Incorporating STEM and Geography

Incorporating STEM and Geography

Most people tend to lump geography in with history, but categorically, geography is actually a science: the study of places and the relationships between people and their environments. Research proves that kids learn more effectively when subjects are blended together instead of separately taught.

Countries, states, and cities may often be forgotten unless there is an interesting tie-in to help your child remember the location and importance. I have an affection for anything involving maps and globes. I think this stems from the genealogist in me. Township, city, county, state, country maps… they all fascinate me. I look at a map and start to wonder about the deep history of the land, how it once looked, and why the original settlers chose to live in the exact spots they settled in.

Because of this, I have always strived to pass this love onto my son, so I try to incorporate geography into every subject possible. One of the most obvious ways you can incorporate geography into the broader subject of science is to plot scientists on a map.

WonderMaps by Bright Ideas Press is my go-to map program. While we do have large laminated maps in our house, sometimes I prefer smaller printable maps instead.

  • Each map can have its own theme.
  • Each map can be colored or written on.
  • Each map can be placed into a binder to move around at will.
  • Each map can be saved indefinitely.
  • You don’t have to worry about overcrowding, you can just print a new map and call it part two.
  • With WonderMaps, you can choose to print place names, rivers, and borders.
  • WonderMaps also gives you the option to choose a modern map or a historical map.

There are just simply more choices! And choice is always good when it comes to education. 

In your daily curriculum, you are likely to frequently come across scientists, inventors, and other men and women who have worked in STEM fields. Stop and take a few moments to look up that person on Wikipedia, print out the person’s photo, and add it to a printed map.

After plotting your scientist on your map, be sure to open WonderMaps again to compare the scientist’s birthplace then to now. Things can drastically change over time. Like in the case of Gregor Mendel…he was born in Austria in 1822, but if he was born in 2016, his birthplace would be the Czech Republic. That is one of my favorite features – the modern overlay of historic maps.

Incorporating STEM and Geography

To get you started with your scientific geography adventure, I’ve created a printable full of well-known scientists throughout history. This printable contains their photo, name, and birthplace. The images are small enough to place on a map. Here is a list of who is included:

Influential Scientists From Around the World (384 BC – 1889)

  1. Aristotle 384 BC, Chalkidiki, Greece
  2. Archimedes 287 BC, Sicily, Italy
  3. Zhang Heng 78, Nanyang, China
  4. Hypatia 350, Egypt
  5. Su Song 1020, Quanzhou, China
  6. Abraham bar Hiyya 1070, Barcelona, Spain
  7. Abraham Zacuto 1452, Salamanca, Spain
  8. Leonardo da Vinci 1452, Florence, Italy
  9. Galileo Galilei 1564, Pisa, Italy
  10. Johannes Kepler 1571, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
  11. Blaise Pascal 1623, France
  12. Robert Boyle 1627, Waterford, Ireland
  13. Sir Isaac Newton 1642, Lincolnshire, England
  14. Benjamin Franklin 1706, Massachusetts
  15. Mikhail Lomonosov 1711, Russia
  16. Alessandro Volta 1745, Milan, Italy
  17. Michael Faraday 1791, London, England
  18. Gregor Mendel 1822, Czech Republic
  19. Louis Pasteur 1822, Dole, France
  20. James Clerk Maxwell 1831, Edinburgh, Scotland
  21. Alfred Nobel 1833, Sweden
  22. Carlos Juan Finlay 1833, Cuba
  23. Dmitri Mendeleev 1834, Russia
  24. Vasily Dokuchaev 1846, Russia
  25. Thomas Edison 1847, Ohio
  26. Nikola Tesla 1856, Croatia
  27. Jagadish Chandra Bose 1858, Bangladesh, India
  28. George Washington Carver 1864, Missouri
  29. Marie Curie 1867, Warsaw, Poland
  30. Lord Ernest Rutherford 1871, New Zealand
  31. Oswaldo Cruz 1872, Brazil
  32. Wilfrid Derome 1877, Quebec, Canada
  33. Albert Einstein 1879, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
  34. Edwin Hubble 1889, Missouri

To show you what we frequently do, I’ll use scientist Su Song. He was born in the year 1020 in Quanzhou, China. WonderMaps has a feature that lists maps by historical period. Scroll down the years until you reach a time close to Su Song’s birth year. You can see that he was born during the Song Dynasty, which is just a coincidence since it was a very common surname.


