Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Plessy v. Ferguson: Illogical Appearances

Luke's American Adventures Homer Plessy Ferguson Illogical Appearances

“We hold these truths to be self-evident…all men are created equal....” These words, instituted by the Founding Fathers and reinforced by President Lincoln, are the foundation of the nation. However, these ideals were still met with with reality, and the strength of their resolve was tested before the Declaration of Independence was even signed. They were challenged again during the the American Civil War, and Lincoln wonders “whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure”. Though the fighting ended in spring of 1865, for some the war raged on long after, and the words would be tested time and again, including during one of the most pivotal court cases regarding racial equality.

Jim Crow: the song that be came a scapegoat

Jim Crow
In the aftermath of Reconstruction, which ended in 1877, many Southern states reverted to their antebellum ways of white supremacy. The new State legislatures enacted so-called Jim Crow laws to legally segregate the races, effectively imposing second-class citizenship upon African Americans. ("Jim Crow" was the title of a minstrel show song that sterotyped them.) These laws created separate schools, parks, waiting rooms, etc. for blacks and whites, and the separations were enforced with the threat of criminal penalty. In its ruling in the Civil Rights Cases of 1883, the Supreme Court made clear that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment provided no guarantee against segregation within private holdings. It would now be asked to rule on what protection the 14th Amendment offered in matters of public segregation.

For some time, activists had looked for a person who could help to rid America of discriminatory laws against blacks once and for all. Homer Plessy, who strongly disagreed with these “Jim Crow” laws, was born a free man, but was described as an octoroon, or hereditarily ⅛ black. His heritage was not present in his skin tone; however, due to the South’s prevailing “one drop rule”, Plessy was considered a black man. (Regardless of how removed a person may be from a black ancestor, if there is a black person in his direct lineage, “Black” was the legal ethnicity.) In June of 1892, Plessy agreed to travel from New Orleans to Covington, Louisiana on the East Louisiana Railroad. At the time, African-Americans traveling in Louisiana were required to sit in a blacks-only railroad car. Plessy refused, and took a seat in the “whites only” car. When told to move, he refused, was arrested, and taken to the New Orleans jail.

US supreme court justices Plessy
Plessy’s conviction was sustained through the state courts, and the case ultimately found its way to the United States Supreme Court. Plessy argued the “separate but equal” statute violated both the Thirteenth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment. He contended that the reputation of being white was a form of “property” and that the state, by declaring Homer Plessy non-white, denied his property rights and implied the inferiority of the Negro Race. However, the majority of the Court rejected this view. Instead, it contended that the law separated the two races as a matter of public policy. Justice Brown wrote,
We consider the underlying fallacy of the plaintiff's argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it.

In a 7-1 decision (one judge abstained), the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Ferguson, rejecting Plessy’s Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendment arguments and instead putting its stamp of approval on the doctrine of “separate but equal.” But is “separate but equal” what the Founding Fathers or Abraham Lincoln meant by “All men are created equal”?

Truth: Self-evident or Subjective?

Original drafts of the Declaration of Independence forbade slavery in the new United States. However, in order to ratify the Declaration, a unanimous vote was required. Southern states refused to vote for ratification unless references to slavery were removed; if the document was ratified as it was written, then the slaves would be free and equal to whites, triggering a significant economic repercussion. Abolitionists such as John Adams were faced with a hard choice: lose the battle over slavery, or the war against King George’s tyranny. Believing that suffering under British rule was the greater ill, and that ending slavery would be something the new nation could agree on once it was independent, they agreed to the compromise. They never conceived that American innovation - especially Eli Whitney’s cotton gin - would cause slavery to skyrocket and lead to a “great Civil War.”

