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Summer Bubble Fun, Free Audio Workshops, My First Grader 

By Heather Idoni

Added Thursday, July 08, 2010
Vol. 11 No. 36, July 8, 2010, ISSN: 1536-2035
© 2010, Heather Idoni - www.FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to The Homeschooler's Notebook!

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Guest Author
-- Aurora Lipper - Bubbles!
Helpful Tip
-- Free Audio Downloads
Winning Website
-- Science for Preschoolers
Reader Question
-- Uninterested First Grader
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Guest Article

Quick and Easy Bubble Experiments to Share with Your Kids!
  by Aurora Lipper


If you pour a few droplets of water onto a sweater or fabric, you'll notice
the water will just sit there on the surface in a ball (or oval, if the drop
is large enough). If you touch the ball of water with a soapy finger, the ball
disappears into the fibers of the fabric! What happened?

Soap makes water "wetter" by breaking down the water's surface tension by
about two-thirds. The force that keeps the water droplet in a sphere shape
is called surface tension. It's the reason you can fill a cup of water past
the brim without it spilling over. Water becomes "wetter" because without
soap, it can't get into the fibers of your clothes to get them clean.  That's
why you need soap in the washing machine.

Soap also makes water stretchy. If you've ever tried making bubbles with your
mouth just using spit, you know that you can't get the larger, fist-sized
spit-bubbles to form completely and detach to float away in the air.  Water
by itself has too much surface tension, too many forces holding the molecules
together. When you add soap to it, they relax a bit and stretch out.  Soap
makes water stretch and form into a bubble.

The soap molecule looks a lot like a snake -- it's a long chain that has two
very different ends.
The head of the snake loves water, and the tail end loves
dirt. When the soap molecule find a dirt particle, it will wrap its tail
around the dirt and hold it there.

To make the best bubbles, you'll first need to make the best bubble solution.
Gently mix together 12 cups cold water in a shallow tub with one cup green
Dawn (or clear Ivory) dish soap. If it’s a hot dry day, add a few tablespoons
of glycerin. (Glycerin can be found at the drug store.) You can add all sorts
of things to find the perfect soap solution: lemon juice, corn syrup, maple
syrup, glycerin... to name a few. Each will add its own properties to the
bubble solution. (When I teach this class, I have buckets of each variation
along with plain dish soap and water so we can compare.)

The absolute best time to make gigantic bubbles is on an overcast day, right
after it rains. Bubbles have a thin cell wall that evaporates quickly in direct
sun, especially on a low-humidity day. The glycerin adds moisture and deters
this rapid thinning of the bubble’s cell wall.

Zillions of Tiny Bubbles can be made with strawberry baskets. Simply dip the
basket into the bubble solution and twirl around. You can also use plastic
six-pack soda can holders.

Trumpet Bubbles are created by using a modified a water bottle. Cut off the
bottom of the bottle, dip the large end in the soap solution, put the small
end to your lips and blow. You can separate the bubble away from the trumpet
by rolling the large end up and away from your bubble.

Bubble Castles are built with a straw and a plate. First, spread the bubble
solution all over a smooth surface (such as a clean cookie sheet, plate, or
table top). Dip one end of a straw in the bubble solution and blow bubbles
all over the surface. Make larger domes with smaller ones inside. Notice the
bubble changes shape and size when it connects with another.

Stretch and Squish! Get one hand-sized bubble in each hand. Slap them together
(so they join, not pop!). What if you join them together s l o w l y?

Light Show is one of the favorites when I teach this class. Find a BIG
flashlight and stand it on end (or use a thin one with three clothespins). Rub
soap solution all other the bottom of an uncolored plastic lid (like from a
coffee can). Balance the lid, soapy side up, on the flashlight (or on the
spring-type clothespins). Blow a hemisphere bubble on top of the lid. Find
a dark room, turn on the flashlight, and blow gently along the side of the
bubble and watch the colors swirl.

Weird Shapes are the simplest way to show how soap makes water stretchy. Dip
a rubber band completely in the soap solution and pull it up.  Stretch the
rubber band using your fingers. Twist and tweak into all sorts of shapes.
Note that the bubble always finds a way of filling the shape with the minimum
amount of surface area. Make a Moebius Bubble by cutting open a thick rubber
band or 1/2" thick ribbon, give one end a half-twist, and reattach it together.

Polygon Shapes allow you to make square and tetrahedral bubbles. Create
different 3D shapes by bending pipe cleaners made into cubes, tetrahedrons,
or whatever you wish. Alternatively you can use straws threaded onto string
made into 3D triangular shapes. Notice how the film always finds its minimum
surface area. Can you make square bubbles?

Gigantic Bubbles - Using the straws and string, thread two straws on three feet
of string and tie off. Grasp one straw in each hand and dip in soap solution.
Use a gentle wind as you walk to make BIG bubbles. Find air thermals (warm
pockets of air) to take your bubbles up, up, UP!

Really, Really, Really Big Bubbles - Gather together a 1/2” x 36” wooden
dowel, one eye-screw, 7-8’ lightweight chain, and a large nut that slides
easily over the dowel. Pre-drill a hole for the eye-screw at the end of the
dowel. Slide the nut down along the length of the dowel. Attach one end of
the chain (using pliers) to the eye-screw, then to the bolt (about 18” away),
and then drape about 5-6’ before attaching the end back to the eye-screw,
making a large ring of chain that can be opened and closed with the sliding
action of the bolt. Dip the bubble wand into soap solution with the ring
closed, raise it up out of the bucket, open the ring, walk a few feet until
a large bubble forms, then close the ring. (You can make a lighter-weight
version by substituting crocheted lace for the chain and a lighter ring for
the weight.)

