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COVID “Homeschooling” During the Pandemic vs Traditional Homeschooling

How does traditional homeschooling compare to emergency homeschooling with virtual public schools? This homeschool mom has all the answers!
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20 Questions About Homeschooling Answered 

Discover common questions about homeschooling, from what is homeschooling to what does homeschooling cost, this article will cover parents' most pressing questions.
Read More »


Food Science Experiments For Kids

Discover food experiments in every science category -from chemistry to earth science- and help your child practice all kinds of scientific thinking.
Read More »


Dinosaur Field Trip Locations and Virtual Tours

Explore field trips dedicated to dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures with these virtual and in-person visits!
Read More »


Beginning to Homeschool

Homeschool Support Groups
How to Start Homeschooling
Creating A Homeschool Schedule
Homeschool Law
Questions About Homeschooling

Recent Articles

COVID “Homeschooling” During the Pandemic vs Traditional Homeschooling

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Virtual Public School vs Traditional Homeschooling

By: Mindy Scirri, Ph.D.

Are you wondering what to do about back-to-school in the fall?  If you are like most American parents, you found yourself suddenly homeschooling this spring as states issued stay-at-home orders for the coronavirus pandemic. Many of you also began working from home while others of you were essential workers who continued to leave the home for work.  You may have never considered homeschooling before this, or you may have thought about it but immediately dismissed it because you “work full time” or “don’t feel qualified” or “couldn’t possibly spend that much time with your children” (but that’s another topic!).  After your recent experience of temporary homeschooling during the COVID-19 school closures, you may still agree with those reasons, or you may have found other ways to think about them (except that last one!).   Either way, what you think you experienced as homeschooling had little to do with what “real” traditional homeschooling is like.

What has been called “COVID homeschooling” should really be called “COVID school-at-home.”  When new homeschoolers begin, they often follow a school-at-home model, trying to recreate traditional school at home.  They follow similar hours as a typical traditional school day and arrange schedules of subjects and specials like those found in schools.  Eventually, they recognize the flexibility that is part of real traditional homeschooling and take advantage of evenings, weekends, and even regular school breaks to better meet the needs of the family.  During the COVID emergency homeschooling period, the short-term homeschooling you experienced is the most extreme version of a school-at-home model without the flexibility of traditional homeschooling and without the social opportunities of a non-COVID situation.

 

Similarities Between COVID School-at-Home and Traditional Homeschooling

Essentially there is only one major similarity between what happened in Spring 2020 and traditional homeschooling: Your children were not physically attending school. There were several consequences to that.  While you were still maintaining school attendance and working toward state standards, you were not pushing your children out the door in the morning to walk, catch a bus, or ride with you to school.  You were not packing lunches, ironing school outfits or uniforms, reminding your children to bring their instruments, or making arrangements for after-school clubs or sports.  You were not dropping off forgotten items, attending school events or meetings, or fighting with your children to get their “homework” done (or maybe you thought that was ALL you were doing!).  However, the most important consequence is that you were spending a lot more time with your children, and that is what happens when you are a traditional homeschooler!

Basically, though, this is the point where the similarities between what you did in the spring and traditional homeschooling ends.

 

Differences Between COVID School-at-Home and Traditional Homeschooling

The differences between the COVID school-at-home period you experienced this spring and traditional homeschooling far outnumber the similarities.  Here are eight main differences:

