For a Limited Time Only: Daylight Saving Time:by Marilyn Ostermiller.

clock-fleur-de-lisTick Tock. Tick Tock.

Time to Turn Back the Clock

On Sunday, November 6, Daylight Saving Time will end at 2 a.m. We’ll roll back our clocks by an hour. As a result daylight will come an hour earlier than we are used to, and so will nightfall.

A simple way to remember which way to reset your timepieces is to tie images to this meme: spring forward and fall back. For the spring time change, think of a bunny hopping across your yard. For the return to Standard Time in the fall, picture someone doing a backward somersault.

Congress initially passed Daylight Saving Time in 1918 to save electricity during World War I, according to The History Channel. It was repealed the next year, but some states and cities continued to shift their clocks back and forth. The problem was that each participating state and city could fix their own start and end dates. This chaotic situation was finally resolved in 1966 when Congress enacted the Uniform Time Act.

In the United States only two states, Arizona and Hawaii, don’t participate. In about 70 countries around the world, about 25 percent of the world’s population participates.        img_3536

Come to think of it, how did we come to have 24 hours in a day or hours that last 60 minutes? And why do minutes contain 60 seconds? There are a couple of enlightening children’s books on the subject.

“About Time: A First Look at Time and Clocks” is for children in second through fifth grade.  Author Bruce Koscielniak tells the intriguing story of the many years spent tinkering and inventing to perfect the art of telling time. When time itself was undefined, no one knew the difference between a minute, an hour, and a day. Then people started creating tools to measure time. First, they used the sun, the moon, and the water. Soon, people began using their knowledge about the natural world to build clocks and to create calendars made up of months and years. Centuries later, we have clocks and calendars all around us. This book is published by HMH Books for Young Readers.

“A Second, a Minute, a Week with Days in It: A Book about Time,” written by Brian P. Cleary and illustrated by Brian Gable. A collection of zany cats introduce the measurement of time, from seconds, minutes, and hours up to decades. It is suggested for kindergarten through fifth grade.      Marilyn Ostermiller

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time business journalist who now writes for children. You can follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_Suzanne.




Author Terry Jennings Has Magnetism + A Free Book!

My author friend Terry Jennings has a new book out about magnetism that she wants to share with you.  Here’s Terry.

Who wants another book on magnetism? Like poles repel and opposites attract and that’s the way it is, right? Kids already know all about it.

            So why did I write another book on magnetism? It’s so much more than the dance between the poles! And that’s what I love about writing non-fiction and creative non-fiction. You find out so much cool stuff.

When I wrote Gopher to the Rescue! A Volcano Recovery Story, I never planned to have a gopher as the main character. But those little diggers (8-12” long) helped Mount St. Helens (9600 feet tall before the eruption) recover. They dug up the ash and softened it so that seeds could sprout. They brought up nutritious bacteria from below. What could be cooler than that?

With Sounds of the Savanna, I learned all about prey and predator interactions. I learned that everybody’s gotta eat ‘cause everybody wants to live! That does mean that sometimes another animal has to die, but it’s surprising how unsuccessful predators are. I also heard that predators cooperate. That makes sense, right? Hyenas and lionesses, they cooperate. But what about prey? Zebras, wildebeest and antelopes all eat the same plant. Zebras eat the old, tough stuff—their teeth are made for it. Wildebeest like the next part. Antelopes love the tender new growth but they can’t get to it until the zebras and the wildebeest have grazed. Wildebeest hide within zebra herds because zebra stripes confuse predators. Cool too, right?

So what was cool about Magnetic Magic? We all do know that like poles repel and unlike attract. But did you know that inside a totally unmagnetic copper pipe a magnet can create both a current and a magnetic field? You can also try it with a totally unmagnetic aluminum pipe. Check it out in my website: give it a bit of time to load and click on the You Tube “Is aluminum magnetic?”      magneticmagic_120

But the coolest thing of all, is that the earth’s magnetic pole shifts. It wonders, from the north geographic pole to the south geographic pole and to places in between. Magnetic North changes from year to year and from place to place. So if a treasure map from a hundred years ago gives coordinate directions from a fixed geographic point and we try to find the treasure this year, we won’t be able to, unless we know the magic number. The magnetic declination. It’s a number we add or subtract from the coordinates (depending on whether the declination is east or west that year). With that number, we can find the treasure. Check out the book and activities at        

author-pic-snow-canyonWant to win a copy of Magnetic Magic? Here’s how:

Tell us your favorite recent Non-fiction picture book and why you like it.  I’ll put your name in a hat and draw a winner who will receive a signed copy of Terry’s new book MAGNETIC MAGIC.   WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON THIS BLOG ON WEDNESDAY, 10-26-2016.

