Category Archives: Academic Competitions

Cranberry Play Dough Recipe


This week, Dora and I made play dough. I got the idea from Counting Coconuts to have a monthly themed play dough. This month, I was trying to stay away from anything with ginger or cinnamon in it, since we did apple pie play dough in September and pumpkin pie play dough in October. I was having problems coming up with an idea, when my mom suggested cranberry. I was quite surprised, however, that I couldn’t find a single cranberry play dough recipe online. So I modified a basic play dough recipe and was quite happy with the results. The color of the dough turned out a nice light pink and it is free of artificial colors and scents.


  • Bag of cranberries
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil


  1. Boil cranberries in a pot of water (unfortunately, I did not measure the water before I boiled them, but I think it was about 4 cups of water) until all of the berries have popped open. Pour out 2 cups of the cranberry-water, using a strainer to remove any berries. Allow liquid to cool slightly. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a nonstick saucepan. Add the oil and cranberry-water. Stir until smooth. Stirring constantly, cook the mixture over medium heat until it forms a ball (approximately 3 to 4 minutes).
  3. Turn the dough onto a lightly-floured cutting board and let it cool slightly. Knead the dough until it has a smooth texture.

Labels: Academic Competitions, Arts and Crafts, High School, Social Studies, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

What’s Great About America Essay Contest

I just learned about another essay contest for students ages 13-18. I added it to my writing contest page, but thought I’d post about it also, so that no one misses it. It is Stossel in the Classroom’s What’s Great About America essay contest and is open to kids aged 13-18. Homeschoolers are specifically mentioned as being welcome to participate! There are multiple cash prizes.

BTW, I am not promoting any political views here.

Labels: Academic Competitions, Composition, Language Arts
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Teaching Engineering With Intel Freebies and Competitions

Hello everybody! This is my new blog, Homeschool Mo, which is about my homeschooling journey and various helps and hints I find on the way. I currently homeschool four children and have a baby. My oldest two children, aged 18 and 16, attend community college part time through a special high school program. My middle daughter (15) is homeschooled full time. My youngest son (11) attends a public school ALE part time, but does most of his academic work at home.

I have had a hard time finding a good balance in regards to teaching engineering skills in our homeschool. I want my kids to be as tech savvy as any public school student, but I also don’t want to push them to learn more than they will ever use. In addition, both of my sons are interested in engineering fields for careers. As my eldest is starting college full-time next year, I am wishing that he had learned more skills and done some computer/engineering projects that he could use to help him get into engineering programs, internships, and jobs. I am thinking that I will have my youngest son study engineering in a bit more depth when he is in high school. I have found some helpful freebies today from Intel that I thought I would post about.

Design and Discovery “is an academic enrichment curriculum that engages students in hands-on engineering and design activities that enhance knowledge, and problem solving skill in the areas of science and engineering. Design and Discovery is most appropriate for informal education settings with extended blocks of time for hands-on activities. “

The Journey Inside “is a collection of 35 interactive, online lessons for students to learn about technology, computers, and society. Many of the lessons utilize interactive, media-rich Flash* activities, virtual field trips, and videos demonstrating the ideas discussed to guide students to an increased understanding of the world of technology. Students, teachers, and anyone interested can work on the lessons and activities at their own pace to complete any or all of the six sections: Introduction to Computers, Circuits and Switches, Digital Information, Microprocessors, The Internet, and Technology and Society. Detailed instructional strategies written for the teacher extend the lessons and key concepts in ‘the classroom.”

In addition, Intel hosts an International Science and Engineering Fair and a Science Talent Search.


Labels: Academic Competitions, Curriculum, Engineering, Freebies
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff