Tag Archives: Homeschool

The Inside of a Frog

The last animal dissection of the year!  WOOT!

Nice picture, huh?

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Handing out the specimens is always fun.  It’s like handing out cupcakes!  The students love it. LOL

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Yep, the students line up with their trays and receive this totally cool gift.  Yes, the specimens do have a smell, but not as bad as when I was in school.

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For this experiment, I made a worksheet for them to fill out.  It had fill in the blanks and very little sketching.  I wanted them to really work hard on the dissection instead of spending most of their class time sketching.

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I used the following websites to put my worksheet together.

I picked some things from each link and added some things of my own to make a good worksheet.  You can do the same or just use their worksheets. 🙂

As always we begin our experiment by looking at the exterior of the specimen.  We found all to be females and thankfully none had eggs.  I don’t like dealing with the eggs.  blah….

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Then we move to the inside.  Love, love, love the double injected specimens.  Arterial system is injected with red latex and the hepatic system is injected with blue latex .  Thumbs up all around!

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I think all of the students were glad when this was over.  It got busy real fast and I didn’t get as many photos as I wanted.  You can see previous post with some great photos.

Frog Guts – 2011

Here are some extra helpful links for frog dissection.

Youtube also has lots of videos that are useful.


Perch Dissection!

Module 13 in Exploring Creation Biology – Phylum Chordata.  This is where vertebrates are found.  Yes, this is where humans are classified, right along with this lovely Perch. 😀

Look at these lovies!  Nice big specimens.

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We pray for great weather when it is time for the Perch dissection.  Yes, it does smell and having that smell in the co-op building just before lunch, is not a good thing.  Trust me.

We use meat trays instead of dissection trays and plastic table covers for easy clean up.  I REALLY hate cleaning dissection trays.

Here is my class getting ready for the fun.

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After examining the outside and taking notes, we looked at the gills.

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Then the students were to pull out one of the gills and have a look at it.  Most were ok with doing that.  It wasn’t an easy thing to do.  Scissors and tweezers were needed to pull the gills out.

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Then it was time to look in the inside.  Eww…. Most of the students said they could not cut the through the scales.  Most likely an excuse not to have to cut through it. 😀  They stopped complaining when I took an extra fish and made a perfect cut.

And as always once in side, the students play around. Fish guts, anyone?

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Stomachs were cut open, but all were empty.  I guess they did not get a last meal.

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The brain has always been difficult for us to find.  Somewhere in the mess below, is the brain.

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After all work has been completed, we just roll everything up in the plastic table covers, through it in a bag and it is done.   All that is left is a pile of tools to wash.

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For this experiment and most other, students are required to type up their lab before coming to class.  This assures me they will actually read what they are going to attempt.

To add to their lab write-up I printed these worksheets for them to label.  I did have to white-out the words, so the student can fill it in.  They had an exterior and interior diagram to labels.

The following websites are also a big help.

Invertebrates – Continued

Exploring Creation with Biology – Module 11  Invertebrates 😀  Ya’ll know you want to hear more about worms.  Plus some other goodies I want to share.

See yesterday’s post.


  • Kingdom:  Animalia
  • Phylum:  Annelida (segmented worm)
  • Class: Clitellata (has a clitellum)
  • Order: Haplotaxida
  • Family: Lumbricidae  (33 species)
  • Genus: Lumbricus

Some interesting facts I found around on the web.

  • Length can be around 3 inches to 11 inches
  • Roughly 2700 different kinds of earthworms
  • In 1 acre of land there can be more than 1 million worms.
  • Largest worm found was 22 feet long. South Africa.  😯
  • Worms are cold blooded
  • Baby worms hatch from cacoons
  • If their skin dries out they die
  • If their skin absorbs too much water, they drown.
  • They are made of 80% water.
  • Worms are excellent composters and are used in many compost piles.  See Vermicomposting.
  • They aerate the soil and move nutrients around.
  • They have both male and female sexual reproductive organs.
  • They usually live 3 to 4 years.