During the Civil War, President Lincoln attempted to make peace between pro- and anti-slavery activists, just as the founders did “Four score and seven years...” prior. Initially, Lincoln tried to resolve things peacefully, giving the people the decision to be a slave country or a free one, but reminding them that they have to accept the consequences resulting from their choice. When the people still could not come to a decision and war followed, Lincoln used his executive powers as the tiebreaker, issuing the admittedly imperfect Emancipation Proclamation. He follows in the footsteps of the founders, reminding the people gathered at Gettysburg that they were a nation “...conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” However, when Lincoln says “...all men are created equal”, he truly means all people, regardless of race or ethnicity, being one and the same, not segregated by skin tone. Looking back at the Andrew Johnson administration (effectively the whole of Lincoln’s second elected term) and its outright and obstinate opposition to racial equality and integration, it is difficult not to wonder how the nation would have rebuilt itself had Lincoln not become the victim of an assassin’s bullet.

Was the equality for Americans that John Adams argued for and Abraham Lincoln memorialized the fallen at Gettysburg over merely a dream? In one of the most shameful decisions ever issued by the United States Supreme Court, Homer Plessy lost his bid to be considered neither white nor black but simply American. In a nation where a simple majority was enough for an law to pass, the fact that Homer was “7/8ths white” (notably a larger percentage than the 7/9ths vote that demanded he sit in the black car) did not matter. As time went on, southern states continued to blame blacks for the fallout of the Civil War and found ways to continue to treat them as less than equal. “Jim Crow” laws littered the south, and eventually even the words “separate but equal” would begin to be interpreted subjectively. Is it any wonder that decades later, a small, quiet woman from Alabama would also say, “I’m tired of giving in,” and refuse to move from her seat on the bus?

©2012- 2015 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://adventureswithjude.com

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Heirloom Audio Productions: With Lee in Virginia (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

We have become huge fans of Heirloom Audio Productions' series, The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty.  Their third release, With Lee in Virginia, was a much-anticipated edition here.  Not only did we recently study the American Civil War, but we were literally going to be "with Lee in Virginia" this summer -- we were heading to Appomattox Court House National Park.   The timing couldn't have been better!

Like the previous releases, Under Drake's Flag and In Freedom's Cause, the producers have assembled an all-star cast.  Brian Blessed returns as narrator George Henty, while a cadre of well-known Americans lend their voices to the other characters.  Actors Kirk Cameron (Maj. Stonewell Jackson) and Sean Astin (Gen. Jeb Stuart) need little introduction;  Andre Soggliuzzo, who has lent his voice to animation productions ranging from Avatar: The Last Airbender to Wolverine and the X-men, voices the titular character, General Robert E. Lee.

History tends look at war from the side of the victor, and the Civil War is no exception.  There is plenty to study about the Union generals, but the leaders of the Confederacy are often overlooked.  There tends to be an "us vs. them, winners vs. losers" mentality, especially in the current political climate.  However, it's important to remember than many of the soldiers -- from infantry on up to Supreme Commander General Lee -- were once soldiers in the Federal army.  In fact, Lee - the son of Revolutionary War hero "Light Horse Harry" Lee - graduated from West Point with an unblemished record, proved his mettle on the battlefield of the Mexican American War, and returned to West Point as an instructor.  President Lincoln even offered him the position of commander of the Union army.  I think history tends to cast Lee as a "traitor," but With Lee in Virginia shows a different side of the man.  Here, Lee struggles with the battle between his belief in Virginia's sovereignty as a state and the principles of the nation for which he has already taken three bullets.   How can he choose?  However, he must choose; he decides that the right to state government is more important and resigns from the United States Army.  However, he is still a man of honor; he fights for the Confederate States of America with the same passion and intensity he served with in the Federal army, and when surrounded at Appomattox, surrenders rather than needlessly risk more lives.  He is so regarded that General Ulysses S. Grant does the seemingly unthinkable -- he allows Lee to keep his sword after he surrenders his army.

McLean Home Parlor
Lee wrote surrender terms on the marble-topped desk on the left as Grant waited on the right.