From this map, with all its features turned on, you can see that Quanzhou was a seaside city.



*Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links.

Star Wars M&M’s Lightsaber

Star Wars M&M's lightsabers with free printable handles

Never know what to get your Star Wars-loving husband and kids for Valentine’s Day? I have an idea for you, complete with easy printables.

With both ancient Roman and Christian origins, Valentine’s Day has become one of the most beloved holidays around the world.

Even before Valentine’s Day became an official holiday, February was known as the month of romance. Why February?  For the ancient Romans, March was the beginning of the new year, so February was a time for riddance and renewal.  The festival Lupercalia was created to do just that, in terms of increasing fertility. It was a very strange event and you can read more about it here.

The most common belief is that sometime in the 3rd or 4th century there lived a Christian priest named Valentine, who was martyred. He performed marriages in secret after the emperor forbid Roman soldiers from marrying. The church placed the feast of St. Valentine on February 14th to Christianize the Lupercalia festival.


Since Valentine’s Day is coming up in less than 3 weeks, my husband and I will soon undoubtedly have the same conversation we have every year:

Him: What do you want for Valentine’s Day?
Me: M&M’s.
Him: That’s it? Are you sure?
Me: Yes. Just a big bag of M&M’s.

M&M’s have always been my favorite candy. Now you can even order your own personalized M&M’s for special occasions like Valentine’s Day, birthdays, and weddings (or just because you feel like it.) Check out the MY M&M’S website to see the vast customization options.

Here is what you do…


Visit the MY M&M’S design center and choose up to three colors out of the 25 available. I chose red, green, and blue to match the lightsabers I wanted.


You can add one image of your own, like BB-8 from Star Wars.


You can add up to two images from their clipart library. There is even a new section full of Star Wars clipart!


You can add up to four messages. I chose to add “I love you” and “I know” a la Leia and Han.


Complete your order, by choosing your packaging. Check out the MY M&M’S Valentine’s Day Idea Gallery for some really cute and creative ideas.

This year, I made M&M-filled lightsabers. 

Star Wars M&M's lightsabers with free printable handles

Since shipping on my custom M&M’s is 7-10 business days, I used plain M&M’s purchased at the store for these photos.

You can find different sizes of plastic test tubes at Amazon, and craft stores like Hobby Lobby. My tubes came in a Lab-in-a-Bag science kit and have a diameter of 7/8-inch. Below are the images I created for the lightsaber handles. Right click on each image and choose save. If your tube’s diameter is smaller than 7/8-inch, you can shrink the image down, cut the sides, or overlap the edges more when wrapping.




I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

*Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links.

How to Make Spicy Korean Kimchi

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #KingOfFlavor #CollectiveBias

Spicy Kimchi

With the divisional championships of the playoffs beginning this weekend, many of you may be looking forward to hosting football viewing parties at your home. With football comes food, obviously!

If you want to wow your family and friends with something different this year, serve them a side dish of kimchi. It will knock their socks off and before you know it, they’ll be piling it on top of their pizza and their burgers. Or maybe they’ll even be sneaking back into the kitchen during commercial breaks to try to eat it straight out of the jar!

Kimchi is a very traditional and extremely popular Korean side dish. My husband grew up eating kimchi several times a weeks and according to him, the spicier…the better! It was a staple of his mom’s kitchen and brings him right back to his childhood every time he eats it.

Kimchi is very easy to make if you use this simplified recipe, but you do need to begin several days ahead of the big game, to give the vegetables time to ferment.

El Yucateco Hot Sauce

1. To begin, visit your local Meijer and pick up some El Yucateco Hot Sauce. You can find it in the hot sauce/ketchup aisle. My husband loves this hot sauce for certain types of foods because of the red pepper taste. El Yucateco has a far less vinegary taste to it than most hot sauces.

