Category Archives: Uncategorized

DIY Crystal Ornaments/Experiment

 Hi, everyone! Today I’m here to share an easy Christmas craft with you- DIY crystal ornaments. These are perfect to hang in a window, on your own tree, or to give as gifts! It’s not just limited to Christmas, you can make hearts for Valentine’s, clovers for St. Patty’s, your imagination is the limit. And the best part? You probably have all the materials around your house! At the end of the post we’ll give you some suggestions for turning this fun DIY into a science experiment you can do at home! 

snow

 

 Wait? a sec! Hang that dainty thing on the tree?! With my rambunctious kids/cats/in-laws/etc? These pretty ornaments may look fragile but really, they’re pretty tough. With proper care they can last years, but if you want a little more insurance you can spray the completely dried ornament with clear acrylic (I didn’t).  Now that you’ve been reassured, let’s get to it!

 First, gather your materials:

IMG_0279

  • Borax- 1 c + 2 Tbsp  
  • Very hot (nearly boiling) water- 8 c
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Wire Cutters (for trimming the pipe cleaners)
  • String
  • Pencils or dowels (to suspend the ornaments)
  • Containers (make sure you use ones that can withstand the hot water & are large enough that the ornaments will not touch the sides or bottom)
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Additional string, ornament hooks, or ribbons (for hanging your final product)

Step 2- Start by shaping your pipe cleaners. Snowflakes, stockings, hearts, stars, candy canes- let your imagination run wild! Now is a good time to check that once suspended in the Borax solution (see step #4) they won’t be touching the sides/bottom of the container (or each other). 

Step 3- Using the string, tie your ornament to the middle of your pencil. If your ornaments are small enough you can place multiple along one pencil. Don’t worry if your string isn’t pretty, it’s best to cut them off and replace it with fresh string, wire hooks, or ribbon later, as the submerged parts of the string will crystallize, too. 

IMG_0274

Step 4- Add your borax to very hot water & stir until dissolved. The water should be a bit cloudy. Now is the time to add food coloring, if desired (we didn’t). Carefully fill your container. You need enough water to fully cover your ornaments. (Not enough solution? Simply mix 9 Tbsp borax to every 4 c hot water.) 

Step 5- Suspend your ornaments in the solution. Make sure they are not touching the side of the container or each other, and are completely submerged. Leave to sit undisturbed anywhere from 8-24 hours! The longer you soak them, the bigger your crystals will be! 

IMG_0275

Step 6- Once you’re pleased with your crystal growth, remove your ornaments from the solution and lay them flat on a paper towel to dry. My mom dumps our leftover liquid in the toilet to clean the bowl 🤨 but you can dispose of it however you prefer. Don’t worry about the crystals in your container, they come off easily with a soak in hot water. 

Step 7-  Once your ornaments are completely dry you can cut off the strings you used to suspend them in the solution, and replace with the ribbon, wire, or string of your choosing. Hang your beautiful new ornaments and enjoy watching them glisten and glitter in the light! Aren’t they gorgeous?! 

fin
Can you tell which were soaking for the longest? I wish we could have captured how glittery they look! 

 

Now for the science-y stuff:

  • Investigate WHY Borax crystallizes on the pipe cleaners
  • Try increasing/decreasing the amount of Borax
  • Vary the water temperature. Do the crystals grow better in cold, lukewarm, or hot water?
  • Use materials other than pipe cleaners- strips of cloth, pinecones, an egg shell, etc.
  • Vary the soaking times- 4 hrs, 8 hrs, 12 hrs, 24 hrs, 48 hrs. Note the differences.

 

Show us what you made! Upload your ornaments on IG and tag us @_Jackandthebean_

 

Advertisements

Where did we go?!

I know we fell off the face of the planet, it’s been a wild ride this year!

We moved, unexpectedly, nearly 2000 miles away! It certainly was a big change! And guys, you’ll never believe this, not only did we get enrolled in traditional brick & mortar schools, but we also didn’t have internet or television for a full year! Crazy, right? 12 months, multiple moves, lots of new sights & experiences later we’re right back where we started. Life has a funny way, huh?

But now we’re back! Well, actually, Jack will be taking a hiatus until August to focus on schoolwork. He’s still getting used to this new way of doing things, but he’s doing great. Beans is back, though. Public school is going really well, she entered into public schools a full 2 grade levels ahead in reading. Beans now waiting for further testing to see if she should be placed in the Gifted and Talented program, since she’s bored in class without any challenges.

She’s excited for solo creative control over our channel and social media, and has a lot of great ideas in the works! We are so happy to be back and look forward to reconnecting with everyone!

Scribble Bots!

