More Science Fun by Beth Holian

Here’s Beth Holian with three more interesting and fun filled science experiments AND links to numerous sites for more science fun!  NOTE: As with all science experiments, adults should supervise young children to ensure their safety.  These are great activities to do together for a family fun night or a rainy day.

2015-08-01-10-54-31--341155957– Egg Geodes Experiment from:
You will need:
• Eggs
• Rock Salt
• Sea Salt
• Borax*
• Other substance that could be tested for crystallization such as sugar, epsom salts, cream of tartar, baking soda, or alum*
• Mini-muffin pan
• Food Coloring
CAUTION:  * Borax and alum are not food products, and using these ingredients with small children should be closely monitored, as ingestion can be fatal. Please use common sense and close supervision with such substances.
1. Tap a knife around the top of the eggs to remove a bit of shell, and then empty the eggs and clean them with water. Using a finger, it’s important to gently rub around the inside of the egg to remove the membrane because the membrane can discolor crystals as they form.
2. If you happen to have a mini-cupcake pan, it’s like they were made for this job.
3. Heat a pot of water (not quite boiling) and then pour 1/2 cup into a mug. Add 1/4 cup of kosher salt into the first mug and mix it until it dissolves.
4. In the next mug: 1/2 cup hot water + 1/4 cup sea salt. The sea salt dissolves quickly, so you may want to add a bit more. The idea is to saturate the solution without putting in too much of the dry ingredient.
5. And then the final mug: 1/2 cup hot water + 1/4 cup borax. Dissolved.
6. Add a couple drops of food coloring to each mug to differentiate between the solutions. Make a chart so you can keep track.
7. Pour the liquid into the eggs. Each solution made just enough to pour into two eggs. Perfect!
8. And then you wait. 5 days for the liquid to mostly evaporate. Salt crystals will start to evaporate through the egg shell to create the geode.

– Elephant Toothpaste (from
You will need:
• 6% Hydrogen peroxide (1/2 cup)
• Yeast (1 tsp)
• Hot water (2 tbsp approx) in a small dish
• Food colouring
• Washing-up liquid (dish soap)
• Empty soda/water bottle (small)
• Tray to stand the bottle on to catch the foam
• Funnel (optional)
1. Pour the hydrogen peroxide into the bottle
2. Mix the yeast into the water
3. Add the washing up liquid and food colouring to the hydrogen peroxide in the bottle
4. Add the yeast mixture to the bottle
5. Stand back and admire the reaction!

– Oobleck! (from   (check out the site to see how the ooblek dances!)  If you have never made it before, Oobleck is a mixture of cornstarch and water. When played with fast it acts like a solid…when allowed to relax it acts like a liquid.
You will need:
2 cups of Corn Starch to 1 cup of water
To make the oobleck dance:
• a Subwoofer
• a thin metal cookie sheet
• a MP3 of an audio test tone ~ you will have to play a bit to see what works best with your equipment.
• Food Coloring
1. Place the cookie sheet onto the speaker of the sub, and pour in the Oobleck.
2. You can download different test tones and play to see what works best for you. We used 40 Hz, 50 Hz, and 63 Hz, and found that we needed to turn the volume way up. We tried a number of different frequencies but these three seemed to work the best. We did a search for subwoofer test MP3. There are a number of different sites that you can use.
3. Before you play the MP3 you will need to place your fingers on the edge of the cookie sheet with gentle pressure. It took a bit of playing to see what worked the best, but the results were amazing.
4. We decided to add food coloring to see what would happen. I love how the colors dance together and you can see all the layers of each color. This was the kids favorite part!
Tips and Tricks:
• A thicker consistency of Oobleck works best. Although with that said you don’t want it too thick. We used a ratio of 2:1 (cornstarch to water).
• If your oobleck is not dancing, you may need to change the volume on your subwoofer. You can also try digging your finger in Oobleck to start the movement. In the video the kids do it a few times just to get everything started.
• Keep experimenting until you get it to work. Honestly we played around for a bit until it worked for us. Everyone will be working with different equipment so what worked for us might be a little different for you.

EVEN MORE fun science-y things can be found on these websites: blog from a mom passionate about being able to share her relatable successes and struggles with the world. There’s more than just science stuff here, but search the tag “Science Saturday” to pull up everything science-related. activities and games for toddlers and preschoolers along with teaching tools for parents and educators Site for the PBS Kids show, ZOOM, which features activities and games by kids and for kids. Also has resources for parents and teachers.
– meaningful and fun learning activities for kids games for learning for kids of all ages! outdoor activities, indoor activities, and so much more blog with fun and educational activities for kids ideas and instructions for kids science projects, along with articles for further research Kid-friendly science experiments science products, activities, educational resources, and more site for San Francisco Exploratorium Science of Cooking that teaches you how to make your own candy!


