Make an Edible DNA Model

I was just notified that a link to one of the activities in the new anatomy program is dead. I couldn’t find a replacement, so I custom-made an activity sheet to replace it. Here is it for anyone who’d like to make an edible model of DNA with licorice and marshmallows! For those of you who’ve recently purchased the anatomy schedule, please update your printable schedules, if necessary. The online schedules have already been updated! :-)

Click here to download the activity sheet.

Have your DNA and eat it too replacement activity
This was a really fun activity I did with my kids, years ago. It really helped reinforce their understanding of the chemical base pairs of DNA, as well as the shape of the DNA molecule. Oh, and we all liked the excuse to eat candy during science time! ūüėČ

Gold Country

Just sharing some pictures of our visit to “gold country”…

Some friendly horses:


A vein of quartz poking up out of the ground like the back of a sleeping dragon:

A curious and furry face:


I hope everyone is having a great summer! Ours has been busy, but productive. In a couple of weeks I’ll post a sneak peek of a new curriculum in the works: Knowledge of Nature!

Little Otter’s Anatomy Curriculum is finished!

I just finished level 1 of my 3 level anatomy curriculum: Little Otter’s Anatomy Curriculum.

This is a gentle, literature approach to science with simple experiments and activities.

This curriculum is designed for preschool through about 2nd grade or for older children with special needs who would benefit from books that are more “gentle” and are scheduled at a slower pace. You can also substitute some of the books for a younger student who is using Guest Hollow’s Jr. Anatomy Curriculum. Just choose from the two programs to get the best fit.

Topics for this curriculum:

  • All about the human body
  • How some animal parts are different than human parts
  • Teeth
  • Nutrition & Food
  • Germs and Getting Sick
  • Going to the Doctor
  • Sleep
  • Where babies come from (age appropriate)
  • Smoking is bad for you
  • Keeping safe from inappropriate touch
  • Safety
  • Stories & videos about famous people and animals, like Fanny Crosby, Louis Pasteur, Helen Keller, Buddy – the first seeing eye dog, and Balto who delivered medicine to children in Alaska

I’ve scheduled in a variety of fascinating books and resources to make this human body curriculum informative, interesting and fun! I’ve also included several items to enhance this year’s studies that incorporate art and imaginative play.

Click here to read more about Little Otter’s Anatomy Curriculum.¬†It’s $5 off in my store for one week!

I’m getting ready to work on updating /revamping the next curriculum. It’s been a lot of work converting my site over to a business (instead of a hobby), but well worth the effort. Thanks to all of you who are helping make Guest Hollow a success!

A book in my high school anatomy curriculum is on sale!

Alex The Life of a Child

Alex: The Life of a Child¬†is a Kindle daily deal today! For just today, you can get this book for $1.99 by clicking on the link above. It’s a book I schedule in my high school anatomy curriculum. Here’s the description:

“In 1971 a girl named Alex was born with cystic fibrosis, a degenerative genetic lung disease. Although health-care innovations have improved the life span of CF patients tremendously over the last four decades, the illness remains fatal.

Given only two years to live by her doctors, the imaginative, excitable, and curious little girl battled through painful and frustrating physical-therapy sessions twice daily, as well as regular hospitalizations, bringing joy to the lives of everyone she touched. Despite her setbacks, brave Alex was determined to live life like a typical girl‚ÄĒgoing to school, playing with her friends, traveling with her family. Ultimately, however, she succumbed to the disease in 1980 at the age of eight.

Award-winning author Frank Deford, celebrated primarily as a sportswriter, was also a budding novelist and biographer at the time of his daughter’s birth. Deford kept a journal of Alex’s courageous stand against the disease, documenting his family’s struggle to cope with and celebrate the daily fight she faced. This book is the result of that journal.

Alex relives the events of those eight years: moments as heartwarming as when Alex recorded herself saying ‚ÄúI love you‚ÄĚ so her brother could listen to her whenever he wanted, and as heartrending as the young girl‚Äôs tragic, dawning realization of her own very tenuous mortality, and her parents‚Äô difficulty in trying to explain why.

Though Alex is a sad story, it is also one of hope; her greatest wish was that someday a cure would be found. Deford has written a phenomenal memoir about an extraordinary little girl.”

This is a heartbreaking and inspiring story. I was so happy to see it on sale today and snatched it up for Otter, who requested to start our new high school anatomy curriculum this fall, when he saw all of the great books!