Mom’s feeling a bit burnt out in class, so she started something she calls “Passion Projects.” Every Friday from now on we have 4 hours to research and work on anything we want. Today was our first Passion Project and I gotta say, it was pretty fun!

Bean and I were looking at the materials we have and found two DC motors. She remembered having seen a wiggle bot made with markers for feet, but neither of us ever built one before. That sounded pretty fun to me, so we looked up how to make the “art bots” on Youtube. There are some really cool and creative bots out there! None of the videos have exactly the same setup, but after watching a few we figured out how to hook the battery holders we had to the motors. So we got to building!

bots

The trickiest part was trying to connect the wire ends, they were really small. Other than that, setting up was super easy and fast. It took us about 10 minutes. The next tricky part was trying to keep the motor on the bot! The hot glue wasn’t enough but we were out of tape! So the motors flew off my cup bodied bot a few times, but I was able to play for a few straight minutes without having to add more glue. Next time we’ll decorate ours with googly eyes and stuff (and make sure we have tape before we start!).

I don’t think these are actually considered robots but it was super neat to build our own motorized toys. It was a blast playing with them and they only cost about $6 to make. We are going to use the papers the robots drew on for cards for family.

You can check out our video here. We included a list of materials and general building instructions. If you make one, come back and share it with us! I hope everyone had as much fun today as we did while making that video!

Not My Arms Birthday Cake Challenge

Bean turns 6 this week! In celebration, we’ve made a very special video! We did a “Not My Arms” challenge, birthday style. In the vid we attempt to decorate a birthday cake with unexpected results. It was a fun way to celebrate Bean’s birthday. We hope you’ll check it out.

birthday

 

Birthdays at our house means the birthday boy or girl gets a day off from any chores and gets to pick what they want for dinner. We get to choose anything, whether it’s a homemade meal or we go out. Can you believe that Bean chose Burger King this year?  We actually get two dinners- a huge one with family and friends, and the one with just us. Mom goes all out with handmade decorations.  All day we get visitors and phone calls wishing us a happy birthday. After dinner it’s time for cake! We sing & the VIP makes a wish.  Then it’s time to unwrap presents. This year Bean begged for a Fingerling and was most excited about that, but totally lost interest in it in just 2 days.

How does your family celebrate birthdays?

Haunted History

Since Halloween is just around the corner our family decided to go on a spooky day trip to Gold Hill, Oregon. The sky was overcast, it was drizzly, and the foothills were shrouded in mist so it really helped set the scene.

First stop was the Oregon Vortex and Mystery House. This place was wild! The ‘house’ was built in 1904 by the Old Grey Eagle Mining Company. The history of the vortex, in which the house was built, is much older.  The Native Americans called it the “Forbidden Ground,” and would not go there because their horses wouldn’t enter the area.  In the 1920’s a physicist/geologist/mining engineer by the name of John Litster studied and developed the area. He opened it to the public in 1930. He continued conducting experiments there until his death in 1959.

The House of Mystery really messes with your perception. We saw people, including our own parents, appear to grow and shrink! The tour guide looked like she was nearly diagonal as she stood in the middle of the floor. The guide was super funny and shared a lot of history about the place. The Mystery House alone was worth the trip. Unfortunately we didn’t get many photos because as soon as we stepped foot into the house Mom’s camera died!

crookedhouse
There is an 8 foot difference between the highest and lowest corners of the floor!
perspective2
One side makes you taller…                 Jack appears significantly shorter when standing to the right

The next part of our trip took us to Rock Point Pioneer Cemetery. Supposedly people have seen a green mist among the graves, a hooded figure with a lantern, and even the ghost of a young girl who chases butterflies!

22713198_10210040510838616_546977958774979571_o

The town of Rock Point is no longer, but the graves remain. Somewhere between 800-1000 of them, many are modern. The cemetery started as the White’s family cemetery, around the 1860’s. It was near their stagecoach stop, now Del Rio Winery. The White family donated a little more than 26 acres of land for a cemetery in Rock Point.  The Birdseye family were also founders of the cemetery.

There were some interesting handmade markers, like this tiled one. These all appeared to be fairly recent, dating within the last 30 years.

Tiled

The older stones were beautiful. Some were quite unique, like this stone one carved to resemble a tree stump.

treestump

And this gorgeously carved one.

white

There were many other interesting graves, like one covered in deer bones and a row of servicemen. There also incredibly sad ones,  such as a young girl who passed away exactly 110 years before Bean was born, and one that appeared to be a mother and infant who passed away only months apart.

We didn’t see any ghosts, but we did find a frog! Strangely, we’ve NEVER seen a frog in the wild since moving to the PNW, so it was pretty exciting!

Our last stop was Del Rio Winery, formerly the White’s stagecoach stop.