2. Your full list of ingredients is as follows:

  • 3 T of El Yucateco hot sauce
  • a head of Napa cabbage
  • 4 scallions
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • water
  • 1 T chopped garlic
  • 1 t ginger
  • 1 t sugar
  • 3 T red pepper flakes
  • daikon (this is Korean radish and you can find it near the cabbage and red radishes)

chopped cabbage

3. Prep your cabbage. Chop the entire head of cabbage, except the core. How big the pieces are is up to you.

floating cabbage

4. Add the chopped cabbage and salt into a large bowl and massage the salt into the cabbage. Then add enough cold water to cover the cabbage.

Weigh it down

5. The cabbage will float, so put something heavy on top to weigh it down. I used a plate and a mason jar. Leave the cabbage alone, in room temperature, for about 2 hours.

6. After about 2 hours, the cabbage will feel soft. Rinse the cabbage thoroughly under cold water to remove the salt. Let it drain in a colander while you prep the rest of the ingredients.

chopped scallions

7. Peel and slice the daikon (it is not shown, but daikon looks like a large, white zucchini) and slice the scallions.

Add the sauce

8. Mix together the garlic, ginger, sugar, red pepper flakes, and a couple of tablespoons of water. Traditional kimchi uses fish sauce instead of water, but my husband prefers it without.  Authentic Korean kimchi also uses red pepper flakes called gochugaru.

9. Add 3 T of El Yucateco hot sauce. Give the mixture a taste and add more hot sauce if you need a bit more spice.

10. Using gloves, mix everything thoroughly together.


11. Pack the kimchi into a jar.  Make sure that it is pressed down enough to allow the water to cover the vegetables. Also make sure that there is at least 1 inch of space between the vegetables and the lid of the jar.

12. Leave the jar at room temperature for 1 to 3 days. Because of the fermentation, some of the liquid may seep out of the lid. Every so often, press the vegetables down under the liquid and give it a taste. When you are happy with the taste, move it to the refrigerator.


If you fall in love with El Yucateco hot sauce after testing out this recipes, stop by their online shop! They have a variety of El Yucateco branded clothing items, such as hoodies, t-shirts, and hats. The perfect cozy-wear to show off during the playoffs!

*Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links.

Studying Sherlock Holmes

Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes’ official birthday is today, January 6th.  According to Christopher Morley, a writer and devoted super fan, Sherlock was born on this date in 1854. Just like Sherlock, Mr. Morley used his powers of deduction and pulled clues from several stories to figure out this date.

Sherlock Holmes is one of the most recognizable names in the world. Not only are the stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle full of intrigue and unforgettable characters, they can teach us deductive reasoning, how to observe and not just see, and to be ever mindful of what the world going on around us.

Sherlock Guide

DK Publishing released a brand new book in the Big Ideas Simply Explained series, all about the Sherlock Holmes stories.  When my review copy arrived on my porch, I was so eager to pour through it. But then, I realized that it was so thorough, I needed to tuck it away on a bookshelf to prevent myself from spoiling the stories I have not yet read. I absolutely did not want to allow myself to read anything beyond what I already knew.

This book is perfect for someone who:

  • wants to know everything about the Sherlock Holmes stories, but does not want to read the actual stories themselves.
  • has read an original story and wants to know more about the case history, character roles, and society at the time.
  • wants to learn more about the life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • wants to learn to think like Sherlock Holmes.

The Sherlock Holmes Book is basically the cliff notes for the entire canon of Sherlock Holmes!

As you can see from the collage below, the book includes dozens of eye-pleasing charts that show how Sherlock reaches his conclusions.

Sherlock Guide2

Also included are chapters about:

  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s life
  • The Victorian time period that Sherlock lived in
  • The society of the time
  • The art of deduction
  • Criminology and forensic science
  • Crime writing and detective fiction
  • The fans of Sherlock Holmes
  • Sherlock on stage and screen

The Sherlock Holmes Book (from the Big Ideas Simply Explained series by DK Publishing.)

