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How to Make a Clay Cell Model

how to make a clay cell model

One of my son’s favorite homeschool memories was of creating his own clay cell model! For those of us who grew up in the days of read-about-a-cell-in-the-textbook-and-take-a-test-on-the-parts-of-the-cell, it can sometimes be difficult to remember that there are lots of fun ways to study all kinds of topics! We may sometimes shy away from doing more hands-on projects because we (mistakenly!) think hands-on projects necessarily take lots of time. While that can be the case, it definitely doesn’t have to be! Creating this clay cell model is just one example of a fun activity that can take as much or as little time as you’d like to devote to it. Give it a try!

NOTE: If you want to devote more time to this activity, you can always work on it for a certain amount of time each day instead of completing it all at once!

Clay Cell Model

Materials You’ll Need

This clay cell project requires only a few simple items from beginning to end. The clay I prefer is an air-dry clay since this prevents the need for baking if you want to keep your cell for any period of time.

place each piece in the foam with a toothpick

How to Do It

  1. Look at a diagram showing the parts of the cell. Our article, Edible Cell Project: Chocolate Chip Cookie Science, includes pictures of both a plant cell and an animal cell that you can use as references.
  2. Make a list (or use the one below) of the parts of the cell you want to create and label. If you have younger children, you might only choose to include a few parts of the cell, For older students, you might do all of the ones listed.
  3. Have your child create whichever parts of the cell you want to include in your cell model.
  4. While the clay is still wet, insert a toothpick halfway into each part of the cell. Larger pieces, such as the nucleus, may need two toothpicks.
  5. Then place each part onto the styrofoam “cell” and push the toothpick into the styrofoam to hold the part in place.
  6. After all the pieces are in place, roll out a strip of clay to serve as the cell membrane and press it around the edge of the styrofoam cell.
  7. After the pieces are dry, it’s time to paint your cell! Have fun!
  8. After the cell is complete, you may want to have your child label the parts (as shown in the photo of the finished cell). Or you may choose not to label the parts so you can use your finished cell as a way of occasionally checking to be sure your child remembers them.

Items to Label in Your Animal or Plant Cell Model

Use the list below as suggestions for parts to include in your cell. CLICK HERE to download a printable version of this list.

  1. Nucleus
  2. Golgi body
  3. Mitochondria
  4. Ribosomes
  5. Rough ER ( Endoplasmic Reticulum )
  6. Smooth ER
  7. Chromatin
  8. Plasma Membrane
  9. Cytoplasm
  10. Lysosomes
  11. Centrioles
  12. Cell Wall ( if plant cell)
  13. Vacuole
  14. Nuclear Membrane

More Ways to Make Science Fun!

Cell Models

If you’re looking for more ways to study cells with your children, take a look at 10 Awesome Ways to Make a Cell Model! You’ll find suggestions for making cells from cake, Jello, cookies, and even Shrinky Dinks and Legos!

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If you’d like more ideas for studying plant cells, this Plant Cells Printable Pack includes activities and worksheets for studying the parts of plant cells.

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Or maybe you’re studying animal cells and would like this Animal Cells Printable Pack!

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Christmas Science Experiment: Borax Crystal Snowflakes

christmas science experiment borax crystal snowflakes
HHM Christmas Science Experiment PIN

Even if you take a break from formal homeschooling during the holidays, it’s still easy to help your kids keep learning! How about this fun science project/experiment?

Important Note: At the bottom of this article, you’ll find a Christmas Giveaway! We are happy to be participating in a giveaway of $500 in PayPal cash for TWO families this Christmas! After you read all about how to make Borax crystal snowflakes, we hope you’ll enter the giveaway. 

Have you ever heard of making snowflakes out of Borax and pipe cleaners? If not (or even if you have!), keep reading to find out how. It’s lots of fun, and it’s a great way to spend some time being creative with your kiddos and learning something fun at the same time!

HHM Christmas Science Experiment FB

This Christmas science experiment takes a little while, but it’s worth it to wow your kids with how Borax makes crystals out of pipe cleaner ornaments. It’s a little like how the Word of God makes us more sparkly—if we stick with it!