Kid-In-A-Bubble - In a child's plastic swimming pool, pour your best bubble
solution. Lay a hula hoop down, making sure there is enough bubble solution
to just cover the hoop. Have your child stand in the pool (use a stool if you
don't want to get your feet wet), and lift the hoop! For a more permanent
project, use an old car tire sliced in half lengthwise (the hard way) to hold
the bubble solution.


Aurora Lipper has been teaching science to kids for over 10 years. She is also
a mechanical engineer, university instructor, pilot, astronomer, a real live
rocket scientist (You should see the lab in her basement!) and a mom. She has
inspired thousands of kids with the fun and magic of science through her live
and online classes and materials at


Do you have comments to share? Please do!

Send to: mailto:heather@familyclassroom.net


Super Charged Science - Free Trial!

“Just wanted to let you know that my boys are so busy doing all the cool experiments
you sent on the DVD. They think this is the best, and have already done the Ivory Soap,
the grape, rockets and the house is exploding in stuff they are experimenting with to
see what happens. I cannot tell you how happy they are and we will certainly want to
continue our subscription for fall. We are doing a one week serious all day fun camp
of science, complete with t-shirts and science snacks. That is the reason I purchased
the summer program, but the boys are truly enjoying all of this and we are going to
need to continue.  Just thought you would wanted to know how much joy you brought to
two little boys in Monterey, California!” -- Christina


“My boys have been picking away at the electricity experiments and they threw a FIT
when I told them it was time to put it away because it was time for dinner... I have
been homeschooling for 8 years now and they have NEVER reacted with such vehemence
about wanting to CONTINUE school as they did with your science.  I was completely
overjoyed that they were enjoying it so much.” -- Samantha


“I signed up for the summer e-science camp, and my 9 year old son LOVED the camp!!  He
designed a boat out of an egg carton and two motors with little hand-held fan blade.
He went out to the pool to try it out and came in screaming, 'It works!!! It works!!!
Come look, Mom!!'  All of his projects worked to his surprise.  He has been inspired
to branch out and really think!!  Thank you for this wonderful program!!!  The glow in
Zack’’s eyes is priceless!!  THANK YOU for this awesome program!!” -- Tina


Helpful Tip

Free Homeschool Convention Workshops - Audio


Here is a great collection of FREE homeschool conference talks -- a resource for
those who didn't make it to a convention this year or couldn't make it to all
the workshops they wanted to!  The speakers represent a variety of viewpoints
and backgrounds, but most of the names should be familiar to many of our readers.


Do you have a website, tip, idea or experience to share with our readers?

Send to: mailto:HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Winning Website

Science for Preschoolers - http://www.peepandthebigwideworld.com

This is a fun, interactive site designed to introduce preschool-age children to
science.  Of course, parents will want to explore the site with their child(ren),
but there is lots to do here, including games, music, and stories.

Cindy Prechtel, www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

Uninterested First Grader

"My son doesn't want to do school at all.  He would rather stare at the wall.  This
is not just a school thing; he doesn't want to do anything.  What can I do to get
him interested in something -- anything?" -- Ashly in NY

Our Readers' Responses

"Try unschooling.  I am sure that there is something he is interested in.
When left to himself, he doesn't just stare at the wall all day, does he?
What does he play with?  How does he entertain himself?  What does he watch?
Start learning about his interests with him, playing games with him, having
him 'school' you, etc." -- Pam


"I am a bit unsure whether you mean your son doesn't want to do anything
school-related, or doesn't want to do anything at all, anywhere.  If it is
school-related, I would recommend dumping any idea of 'school' for now.  Play
games with him, take nature walks, go to the park, grow things, read together,
cook, and do art.  He will learn a lot 'accidentally' and will have time to
mature and grow.  However, I have a feeling you may mean he doesn't want to
do anything at all - that he doesn't want to play, to go outside, nothing.
If this is the case then it is a sign that something is definitely wrong and
I would recommend going to talk to his doctor." -- El in Canada


"I have triplet First Graders and they have been used to having lots of playtime.
The only structured, sit-down time was at mealtimes or Sunday school.  They have
no older sibings, so they didn't have anyone else to be a model for them.
I started by having them come to the table and we would do play dough, color a
page or draw with Color Wonder markers and I began to read them a story or long
picture book while they were eating their lunch.
My trio now knows that before they can get a reward of playing with friends,
watching a movie or anything else that their school work must be done.
I give them a choice as to what each one would like to work on first (math,
handwriting, etc).  We work on math, handwriting, reading and language everyday.
We do science, music, and other things once per week.
There will always be something that our kids don't 'want' to do.  We as adults
have to do things that we don't 'want' to do, but we do them because we need to
get the task done.  Once you set the expectations for him, your son will begin
to understand that there are just some things that are necessary or required,
even if it isn't something that is always 'fun' to do.
I try to involve mine in reading programs at the library, co-op classes to be
with other kids, or other activities that interest them -- like swimming right
now.  These are my kids' motivators.
Try to think about what your son is interested in and use those things as
motivating rewards.  Plan a special activity that he can work up to.  Each time
he completes something give him a sticker and, when he has attained your set
amount, take him to do a fun activity with a friend.
I hope that I have given a glimmer of an idea for you!" -- Anissa

Answer our NEW Question

"When do you start spelling?  Do you wait until they can read?
I'm starting Kindergarten this fall and one of the websites I'm using has a
spelling section for kindergarteners.
Not sure if I should include this or not.  Any opinions or thoughts?" -- Cafe


Would you like to respond to Cafe's question?

Please send your email to: mailto:HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

Ask YOUR Question

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