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! ūüôā

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

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!

The Science of Seasons is published!

Science booksI’m so excited to announce that The Science of Seasons set of books is finally published and available for purchase! They are available on our NEW online store and also from! I’ve also created a FREE science curriculum to go with them!

If you are a member of Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited you can check out The Science of Seasons for free via the Kindle lending library! The Science of Seasons Activities book is also on sale for a limited time in honor of our book launch! You can get the PDF of the activity book for only $7.50. That’s HALF off the normal PDF price and even more than half off the softcover price. Visit our online store for detailed descriptions of the books as well as a free handwriting paper pack, and a set of ¬†printable¬†paper dolls with¬†a set of outfits.

Take a peek at some of The¬†Science of Season’s pages¬†(thumbnails do not enlarge):

 sample1  sample2
 sample3  sample4

Here are some pages from The Science of Seasons Activities book:


 sample5  sample6
 sample8  sample7
 sample9  samplefall

There are over 100 pages of activities and lessons in the activity book that expand on topics presented in The Science of Seasons.

Some of the activities and lessons include:

  • Greek and Latin Root Cards, Vocabulary CardsArt projects
  • Copywork assignments
  • Cutout playsets and figures
  • Dot-to-dot
  • Geography
  • Greek & Latin roots
  • Lapbook style cutouts
  • Language & culture study
  • Make your own comic book templates and cutouts
  • Mazes
  • Sciencestuff
  • Spelling
  • Vocabulary activities and cutout cards
  • ..and much more!

Click here for a list of topics and learning points.

I’ve really worked hard to create books that will teach, but that are also lots of fun. Many of the¬†kids who’ve tested these books are especially fans of¬†Beowulf, a¬†lively and cute fox terrier whose face can be found on quite a few pages!

The¬†Science of Seasons¬†books have been a labor of love and I’m so grateful to everyone who helped make them possible! A huge thank-you goes to my husband for making this all possible, my mom & dad for all their¬†encouragement, and my friend Beth for her hawk-eyed proofreading! I’m also so thankful for all my testers – the moms and kids who read and worked through the books before they were available to the public and gave their wise suggestions with a huge dose of enthusiasm!

Now here comes the hard part: spreading the word!

I need your help to make this series successful so that I can write and illustrate more books. Please tell your friends and share our happy news of the books on your blogs and social media. If you read either of the books, please consider leaving a review on, Goodreads, and/or my store.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds for more books in the series!

State Test Results Show Otter’s Curriculum Works

…for us anyway! ūüėČstar test


I recently received Otter’s results from the California state STAR test he took last spring and I’m very happy with the results. Otter did quite well in all the tested subjects, but he scored ADVANCED in science and would have also scored advanced in history except for one category of history on the test we hadn’t studied yet. That one category brought his history score down a little bit,¬†just below¬†the advanced cut-off.

A sample of Otter’s science scores (chemistry and a variety of other science topics):





Despite not reaching the advanced score for history, Otter got top results in the other history categories we’ve covered in our homeschool (like Ancient Civilizations, Middle Ages, Renaissance & Reformation, etc.), even in history topics we haven’t studied for years!

I don’t like the STAR tests, but they do allow me to see how Otter compares to other students in the state. To see he’s scoring advanced in the areas where *I* designed his curriculum is really a payoff for all the untold hours of hard work creating¬†Otter’s science and history programs.

The bottom line is that I know what works for my son. It’s so encouraging to see him scoring¬†so¬†well despite some learning struggles we are working very hard to overcome.¬†I can’t guarantee these kinds of results from my curriculum for anyone else, but it’s satisfying to see it’s working for Otter, since he’s who I designed it for, after all! ūüôā

If you are teaching a student who is struggling,¬†DON’T get discouraged. Keep on going and hang in there. It’s taken us¬†years¬†to get to where Otter is currently in regards to academics and there is still a lot of hard work to be done before he graduates and heads off for college. Some students are slow to blossom, but when they do…the reward is somehow so much sweeter for all the trying.

Otter’s Christian High School Biology is Posted

I’ve finally finished posting the homeschool biology curriculum I put together for my son! I’m still working on a few things like:

  • Making more workbook pages for the later chapters
  • Creating some lab printables
  • Continuing to edit the textbook
  • Working on Greek & Latin root vocabulary

Even though I will be tweaking the program over the 2013-2014 school year while we use it as well as creating additional components, it’s completely usable “as is”.

I hope it helps some of you out there! Feel free to snag the graphic from this post if you want to spread the word.

Extracting DNA from Strawberries Experiment

Today in botany we extracted DNA from strawberries! This is a super-easy experiment with dramatic results.

