Posts Tagged ‘baking’

The Story of Ornaments & How They Are Made!

December 20th, 2006

Recommended Websites:
The Story of Ornaments & How They Are Made!

Why do we hang ornaments from Christmas trees? What is the significance?
How are ornaments made? Today’s websites answer these questions and more…

A Social History of Christmas Ornaments

At this website you can read an interesting account of the history of
Christmas trees and the ornaments used to decorate them. The story comes in
three parts; Origins of the Christmas Tree, The Earliest Ornaments (1800’s),
and The Rise of All American Ornaments (1900’s). The text is accompanied by
pictures and illustrations. Students ages 10 and up may enjoy reading this
on their own. Parents may want to read and paraphrase it for younger

WATCH A VIDEO of How Glass Ornaments Are Made!

This website offers a video of how glass ornaments are made in Poland. When
you get to this commercial website that sells ornaments look at the menu on
the left side of your screen. Scroll down the menu until you come to video
icon with the words written below it, “Click to enlarge glass ornament
making movie.” Click on those words and a larger video screen will appear
and the movie will begin (turn on your speakers). The movie isn’t narrated
but the sound gives you a better sense of what is taking place as the
hand-made glass balls are blown, dipped, hand-painted, finished and
packaged. Aspects of this film are grainy, nevertheless the painstaking
process is well-conveyed. The movie is suitable for all ages — although you
may have to narrate what is happening to help young children understand.

How We Came To Celebrate Christmas As A National Holiday

The Hoover Presidential Library Museum tells the story of how Christmas
became a national holiday in America through a fascinating online exhibit
that features Christmas tree decorations and what they symbolize culturally
throughout various eras of U.S. history. As the virtual exhibit explains…

“Christmas wasn’t always celebrated the way it is today. In fact, the
Puritans of Massachusetts banned any observance of Christmas, and anyone
caught observing the holiday had to pay a fine. Connecticut had a law
forbidding the celebration of Christmas and the baking of mincemeat pies! A
few of the earliest settlers did celebrate Christmas, but it was far from a
common holiday in the colonial era.
It is hard to pinpoint the first decorated Christmas trees in America. Some
say the tradition began with the Moravians of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania who
decorated trees in the very early 1800s. Others say the first American
Christmas tree was set up by Hessian soldiers at Trenton, New Jersey, in
1776. We do know that by the early 1800s there were numerous decorated trees
throughout our country, but the term “Christmas tree” was not in common use
until 1830.

The Christmas tree tradition was spread across America by German immigrants
beginning in the early 1800s. The Germans baked fancy ornaments for their
trees and then ate the ornaments when the trees came down. After Christmas,
these frugal people would strip the needles and wrap the branches in cotton
to extend the tree’s life for several Christmases to come.” To learn more,
visit the website. :)

Best of the holiday season to you and yours! Merry Christmas and Happy New

Merry Christmas Math!

December 18th, 2006

Recommended Website:

GoogolPower: Christmas Math (the makers of my favorite math songs) have created a Family
Math curriculum page themed around Christmas. This is a delightful way to
incorporate learning into every aspect of the holidays. When you get to the
site you will find all kinds of links to fun Christmas activities for
families to do together that build math skills and comprehension too. They

  • Baking – Find recipes & recipe converters.
  • Budgeting – Discover how to fill out a spreadsheet.
  • Holiday Lights – Learn how many watts of power they use.
  • Wrapping Presents – Use your tape measure to determine package dimensions.
    Make tessellation wrapping paper.
  • Trees & Snowflakes – Measure the height of a tree, and investigate
    snowflake symmetry.
  • Christmas Cards – Make a card with a cryptarithm or a tangram.
  • Ornaments & Decorations – Make your own polyhedras to put on the tree.
  • Santa Claus – Find out how Santa uses math to circumnavigate the Earth.
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas – Learn what the song has to do with Pascal’s
  • Christmas Worksheets & Math Problems — Includes dot-to-dots, mazes, logic
    problems with candy canes and much more!

Don’t forget to bookmark this website and come back after Christmas to
explore the many math lessons and activities that incorporate learning about
other subjects too.

Have fun!

Pancake Math!

February 26th, 2006

Today is Pancake Day!

Pancake Day is also known as “Shrove Tuesday” among some religions. It is the day before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Lent is the 40 days of penance, prayer, and fasting that precedes Easter. Traditionally, people abstained from eating eggs and fats during Lent, and pancakes were the perfect way of using up those ingredients before Lent began. Pancake Day is also known as “Mardi Gras” which is French for “Fat Tuesday.”

I thought it would be fun to celebrate with some Pancake Math for a variety of ages and abilities.

