Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Getting to That Taggy Blanket

As a grandmother wondering -- Why didn't some of the wonderful thingies exist when I had my children.  One of the things my daughter uses that I like are the Dr. Brown's botttles. (Yes, she breast feeds but she has to supplement with formula and she will being going back to work).  Maybe my son's colic wouldn't have been so bad with Dr Brown's, though we tried almost everything to help eliminate it.

Other things I like are the new cloth all-in-one-diapers with pre-folds or inserts such as BumGenius, Flips, Thirsties, and many others.  I like making the all-in-one-diaper, also.  And, of course, they have developed a home diaper sprayer to clean the poop off the diaper.  Oh, and you can still use diaper pins but there are the wonderful Snappi Diaper Fasteners.

Then there are the wipe warmers with cloth wipes.  When my daughter mentioned this, I thought she had gone too far in this "green movement".  Turns out to be a great idea.  She uses the Prince Lionheart warmer but there are many other brands.  She has a bundle of baby wash cloths which are soaked with a homemade baby wipe solution. The baby wipe solution in the warmer contains a few drops  Lavender essential oil, baby oil, Dr Bronner's liquid castile soap, and water.

 I just love all these new products.

Another thing I just love are the tag blankets.  Yep, I actually knitted two baby blankets, a yellow hooded baby blanket and another banket from Ralvery. The problem is that my grandson may never use the blankets because he was born in the summer.  

Then I learned about tag blankets.

Before my grandson was born, I ordered some fat quarters from Spoonflower.  Had no idea what I was going to do with them.  I saw the prints and knew my daughter would love the patterns and colors.  When she begin talking about tag blankets, I then realized what I wanted to do with the fat quarters.
Tag blankets are wonderful for infants and toddlers.  The tags can help with hand and eye coordination and muscle development.  Toys can be attached to the tags for stimulation and play.

This is how I made my tag blankets.  It is not the only way but I had some thin quilt batting and cotton flannel I need to use up so I machine quilted the tag blankets.  It is made the exact size of the fat quarter which will make the finished blanket approximately 18x18-inches. It can be made larger using other fabrics.  Rather than use flannel, chenille can be used, which will give the blanket more interesting texture.  I am not using it because I am trying use what I have on-hand. To do this I need the following materials.


  1. Fat quarter
  2. Quilt batting   (it is the white material pinned to the wrong side of fat quarter)                                          
  3. Cotton flannel (shows as yellow in picture)
  4. Ribbon and rick rack for the tags


  1. Pin the quilt batting to the wrong side of the fat quarter as shown in the materials photo.
  2. Pin the tags as shown in the photo to the right side of fat quarter with tag loops laying on fat quarter as shown.

  3. At this point, if you choose, you can baste the tags on the batting and fat quarter
  4. Lay the cotton flannel on the right side of the fat quarter on the tags.  Pin the cotton flannel.  Note in the photo below that there is a batting layer, a fat quarter level, the tags and now the cotton flannel.

  5. With a pencil, mark where the flannel will be stitched to all the layers.
  6. Stitch on the pencil marks, making sure to leave a 4-5-inch gap to turn the blanket right side out.

  7. It is a good idea to stitch the corners again to reinforce them.
  8. Look inside and check seams to make sure there are no white margins if using a fat quarter with white margins.  If all is good, clip corners to remove excess bulk and trim seams.

  9. Turn right side out and carefully push corners out. 
  10. Finger press the sides down and pin.  With machine, top stitch using a slightly long stitch.

  11. Since this blanket is to be quilted,  the same long stitch can be used to outline the "stitches" printed on the fabric.
  12. The beginning and ending of each stitched line was back-stitched to prevent unraveling and threads were clipped.

The taggy blanket is now finished!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Physical Properties - Freezing & Melting Points

No technology Setup

Teacher Notes:

Chm.2.1.1 page2image23144 Explain the energetic nature of phase changes.
Chm.2.1.2 Explain heating and cooling curves, heat of fusion, heat of vaporization, heat, melting point, and boiling point).
Chm.2.1.3 Interpret the data presented in phase diagrams. 

In this lab, students will analyze data from graphs made using independent and dependent variables. They will find the relation between the melting point and boiling point of water.

This lab will not include heat of vaporization but can be shown later in this explanation or in another lab.

Helping Students Learn How to Make a Data Table
The data analysis in this lab is a double line graph.  There are no mathmatical calculations in this lab unless you change the lab.