  • Choice of Teacher:  The most obvious difference is that traditional homeschoolers have the choice of who is teaching their children.  Often a parent is the lead teacher, but there are other models.  In some states, parents have the flexibility to align with umbrella schools or organizations that have licensed teachers available to guide instruction.  Through homeschool co-ops, parents have the option to share instruction, with individual parents teaching subjects for which they are most comfortable and have the most expertise.  Co-op members can also pool resources to hire outside instructors and tutors.  Just be sure to check your state’s homeschooling laws to ensure that instructional arrangements follow any regulations imposed by the state.
  • Choice of Curriculum:  What many homeschool parents don’t immediately realize is how much flexibility they have with the curriculum.  Although some states require certain subject areas or standards, homeschool families still have the right to choose how to address those subject areas and how to meet those standards.  There are many homeschool curriculums available, both secular (non-religious) and non-secular (based on the teachings of particular religions).  The amount of time spent on individual subjects can vary (although some states provide guidelines), and homeschoolers can also choose to add subjects and electives based on areas of interest, career goals, etc. 
  • Choice of Instructional Format:  During the COVID school-at-home period, the amount of time spent interacting with teachers and peers ranged from as little as a few remote meetings for the entire three-month period, to brief remote meetings per day, to full day schedules being followed remotely with extensive interaction with teachers and peers.  Traditional homeschoolers have the option to choose how instruction is delivered—how much is directly taught by the parent, how much is online, how much is independent work, etc.  Also, during the COVID school-at-home period, many parents received only large packets of worksheets and a due date.  Others were given instruction and assignments digitally through online platforms.  Traditional homeschoolers can choose how much instruction consists of discussion, videos, hands-on tasks, projects, online activities and/or worksheets, etc.
  • Duration of the School Day:  The COVID school-at-home period resulted in some parents receiving overwhelming amounts of materials from schools while others received only enough to keep kids “busy” for an hour or two per day.  In New York, a state with one of the strictest regulations for homeschoolers, children being homeschooled are required to have instruction for five hours per day for 180 days.  Some states waived the 180-day requirement for public school students because of the pandemic, but homeschool children continued on as usual with full-day instruction (and completion of any standardized testing!).  In many cases, then, through no fault of your own, your children may have received less instruction than homeschooled children during this period. 
  • Choice of School Schedule:  While stay-at-home orders were in place, school tasks, remote meetings, and due dates followed typical school schedules.  Traditional homeschoolers have much more flexibility.  Instruction can occur in the evenings, on weekends, during traditional school breaks, or even year-round.  Parents can make schedule choices that best fit their children as well as their own needs for working and managing the household.
  • Opportunity to Individualize:  Not every child learns in the ways that were offered by schools during the school closure period.  In a worst-case scenario, parents were given materials for completion that were based on whole-class abilities.  In other words, some children had to deal with materials that were above or below their current performance and abilities.  One of the reasons many parents decide to homeschool is the opportunity to individualize instruction.  Traditional homeschool parents can choose instruction to best meet their children’s strengths, challenges, and interests and adapt methods as needed to maximize their children’s learning potential.
  • Connection to the School:  Your connection to the school through the COVID school-at-home period was very different than it would be in a traditional homeschooling scenario.  It varied from initial letters to parents only, to email and remote meetings, to daily communication with teachers and periodic communication with administrators.  In many states, as a traditional homeschooler, communication between you and the school is very limited (sometimes to a single document).  In other states, homeschool parents and home district schools exchange documents and progress reports throughout each year, but contact is still limited.  On the other hand, some districts have strong connections to their local homeschool groups.
  • Opportunities for Socialization:  If you ask people why they wouldn’t consider homeschooling, a very common response is that children need to socialize.  Homeschooled children do socialize: with parents or homeschool guides in discussion and daily activities, with siblings who are also being homeschooled, and on evenings and weekends just like other kids.  When children are homeschooled, they also have opportunities to socialize with peers through co-op and homeschool support groups, programs like homeschool gym and art classes, and homeschool events in the community (e.g., homeschool days at the museum).  What you experienced during the COVID school closures is “homeschooling” without any of the socialization opportunities that are available.  For children, this was a worst-case isolation and not a true indication of the socialization that is possible through homeschooling networks.

 

As we look toward all the unknowns of back-to-school in the fall, you have choices to make.  You can choose to continue with whatever the school is doing; you can supplement what the school is doing with some homeschooling, or you can choose to homeschool your children during this period.  If you choose “accidental homeschooling”—that’s what us homeschoolers call it when you plan to enroll your children in traditional schools but end up homeschooling (for any number of reasons)—you are going to need information.  Luckily, there are a lot of new homeschooler resources—like those on this website—that can help you find out more about what homeschooling is really like.  Start by researching your state laws and then talking with local homeschoolers.  They are a remarkably generous group! Time4Learing.com also offers a free Welcome to Homeschooling eBook that offers insight and helpful tips for newbies. Download it today! 

 

Keep the conversation going by adding comments about your experiences homeschooling during the pandemic and asking questions to find out more….

20 Questions About Homeschooling Answered 

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questions-about-homeschooling

By: Andrea Dillon 

Are you thinking about homeschooling? Well, you’re not alone. As of 2019, more than 4% of families in the US are homeschoolers. But with any new start comes questions. Before you get started, there are homeschooling particulars to be aware of — read on and learn what you need to know about homeschooling.

Homeschooling FAQ 

Below are some of the most common questions I get asked about homeschooling. These are often questions that most homeschoolers will get asked at some point along their homeschooling journey. So get comfy and let’s look at some discussion questions about homeschooling. 

Scroll down to see all the questions and answers or click a question below to jump straight to that answer.

Is homeschooling legal? Is homeschooling flexible? Can I homeschool multiple children in different grades? Can homeschoolers go to college? Can I work and homeschool?
What is homeschooling, and how does it work? Can I really teach my child? What’s the best homeschooling program? What about socialization? Can single parents homeschool?
What do you need to know to get started homeschooling? What if I don’t feel comfortable teaching a subject? Do homeschoolers have to test? Can you homeschool a child with special needs? Can homeschoolers play public school sports?
How much does homeschooling cost What subjects are required for homeschooling? Are all homeschoolers religious? Can I send my children back to public school after homeschooling? Will my child be ready for the real world if I homeschool?

 

1. Is homeschooling legal? 

Yes! Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states and many other places worldwide. Homeschooling is rising in popularity, and many families are looking at homeschooling as an educational alternative. While homeschooling is legal, you need to know that laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country. Some locations require minimal work to get started and homeschool, while others have extensive requirements. We recommend that all homeschoolers and those considering homeschooling familiarize themselves with their state’s homeschool requirements.