 We also get to experience the war from the perspective of a Cavalry youth.  The hero of our story, Vincent Wingfield, is fifteen years old and a plantation heir.  Yes, he's a slave owner, but one with a conscience.  He refuses to allow another owner to beat a slave, and even does the unthinkable -- he buys that slave's wife and toddler son, to prevent them being separated, and later aids the man in escaping to Canada.  I think Heirloom has done a nicely balanced presentation.  Is slavery wrong? Absolutely.  Was there horrible mistreatment at the hands of owners and overseers?  Again, absolutely.  But Henty's story shows that while slavery is wrong, the politics of it aren't as simple as "just let them go,"  nor was every slaveholder a monster. When young Vincent is finally old enough to go off to fight, he goes not as a slaveholder, but as a Virginian fighting for his state's ability to govern itself.  He also is a bit starry eyed, like many of the boys in his regiment; patriotism runs high and they've not yet seen the blood running deep.  Almost immediately, we know the blinders come off when his dearest friends are shot down in the heat of their first battle, and by the time Lee surrenders, Wingfield yearns for nothing more but to return to home and peace.

Luke has been studying American history, and over the past two summers we've been able to visit a number of battlefields.  It's easy to leave there feeling pride in the Union's ability to hold off the Confederacy; between the near simultaneous battles at Gettysburg (PA), Vicksburg (MS), and Chickamauga (GA) and Chattanooga (TN), the Confederacy became so fractured that its fall was inevitable.  However, at each site, I've asked him to stand both on the Union territory and in the Confederate lines, and imagine feeling strongly enough about your side's beliefs that you'd volunteer to die for it.  The bulk of the story is told through Wingfield's experience as a soldier, with Lee actually playing the role of a mentor.  He teaches Wingfield that each man has to decide what is most important to him, and commit to that decision.  The honor of a man, Wingfield realizes, is not in his absolute success, but his commitment and his word.  He wasn't a traitor for intervening in his neighbor's abominable treatment of a slave; the law said the slave was a property, but his conscience said the slave was a man.  At one point, he gives a fallen Union soldier a cup of water - at that point, he was no longer the enemy, but rather another dying man in need of comfort.  That soldier, in turn, gratefully directs Wingfield away from certain capture.  Did each turn his back on his nation, or did they simply follow the greater mandate, "Love thy enemy"? When Wingfield asks Lee how he manages to balance who he's been with what he knows and what he sees, and to find the courage to take his path, Lee states, "Do your duty in all things.  You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less." At Appomattox, again, I asked Luke to place himself in each general's position.  I wanted him to realize that Lee chose his path, right or wrong by history's yardstick,  and stood firm.  Perhaps Lee should have given up sooner, but no man -- no nation -- wants to admit defeat if there was still a prayer of success.  At Appomattox,  Lee realizes that to continue to fight will only result in pointless deaths. His commitment to the Confederacy had not wavered, but his honor dictated the duty of sparing the lives of his troops.

Henty's writings have a decidedly Christian undertone that is honored in the audio drama.  Frequently, there were times where the characters were engaged in prayers for the success of their campaign and that their lives would be spared.  As we listened to Lee pray for guidance throughout the two hour story,  a slack-jawed Luke gasped and repeated this passage of Abraham Lincoln's second inauguration speech that he had studied.

At Gettysburg, we learned of the Union's prayers, especially Fr. Corby's blessing as the Irish Brigade went into battle, and it made sense that both sides were praying to the same God -- there is only one of Him.  However, to experience the prayer of the other side illustrated just how difficult war is, and how truly, "The Almighty has His own purposes."