K-2 Anatomy Curriculum Sneak Peek

I’m almost finished with the 3rd level of Guest Hollow’s Anatomy Curriculum for Kindergarten through 2nd grade! I will probably post it sometime next week! Little Otter’s Anatomy Curriculum is¬†also appropriate for a preschooler who wants to start homeschooling.

Little Otter’s Anatomy Curriculum is¬†a gentle study of the human body with anatomy and¬†health topics that line up with the Guest Hollow Jr. Anatomy Curriculum and the High School Anatomy Curriculum. Now you can teach multiple ages the same topic, and everyone can get in on the fun at their own level!¬†You can mix and match books between the three levels to customize the curriculum for your learner(s). It’s easy to plug books from a different level¬†into each schedule, as they are listed by week on the book & resource pages.

I’ve scheduled in lots of great books that are perfect for a young child’s¬†home library into this curriculum, as well as plenty of fun, age-appropriate hands-on activities to make learning stick.

You can get a sneak peek by looking at the scheduled books & resources. Just click on the image below!

Human body books

The Heralds of Summer

I always know summer is getting ready to start when I see these in my backyard:tomatoes

I picked our first real, red tomatoes this weekend as well as a handful of Sungold cherries with their cheery, golden skins.

I also heard the first cricket of the season singing outside my window last night. I love crickets!! When I was a kid and lived in TX, they used to get in the house and chirp in the kitchen. I know that would creep some people out, but they always sounded so happy. I’d either leave them alone to sing all night, or would gently scoop them up and take them outside.

Maybe I was influenced to love crickets by the book The Cricket in Times Square , a childhood favorite.  My mother brought it home to me to read when she worked in a library. I attribute my love of books to her!!

Anyway, I love tomatoes and crickets – the first heralds of summer!

Our new Jr. Anatomy Curriculum is finished!

Our new anatomy curriculum has loads of great books, fun activities, fascinating videos and even online games and free printables scheduled in. It’s meaty enough to be a “core” curriculum (if desired) and perfect for science-loving children with plenty of practical information and a variety of materials to appeal to different learning styles. We even have a high school anatomy curriculum that follows the topics in the same order, so you can make life easier teaching multiple ages the same subject at different levels!

Topics for this curriculum:

  • All about the human body
  • Stories about real people & scientists
  • Nutrition
  • Germs and diseases
  • Saying no to alcohol and smoking
  • Keeping safe from inappropriate touch
  • Puberty (optional – with separate books for boys and girls)
  • Survival and what to do in emergencies

I’ve scheduled in a variety of fascinating books and resources to make this human body curriculum informative, interesting and fun! I’ve also included¬†some books that are add-ons for advanced or middle school students.

Click here to read more!

The Jr. Anatomy Curriculum schedule is on sale until June 27th in my online store!

Free summer subscriptions for homeschoolers!

I love things that are FREE, lol…so, I had to pass on this info!¬†All of the links below are for free stuff you can sign up for through the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op. There is no cost to join the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op. That’s free too!

If you were wondering what your kids will do over the summer, some of the subscriptions below are free through August! There’s plenty to keep your kiddos busy:

Discovery Education Streaming Plus – Try it FREE through August 31st

We’ve used Discovery Streaming before and it’s a great resource for TONS of videos. Not only does it have many Discovery Channel videos for free, it also has PBS shows, BBC videos, and lots more. – Try it FREE for the Summer has video tutorials, practice exercises, tests and lots more. There are a lot of good reviews for this site.

myON Literacy Program – Try it FREE for the Summer

Get access to 9,200 e-books for your kids to read tailored to their reading level, age, and interests! There is a large assortment of books, including graphic novels of Shakespeare stories, etc.

Mark Kistler’s Virtual Classroom – Try it FREE for the Summer

My kids LOVED Mark’s drawing lessons in book form. Now he has online lessons in a virtual classroom.

Uzinggo Math & Science Supplement – Try it FREE for the Summer

Uzinggo has interactive lessons and accompanying worksheets on a variety of math and science topics through high school levels.

eMedia Music Academy – Try it FREE through July 31st

This is for access to several software downloads to learn piano and other instruments.

Always Icecream and Clever Dragons – Try it FREE through August 15th

Practice a variety of subjects like math, language arts, geography, Latin, Greek, keyboarding skills, science, foreign language and more!