HHM Borax Crystal Snowflakes Pinnable Image



  1. Shape various Christmas ornaments using pipe cleaners. For example, shape pipe cleaners into a stocking, star, or cross. Note: The shapes must fit into the jars.
  2. Tie a string to the top of the ornament.
  3. Fill jars with hot water.
  4. Add three tablespoons of Borax per cup of water that you added to each jar. Mix it well. (For example, if you use 3 cups of hot water in your jar, you’ll need 9 tablespoons of Borax for that jar.)
  5. Lower the string so that the ornament is completely covered. Then tie the string around the top of the open jar to keep it in place. Note: You’ll want to be sure the ornament isn’t touching the edges of the jar.
  6. Leave the ornaments in the water overnight.
  7. The next day, the Borax will have crystallized in the water and become attached to the pipe cleaner ornaments.


Borax is an example of a crystal. Salt, sugar, and Epsom salts are other examples. Hot water molecules move away from each other. When you add Borax, the molecules make room for borax crystals to dissolve. But a point of saturation can be reached, meaning there will be some remaining crystals. As this water cools, the water molecules move closer together again. Crystals begin to form and build around another item in the water, such as the pipe cleaner. This is especially true as the water evaporates.


The Borax crystals are a little like God’s Word. We can read the Bible, and it doesn’t seem to make much difference in our lives—not right away. But the Word of God sinks in slowly. We have to have patience. Our walk with the Lord is life-long. Philippians 1:6 says you should be “confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Someday we can be assured of being complete–like beautiful snowflakes–if we read God’s Word regularly. Even though we might look like plain old pipe cleaners while we’re reading at first!

Christmas Giveaway


2020 has been quite a year! It’s definitely a year we won’t forget! But I’m thankful we’ve made it to the holiday season, and my prayer is that we can take some time for gratitude, togetherness, and celebration. To celebrate the holiday season (and the fact that 2020 is coming to an end!), we’ve teamed up with some of our favorite bloggers for the 7th annual Christmas Blessings Giveaway with hopes of making this holiday season memorable (in a good way) by giving two families $500 in PayPal cash.

While we wish we could bless many more families, we were able to come up with a big prize for TWO families – $500 each (delivered via Paypal) – that we pray will make a big difference in their lives this Christmas season – whether it’s to fulfill their kids’ Christmas wishes, pay off some bills, or to help build some savings, our prayer is that it helps to lessen any financial burden and/or fills a specific need, or simply brightens the winners’ day.

There are lots of entry options in the Rafflecopter form below – the more you enter, the better your chance of winning!  I know it can seem tedious and time consuming to go through all the entries, but isn’t a chance at $500 worth it? I think it is!  Plus, all of these amazing bloggers donated their own money toward the cash prizes, so this giveaway wouldn’t be possible without them.  I hope you’ll take the time to check out each one. Who knows, maybe you will find some new blogs to follow.

The giveaway will run from Monday, November 16th through Wednesday, November 25th (ends at 11:59pm EST). The winner will be notified by email shortly after the giveaway ends and will have 48 hours to respond to claim the prize or another winner will be drawn. You must have a Paypal account to win.  By entering this giveaway, you agree to be added to the email lists of the participating bloggers.  Please be sure to read the Rafflecopter terms and conditions upon entering.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

cool rubber egg 2

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It’s Fall, Y’all! Two Fun Fall Leaves Art and Science Activities

its fall yall two fun fall leaves art and science activities
fall leaves

It’s Fall, Y’all! 

If you are fortunate, you live in an area where bright green leaves are now turning brilliant hues of reds, oranges, and yellows. Those fallen leaves will become a great habitat and provide food for small animals during the coming months.  So why do trees’ leaves change colors and fall to the ground?

fall leaves

As the days become shorter and there is less sunlight, trees are preparing for the winter months and therefore stop needing and producing chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is responsible for leaves being green. It is the dominate color and overpowers all other colors.  As the chlorophyll production ceases, the colors “hidden” by the green become visible. Don’t worry, though. The trees are still happy and healthy even though their leaves are turning and falling to the ground. Those trees have spent the summer storing sugars that will feed them during the winter.

As I just mentioned, the breakdown of the chlorophyll produces vibrant colors. The colors can vary year to year based on the type of summer that year. We love to watch the leaves change and look forward to drives and hikes to enjoy nature’s wonderful works.

