Our Learning Brain

Learning BrainTo Hypothesize; to speculate; to believe especially on uncertain or tentative grounds; the first step in the scientific process of providing proof of invented theory.  To Think; Famous Genius Hypathia of Alexandria (350/370-415 A.D.) was noted for saying, “Reserve your Right to Think, for to think wrongly is far better than to not think at all”.Our awesome Science Learning Book Our Learning Brain is Now Available in Printed Book Full Color with Amazon Books.

Blue Skeleton with BrainOur Learning Brain includes these 4 Great Games: Brain Buster Rummy; Crazy Connectors! (like Crazy 8’s); Contemplation! (like Solitaire and Patience); and Hypothesy! (An Old-Fashioned A & Q Game).  Cards are similar to a traditional playing deck of cards, with 4 suits of 13 cards, all with different facts about each category; and 4 card games; Suitable for Grades 5-10.  The games themselves, are easily comprehensible for the earlier grades, while the species identification aspects are brain teasers for the older grades.

CAUTION:  Once Students begin, they cannot stop Playing!

Now Available in Printed Book Full Color with  Amazon   Black & White Version; Printed Book Form Amazon  (Click on link for Book Form ordering)

Tasks include achieving Brain Anatomy Identification; Learning .  All Science Activities and Games are designed to achieve Elementary and Junior High School Level Science Requirements also including aspects of Mathematics & Communication. Scientifically Proven to Increase Memory & Cognition; Understanding physical properties, structures and changes of Earth materials and Living Organisms and the properties of rocks, soil, water, and air; Identifying and categorizing living organisms; Understanding how components, structures, organizations, and interconnections describe systems; Adding, Reasoning, memory problem solving, and communication; Work collaboratively, find solutions and perform tasks…

And also available through our Blue Butterfly Books site!

Have a Very Merry Christmas!  Happy Hannukah!  and a Warm Wonderful Winter Solstice!

End of Summer Oceans Quiz

French Angelfish PairSince everyone has either had fun by the ocean side this summer, or still dreaming about being by the Ocean side, here is a Fun End of Summer Teaching Oceans Pop Quiz, to keep the Brain Fresh for the upcoming classes in the Fall!

1. Sea Turtles live in all the world’s oceans except the ____________.

2. Adult Turtles swim in shallow lagoons, feeding mostly on various species of ______________.

3. Clownfish are native to the warm waters of the ___________ and __________ Oceans.

4. _________ have two stomachs and therefore can hunt for larger animals than their mouth could otherwise handle.

5. Angelfish are ____________ animals, because they hide amongst the crevices of the reef by night.

6. Through the 19th century, the word “kelp” was closely associated with seaweeds that were fired to obtain __________ (primarily sodium carbonate).

7. Manatees use taste and smell, in addition to sight, sound, and touch, to_________.

8. Salmon eggs usually range from _____________ in color.

9. Clownfish are one of the few fish that are safe from sea ______________.

10. The ___________ is a marine mammal, the heaviest member of the weasel family.

11. When eating, the otter first uses ___________ to dislodge prey and to open shells.

12. Seahorses have an equine profile, meaning they look sort of like ________.

13. ____________ have vibrant rainbow colors and deep, sideway-flat bodies.

14. Before spawning, salmon may grow a hump and grow canine teeth like a dog, developing a_______, a curve in the jaws.

15. Like___________ , anemones have stinging cells.

16. When a shark is resting, it does not use its nostrils, but rather, its___________, tiny holes behind each eye.

17. A _________tail is paddle-shaped.

18. ________ are large seaweeds belonging to the brown algae family.

19. _________ are pink and silver fish from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the Great Lakes.

20. Although corals can catch small fish and animals, they obtain most of their nutrients from photosynthetic unicellular_______.

21. __________ typically have five “arms” which radiate from a central disk.

22. __________ are slow-moving and live in warm, shallow, coastal waters, surviving above 15°C.

23. ____   ________ are related closely to coral and jellyfish.

24. _________ have proven problem-solving skills, social complexity and curiosity.