 Beth Holian is a freelance blogger with an incurable fever for good literature. When she can be pried away from books, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, hiking, jogging, and spending time with her dog. She can be found at or between stacks of books in her ever – growing library.


Easy, Refreshing Summer Salad

As summer winds down, you may be wondering what to do with the abundant harvest of greens and tomatoes still left in the garden.  There are still enough warm days to enjoy a SUMMER SALAD as a main course for lunch or dinner.

summer saladFor this salad, have the kids wash and layer an assortment of fresh greens. I used romaine, arugula, spinach, purslane (look it up if you’re wondering), and radicchio.  Then I added sliced cucumbers, yellow beets, black olives, sliced grapes, and yellow tomatoes.  Then I sprinkled on a 2 oz. packet of salmon, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, slivered almonds, and grated Parmesan cheese.  Top with your favorite dressing and you’re all set.

You can easily substitute the following to make it your own: diced, cooked chicken, cooked salad shrimp, tuna, dried cranberries, walnuts or pecans, pineapple chunks, shredded carrots, apple slices, orange segments…the list goes on.  It’s delicious, filling and nutritious as well.   Why not pack a smaller version of this  for school lunches?  Serve with some whole grain crackers for added crunch.

What are your favorite salad add-ins?

The Wheels on the Bus and Other Ways Kids Travel to School. by Shiela Fuller

Darlene here: I don’t know about you, but I found this post fascinating!  It seems that some children will do just about anything to get to school.  Here’s Shiela Fuller with an around-the-world look at how children travel to and from school.

In the United States, children are required by law, called compulsory education, to be educated between the ages of six and  sixteen (The Amish community is not bound by this law). Around the world, compulsory ages range from: six through eighteen in Belgium, six to twelve in Iran, six to fourteen in Uruguay, seven to twelve in Singapore, etc. A complete chart can be found here: .

Think about how you get to school. Do you carpool? Ride a bus? Walk? How far is school from where you live? Next time you leave home for school, think about these kids and the determination that drives them, despite the treacherous journeys they travel to school.
In Indonesia, schoolchildren must cross a frail suspension bridge that hangs low over the Ciberang River. It became damaged after a flood and the children risk crossing it because it is the shortest distance. In other parts of the country, students travel to school by canoe, bamboo raft, and some ride on the tops of wooden boats. In Sumatra, students are willing and daring, to cross a tightrope above a river and then walk an additional seven miles to school.

In rural China some children climb ladders that rest along the mountainside to reach their school and others travel along narrow paths carved into the cliffs. When “school season” begins in yet another region of China, the teachers chaperon the boarding school students on a two day journey along cliffs, gravel, and rapids, and “wade through four freezing cold rivers and slide across a 200 m chain bridge on four single plank bridges” .

A quarter of a mile above the Rio Negro River in Columbia, South America, zip wiring is the way to go. Kids fly through the air at 40 mph on steel cables that connects their home to the other side of the valley. This is the only way in and out of the village.
In the Rizel Province, Manilla, Philippines, kids carry inflated tire tubes to school an hour each way so they can float across the river that separates them from school. If the river is flooded, they have to find shelter and wait until the river is safe to cross.

As a new school year begins, and you line up to get on the school bus, or hop in the car pool, remember these kids and the hardships they endure as they make their commute to school. Education is so important, they are willing to risk their lives for it! And just in case, perhaps put a tire tube in your back pack!

Pictures and more information about the ways kids get to school around the world can be found in these links:

Shiela Fuller has been a Cornell University Project Feeder Watch participant for many years and an avid birder since 1988. Currently, she enjoys writing picture books, yoga, chicken raising, wildlife photography, and is the legacy keeper for her family.

Building Your Child’s Vocabulary: by Lorian Steider Brady

I met Lorian Steider Brady at the NJSCBWI Conference back in June, where we shared a lunch table and had an interesting conversation about her work with ESL children.  Teaching vocabulary to any student can be a challenge.  Trying to build the vocabulary of a student whose primary language in NOT English can be downright daunting.  But Lorain’s passion for the task won me over.  Here she shares some techniques that have worked for developing vocabulary.  I even learned a new word ( I highlighted it in BOLD GREEN at the end of the post).  Here’s Lorian:

I am officially in awe of brains.
Especially children’s brains.
Especially, especially the brains of children learning English.
English Learners’ brains work double time, all the time. They are processing the overt and covert elements of English to learn the language of social interactions and the language of academic interactions. And they do it simultaneously!