 

2. What is homeschooling, and how does it work?

Homeschool is educating children at home and is a very customizable way for children to learn. Following homeschool laws, the child learns using methods, programs, and support from the homeschooling community. Homeschooling looks different for each homeschooling family and can vary from child to child, depending on each child’s needs. Some families like to schedule every second of their daily learning, and others let the children take the lead on what they want to learn and how they will learn it. Most homeschooling families fit somewhere in between those with a relaxed but scheduled approach to education. 

 

3. What do you need to know to get started homeschooling? 

So you have decided to homeschool! Congratulations! But, now what? Before you start, you should know your local homeschool laws. Those are your guidelines for what you need to do to exempt your children from public school legally. Your homeschool laws will tell you how and to who you need to send your notification to homeschool. Your homeschool law will also contain information on subjects that are required, assessment options, and how/when to report end of year information. 

Homeschool laws can be confusing with legal jargon. To make starting to homeschool more manageable, I suggest that you reach out to local homeschoolers. Your current local homeschoolers can help you make sense of the homeschool law, talk you through the notification process, and point you to local resources. You can contact local homeschoolers through homeschool groups

 

4. How much does homeschooling cost?

Homeschooling costs vary from family to family and are determined by how you want and need to homeschool. The curriculum is the bulk of many family’s homeschooling costs. All-in-one boxed curriculum or online schools tend to be the most expensive options of homeschooling curriculum. However, you can find more reasonably priced online all-in-one options like Time4Learning to meet your needs. 

100% free homeschooling is close to impossible. However, there are ways to homeschool relatively inexpensively if you are okay with piecing together subjects. Pulling from online resourcesfree resources, local resources (co-ops/library), and various used curriculum materials can keep costs down but will require more work than all-in-one options. 

 

5. Is homeschooling flexible?

Yes! One of the biggest perks to homeschooling is the flexibility to homeschool how, when, and where you want. The amount of flexibility you have will depend on your homeschool laws. However, homeschooling can still be very flexible! As a homeschooling family, you have your choice of when to school (the public school calendar or your own), the hours you want to school, the methods you want to use, the curriculum you want to use, and the activities you want to include in your homeschooling. In addition to that, homeschoolers have the flexibility to change anything if it isn’t working for any reason. 

 

6. Can I really teach my child? 

This is one of the most often asked questions, and my answer is always a resounding, of course! You have been teaching your child since birth. As long as you meet the legal requirement for your state, you can absolutely teach your child by homeschooling!

 

7. What if I don’t feel comfortable teaching a subject?

Homeschooling doesn’t mean that you are stuck at home with your child. You aren’t going to be doing this alone. There are many great resources to help you teach your children about the topics and subjects required and then some! You can outsource subjects as well! If you aren’t comfortable teaching math (or any topic), find a family member, co-op, online curriculum, or class to help. 

 

8. What subjects are required for homeschooling?

Some states have strict requirements on subjects taught, so make sure to check your homeschooling laws. In general, homeschoolers are expected to cover Math, English, Science, Social Studies, Art, and Physical Education. Many homeschools add in electives and child lead interests like music and coding as well.  

 

9. Can I homeschool multiple children in different grades? 

Yes! Many families with multiple children homeschool! It may take some extra planning and some creativity, but you can do it! Working out a schedule, curriculum, and finding ways to learn together can help. Many homeschooling families with multiples include unit studies and gameschooling in their curriculum to help make the process easier. 

 

10. What’s the best homeschooling program?

There isn’t one! That’s right; there isn’t one program that is best for everyone. I know that isn’t the answer you were hoping for, but every child and homeschooling family is different. What is best for one isn’t best for all. However, there are some that work for a multitude of homeschoolers. We recommend giving online programs like  Time4learning, Calvert Homeschool, and Power Homeschool a try. These programs are not best for all but tend to work for most homeschoolers, particularly if you’re just getting started. 

 

11. Do homeschoolers have to test? 

Maybe. This is another answer where you need to consult your state’s homeschool laws. Many states require some form of reporting such as testing or portfolios, but not all. However, even if your state doesn’t require you to test, you may consider it for other reasons

 

12. Are all homeschoolers religious?

No! There is a wonderful mix of all different worldviews within the homeschooling community. You can find homeschool support no matter what your religion or culture you are! 

 

13. Can homeschoolers go to college? 

Absolutely! Homeschoolers attend some of the top universities in the country because of their independence, maturity, creativity, and academic foundation. Harvard even has a history of accepting homeschoolers! There are many homeschool-friendly colleges to help, as well. 

 

14. What about socialization? 

Ah, this is one everyone homeschool will hear at some point. Many television shows, movies, and strangers in the grocery store depict homeschoolers as unsocialized and awkward. Are they? No more than anyone else. Homeschoolers tend to socialize with multiple age groups in various settings because they have extra time not stuck inside the classroom.  Homeschooling also gives families the ability to help their children socialize with diverse groups of people by seeking out other cultures, ideologies, and activities to expand their worldview from the limited group of a single classroom or school building. 

