes for a format that also works very well with co-ops.

The Chemistry, Physics, and Creation Science books were written for grades 4-8. These books can be adapted to fit third grade students, but because they are advanced enough to set a foundation for high school studies, you may wish to start with the Biology or Earth & Space editions with any student younger than fourth grade.

Learn more about Christian Kids Explore Science HERE.

Building Atom Models – Hands on Chemistry for Kids

building atom models with kids copy

One of the things that I’ve loved about our Chemistry science program (aff link) for Zachary this year is the hands-on aspect of the program. He is a boy that needs a little something to do with his hands every now and then, so it has fit in very well for us. As we’ve been learning about atoms together the last several weeks,  Building atom models and getting a 3D look at how an atom might actually appear has been a great way to visualize what we’re talking about. Quite obviously, these models are not to scale and a whole lot larger than the real thing. (grins)

In our model we used Styrofoam balls to represent the protons, neutrons, and electrons. In an atom, the protons and neutrons are in the nucleus (the center of the atom), and the electrons surround the atom. In diagrams you often see the electrons represented by elliptical lines moving around the nucleus.

3D lithium atom model project for kids

Building Atom Models

We chose to build a model of a lithium atom and used the following supplies. If you would like to make a different atom, the number of styrofoam balls will differ based on the number of neutrons, protons, and electrons in the atom. See below for how to calculate those numbers.

  • 7 styrofoam balls – we used ones that were about 2” in diameter
  • 3 styrofoam balls about 1 inch in diameter
  • 3 pipecleaners
  • toothpicks
  • red, yellow, and blue paint
  • paintbrushes
  1. Paint four of the 2” balls yellow (neutrons) and three of the balls blue (protons).
  2. Paint the 1” balls red (electrons).
  3. Using the toothpicks, connect the yellow and blue balls together, making sure they touch each other. We broke out toothpicks in half so they wouldn’t poke through too much.
  4. Connect each electron (red balls) to one of the protons (blue balls) using the pipe cleaners.

The model was a great way for us to understand a little better how atoms look. It was fun to talk about how many balls we would need to make some of the other atoms such as gold (79 protons/electrons and 118 neutrons – that would be a very large model!). We definitely figured it would be easier to stick to some of the more smaller numbered atoms on the periodic table!

To Build Different Atom Models

If you are trying to figure out how many neutrons, protons, and electrons an atom has, there is a way to work it out without needing to look up each atom one at a time. Each atom has an atomic number and an atomic weight. The atomic number tells you how many protons and electrons that atom contains. The neutrons are determined by looking at the atomic weight of the atom, rounding it up to the nearest whole number, and subtracting the number of protons. Usually you can find both numbers on your periodic table of elements.

Atomic weight = Protons (atomic number) + Neutrons


Additional Atom Model Ideas

Don’t care for styrofoam balls? Check out this idea on the Bright Idea Press blog using playdough (secretly I almost wish I would have seen this version first). Zachary loved creating and painting the model we did though, but I’m filing away this idea to use another time!

A few weeks ago we made edible atom models – and we enjoyed every single bite! Check out our atomic cookie skillet models for the recipe and instructions.

If you’d like to learn more about the homeschool chemistry program we are using, you can find out more here. Feel free to check out the rest of our homeschool curriculum choices as well!

Rock Hound’s Backpack – Exploring Rocks with Kids

Rock Hounds Backpack Kit - exploring and learning about rocks with kids copy

Getting our kids outdoors and exploring the world surrounding them is something we definitely want to encourage. When we take nature walks we might often pick up leaves or talk about the different trees, animals, or bugs we see along the way, but rocks aren’t typically something we do a lot of research on. We have picked up ones that look interesting, but usually that’s where it ends.

Home Science Tools - Rock Hound's Backpack

The last few weeks though, we’ve had a little boy intrigued by rocks in our midst! Kaleb received the Rock Hound’s Backpack Kit from Home Science Tools – full of everything he needed to start a rock hunting exploration – and was quickly out the door on a search for some different rocks.

Inside the Rock Hound’s Backpack Kit


The Rock Hound’s Backpack Kit is ready to use within minutes of opening up your box. There are so many pockets and storage places in the backpack – plenty of room for a growing rock collection! Included in the kit are all of the items you see pictured above (and listed below).