And here are the awesome photos that I showed in a powerpoint.  Yep, oversized in your face worm guts.


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worm2 copy

Pretty aren’t they?  Feel free to copy and use in your class.  You could even use them for wallpaper in your bedroom.   You’re welcome!

Let’s back track to the beginning of the module, because I totally forgot to blog about it.

There are three types of symmetry: Spherical Symmetry, Radial Symmetry, and Bilateral Symmetry.   Humans are Bilateral.  To prove that we may look the same on the left and right sides, but actually are not, I took mugshots of each of the students.  Them I promptly lost a couple somewhere inside my computer and had to use different photos that were not really mugshots.

I tried to slice the faces (That sounds bad, doesn’t it?), straight down through the nose.  These kids didn’t look weird as previous students.  I was seriously bummed about that, but you can still see a difference when the left sides are paired together and the right sides are paired together.




That was fun. 🙂

Now on to my favorite videos for this module.  I whole heartily belive sometimes you need a video done in real life to get the wow factor in Biology.  Just learning how a sponge pulls water through its walls and out its osculum isn’t as exciting as seeing the real thing.

Barrel Sponge Filtering Water  – really nice video showing a sponge filtering water.  Must see, of course.

Oh and jellyfish or other animals that have nematocysts that sting.  Yeah, not so exciting as seeing the real thing.  Here are two videos for you.

Nematocysts Firing – no sound

Jellyfish Stinging Microscopic Slow Motion – This video is just over 6 minutes but worth watching.   It does speak of evolution, so please preview before showing to the students.

Moon Jellyfish Life Cycle – no sound.

As always, don’t read the comments on YouTube.  Want a way to see the videos without all the comments and unwanted videos on the side?  I use Keepvid to download the videos and then show them to the class.

Wow, this is a long post. Thank you for reading it!

Let me know if you have any questions.

Read what we have done in the past here.


With many groans, I handed out the worms.  This tube of 12″ Earthworms is from www.carolina.com and all were in excellent juicy shape!

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Once the first one was out, most of the students were looking forward to the experiment.

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Except one.  I had to remind everyone in the class that there are NO WIMPY kids in my Biology class.

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I talked a few minutes about each of the systems:  Digestive, Nervous, Circulatory, and Reproductive.  The slimy tube reference in the Reproductive System didn’t go over too well with the students. I kinda went very fast through that system and told them to make sure they read that section.  LOL

First thing first, touch it. 😀  You can name it if you want to.

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The dissection lab and the write-up will be the hardest grade the student will earn.  I warned them with this email message.  Feel free to copy it to you students.  It worked wonders and all had their lab write-ups prior to class.  Next week, I’ll get their final write-ups and let you know how they did.

Ok Students, listen up!

Commence lecturing…

You must have your Exp. 11.3 Worm Dissection, written up before coming to class.  You must read this module before coming to class.  For this experiment you will only be using your notes.  Since lab write-ups are to be written in such a way that anyone can pick it up and perform the experiment, you should be able to complete this assignment without any help from me. laugh

Points to remember:

  • Your lab must be written-up prior to class.
  • Leave your books at home. You don’t need them in class this Tuesday.
  • You will be sketching. Please bring UNLINED paper for your sketches.  This is a High School college prep course. Step up to it.
  • You will make the sketches in a reasonable size.  One inch sketches are not acceptable. Huge kindergarten sketches are not acceptable.
  • Use pencil, not a pen.  Cover your pencil in plastic wrap to protect it from worm guts.  I do have gloves, but they are not to be used for the pencil.
  • You will take your time with this dissection.  You will make detailed sketches. You will not make sloppy sketches.  You will learn something.  You will NOT finish this in 5 minutes.
  • If you need a surgical mask, please bring it.
  • If you need to step out of the room for some air, please do so and come right back.
  • Every student will dissect their own worm.  Every student will complete this dissection.  I know there are no wimpy students in my Biology class.  yes

You have been writing labs since the beginning of this class.  Some of you have done well, some of you have done ok, and some of you have not done so well.  The dissection write-ups will be graded the hardest out of all our write-ups.  Please keep this in mind and do an excellent job with your write-ups.