 

15. Can you homeschool a child with special needs? 

Yes, you can, and there are advantages to homeschooling your child with special needs! Homeschooling can allow you to use the best hours of each day to be with your child and create beautiful learning moments. It can also offer you the flexibility to meet your child where they are academically and make the changes needed as they learn more things! 

 

16. Can I send my children back to public school after homeschooling? 

You can! Whether you were homeschooling temporarily or you just want to try something different, you can re-enroll your children into the school system. Each state has different requirements for this, so make sure you check your homeschooling laws and support groups for what you need to do. Remember, you also have the power to come back to homeschooling after public schooling if needed! 

 

17. Can I work and homeschool? 

Many families have one or both parents working while also homeschooling. The trick is to find a schedule that works for your family. Some working and homeschooling families choose to have the children school in the evenings or even later at night while others use early morning or even just weekends. The choice is up to you and the time you have available. Remember that not all schooling has to be complete by the parent either. If the kids are staying with family or friends while the parents are at work those adults can help with the home education as well.

 

18. Can single parents homeschool? 

Yes! It might be a little more difficult but, as with the working parents above, you have to figure out your available time and ways to educate. Many single-parent homeschoolers tend to try to work from home to mitigate some of the childcare costs that would come from working outside the home.

 

19. Can homeschoolers play public school sports? 

Many states have laws in place that allow homeschool students to join public school sports teams if they meet certain requirements. You will need to check your homeschool laws to see if your state allows for this. If your state doesn’t there are still options available for your child to be involved in sports. Take a look at homeschool based sports programs and teams in your state.

 

20. Will my child be ready for the real world if I homeschool? 

I would pose that your child will be better prepared for the “real world” from homeschooling than public schooling. Homeschoolers tend to see adults in their everyday life. They see their parents go to the store, pay the bills, deal with home improvements, have tough conversations, and so much more. These micro-lessons and observations are things that most children who are in a classroom for 8 hours don’t get to see or ask questions about. Homeschoolers also tend to be answer seekers. If they see something they don’t understand they aren’t quiet about it. They ask the parent, librarian, cashier, plumber, and so on about it. This quest for knowledge helps them navigate the world around them and create better connections and understanding about the “real world” they live in.

 

Do you have questions about homeschooling I haven’t answered above? Send me an email or leave me a comment below and I will gladly answer! 

 


Food Science Experiments For Kids

 Food Science Experiments for KidsBy: Mindy Scirri

What is more fun than science experiments?  Edible science experiments for kids that they can eat later!  We know you want to make science fun and don’t want to break the bank buying materials for experiments.  Why not use what may already be in the house (with maybe a few “science” supplies)?  This collection of simple food science experiments should help.  Start by learning about the scientific method with a Baked Potato Science Fair Project, and then get your baking soda, cabbage, and vinegar ready!  See what you can do with food experiments and science to learn about biology, chemistry, earth science, and even physics!

 

Biology Food Experiments for Kids 

Some things you can learn about biology through easy food science experiments.  Here are a few:

Blow Up a Balloon with Yeast
What happens when yeast eats sugar?  Watch and learn as you use yeast to blow up a balloon.

Food Science Experiments for KidsThe Biology of Bread
Did you ever wonder why bread dough rises? It’s biology! Bake some bread and learn some science while you do.

Edible Heart Model Activity
Use the colors of fruit and food coloring to understand the flow of blood in the heart. Check out this scrumptious experiment!

Edible Petri Dish Bacteria: Bacteria You Won’t Regret Eating!
Look at bacteria under a microscope or find some pictures of different bacteria. Then make models of the bacteria using food.

How to Make an Animal Cell for a Science Project
Learn the parts of an animal cell by building it out of gelatin or cake and some candies, fruits, nuts, etc.

How to Make an Edible DNA Model
Recreate the structure of DNA using color-coded candy or fruit and then have a yummy snack!

Human Spine Project
Create a model of a human spine using only a pipe cleaner, gummy lifesavers, and rigatoni.  

Photosynthesis: Testing for Starch
Any extra food a plant makes through photosynthesis is stored in its tissue as starch. Testing a leaf for starch is one way to test whether it has been performing photosynthesis. Try it yourself!  (Adult supervision required.) 

Testing for Glucose and Starch
Did you know that all foods contain chemicals? In this activity, you can use simple tests to determine the presence of sugars and starches in everyday foods.

 

Chemistry Food Experiments for Kids 

How about some fun food science experiments to help you learn about chemistry?  Here are some you can try at home:

Apple Science: What Keeps It from Browning?
Aren’t brown apples yucky? Why do they get that way? Experiment with some substances from your kitchen to see which one slows down the browning of apples the most. Then learn why!

Build a Fizz Inflator
Form an acid-base reaction to create carbon dioxide gas and inflate a balloon. See if you can pop it!