Stagecoach Stop
We couldn’t get a picture of the front because the highway was too busy & the shoulder too narrow

The Rock Point Hotel is one of the oldest standing buildings in Jackson County, Oregon.  It was built by L.J. White. Construction was completed in February 1865, and the hotel opened to the public with a grand ball. The hotel served as a stop for travelers on the Oregon State Company line. In 1907 the hotel and surrounding land was sold to F.K. Deuel and others, who transformed it into an orchard. It remained in the Deuel family for 90 years, when it was sold to a couple from California, Lee and Margaret Traynham. They restored the historic structure and turned the pear orchard into a wine grape vineyard, Del Rio Winery. We didn’t go inside because we’re kids and don’t drink wine, but it was nice to look at the building and vineyard.

Besides learning about the area’s history we learned a little about our family’s history, because our Dad spent his childhood in Gold Hill. It was really cool to see the house he lived in and the school he went to when he was little. It was a great day, even if we don’t have any stories of ghostly encounters to tell our friends! We’d definitely recommend stopping by these sites if you’re ever in the area!

Pumpkin Fun

Today we carved our pumpkin! Like all homeschoolers, we believe every moment is a learning opportunity, so you know we didn’t just carve a jack o’lantern and leave it at that. We turned it into it a full on investigation!

IMG_0102 (2).JPG

We put on our costumes, measured & weighed our pumpkin (before and after carving!), discovered whether pumpkins float or sink (and why), explored the parts of a pumpkin, designed and carved a spooky face (okay, Dad carved it), baked a yummy snack from the seeds, and even learned about the life cycle of pumpkins. It was a ton of fun and super easy for Mom to set up! Would you believe that Bean was only a pound off from her estimate of the weight and Jack was very close on his guess of the circumference?

Do you roast pumpkin seeds when you carve your jack o’lanterns? You should! It’s easy and delicious! You can make them sweet, salty, or spicy! Below we’re sharing a basic salty recipe, but have fun! Garlic parmesan, cinnamon and sugar, chili lime- the possibilities are endless. Mmmm, crispy goodness.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

While carving your pumpkin save the innards! You’ll need to separate the seeds from the strings (fun in an ooey gooey kind of way!) and rinse them with cold water. Pat dry with a paper towel or flour sack kitchen towel.

  • Pumpkin Seeds, cleaned
  • 2 Tbsp Butter, melted (or olive oil)
  •  1 tsp Sea Salt  (or seasoning of choice)
  1. Heat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Toss seeds with butter & seasoning
  3. Spread in single layer on cookie sheet
  4. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes
  5. Let cool completely and ENJOY!

 

We’d love to hear from you! Tell us your favorite fall learning activities in the comments below!

 

Tomorrow we visit the spooky House of Mystery, located in the Oregon Vortex. We’ll also stop by the neighboring cemetery, said to be haunted! Stay tuned to see  what mysteries we uncover and whether we encounter any ghosts! 

Zoodinos Magazine

IMG_0071
Can you tell we’re deeply engrossed in our Zoodinos magazines?

Published by Zoobooks, Zoodinos is a fun-filled way to learn about dinosaurs! In each issue, readers will find info on their favorite dinosaurs, from Anhanguera to Zuniceratops! Kids will discover answers to questions such as how fast a T-Rex could run, and whether or not they might have had feathers.

Zoodinos magazine brings the world of dinosaurs to life with cool facts, scientifically accurate illustrations, and fun activities. Other interesting features include funny comics and interviews with real scientists, as well as free access to the digital edition!

Zoodinos makes learning fun! The simple, interactive text is great for young readers and encourages discussion.  Kids will love the games and activities that are designed to enrich learning, teach critical thinking, and strengthen problem solving skills. Your child will be excited to share what they’ve learned with the whole family!

We really enjoyed Zoodinos and think it would make a great gift for young readers interested in dinosaurs!

  • Age Recommended: 3-6
  • Issues Per Year: 6
  • Publishing Frequency: Bi-Monthly
  • Includes free Access to the digital edition

Visit www.zoobooks.com/zoodinos to learn more about Zoodinos!

We received 5 issues of Zoodinos in order to review them. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

 

Meet Jack and The Bean

Jack

jack

Hey, I’m Jack! I’m 9 years old. I love pizza, Legos, Cub Scouts, soccer, and playing Minecraft with my pals. My dream job is being a Lego Engineer!

 

Bean

IMG_2353.JPG

Hi, I’m Bean! I’m 5 years old and in Kindergarten.

I love spaghetti, animals (especially cats), biology, going to the beach, and anything Halloween! I don’t love chores, lol.  I want to be a veterinarian when I grow up!