Sep 26

Carrot Canoes and Archimedes’ Principle

by Hannah Holt »


I’m working on a new picture book about buoyancy, so I’ve had boats on the brain lately. Like, could you turn a carrot into a boat?

carrot boat 1

Carrots don’t float. Well, I supposed if you found a dried out carrot it might float, but for the most part carrots sink.

carrot boat 2

{See, I cut off the end of a carrot and put it in water… Thunk! It sunk.}

But what if we took a carrot peeler and hollowed out the inside of a carrot?

carrot boat 3

Ta da! It floats…

carrot boat 4

Now why does the first carrot sink while the second carrot floats? They are both carrots, right?

Let’s talk about buoyancy. Buoyancy is the lift water gives you. You might have noticed you feel lighter jumping in water than on land. That’s because the water pushes you up.


How much does water push you up?

water weight

It pushes you up… the weight of the water you just replaced? Or as Archimedes Principle states:

Any object, wholly or partially immersed in a fluid, is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object.

Wow, that was a lot of words! Let’s go back to our carrot. Before we hollowed out our carrot, water still pushed up on the carrot. But the carrot was heavier than the amount of water it moved. In other words, it was too dense. So it sank.

carrot before and after2

In the second case, the carrot was lighter. The water could hold it up and it floated. You can make a carrot into a boat!

A few activities by grade-level:

Kindergarten-1st Grade: Take a potato, an apple, a carrot, and a pea. What ones float? What ones sink? Make a hypothesis: What else do you think will float? Now test it.

2nd -3rd Grade: I started with 2 cups of water (about 500 mL). The carrot and the water together have a volume of 2 ¼cups (about 525 mL). How big (in volume) is the carrot? Answer: ¼ cups big (or about 25 mL in volume)

4th – 5th Grade: One milliliter of water (volume) has a mass of one gram. The carrot took up 25 milliliters of water. How many grams of water did the carrot replace? Answer: 25 grams {You might have to walk them through this.}

6th Grade: Archimedes’ Principle says that the buoyant force on our carrot can be found like this:

The Volume of the Water (displaced by the carrot) x The Density of the Water x Gravity

If the Volume of the Water = 25 (cm³)

and the Density of the Water = 1 (g/cm³)

and Gravity = 10 (m/s²… I rounded for calculating ease.)

What is the buoyant force on the carrot?

{Answer: 25 x 1 x 10 = 250 g• m/s²} Advanced students might be interested in the units, but the main goal here is to try and plug the values into the equation.

Sep 20

Potty Training Twins (the Lazy Way)

by Hannah Holt »


It’s not that I’m getting more lazy as a parent (cough, cough). No, surely that isn’t it. However, this time around I didn’t feel overly motivated to start potty training.

For one thing, there are two of them:

potty training twins

Also our summer schedule was crazy. But my biggest reason for the delay was this: I follow the golden rule of potty training…

Positive Reinforcement Only

This rule is about me, not them. Forget potty training in three days. Forget potty training before a certain age or stage; I simply want to be a happy and supportive mother during the process. And up until recently, I was a post-moving apocalyptic mess.

So yes, the babes needed to be ready for potty training. But even more importantly I needed to be ready. ‘Cause I have to be able to smile and say, “Ooooh that was so close!” when they step in their own poop and run around the living room.

Here’s how I approached potty training with my multiples:

1) I didn’t even think about potty training until BOTH twins were giving readiness signs (vocalizing and recognizing body functions, plus an interest in the toilet). Hey, I only wanted to do it once. Perhaps this was unfair to the twin who was ready first, but she never seemed upset about staying in diapers. So we just rolled with it.

2) Even after that I waited until all major family stresses were over: until after we moved and settled into our new house, my older boys started school, and we were in a stable daily routine. I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t work on too much while potty training… So if a child needs speech or behavior therapy, it might be good to hold off a little longer on potty training.