Think about the variation in vocabulary necessary for each of the following: a thank you to grandma, an essay for class, talking to your best friend… you get the idea. Register and vocabulary matter.
All learners, not just English Learners, benefit from an increased vocabulary. The more words you know, the more likely you are to choose the best one when it really counts.
The good news is that kids are wired to learn words. Not surprisingly, they do this best through meaningful interactions with real people. In a Flashcards vs. Conversation throw down, my money is on Conversation every time. In education, we call this oral language development and it’s the foundation on which reading and writing are built.

There are lots of engaging ways to expose children to new words at home, at school, in the car, anywhere you go!

• Reading Aloud
Still one of the very best ways to expose children to vocabulary words while modeling the rhythm of language and enjoying a tale together.

• Wordless books
These have pictures, but readers tell the story. You’ll find some at your local library.

• Mind Reader Game
Think of a secret word and give your family clues to help them to guess it.

• Hide and Seek
In this car game one person imagines themselves hiding somewhere in their home or another familiar place. The rest of the people in the car try to find the hider by asking only YES/NO questions.

Whether English is your first language, or just your latest, you’ll learn faster and remember better if you have fun while doing it. After all, grins are a universal language.

For more information about vocabulary and oral language development you can visit:       HeadNShoulders_Lorian_Steider Brady

An educator of 21 years, Lorian Steider Brady currently teaches young English Learners in Arizona where she is coming to terms with the need to estivate and slowly learn to play the banjo. You can reach her at

Query Letters Analyzed

I thought some of my followers might be interested in this, so I’m reblogging from a Writer Friend’s post.

Writing and Illustrating

sharkThought you might be interested in reading this post from agent Janet Reid’s blog, Query Shark.  She does all writers a great service by commenting on query letters she receives. 

Below is a query letter for a thriller novel that she has analyzed. If you feel this was helpful, you should use the link below to read the other query letters she has analyzed. It could improve your skills in this area. 

Here it is:

Dear Query Shark:

Most people, when offered a new job, find the decision process fairly straightforward. Since Sandra Lee Johnson’s profession is killing people, her decision process is understandably more complex.

If this is a query for a book about whether to take a job, you’ve set the stakes pretty low, even if the job is assassin.

Approached by her former ex-Army lover, Sandra is given the opportunity to kill terrorists for her country. And not just kill them, but…

View original post 560 more words

Back to School Treats

 It’s that time of year again.  Back to School.  And, back to trying to figure out how to make kids lunches that are healthy and will be eaten.  Here are some simple and nutritious recipes for back to school lunches and snacks.  The Peanut Butter Dip recipe is one I’ve adapted through trial and error.  Unless you’re allergic to PB – in which case you can substitute another nut butter – It has been a hit with all the children I’ve served it to. Adults like it as well since it is not too sweet.  It keeps well in a lunch box with a cold pack and can also be spread on a bagel or other bread in a sandwich with sliced bananas or other fruit of your choice.


 1/4 C creamy peanut butter                   3 ounces cream cheese

2 T of orange or apple juice                1/2 t. cinnamon

1/8 to 1/4 C unsweetened applesauce

  1. Combine peanut butter, cream cheese, juice and cinnamon in a food processor or mixer. (Be sure to have an adult assist with this part)
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add applesauce, a little at a time, until it is the desired consistency for a dip.
  4. Chill before serving.

This dip is great served with apple slices, carrots, banana slices, celery sticks, graham cracker sticks, or broccoli pieces. You can also try mini rice cakes, pretzel sticks, and other fruits or veggies. If you let the kids make the dip, they will taste it and want to dip all sorts of fruits and vegetables.  It’s a better option than fat laden sour cream dips and salad dressings.

You can also try Hummus with veggies as well.

Try different ingredients in a soft tortilla.  I like spreading the tortilla with hummus, shredded carrots, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese.  OR you can roll them up with lunch meat and cut them into spirals for “fun” shapes.  Tortillas also make a fun way to enjoy the traditional PB and J sandwich.

Whole grain crackers no longer taste like cardboard.  Kids will enjoy cracker “sandwiches” they can make themselves with various fillings.