Chemistry 101 for Pound Cakes
Like to cook? Learn the science behind cake rising by finding a good pound cake recipe and following the directions.  Don’t forget to eat the pound cake afterward!

Chemistry for Kids: Edible Atom Models
Get the free printable and then make a model of an atom. Celebrate your new chemistry knowledge afterwards by changing your results into a delicious snack!

Cabbage Juice – pH Indicator
>How can cabbage help you with science? Make your own acid/base indicator by boiling red cabbage. Use the juice to pH-test different fluids.

Color Changing Milk
Wow your friends by mixing some milk, food coloring, and a drop of liquid soap. Watch for an explosion of color!

A Density Experiment You Can Drink!
Learn about the density of liquids and then safely drink the results.

Edible Periodic Table
Bake rectangular cookies, frost, and label.  Put them all together for a tasty periodic table!

 

 

The Extreme Diet Coke & Mentos Experiments
What happens when you combine 200 liters of Diet Coke and over 500 Mentos mints? Make your own Coke and Mentos Geysers! Don’t forget to read the scientific explanation, so the experience adds learning to the fun. Amazing!

Four Easy Science Experiments with Vinegar
How else can you use vinegar besides on french fries?  These science experiments rely on the power of vinegar to cause chemical reactions. Create a vinegar and baking soda volcano, blow up a balloon with vinegar power, oxidize steel wool with vinegar, and remove calcium from a bone or eggshell. And then grab some french fries!

Lemon Chemistry: An Acid-Base Experiment
How about a dramatic acid-base reaction that’s safe for preschoolers and a good demo for older kids who are studying acids and bases?  Just find some lemons, baking soda, and a little dish soap.

Make Homemade Glue!
With this experiment, you can make surprisingly good glue from common kitchen items.  Just provide an email address to access this activity.

Make Ice Cream in a Plastic Bag!
If only you could make your own ice cream!  Well, you can by using the chemistry between salt and ice and a plastic bag.

Making Invisible Ink Appear
What is more mysterious than invisible ink? Use milk, baking soda, lemon juice or other food sources to make invisible ink and find out which works best.

Make Plastic Milk
Plastic milk? Well, sort of…  It’s what happens when the protein in milk mixes with the acid in vinegar.

Make Your Own Rock Candy
Yummy! Learn about supersaturated solutions when you make your own rock candy. (Adult supervision required.)

Quick and Easy Kitchen Chemistry Experiments You Can Share with Your Kids
Discover the difference between physical and chemical changes and then “mix up chemicals that bubble, ooze, freeze, and change colors.” All with supplies from the grocery store!

The Science Behind Edible Glass
Learn how glass is formed from sand (silicon dioxide). But unlike regular glass, this glass is edible

Smell the Difference
The science here might be for high schoolers, but everyone can enjoy the scents! With a few items from around your house (and your parent’s permission), you will be able to smell the difference between stereoisomers.

Water to Wine
The magician taps the edge of a glass of water with a wand and quickly pours it into an empty wine glass, and voila! The water is instantly changed into red wine. What does that trick have to do with acid-base titration? Find out here!

 

 

Earth Science Food Experiments for Kids

Food can represent what happens in the natural world.  Check out these links:

DIY Solar Oven S’mores
Harness the power of the sun by creating your own solar oven using a pizza box, some aluminum foil, and a few other items.  Then cook your own s’mores without a bonfire!

Edible Soil Layers
Want a snack that is delicious and shows the layers of soil?  You can use candy or healthy options, but either way you get to eat what you learn.

Food Science Experiments for KidsEggshell Geode Crystals
Use eggshells to discover how geodes are formed in igneous and sedimentary rock.  Watch for different crystal shapes and formations.

Make Your Own Volcano
Create a volcano that actually erupts using the supplies in your kitchen!

Oreo Moon Phases
Use the popular cookie to explore the eight key stages in the moon phase cycle. Get some milk ready for when you “clean up” the activity.

Starburst Rock Cycle
Learn about sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rocks using Starburst candies and a toaster oven.  (Adult supervision required.)

 

Physics Food Experiments for Kids 

Yes, you can even learn about physics through fun food science experiments.  Continue reading to find out how:

Centripetal Force
What do roller coasters and satellites have in common? They both use centripetal force! Explore this physics wonder with the help of a little Jello.

Food Science Experiments for KidsThe Egg Drop Challenge!
Learn about inertia and energy with this simple egg challenge.

Gumdrop Bridge STEM Challenge
Use toothpicks and gumdrops and what you know about physics to design the strongest bridge possible. Be careful not to eat the candy too soon, or your bridge will fall!

Lemon Power
Make a battery from a lemon! It’s called a voltaic battery, which changes chemical energy into electrical energy.

The Magic Ketchup Experiment!
Ketchup can be so much fun! Learn about buoyancy and density using ketchup, salt, and a bottle.