Recommended Websites:

Preschool Pancake Math:

Pancake Geometry:
At this site you will find a suggestion for how to use pancakes to teach geometric shapes to little ones.

Pancake Curriculum!
Find all kinds of pancake-themed activities and lessons that teach while they entertain!

Elementary Grades Pancake Math:
At the Aunt Jemima website you can scroll down to the title “Pancake Math” to find out how to use information on a pancake mix box to teach your kids about multiplication, addition, measurement, and every other principle of math all while they’re enjoying a pancake breakfast.

Pancake (& Pumpkin) Recipe Math

Practice math skills while baking some delicious fat-free pumpkin pancakes for Grandma! :) The recipe link in this activity doesn’t work, but here’s a replacement (just use the rest of the egg for something else): Pumpkin Pancake recipe.

Upper Elementary Grades and Beyond:

Flipping Pancakes Math
At this website you’ll see a number of “pancakes” all of different sizes, stacked on top of each other. Your job is to arrange the pancakes according to their size with the biggest at the bottom. Click a pancake and your flipper “goes under that pancake” and flips the whole stack above the flipper.

Pancake Sorting
This pancake sorting problem asks how many “prefix reversals” are sufficient to sort an arbitrary stack of pancakes.

Three Pancakes
At this site you can use a simulation device to gain insight to this math problem about probability: You have a hat in which there are three pancakes: One is golden on both sides, one is brown on both sides, and one is golden on one side and brown on the other. You withdraw one pancake, look at one side, and see that it is brown. What is the probability that the other side is brown?

Just For Fun!

Is the state of Kansas as flat as a pancake? Go to the website of Improbable Research and find out how to combine math and science to find the answer!


A Gingerbread Curriculum

December 8th, 2004

Who knew you could satisfy national curriculum standards while savoring the aroma, taste, and creative possibilities of gingerbread?! Here are some websites that show you how!

Recommended Websites:
Gingerbread Language Arts & Crafts

Gather the family around the computer for a treat! You can watch a film of beloved children’s author and illustrator Jan Brett reading her story, “The Gingerbread Baby,” aloud at this website. Not only that, she offers lots of arts and crafts activity pages all themed around “The Gingerbread Baby.” Simply click on “Home Page” after viewing the video and look for links to “Activities Pages” and “Coloring Pages” on the menu.

Read an interactive, online version of the classic, traditional tale of The Gingerbread Man.

Gingerbread Social Studies

You can read an annotated version of the classic tale, The Gingerbread Man, at this website, see various illustrations and books about The Gingerbread Man, and even discover similar stories from other cultures!

Gingerbread History

This website offers the history of gingerbread from the Middle Ages to modern times – with a nod to the Brothers Grimm and “Hansel & Gretel.”” It also explains the history of ginger root, the herb used to make ginger for use in gingerbread. The text at this site provides basic historical information and contains links for further study. Unfortunately, the links did not work when I visited, but the text provides plenty of information without it. You will also find some recipes using ginger at this site.

Gingerbread Math

You only need basic math skills to build a Gingerbread House! Learn a little about geometry (and architecture!) as you determine what size to cut the squares, rectangles, triangles, circles, archways and other parts needed for the structure.

At this Gingerbread Lane website you can look through a photo archive of incredible gingerbread houses that have won prizes in various gingerbread house contests. You can even see an Eiffel Tower made out or Gingerbread! The site has recipes for gingerbread and the all-important mortar-icing! There are also construction tips, and plans for making simple gingerbread houses too. You’ll discover the best decorative candy to use – and you will find tips for how to preserve your gingerbread masterpiece. Finally there are links to 26 other sites all about gingerbread!

Now, as a bonus, I’ve included a website where you can follow very easy plans to make mini faux gingerbread houses out of graham crackers. This is an especially good choice if you are pressed for time – or if you have young children who would get frustrated with building more complex or real gingerbread structures. Here’s the website for more simple “gingerbread” houses.

Note: I gave a Gingerbread House Building Party for our homeschool support group one year. Guests brought single-serving milk cartons that we used for bases for the houses. Then we just used royal icing to “glue” the graham crackers to the milk cartons. Construction is simple using this method. Once you cover the milk carton in graham crackers – you can fill in spaces with icing. Then decorate the whole thing as usual with candy. We supplied icing and graham crackers for building. Guests brought their own milk cartons and candy to decorate (we shared the candy). It was great fun and the results were spectacular. If you do this be sure that every adult has their own materials – as parents like this project as much as their kids do! This also prevents the kids from saying to mom and dad in total exasperation, “I’d rather do it myself!” :-)

Gingerbread Science

This website offers information on the ginger plant from which we get powdered ginger for gingerbread. See pictures of the ginger plant, ginger flower, and ginger root. You will also find the name of the ginger plant in many different languages as well as information about its various uses, along with links to other sites about ginger.