3) Keep them in diapers or pullups until they consistently poop in the potty. Cleaning urine spills isn’t so bad. The other one… Phew! Giving my twins a safety net, eased the stress for both of us. Some people think keeping children in diapers during potty training just delays their ability to recognize body signals. It does. But I wasn’t concerned about potty training within a certain time frame. Just maintaining sanity.

4) I purchased multiple potty seats for my little multiples because often little bladders need to GO RIGHT NOW MOMMY at the same time.

5) Congratulate attempts as well as successes. One of my twins mastered potty training first, but I encouraged both girls equally. As long as they sat on the potty, they received congratulations, hugs, and high-fives. Yes, there were a lot of false trips. Yes, there were times we all hung out in the bathroom for thirty minutes or more. It’s all part of the process.

6) Remember your multiples will be potty trained before their sixteenth birthday… probably. Who cares if your three-year-old is still in diapers? So what if they can’t start preschool next year? It will happen. Stay positive. Less stress equals more success. If you start and they need to go back in diapers, embrace it. It’ll all be okay in the end.

We are now a (mostly) diaper free home. Wahooooo!

Sep 11

Dry-erase Chore Chart

by Hannah Holt »


As you might have noticed, I’m on a dry-erase kick. But this is my easiest dry-erase project yet.

Did you know packaging tape works as a dry-erase surface? I didn’t until I tried it out the other day.

I simply printed out a chore chart for my kids and placed a piece of packaging tape over the areas they needed to check off:

chore chart

I made one for each of my boys. If they get all their chores checked off for the week, we have a special treat on Monday night.

We’ve been doing this for three weeks, and they are now in the “chore routine.” During the first couple of weeks, they forgot a chore once or twice. I let them do double chores the next day to make up for it. Hey, they wanted the treat and I want chores done. Win-win. So far this is working for us.

How do chores work at your house?

Sep 04

“To Be” Sentence Puzzles

by Hannah Holt »


My five-year-old starts kindergarten tomorrow (sniff, sniff).


He’s a great kid and he’ll be fine. I, on the otherhand, turn into a bowl of melted butter just thinking about him leaving for school. He’s a joy to have around and one of my biggest helpers with these two:

Dahlia Festival Double Trouble

Like many young learners, my five-year-old is experimenting with his expanding vocabulary. English is a tricky language, and those darn irregular verbs like to trip his tongue. So I made a reference chart and a few sentence puzzles to help him remember how the “to be” verbs change around:

To be conjugation

Because the plural verbs are the most consistent, I start by having my son ask the question, “Is there more than one thing I am talking about?” If the answer is yes, then the conjugation is straightforward. If not, we try to pick out the right verb together.

Here are sentence puzzles for the past tense (click on the link for pdf):

Past tense to be

You’ll see I only made a singular and a plural sentence. You could modify this for other options (like “I” by taping a picture of your child to the puzzle piece and modifying the sentence with a permanent marker).

Here are the present tense puzzles. This is the most complicated tense, so I made two more options:




Finally we have the easiest tense of all: future tense.

Future tense to be

Lastly, these puzzles are meant to be an enjoyable activity. If your five-year-old is frustrated or things are getting “tense,” take a break. It’ll be okay. Irregular verbs are tricky. Overtime your child will master it.

Aug 08

Moving with Small Children

by Hannah Holt »


What it looks like:

box climbing

What it feels like:


Me moved houses! It was a good move for our family, and we are lucky/thrilled/happy to be in our new place. But I also spent most of the last few weeks packing and trying to keep permanent markers and box cutters away from two-year-olds. That’s part of the reason the blog has been quiet this month.

Also, summer isn’t complete without at least a few shenanigans. We’ve been taking day trips to the coast and visiting family.

Oregon Coast

We went to a carnival at our church last Saturday. The lady at the water booth asked my son, “Is it okay with your mother if you get wet?”

To which he replied, “It’s okay. She’s letting us roam free.”

He summed up my parenting style rather nicely:


I hope you all enjoy a lovely, unstructured, and carefree rest of your summer. See you in September with more crafts, games, and books.