Young Mad Scientists: How You Can Tell If Your Kid Is One

Tomorrow, I will share some summer ideas for the mini mad scientist. Today, let’s determine if you have one in your home.

You kid might be a mad scientist if:

1. She has disassembled all your appliances in the name of scientific discovery.

2. He knows one fact about sunflowers. Not that they have edible seeds, but that the seeds spiral out in a Fibonocchi sequence (0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55, etc.)

3. She responds to every insane mess she created, especially those requiring a call to the plummer with, “But I needed to know what would happen.”

4. He builds Lego towers with color patterns that must be “just so.”

5. She builds ridiculously complex routes out of her train set.

6. When he helps you cook, he is most fascinated by the math involved and any good chemical reactions, like yeast.

7. She can create anything out of simple office supplies.

8. He knows there is more than one good design for a paper airplane or homemade kite.

9. She can rewire your house.

10. He finds the one Ivy league physics professor lingering by the new exhibit at the science center and they build carbon nanotubes models out of tinker toys together. Afterwards, you realize that was probably the faculty member you should have asked about summer camps and scholarships. Oops.

Any one of the above generally means there’s a scientific mind at work in your home. Tomorrow, I will help you find ways to keep them entertained and stimulated this Summer.

‘Cause if you don’t help them find ways to explore the world around them, they will without fail create chaos in the name of science. So let’s give the little evil genius a little guidance and keep our sanity at the same time.


Candied Violets — So Easy A Child Can Do It

Well, happy Friday, everyone!  My son has a project for you.

This time each year my lawn is full of violets.

Shaw, age 6, making his candied violets.

Shaw, age 6, explaining how to make candied violets.

Here’s a nice beginner cooking project that brings Spring to the kitchen. Shaw will show you how to make candied violets and how he adds them to his favorite dessert, ice cream.

Let’s begin:

1. Pick a nice sized bunch of violets from a chemical-free lawn.

2. Gently rinse them in a colander and allow to drain.

3. With the help of an adult, separate two egg whites.

4. Beat the egg whites with a wire whisk, until just frothy.

5. By holding the stem, dip each flower in the frothy egg whites. Make sure the flower is completely covered with egg white.

6. Lay the eggy flower in a little bowl of sugar. Spoon sugar from around the violet to cover it.

7. Gently shake the excess sugar from the flower.

8. Dry on a sheet of waxed paper.

French Vanilla Ice Cream with Candied Violets and pictorial instructions, of course.

French Vanilla Ice Cream with Candied Violets and pictorial instructions, of course.

Now, decorate your cup cakes or add them to your ice cream. Surprise your friends by showing them how to eat a little bit of Spring.

What ways can you think of to add violets to your food?

This week’s “Neighborly Advice” will include more advanced violet recipes for more formal use.

Join us for the fun. Let’s get picking!

Camping in the Country — A Read Aloud Story for Little Ones

The following is a true story. Snuggle in and enjoy:

Camping in the Country


Neighbor Nancy


Joey lived in the big, bustling city. He lived on a noisy street with his mother, his father and his big brother Teddy. Well, Teddy was only a little bigger.

One day, his father came home from work with all sorts of things in the back of the car.

“Who wants to go camping at a park in the country,” he bellowed as he burst through the door.

“We do! We do!” both boys shouted.

So, everyone packed their gear and off the family went. They were very excited about that first camping trip in the country.

Along the way ,they sang and pointed out farm animals. They saw horses, cows, pigs, and ducks. And just before the park entrance they saw white, fluffy animals dotting the hillside. Can you guess what animals they saw?

Sheep. About two dozen sheep just standing around munching the grass.

On their way into the park, the ranger warned them to lock all their food in the trunk of the car because of the rather curious bears that lived there.

Bears? The boys hoped with all their hearts that they might see one.

The camp site was very interesting. There were so many things to investigate. The boys noticed how the light green stuff only grew on one side of all the trees, the strange mushrooms that stuck out like shelves, and all the wonderfully different bugs living under the rocks.

After all their exploring, the family sat down around the campfire to enjoy a flame cooked meal together. As the night grew darker, they enjoyed the heat and fascinating light of their little campfire.

Unfortunately, bedtime did come, as it always seems to do at the most fun times. Does that happen to you?


Joey and Teddy’s parents locked away all the food and put out the fire.

Everyone got ready for bed. They climbed into their toasty sleeping bags and zipped the flaps of the tent closed. Quietly, peacefully, everyone fell asleep.

Suddenly, Joey sat up.

What had he heard?

Scratch. Crunch. Crunch!

What was that, he wondered.

He quietly shook Teddy awake to listen, too.

Now they both heard the noise and whatever it was it was coming closer.

Scratch! Crunch! Crunch!!! Burp?!

“Should we wake Dad,” Joey asked in a shaky whisper.

“No,” Teddy said, a little shaky, too,” he said he was tired.”

“D…d…do…do you think it’s a bear?”

“M…maybe,” replied a now very scared Teddy.

Just when the boys couldn’t stand it any longer and were about to wake their parents…


The boys burst out laughing so loudly that their parents woke up.


They peeked out of the tent into the dim pre-dawn light to see a sheep, happily munching her breakfast of grass, right by their camping chairs.

Well, the boys never did see a bear. But they certainly did have an adventure to tell their friends at home!

The End

What did you think was outside the tent?

Did you like my story?

Those sheep in the story were my sheep. When I was little like you, they liked to visit the park across the valley and get into all kinds of mischief.


Please feel free to let your little ones comment, even if you have to type it for them.

We had a backyard flock of sheep that used to go for walks pretty frequently. No fence could contain them. The park ranger could barely contain himself, when he shared this particular story. I still chuckle when I remember it.

Freebie Days– Afterschool Kit for Tweens

Well, hi there. Got another goody for you.

This one is for parents, grandparents, educators and home schoolers. And who in that category couldn’t use a little help now and then?

Here is what these giveaway folks have to say for themselves:

“Developed for use with youth in grades 6 – 9, the Afterschool Kit contains six units that examine key aspects of the decision-making process:

  • Decision-Making Skills
  • Consequences
  • Refusal Skills
  • Values
  • Conflict
  • Responsibility

Each unit includes activities and games, a wall poster for display, and parental handouts to help adolescents continue to develop good decision-making skills.

Click here to get your free After School Kit.

Freebie Days — Happy Free e-Book Week!

Well, how wonderful that you have joined me today.

If you need books as much as air, your in good company here.

It is Free e-Book Week. Yippee!

Grab a cup of coffee and pull a book from the e-bookshelf.

Happy reading, fellow bibliophiles.

Click here to choose your free e-books.

Some one pass me a cookie, please.