Note: Don’t forget that baking is a science — so be sure to make a batch of gingerbread or gingerbread men using the recipes provided at many of today’s links.

Additional Gingerbread Studies

A Gingerbread Unit Study?

Almost. At this site you’ll find all kinds of gingerbread-themed trivia, history, language arts — including a link to Grimm’s Hansel & Gretel that you can read online, the scientific classification of ginger, and much more! Use the information here to create your own unit study!

Build Your Own Volcano!

October 5th, 2004

Recommended Website:
Volcano World: Building Volcano Models

Mount St. Helens’ sputtering and spewing of steam and ash provided the inspiration for today’s website. Here, you will find 10 different methods for building your own volcano! When you get to the site you will see a menu of volcano model projects that include:

  1. Play Dough Volcano Model — See how a 6 & 7 year old built a volcano from play dough. Complete instructions and recipe for play dough.
  2. Paper & Cardboard Volcanoes — Complete instructions for building 2 kinds of volcanoes complete with eruption instructions using baking soda, vinegar, and food coloring!
  3. 3-D Cardboard Volcanoes – More work, but more realistic looking too!
  4. Simple Clay Models — From the simple to the sublime.
  5. Explosive Volcano Model — This laboratory model uses air pressure to propel sand into the air.
  6. Lava Flows on Plastic 3-D Maps — Purchase the materials (from $30-$90 approx.), and then do the experiments.
  7. The Poor Man’s Pebble Volcano — Simple and effective.
  8. The Electronic Volcano — This one is designed with high school physics in mind.
  9. Paper Volcano Model – Print out the free volcano model and follow the instructions for assembly!
  10. Your Volcano Models — Photos of volcano models submitted by website visitors.
  11. How Calderas and Craters Form — Flour, plastic tubing, and a balloon help to demonstrate how volcanic features form.
  12. Paper Mache Volcano Photos — Pictures of paper mache volcanoes created by a cub scouts. However, there are no instructions for these models.

Click on the model that interests you and a new page opens with pictures, instructions, recipes, material lists — everything you need to make your own volcano!

Don’t forget to click on the Volcano World icon that will take you to the home page of this site — where you will find extensive info on the science, history, and current status of volcanoes worldwide.

Over 35 Virtual Field Trips!

February 5th, 2004

Recommended Website:
Tramline: Virtual Field Trips

Bookmark this site now! You will want to return to take some of the remarkable virtual field trips archived here. Sponsored by a company that produces software to help teachers create virtual field trips for their classroom students, this website features some of the interesting and educational virtual field trip activities that teachers have created for their elementary through high school students. These virtual field trips meet national curriculum standards.

When you get to the site, you will see a brief introduction along with some instructions and printable forms for classroom teacher use. Scroll down and you will see two menus that include:

  • Science Field Trips — a selection of virtual activities to explore Antarctica, Aquifers, Baking Bread, Deserts, Dinosaurs, Endangered Species, Fierce Creatures, Getting Green, Hurricanes, Insects & Mini-beasts, Natural Wonders, Oceans, Rainforest, Salt Marshes, Sharks, Temperate Forest Biome, Tornadoes, Volcanoes, and Wildfires.
  • Other Field Trips — a selection of virtual activities to learn about American Presidents, Authors, the Dark Ages, Flight, Filmmaking, Iditarod, Leonardo da Vinci, Lewis & Clark, The Oregon Trail, Photography, Pi, Poetry, Shakespeare, Women’s History, and more.

Don’t let the grade range indicated by each topic stop you from checking it out. Families will find something for everyone to enjoy at all of these sites — little ones will like the pictures, older students will enjoy the information, and everyone can participate in the suggested activities to one degree or another.

Choose the destination that interests you and click your way to a pre-trip preparation page that gives some basic info on what you will discover on the field trip along with the objectives. Then click on “Start Field Trip” to begin. A new page opens with detailed instructions on how to maneuver your way through the virtual tour that includes photographs and text housed on various selected websites on the Internet. You can extrapolate information from the text (presented in a user-friendly way) to talk about what you are seeing with kids who don’t read yet — or you can let the kids read the info themselves. These virtual excursions include history, scientific information, and some fun activities that you can do at home to further the experience. You will also find links to other sites for more study and research.

This site provides a great demonstration of the learning assignments and explorations that are available through the Internet — providing a peek into the classroom of the future.

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