Orange Buoyancy Science Experiment
Find out whether oranges sink or swim.  What if they are peeled?  Learn about forces and buoyancy in this simple experiment.

Skittles Density Rainbow
Find out about density and learn the colors of the rainbow in this sweet experiment using Skittles and water.

Turbulence on a Plane Explained with Jello
Simulate turbulence on a plane using a toy plane in a Jello mold. What happens to the plane when the Jello around it is eaten? That is another scientific question.

 

 Learn More About Food Science 

The following are not necessarily science experiments, but you can learn about science through the kitchen in other ways. Take a look at these food-related science resources:

Finding good bagels outside of New York is impossible, and here’s why

Cookie-Baking Chemistry: How to Engineer Your Perfect Sweet Treat
Baking cookies is almost magical. You put little balls of wet, white dough into the oven and out pop brown, crispy, tasty biscuits. Find out about the chemistry behind cookie making here.

How Spud Guns Work
Is there anything cooler than a potato launcher? Read this article to examine the science behind spud guns’ ability to fire potatoes over long distances.

Kitchen Chemistry
Watch episodes of Kitchen Chemistry | The Ruff Ruffman Show and perform online experiments from PBS.

Mmmm… Flavorful Food!
Check out this article to learn about the science behind why some foods taste good–Yummy–and why others don’t–Yuck.

A Science Experiment Yields Cake
Read this short story as a reminder that kids just love to create their own experiments with food. It’s the process that counts!

 
Have you tried any other fun kitchen experiments with your kids? Share them below in the comments section.

 

Other Fun Science Resources:

Bubbles
Chemicals
Crime Scene Investigation
Gak Recipe
Ice Cream
 

Dinosaur Field Trip Locations and Virtual Tours

Exciting Dinosaur Field TripsBy: Mindy Scirri 

Dinosaur field trips range from the pretty tame to the very scary. You know your children best. Some enjoy seeing animatronic dinosaurs while others would have nightmares for weeks. For others, the bones are interesting enough. Standing in front of a ginormous dinosaur skeleton is an experience that will never be forgotten, but if you cannot make it to a museum or dig site, there are many ways to discover prehistoric creatures virtually.

Before you embark on a face-to-face visit or a virtual tour of a museum or dig site, prepare your children for what they will see.  Make sure your children understand that bones are inside most animals. Learning how a chicken has bones and how those bones join together is an easy lesson to do at home. Energetic and studious older children and teens may enjoy going on a real dig. Here’s a story about some boys who found some Pleistocene era fossils.  Kids, trained to identify fossils and using their natural curiosity, can make important discoveries!

Foster your child’s interests and enthusiasm by enjoying these dinosaur field trips as a family online or in-person:

 

Dinosaur Virtual Field Trips

If you are not lucky enough to live near a dinosaur museum or dig site, and traveling is not an option right now, you can still learn a lot about these prehistoric giants through a dinosaur virtual field trip. Get your kids, your computer, and some popcorn, and enjoy:

 

 

Canadian Museum of Nature: Dinosaurs, amazing exhibitions, history, insights and fun facts all revealed in this virtual tour!

“Take a virtual tour of the Canadian Museum of Nature’s public building, the Victoria Memorial Museum Building…. Enjoy a guided, comprehensive tour of the galleries. See dinosaurs, mammals and more as insights and little-known facts are revealed!”

 

Dinosaur National Monument Virtual Field Trips

“We provide distance learning experiences for classrooms around the world to learn more about the monument! Programs are free and we connect with schools via Skype or FaceTime. We offer programs from October to March and spaces are limited. Spaces are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Our virtual field trips focus on paleontology and geology and the environment 149 million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed here. 

 

Marmarth Research Foundation Photograph Galleries

Located in the Hell Creek Formation of North Dakota, the Marmarth Research Foundation has completed field excavations and has shared its photographic collection here.  See excavated remains of triceratops, torosaur, mosasaur, and others.

 

Museum fur Naturkunde Berlin: Dinosaurs

Virtually walk through the dinosaur hall at this natural history museum in Berlin, Germany.

 

National History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM): Dinosaur Hall Virtual Tour

Missing the Museum? Virtually step inside NHM’s award-winning Dinosaur Hall and discover the Age of Dinosaurs from the comfort of your home. Learn how museum scientists study our ancient past through a variety of fossils and get an up-close look at a one-of-a-kind T. rex growth series.” 

 

 

National Museum of Natural History Former Fossil Hall Virtual Tour

Take a virtual tour of the old Fossil Hall at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.  See fossils, plants, and dinosaurs, as well as early mammals.  Learn about Early Life, the Ice Age, and Ancient Seas.

 

 

Royal Tyrrell Museum Distance Learning

“From our new and improved Distance Learning studio, we offer programs for schools, homeschool students, and public sites. We also provide free Information Sessions for teachers and educators who want to learn more about what we offer. Initially launched in 2006, we have connected to over 70,000 participants in 2,600 programs to Canada, the United States, and around the world!” Programs are offered by grade level, as well as virtual visits for any grade, but there is a cost. See if your homeschool network will get together for a dinosaur virtual field trip!