Terminate lecturing….

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Getting the first cut is a little nerve wracking for the kids.  It isn’t easy to judge how far you should cut through the skin, but it all went well.

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Except for the ones that went a little too far.  Yep, not much left to see there!  Thankfully, I had visuals.   Bigger than life photos of previous dissections.  I will post them tomorrow for your enjoyment. My favorite videos for this module wil also be posted. 🙂

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Only one student brought in a mask. I couldn’t smell it very much, but some of the kids could.  Carolina Biologicals do not use You can read about our specimens from Carolina  here.

Quotes from Carolina: Carolina’s Perfect Solution® – an alternative to formaldehyde – is a revolutionary fixative that produces superior specimens while improving the safety of your classroom or lab. Tissues and organs are extremely lifelike and retain better color and texture than with other preparations.

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Here is a pretty good cut, but this student needed to cut a few more of the septa.  The Septa is the string like thing that separates the worm into sections.  Once you slice those, your worm can be pinned back and expose the organs better.  Was that TMI?

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I would love to say that ALL the students enjoyed this, but… I can’t. Guess who this kid belongs to.

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Genetics and Spudoodles

This past Tuesday was our last  Biology class before Christmas break.  We are covering Module 8 – Mendelian Genetics.  Which is, genes determine traits.  Each living creature’s has two alleles that make up that trait.  One from the daddy and one from the mommy. 😀

Since we are going to continue with Module 8 when we return after the new year, I spent the class time going over genotype, phenotype, alleles, and dominant alleles and skipped the punnet squares.  To help with this and make this last class time a fun one, we made Spudoodles.   You can see what we did in 2010 and in 2013.   As you can tell in the two posts sometimes the kids are not too thrilled with this project.  Actually only two kids were NOT happy with it.  So, give this project a try, because the majority of the kids like it.   Like this year!

I updated my Spudoodle worksheet to fit this class.  I don’t think I saved a copy, but you can get the previous version here.   I put enough alleles (letters) in each bag to make sure the selection was different.  For example, I made sure some of the spuds were bald, some had 2 legs and some had 4 legs, etc.  Two of the alleles were on lime green paper.  That meant they were mutations.  One spudoodle had long skinny legs, instead of stubby thumb takes.  The other had three ears instead of 2 or 4.

The students were to pick an allele from the blue (dad) bag and one allele from the pink (mom) bag for each trait.  There were 8 traits total.

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Next the students listed what their genotype was (the two alleles), and the phenotype (hair, no hair, curly tail, etc).  Once that was done I gave them a spud with a diaper on it.  I don’t know why I did put a diaper on it, but it was funny.  I did tell the students since parents don’t get to pick their kid, the students don’t pick their spud.

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Then they were to build it using the items I provided.

  • Hair – toothpicks
  • Eyes- brads
  • Nose – gum drops
  • Ears – Gummy bears
  • Mouth – pennies
  • Female – pink straight pen for the head.  I forgot to bring bows.
  • Legs – thumb tacks and long paper clips (mutation)
  • Tail – pipecleaners

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Most of the students had a great time with it.  Like this girl below.

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She said the worksheet was the birth certificate.  She gave it a name, DOB, time, weight, lenght, Mother and Father names, and look to the left you’ll see the spudoodles little foot print.  LOL   This has never happened in my class before. Once she did that, the others followed.  Even the boys.

spud chart

All enjoyed and didn’t mind if I took pictures.  Except for this student.  Yeah, she is excited to have her picture taken.


See, she is thrilled!   Just so you know, this is my daughter.

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Here is the family portrait!  I just realized there are four with diapers and four without and they are every other one.  That was not planned.  LOL


Edible Cell Winners!