To teach students to make a data table, they must read the lab.  In the first lab, I teach them how to pick out what must be part of the data table.  This probably will not be the first lab.  Some may still need help in making the data table.  If they ask, I ask them what they think are the dependent (controlled)  and independent manipulated) variables.  This would be a good lab in which to discuss variables.  In this lab the variables will be time and temperature.

If a mini lecture on graphing has not been given to the student, the following overhead can be helpful for a quick review. Use the info on an overhead projector or project the information on a smart board.  (Never assume that all students know this information from previous classes. If all do, move on.) Discuss what is included in a well-constructed graph, such as labeled x-axis and y-axis (including units), an appropriate title, neatness and readability.  Students always need to know what is expectedl

This lab will help most students understand that there is a correlation between freezing and melting point.  This lab can be done using technology or no technology.  Both methods will be explained.  Students need help in understanding that there are many experimental errors in this lab but the teacher does not need to state these nor tell the correlation between freezing and melting points.  This needs to be discovered by the student.  The teacher can answer any questions but not tell the expected data to collect.  The students always record data that they truly observe, not what they think they should observe.  The teacher should observe all setups and "might" make recommendations if necessary.

The thermometer should not be used as a stirring instrument.  Remind the students as often as necessary.  Provide plastic spoons for stirring.


In many labs, I added conclusion questions that they might see on a test.  I feel that it makes a connection with what was discussed in class. Also, it can be an aid when studying and reviewing for a test.  Yes, I asked the students to write the questions in the lab book so that they would know what the question was when reviewing for a test.

Experimental Errors
See lab "The Law of Conservation of Energy" to read explanation of experimental errors.

Helping Students To Think       (Important for every Lab)
During a lab, I rarely give additional instructions (beyond the written lab instructions) or give  answers to an experiment, but will answer any questions that will help them.  Yes, it causes frustration, but they learn that I am teaching them how to think.  Sometimes I will answer a question with a question, to again, help them with a thinking process.  I think it is important for students to use a marbled lab book. The Purpose (or Question), Hypothesis, Materials, Procedure and Data Table must be written in the lab book before a student may begin the lab.  (My signature proves that it was done). Every teacher can form their own opinion about this technique but I found that students take more ownership of their lab work.  It also is a good way to organized their lab work.

In this lab, a temperature probe will replace the thermometer.  This lab can be completed using a CBL or LabPro with a temperature probe and TI calculator.  The computer can be used also if available.  This lab has been completed successfully with all three Vernier products.  Pasco has great science sensors, also. Then, there are probes for classrooms having iPads.  These companies include instructions on the use of the temperature probe, including a temperature lab  such as the CBL temperature lab for Vernier .  Students of all ages love using technology in the science classroom, but in order for it to work smoothly as possible, the teacher needs to have completed the lab with the technology prior to instructing students. It also takes time to set up the technology but becomes easier each time -  well, most of the time. I have found that there will be some students very savvy in the use of the equipment and can help other frustrated students.  Student lab assistants can become helpful with this task also. But again, the teacher needs to know the problems and can help students work through problems encountered during the lab.

Freezing and Melting Points Lab

Question:  What is the freezing point and melting point of water?

Hypothesis:  ?  (Some students will need help.)

Materials: alcohol thermometer, ring stand, utility clamp, test tube, 400-mL beaker, water, 10-mL graduated cylinder, ice, rock salt, plastic spoon, stop watch


  1. Fill the 400-ml beaker 1/2 full of ice and add enough water to fill the beaker to 3/4 full of ice and water.
  2. Put 5 mol of water into a test tube and use a test tube clamp to fasten the test tube to a ring stand. (Be careful not to break the test tube by clamping too tight too.)  Clamp the test tube above the water bath.  Place the thermometer into the water inside the test tube. Record the temperature.
  3. When the equipment is ready, lower the test tube into the ice-water bath.  Begin the stop watch and record the temperature of the thermometer every 30 seconds for 15 minutes.
  4. As soon as the test tube is lowered into the beaker, add 5 spoons of salt to the beaker and stir with a plastic spoon.  Do not use the thermometer to stir!  
  5. Add more ice to the ice-water bath as the ice in the beaker begins to melt. Remember to keep recording the temperature every 30 seconds.
  6. When 15 minutes have passed, stop collecting data but keep the test tube submered in the ice-water bath.  Using the data collected, determine the freezing temperature of the water in the test tube.
  7. Begin a new data list.  Raise the test tube and clamp it above the ice-water bath.  Do not move the thermometer.
  8. Remove the ice water from under the test tube.  Start stop watch and begin collecting temperature data every 30 seconds.  Pour the ice-water in a disposal bucket provided by your teacher.  Rinse the beaker and put 250 mL warm water in the beaker.  When 12 minutes have passed, lower the test tube and thermometer into the warm-water bath.
  9. When 15 minutes have passed, stop collecting temperature and time data. Using the data collected during the melting, determine the melting temperature of the water in the test tube.
  10. Graph the data with time as the independent variable and temperature as the dependent variable.  Graph the temperatures in the first 15 minutes and the second 15 minutes on the same x and y axes(total of 30 minutes).  The difference in the two line graphs can be supported with a line and broken line, or different colors.  Label where phase changes occur and the heat of fusion. Be sure to make a key for your graph.

