Caramel Experimentation

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I had an itch for caramel apples. I’ve never tried my hands at them before, but I wanted to make them with my girls this year. I bought all the goodies, the sticks, and the apples. Now, the only thing left was for me to find an excuse to use up home school time for this delicious venture. My clever husband was the one to find one. He suggested that we convert our cooking into a science experiment and test to see just how many caramels it takes to cover one apple. BRILLIANT!

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It wasn’t that long ago that I had introduced my kindergartener and my second grader to the 6 steps of an experiment. These are the problem, the materials, the hypothesis, the procedure, the conclusion, and the follow up. A simple posing question like, “How many caramels does it take to cover one apple?” was great for reiterating these steps. I seized the opportunity for both learning and messy sugary fun.

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I started by reviewing the six steps in an experiment with my girls and giving them the “Caramel Apple Experiment Worksheet” that I had personally composed. The plus side to a worksheet is the extra hand writing practice it requires. Once the problem and the materials were presented, it was next up to my girls to form a hypothesis. My five year old hypothesized that it would take 4 caramels to cover one apple and my seven year old hypothesized 3. We found out very quickly that neither of these amounts were sufficient. In fact throughout our “procedure” of melting caramel over the stove, we came to the conclusion that it takes roughly 10 caramels to cover one apple. This realization hit me hard, because I knew we had 8 more apples to cover and that meant 80 little square stubborn candies needed to be unwrapped. Whew! It’s a good thing sugar can be so motivating. For our follow up both my seven year old and I agreed that spending more money on caramels next time around would be worth it, since our off brand caramels hardened too quickly for us to stick goodies to. Next year I think I may even try to make my own caramel, but there’s little chance of me finding a way to convert that into a lesson plan!

A is for Apples!

Apple Pickin' Tree Collage

Thanks to the Werkema’s generosity, we were treated to our first apple picking experience in their mini backyard orchard. It was a blast! The apples were literally falling off the trees. Of course one of my girls was more interested in their dog than helping us to fill our buckets.

Applesauce Collage

For about two days my mother and I made a mess in the kitchen striving for applesauce. From the very first peeled apple my senses were delighted and my mind drifted off to happy places of coffee house ciders and caramel apple treats. It was a tease for both nose and stomach for this poor pregnant woman!

Though it was not my first canning experience, it was my first apple experience. My mother wisely invested in a tool that peels, cores, and slices apples. This handy little thing saved us HOURS! I would recommend it to anyone. My mother chose to make a few chunky batches of sauce, but for the bulk of our apples we used a food mill for a traditionally smooth sauce. Of course almost every batch was honored with a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg! Can fall get any better?

Cans!

The finished product can be so incredibly rewarding after a hard days canning. I only wish my entire family could enjoy my enthusiasm. Unfortunately only two out of my three girls will eat apple sauce and not too readily. Oh well at least my husband and I know and follow the apple a day rule 🙂

Cuneiform Tablets

Cuneiform Collage

I am introducing my girls to World History this year and am learning so much personally! I had to give a lesson on the first civilization Sumer and the information was heavy and detailed for their level. I never fear offering too much however, because I know some is getting absorbed and the subject is sure to be repeated years later. I did want to engage them in a project to help them relate to the subject and hopefully commit some of what we learned to memory. One of the ways Sumer developed as a civilization was through their written language cuneiform. When I surveyed some examples of this writing and noted it’s simple lines and triangle shapes, I knew it was perfect thing to engage my girls with. I decided we would simply mimmic ancient scribes by molding tablets out of clay and pressing these shapes into them. I found the alphabet on the internet and what you see here is my girls attempts to write their names. The left is my second grader’s and the right is my kindergartener’s. Not bad huh?

Manna Makin’

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My second grader Keeley is studying Moses and the Israelites this fall for Bible. One of the projects in her curriculum was to make your own manna. How fun! This was a great opportunity to steal my dear daughter away from all those monotonous worksheets and enjoy some hands on learning.

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These are the ingredients we used. We basically threw them all into a giant bowl, stirred them up with a spatula until it came together, and then kneaded it slightly on a floured surface. I let Keeley get as messy as she darn well wanted. After all this wasn’t our family dinner. Once the dough was kneaded we separated it into uniform balls which we flattened out into disks. A few minutes in a 350 degree oven on a pizza stone and they were ready! This recipe gave quick return for your work, which is good when including eager impatient children.

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The Bible tells us that God’s “Rain from Heaven” tasted sweet like wafers with honey. Well I have to say that ours tasted sweet as well. The manna was very subtle and pleasing on the pallet. Our whole family gobbled them up in 5 minutes flat, including Daddy!