  • Nature Backpack – store all of your tools and collection in this comfortable and compact pack. Padded shoulder straps and back.
  • Rock Pick – This heavy-duty steel rock pick has a hammer on one end and a pointed pick on the other for chiseling off specimens.
  • Safety Goggles – protect kids’ eyes while using the rock pick.
  • Rock and Mineral Test Kit –  instructions and materials to test for properties such as color, hardness, acidity, and magnetism. Includes a 5x/10x double-lens magnifier.
  • Mineral Hardness Scale Set – set of nine Mohs Scale of Hardness minerals lets kids test the hardness of their specimens and see how soft or hard rocks can be.
  • Crack-Open Geode – a fun specimen for kids to open using the rock pick and discover the crystals or mineral deposits inside!
  • Nature Notebook – A small notebook with blank pages that is great for keeping notes, recording test results, and making drawings of rocks and minerals that are too large to collect.
  • Rocks and Minerals Golden Guide – With full-color illustrations and easy-to-read text, anyone can use this guide to learn about and identify common rocks and minerals.
  • Rock and Mineral Display Box – a box with 15 compartments to store or display a growing rock and mineral collection.
  • Specimen Collection Bags – 15 plastic bags of varying sizes for collecting and sorting rock samples on the go (and keeping the backpack clean!).
  • Instructions –  information about the Mohs hardness scale, plus tips on collecting, identifying, and labeling rocks and minerals.

Exploring and Learning About Rocks

collecting rocks to examine

The first step in our rock exploration was finding different rocks. Kaleb went on a little adventure with his Rock Hound Backpack and decided to take a nature walk in the woods around our house, returning with these three rock samples. He thought they looked cool (grins).

exploring rocks with kids

We dropped the rocks into one of our collection bags and later pulled them out one by one to examine them. The Rock Hound Backpack includes a collapsible hand lens. Before doing any other tests on the rocks, we made observations about each of the rocks gathered.

exploring rocks with kids-2

One of our favorite things included in the kit are the nature notebook and Rocks and Mineral guidebook. The notebook is a simple sketchbook, but has plenty of room to take notes, draw pictures, and keep records of all we are observing and discovering. The guidebook is full of wonderful pictures and tips for learning about rocks (a definitely keeper for the bookshelf too!)

Kaleb drew a picture of each of the rocks collected and took notes on them as well, making notes about their color, luster, if they were opaque or translucent, etc… and left room for some additional notes. This is one thing that I loved watching. It’s funny how writing can be such a chore in some instances, but when a subject of interest comes along, writing suddenly becomes something enjoyable – and even attempting to spell and sound out words isn’t as painful.

exploring rocks with kids-3

Our next step was testing the hardness of each rock gathered. The kit included a set of nine Mohs Scale of Hardness minerals, so one by one the minerals were pulled out, scratched against each other and the final hardness of the specimen was recorded in our notebook.

exploring rocks with kids-4

Kaleb’s favorite part of everything was definitely using the rock pick! (I know, shocking, right?) With safety goggles on, we took the rocks outside and cracked them all open.

exploring rocks with kids-5

Some of our rocks broke open a little more easily than others and allowed us a chance to see the different variations and texture in the rock, other than just the external part of the rock.

exploring rocks with kids-6

We traveled recently and grabbed our Rock Hound’s backpack to take along with us to a swim meet. I knew we would have a block of time during the afternoon where we wouldn’t have anything to do, and this was a perfect activity to get us outside and working on something hands-on. What you don’t see in this picture are the other children that gathered around us to watch what we were doing. Everyone was chiming in about different rocks, what they observed – it was so much fun!

We also tested the magnetism of the rocks once we cracked them open (none of ours had any magnetic properties),

exploring rocks with kids-8

The small white rock was definitely the favorite rock to examine and break apart and has been made it’s way into the collection box to save. Not that all rocks aren’t special, but this one was the prettiest and most interesting to him.