Data Table:  (Includes the dependent and independent variables)

Data Analysis:  (This would include the graph on graph paper)


Questions:  Write the question and answer in complete questions.
  1. What does phase change mean ans where do they occur in this lab.
  2. What is the dependent variable and independent variable in this experiment?
  3. Describe what happens to the water temperature as it freezes.  Describe  what happens to the water temperature as it melts.  
  4. Why are there flat lines on the graph?
  5. Using the data from the graph, what was the freezing temperature of the water? What was the melting temperature of the water?
  6.  Using the independent and dependent variables, describe the relation between the melting point and boiling point of water.
Remember that there has to be a paragraph about the experimental errors and what changes would be made if the lab was repeated.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Great Lower Sugar Bran Muffins

This recipe was adapted from Better Bran Muffins in Cook's Country.

  • In the last few years, I became diabetic.  I have reduced my sugar intake and increased exercise so that my A1C levels are more than acceptable.  I have experimented with recipes to reduce the sugar content by using Splenda and Stevia in the Raw.  Sugar can not be completely eliminated in baking because sugar is needed for tenderness, moisture, browning and sweetness. Without the sugar, cooked batters will have a dry, tough texture and will not brown evenly or may not brown at all. In experimenting, I have learned that using sugar substitutes for part of the sugar in a recipe usually works fine.  When Stevia in the Raw appeared in the grocery stores, my daughter suggested that I try it. The results were great and the Stevia does not seem to have the slight bitter taste that Splenda has. 

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 2 ¼ cups All-Bran Original cereal 
  • 1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour 
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup Stevia in the Raw or Splenda 
  • 3 tablespoons mild molasses (or light)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), melted and cooled
  • 1 ¾ cups plain whole-milk yogurt

  • Driections:

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400℉.  Spray cupcake liners with nonstick cooking spray.  Place the cupcake liners in a cupcake pan.
  2. Process bran cereal in food processor until most of it is finely ground, about 1 minute.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk eggs together until light-colored, about 20-30 seconds.  Whisk in sugar, molasses, and vanilla until mixture is thick, about 20-30 seconds.  Then whisk in butter and yogurt.
  4. With a spatula, stir in processed cereal;  let mixture sit to moisten (there will still be some small lumps).
  5. Meanwhile, whisk together flours, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  6. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and gently mix with spatula until batter is combined and evenly moistened.  Do not over mix.  Gently fold raisins and any other added fruit into batter.
  7. Using an ice cream scoop, divide batter evenly among muffins cups.  Do not level or flatten the mounds of batter.  If adding extra fruit, there will be more than 12 muffins.
  8. Bake until muffins are dark golden and toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out with a few crumbs attached, 16-20 minutes.  Rotate pan during baking if the muffins are not baking evenly. 
  9. Cool muffins in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack.  Serve warm or cool.
  • Note: (The following changes can be made to the recipe.)
  • *  Mash 2 bananas and mixed with the yogurt. The muffins are wonderful with bananas. 
  • *  Shredded carrots (1/2 cup), mash bananas and mix with the yogurt. Wonderful muffins.
  • *  Mash bananas and mix with yogurt.  Fold raisins and blueberries in the batter. Wonderful!
  • *  Cream softened cream cheese and add sour cream to consistency of yogurt. (Total 1 1/2 cups) Wonderful flavor
  • *  Substituting 1/2 the butter for cooking oil works great!
  • *  Substituting applesauce for 1/2 the oil also is great.
  • *  Shredded apples with cinnamon should be great also.
  • *  This Substitution for sugar also works great:  1/3 cup of Splenda brown sugar + 1/2 cup Stevia in the Raw
  • *  Greek yogurt gives the muffins great flavor and texture.
  • *  Making a large batch of these muffins is suggested because they freeze well.