$13.75 hardback | $9.99 Kindle

Other Books for Homeschoolers

The Complete Sherlock Holmes: All 56 Stories & 4 Novels

Housed in one superb volume, The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection includes every Sherlock Holmes tale penned by the great Arthur Conan Doyle. With a linked table of contents, you can click on each and every chapter, making for easy navigation through this mammoth omnibus.

$8.55 paperback | $2.99 Kindle

How to Think Like Sherlock: Improve Your Powers of Observation, Memory and Deduction

A fun, interactive guide to boost one’s powers of observation using the techniques of the world’s most famous detective—mind palaces, nonverbal tells, lie detection, intuition, concentration, alertness, logic, people watching, and more

$12.99 hardback | $6.49 Kindle | free on Scribd

Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins

A series of mystery books for middle school to high schoolers, about the 14-year-old Sherlock Holmes.

prices vary on Amazon | book one free on Scribd

No Place Like Holmes series

When Griffin is sent to stay with his detective uncle at 221A Baker Street for the summer, he is certain that his uncle must be the great Sherlock Holmes! But Griffin is disappointed to discover that Holmes lives at 221B Baker Street and his uncle lives unit 221A. His uncle is a detective, just not a very good one.

$5.99 paperback | $9.99 Kindle | free on Scribd

The Science of Sherlock Holmes

From Baskerville Hall to the Valley of Fear, the Real Forensics Behind the Great Detective’s Greatest Cases

$12.93 paperback | $9.22 Kindle | free on Scribd


*Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links.

2015 in Review: Top 10 Most Popular Posts

It is always fun to look back through my stats to see what posts have been the most popular. Statistics really tell a blogger a lot about their beloved readers. Seeing what posts have been loved, retweeted and pinned by you makes me love you even more. My tribe of nerdy, Doctor Who loving, book fanatic friends.

Here are Milk and Cookie’s 10 most popular posts from 2015.

How to Raise a Boy Who Loves to Read

How to Raise a Boy Who Loves to Read

Getting boys interested in books can be quite a challenge and one of the top questions that I receive from readers and friends is, “How did you get your son to enjoy reading so much?” In this post, I shared some of my personal tips with you, along with the advice from some of my brilliant friends.


My Top 8 Favorite Places for Homeschool Books

As I was organizing my bookshelves this year, deciding what to keep and what to get rid of, I prayed and thanked God for all the authors, book publishers, and book sellers – large and small businesses and hidden gems – that I’ve been able to find over the years. As a gal passionately devoted to books (especially living books) I actually got teary-eyed several times during this process. Not only because I was simply thankful for what I have, but also because of all the memories that we have shared as a family bonding over these books


10 FUN Resources for a Future Engineer

What is an engineer? Albert Einstein said it best when he stated, “Scientists investigate that which already is; Engineers create that which has never been.” Engineering is a field of study that is growing leaps and bounds every year. Even if your child doesn’t foresee a future career in engineering, he or she will still definitely benefit from the knowledge gained from these resources.


Which Way to Gallifrey?

Since I have always been fascinated by those collections of directional signs, I have wanted to make one for months and finally got around to doing it. With the help of our trusty Doctor Who: The Visual Dictionary, we created a list of 20 great locations in the Doctor Who universe. It was really, really hard to narrow it down to only eight for the arrows.


Doctor Who Sonic Screwdrivers Cabinet

We needed something special to hold all the sonic screwdrivers and other miscellaneous items from the show. It is a simple bathroom cabinet, with the mirror broken out. The sonic screwdrivers are held in place with elastic.


Doctor Who Bathroom

I am convinced that we have the coolest bathroom on the planet! This is my son’s bathroom. The “round things” on the wall are the “round things” from the inside of the TARDIS. What are the “round things”? I have no idea, but the Doctor doesn’t even know what they are. Our round things are made of foam and painted with glow-in-the-dark paint. Yes, the round things GLOW IN THE DARK!!!


