Osmosis, Schmosmosis

Little House in the Big Woods 001

Chapter 5



I was geared up for a Science experiment to show osmosis.

The word and  definition were vaguely familiar from
my High School Biology class.
I didn’t always pay attention in class, did you?
Good thing my Dad doesn’t read my blog all the time,
because he was my high school Biology teacher.

Remember how I didn’t pay attention to his gold panning lessons?
I must have not been listening too well in Biology, either.


We refreshed our minds about osmosis.



That’s alotta’ big words in Dictionary.com’s explanation.



We liked this definition from ASK better.


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We cut the potato in half,
sliced off the round ends,
then scooped out the inside.

Good thing I’ve owned a melon baller for about two decades.
It finally earned its keep.


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Each potato slice was set in a bowl,
water was added to about 1/2 inch depth,
and the hollows were filled with colored water.


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We added 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to one hollow,
and labeled it because I knew I would forget.

Then I labeled the stuff so my family wouldn’t forget.

If you read the corn cob blog,
we have trouble with projects around here.


home school projects 170

Since I don’t want to give them impression that things are always perfect around here,
you needed to see the mess that sat here for a few hours.


Enjoying Fall Outside 021

There ya’ go.

That’s what it looked like the next day.


“Trees use a method called osmosis to force water upwards. Osmosis works because there is a difference between the sap, or juice, inside the root and the water in the ground outside. Sap contains large amounts of sugary substances. Ground water contains only tiny amounts of dissolved nutrients.  Sap is more concentrated than ground water.  Osmosis forces water from the soil through minute holes in the root skin to inside the root. p. 37-38 The Prairie Primer



Here’s another osmosis potato experiment
from someone who probably listened better in Biology class.


I was just feeling good that we started and finished a project.
I think some Science stuff musta’ osmosised into our brains,
doncha’ think?


Counting to Ten for Success


Math can be challenging for all students.

It can be challenging for the teachers.

When Math gets frustrating,
put aside the worksheet for a minute and take out
something you can see, hear or handle.

A simple change in presentation can birth understanding.

*marker board
*chalk (even outside on sidewalk)
*math game
*chant or rap
*dice (shake, then +,-, or x)


We were adding groups of three and four digit numbers.



To a child, a problem like this goes
and on
and on
and on
and on….

If you make a mistake in one column of numbers, the answer is wrong.

It’s hard for a kid to understand that
one small mistake makes the whole problem wrong.

We help kids eliminate mistakes
by giving them problem solving strategy.

I have a cool trick for adding lotsa’ big numbers.


I look for groups of 10’s.

grouping tens 001

I even mark on the page with little swoops.

Next, I add the biggest number to the 10,
then I count the other little numbers on my fingers.

True confession, sometimes I count on my fingers.

My dear daughter, Beka, struggled in learning her addition facts.
Of course, with our curriculum, they were learning
addition and multiplication facts in the second grade.


She did fine with multiplication, but still struggled with addition.
I was worried, until I was correcting her math without the key.

I caught myself occasionally counting on my fingers.


Sometimes teaching is as beneficial for the teachers as it is for the students, right?


Prairie School pics 105

Manipulatives make all things better,



Prairie School pics 103

so we pulled out our numbers, a magnet board and hit the deck.

Literally, hit the deck. 
The sun was shining,
the grass was brown,


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and we needed a little vitamin D to go along with our numbers.


Once they’ve mastered the tens, the next strategy is easy.

*Find Groups of Twenties
(simply take groups of tens,
but add a 1 in the tens place for one number)

7 + 3 = 10
17 + 3 = 20
7 + 13 = 20




Other tricks for adding numbers quickly:


Doubles-Plus-One Math Game



**Mental Math Video


*Super Cool Mental Math Tricks


You never outgrow those brightly colored magnets
or writing on a marker board.
When I tutored Algebra for a few years,
the high-schoolers LOVED my IKEA marker/chalkboard.


Success in math can be as easy as
counting to ten.


Just don’t count on your fingers.



Dickshunaree Skillz

During our day covering Chapter 5 in Little House in the Big Woods, Ms. Margie Gray
wanted us to cover dickshunaree skillz. 


Yea, I’m pretty sure the Ingalls family had a huge dictionary that they packed from
Minnesota, to South Dakota to Missery with them.

The little girl who had to play with a corn cob doll certainly didn’t have a dictionary.
But, I think it’s a fine skill to learn, so I pushed on with my usually joyful abandonment.

That’s a line I read once and I’ve been waiting to use it. 


