How Do I Do Science Labs at Home?

Written by Gena Suarez, Publisher of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

Hey Mama,

For our homeschool, the kitchen is usually our science “lab.”  After all, cooking is basically a series of chemical reactions. Plus the kitchen is usually the best room in the house for experiments and the messes that go with them. Here are some articles with ideas for your budding scientists, “Kitchen Lab: Edible Experiments and Other Mad Scientist Recipes” or “Ultra-Cool Science Experiments to Mystify Your Kids.”  If you’re looking for something less messy, Andy Harris tells how to build a virtual science lab with free resources in his article “Build a Virtual Science Lab With PhET.

Now here’s a quick message, I want to share with you. It’s ironic. I don’t know; I just found it funny and had to tell you.

You know how you have been kinda down on yourself about certain things lately? You look at your friends (and then in the mirror) and feel inferior. They can homeschool better, you say. They have a cleaner home, you lament. But guess what? You are going to crack up when you hear this . . . .

Just as you are looking to them as some sort of model or something, they are looking at YOU because they feel the same way–only in different areas. (more…)

America’s Top Young Scientists

Taken from Practical Homeschooling Magazine, September/October 2013 Issue

Three of the top 10 finalists in the 15th annual Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, “the nation’s premier science competition for students in grades 5-8,” are homeschoolers!

Students nationwide were asked to create a short video describing a new innovative solution that would impact an everyday problem.  Entries were judged on scientific ingenuity and inventive thinking.

The homeschooled finalists were Srijay Kasturi of Reston, VA; Katie Hudek of Grafton, MA; and Maureen “Reeny” Bostros of Wichita, KS (You can read the finalists’ bios at

Each finalist will have the opportunity to work directly with a 3M scientist during a summer mentorship program, where the finalist will be challenged to identify an everyday problem and create an innovative solution.  Mentors will provide guidance as the finalist develops his or her idea from a concept into an actual prototype, which will be presented during the competition’s final event at the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, MN.  Throughout the program, each student will have access to resources and support provided by 3M and Discovery Education.

This year’s finalists will also receive $1,000 and be awarded a trip to 3M Headquarters to participate in the final competition.  Students will compete in a series of three different challenges, including a presentation of their completed innovation.  Each challenge will be scored independently by a panel of judges.  The winner will receive $25,000, a trip from Discover Student Adventures and the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist.”  Curious?  Visit

Autumn Leaves: 9 Fall Crafts for Kids

The following is a post from contributing writer Jamie.

No question about it, autumn is my favorite season. Once the sweltering heat of the Georgia summer is over, I want to get outside as often as possible. Anytime I do have to be inside, I want to either be baking or crafting — or maybe crafting something while snacking on whatever goodies I baked earlier!

I’ve rounded up nine fun fall leaf-themed crafts I plan to do with my kids as soon as the leaves start to change.

fall leaf crafts

1 – leaf “stained glass”

Start with an autumn nature walk, then come home and start crafting!

2 – leaf critters

Yes, this page is in Russian but, no instructions are required for this project; just look at the leaf critters on that site to get creative ideas to make your own adorable leaf animals!  (Use Google translate if you want to read the page in English.)

3 – leaf maze

Got a yard full of leaves? Have a little fun while you rake, and make a maze for the kids!

4 – shaving cream leaves

This craft doesn’t use real leaves but it’s still a fun leaf-themed project for just about any age child — or mom! If the kids are doing a fun craft, why shouldn’t mom get to join in? In fact, the kids will think it’s even MORE fun if you join in!

5 – hammered leaf prints

This simple project could make wall art if done on nice paper and framed! A parent or older child should be the one to wield the hammer, but little ones can find beautiful leaves of different colors to use for the project.

6 – maple leaf rose

I will most definitely be making some of these myself! This project may be too hard for younger children, but older ones (and mom!) can have fun creating roses out of maples leaves.

7 – fall mobile

A simple enough project for elementary aged kids, but interesting enough for much older kids to make, too. Use leaves, pine cones, whatever fall treasures you find in your yard or on a nature walk.

8 – negative leaf impressions

Don’t miss the blogger’s advice to press your leaves for a day after collecting to make this project come out even more art-worthy.

9 – salt dough leaf prints

These are so beautiful, I think they’d make delightful grandparent gifts!

Jamie is a wife, mama, home educator, and shutterbug who never ventures far from a steaming hot mug of tea. Her kid range in age from preschool to adult, which means there’s rarely a dull (or quiet!) moment in her home. Also find her on twitter or facebook.