The Disappearing Butterfly…How You Can Help!

This post originally ran last year, but I find it so important I am running it again.  Help keep monarch butterflies in our world.  Pass it on.

While many insects make a lot of people say “yuck”…butterflies are in a category of their own.  There is no ick factor to these beautiful and amazing creatures.  One of the most recognized – and perhaps most popular – butterflies in North America is the MONARCH. Sadly, this beautiful insect is disappearing at an alarming rate.  In the 1990’s up to 1 BILLION monarchs migrated from the Northern US and Canada each fall to the OYAMEL FIR forests of Mexico.  Another million wintered in forested groves along the California coast.       monarch Now, scientists estimate that only 56.5 MILLION remain.  This represents a decline of nearly 80%.  Most of the decline is blamed on changing use of land; but we homeowners can change that.  You can use your property to create “monarch way stations” by planting MILKWEED and other nectar filled plants.  These plots allow monarchs to successfully produce generations and sustain them for their annual migrations. Milkweeds are the ONLY plants on which monarchs deposit their eggs and on which their larvae feed.  Without milkweed, there would be no monarchs.     To learn more about monarchs and way stations visit: Milkweed is easy to grow from seed.  And, here is a link for free milkweed plants.  They require little care and will spread easily once they take hold.  They can take over a garden, so be careful where you plant them. Go to:          

Milkweed from my garden.

Milkweed from my garden.

  Not only will you bring beauty to your own habitat, but you will be helping an endangered species. Here’s a link to a wonderful post to start a discussion about Monarchs from Terry Jennings.:

Edible Science: Fun Experiments You Can Eat!

As another school year winds down, you and your kids don’t have to stop learning. Mastering STEM (Science, technology, engineering, math) skills are more important than ever for our children to be able to compete in the global community called EARTH.

But learning at home doesn’t have to be text-book dry or boring.  You can make it fun and DELICIOUS, by combining science with food preparation.  Check out this BuzzFeed site that features 17 food based experiments that explore different scientific ideas or principles.  Get ready to make such things as:

  • Edible playdoh.
  • Edible glass.
  • Fake snot
  • a lemon-powered battery.
  • DNA helix
  • The amazing properties of Chocolate.
  • Make your own yogurt or butter.
  • Turn grapes into raisins.

And many more fun ideas.


Your kids will be having so much fun making and tasting their way through the experiments, they’ll forget they’re learning. 

Help Young Kids Learn With Curiosityville.

As an educator and parent, I’ve seen many websites with activities for children.  Here’s one I came across recently that uses the Science Of Learning in it’s lessons for children aged 3-7. CURIOSITYVILLE Features an international cast of furry characters for children to get to know through various lessons.  This website for educators features hundreds of activities and lesson plans for online and hands on activities.  It is also great for parents with a Home Connection feature.

I am not endorsing this site…just thought you might want to check it out.

Monarch Butterfly Update.

Back in July I did a post about the importance of planting a garden that is Monarch friendly.  Since the butterflies only lay their eggs on MILKWEED, these are the best plants to encourage their re population.  Last week I went out into our garden and found these sights to behold:

Monarch caterpillar on the underside of a milkweed plant.

Monarch caterpillar chewing away on the underside of a milkweed plant.

Monarch chrysalises attached to the house...which is next to the milkweed plants.

Monarch chrysalises attached to the house…which is next to the milkweed plants.

Several days later…there was this!

monarch hatching from the chrysalis.

monarch hatching from the chrysalis.

monarch that just emerged from chrysalis and was drying its wings

monarch that just emerged from chrysalis and was drying its wings.

So amazing to see nature do what it does best!

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.