Tag Archives: PTOE

activities periodic table science


Do you know what happens when you add food coloring to ice and table salt?

salt, colors, ice

Not only do you get a beautiful bowl of colored, fast melting ice; but you can experience iridescence if you use the right pigment. I’m not going to tell you which pigment causes this effect. You’ll have to try all of them to see for yourself. Of course, you can kind of tell in the pictures below, but try it and see if you are right.

red, blue, purple

you need:
table salt
primary food colors
neon food colors- if you can only get one pack, get the neon
*I HIGHLY suggest using both types of food coloring, it’s the best way to discover the pigment that causes the iridescence


to do:
1. fill a bowl with ice
2. sprinkle (or pour, try different amounts) table salt onto the ice
3. add drops of food coloring onto the salt
4. you get instant results with some of the colors, no results with some, and have to be a little patient with one color

salt then color

colors of ice

 Here are some great links to explain what exactly is going on in this experiment and ways to understand what causes color:
1. SciScape 
2. Causes of Color -LOVE this site! Explains color really well.

purple neon

Don’t dump the ice when you are done, let the ice melt down and see what happens to the iridescence. Enjoy!

bowl of ice

activities kitchen chemistry science tutorial

cornstarch dough and watercolors

We had some friends over on Thursday and played with cornstarch clay; since Thursday I have made 3 more batches of this fun clay for the little ladies to create with. Anytime you bring cornstarch and water into play you know you’re going to have a good time!

cornstarch clay

for the clay you need:
2 cups cornstarch
1 cup salt
2 cups baking powder
2 cups water
**this amount was made for 7 children (and three mamas too)

for sculpting and color:

to make:
1. Add dry ingredients to the water and cook on medium to high heat, stirring constantly
2. The mixture will start getting clumpy, turn the down heat; when about 80% of the mixture is dough-like take off the heat and continue to stir until the leftover liquid joins the dough.
3. Let cool for a few minutes then start molding and sculpting.

araina's kitties

The little ladies used toothpicks to make the legs and join pieces and parts. Then covered the toothpicks with the clay. You can dry the clay creations in the oven at 225 degrees for a few hours or let them air dry for a few days.


My favorite part of this clay is how watercolors absorb and spread on it. The best time to paint is after the creations are dry, but if your little ones (or yourself) are impatient you can paint after sculpting; however, it wets the dough quite a bit.  

wc paint

water color

Being the science lover I am, I cannot post this dough recipe without a link to learning about polymers. Cornstarch is one of the most enjoyable ingredients to understanding polymers. If you have ever made Oobleck, you know what I am speaking of! Kendra and Kathleen, I foresee a mad scientist day on Thursday involving lots of cornstarch and water…………

periodic table science

science songs and videos (ptoe)

Here’s a little post for my “science nerd” friends!

They Might Be Giants came out with a new science CD/DVD collection called Here Comes Science They Might be Giants! TMBG has always been a favorite band of mine and I find my little ladies loving them as well!  Here’s a sneak peek video of  their PTOE song- “Meet the Elements:”

Not a TMBG song but it is a pretty song and video about the water cycle.

Fauna is fascinated with this one! She wants to be able to sing it word for word. Good Luck Fauna!

craft felt flowers herb kitchen chemistry leaves periodic table seeds sewing Uncategorized

natural dyes- walnuts and goldenrod

Making natural dyes from backyard plants (or frontyard)  is an activity we enjoy to do in the Autumn, when we can heat up the kitchen and still have a window or two open. Yesterday we gathered goldenrod, walnuts and pokeberry to dye a thrifted wool blanket and some wool roving.

natural dyes

 What you need:

vinegar for plant dyes

salt for berry dyes


stainless steel pots- VERY IMPOTANT or a chemical reaction can occur with the color

 cloth or fibers- light colored wool, cotton, silk or muslin works best for natural dyes

cheesecloth or coffee filter


plant material- flowers should be in full bloom, nuts mature, and berries ripe

wool wool blanket

Before dyeing the fibers you must soak them in a fixative in order for the dye to “stick”:

Berry dye fixative: 1/2 cup salt to 8 cups cold water

Plant dye fixative: 4 parts cold water to 1 part vinegar

Directions for fixative: Add the fabric to the fixative mixture and simmer for an hour; then rinse the fabric in cold water and ring out excess water.

natural dyes fixative

Making the dye bath: While the fabric is soaking in the fixative prepare the dye bath. Chop up the plant material and place in a pan. Add the water by doubling the amount of water to plant material. I used a lot of water for the walnuts because they make such a strong dark dye. Bring the water to a boil, then simmer for about a  half hour to an hour, depending on how potent you want the dye. 