Picking up a dictionary always gives me just a little bit of a frustration flashback.

In the fifth grade, I asked Mrs. Hayes how to spell tongue. 
I was writing an amazing essay on uses for the tongue,
including such wisdom as sticking out your tongue at your brother
behind your parents’ back to annoy them and get them in trouble.

She wouldn’t tell me. With wilting coffee breath foreshadowing her negative command,
she said, “Look it up in the dictionary.”

With all the wisdom a  10 year old can possess, I asked,
“How can I look it up in the dictionary, I can’t spell it?”

She glared at me over her glasses, and I knew the conversation was over.
I was OK that she glared, when she smiled, I had to see her crooked, coffee-stained teeth.

The conversation was over, but not my offense. 
I thumbed through the dictionary with exaggerated huffings and turnings,
mumbled how I couldn’t find it because I couldn’t spell it,
then spelled it TUNG in effigy.

Although Mrs. Hayes discounted my paper for misspelling tongue over and over,
she did take my paper to the teacher’s lounge and had all the other teachers read it.

I guess I won that round.

Dictionary for Children

To my chagrin, (what is chagrin anyway? do you ever use it in speaking or just writing?)
I found myself repeating this instruction to one of my kids years ago.

Then, I repented.  I gave them a little extra advice on how to find a word in the dictionary
when you don’t know how to spell it.

Begin with the first letter.


Guess at the second letter.

If you don’t find it, guess again, thinking of other phonetic rules that might impact pronunciation,
in this case, the schwa rule. If looking up tongue, you can kinda rule out “e” and “I” because they
don’t schwa.


There ya’ go.  You should find your word.

It’s important that kids feel comfortable with a dictionary, it could be their best friend.
OK, maybe I’m exaggerating, but it can’t be their enemy.

Understanding all the different terms is a good way to begin.


Parts of Dictionary 001

This is the outside back cover of the dictionary I use.
My mommy bought it for me.  She is an avid thrift shopper
and has found stacks of great books and workbooks for me over the years.


The hardest thing about using a dictionary, is remembering alphabetical order.
At least in math if you forget a fact, you can count on your fingers.
With this, you’re stuck with singing the alphabet song in your head
and over
and over
and over.

Just teach your kids to sing silently to themselves,
even if they’re the only child in the classroom.
Someday they’ll be out in the world trying to socialize,
and hometeached people who sing to themselves could be just
a little annoying. A lip-moving-while-thinking person is slightly less weird.


(Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., New York, 1982)



Pronunciation Guide

Macmillan also provides a great pronunciation key.

Flip through the dictionary you’re using and familiarize yourself
with all the tools they provide.

Dickshunaree Skillz Worksheet 001

And because homeschoolers sometimes feel left out
if they don’t get worksheets, I made one using Ms. Gray’s
terms and definitions.

You can use it, too.

It’s ain’t perty, it’s ain’t fancy, but I got ‘er dun.


So, now you know how to use the dickshunaree.


If ewe think I spelt that rong, just go look it up, k?


Got Manners?

Our assignment was to talk about manners,
all because Laura was rude enough to interrupt Mary.

I’m not sure what I think about Emily Post,
but I’m pretty big on manners.

Manners in the 1870’s were different.

My husband and I never agreed with the
“children are to be seen and not heard”
theory at our dinner table.

We welcome our children in the dinner conversation,
but they cannot rule the table.
We love good, respectful, spiritual conversation,
but I have to admit,
laughter is the main characteristic of our family meals.
We love being together.


Not that all family meals have good manners.
Don’t say, “Please pass a roll” because it will literally be passed.
Like a football.
Just don’t tell Pa Ingalls, OK?

In my other, other blog, I blogged about it,
the bad manners, that is.


Yea, thanks for asking,
I have another blog, because with six kids,
two in-laws, one husband, one cat and three grandchildren,
I have so much free time on my hands.


It’s called Momma Mindy’s Moments
and you can follow it  here, if you have free time,
or just want to find out why I wear sticks in my hair,
or what is  Grandpa-Renting.

There’s a great video I made about
my husband’s manners,
but it didn’t migrate to WordPress.

I will link you to Blogger, but iffin ya’
wanna’ follow my other blog,
go to WordPress.
Please and thank you.
Phew!  I almost forgot my manners!

So, I had to teach my daughter manners.
If ya’ watched the above video, you figgered out I was on my own.


The family wasn’t going to be much help.



