Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Experiential Learning

We were recently studying about the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  We each read a book or two, I read one out loud to all the children, we looked at maps, we looked at cookbooks, and we watched the National Geographic movie about the expedition (it's really great if you see it at an IMAX theater which we did a few years ago).  One little reproducible book we had contained a few recipes for the children to make.  They made rafts out of sunflower butter, large pretzels and Fruit Roll Ups...this was a huge mess, but they enjoyed eating it.

Kaelan's assignment was to prepare a Mississippi Mud Pie.  I purchased the needed ingredients and she worked on it by herself.   The end result was a beautiful creation.

However, as I looked at the pie I noticed she had used a pie crust from the freezer.  The recipe called for crushed graham crackers and butter to form the pie crust.  Kaelan had simply crushed the graham crackers in the bottom of the pie crust and put the other ingredients on top!  We laughed as we scraped the pie from the unbaked pie shell.  It was still a nice treat, but Kaelan learned an invaluable lesson:  always read through the recipe completely before starting and if you are not sure ASK questions!

 I have also been doing some experiential learning.   I have been learning how to make soap!  It has been great fun, but there have been a few flops.   One recipe just uses lye, goat milk and lard.  It made up very quickly, but was very crumbly and didn't suds up very well.  I used it to make my laundry detergent!

Here are some of the better soaps that we have been making.

Wintermint soap balls--a combination of wintergreen and peppermint essential oils

More wintermint soap balls

A peppermint turtle with peppermint oil and dried mint from my garden....a little whacky looking!

In the back are oatmeal spice and oatmeal lavendar bars.

More soap balls

Lavender soap balls and coffee soap bars for the kitchen

Beautiful honey goat milk bars

An army of peppermint turtles and frogs

oatmeal spice and oatmeal lavendar...both made with fresh goat milk

Yesterday I decided to try a soapmaking method using the crock pot.  Like Kaelan, I need to make sure I read the directions carefully before I start.  While I absolutely love the way the soap looks, I do NOT love the way it smells.  The darker soap is a goat milk and honey bar which you can see the bars I made without the crock pot are actually honey colored.  I think the heated soap mixture may have actually burned the soap in the crock pot.  It did make a nice creamy lather, though, when I was cleaning out the pot.

Oatmeal lavender goat milk soap on the left
Honey goat milk soap in the right
The lighter soap is another batch of oatmeal lavender goat milk.  This time I heated up the oils, but didn't put it in the crock pot.  It was doing some weird things as I was processing it.  I do like the color and texture, so we will see how it turns out.  

I love this mold...Soap will need trimming, though.

The bars look like fudge brownies!

Oatmeal lavender flowers

Love the color!

Experiential learning....a lot of it is just trying something out and then trying it out again until you get it right!


Mary said...

Pretty soap. I do believe the milk scorches in a crock pot. I would love to figure out a way to keep it from happening!

April D said...

I've been reading soapmaking books for six months--trying to convince myself to give it a go. What's your favorite book on the subject?
I'm reluctant to take on a new hobby, especially one which I hear can be SO addictive. :)
At least it would be a USEFUL hobby.
This was a neat post. LOVE the MS Mud Pie story! lol.

Anita said...

Hi April! Maybe I should read a book or two!! I have The Homestead Blessings Soapmaking DVD that we have watched multiple times....I am very visual, so that was helpful. I have also gone to lots of soapmaking websites, blog posts and seen tutorials online. Not one single book have I picked up which is unusual if you could see how many books are in our home. It is addictive. Dh thinks I need to start a business, but it is a huge learning process and I don't want to sell an inferior product. We have several skin issues which is why I started using and then making goat milk soap. It is very addictive and some nights I wake up thinking about soap. I am giving soaps and bath salts to various family members this Christmas. My soap box runneth over!!

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