25. Coral have______ ; each one being like a tiny upside-down jellyfish with a shell.

26. ____ _______ “bob” around in sheltered areas such as sea grass beds, coral reefs, or mangroves.



1. Arctic Ocean

2. Seagrass

3. Indian and Pacific

4. Sea Stars

5. Diurnal

6. soda ash

7. communicate

8. orange to red

9. Anemonae

10. sea otter

11. rocks

12. horses

13. Angelfish

14. Kype

15. Spiracles

16. jellyfish

17. manatee

18. Kelp

19. Salmon

20. algae

21. Starfish

22. Manatees

23. Sea Anenomae

24. Sharks

25. Polyps

26. Seahorses

If you really want to give yourselves an elementary science Brain-Squeeze this summer, here is an Oceans Quiz from National Geographics: http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/ocean-extremes-quiz/

Ocn Scnce TpT VersionAnd Here is one from our classroom at Science-Lessons.ca: a 52-Card Playing Deck for Ocean Learning, includes 4 several games and completely downloadable for Print and Cut-out – Crazy Starfish! Go Snorkeling! Sea Cluster! and ?Hypothesy?: Ordering:  Ocean Science: Ocean Creatures Playing Cards

Also, an updated and more improved version with Teachers Pay Teachers!

Pepper and Water Chase

School is Back in Full Swing and so is our Learning Fun in Elementary Science! This activity can be done at home or in school but be careful with the pepper – it can make you sneeze and should never be put near the eyes!  Have fun!

Pepper and Water Chase:

Not all liquids can be mixed together. Oil and vinegar are insoluble, meaning they do not mix together. Liquids that do not mix well together will try hard to separate into layers to form what chemist call a suspension.

In this activity students will observe two insoluble liquids and how they react around when mixed with each other.


Milk & Food Coloring

Water & Pepper

Liquid Dish Soap

Flat pan with sides (cake pans work great)



  1. In the pan add about a half-inch of milk to cover the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add several different colored drops of food coloring.
  3. Dip a toothpick into the liquid soap; be sure to make sure any excess soap drips are removed. There should be some soap on the tip of the toothpick.
  4. Place the toothpick (with the end with the soap first) in the center of the pan and watch the milk and food-coloring move.

(The milk may begin to swirl as it continues to try to move away from the soap on the toothpick). You can repeat this same activity using water and pepper. Placing the water and pepper in the pan and using a toothpick with liquid soap to make the pepper scatter.

How It Works:

The soap is made up of water and soap particles. In the milk the fat particles are hydrophobic meaning they do not like water and want to move away from the water in the soap. This is what is observed when the colors spread and the milk moves away from the soap on the toothpick. As the fat molecules in the milk continue to move away from the soap, they take the colors with them and form a swirling mixture of colors.

When teaching chemistry concepts that involve new vocabulary, it is helpful to create flashcards that can be posted in the classroom to reinforce the new word. For this activity, you can take a picture of the mixture, to remind the students about how insoluble mixtures do not mix or have a picture of an oil and water mixture. Science should not be a standalone topic, but instead can be incorporated in language and in math. To read more about integrating math into science, visit: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/integrating-math-science-creatively-ben-johnson

For Our Fun Learning Game about other great science activities, you can visit here!






Hands-Free Balloon Blowing

Now that we have tackled, Liquids and Solids, we move on to the scientific properties of Gas.  There are three states of matter: solids, liquids and gas. Unlike liquids and solids, gases are a challenge to “see” because the particles are so small that they are almost invisible. We can collect gas when we blow up balloons or inflate a tire. Gas particles are supercharged, bouncing machines. Gases are not only very small but they have a lot of moving energy called kinetic energy and are constantly bouncing off of each other and the things around them. When a balloon is inflated, it is the gas particles that do the work, bouncing off of the balloon’s walls, pushing it bigger and bigger.

In this activity, students will see how gas can be made using a chemical reaction and how gas can be used to inflate a balloon.


