December 17, 2013

Lunar Eclipses

Photo from total lunar eclipse on 2/20/2008
If you are looking for an intriguing hands-on astronomy study, lunar eclipses are absolutely fascinating. We were able to get some photos of the total lunar eclipse in February of 2008. Why is it always freezing when we attempt to view an eclipse anyway?

About two-thirds of lunar eclipses are able to be seen with the naked eye, depending on where you live. This makes them really fun to study. The next total lunar eclipse is expected on April 15, 2014. Check out the NASA Eclipse Website for information.

Here are some informative lunar eclipse links:

Technical Information at NASA

Lunar Eclipses for Beginners at

Observe a Lunar Eclipse (animation)

Lunar Eclipse (another animation)

Old post published on 12/20/10

There is a lunar eclipse tonight (or early tomorrow morning depending on your time zone) that will be best viewed in North America. The eclipse will begin at 5:29 UT (12:29 a.m. EST on 12/21/10 and 9:29 p.m. PST on 12/20/10).

Here are some links about the upcoming eclipse:

Holiday Treat: December's Total Lunar Eclipse Is Best One Until 2014

December 21 Lunar Eclipse at - includes diagrams of the eclipse for each time zone

December 16, 2013

Free Online PSAT Test Prep

I realized that this free PSAT prep post is popular, but it is outdated. I believe that Kaplan still offers their online PSAT prep for free a few weeks before the PSAT test date in October every year, so feel free to check the link below. However, I thought it would be a good idea to update this post with resources that are free all of the time. It isn't too soon for students in ninth or tenth grade to begin preparing for the PSAT.

CollegeBoard's PSAT Preparing Section: Of course, the sponsoring organization, CollegeBoard, is a great place to start for PSAT information and prep. You will find explanations and practice questions for each section. Tutorials and Practice Tests for each section

Peterson's Free PSAT Practice: Your student will have to sign up for a free StudentEdge account to access the test. If you are a homeschooler, just click "Don't have an access code?," select the role, and choose "I am Home Schooled" below the high school search box.

Test Prep Review PSAT Practice: Scroll down for several self-assessment modules. The answers are below the questions. You may also sign up for a "Free PSAT Tip of the Day" e-mail.

Old post from 9/30/10

This fall's PSAT is in a couple of weeks, but this definitely looks like a worthwhile resource, even if it is "last-minute."

Kaplan is offering a "Free last-minute SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, and SAT Prep" section of their website that includes a code to access their Online PSAT Prep for free! It is regularly $99 and includes evaluation for customized practice, video explanations for all of the test topics, over 900 practice problems, and more. Go to this website and look under the PSAT column (center column).

There are also several websites with free practice helps and lessons for the SAT, PSAT, and ACT.

Enjoy! I already signed up my eleventh-grade son.

December 15, 2013

Christian Audio's Free Download of the Month Program offers a free download every month. Just go to their website, enter your e-mail address, and click "Download" to receive the latest freebie.

December 13, 2013

Two Simple Cookie Recipes for Cut-out Cookies

Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup margarine or butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose or whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
granulated sugar

Mix powdered sugar, margarine, egg, vanilla and almond extract. Mix in flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Heat oven to 375 F. Divide dough into halves. Roll each half 3/16 inch thick on lightly floured cloth-covered board. Cut into shapes.

Sprinkle with granulated sugar (I don't do this); place on lightly greased sheet. Bake until edges are light brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Makes about 5  dozen 2-inch cookies.

Christmas Molding Dough
This recipe is from my mom, and it's great for children! You can keep working the dough and the cookies still turn out.

3 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well blended.Cover and refrigerate for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Heat oven to 350 F. Roll out 1/4 inch thick on lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes. Place on an ungreased sheet. Bake until edges are light brown, 10-15 minutes.