Lee's Arlington Home, overshadowing the grave of
President John F. Kennedy
Now, it's easy to say "With Lee in Virginia is one man's story, and Henty has romanticized Lee."  I don't think he has, and neither has this production.  We listened to the story on our way to Appomattox, and our first stop there was the park's overview film, Appomattox, With Malice Toward None.  This film, released in April 2015, also cast Lee in a similiar light: an honorable soldier caught in a double bind when the war broke out, and whose conscience would allow giving nothing less than his all, even if he had chosen to fight for the losing side.  For Luke, this was an important lesson:  there are two sides to every story, and the truth often lies somewhere between.  This story also showed Luke the importance of viewing history in context, and in its entirety.  Aside from the story itself, Henty's personal bias toward slavery and the War was decidedly in favor of the Confederacy. It would be easy to deride him by today's standards, but to understand Henty, one must understand the Reconstruction-era world.  Last fall, we learned that Lee lost his Virginia estate after the war.  A lien for an unpaid tax bill was placed against it, and Brig. Gen. Montgomery Meigs seized the estate for a military cemetery.  At first, we laughed.  Lee may have survived the war, but nobody can outsmart the tax man.  However,  after learning more about Lee as a man, we can't help but feel that perhaps Meigs was far more vindictive than he had ought to have been.

In addition to the two disc, two hour audio program, we received a downloadable study guide containing biographies of the real life main characters in the story, as well as historical maps, photographs, and drawings. The study guide helps facilitate discussion of challenging topics like slavery and towns and even families divided by Northern and Southern loyalties.  We decided it couldn't have been easy -- even the first family was fractured when Mary Todd Lincoln's Kentucky-born brother-in-law fought and died as a Confederate soldier.  The audio program is recommended for ages six and up, and the combination of audio plus study guide makes it a very good section of  Civil War unit study for an older student.  Politically, the Union was ultimately victorious, but With Lee in Virginia humanizes the story of the South's fight and shows Confederacy was comprised of rebels, not monsters.  One side wore blue, one side wore gray, but both bled red.

In our past editions of The Adventures of G. A. Henty from Heirloom Audio Productions, we've marveled at the feeling of being part of the action through the riveting dramas, and With Lee in Virginia was no different.  If anything, knowing that this story wasn't just "old history," but our history, made it more special and important to us.  We very highly recommend this program, and can't wait for the next in the series to be released!  You can also read other reviews by clicking the banner below, or connecting with Heirloom Audio Productions on social media.

With Lee in Virginia
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WithLeeInVirginia

Heirloom Audio
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/heirloomaudio 
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With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review

©2012- 2015 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://adventureswithjude.com

FREE Minions Math Printables from Educents (sponsored)

This post contains affiliate links and is sponsored by Educents. See here for full details about sponsored posts.

What makes you happy? Minions? Freebies? Well, how about Minion Freebies?

Minion Freebie - Educents 3

These free math activities on Educents offers 22 printable pages of math activities for Minion fans. It covers addition, subtraction, measurement, money, and more!

Minion Math Centers Freebie

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Minion Freebie - Educents 2

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Early Math Musical DVDs

4dde_c6ab3b8_Early_Math_Collection copy

This DVD set from Rock 'N' Learn is a fun way to boost math skills for the early grades. Like the Minions, these DVDs have fun characters your little ones will love to get to know! Math facts are easy to learn with fun music and exciting animation. Learn all about counting coins and bills and practice making change. Kids will learn to tell time to the hour, half hour, and minute using traditional analog clocks. Includes Addition & Subtraction Rap DVD, Money & Making Change DVD, and the Telling Time DVD.

I hope this math freebie made by Amy of Teaching in Blue Jeans makes you happy. Download the Free Minion Math Centers, then go ahead and do a little dance! :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

High School Electives - Tasting the Real World

Welcome back! This month, the hop is focusing on Electives.  What is an elective?  Technically, it's something that isn't an official "must take to graduate" class. However, some things may be an elective to graduate, but not if you want to continue on to college.  For example, in our state, anything beyond one year of a foreign language is an "elective." However, looking at the entrance requirement to a local university, they require at least two years, but four are "suggested."  So are Spanish II, III, and IV "required" or "elective"?  For us, they're required.  My philosophy is they don't have to go to college; if one of the kids wants to enter a trade school, that's fine by me. However, I don't want a shortfall in their education to be why they can't go, so...tenemos clases de español por cuatro años.