Don’t forget fresh fruit.  If you want kids to eat it, make it kid friendly and cut into bite-sized pieces.  Crisp, fresh apples are a welcome sign of fall.  To make it easy for your kids to enjoy these treats, slice and core the apple as shown.  Then, use a rubber band to reassemble it and hold it together so it won’t turn brown.    See photo:   apple 1

Check out the previous postings on this site for more lunchbox friendly recipes kids will enjoy such as soft pretzels, Krispie Treats, and homemade granola.


Enjoy the last days of summer knowing that back to school lunches are covered.

Interview With PB Author Paul Czajak

1. What led you to a career in writing for children?
Writing for children was definitely not part of the plan when I was younger and thinking about careers. But after having kids I started getting several ideas for picture books, usually due to what my kids would say and do. Eventually my wife grew tired of me saying “man that would make a great picture book”, and told me to sit down and write it! Once Mighty Media picked up my first Monster & Me story and decided to turn it into a series I knew I was onto something good. Though it wasn’t until I moved to New Jersey that I decided to try this writing thing full time. It’s still up in the air whether or not me being a full time writer will stick, but I figured I’d give it a shot.    monster-banner-12. Your Monster series is very popular. (Monster Needs A Costume, Monster Needs His Sleep, Monster Needs a Christmas Tree, Monster Needs A Party, Monster Needs Your Vote) How did you come up with the ideas for these fun- to- read books?

This is a story as old as time itself. Actually it’s only about 3 yrs old but I was trying to be dramatic. When I was driving my daughter to daycare she was playing with her dolls in the back seat when for some reason she said, “my monster needs a haircut”. Which I thought was the greatest line I ever heard. By the time I dropped her off and got to work I had half the story written in my head. Once I had the first one complete, I started getting more ideas what Monster might need based on what any kid might need. Whether it’s a costume for Halloween or an apron to cook in, the topics are endless.

MonsterVote_spread1_Helix3. If you could be a monster, what kind would you be and what would you need?

I would absolutely be a monster like Cookie Monster and I would need a whole lot of cookies!

4. Tell us a bit about your writing process.

When ever I get the urge, or when I have the time I am either writing or revising. I have no specified time or place. In fact, here I am writing the answers to these interview questions.       photo 2And then here I am writing a new story.
Looking at these pictures, I guess as long as I can put my feet up I’m in my writing spot.
photo 1

5. Your latest book, SEAVER THE WEAVER is about an amazing spider who thinks “outside the web”. Where did you get the idea for it?
My brother in law and his wife had an orb spider living outside their patio door which they named Seaver. I thought it was a great name but at the time didn’t have a story to go with it. Later that summer I was working in the yard and I noticed about six big orb spiders all sitting in their own webs, one of which was a bit broken and no longer looking very orbish. That’s when I got the idea of Seaver not wanting to weave circular shapes and the story took shape, no pun intended, from there.

6. What would readers be surprised to know about you? What’s the most amazing thing that’s happened to you since you became a PB writer?
The most amazing thing that has happened to me as a picture book writer happened right out of the shoot, and that was signing my very first story as a series. Things like that don’t normally happen to no name newbies like myself. In fact when I first received the letter saying they loved my story and would I like to write more of them I thought it was a scam. That some how I missed something when I researched – at the time Scarletta – now Mighty Media. Turns out I didn’t miss anything and Mighty Media is a fantastic publisher!

What would readers be surprised about knowing about me? I guess that I have dyslexia, am a horrible speller and I hated reading when I was a kid. Luckily I didn’t let any of that get in the way when I decided to start writing.

A ALA San Fransisco 2015: Where I had the pleasure of meeting fellow NJ author, Paul Czajac.

At ALA San Fransisco 2015: Where I had the pleasure of meeting fellow NJ author, Paul Czajac.

You can learn more about Paul, his books and Mighty Media Press at:

Here is a link to the Campaign Press Kit for MONSTER NEEDS YOUR VOTE, the newest book in the Monster series.

And the Winners of Free Books are…

I am happy and excited to announce the two winners of signed books based on two separate drawings held on this blog.

The winner of a signed copy of the middle grade novel THE BOOK OF DARES FOR LOST FRIENDS by Jane Kelley is: Jennifer Bardsley.

The winner of a the new PB by Beth Ferry titled LAND SHARK is: Cathy Ballou Mealey

Congratulations!  Cathy , I need your e-mail to notify Beth.  You’ll really enjoy LAND SHARK…it’s a winner.  AND, I have already added Jane’s book to my MUST READ list!