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The Most Meticulous

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The Most Beautiful

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The Most Hideous

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The Most Peculiar

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She’s mine. 🙂

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She’s mine. 🙂

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After the feast.

Appliejuice Etsy Shop  –  has a letter to students explaining the mission (project), Student Grade Sheet, Teacher Rubric, and a list for the teacher of what is required in the cell. That’s a helpful tool while grading. 🙂

Yummy Yummy Cells!

Yes!  Edible Cells!   The third fun hands on activity for Module 6 in Exploring Creation with Biology.

I did not assign this project.  Two weeks ago, our class had a visitor.  An odd visitor.  Dr. Gootenbur….  uh, I can’t even spell this person’s name.  I don’t think I can even pronounce this person’s name.  Oh well.


He decided it was a good time to hand out the Mad Science Project.  Each student was given the instruction sheet and a caution.  They were not to make a living cell.  That would be like so wrong!

My girls got busy!  Buy lots and lots of candy.

The girls

One made a boxed cake and the other made a giant cookie.  Icing was colored and spread all over the place. All.over.the.place.

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Icing and cake pieces were used to make the nucleus for one of the cells.  Once it was made one daughter announced it looked like a dung pile.  What do you think?

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A popcorn ball was purchased at Wal-Mart for 25 cents for the other cell.  It was on clearance!  Sir Husband said they had a huge cart full of them.  To me that is a sign DO NOT EAT.  ewwww…..

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Cell is beginning to appear.  Twizzlers, gummies, and icing were used.  Since this was the daughter who said the chocolate nucleus looked like a dung pile, we let her know the chocolate droppings on the mitochondria looked like frog poo.  Seriously, it does.  We have seen it on our sidewalk.   Parenting has its rewards. 😉

The making

The final product.  The cell was not alive…BONUS!

Edible Cell Display

Eight students brought in eight edible cells.  The amount of work that went to each one ranged from extreme to ….well…. next to no effort at all.  LOL  Enjoy the slideshow of these Edible Cells.

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Cells were displayed for all to see, enjoy….

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and vote on…

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and consumed.  Well one was so hard it would have taken a chainsaw to slice.

Rice Krispies

All students were sent home to fall into a sugar coma.  To the parents of my students, you’re welcome!

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Voting, by fellow students and facilitators,  was on the following:

  • Most Beautiful
  • Most Hideous
  • Most Peculiar
  • Most Meticulous – Picked by me.

Honestly, there wasn’t a Hideous one, but we voted on it anyway.  I have not awarded the certificates yet, so please come back next Wednesday to find out who won these categories.  In the meantime, who do you think won?

Go here to see the printables for this project.

Or visit my Etsy shop for more detailed items.


Physical Change/Chemical Change/Edible DNA all in one post!

Exploring Creation with Biology

Module 5 – The Chemistry of Life

Sometimes it is hard to explain the difference between Physical Change and Chemical Change.  I don’t know why that is,but it is hard.

Physical Change –  A change that does not produce a new substance and is usually reversable.

Chemical Change – A change that makes a new substance and usually cannot be reversed.

Best way to get this idea across is with Play-Dough!  If I had time in the classroom I would have made homemade play-dough.  This would be a perfect example of Chemical Change.  Take salt, water, cream of tartar, food coloring etc… mix it, add heat and Wah-lah you have changed the ingredients into Play-Dough.  It cannot be undone.  Want a recipe for this?  You can find an Easy Homemade Play-dough recipe here.

It is sad that I did not have time to do that.  I handed each student one color of play dough.  I explained how the play-dough is made and that is a Chemical Change.  While they are playing around and sculpting, I explain Physical Change.

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I thought for sure they would just make balls or snakes, or a block.  You know, something not extraordinary.  Nope, the girls above made a petri dish and a pink butterfly.

Another student made a DNA strand, while another student (not even in my class, but likes to visit) made a snowman. LOL  My daughter below, got busy sculpting.