You need the following supplies:

  • 10 ml (2 tsp) dishwashing liquid (or shampoo without conditioner) – shampoo frees the DNA by disrupting the cell membranes.
  • 90 ml (6 T) water
  • 15 grams ( or 1/4 tsp) of salt (Salt allows the DNA to precipitate because the positive Na+ ions shield the negative charges on the DNA.)
  • 1-2 fresh or frozen strawberries (We used strawberries because they are octoploid – which means they 8 copies of each type of chromosome. That means they have 8x time the DNA of normal cells. Strawberries also have enzymes like pectinase that assists in cell wall breakdown.)
  • Ziploc bag
  • Coffee filter
  • Clear glass or test tube
  • Cup or beaker or similar container
  • Isopropanol alcohol


  1. Put your strawberries in the Ziploc bag, close the bag and then mash them up for a couple of minutes.
  2. In a large container, mix the dishwashing liquid, water and salt.
  3. Pour 10 ml of the dishwashing liquid, water and salt mixture into the Ziploc and mix it with your mashed up strawberries for about a minute. *Note: We actually had to pour in more liquid to get our strawberry mash to liquify. Add as much as you need to make a juice like consistency.
  4. Pour the solution through a coffee filter into a clear glass or test tube. You’ll have more visible results if you can pour it into a skinny test tube, like we did.
  5. Now gently pour in Isopropanol alcohol on top of the filtered strawberry liquid. Pour in 2x the amount of the strawberry liquid. So, if you poured in 4 ml of strawberry “juice”, you should pour in 8 ml of alcohol on top. DO NOT MIX. Just pour it gently right on top of the strawberry “juice”.
  6. As you view the tube (or glass), you’ll see a fuzzy, stringy white precipitate start to bubble up and then gather in a mass as it floats to the top of the alcohol layer. If for any reason you don’t see this, just add a little more salt. This is the strawberry’s DNA! You can poke in a toothpick or other item and spool some of the DNA onto it.

Here’s a picture of our test tube with DNA floating up to the top of the alcohol layer. You can see it clumping up at the top of the liquid with some bubbles.

Here’s a close-up. I’ve circled areas with blue. Look at the lower circle. You can actually see thread-like strands of DNA floating up.

So how in the world can you see DNA when it’s so tiny inside a cell and we wouldn’t even be able to see it with our microscopes? Think of cotton threads. You wouldn’t be able to see a single thread from 100 feet away, but you would be able to see it if it was wound together into hundreds of feet of rope. That’s what happens when you extract the DNA from strawberries. You can’t normally see an individual strand of DNA. However, when it becomes spooled together with all of the other strands via the extraction process, it becomes visible – just like our thread analogy.

This is a great experiment not just for botany but also for biology or a human body study. I think Otter was impressed that he was looking at real DNA!

“Once in a blue moon” is tonight!

Picture taken by Otter through his telescope last year

Ever been told something will only happen “Once in a Blue Moon”?
Well tonight is your lucky night!

Otter has been waiting for this all month. He just got a new 3.0mm Orion Edge-On Planetary Eyepiece for his telescope and will be busy tonight exploring the moon. His new eyepiece makes it look like you could reach out and touch each crater. We were even able to see Neptune with it the other day (and yes, it was BLUE, unlike tonight’s moon which is called blue but not actually colored blue)!

Besides tonight’s special moon, you can find Neptune this month (and into October). Click here for instructions. Here’s another site that says you can even see it in binoculars.

If you have a kid interested in astronomy, I can’t recommend enough that you save up for a real telescope (not a toy, which is likely to be frustrating). Otter has spent so many nights out in our backyard studying the sky and learning how to navigate to different stars and planets. He’s even taken some beautiful pictures of¬† the moon.

He often uses the free program Stellarium to help him locate planets or nebulae.

Anyway, today is the day to tell your kids you expect them to find lots of extra chores to do without being asked because it’s a blue moon after all! Wink

Otter’s Botany Curriculum Notebooking Pages

I’m currently working on creating notebooking pages to help my son retain what he will be learning in botany this year. All answers to these notebooking pages can be found in the Botany For Dummies text. All the pages are in PDF format. I’ll post more sets of notebooking pages as they become available. I’m also creating some interactive tests and quizzes, but am waiting to see whether they can be posted online or not.

Chapter 1 Botany Notebooking Page
This printable page highlights the many ways plants are useful.Botany notebooking page chapter 1
Chapter 2 Plant Cell
Draw and label the plant cell parts based on figure
2-10 from the text.botany notebooking page
Chapter 2 Lift the Flap 3 Domains Base Sheet
Learn about the 3 domains. Copy the book’s text explanations underneath each flap.botany notebooking pages
Chapter 2 Lift the Flap Cut & Paste Page
Cut out the tree parts for the 3 domains printable.botany notebooking page
Chapter 2 Plasma Membrane
Make the parts and jobs of the plasma membrane memorable with this printable!botany printable
Chapter 2 Lift the Flap Cell Parts & Jobs
Create a lift-the-flap on colored paper to help retain the parts of a cell and the various organelle jobs.botany lapbook page
More to come!