Several empty and dry plastic bottles (a disposable water bottle is fine)

Baking Soda




Funnel (optional)


  1. Place 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda in the empty balloon. Note: A funnel comes in handy for this step.
  2. Fill the empty bottle with 1-2 inches of vinegar.
  3. Attach the balloon to the top of the plastic bottle, but be sure not to let any baking soda get into the bottle.
  4. Lift the balloon and let the baking soda fall into the bottle.
  5. The liquid will begin to fizzle and the balloon should begin to inflate. Note: You may want to hold the rim of the bottle to be sure the balloon doesn’t fall off.

How It Works:

The baking soda and vinegar mix to form CO2 (carbon dioxide) which is a gas. When the gas is formed, there is nowhere for it to escape, but into the inside of the balloon. As the gas particles begin moving around, colliding with each other and the walls of the balloons, it is able to inflate the balloon.

There are lots of ways that chemicals help make our lives easier and also safer. Airbags work using a chemical reaction and so too do ice packs. Even those bright glow sticks are made possible by the wonderful world of Chemistry. Teaching elementary school students about chemical reactions is best done near sinks as these can be messy learning activities. For more ideas about how to teach young students and fun videos/songs about chemical reactions, visit: http://www.watchknowlearn.org/SearchResults.aspx?SearchText=gases

For another of our Fun Games for Learning Science concepts, feel free to visit here:






Pennies in Motion: Newton’s Law of Physics

Newton’s 1st law of physics states that an object at rest will stay at rest, and an object in motion will stay in motion. This is an easy physics concept that can be taught to students of all ages. For example, when a bowling ball is rolled down a bowling alley, according to Newton, it would continue to roll until a force acted upon it, like when it crashes into the pins, or if it rolls over a rough spot on the alley. Often things continue to move until it is pushed back by another force, called gravity. This activity is a neat way to teach this principle of motion and allow students to experiment with different variables like changing the size of the coin, the size of the balloon, even the rate at which they spin the balloon.  http://www.ck12.org/physics/Newtons-First-Law/

In this activity students will experiment with the principles of motion.



Pennies (other coins are optional)


  1. Place a penny in the balloon before you blow the balloon up.
  2. Blow the balloon up and tie the end to keep the air in.
  3. Move the balloon in a circular motion to get the penny moving.
  4. Using enough force (without popping the balloon) continue to move the balloon in a circular motion until the penny is spinning along the inside of the balloon.
  5. When you stop moving the balloon, the penny should continue moving around the inside of the balloon.
  6. Allow time for each child to try to get the penny to spin.

How It Works:

The penny begins moving because of the force and motion applied to it. The penny is not stopped by the inside of the balloon because there is no friction (or resistance) making the penny stop spinning. The penny is able to move in a circular pattern around the balloon because of centripetal force, which is a force that draws things into the center of a circle. This is force is greater than gravity, which is why the penny does not fall until, you stop spinning it and gravity takes over.

Teaching physics concepts to students may seem daunting especially if you are unfamiliar with physics concepts yourself. Here is another great physics website that can get you well on your way to feeling more comfortable with teaching physics-related ideas like Newton’s laws of motion.

And for other Fun Learning Science Games, we invite you to visit here:





Spring Treasure Hunt: Wild Edible Science

For our Spring Treasure Hunt this year, we looked around the schoolyard and in our backyards for budding edible flowers and this is what we found so far – some being edible and some NOT.  Blue-Eyed Grass (See Photo to left), Grape Hyacinth, Crocuses, Daffodils and Narcissus.  Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrhynchium bellum) is a pretty 6-petalled native species (similar to Blue-Eyed Mary’s (which we believe only has 4 petals).  Both the leaves and the flowers can be steeped for drinkable tea.  Our class is still determining the nutritional value of our findings. Golden Blue-Eyed Grass is similar in shape and form, but different branch of the same species (Sisyrinchium californicum;   Wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sisyrinchium.