Having specimen bags and everything handy to test and examine the bags was a huge help. We still need to run an acidity test on each of our rocks and the fun this week will be narrowing down even further what type of rocks and minerals we collected. We are taking our time on this step, mainly because we have been distracted going through the Rocks, Gems, and Minerals book – too many fun facts and pictures!

The convenience of having everything in one backpack, easy to grab and take along on a nature hike makes this a perfect addition to our homeschool learning! We already have a special spot in our schoolroom where our Rock Hound’s backpack is hanging as a reminder to use it often! Our kids would definitely recommend it as well – and several other kiddos are anxiously waiting their turn.


EEME Project Amp Review

Project Amp from EEME - build a working amplifier and learn how it works  Homeschool Creations copy

One of the best motivators for our 11 year old to get his schoolwork done the last few weeks has been the promise of working on his latest EEME assignment: Project Amp. He is a boy who loves listening music, learning about electronics, and enjoys building, so this project was PERFECT for him. 

We’ve worked on several smaller projects from EEME in the last few months, and Zachary honestly cannot get enough of them. The hands-on aspect and opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at how electronics really work (and understand the process) has been worth every moment spent on the projects.  Both he and I have learned so much about

When EEME released a larger electronic project and asked if we would be willing to try it out, the answer was a resounding yes – especially when Zachary found out he would have a full-sized speaker amplifier that he could hook his iPod shuffle up to and play his favorite music nice and loud! We absolutely love

What is Project Amp?

Project Amp-51

Project Amp would be a perfect gift for children 10 and up! When fully completed, your child can plug their mp3 or iDevice into the amp and play his favorite music. It is a full speaker amplifier system that is 12.5" x 6.5" x 6.5" – and it can be LOUD if certain children decide they would like it to be (don’t worry moms, there is a volume control knob!).

Project Amp-8

Everything your child needs to build the amp is included in the box – from wire strippers down to every last nut, bolt, and wire needed from start to finish. The lessons are all online video-based, so your child will need to have access to internet to follow along with the lessons.

There are 55 short lessons to watch on the EEME website in which your child will work through the building process for the amp and learn about:

  • amplifiers
  • how sound waves work
  • direct current vs. alternating current
  • capacitors as sound filters

The build time for this project is between 4-6 hours, depending on your child’s ability and focus. Recommended for children ages 10+.

Our Thoughts on Building Project Amp

Project Amp-47

Zachary is completely thrilled with his finished amp. It has been continuously playing music (perhaps loudly) since its completion and has been proudly toted around to show his friends what he made. For real – the above picture made us laugh out loud because it was his real reaction when he had everything hooked up and was ready to put the rear panel onto the back of the amplifier. He had tested it at various stages during the building process, but hearing and seeing it all at the same time was so much more fun!

Project Amp-7

The overall building time and process on this project was a little more intense than past projects we’ve worked on for EEME, partly because it is a larger project, and partly because there were a few times that Zachary had to stop, re-watch a video lesson, check and re-check his work, and then move on when he figured it out.  Overall for us the build time was closer to the 6 hour timeframe, mainly because he would think he knew what to do and wouldn’t listen to the lesson closely enough – and do it incorrectly.

Project Amp-19

As with previous projects, the step-by-step videos and instructions were very clear and understandable, each one was short enough (and could be paused to work on the step), and components were explained in great detail so Zachary was learning the how and why the amplifier works.

Project Amp-32

Along the way, Zachary had different opportunities to test out the amplifier and see how it worked, as well as understand the different concepts presented, such as how the sound waves work through the cones of the speakers.


Zachary wanted to share a little bit more about the amp with you all as well and give you a peek inside the amplifier to see how it is all put together. The video doesn’t give an accurate depiction of the sound the amplifier truly puts out – the sound is much better than what you hear.

This is definitely a completed project we will be using and enjoying for years to come – and one I would recommend considering for a birthday or Christmas gift. It is one that would be not only used, but the recipient would enjoy the time learning and creating their own working amp!

Save 25% on Project Amp from EEME

Save 25 on Project Amp from EEME

For a limited time, EEME is offering a 25% discount along with FREE shipping toward Project Amp to my readers. All you need to do is follow this link.

