Monday, October 3, 2011

Rainbow Birthday Cake!

Want a fun cake for your child's birthday?  I found the perfect solution!  A rainbow cake!  I found several ideas for this online, and complied them into this recipe.  I let my children do all the measuring, adding ingredients, mixing, and pouring.  It was such a fun learning experience!  

Here are the simple instructions (complete with pictures) to make your own!

2 round cake pans (9 inche pans are preferred)
A double white cake mix (Or 2 boxed white cake mixes)
White frosting of your choice
Food coloring dye or gel in the colors you prefer.

Pre-Heat oven to 325 and grease your cake pans VERY WELL  (It would not be fun to go through this and then have the cake stick!)

Step 1 - Mix your cake mixes exactly as the instructions say.  This can be store-bought, or your own recipe.  I used store-bought because I planned to make butter cream icing to go on top, and children just do not appreciate all the time that it would have taken to make homemade cake as well.  :)

Step 2 - Divide the batter into six bowls evenly.  (Or however many colors you choose to use.  We used red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.  A relative suggested using red, white and blue for the 4th of July.  Go crazy with it.)  For the cake mixes I used (Pillsbury),  I used one cup per bowl and just discarded what was extra.

Step 3 - Add food coloring or gel to the bowls until they are blended the colors you prefer.  We used the gel so that we would have brighter colors.  The drops would probably make a deeper hue of the colors.  Make sure you scrape the sides and bottoms of the bowls so that there is a consistent color throughout the batter.

Step 4:  Transfer 1/2 cup of batter from bowls into pans - I just used measuring cups for this.  Pouring the batter is the most tedious step, so pay close attention.  Make sure you colors are in order if you are making a rainbow cake.  (ROYGBP) Pour red in first, in the middle of the pan.  Orange is next - pour it right on top of red, and the red will expand around it.  Yellow on top of that.  I made the second pan in the opposite order and started with Purple, then blue, then green.  

Step 5 - Have your very cute kids pose with the cake mix ready to go in the oven.  :)

Bake the cake at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes.  It is a double recipe, so the cakes will take a little longer to bake.  It depends on your oven and the recipe, so just use your toothpick to check to make sure it is done before you take it out.  If the edges are done and the center is still baking, turn your oven down to 300 degrees to finish baking.

Step 6 - After the cake is completely cool, frost the cake as usual for a two-layer cake.  I made butter cream frosting and tinted it blue.  This is up to you - white would be just as pretty, or you could tint it any of the colors you prefer.  M8 wanted purple, and M6 wanted orange.  Blue was the first color they agreed on.  :)

Step 7 - Slice and eat!  I loved how it turned out!  The only thing I would do differently would be to use a different color frosting for the middle.  Just to make it more fun.

Here is how it looked sliced.  Perfect!  So, if you want a birthday cake your kids will LOVE and also enjoy helping you make, this is the recipe for you!  It was such a fun time.  Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Unit Study: Rainforest

We officially finished our unit study on the subject of the rain forest last week.  We learned about several different animals that live in the rain forest, which allowed us to talk about vocabulary words such as mammals, nocturnal, reptiles and other variations in the animal kingdom.  We also listened to some of the sounds of the rainforest, and the children drew pictures of the animals that might make the sounds we heard.  We also studied the aquatic life in the Amazon River, and had the opportunity to visit the Newport Aquarium to see some of these creatures first hand.  It was a fantastic learning experience.

As we closed out this unit study, we had an open discussion about the way humans impact the environment.  This conversation allowed M8 and M6 the opportunity to discover on their own how our hometown is different from the rainforest in terms of nature, wildlife, and humans.  They previously watched two documentaries on the rainforest, which gave them a pretty good picture of what life there is like.  When they compared life there to our life in Kentucky, they noticed that we have less, trees, less animals, more people, more trash, more cars, and more buildings.  From there, we discussed how Lexington, KY is different from Manchester, KY (where their grandparents live), and found many of the same differences.  It was a very interesting conversation, and one that helped them to make a connection between a subject we are studying in school and our own day-to-day life.

Also during our last week, we discussed where on earth rainforests are found, and how their weather is different from our weather in Kentucky.  This led us into our final unit study of our school year, which is centered around Spring/Gardening.  

Friday, February 4, 2011

family matters: when siblings are best friends

I have uncovered yet another surprise benefit that comes with homeschooling your children: friendship.  True friendship cannot be forced nor broken by another person, and I have actually watched this develop in my very own children.  Two of these children, less than 2 years ago, were fighting and arguing until separation was the only solution.  And now, as I speak, they are willfully closed in my son's bedroom, making a fort out of blankets and a bunk bed, delighted with their co-creation.

But it doesn't stop there.  Where else would you find an 8 year-old and a 2 year-old who are growing into great friends?  Because the girls share a room, and because M8 is not away at school 7-9 hours a day (including transportation time), this friendship is continually growing and being nurtured between them.  Yes, M8 becomes irritated with N2, but isn't that the case in all friendships?  I am amazed when I think that there are times throughout the day when M8 thoughtfully takes N2 aside and plays with dolls or puzzles, reads books, or fixes her hair...just because she wants to.

Honestly, this discovery brings tears to my eyes.  The thought that if M8 were away at school (and M6 as well!) her limited time at home would be filled with homework, chores, and sleep makes me so very thankful that God led our family to make this decision to educate our children at home.  And now another reason to be thankful: Because we've had the privilege to watch our children grow from siblings to friends.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dealing with Plagiarism

***Update***  M8 wrote a new story, with which we were both very pleased. She did wonder how she would know if someone else had written a story just like hers that she hadn't heard yet. :)

We had our first bout with plagiarism yesterday.  I assigned M8 to make up a story about the jungle, the unit study we will begin next week, to post on her blog.  She loves to write and usually whips out a creative story in just a few minutes. 45 minutes later she brings the laptop to me with lines and lines of a creative, yet funny, story.  While I read it aloud (per M6's request), he informed me that they had actually heard that story on a video earlier in the week.  M8 insisted that it wasn't the same, that she had changed some things. And the lesson-learning began.

How to handle plagiarism?  Plagiarism in its simplest form is stealing.  Taking the words or ideas of another person and pretending that they are yours.  The ten commandments and the laws of this country forbid stealing.  Although M8 had no idea that (1) she had stolen anything, or (2) that there was a big fancy word for pretending that she came up with a story that someone else had created, she learned that she is still responsible to uphold these laws.

Needless to say, after a moment of fear and a few tears, a great lesson was learned.  Today we will attempt the creative writing exercise again, and hope for much better results.