Beach Fun and Games.

Although it may seem as if summer is slipping away, thee is still plenty of time left to enjoy the lazy days of summer.  If you and your family are headed to the beach, here are a few sites for games you can bring along to entertain the kids throughout the day.

1.  At   there are games for even the youngest children such as DUNK AND DIP, DRIP CASTLE, and more.

2.   Mom and Me has 10 of the best beach games that are sure to cure boredom and keep kids happy.  Even adults will get into the act of  making SAND ANGELS.  Who wants a game of SAND BOWLING?

3.      Check out the variety of games and activities found at ACTIVITY VILLAGE.  Sand Sculpting, anyone?

The First Place Winner.


4.  For the youngest child, try this site with beach activities for preschoolers:

What are your favorite beach games?                                stone harbor

Make your family trip to the beach an adventure.  You will bring home more than just sand!

Three Science Activities for Kids. by Beth Holian

When you grow up with a father who is an engineer and a mother who has degrees in both Biology and Geology, science is kind of hard to avoid. Then again, science is pretty hard to avoid in general because it’s happening all around us all the time.
The obnoxiously hot weather? Science.
Trees turning colors as the seasons change? Science.
The reason your dog turns in a circle before lying down? Science.
Making cookies or baking a cake? Science.
Your younger sibling always being with you at the most inconvenient times? Could be science.
There’s a plethora of fun activities and experiments you can do at home with common household items, and like in Math Curse, ideally these can help you stop thinking of science as scary and intimidating and turn it into something fun.

2015-08-01-10-54-31--341155957After a (largely thorough) scouring of the internet (read: Pinterest), I’ve compiled a list of my own personal favorites along with some of the newer ones I found in my search.
Disclaimer: I’ve tried to ensure clarity of directions in each of these activities, please use common sense when performing these experiments to ensure your own safety and the safety of those around you.

Erupting Volcano:  Taken from:
You will need:
• 1/4 cup vinegar (up to a cup if you have a large bottle)
• 2 tablespoons baking soda
• cherry jell-o granules
1. Place the vinegar in the bottle.
2. Stir the baking soda and enough cherry jell-o mix to make a pinkish powder.
3. Either wrap the soda mixture in tissue paper or use a funnel to add it directly into the bottle. Tissue helps get all the soda in the vinegar at once, but if the funnel hole is large enough, that method works just fine. Either way, the goal is to get the baking soda into the vinegar as fast as you can.
4. Stand back and watch what happens – Erupting Volcano!

Note: There’s oodles more recipes on the site (and the rest of the internet) that can be tried besides the one I have here. Check them all out and then pick your own preferred method.

Salt Volcanoes:  Taken from:
1. Pour several inches of water into a jar.
2. Add about 1/3 of vegetable oil.
3. Drop in food coloring and observe what happens.
4. Shake salt on top of the oil/water/food coloring mixture. Observe, observe, observe.
5. Pour or sprinkle more salt, as desired. You may want to touch it. (Tip: Have towels handy.)

Potato Battery:  From PBS Kids:
You will need:
• Potato
• Plate
• 2 pennies
• 2 galvanized nails
• three 8 inch lengths insulated copper wire, each with 2 inches of the insulation stripped off one end
• digital clock with attachments for wires

1. First, cut a potato in half and put the two halves on a plate so they stand on their flat ends. The plate is there to keep your table clean.
2. Then, wrap the end of one piece of wire around a galvanized nail and wrap the end of a second piece of wire around a penny.
3. Stick the nail and penny into one half of the potato so that they’re not touching each other.
4. Next, wrap the third piece of wire around the other penny and put it into the other half of the potato. Put the other nail into the second half of the potato, but this nail should not have wire wrapped around it.
5. Now, connect the wire from the penny on the first half of the potato to the nail that has no wire on it in the second half of the potato.
6. Finally, touch the free ends of the wires to the wires coming out of the digital clock.
7. Does it work?
8. You’ll probably have to try connecting the wires to the clock in different ways to get the energy to flow through the clock in the right direction.
9. It’s just like putting batteries into a clock; they have to go in the right way.

Don’t forget to watch later this month for THREE MORE Science Experiments from Beth, as well as a list of fun sites that celebrate all things SCIENCE.  


Beth Holian is a freelance blogger with an incurable fever for good literature. When she can be pried away from books, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, hiking, jogging, and spending time with her dog. She can be found at or between stacks of books in her ever – growing library.