Studying Manners
Beka pulled these books off the shelf  and stacked them on the table in front of me.
Tears welled up in my eyes.
”Beka, have I ever told you about how the Lord provided these books?”


She smiled, and said no, with a look that told me she knew a big story was coming on.


Just like the Ingalls, I have stories I pass on to my kids.
I have a passion to share with them
the provision of the Lord,
the protection of the Lord and
the power of the Lord.

I don’t want them ever to forget what He’s done for our family.



The story I told Beka goes like this:


Once upon a time were living in Wichita, Kansas, where Daddy was teaching business and math at a private Christian high school.

Packrats, mice, opossums, and brown recluse spiders shared living quarters with us in a single-wide trailer home in the country. One of our neighbors had cows, so when I did dishes, I could look out my window and watch the Hereford cows grazing around a small pond in a treed area. It was beautiful. We were so thrilled to be living in the country.

Our student loan bill took 25% of our salary, the car loan the other 25%.  Over and over I’ve added up the bills and it always comes way over what we made.  We survived because of the Lord. Anything we needed, we relied on the Lord to provide, which was a joy and delight to Daddy and me. It was an exciting, happy time for us to serve the Lord and grow in Him. We were also and happy to have the Lord bless us with  children.

One day I had to drop off Daddy at work and drive to an appointment in a part of Wichita I wasn’t familiar with.  There was around $3 in my wallet, so I planned on stopping at a thrift store if I could find one. Daddy and I had a deal.  If he ever took a dollar to buy a can of pop at work, I could have the change. At the end of each day, I emptied his pockets and squirreled up the change.  The early years, pop was  $.50, so I was guaranteed two shiny quarters on pop day. After two pop days, I only needed a few pennies to cover tax, and I was ready to shop. I could buy three items of clothing for the kids in the $.29 bin.  A dollar had power back in the early 90’s.

I walked around the store, giddy with my $3 shopping power.  I headed back into the children’s department, excited to buy some toys or books for my three little ones.  On the children’s bookshelf was a row of nearly-new, hardcover books by Joy Wilt Berry, a series I had longed for. I picked up the stack and counted the books.  I looked around for a sign with prices, but didn’t find one. I opened my wallet and recounted my money. It seemed doubtful that I could afford all the books, but couldn’t decide which ones to put back.  Since the store was so far away, and we only had one car, I knew I wouldn’t be in that part of town again for a long time.  It would also take a long time to save that much money again. The kids played happily around me while I crouched near the bookshelf.  I prayed.

With uncertainty,   I walked up to the counter and asked the young clerk how much the books were, explaining prices weren’t posted.  She spread the books out on the counter, but didn’t find prices on them.  She counted the books. I can still feel the eternity of waiting while she figured and I prayed. Finally, she looked up and gave me a price.  I had enough to buy ALL the books.  I had more than enough.  I could buy all those books for my precious babies. At that moment the counter was an altar, as I worshipped the Lord for His gracious provision.


For over 20 years, these books have been loved and read by our family.
However, they teach more than just manners and correct behavior.
They preach the glories of Jehovah Jireh, my Provider,
whose grace is sufficient for me.




Prairie Primer is Prime Way to Begin New Year

I’ve been a mommy for 25 years,
and the majority of that time I have been homeschooling.

My 19th year just started,
but who’s counting?
Apparently, I am.

Do I dare admit,
at the beginning of a new blog,
at the beginning of a new year,
I’m a little burned out?


I’m not tired of teaching, I’ve always loved school.

I’m not tired of my children,
they were all in my Gifted and  Talented program,
despite not making their beds and brushing their teeth regularly.
I didn’t begin homeschooling because
I was exceptionally brilliant and talented.
I loved my children and wanted to be around them.

I’m tired of reading a few pages and answering a few questions.

The motivation to cross off one more assignment on the weekly goal chart,
had totally lost its thrill and luster,
and our love for learning was being quenched.

We long for time to sew, craft, bake, read, explore, dress-up,
pretend, play with toys, snuggle, and laugh.

Above all, we need to regain our love of learning.

With four students graduated and one entering college,
I am departing
 from the workbook teaching
and am going to a hands-on, literature based learning.

I’m wondering why I waited so long to do this.

This year, we’ll be living, laughing, loving, and  learning  through
Margie Gray’s Prairie Primer,
using all the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder as our educational foundation.

Even if you aren’t using this curriculum this year, I will be sharing all kinds of veteran tricks  hidden up my sleeve, or should I say, for this year, in my apron pocket?

I’d love to have you join us on the adventure.

We intend to fan into flames our love for learning.