Tang Hulurs

imageWhen my son was small and we were just beginning our homeschool journey, my good friend, Tanya, loaned me her Sonlight curriculum for grade 1. Although I chose not to use it, I did read most of the books to my little boy. I have wonderful memories of sitting under the big maple tree in our backyard reading one of our favorites, “Little Pear,” by Eleanor Frances Lattimore. In this enchanting book, the main character’s favorite treat to buy is a tang hulur. My child liked this book so much that we borrowed the others in the series from the library. Our favorite part that has stuck with us all these years (he is 12 now, but still likes to be read to!) is the fascinating idea of a tang hulur. We have our own idea of what they look like, and when we see a resemblance of our conception, whether it be in a store or picture, we always exclaim, “Look! It’s a tang hulur!”

In this blog post, I share with you the day we made tang hulurs, better known as rock candy. This is a fun activity to go along with a science lesson or unit on rocks. We actually made the rock candy with our small Pathfinder group as part of the Rocks and Minerals honor. We had attended a gem and fossil show the week before, a first for all of us. A day or two later, I received an email to sign up for a free online science class to learn about rocks, including experiments to do at home. Thinking this was perfect timing, I bought the necessary supplies for the experiments and showed the video to the Pathfinders. To be honest, the video wasn’t a big hit, but everybody loves an edible experiment so that saved the day!

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Here is what we did to create our version of tang hulurs. This makes a big batch, so you might want to reduce it. We added eight cups of sugar, which was a small four-pound bag, to three cups of water gradually, and then heated it on the stove. Do not let it boil. We did not use a candy thermometer, but you can. The mixture should change into a cloudy yellowish color with all the sugar dissolved, and should be hot to the touch. Let it cool enough to pour into a glass container. We used mason jars. You can add flavorings and/or colors at this point.

imageThen position a skewer in the middle, holding it in place with a clothespin laid across the top.

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The skewer should be moistened and rolled in sugar to give the crystals something to adhere to.

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Now you just wait for the crystals to form. That can take hours or even days; we just kept checking ours.

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Break up the edges and pour out the excess liquid after it has crystallized, and set the jar in hot water to remove your creation. It’s not the healthiest treat, but fun to make to demonstrate crystals when studying rocks. Enjoy your tang hulur while reading a good book, like “Little Pear,” or even a book about rocks.

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Oh, and by the way, here’s what tang hulurs really look like! Much more tasty to me!

 

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Fun in the Sun and the Kitchen

My blog posts this year center around the theme of homeschooling in the kitchen. I want to share some of the things that happen in our kitchen that are connected to learning. In science, my son was learning about solar power, so we decided to make solar ovens. To increase the fun quotient, we decided to do this project with friends that also homeschool.

In order to make these solar ovens, I went to Bertucci’s Pizza to get some pizza boxes. I asked if I could buy some, but when the manager heard what we wanted them for, he offered them for free. He also asked if I would share pictures of our project with the restaurant.

We made two different kinds of solar ovens, both very simple. The first one was made with a regular large, square pizza box. We cut a square flap into the center of the lid of the box, and covered the open area with plastic wrap and the underside of the flap with aluminum foil. We lined the bottom of the box with black construction paper to absorb the heat. We filled the boxes with a variety of food to see what affect the solar oven would have on each of these items. These included grilled cheese sandwiches, open-face cheese sandwiches, a veggie hot dog, a tomato, and quesadillas. Then we propped the boxes open with rulers and set them on the back of our truck in full sun.

The other solar oven we made consisted of a smaller box; I believe it is a box meant to carry your leftovers home in. We pushed the lid of this box into the box itself and covered it with aluminum foil. Then we pushed wooden skewers containing marshmallows and a bit of hotdog through the box. This was also placed in full sun.

Now the wait and…voila! Lunch is served!

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This was a fun learning project with a great end result — something to eat! My son loved it and cooked many other meals in it, experimenting with different foods. He also tried it various times of the day and in different types of weather.

So on the next hot day, get out of the kitchen and make your meal in a homemade solar oven. Bon Appetit!

Spring Fever

Here in New England, Spring is taking its time arriving.  Cold, rainy weather greets us everyday and there’s no chance of putting the winter attire in storage. My heart longs for warmth and sunshine. But even though the weather doesn’t show it and without looking at the calendar, the instinct is still there-spring fever! And with it, the end of the school year is in sight! Can’t you just hear it in your head? “School’s out, school’s out! Teacher let the monkeys out!” Well, I have to admit, I can hear it, loud and clear, Summer is calling my name! I’m ready for camp meeting and family camp and beach days. My son has completed his math book and the other subjects are dwindling away. Field trips, baseball and fun are taking their place. Dear School, we shall see you in the Fall.