Electives, to us, are the "fun" things that are based on kiddo's interest.  In our homeschool, there are two kinds of electives.  The first kind is that "another year of... but you can pick the topic" course.  The second is a "whatever excites you" course -- something that makes you want to study hard and isn't "dumb" or "boring". However, I have three rules when choosing electives.

3 questions to ask when choosing a high school elective

The first kind of elective we have here is the "You need to choose a topic within this subject" flavor. Luke has already taken World History, and US History I and II.  That just leaves a "senior social studies" class.  He decided he wanted to learn political science.  We've put together an independent study in Political Science:

-Mother, Should I Trust the Government by FreedomProject Education
-Critical Thinking by FreedomProject Education
-Modern Political Thinking: Hobbes to Habermas by The Great Courses
-In-depth reading/study of Machiavelli, the Jefferson/Locke/Rousseau triad, and the American Presidency

A fourth social studies/social sciences course will make Luke more marketable to a college.  However, he's excited to be able to study something that is of interest to him and that will soon have a practical application -- the first election he will be able to vote in will be for the next President.

As a freshman, Matthew is still in the "you can pick a topic - sort of" realm. For example, he has to take a world history course.  We're both very happy with the scope of the curriculum we've chosen, but I don't think it's quite meaty enough to count for high school without some supplemental activity. For his "electives," I've let him choose a course of study that interests him that still pertains to that particular period.  For example, as he studied Ancient Greece and Rome, he chose to also study Greco-Roman engineering. He opted for a course also from The Great Courses.  It was taught by a retired US Army engineer, and explored the architecture and technology of the ancient world.  The best thing about homeschooling electives is that the boys can choose what interests them.  I have to say, that I groaned inwardly reading the title - Understanding Greek and Roman Technology: From Catapult to the Pantheon - but Matthew was absolutely fascinated by it.

This summer, we visited Vicksburg National Battlefield, and the Illinois monument is styled after the Pantheon.

Illinois monument Vickburgs National battlefield

He spent a full 20 minutes explaining to me how the engineering held up the building.  He started with the style of the colonnade, followed by how the dome of the ceiling/roof holds itself up.  He then pointed out something I hadn't noticed -- the room wasn't perfectly circular, but rather held 12 walls.  Then he pointed out the orientation of the door and a large plaque.  Like the Parthenon, the opening in the roof used the light cast by the sun to tell time.  After counting walls and adjusting for daylight savings, we could estimate pretty closely what time it was!  Exam: Passed with flying colors!

This "required-elective" hybrid really allowed him to discover several things.  First, the principles from thousands of years ago still apply today. Secondly, he found that he really likes the puzzling of engineering.  I'm not sure that he's going to become an engineer, but this allowed him to start thinking about what he's going to do "when he grows up" and helped him realize that he really enjoys engineering and architecture, and something that uses these might be a career worth exploring. 

The second kind of elective is the "you pick anything you want because you need to become a well-rounded person."  These are the "fun" classes that allow you to explore interests and get credit for them.  Matthew doesn't yet have room in his schedule for these -- he still has plenty of mandatory/core classes.  When Luke started high school, he didn't have time for them either. However, by his junior year, his schedule started freeing up a bit, and he decided he wanted to learn to cook. That morphed into his "Real Men Make Quiche" series here on the blog.

This elective multitasks as a personal exploration and life skills.  Luke found that he can see himself as a hobby chef. He's not really interested in working in a kitchen as a professional, but enjoys cooking, playing with ingredients, and creating new things.  Does it make him "marketable" to a college? Maybe not.  But does it make him more interesting as a person? Definitely.  (I don't know too many sixteen year old boys who can make tandoori chicken or tiramisu.)



