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!

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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!