But wait, my ever active, planning brain is busy. Sure, summer is laid back, take it easy kind of days, but we need to plan for back to school. What books are we going to use? Do we need to buy some or do we already have them? What changes are we going to make? How are we going to do things differently? What do we need to include this year? All these thoughts keep me awake and sleep won’t come until I ponder them. I love planning. I love a fresh start. I love thinking of the endless possibilities!

So here are some of my musings:

~Bible class, not just family worship

~Foreign language

~More of a scheduled routine

~More writing

and the list goes on! Time to make yours too. Before you know it, the back to school sales will be on,summer will be over and time to roll again. Happy planning!

 

 

Pleasant Surprises

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It was a day for surprises! We were celebrating my husband’s birthday by walking the cliff walk in Newport, Rhode Island. On our way there, we passed a visitors center. My husband stopped, so that my son and I could run in. The woman behind the desk greeted us with a smile as she asked if she could help us. I told her we were doing a state swap as part of our homeschooling, and needed some materials. She looked at me and said, “Can I ask you something?”

“Why did I say homeschooling,” I thought. “I didn’t mean to say that. Now she will want to know how I am qualified to teach and how my son will be socialized and a million other things that I am tired of hearing and answering.” But wait, she’s smiling as she asks me her question: “Why did you decide to homeschool?” I answer as honestly as I can: “Because we were enjoying my son so much, we just wanted to keep enjoying him. That’s the biggest reason; we just like to be together!”

She told me how sweet that was, and as we talked she was very interested and encouraging, but it wasn’t until I was walking out the door that she told me the reason for her question. She has a special needs child and doesn’t feel that the school is providing all that he needs, and she has almost definitely decided to homeschool. Wow! I was meant to say “homeschooling” in my request. I was meant to just “happen” to see the visitors center sign. My husband was meant to take a different route than we usually do. Even my son was meant to be on his best behavior that day as he impressed them with looking over the brochures and choosing the ones he thought would be good for our project.

Yes, I think God had a surprise for me that day. In our homeschooling journey, I’ve learned that my son isn’t the only one learning, and I’m not the only one teaching. Many a day our roles are reversed. How true that “a little child shall lead them.”

Just that morning, it was Children’s Day at our church. The 12-year-old speaker encouraged us to speak out for Jesus, to keep our eyes on Him. I felt like I was on God’s mission. Yet, just a moment before I had wondered if stopping to get the brochures was appropriate for Sabbath. I’m still not sure of that, but I am sure that I was where God wanted me to be, encouraging someone to enjoy their child through homeschooling, walking the path of life together. Pleasant surprises await us at each turn of that path when we walk with Jesus!

The Best Bargain Bookstore

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I have 122 items in my home that don’t belong to me.  The loot consists of books, cds and dvds.  That’s alot of merchandise to have squirreled away.  It’s like a pirate having a treasure chest containing $2000  worth of gold coins, maybe more.  The good news is I can still sleep at night.  No worries here, the only punishment I might face is 5 cents a day, no jail time.  What crime would I be guilty of?  Just an overdue item.  You see, I didn’t have to sail the seven seas to find this treasure or take from someone else what didn’t belong to me.  The employee at the building up the street gladly hands it over when I slide that all important card across the desk.  And I walk happily out with hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise in my library bag, all for free!

Ah, yes- the library has saved me untold dollars in my homeschool journey.  Math books, nature books, science books, history books, biographies, music, foreign language programs, documentaries, even books on how to homeschool.  Name the subject, they have a book.

I used to go the library, maybe a few times a year, monthly at best.  When life changed with the addition of a child, my library habits changed also.  It started with the moms and babies story hours every Friday, then the picture books to be enjoyed.  Next came the books that every little boy seems to enjoy- trucks, planes, ships – as long as the pages held some form of transportation they held his interest.  Then the librarians start suggesting books based on what we were checking out.  One had even homeschooled and shared some advice from her journey.  The day he went looking for a bookshelf section that interested him and came holding his own pile of picked out books was an important day in my son’s educational growth.   Along the way there were other resources offered and taken advantage of.  Historical presentations, musicians, computer time, movies, science programs and zoo features became part of the educational process without costing us a penny.  When we would hear of a book we wanted to buy, first we would check the library; most of the time we met with success.  Just a quick scroll on the website and I could pick it up in a few days. Now the trips to the library are weekly and often times even more frequent.

So, what are you waiting for?  The buried treasure is waiting for you!  No shovel  needed, just your library card!  It’s your golden ticket!