Saturday, October 26, 2013

M&M Hot Chocolate

We substituted some of our surplus M&Ms for the chocolate chips in our favorite crock pot hot chocolate recipe (found here).  The original recipe calls for cream, milk, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and chocolate chips.  We didn't have any cream, and figured the M&Ms were high enough in calories as it was, so we replaced the cream with extra milk, instead.  We went ahead and added the sweetened condensed milk - though I think in the future we'll stick with just plain old 1%, as the sugar-shock was just this side of extreme.

Not that the hot chocolate wasn't good - really good - I'm talking liquid M&Ms in a cup good - just a little sweet.

It worked out okay for us, as the children dilute their hot chocolate with plain milk to make it cooler, anyway.  But, for those of you who take your chocolaty goodness straight up, I'd suggest the following recipe, modified from the original linked above.

M&M Hot Chocolate


2 cups of M&Ms
10 cups of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla


Mix all of the ingredients into a crock pot.
Allow to simmer on low heat - uncovered at first, so you can watch the M's, and pinpoints of color rise to the surface, then covered for 2 to 2.5 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture turns from a swampy looking mess... an interesting pinkish color, with swirls of candy shell... a rich and delicious, drinkable dessert color of brown.

Dip into to cups and enjoy.  
As with the original recipe, this version makes approximately 8 servings.

It's Autumn Charlie Brown!

There's something about the fall that brings a thousand old Peanutisms to mind...

"I got a rock!"
"You didn't tell me you were going to kill it!"
"I can't cook a Thanksgiving dinner.  All I can make is cold cereal. And maybe toast."
And, of course:

Happiness is...

...a pile of leaves.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mole Day - How Much Does a Mole Weigh?

It's not too often my younger children get to set up projects for their older siblings, but this week, Mole Day (the chemistry holiday celebrating Avogadro's number of 6.02 x 10^23, used for measuring atoms, and molecules, and the like) provided a perfect opportunity for them to pitch in.

They were a huge help coloring, cutting and gluing moles (the cute little animal kind) to tiny paper bags (courtesy of our local hardware store).

Actually, we only colored one coloring sheet, then scanned it, reduced its width by 50% and printed out a whole periodic table worth of 3''x5'', already colored moles, ready to be cut out and glued to bags, so the older children could label them with the elements of the periodic table...

...and then fill them with M&Ms approximating the atomic weight marked on each bag...

...before sorting and organizing the filled bags into order following the layout of the periodic table.

Just in case you're wondering - it takes a little more than 22 pounds of M&Ms to fill in for the weight of a mole of each element in the periodic table, and that's leaving out the lanthinide and actinide series'.

It's a lot of M&Ms.  But then, when compared with a mole of M&Ms (figured by multiplying the average weight of an M&M by Avogadro's number) it's not even a drop in the proverbial bucket.  And, as Mole Day comes only once year, and considering the amount of conversation generated when the children compare the light weight bags, approximating a mole of each element, with the truly phenomenal number of tons the same number of M&Ms would might even be worth it.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Make Your Own" Sudoku Spelling Puzzles

Sudoku puzzles are a lot of fun - challenging enough to feel educational, but simple enough for children to solve.
With their 4x4, 6x6, 9x9 or greater grids, they are also a great way to sneak in a little spelling practice.

Print out a few blank grids (like these from  Choose a 4, 6, or 9 letter word, depending on the size of the grid you are using - one without repeating letters (find appropriate word lists here).   And, grab your favorite sudoku book or website.

Copy out the numbered puzzles onto the blank grid, replacing the numbers with the 1st through 9th (or whatever) letters of your chosen word.  So for instance, for the word w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l, wherever the numbered puzzle had a 1, you would place a "w" into the blank grid, an "o" in place of each 2, an "n" in place of each 3, and so on.

Print the word across the bottom of the page for reference, and hand the puzzle over to an unsuspecting child - who after filling out each square, row and column of just one puzzle, will have practiced spelling the word 27 times...

...without even realizing they were spelling at all.

It's great to be homeschooler.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Maple Leaf Turkey Craft

Two maple leaves glued together...

...a construction paper beak...

...and tissue paper gobble...

...a pair of googly eyes...

...a little tweaking of the stems for feet...

...and a Happy Canadian Thanksgiving wish...

...for our friends and family to the north.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Crochet Turkey Coaster (Or Stuffed Turkey Ball) Pattern

I'm not sure if it's the Canadian Thanksgiving on Monday, or the sight of the first frost outside, but I've definitely had turkeys on the brain for a while now.

I wanted a quick crochet project the other day, and thought of coasters, but couldn't find quite the turkey pattern I was looking for (something that would look a little like a combination these and these), so I flubbed my way through a pattern.  The results are below.

I love finding free crochet patterns online, and so try to share mine whenever possible.  Just keep in mind, I am very much a beginner level crocheter, and even more of a novice when it comes to writing out patterns. So, what you see is what you get.  If you have any questions, let me know, and I'll try to clarify - but as always, as time passes I will move on, and completely forget what I did, then your guess is as good as mine.