 

UC Museum of Paleontology Fossil Gallery

Check out the fossil images, arranged by geologic time period, in this digital collection.  Choose from vertebrates, invertebrates, plants, fungi, protists, bacteria, and trace fossils from the Precambrian to the Quaternary periods.

 

Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History Online Exhibits

Check out these online exhibits about dinosaurs: “Tiny Titans: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies”; “Dinosaurs, Mammoth, & Forests Primeval Celebrating the Great Zallinger Murals at Yale”; and “China’s Feathered Dinosaurs.”

 

Dinosaur In-Person Field Trips

If you are lucky enough to live near one of these museums or dig sites, or you have the opportunity to travel, a live field trip is a great way to celebrate your child’s love of these prehistoric creatures.  Here are some dinosaur field trips to add to your homeschool schedule:

 

 

Age of Reptiles Mural at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History (New Haven, CT)

This mural is one of the largest in the world and earned Rudolph F. Zallinger the Pulitzer Award for Painting in 1949. It is at once a motion picture and a time machine, a menagerie and a botanical garden, that portrays an almost unimaginable chapter of earth history spanning more than 300 million years.

 

Bighorn Basin GeoScience Center (Greybull, WY)

“The Bighorn Basin GeoScience Center is dedicated to the study, conservation, and appropriate display of the northern Bighorn Basin’s natural resources, and to the promotion of geoscience and local historical and educational activities. We offer exhibits and educational materials for educators, geoscientists, tourists, and the people of Wyoming.” Visit the museum, touch fossils, take a tour of the Red Gulch dinosaur tracksite, or attend a workshop or seminar.

 

Dinosaur National Monument (CO and UT)

“Dinosaurs once roamed here. Their fantastic remains are still visible embedded in the rocks. Today, the mountains, desert and untamed rivers flowing in deep canyons, support an array of life. Petroglyphs hint at earlier cultures. Later, homesteaders and outlaws found refuge here. Whether your passion is science, adventure, history or scenery, Dinosaur offers much to explore.

 

Dinosaur Park (Cedar Creek, TX)

“The Dinosaur Park features a unique outdoor museum setting. While most museums have dinosaur skeletons, our realistic life-size dinosaur exhibits show skin and color variations to give a better understanding as to how they looked when they were alive. These static statues range in size from the 2-foot long Compsognathus to the 123-foot Diplodocus, the longest dinosaur that ever lived.  As you walk through a tree-lined nature trail the dinosaurs sit back from the trail, situated among plants, trees and rocks, making it easy to imagine real dinosaurs in a natural environment. The Dinosaur Park is an educational and fun place, where everyone can learn about the majestic animals that ruled our earth for over 150 million years. Other activities include a fossil-dig, playground, picnic area and a wonderful Dinosaur Store stocked with a variety of gifts sure to please any dinosaur fan!”

 

Dinosaur Provincial Park (Alberta, Canada)

“In the late Cretaceous Period (75 million years ago), the landscape was very different. The climate was subtropical, with lush forests covering a coastal plain. Rivers flowed east, across the plain into a warm inland sea…. The conditions were perfect for the preservation of dinosaurs’ bones as fossils. After a century of excavations, over 150 complete dinosaur skeletons have been discovered.  Disorganized concentrations of bones, called “bone beds”, have also been discovered.  Over 50 dinosaur species have been found here, joining a list of another 450 fossil organisms. These ancient remains give us the world’s most complete record of the late Cretaceous Period.” See the visitor center, go camping, take a tour, walk the trails, and learn about their paleontology and research projects.

 

Dinosaur Resource Center (Woodland Park, CO)

“We have a marvelous world class museum here in Woodland Park. We feature an awe-inspiring display of dinosaurs, prehistoric marine reptiles, pterosaurs and fish of North America’s late Cretaceous period. The fossil skeletons on display are supplemented with vibrant graphics and life-restoration sculptures to help you visualize these fascinating animals in life and the environments in which they lived.”

 

 

Dinosaur State Park (Rocky Hill, CT)

“We are one of the largest dinosaur track sites in North America. Beneath our geodesic dome, you will find an exceptional display of early Jurassic fossil tracks that were made 200 million years ago. Surrounding our Exhibit Center are more than two miles of nature trails and the Dinosaur State Park Arboretum, containing more than 250 species and cultivars of conifers, as well as katsuras, ginkgoes, magnolias and other living representatives of plant families which appeared in the Age of Dinosaurs. Our Museum presents a bird’s-eye view of the preserved Mesozoic floodplain covered with tracks, dioramas of Triassic and Jurassic environments, collections of fossils, and interactive exhibits.” 

 

Dinosaur World (Plant City, FL or Cave City, KY or Glen Rose, TX)

Visit one of the three outdoor museums and “discover hundreds of life-size dinosaurs” nestled among a lush assortment of native vegetation. “Let your prehistoric imagination run wild” and enjoy “kid-friendly activities like fossil dig and more.”