walnut dye bath walnut dye bath 2

Dyeing the fabric: Strain plant material from the water. I found out the hard way that you should use cheesecloth or a coffee filter to catch little bits of plant material that go through the strainer. Add the fabric (while still wet from the fixative soak) to the dye bath. Simmer the fabric in the bath until the desired color is obtained. Keep in mind that the fabric will be lighter once it is rinsed and dry. After obtaining preferred color, rinse in cold water until water is clear. Hang to dry (don’t ya love the 1970’s brick fireplace with brass guard?).

drying the wool

The results are so pretty! The goldenrod (left) stained the wool a light creamy yellow color; the walnut stained the wool a beautiful brown with a chestnut tint. I’m planning on staining more wool with the walnut bath so I can make wool trees for the little ladies’ holiday gifts. Araina wants to make a leaf garland and Fauna wants to make a gathering bag with both colors of the stained wools. ****Note- all dyed fabric should be laundered separately in cold water.

dyed wool 2

You can do this natural dyeing  process with any plants you find in your yard. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different plants to get different colors. Plantain and grass would probably make a pretty green color. I was thinking about trying leaf litter too. Have fun experimenting and if you do this please let me know how it turned out!

Note on the pokeberries- last year we used pokeberries to dye some wool and it came out a beautiful pink color. This year I simmered the berries in a  NON-stainless steel pot (I used a large pot for canning) and the beautiful magenta berry color turned pale yellow, which is disappointing when you wanted pink! So I didn’t post that one. But learn from my mistakes and use stainless steel! Hopefully our now green pokeberries that are growing in the backyard will ripen before more nights of frost occur.

For you science lovers out there- learn about the chemical bonding of dyeing fabric here and to learn more about the different types of bonds go here. Enjoy!

herb herbs homemade gifts lavender natural cleaners science

ivory soap experiment (ptoe, oxygen)

Do you know what this is?????? Nope, it’s not shaving cream.

ivory soap3

It’s a bar of Ivory soap after being cooked in the microwave for a couple of minutes! It’s a very cool experiment that you must try with your little ones! I developed a little booklet to guide this experiment. This is also a great experiment to do with the PTOE when discussing Oxygen.

ivorysoap 3

For the experiment you need:

a bar of Ivory soap

downloadable booklet- cut pages in half then assemble and staple

large bowl of water

math cubes

newspaper or wax paper to protect table

ivory soap

 Our little friend Emma had all kinds of great questions about this experiment. She even wondered if the bar was hollow.

ivory soap4

After completing most of the booklet, it’s time to put the soap into the microwave:

1. Put the soap in the center of a large plate.

2. Cook the bar of soap on HIGH for 2 minutes. DON”T take your eyes off the soap, it’s very cool to see it expand into fluffy clouds.

3. Let it cool before touching, it can be VERY HOT!

So why does Ivory blow up in the microwave??

All soap contains water; both in the form of water vapor (inside trapped air bubbles) and water that is caught up in the matrix of soap itself. The soap expanding is caused by the heating of the water that is inside of the soap. The water vaporizes, making bubbles, while the heat also causes trapped air to expand. The heat also causes the soap to soften and become pliable. This effect is actually a demonstration of Charles’ Law. When the soap is heated the molecules of air in the soap move faster causing them to move far away from each other. This causes the soap to puff up and expand to an enormous size. Charles’ Law states that as the temperature of the gas increases so does its volume. Try a non-whipped bar of soap and see if Charles’ Law effects it too.

A little history of Ivory soap:

The concept of soap that floats was rumored to have been encountered by accident. The story goes that Harley Procter named the soap ‘Ivory’ from a biblical verse (Psalm 45) church: “All thy garments smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia, out of the ivory palaces whereby they have made me glad.” In 1878, the formula for the “White Soap” was created. Several months later the accident occurred. Without thinking one of the workmen left to go to lunch and the machinery was still running. Since the machinery was left in operation, air would work its way into the mixture. The workman decided not to discard the mixture after discussing with his supervisor. Instead he poured mixture into frames and the soap hardened. Interestingly enough it was cut, packaged, and shipped. Amazingly, Procter & Gamble began to receive letters from buyers of this “accidental” soap. They wanted more of the soap that floats! Even though this interesting formula was one of their best products, they were perplexed as to how this happened. The mysterious formula for the floating soap was resolved when the lunchtime accident was revealed. The error the workman made became Procter & Gamble’s new product. Why was this product so popular? Some people were known to bathe in the Ohio River and the floating soap would never get lost. Ivory Soap became a best seller due to a workman’s error. Proctor & Gamble makes the floating soap by intentionally adding a small amount of air in the formula. Naturally, this allows the soap to be lighter than water (from essortment.com).

