Our kitchen is my favorite room in the house. It is a familiar, cozy, warm place to teach math, science, art, and language to young children. That room does it all. A place of convergence for all disciplines, the kitchen is our favorite lab, our gathering place, and an invaluable resource for our home schooling project.

One of the beauties, also, of the home school model is having the freedom to enlist the skill sets, passions, and teaching abilities of the family and friends in our lives. We can truly learn from anyone, involve others in our learning, turn the whole world into a glorious playground of sharing ideas, discovering together, and connections.

In that spirit, my mom and I created a co-teaching science lab for Katie’s preschool curriculum today. My mom found a helpful resource: Science Experiments You Can Eat by Vicki Cobb. Perfect. I anticipate using this book quite a bit.

Because we are working on our apple unit, we found an experiment designed to be used with apples, an experiment that will also help as a forerunner to our apple-oxidation experiment later on.

Did you know that red cabbage can be used to make an acid-base indicator? Like litmus paper? Well, it can!

So we picked a red cabbage from my mom and dad’s garden, and got to work! First, we grated the cabbage and steeped it in warm water to make the purplish-colored indicator.

Here is a picture of our lab steps, taped to the ovens.

My mom is a patient and clear teacher. She excelled in chemistry when she went to college, and we love having her knowledge with us in our classroom!

We kept notes, made observations, and tracked our results in our field notebook/nature journal/lab book. After teaching some basic concepts relevant to the lab, we started by testing lemon juice in a small amount of indicator; when the acid turned the indicator a bright pink, Katie’s eyes lit up and she gasped. To see that moment of discovery and sheer awe—well, that is one reason why I love to school at home. I covet those magic moments—always my favorite in a classroom, too—when a student “gets” something or has her eyes opened to the wonder of it all.

We then tested baking soda (base), and the indicator turned blue! Whoa! Mixing the bowl with the lemon with the baking soda bowl, Katie saw the indicator return to normal. Hm.

From there, we tested eleven more household items, in various orders: apple juice (of course—it is apple unit time!), ketchup, cream of tartar, grapefruit, vinegar (all acids); dish soap, egg white, spit, chalk (all bases); and water (neutral).

Katie made check marks under “acid” or “base” for each test. She was also able to predict the result of some of these before the tests. We also talked about the “fizzy bubbles” as she called them tonight that occur when mixing an acid and a base. We tested vinegar and baking soda together, and big bubbles of carbon dioxide fizzed up. I reminded her about the cake we always make for my mom’s birthday, and how it rises according to this principle (it uses vinegar and baking soda). Katie knows this recipe, so this was a connection for her. One, too, that we will get to reinforce in a couple of weeks when we host Amie’s birthday party.

Part two of the experiment was to take the rest of the shredded cabbage, cook it in two separate pots, and throw apples into one pot—-and to compare the two pots. Katie was able to answer the question, among others: “Which one contained acid?”

We had fun with this lab, and afterward, Katie wanted to continue to “play lab” for awhile. Yay!

In the afternoon, my cousin Kd came over to continue working on her quilt. She finished cutting all of the squares, and we even had time to work on laying it out! She has such precision and such an eye for what she likes: I love watching her creativity and artistry shine. She is unfurling her inner quilt maker. Can there be anything much better than observing someone discover an inner talent?

Beginning the first row

Pondering patterns

The finished layout!

I love you, Kd, and I am so much enjoying this project with you! What a cozy time to make a quilt together. You hardly need my input—really only for the steps, and once I show you, you always run with it. The few times we do confer over artistry, it is so cool to see how our minds work in harmony and take enjoyment in each others’ aesthetic. I cannot wait to see this quilt in your room!

And in between our labors of love and learning, we took a bit of a break to walk down to the frozen yogurt place at the corner. We talked about college classes and fashion and watched the children playing near the fountain with Boppa. Perfectly relaxing moment, and I am so glad we got to be with some of the family on Labor Day!

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