An exception to annually changing colors is evergreens. Evergreens don’t change colors, hence the name. Their leaves or needles are designed to withstand the winter months.  Their shape also helps snow to slide off and not weigh the limbs down. Don’t be fooled. Just because they keep their leaves doesn’t mean they continue photosynthesis through the winter months. Evergreen leaves can be used season after season to feed the tree. When they are no longer are capable of doing this job, those leaves will turn brown, die, and be replaced with new growth.

I was a public school kid, but I think my mom would have been an awesome homeschool mom. She taught me so much and made learning fun. Every year she and I would collect fall leaves and make things to decorate the house. She would tell me all about the changing leaves.  I have wonderful memories of those times almost 40 years ago.

Now, bundle up if you need to, grab the kiddos, and go in search of some beautiful fall leaves.  I have two different projects that are simple and fun.  One makes a great gift–especially at Thanksgiving. (Hopefully you will get to see family and friends this weird year.)

Activity #1 Wax Paper Fall Leaves Art and Science

NOTE: This activity requires a hot iron. We recommend having an adult do the ironing. 

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Materials needed:

Fall leaves

Wax paper

An iron

Disappearing purple glue stick (optional)

Arrange your leaves on a piece of wax paper. Use the glue stick to help keep them in place. (Leave a border of 1″ to 1.5″ so that, when you iron your wax paper, you’ll get a good seal around the edges.)

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Top with another piece of wax paper.  Place your iron on the highest setting with no steam. Begin ironing your paper. The best place to start is in the middle. Take your time and work your way out toward the edges.

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You can now hang your creation in a window, and you have a “frosted” window covering. The light shines through, and you can see the details and beautiful colors of all the leaves.

Activity #2 Colorful Kitchen Towel Fall Art and Science

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Materials Needed

Fall leaves (fresh from the tree works best, and leaves with a little green left in them are also better than those that have completely turned)

A flour sack towel

Painters or masking tape

A hammer

A wooden cutting board or scrap piece of wood

White vinegar

Cold water

Arrange your leaves on the backside of your towel with the backside of the leaf facing up. Tape your leaf down on the towel covering the entire leaf.

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Flip your towel over and place on the cutting board.

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Take the hammer and start pounding the leaf. If your kids love to make noise and beat on things, this project is super fun! Keep hammering until you’ve smashed all your leaves. You will see the colors start to transfer onto the cloth.

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Remove the tape and leaves. Soak the towel in cold water and white vinegar. I filled my sink half full and added a cup of vinegar. Soak for 30 minutes to an hour.

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Once done, rinse out with cold water and place in the dryer on highest temp to set the print.

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Now you have a beautiful kitchen towel you can keep or give as a gift.

*If your children are older and you want to work in some vocabulary, have them research the following




These are the chemicals that give the leaves their red, orange, and yellow colors.

Let us know if you do either the fun fall leaves art or the science activity. Tag us in your social media posts, we would love to see!  #hiphomeschoolmoms #hipkidslovescience.

The Thankful Tree wide

The Thankful Tree: A Family Thankfulness Project – This is a perfect activity for fall! It’s also a great way to prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday. There are no fancy supplies needed, and it won’t take a lot of time, either!

Easy Fall Unit Studies for Homeschoolers 1

Easy Fall Unit Studies for Homeschoolers – This article is great for those who enjoy unit studies for the fall season! You’ll find lots of great links and resources for activities for various subjects and arts & crafts ideas.

How to Preserve Fall Leaves

How to Preserve Fall Leaves – If you want to preserve those beautiful fall leaves, here’s a tutorial to tell you how to do it! Then you can use them for some fun fall projects or just scatter them on the table as part of your fall or Thanksgiving decorations!

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Fun Fall Leaf Creatures – These cute leaf creatures are perfect for making with those colorful leaves in your yard! (Or with the leaves you preserved.)

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Fall Yarn Leaf Magnets – Or if you’d like to do something with leaves but not with real leaves, how about making these beautiful Fall Yarn Leaf Magnets? You can make them in whatever colors you like! Then use them as gifts or decorations.

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Out of This World Astronomy Finds

out of this world astronomy finds

One of the most beautiful features of our new home has been seeing the night sky away from city lights and pollution. What my kids once always knew as dark has since become brilliantly illuminated with stars, constellations, meteor showers, and sometimes even planets! And since homeschooling offers us the flexibility to learn whenever we […]

The post Out of This World Astronomy Finds appeared first on Raising Lifelong Learners.

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