Ants as Guinea Pigs

A few years ago I blogged here about some of the ant experiments we’d done lately and I wrote up a bunch of them as part of an Examiner article, with a link to an ant running Victoria’s chalk ant maze.

Examiner changed formats since then and the old format ate the video, so I rewrote it today and put the video back up.  If you’d like to see an 11 year-old Victoria showing how to make an ant maze (and hear a silly me in the background), I put it up here today:

Ant science: Fun ways to use ants for nature studies

There’s also directions for a cool ant trail experiment, taste tests (no, you don’t taste the ants), fun ant books for little ones, natural repellents to try, and so on.

At some point, I also want to retry our butter experiment, which you might remember was derailed by our cats.

I’m still not entirely sure why we should base our butter/margarine choices on what is preferred by ants, though.  We did the experiment after seeing lots of posts on Facebook and such about how ants won’t eat margarine.  Is the idea that ants will instinctively pick a healthier choice?  Why?  The cats sure didn’t.  I’ve seen what dogs eat, and I wouldn’t choose my foods based on which ones they’d pick either.  I’m pretty sure ants would choose a Pixie stick full of sugar and red dye over raw veggies any day.  So why do we really care about their dairy spread preferences?  Just a thought.

Anyway, if you have an assortment of the little critters around your driveway these days, there’s a few ways to put them to work.  😉


Apparently I Need to Homeschool the Dog Too…

Our new dog has terrible grammar. She’s absolutely fabulous in just about every other way.  She’s loyal, loving, affectionate, playful, gentle, well trained…

But she does not understand the proper usage of the words “lie” and “lay.”

If you tell Layla (how ironically named!) to lie down, she stares at you blankly.  Tell her to lay down and she lies right down.


Only I would actually be bothered enough to correct my dog’s grammar!

I tell her that you lay eggs and you lie down, but she just flat out doesn’t care.

Good thing she’s so good at algebra.  😉

Want to help the kids know when to say lie, lay, laid and lain? Grammar Monster has an easy page on it.  Grammar Tips has a slightly more sophisticated version (complete with explanations of transitive and intransitive verbs) and this reminder:

~You need to lie down today, yesterday you lay down, in the past you have lain down.

~Today, you lay the book on the table. Yesterday, you laid the book on the table. In the past, you have laid the book on the table.

And then there’s always this fun infographic….


A Few Good Links

Here’s a bit of what’s clogging up my browser today…

Fear The Pumpkin: In Ukraine, It’s The Big Kiss-Off

Think jack-o’-lanterns are frightening? Try being a man in Ukraine. Then you’ll truly understand what it’s like to fear a pumpkin.

For centuries in the Eastern European nation, a pumpkin meant one thing: No, I won’t marry you.

An old tradition held that a would-be suitor would visit a woman’s house to propose. If the answer was yes, there was family toasting and celebration. If no, the poor guy was silently handed a pumpkin….

Poor guys!  🙂  Read the rest from NPR here.

Not-So-Scary Play-Dough Monsters!

Pink and Green Mama has more on how to make these fun beasties!

A throw of the Dice

Up to 20,000 years before they had bows and arrows to hunt with, those who roamed what would someday become the U.S. used something called an atlatl to put elk and venison on the supper table…

And mammoth!  Don’t forget mammoth!  If you’re curious about this atlatl thingee that I’m always posting about, this article has some good basic information about it.

Make Me: Spooky Story Dice

I’m not sure about you, but I have to admit that we’d never played with story dice before. Halloween is the perfect excuse to start seeing as spooky stories always seem to capture their imagination. It’s hysterical to hear the stories they come up with! We’d love to hear yours…

These printable dice sound like fabulous fun!  Visit Made in Me to print yours.

Explanation on ballot may baffle voters

A phrase says the amendment “would ensure that the right to vote for persons with mental illness cannot be taken away by the Legislature.”
See kids, grammar matters!  Because we all have a right to vote for persons with mental illnesses, right?  Oops… Read more about the poor wording that’s causing voter confusion here.
And lastly…

The Hundred Year Starship: The Nasa mission that will take astronauts to Mars and leave them there forever

The mission is to boldly go where no man has gone before – on a flight to Mars.

The snag is that you’d never come back.

The U.S. space agency Nasa is actively investigating the possibility of humans colonising other worlds such as the Red Planet in an ambitious project named the Hundred Years Starship.

Wow!  Amazing stuff to ponder.  Read the full story here.

The State of Education…

I wrote an article today about a new digital science book being developed (to be available free!) and was on Wired while I was doing research.  This comment got my attention…

i’m not really convenced when he says no publisher is doing this.

i used to work for Harcourt School publishers who (at least 8 years ago) were the leader in all school book publishig for the USA and they were producing ebook versions of the text books.

then later in life i started taking night classes at university of phoenix and pretty much every single book i had to buy was a digital book (from various publishers)

so yeah i call BS on that front.

on the other hand i will conseed that these guys seem to be taking it the next logical step forward with the audio and video componants. i really look forward to downloading their first chapter and checking it out!!!


This from someone who:
a)  Worked for a textbook company, and
b)  Attended a university

What’s even worse is that someone replied to this person and appeared to “correct” the spelling of concede, with a new wrong spelling!  And some snazzy new spellings of his/her own…

@ Iblissli While I will conceed that others are attempting to do this, No One has anything like this available for High schools in the US. I have used the “digital” material that Harcourt provides and I would not put exxentially a scan of the book page on the same level as an interactive video hyperlinked, searchable text. This is the next logical step in the evolution of education. I will be waiting for the first chapter eagerly. When will the physics, Chemistry, Geology, Astronomy… texts be comming?

Hey kids…  Your homework is to see how many errors you can find in those quotes!  😉

This, That and the Other


Victoria found this article about albino animals.  It’s pretty neat to look at with the kids!  I’m not sure it’s all the best scientific information, but it’s a fantastic springboard to find out more.  She’s also taught me some fancy word for an animal that seems albino but isn’t, but I’ve forgotten (I have a mind like a collander!).  I’ll have her write up a paragraph and I’ll post it.  🙂


Here’s a huge list of secular homeschool blogs.

The Other:

I finished this series up a few days ago and had a lot of fun with it.

It’s easy to get in a rut with math and rely on lots of workbook pages and drilling. That’s a shame, because there really are lots of…
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Remember when grammar involved diagramming sentences at a chalkboard? Lucky for us, there are so many more ways to teach this subject and make it…
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Looking for some fun new science-related activities to do with the kids? Here’s a few simple ways to teach astronomy, chemistry, the human body…
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Looking for some fun ways to help your child along with reading skills? Here’s five wonderful ways that have always been helpful hits at our…
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Map darts: Find or make a large corkboard and rotate various large maps on top of it. Challenge the kids to throw darts at a specific state,…
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Looking for a way to add some fun to your history studies? Here’s five fun ways to help bring the subject to life. Write historic diary…
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So what should I write about next?  Ideas welcome!  🙂