# Water Cycle in a Bag

Seattleites are overly familiar with the water cycle. Specifically the precipitation portion. Yet, carry an umbrella on the streets and you might as well wear a sign proclaiming “Tourist!!”. This weekend during our first soccer games (three of them…how is this possible given I only have TWO children?), my Tennessee transplanted friend commented on the rows of parents shielding themselves from the sweltering (70 degrees) heat, “This is the only time you ever see Seattle people with umbrellas…when it’s sunny.”.  Hahaha! It’s so true!

Back to the point. This cycle in Classical Conversations we’ll be memorizing the natural cycles and since it’s our second time through (how is it possible we’re entering year 4 of homeschooling?), I thought we’d add to our memory work with a little hands on example. I found a great idea (thanks Pinterest!) for a Water Cycle in a Bag that only needed a few supplies, all of which I had in the house already. Easy science that costs nothing? Boom. I’m in.

You’ll need a sandwich sized Ziploc baggie, 1/4 cup of water, a smidge of blue food coloring, sharpie (for drawing on the bag), and a piece of tape. Draw a sun and a cloud on the outside of the baggie, add the food coloring to your water, then the water to your baggie. Tape it to a window where you’ll get sunshine and watch the magic!

If you want to be really fancy, you can label your bag with the various parts of the water cycle, but I just talked to my kids as the process got going. Tiny droplets as water evaporates as it’s heated by the sun. The water turns from a liquid to a gas, but with nowhere to escape from the bag, it cools and turns back into a liquid (condensation).

The droplets that have condensed will continue to grow in size as more water turns to gas, and back to liquid. Usually this process is happening high in the sky, and we know it’s happening because clouds form as a result of condensation.

You can see that our droplets are getting larger. Actually, we were able to watch the condensation happen right before our eyes. Pay close attention to the video and you’ll see the droplets joining together and growing! It’s alive!! Run for your lives!

When the droplets get too big and heavy, they begin to drip down the sides of our bag, leaving trails behind. Precipitation happens exactly the same way when water droplets within clouds get too heavy and fall back to earth as rain. Conveniently, our “rain” fell right beneath our cloud drawing.

Who knew water evaporating, condensing and precipitating could be so fascinating? My kids check on our baggie about a dozen times a day and are making all kinds of connections to how temperature affects evaporation based on their observations. This little project has prompted lots of great questions and discussion — which for kids, is what science should be all about anyway!

# A Little Mud Never Hurt Anyone

In fact, muddy dirty play is incredibly good for you. According to research, playing outside in the grime and muck has health benefits for your heart, skin and immune system. Plus, studies show enjoying a good clean (dirty) day in the dirt increases happiness, reduces stress and enhances learning. Really. Here’s some reasons to encourage you to back away from the hand sanitizer, laundry soap and hand towels, and embrace the gloriously goopy joy of nature’s immune-system-builder extraordinaire.

# Science Observation: Owl Pellets

If you are easily grossed out, I’d recommend finding some other reading material for today. You can come back next post. I won’t judge. My daughter’s math book recently had a reference to owl pellets, which, she’d never heard of (I know…I’ve completely failed as a parent educator). So of course, relieve my guilt, and satisfy her curiosity, I put together a little pellet party. What can I say? I’m a nerd to the core. Continue reading

# Nature Sketchbook

“I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
― Isaac Newton

There is truth and beauty surrounding us in nature if we only take the time to observe it. The pace of life often leaves us in a whirlwind of schedules, appointments, errands and meetings, leaving little room for scrutiny and delight of the magnificent world encircling us. Continue reading

# Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area

While my husband was training for his new job in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge, the kids and I took a jaunt to the Oregon Coast and spent 5 glorious days flying kites, observing nature, building sand castles, exploring miles of pristine beaches, discovering tide pool creatures and generally having a jolly good time.

The Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area was one of the highlights of our trip, and I thought I’d share a little for anyone in search of a ruggedly beautiful place to vacation this summer.

# How to Change Blue to White and White to Blue

Otherwise known as sunprints! My kids and I enjoyed this fun science project last year. The beautiful weather this weekend reminded me of it, and thus you are the beneficiary of a great outdoor learning activity for you and your munchkins.

You’ll need sunprint paper, acrylic sheet, cardboard, a tub full of water, fun and interesting objects to print. You can purchase sunprint paper from Amazon (who now has free same day shipping to 14 metro areas with Prime Memberships!), they also sell sunprint kits which include an acrylic sheet, you’ll see from the pictures that I used a Pyrex casserole dish thinking it would be just as good…I was so wrong. I ended up with blurred fuzzy edges. Just say no to fuzzy edges!

# Science Observation: Bird’s Nest – Hydro Update

Around these parts, one of the most eagerly anticipated portions of the day is late afternoon, when Hydro and Gazelle come to hunt for remnant seeds beneath our feeder. Hydro is so skittish, that until today I wasn’t able to get a good photo. As a side note, you’ll often hear that Seattlites don’t have an accent. Not true. I thought “skittish” was spelled “skiddish”, because that’s how people from the Pacific Northwest pronounce double “t” in the middle of a word. “Seattle” would never be spoken like it looks around here. It comes out “See-addle”. Now you know our secret. Listen for it next time you’re conversing with a Northwesterner. Back to Hydro.

Thankfully, the weather was incredibly warm today and our sliding glass door was open to let in a breeze. Usually the noise of it is what makes Hydro and his momma scurry away. Tonight I managed to noiselessly slide open the screen and get a couple of shots in before the dash from evil me and my clicking lens. Continue reading

# Delighting in Dandelions

As a homeowner and struggling lawn keeper, I’ve often wondered what possessed God to create dandelions. They are the bane of gardeners everywhere, an impossible to kill nuisance that seemingly does nothing but cause headaches. Yes, I know you can eat them…I tried that as a kid. Bleah. Not interested in doing it again during adulthood. As we took our family walk today, I became awash in an old familiarity with this little weed, that offered me a new, and yet nostalgic, perspective.

# Science Observation: Bird’s Nest Day 28

Our baby birdie is all grown up. Hydro flew the nest today for the first time. Just his two little un-hatched sibling eggs remained. Kids these days. They grow up so quickly. One minute they are a tiny egg…then poof, they’re flying in the wild blue yonder. Continue reading

# Science Observation: Bird’s Nest Day 27

Happy Monday! A later update than usual because I spent my entire day observing Challenge classes at a local CC community. In a strange twist, one of the classes has an assignment this week to watch birds as part of their Science lesson. More on all that fun in another post. I know you really want the details on our nest happenings. It’s nasty out today and Hydro looks none too pleased about it. Continue reading