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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sprouting a Kitchen Garden.

Our kitchen windowsill becomes a makeshift greenhouse every spring as the kids and I attempt to grow various fruits and vegetables to see what happens. We have had lots of successes, and more than a few failures, but we always have fun! Here is what you will need to start your own:

Various vegetable and fruit (seeds and cuttings or whole pieces)—Drinking glasses, recycled glass jars, plastic sandwich bags, or small plant containers—Paper towels—Toothpicks—Potting soil

Sprouting beans
Lima beans are probably my favorites because they sprout very fast and grow rapidly. In order to watch them sprout, (which is always a lot of fun) wet a paper towel and slip it into a plastic sandwich baggie. Slip one lima bean in between the side of the baggie and the paper towel and close. Hang somewhere out of direct sunlight, or the bean will get too hot and cook. Check the paper towel daily and water if it appears to be drying out. In about a week, you’ll see it start to sprout!


Carrots or Parsnips
In order to get these veggies to grow into a beautiful plant, you need to cut off the top (about ½ an inch) and place the flat side down into a shallow bowl. Pour enough water to almost cover and place in a dark area for a few days until it sprouts. Move the plant into the light. Replant into larger pots with potting soil when it becomes large enough.



White or Sweet Potato
Potatoes are always fun to plant because their roots are just as interesting to watch as their leaves. Put three toothpicks into the center of your potato (medium sized works well) and hang on the opening of a drinking glass. Make sure you fill the glass with enough water so that it covers the bottom of the potato. Add fresh water each day and you should see sprouts in about a week.

Orange or Apple Seeds and Peach Pits
These kinds of seeds can be tricky to sprout and it has always been hit or miss with us, but with a little experimenting, we have found that the trick to it is to keep things consistently moist. To plant, rinse and pat dry. Fill a container with potting soil and bury seeds or pit about ½ inch into the soil. Pour in enough water to dampen the soil—be careful not to soak it.



The trick to get them to sprout is to put the entire pot into a plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap. Place the pot in a dark place until you see sprouts. Once the plant sprouts, water and place in a sunny spot. Water when dry and enjoy!  

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Probability

This week, we have been tackling probability. I have always enjoyed this area of math, so I was excited to jump right in. We have done the boring textbook lessons with the dice, spinners, and marbles, but I wanted to spice things up—what happens if you toss a coin TEN MILLION TIMES! Unfortunately for my kids, I don’t have the patience or time to find out, so to the internet we ran and—what do you know? It took a while, but we got an answer!

We were also curious about spinning a spinner a million times. My fingers aren’t strong enough to flick a teeny arrow around a circle that many times, but the computer never complains!

Why stop at spinners and coins? Pulling stuff out of sacks is always fun too and Santa’s the guy to turn to if you want a huge sack and an unlimited amount of stuff to take out of it!

After all of this fun, we decided to play Chase Me. (I lost every time!) A printable version can be found here: Tortoise and the Hare.

To round out the lesson, we strolled on over to a site offering amazing probability games for kids. We went to a fair, caught some fish, had fun with a parrot, figured out fractions at a circus, pulled things out of a bag, made predictions with cards, practiced the basics, and took a cool quiz.

Once we had our fill of the computer, we decided to find some games we could play together. Cross the Bridge is a printable game you can laminate and never get tired of playing! MathWire.com also has a bunch of great printable probability games you can laminate and enjoy with your kids! 

The probability of learning is highly likely as you and your children play each of these fun math games!
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