Don’t forget to also check out your local library. Many libraries have free summer reading programs with prizes you can win!

New High School Anatomy Curriculum

I’ve finished my new high school anatomy curriculum!

Homeschool anatomy science curriculum

Click on the image to take a look!

Otter has requested to use it starting this fall,¬†and I’m really looking forward to it.¬†There¬†are lots of interesting books I think he’s really going to enjoy learning from.

The First Fruit Harvest of the Year

When we moved into our house, we had a pretty, mature apricot tree in our back yard. Some of the branches broke off though.¬†Then it¬†got stressed during a super hot summer and eventually died. A couple of years ago we bought a new apricot tree and this year got our first “real” harvest. It was only a couple colandars full, but enough to fill up some¬†trays in the dehydrator:

dehydrating apricots

Dried apricots are super expensive, and we LOVE them. Now we can make our own homemade version of this healthy treat!

I cut the apricots in half, discarded the pits, soaked the halves in lemon juice & water (about 2 cups of lemon juice to 1 quart water) with a bit of vitamin C powder thrown in (about a tablespoon or so), and then flipped them “inside-out” onto dehydrator trays with the skin down. The lemon juice keeps the apricots from browning too much as they dry. Last year I didn’t use any lemon juice on some of the apricots a friend gave us to dry. They turned out¬†tasty but were an¬†ugly brown. They looked like something you’d scrape off the bottom of your shoe. Lesson learned. The lemon juice also helps preserve the apricots better. According to Colorado State University:

“Pretreating fruits prior to drying is highly recommended. Pretreating helps keep light-colored fruits from darkening during drying and storage and it speeds the drying of fruits with tough skins, such as grapes and cherries. Research studies have shown that pretreating with an acidic solution or sodium metabisulfite dip also enhances the destruction of potentially harmful bacteria during drying, including Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella species and Listeria monocytogenes.”

You can read more about pretreating fruits by clicking here.

If you look it up, you’ll see that people use different amounts of lemon juice to dip fruits in for dehydrating. I just happen to have a lot on hand as I use it to make what I call “Magic Cleaner”, so I went with the 2 cups measurement. We’ll see how everything turns¬†out! I’ve dried fruits before with no pre-treatment at all and they turned out fine (except color-wise), and lasted an entire year with no ill effects. We’ll see if the lemon juice makes much difference. I do like the idea that it helps destroy potential bacteria. (P.S. I’m not an expert on any of this, so if you want to dry fruits, I recommend you get advice from a trusted resource!)

I have 10 trays for my dehydrator (a Nesco Gardenmaster) so I decided to fill the rest of them up with some other things I had on hand like 4 apples that were losing their crisp in the fridge, a container of strawberries from a buy-one-get-two-free deal at our local store, and some green beans from the garden that I blanched and then rolled in olive oil, salt, and dried parmesan cheese.

Beans to dehydrate

I’m hoping I’ll like¬†the dried beans, as they are supposed to be a good, crunchy, healthy snack. If so, I’ll make a bunch more with the next batch of beans that ripens.

I sliced the apples directly into the lemon juice using my German-made¬†mandolin slicer. That thing is awesome! I was kind of nervous about it when I first used it, but this particular model is designed so that I don’t have to worry (too much) about slicing my fingers off along with the apple. ūüėČ

dehydrating applesI just cored the strawberries and then cut them in half. I’ve dried strawberries before by slicing them, but the resulting dried pieces were so small, I decided to try halves this time, just like the apricots.


dehydrating strawberries

Here’s my dehydrator all loaded up:

Nesco Gardenmaster dehydrator

It has an automatic timer, so I can set it and forget it, even overnight. I’ll check the fruit later tonight to see how it’s doing and if it needs to dry¬†longer.

This is just the beginning of our garden season! The next fruit that will be ripening are the¬†plums. Last year we had a huge harvest and I’m still enjoying dried plums and low sugar plum jam from all of my work. I’m hoping this year will turn out just as productive (and yummy, lol)!

I’ll take an updated picture of my garden soon, including the trellis my husband just built for the kiwi vines I’m probably going to order next month. I love growing¬†and preserving food from our own yard. I like knowing where it comes from, what went on it (pesticides, etc.) and love pulling colorful spring and summer food out of our cupboards and freezer long into the winter.

Now I’m off to work some more on my high school anatomy course. I’m almost finished with it and will be posting it soon!