Fasten onto an F hook, and chain 2 with brown worsted weight yarn, slip stitch through the first stitch to form a ring.

Round 1 - Chain 1, then crochet 6 single crochet stitches into the ring. (6 stitches)

Round 2 -* 1 single crochet stitch (sc) into the first sc from round 1, 2 sc in the next sc * repeat between ** around. (9 stitches)

Round 3 - * 1 sc in the first 2 scs, 2 sc in the 3rd * repeat between ** around. (12 stitches)

Round 4 - * 1 sc in the first 3 scs, 2 sc in the 4th * repeat between ** around. (15 stitches)

Round 5 - * 1 sc in the first 4 scs, 2 sc in the 5th * repeat between ** around. (18 stitches)

Round 6 - * 1 sc in the first 5 scs, 2 sc in the 6th * repeat between ** around. (21 stitches)

Round 7 - * 1 sc in the first 6 scs, 2 sc in the 7th * repeat between ** around. (24 stitches)

Round 8 - * 1 sc in the first 7 scs, 2 sc in the 8th * repeat between ** around. (27 stitches)

Round 9 - * 1 sc in the first 8 scs, 2 sc in the 9th * repeat between ** around. (30 stitches)

Round 10 - * 1 sc in the first 9 scs, 2 sc in the 10th* repeat between ** around. (33 stitches)

Round 11 - 1 sc in the back of each sc around. (33 stitches).  Fasten off and weave in the end.

If the disk has domed, and looks more like a hat than a coaster, don't panic - just flatten it out by pushing down and out from the center, allowing the edges to curl up slightly.


Switch to a multi-colored tan/brown/cream yarn (like RedHeart's Earth Print).

The coaster disk should have a slightly triangular shape.  Turn it so one of the points is at the top, with a flat side at the bottom.

Fasten on and loop through a stitch about midway down on the right side of the disk.

*In the same stitch make a sc, half double, double, triple, double, half double, and sc. Slip stitch through the next stitch. *

Move to the next stitch and repeat between ** until you have made six feathers, moving from right to left.

Chain 1.  Turn and go back over the feather stitches with double crochet stitches, slip stitching again past previous slip stitches.

Slip stitch in stitch just beyond the first feather, tie off and weave in end.

Legs (make 2)

Switch to an orange or harvest gold colored yarn.

Fasten on, loop and sc through the second stitch to the right of the center stitch along the bottom edge of the body. Sc in the next stitch moving toward the center stitch. Chain 1, turn and sc back across the two stitches, continuing until you've made about 7 rows, or the leg is as long as you like.

Continue straight into the feet, by chaining five and slip stitching back through the stitch on the leg where the chain began (to form a looped "toe"). Slip stitch through the next stitch, chain 9, and slip stitch through the stitch with that original slip stitch (forming a second "toe"). Slip stitch through the final stitch on the leg, chain 7, slip stitch through the stitch with that original slip stitch (forming a third "toe").

Fasten off, and weave in the loop.

Repeat for the second leg in the two stitches to the left of the center stitch on the bottom of the body.


With orange or gold yarn, fasten on and chain 4.

Turn and sc into the first chain from the hook, and into the remaining two chains.

Chain 1, turn, sc two together, and sc into the remaining stitch.

Chain 1, turn, sc two together.

Chain 1, turn, sc into the stitch, tie off leaving a long tail for sewing the beak to the body, but weave the tail back up to the top corner, so you can have something to which you can attach the gobble.


Switch to red yarn, tie onto the yarn sticking out of the top corner of the beak, pull a loop through the corner of the beak, and chain 5.
Fasten off, and weave in the end.

Eyes (make 2)

Fasten white yarn onto the hook and chain 2, slip stitching back into the first stitch to form a ring.
Round 1 - Chain 1, then sc 6 into the ring. (6 stitches)
Round 2 - *Sc in the first stitch of round 1, sc 2 into the next stitch* repeat between ** around. (9 stitches).
Slip stitch through the first stitch of round 2 and tie off, leaving a long enough tail to sew the eye to the body.

Form a pupil by pushing both ends of a 1 inch piece of black yarn to the front of the eye on either side of the stitch where you would like to place the pupil.  Tie them together in a knot.  Push the loose ends back through to the back side of the eye, and tie them again to secure.  Trim the ends. (A French knot would be even better - if a little trickier to manage).

Sew the eyes and beak to the center of the coaster, so they will fit within the ring of your favorite mug.  With use they will get pushed down fairly flush with the body of the coaster, but will always be just a little lumpy, so it's better if they are well centered.  Stitch carefully, catching just the top of the stitches of the coaster, so your sewing won't show through on the backside.

The face really only needs to be tacked on, unless of course you decide to make a stuffed turkey - so your little ones will have something other than your coasters for a game of turkey toss. Then, sew the face on securely, through the front and back of a plain body piece (one without legs or feathers), before sewing it together to a second body piece (with legs and feathers), stuffing with polyfil before closing.

Happy Thanksgiving!