What to do with the soap bits:

 1. After the experiment it’s time to play with the soap- Ivory soap sculptures!  Have a small bowl of water available to wet hands, this helps in the molding of the fluffy soap. If the soap is too dry it will not form well.

ivory soap2 ivory soap

 Here are some of the lovely creations that the three little ladies made from the soap- a cave, a house,

ivorysoap 2  

and a little kitty!

ivorysoap 4

2. Add pieces to warm water and do some felting with wool roving. We are planning on making cocoons tomorrow!

3. Make a new bar of soap- melt the soap in a pan, add a bit of water, add oatmeal and lavender buds. Pour into a mold.

4. Make soap balls (the little ladies love these)-  put the soap bits in a bowl, add a touch of water,  add lavender or other dried flowers, and roll the mixture into a ball. Place on waxed paper to dry overnight.

  ivory soap 6

What a great activity to do during flu season! I guarantee clean hands in the end! Enjoy!

flowers herb herbs periodic table

yellow wood sorrel (ptoe-oxalic acid)


 Yellow wood sorrel (Oxalis stricta)  is another backyard edible.  The leaves, flowers and unripe fruits are edible, with a sour, tart, lemony flavor; it’s sometimes referred to as “sour grass” because of the sour taste. Wood sorrel can be added to salads, soups, or sauces, or used as a seasoning. The leaves can be steeped in boiling water for 5-10 minutes and then sweetened to make a refreshing drink similar to lemonade. I am always reading that  it should be consumed in moderation because the plant contains oxalic acid which is toxic in excessive amounts, but looking at this chart you get more oxalic acid from parsley, purslane, chives, rhubarb stems and spinach.

or Fruit
Oxalic Acid Content
as a percentage
USDA Dr. Duke Litholink
Amaranth 1.09
Apples 0.00
Apricots 0.00
Asparagus 0.13 0.01
Beans 0.36 0.03 0.02
Beans, Fava 0.01
Beans, Garbanzo 0.00
Beans, Soy 0.08
Beets 0.04 0.68
Beet Greens 0.61
Blackberries 0.02
Blueberries 0.02
Broccoli 0.19 0.00
Brussels Sprouts 0.36 0.00
Cabbage 0.10 0.04 0.00
Carrots 0.50 0.01 0.00
Cauliflower 0.15 0.01 0.00
Celery 0.19 0.02
Chicory 0.21
Chard, Swiss 0.65
Cherries 0.00
Chives 1.48 0.00
Collards 0.45 0.07
Coriander 0.01
Corn, Sweet 0.01 0.01 0.01
Cucumbers 0.02 0.00
Currants, Black 0.00
Currants, Red 0.02
Dandelion Greens 0.02
Dewberries 0.01
Eggplant 0.19 0.03 0.02
Endive 0.11
Escarole 0.03
Garlic 0.36
Gooseberries, Green 0.09
Kale 0.02 0.01
Lambsquarters 30.00
Leeks 0.09
Lentils 0.02
Lettuce 0.33 0.01 0.00
Melons 0.00
Mushrooms 0.00
Mustard Greens 0.13 0.01
Nectarines 0.00
Okra 0.05 0.01 0.15
Onion 0.05 0.00 0.00
Parsley 1.70 0.10
Parsnips 0.04 0.02 0.01
Peas 0.05 0.01 0.00
Peaches 0.00 0.01
Pears 0.00
Peppers, Sweet 0.04 0.12 0.02
Pokeweed 0.48
Potatos 0.05 0.02 0.00
Pumpkin 0.04
Purslane 1.31 1.68
Radishes 0.48 0.01 0.00
Raspberries, Black 0.05
Raspberries, Red 0.02
Rhubarb (stems) 1.34 0.86
Rutabagas 0.03 0.02
Shallots 0.00
Sorrel 0.30
Spearmint 0.00
Spinach 0.97 0.66 0.68
Squash 0.02 0.02
Strawberries 0.01
Sweet Potatos 0.24 0.10 0.06
Tomatillos 0.05
Tomato 0.05 0.03 0.00
Turnips 0.21 0.00
Turnip Greens 0.05
Watercress 0.31 0.01

  High oxalic acid foods should be avoided by those with kidney disease, kidney stones, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout. To read more about oxalic acid in foods and get a better understanding of this chart visit growingtaste.com.

Wood sorrel is another great plant to link to the periodic table, the formula for oxalic acid is H2C2O4.

 Oxalis means “sharp” in Greek and Sorrel means “acidic” or “sour” in French. 

Although wood sorrel has three-lobed leaves, it is not related to the clover which is in the Trifolium family. Those heart shaped leaves belong to the Oxalis family not the clover family.

oxalis 2

Here is a photo of white clover leaves, they are more oval shaped.

white clover2

Shooh, I hope that wasn’t too much info on the science of wood sorrel and oxalic acid; sometimes I just can’t stop myself. ;)