I think electives are the best part of homeschooling.  Electives are what helps a student grow as a person, and having the flexibility to delve into individual interests helps a student to see that an education isn't just about checking off topics on a pre-written syllabus, but that any topic is an avenue to learning!

Read More on Homeschooling in the High School Years

©2012- 2015 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://adventureswithjude.com

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

UnLock Math Pre-Algebra (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

Last year, Celia (my only not-homeschooler) was accepted into her school's advanced math program.  It was a steep learning curve for her, because the program zoomed through both fifth and sixth grade math in a single year.  There were times I thought her head was really going to start spinning, and was concerned a "summer slide" would make this fall that much harder.  She also learned she's going to have a new teacher, so on top of it all,  will need to adjust to a different teaching style.  When UnLock Math offered us the opportunity to work with their program UnLock Pre-Algebra, I thought it would be a great chance for her to work over the summer. Since Pre-Algebra is usually a 7th or 8th grade math, I thought it would give her some exposure to what is in her near future, while allowing her to work at her own pace.  My hope was that  by the time she's back in school she'd be familiar with the new information so it would be less of an adjustment. 

I am unapologetic about not being a higher maths person, so in order for this to happen, I needed something that was as close to self-contained as possible. I expected I may need to do some worksheet marking, with UnLock Pre-Algebra, the entire program is organized so all that a parent needs to do is sign up.  Teaching, testing, and grading all are done for you.  I'm liking this so far.

Each unit is divided into several sections (how many depends on the amount of content contained within).  After every other chapter, there is a quiz on the material from the past two units. I like how the program doesn't wait until the end of the section to check how the student is faring, but rather these more frequent spot checks let me know how Celia is doing before she is totally overwhelmed.

Each sub-chapter follows the same circuit:

-Warm-up exercises (often including review problems from prior sections)
-A video lesson featuring the founder Alesia Blackwood
-Practice Problems (these are problems just about the current lesson) 
-Stay Sharp (additional problems which can include previous lessons)
-Challenge Yourself (a challenging riddle type problem)
-Reference Notes* (printable notes for the lesson). 

*Note: these are optional and not something we used, but would be good for a student who prefers to have written notes to refer back to while working.

The biggest problems we had were a lot of glitches when she went to complete tasks.  I'm not certain if it was our internet, our browser (she was using Safari), or what, but often the program timed out before getting to the next thing.  For most tasks, the students are allowed one re-do, so most of the time she just did the second chance and it was fine. However, for the Quiz and Challenge sections, only one attempt is permitted, and if it timed out, she was out of luck.  Since this isn't counting as her official grade, I'm not stressing over.  She is, though, because it's a lot of zeroes.  With those grades, she has an 88 average through 3 1/2 units, which is still pretty respectable.  However, without those zeroes, she is carrying a 95.  That's a big hit to her grade with a computer glitch.  (I've spoken to a few other crew members, and it seems that they haven't had the same issues, but use a different browser, so we're going to try to use something other than Safari. I'll let you know how it goes.)  I've sat with her and watched her work the problems, so I know that she understands what's being taught; it's definitely the computer not wanting to cooperate.

When I'm the teacher, as I am for the boys, I can tell where a program is going to fit with their knowledge; I know exactly where they have left off, and what they know well or struggle with.  It's a little different for Celia, because that has been delegated to the school.  Generally, I know what she's doing, and how well she is working with material,  but I don't become over-involved with the details of her curriculum.  (If I felt I needed to micromanage it, I certainly wouldn't be paying tuition for her to go to school.)  So far, she's completed the first three chapters and said nearly all of it has been review.  It's been presented a little differently, but all of the terms and exercises are things she's familiar with, so this has turned out to be a review for her so far.  Looking ahead to some of the later chapters, she thinks some of them will be new.  She's looking forward to working on those.