For your Spring Treasure Hunt, have your class split up into groups and start documenting what they find in their notebooks.  If anyone has a camera, a photo can be taken for identification to show the class later.  Then, have them determine which ones are safely edible and nutritious.  Asking locals, or checking in the encyclopedia or library, they can then determine their nutritional value.  Differentiate between which species are native to the local flora, and which ones are not.  Determine which ones are friendly to the land and neighboring plants, and keep those ones.  You can, for fun, dig out and replace them with ones that are – though if they have a bulb for a root under the ground’s surface, the bulb must also be under-dug.  i.e.   if the bulb is left in when though the flower has been pulled up, the plant will continue to propagate.  We found out that Daffodils, Narcissus, and some Crocuses, though lovely to look at are considered best NOT to eat and did not make our edible list.  Whereas Crocus Sativa has edible saffron in the middle, other crocuses are NOT edible, such as a different purple crocus called the Autumn crocus Colchicum autumnale, containing an alkaloid called colchicine.  Always be sure before trying flowers out for edibles, and do your homework!  We also found out that Daffodils are Narcissus, Narcissus being the Latin name of the genus for both, and are native mainly to the Mediterranean region, in particular to the Iberian Peninsula, as well as Northern Africa and the Middle East .

These Beautiful “Grape Hyacinth”, or Muscari, though not a native species to the local land in our yard, is on the other hand, nutritious.  In the Mediterranean, and in many other parts of the world, the root bulb can be used both in salad, and as well, used in replace of onion, leek or garlic – roasted in the oven, or minced and sauteed.  The skin of the bulbs can be pulled off before cooking http://www.livestrong.com/article/523815-how-to-eat-a-muscari-flower/.  The flowers themselves are a brilliant purple and can be tossed in salad and placed on the dinner plate as a garnish http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscari.

At the end of the class note section, return to the grounds and carefully with a clean (sterilized) pair of scissors, cut a handful of the ones that were determined to be edible. Wash the flowers with the tiniest bit of eco-friendly dish soap and water, and then rinse with water.  Share and enjoy your tasty treats.  Share with the class which ones you like, and what taste thee flowers have – nutty, bitter, sweet, etc.  Grape Hyacinth or better known as Muscari, are reported to tase nutty, though we found them to be a bit bitter.  Maybe they become sweeter as time grows in the later Spring.  We suggest a honey lime and water mixture to pour over them – unless you prefer bitters.  We garnished our plates with the hyacinths and the blue-eyed grass, and also made tea.  The plates looked so Beautiful!

For more information, we also found a wonderful site for identification and classification of local native flower species:

From UBC, http://www.geog.ubc.ca/biodiversity/eflora/

Blue-Eyed Mary: http://linnet.geog.ubc.ca/ShowDBImage/ShowStandard.aspx?index=14398)

Blue-Eyed Grass: http://linnet.geog.ubc.ca/ShowDBImage/ShowStandard.aspx?index=29656

For Our Fun Learning Game about other great science activities, you can visit here!








White Buffalo, a Most Interesting Mammal

White Buffalo are extremely rare, and are actually named American Bison (American buffalo).  Different from brown or water buffalo, The White Buffalo is considered to be a sacred sign for Native Americans, and thus have Great Spiritual importance for Prayer and Sacred Ceremony.  Buffalos are normally brown in color; white buffalo come out of their Mother white due to different scientific possibilities, though for some Native American Peoples, it is not scientific at all, but rather a Sacred Sign from The Creator. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_buffalo

  • Their eyes may be blue, unlike albinos, and have white fur, meaning, they are leucistic;
  • Some rare genetic conditions cause the calf to be born white, though turn brown within a year or two.
  • If they are albino, they will be without pigment color throughout their lives, just like albinp people.
  • Sometimes farmers have crossbred cattle with bison, and the cross-genetics of white cattle is what causes the white fur to result.

The National Bison Association estimates the occurrence of White Buffalo being born is one out of every 10 million births.