Learn More About EEME

We’ve worked on several other projects from EEME. If you’re interested in learning more about their monthly subscription program, be sure to check out the below posts for more information:

The projects from EEME are perfect for 7 to 12 year olds ready to learn about real electronic components – no experience required!

Atomic Cookie Skillet Models

atomic cookie skillet model - hands on way to learn about atoms and the periodic table

One of the things that I want science to be (or any subject) is FUN. If there are opportunities to do something hands-on that will tie in with a lesson and make it ‘stick’ – well, count me in.

This year our fifth grader is studying Chemistry using Christian Kids Explore Chemistry (aff link). To understand how atoms look, we decided to go the edible route and follow an idea in our lesson on atomic numbers – atomic cookies. We are big proponents of making cookie skillets in our house, so the bigger the atom model, the better!

Note: In an effort to ensure I had enough different colored M&M’s, I may have gone a wee bit overboard at the store trying to find bags of them. If the store would QUIT MOVING the candy, it would also be extremely handy. I ended up with a fall bag, Christmas bag, and a mixed bag, as well as Reese’s Pieces. Just because.

If you’d like to share in the yumminess, you can use the recipe below and make your own as well.

atomic cookie skillet - hands on learning about atoms {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015

Atomic Cookie Skillet Recipe

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp corn syrup or honey
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 2 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 7” cast iron skillet (we have this set of 2 aff link)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs and add remaining ingredients in order listed, mixing well. Place a chunk of the dough into the center of the skillet and press down, leaving some room around the edges for spreading while baking.

atomic cookie skillet - hands on learning about atoms {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015-2

Create a nucleus using the correct number of protons and neutrons. Place them close together in the center of your cookie dough. You’ll have to decide which color you’d like to have representing protons and neutrons. Each atom has a specific atomic number (i.e. oxygen has an atomic number of 8, so there would be 8 protons and 8 neutrons as a part of the nucleus).

atomic cookie skillet - hands on learning about atoms {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015-3

Once your nucleus is in place, choose a different colored M&M to create your electrons and place them along the outer edge of the cookie. Use the same number of electrons as the atomic number (so oxygen would be 8, the same as the protons and neutrons in the nucleus).

atomic cookie skillet - hands on learning about atoms {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015-4

Marvel at the yumminess that will be yours in less than 15 minutes and see if you can identify the different atoms that you created. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the cookie is baked to you liking (ours took between 14-15 minutes).

atomic cookie skillet - hands on learning about atoms {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015-5

Enjoy your atomic cookie skillets! Can you guess which atom models we made above? (Hint: count the nucleus or electrons and check your periodic table). And if any of you decide to make an atom representing gold (79), I’d really like to see pictures of that model. Or eat it with you.

Note: You can also  make monster cookies with this recipe. Double the ingredients and add in 1 cup of M&M’s and 1 cup chocolate chips. Use an ice cream scoop to portion on cookie sheet and bake 12-15 minutes.


Building Atom Models

Building atom models is a fun way for children to get a hands-on look at chemistry. Only a few items are needed to create a 3D example of an atom.

Looking for another hands-on idea for learning about atoms? Building atom models is an easy and memorable way to work on chemistry. 


Atomic cookie model - a fun, hands-on way to learn about atoms and the periodic table


EEME Project DIY Display – Review

EEME Project DIY Display review {%{% Homeschool Creations

Zachary has been having far too much fun getting his fingers working on electronic projects from EEME. After working on the Project Genius Light recently, he was more than ready to jump into a new project and see what he could create with circuitry! When that little brown box showed up, it was immediately on his desk and he was ready to start! He is definitely our build and create boy, and any STEM project something he is more than happy to focus on (if only we could bottle that attention for other subjects too – grins).

EEME has been blog sponsor for the last several months and sent us the Project DIY Display (ages 7-12) to work on together. When I say ‘together’ that roughly translates to me observing Zachary as he creates the project himself and explains the different concepts to me. It has been the perfect ‘hands-off’ for me, but opportunity to watch him learn.

Project DIY Display

Project DIY Display from EEME {%{% Homeschool Creations-11

The DIY Display project focuses on segmented LEDs. Remember the scoreboards way back in the day (maybe I’m dating myself talking about our high school scoreboard)? In this project, kids learn how to wire their own switch panel and make numbers display on a mini board. Project build time is approximately 1.5 to 2.5 hours and 38 short lessons or modules.