She's solidified what she knows from before, which will put her in good stead going forward.  When I asked her what she thought of the program, her response was, "I can't wait to do math again tomorrow, this is the best Math program ever!"  I'm not sure I'd agree that it's the best math program ever, but any program that makes her want to do more math in the middle of summer break rates pretty high in my book.

Follow UnLock Math on social media, or click the banner below to read more reviews.

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UnLock Math Review

©2012- 2015 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://adventureswithjude.com

Monday, July 27, 2015

Hand Made Bubbles

Making Bubbles without bubble soap or wands

Since Matthew still isn't permitted to blow up the house, even in the name of science, he had to settle for "make a huge mess."  He decided to determine which soap will make good bubble soap.  To up the mess potential, there were no bubble wands involved -- your hands made the bubble wands.  I have to admit, this was a pretty clever project.

He discovered that just "any old" liquid soap wouldn't do.  He first tried hand soap, but it didn't create any bubbles.  It just wasn't "soapy" enough.  He wanted to try shampoo, and again found that the ones that don't make a lot of suds don't make for good bubble blowing.  The higher sudsing ones worked, but not very reliably.

 Finally, he used Dawn dishwashing liquid, and got some pretty giant bubbles!

middle school child blowing bubbles with his hand instead of a bubble wand

4 square image of 4 sizes of bubbles

Dawn dish detergent for the win, and fun for everyone!

blowing a bubble

blowing a two-handed bubble

You can also make larger containers of it so that many hands can play.  Simply scale accordingly, using about 2 tablespoons detergent per cup of water.  If you're just eyeballing the soap, use a heavy hand -- you want a very soapy solution.  It appears that high-sudsing and viscous liquid soaps work best for making bubble solutions, so while other dish soaps might work, you want to make sure it's one that isn't thin and watery, and makes lots of bubbles when you fill your sink to do the dishes.


1 cup of very warm water
2 tablespoons of liquid dish detergent
measuring spoon

Note: this project can be messy. Try it either outside or in the bathtub/shower - make sure to put a towel down on the floor to catch drips so you don't slip.  If you are wearing long sleeves, roll them up or take your shirt off to do this. 


Fill the cup with very warm water. (You want it "not quite" hot from the tap, but as warm as you can comfortably stand.)

measure dish detergent

Put 2 tbs. of dishwashing detergent into the bowl.

Pour the water into the bowl and mix the water with the soap.

mix soap and water

Cup your hand into a circle to make the “bubble wand.” Dip it into the water and remove it. Make sure to keep the shape!

Gently blow into the circle to make bubbles.

 blowing bubbles

To try this with other soaps,  repeat steps 1-4 with a clean bowl, more water, and shampoo etc.

©2012- 2015 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://adventureswithjude.com

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Tomato Surprise!

This spring, I couldn't decide if I should put a garden in or not.  Knowing we were going to be away for so long, I didn't want to leave it for Neal to take care of,  but I love having garden tomatoes.  Ultimately, I decided that I'd forgo a garden, and asked Neal if he could just get me a couple of boxes of tomatoes to put up, since we had eaten nearly all of the jars I canned last year. 

Apparently, nature had other plans.  Neal told me I had tomatoes growing in my garden spot!  When I got home, they were nearly overrun with weeds (he had warned me he didn't have time to pull them), but yes, indeed, there were tomatoes!  All three varieties from last year (grape, plum, and globe) came back!  I started yanking out the weeds, and then carefully tucked last year's cages around the plants.

Today, I picked the first ripe tomatoes!

What a lovely surprise, and science lesson for all of us -- we didn't know tomato seeds could winter over!  We even looked up "Can tomato seeds winter over?" and couldn't find any sources that said they did; every site we found either just said that tomatoes were annual plants, or noted they were annuals and discussed how to save the seeds for re-planting after frost.  We had a brutally cold ad snowy winter last year, too, making it even more surprising!

I also found some basil that had migrated but come back, too...guess I know what is for lunch!

July Blogging Challenge

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