 

Field Station: Dinosaurs (Secaucus, NJ or Derby, KS)

“A one-of-a-kind, prehistoric experience featuring over 30 life-sized, moving and realistic dinosaurs that’s thrilling, educational and fun!” Enjoy walking trails, live shows, and other games and activities.

 

Fryxell Geology Museum of Augustana College (Rock Island, IL)

“The Fryxell Geology Museum features one of the best collections of minerals and fossils in the Midwest. Admission is free…. Visitors to the Fryxell Geology Museum will see a complete skeleton of a Platecarpus “sea serpent,” skulls of Parasaurolophus, Ankylosaurus, Apatosaurus, Allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex. Also on exhibit is the complete 22-foot long skeleton of Cryolophosaurus, a large crested carnivorous dinosaur discovered in Antarctica in 1991 by Augustana paleontologist and museum director Dr. William Hammer. He has collected items at digs in the Badlands of Nebraska and during his trips to Antarctica.” You can also access pre- and post-visit activities. 

 

Judith River Dinosaur Institute (Billings, MT)

“The ultimate dinosaur dig experience!” Visit where excavation teams have found the bones of Elvis (brachylophosaurus), Leonardo (hadrosaur), and others. If you have the funds, join a six-day dig and get a real hands-on experience. Remember that “some 99% of the greatest dinosaur discoveries made are by amateurs with sharp eyes and a love for the science—not educated noblemen. JRDI continues that tradition….”

 

Exciting Dinosaur Field TripsLa Brea Tar Pits (Los Angeles, CA)

“The Tar Pits have fascinated scientists and visitors for over a century, and today, this area is the only actively excavated Ice Age fossil site found in an urban location in the world! Over the last 50,000 years, Ice Age animals, plants, and insects were trapped in sticky asphalt, which preserved them for us to find today. More than 100 excavations have been made at the Tar Pits since the early 1900s, and most of the fossils discovered here are housed in the museum at La Brea Tar Pits, at the center of the Tar Pits! The discoveries range in size from huge, extinct mammoths and sloths to “microfossils,” or tiny remains of plants and animals that give us clues about how ancient ecosystems and climates changed.” Check out the museum, excavations, 3D and live theaters, guided or self-guided tours, and youth and teen programming. Watch for free homeschool days. 

 

Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail (Moab, UT)

“The Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail is a bold experiment; there are no guards or fences here. You, the visitor, are the protector of this valuable resource….  The Morrison Formation contains the fossil remains of plants and numerous kinds of dinosaurs including: Allosaurus, Camptosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Camarasaurus…. There is a self-guided walking tour in the area. Pamphlets which describe the tour sites can be picked up at the Grand Resource Area…. Highlights of Jurassic dinosaurs include fossilized bones of all shapes and sizes, fragments of fossil wood, and tracks.

 

Morris Museum: Dinosaur Den (Morristown, NJ)

“Find out what New Jersey looked like 65 million years ago and learn about the lives of dinosaurs. Here, visitors can touch a real dinosaur egg, follow dinosaur tracks, make a dinosaur track rubbing, and hear the simulated sound of a honking Hadrosaur. Using various clues and fossils, such as footprints, fossilized eggs, and dinosaur teeth, you can become acquainted with the creatures that lived in New Jersey during the Age of the Dinosaurs. Hands-on interactive stations throughout the gallery encourage visitors to learn about the lives of dinosaurs, and characteristics such as their claw movements and crest trumpeting for communication. The exhibition focuses on dinosaur themes: Nesting and Growth, Tracks and Movement, Paleo-environmental Reconstruction (using paleontology to reconstruct the landscape of a specific time and place), Predator and Prey, and What’s for Dinner. In the laboratory area, children and families will have the opportunity to examine fossils and other specimens, using tools such as electric magnifiers and magnifying glasses.”

 

Royal Tyrrell Museum (Alberta, Canada)

“The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology is Canada’s only museum dedicated exclusively to the study of ancient life. In addition to featuring one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaurs, we offer a wide variety of creative, fun, and educational programs that bring the prehistoric past to life.”  Check out the exhibits, activities, speaker series, special events, and off-site experiences.

 

UC Berkeley Museum of Paleontology

“The UCMP collection includes vertebrate fossils from the Devonian to the Recent and from localities around the globe. Unique aspects of the collection are holdings of Triassic vertebrates from western North America, Cretaceous dinosaurs and mammals from Montana and Wyoming, Paleocene through Pleistocene mammals from the western US, the original material from the Rancho La Brea tar pits, Tertiary Australian marsupials, Miocene faunas of Colombia, and Pleistocene cave faunas of South Africa.

 

Know of other in-person or virtual dinosaur field trips?  Share your experiences in the comment section below….

 

 

More Dinosaur Resources

Cool Dinosaurs Projects For Kids

Dinosaur Crafts Art Project Ideas For Kids

Dinosaur Jokes, Puns & Riddles

 

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