Homeschool freebie: Make it Real by Math Mammoth

If you are not familiar with Math Mammoth, you should check them out. There is a ton of free math worksheets and materials on their website. One of my favorite freebies from this website is the Make it Real, Volume 1, activity sampler. The ten lessons in this sample book show your child exactly why math is important.


The lessons are real life situations that your child will eventually come across. Make it Real starts off with a lesson on choosing a cell phone plan. Your child is given a data set—rates for different plans—and they must choose which plan would be the most cost effective for a given situation. This lesson is for kids who have already been exposed to working with linear equations. After completing the lesson, why not have your child examine your current cell phone plan to see if you are getting the best deal.


Cooking in the Kitchen is the second activity in the sampler. This lesson involves working with fractions and percents. Students will explore the importance of fractions and percents by working with a recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. You can take this one step further and perform the practice exercises in your kitchen.


Several lessons include higher level math including calculus. Some lessons, such as the lesson on investigating cubic functions, may not be suitable for younger children. This particular lesson uses teen pregnancy statistics as the basis for the lesson. I know many parents who would prefer not to touch on this subject with younger children.


The ebook is free to download as a pdf file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader or other program that can read pdf files in order to use the book. You can download the Make it Real ebook here.

Hope this was helpful


Posted on 14 September '13 by , under Free lesson plans and ideas, Free or Almost free resources, Freebies, Thrifty Homeschooling. No Comments.

Homeschool Science Project: Solar Food Dehydrator Part 3

We had  a few set backs with the project. It was more expensive to purchase all of the materials than we first calculated. Then work and cancer treatment schedules got in the way. Finally, the battery to the cordless drill died, so we had to replace the battery – the drill worked fine. So now that things are back in swing, here is where we stand.

Last time, all we had accomplished was painting the heat plate. That was easy enough to do and we have progressed to cutting the wood. Under the direction of my husband, my 12-year old son is learning a lot with this project.

Solar food dehydrator project

Measuring takes time and patience.



Measure twice, cut one. Measuring all of the boards and pieces to cut took some time. But, my boy took his time and we did not waste any of the wood.





Life Skills

This is where the project is invaluable. My son has learned the proper way to use power tools. Now he has experience with a table saw and circular saw, as well as a cordless drill. He has self confidence knowing he is capable of handling dangerous equipment.

Video: Learning to use a table saw


Our first cardboard dryer was a lesson in solar energy. This project will show a similar lesson on a much larger scale. We will be able to compare the outdoor temperature with the temperature inside the dryer. Doors and screens will allow us to control the air-flow better than the cardboard model. This model has a different air-flow pattern. As the heat panel absorbs the sun’s rays, it radiates heat into the unit. The warmed air starts to rise and exits out of two holes in the top rear of the dryer. This upward movement of air, pulls cooler air in from underneath the unit. The cooler air is warmed by the heat panel and continues to rise past the items we are drying before it exits at the top of the unit. Here is a lesson on air currents, heat, and solar radiation.

Stay tuned as we continue to assemble the solar food dehydrator.



Posted on 24 November '12 by , under Free or Almost free resources, Science lesson plans, Solar Food Dehydrator. No Comments.

Homeschool Science Project: A Solar Food Dryer

Several months ago we embarked on a homeschool science project which took on a life of its own. What started as a couple of cardboard boxes turned into a major undertaking. There were many issues with the original solar food dryer plans. So we decided to take it one step further. Now, we are building a wooden food dehydrator that has an electric backup.


Our First Solar Food Dryer

solar food dehydrator

Our first solar food dryer was made from 2 cardboard boxes.


We constructed our original solar food dehydrator from a couple of cardboard boxes, plastic wrap, black paint, old screen and a rack from an old roaster. Duct tape held everything together. This food dryer presented many challenges.

It is not very sturdy. To preserve the structural integrity of the dryer, you have to bring it in every night. Otherwise, morning dew gets the cardboard wet and it becomes too weak to hold the rack. We left ours out 24/7 and found after a week, the boxes started to deteriorate. If rain threatened–we moved the dryer indoors.

Another issue was the loss of critical heat. The original plans called for screening over the top of the dryer. This allowed too much heat to escape. We replaced the screen with plastic wrap and added screen-covered vents on the sides of the box. This helped marginally.

The cardboard dryer was a great first attempt at solar food drying, but with so many critical problems we decided to look for a sturdier model.


Bigger and Better

We loved the idea of preserving our garden harvest without incurring the cost of electricity. Canning works beautifully in many situations, but dried foods take up less space. We love ground cayenne peppers on pizza and other foods. Canning cannot replace drying and vice versa.