This white calf was born in Janesville, Wisconsin on The Heider Farm, and was  named Miracle, the first one born since 1933.  She lived to be 10 years old and during her life, had several calves.   http://whitebuffalomiracle.homestead.com/Miracle_and_Calves.html



The Sacred Lakota People have within their family who is known as The White Buffalo Calf Woman or Pte Ska Win.  She is a Sacred Woman from Pure Spirit origin, who equals The Female Messiah / Shekinah.  In Lakota Spirituality, it is She who brought forth their Peoples’ Seven Sacred Rites.

This link is a photo of a Most Gorgeous Sculpture depicting The White Buffalo Calf Woman with Her Calf.  Sculpted by Artists Lee Leuning & Sherri Treeby, this piece was the winning sculpting in 2009 for the Avero organization:  http://www.avera.org/img/mckennan/sculpture/12-White-Buffalo-Calf-Woman-large.jpg.

Other Buffalo Facts:

Female African Buffalo, in particular, are notable for their apparent altruism. Female buffalo express a sort of shuffling behavior –  in which during resting time, the females stand up, shuffle around, and sit back down again. They then sit in the direction they think that they should move, and after an hour of further shuffling, the females move to travel in the direction they finally decide on. This decision is communal and not based on hierarchy or dominance.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_buffalo.  If hunted by a predator, The Buffalo Herd huddle close together to build their strategy, as like other species, they are stronger when joined together.  Calves remain protected in the middle of the adult members. If a buffalo is under duress, the others move to rescue the other.  If the call is from a calf member, then not only the Mother comes, but the entire herd. In one recorded instance, known as the Battle at Kruger, a calf successfully survived an attack by both lions and a crocodile, after the herd intervened.

Similar to domesticated cattle, Buffalo sing a 2–4 second low pitch call that is repeated at 3-6 second intervals.  This signals the herd to move. When it is time to change direction, herd leaders sing a sound like a creaking gate. When signaling others of a place to drink water, they have an extended maaa’ call, and the call is made by usually one to a few individuals, and is made up to 20 times a minute before and during the movement to the oasis.

Females begin having kids after about 5 years old, and their pregnancies last about 11.5 months. Newborns hide in greenery for the first few weeks, while the Mom nurses now and again, before the Calf joins the main herd. The Maternal bond between Mother and Calf lasts longer than in other species, though if a new Calf is born, the bonding with the first calf ends, and the Mother keeps all other offspring out of the way to protect the newborn – The White Buffalo, a Most Interesting Mammal.

For Our Fun Learning Game about other Mammals, you can visit here!





Summer Oceans Pop Quiz

Since everyone is either having fun by the ocean side this summer, or dreaming about being by the ocean side, here is a Fun Summer Teaching Oceans Pop Quiz, to keep the Brain Fresh for the upcoming classes in the Fall:

1. Sea Turtles live in all the world’s oceans except the ____________.

2. Adult Turtles swim in shallow lagoons, feeding mostly on various species of ______________.

3. Clownfish are native to the warm waters of the ___________ and __________ Oceans.

4. _________ have two stomachs and therefore can hunt for larger animals than their mouth could otherwise handle.

5. Angelfish are ____________ animals, because they hide amongst the crevices of the reef by night. Continue reading “Summer Oceans Pop Quiz”

Make a Nest & Bird Feeder

The early fall weeks of the new school year are a good time to teach your elementary students about the birds that live around them.  This is the time of the year when the birds that are still around, are looking for shelter and for something to eat.  That gives your kids the opportunity to learn about their feathered friends by working on projects such as a bird nest and a bird feeder.

Let’s talk about the nest first.  On a day when the weather is not too chilly, take the children outside and go on a nest hunt.  Have them look in an area with plenty of trees for a real nest.  As you look at it together, (or talk about it if you don’t happen to find one that Continue reading “Make a Nest & Bird Feeder”

Making an Edible Solar System

No need to try to generate excitement with elementary students about space, the solar system and planets.  They already have a natural curiosity about these things, thanks to an abundance of science fiction in the media.  Here are a great way to capitalize on this excitement and to teach them the truth about our solar system.

The first part of this science lesson is making a solar system using candies for planets. Continue reading “Making an Edible Solar System”