Project DIY Display from EEME {%{% Homeschool Creations-16

We used the iPad this time to work through the free instructional videos and Zachary took a little over 1.5 hours to complete this project. He’s not one to get up and leave it alone, so once he started, he was on a mission to get it finished and working.

Project DIY Display from EEME {%{% Homeschool Creations-14

Compared to his last EEME project, I was able to sit back this time and observe while Zachary worked. If he had any questions or needed help with something, he just asked. At one point he needed a wire stripped (he may have broken one), so I helped with that and he was back working in just a few minutes.

Project DIY Display from EEME {%{% Homeschool Creations-5

He answered comprehension questions in between the short instructional clips – a huge help to see how much kids are understanding. Some of the questions he answered verbally rather than typing in his longer answers.

Inside an EEME Kit

EEME six project set

Unfortunately Zachary was well into building his kit before I realized that we didn’t have a picture of what came in it this time! However, each of the EEME project kits contains all of the components needed to build the monthly project.

Our first kit (or the first month in the subscription) contained a project kit with all the base pieces need to build that project. Future projects are built using those components as well:  a baseplate, breadboard, and a battery pack. These pieces are reusable. Our kit for the DIY Display included additional components that were necessary to complete this specific project. All curriculum is online and your children can watch and re-watch the videos at anytime.

Projects build in difficulty and are geared for children ages 7-12.  If you have an electronics lover in your home, this is a great monthly subscription plan to teach them more about LED’s, resistors, transistors, capcitors, and much more! If those words are all foreign to you, don’t worry – EEME explains everything in the lessons and you don’t have to be a whiz at electronics for your children to succeed in building and understanding!

If you don’t want to wait for the once a month shipment, you can take advantage of their 6 month project bundle HERE and receive free shipping as well.

How the DIY Display Works

Here’s a quick little peek at our completed Project DIY Display from EEME. It’s a short clip, but shows it in action…

Finished the switch panel from @projecteeme – here’s a quick peek at how it works. Depending on which number is flipped on the switch panel, Zachary can make different numbers light up. This project used the base from our Project Genius activity last month. #projecteeme #Homeschool #hsscience #science

Posted by Homeschool Creations on Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Feed readers can watch the video here.

When each switch is toggled on, there is a closed circuit allowing current to flow from one end of the battery to the other end. When toggled off, the circuit is opened and the segment is turned off (or the current cannot flow). Each of the switches is wired so you can toggle them on and off with other switches to create different numbers.

What You’ll LOVE About EEME

Project DIY Display from EEME  Homeschool Creations

Aside from the fact that all the supplies are included in each of the EEME project kits, the video curriculum is well put together and explain the building process in detail. Each of the videos is between 2 – 10 minutes long. In addition:

  • videos explain the step-by-step process AND the principles involved (how/why something works) – a huge help for parents who don’t know the answers themselves (cough)
  • shorter videos help those with limited attention spans
  • comprehension questions ensure kids are understanding what you are doing
  • videos can be stopped/paused if needed during the process
  • the videos are free to watch – check them out here and get a peek!

We have honestly LOVED these projects from EEME. It has been the perfect fit for Zachary to work on independently. The projects would be wonderful extensions to current curriculum or even as after school learning – or even make a great gift! We’ve learned so much working through two projects already.

There are different purchase options available, including a basic monthly subscription, individual projects, and a 6 month Project Set. They have different purchase options, but we’ve completed the first two projects so far from the basic subscription basic subscription.  You can find more information on the EEME website, or follow them on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or Twitter.

Win a Project Light Link from EEME

Project Light Link from EEME giveaway {%{% Homeschool Creations

EEME has offered Project Light Link as a giveaway to THREE of my readers! Project Light Link is the best way to get acquainted with EEME’s hands-on building and learning experience. This giveaway is open to US readers only and will be open through Wednesday, October 14th at midnight. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

But I’d love to know – what age is the child you would like to use EEME with and learn about electronics? Leave a comment below!