Our new project is building a solar food dryer out of wood. While it is possible to reduce costs by using recycled products, we decided to purchase everything we did not already have. This is not an inexpensive homeschool project. To date we have invested about $250 in materials, tools and supplies.

Once the new dryer is built, it will be used outdoors as much as possible. Two incandescent light bulbs supply backup heat when it is too cold or lack of sun prevents solar drying. I will keep you up to date on our progress so check back often–especially after the weekend.


Educational Experiences

Our first project made for a wonderful solar energy experiment. It was a good lesson in recycling, as the cardboard solar dryer was made from items we had at the house. We didn’t have to buy anything to make it.

The new project becomes more involved. In addition to the obvious food preparation and storage, and solar energy; we are learning about woodworking, safe use of power tools, comparison shopping, wiring electrical circuits, following plans, math, budgeting, project management and team work.

Stay tuned, I’ll keep you posted on how this progresses–we may turn it into a video blog. Let me know what you think.



Posted on 23 October '12 by , under Free lesson plans and ideas, Science lesson plans, Solar Food Dehydrator. No Comments.

Get Kids to Eat Veggies with a Taste Taste

Portrait with vegetables

Use creativity to get kids to eat vegetables

It is difficult to get kids to eat vegetables. Many don’t like the bitter taste of some veggies like broccoli, cauliflower or green leafy vegetables. You can get kids to eat veggies with a taste test. This home school lesson plan will teach children about the scientific method and data collection. The activity works best with multiple children. If you have an only child, invite friends over to help.



Talk about the scientific method and about data collection. Ask if your kids know what a blind taste test is. Inform them that they will be conducting a blind taste test with vegetables and dipping sauces.


What you need

This lesson plan uses four different dips; hummus, almond-miso dip, creamy tofu dip, and bean dip. Click here for the recipes.


1) A variety of sliced raw vegetables. Try broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, sweet bell peppers and jicama.


2) Paper for data sheets, ruler and pencils.


3) Plastic cups for dipping sauces.


4) Labels for the sauces, use the letters A, B, C, and D.


5) Water for drinking in between tastes.



Place dipping sauces in cups marked with letters. Write down which letter belongs to each sauce but do not share the information with your children. If two adults are available, have one mark and record the sauces and the other adult can work with the kids.


Place a tray of assorted sliced vegetables on the table with the dipping sauces.


Have each child make a data sheet. Put four headings on the top of the paper labeled A, B, C, D. Use a ruler to create four equal columns.


Taste test

Each child should select a vegetable from the tray and dip it into one of the sauces. They should mark on their data sheet if they liked the sauce or not, and indicate which vegetable they selected. Very young children who cannot write, can draw a smiley face or a frown to indicate if they liked the dipping sauce.


Have each child drink water before tasting the next dipping sauce (with a new vegetable slice.) Continue until everyone has tasted all four sauces.


Compile the data

Have a master data sheet. Select one child to count and make tally marks in each column. When all the data is collected, have the students make charts or graphs to show which dipping sauces were preferred. Ask the children if they think their choice of vegetable influenced whether they liked a particular dipping sauce or not.



Posted on 23 June '12 by , under Free lesson plans and ideas, Science lesson plans. No Comments.

Free First-Grade Literature Curriculum from Hewitt Homeschooling

It is difficult to find quality homeschool resources. Hewitt Homeschooling is offering a free first-grade literature/language arts curriculum. You just have to sign up in order to receive notifications when the page updates.


Starting on September 30, 2012, Hewitt Homeschooling will upload four lessons, student guides and a teacher’s guide to their website. You can download the pdf files as you need them. The program is called Lightening Literature. An outline for the curriculum is available here. Most of the books are available at your public library or you can easily find them online at websites like or


I have looked over the outline and the resources listed on the webpage and it looks like a wonderful free resource for first-grade students. My children are in middle and high school, so this is not something I plan to use. If you decide to go with this program, drop me a line and let me know how it worked out for you.


Hope this is helpful


Posted on 3 June '12 by , under Free or Almost free resources, Freebies, Thrifty Homeschooling. No Comments.

PollinatorLIVE available to Little Rock homeschools

PollinatorLIVE available to Little Rock homeschools

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Posted on 1 March '10 by , under Free lesson plans and ideas, Free or Almost free resources, Homeschooling 101. No Comments.

Home School lesson plan Black History Month: The Little Rock Nine

Home School lesson plan Black History Month: The Little Rock Nine

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Posted on 18 January '10 by , under Free lesson plans and ideas, Homeschooling 101. No Comments.

Homeschool Days at Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Little Rock

Homeschool Days at Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Little Rock

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Posted on 13 January '10 by , under Free lesson plans and ideas, Homeschooling 101. No Comments.

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