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She made a very cute elephant.  Is the elephant still play-dough?  Can it be squished back into the container or into another shape?  Why, yes it can!  That’s Physical Change, folks.

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There was only one class time for this module and it really needs to  be at least two.  Because of this I did not get into the Proteins, Enzymes, Carbohydrates, Acids and Bases, as much as I wanted.   With only 20 minutes left of the class, I gave the kids the fun project of making their own Edible DNA.  You can find the instructions at Teach Genetics.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have colored marshmallows.  We used gummy bears instead.  Marshmallows work a WHOLE LOT better.

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The kids started building, while also consuming copious amounts of Twizzlers and gummy bears.

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Yummy!  Edible DNA.  If you use marshmallows, the twist is easier and looks better too.  However; gummy bears taste better than colored marshmallows!

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After the photo below was taken, all Twizzlers and gummy bears were gone.  The girl second from the left ate seven Twizzlers and countless number of gummies.  The boy with the awesome spider shirt was so overloaded with sugar, he was bouncing off the walls in his English class.  That was his mom’s class.  She was thrilled.  That’s what I keep telling myself.

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Besides making the DNA, the students had to fill out a worksheet.  You can find my DNA worksheet here.  I will see if I can find a completed worksheet to post here, so you can see how they do it.

Have fun with play-dough and candy.

Mold, mold, and More Mold.

We continue to study Module 4- Kingdom Fungi.  This experiment the students were required to grow mold.  They were to put something aside for about two weeks in hopes that it will grow something fuzzy.

This is our collection of goodies.  The left is homemade jello and the right is homemade whole wheat bread.  They had been sitting in the garage for about 4 days with little to no evidence of growing hair.  So we brought it in and hid it in the back of the pantry.


And this is what happened to the bread a few days later.  The jello was also finely covered in different colored mold.   So, the forgotten dark corners of the pantry is the best place to grow mold in our home. 🙂

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Students, as usual, looked at the specimens and made sketches.

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During this experiment, it might be wise to bring in surgical masks.

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Some giggled the whole time.

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Right after class we all enjoyed lunch with some friends.  Yes, lunch is right after Biology class.  It was planned that way, I am sure.

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Here is a video that I showed my class last year.  I forgot about it this year and ended up sending it as a link.  It was not shown to my daughters.  I am pretty sure one of them would be ill afterwards.

Cordyceps: attack of the Fungi

Enjoy the show!

Kingdom Protista

Exploring Creation through Biology – Module 3

For this module I like to find several videos to show the students, because they get more interested when they see the real thing in action.  I mean real as in a video of a Protista.

My favorite video is the Amoeba Feeding on a single cell organism.  It is in real time and the organism doesn’t know what is happening until it is too late.  Feel free to do what I do, start speak for the organism by screaming at the appropriate time.  Ahhhhhhh!!!!

Some other videos I like to share are:

Paramecium eating pigmented yeast.


Flagella & Cilia

Naegleria fowleri – brain eating amoeba  – Lisa in the comments below, mentioned the brain eating amoeba.  It is fascinating and terrifying all at the same time.  I wouldn’t show this to my students unless all of them asked for it.   We live in Florida where there is abundance of water, warm weather, and water up the nose.   LOL    Here are two more links about this amoeba.  What a great way to start off your week!

Brain-Eating Amoeba – WebMD

Pathogen & Environment – Naegleria fowleri .  This one has a pathogen life cycle chart which is pretty cool.

Thanks Lisa for the mentioning the amoeba that is out to lunch! :_

This module also goes over Symbiosis Relationships.   This is where you can really shine with the kids.  Google images of the different relationships and share with our students.  Especially the Tongue Eating Louse.  Nice!

One more thing.  The Exploring Creation Through…. are know for having horrible photos on their tests.  Once the tests are printed for the student to complete, the photos are so dark the student can’t figure out what it is.   This time around I sent the following images to the parents to show the student when answer question #14 on Module 3 test.

Click on the pictures to get to the webpage they came from. 🙂