Timeline Resources for Homeschooling History

Keeping a history timeline has been one of my favorite aspects of homeschooling. We have had a timeline in some form or another for 9 years now. It started out with one super long strip of black tape stretching all across two walls and then as the years went on, our methods changed several times to fit our needs. Keeping a timeline has helped us perceive time in a different way. Since we often study different civilizations independently of each other, it may not occur to us that certain events or lives from different civilizations overlapped, until we place the figures on the timeline.

Scribd: Share in my joy of unlimited ebooks

Using Scribd as Homeschoolers

Something about having instant, unlimited access to thousands of books just makes me want to curl up in a nest of fluff, with a cup of tea, and read until my eyes want to fall out. My area has the #1 library system in the country, with a whopping 27 branches throughout the city, but both my son and I just prefer ebooks. I often read 4 books at a time and I want to carry them around the house with me. Sometimes I read on the couch, sometimes in bed, and sometimes in the car while waiting for my son to get done with an activity. This post shows the ways homeschoolers can benefit from Scribd.


Ten Math Books for Under $10

We all know that math is important. What better way to get your child interested in math than to give him something interesting to read. This is not a compilation of math curriculum or workbooks, these are unique, fascinating, suck-you-in, math story books. I own, or have read, and can vouch for every book on this list. I hope these suggestions will be helpful to many of you, especially because nothing is over $9.99.

science 10

Science for Under $10

Reading is SO important. Quality books are especially important. There is no better way to get your child interested in reading than to give him something interesting to read. That may be books about baseball, or Minecraft, or the World Wars. Or the books listed in this post – books about science. This is not a compilation of science curriculum or science textbooks, these are unique, fascinating, suck-you-in, science books. I own and can vouch for every book on this list. I hope these suggestions will be helpful to many of you, especially because nothing is over $9.99. You could actually buy every book in the descriptions below for a total $86.

*Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links.

Missing Socks

Dobby's Socks | Harry Potter

Does your dryer eat your socks? Mine does. Or there is a leprechaun who thinks hiding my socks is funny. It really makes no sense, and I am totally not exaggerating, but when I took that photo above, I had 4 additional socks in my drawer that did not have a match.

I am quite an organized person, and while I do have a lot of pairs of socks, it honestly baffles me where they go. I only take off my socks in our bedroom. They go into one of the 3 hampers – darks, lights, and reds – or maybe sometimes on the floor, since I am not a good free thrower. Before I do laundry, I even check in my closet for clothes on the floor.

So where do my socks go and why do they suddenly decide to turn up again after weeks of being missing?

I love Harry Potter, elves, and crafting, so when I saw this idea on Pinterest, I knew it would be perfect for keeping track of my unmatched socks in an amusing way. I adapted mine to be more practical. Actually my husband adapted it after saying there was a much better way of creating it.

The How-to

  1. Get a long piece of wood in any shape that your heart desires. I bought my wood at Hobby Lobby for only $4 and then stained it dark.
  2. Stain or paint 12 clothes pins to match the color of your wood.
  3. Cut out the words “Dobby’s Socks” and an image of Dobby with a Silhouette Cameo.

Dobby's Socks | Harry Potter

  1. Cut out strips of blue, red, green, and yellow paper to fit on the clothes pins. I used Mod Podge as the glue and as a clear top coat over the paper strips. Those 4 colors match the 4 house colors of Hogwarts.
  2. Evenly space out and mark where your clothes pins should be attached to the wood.

This is where my husband took over. He used both wood glue and small nails to secure the clothes pins to the wood.

  1. Clothes pins are made of cheap, fragile wood, so to prevent the wood from splintering when hammered, he pre-drilled a tiny hole where each nail would go. This was at the top of each clothes pin.
  2. In order to hammer a nail through each clothes pin, he gently twisted the two pieces of wood apart so he could hammer a small nail through the pre-drilled hole to attach the clothes pin to the wood sign.
  3. Before he hammered each nail in, he spread a light layer of wood glue on the clothes pin for extra security.
  4. Once the nail was hammered in, he twisted the pieces and they sprung back together.

And now I have a place to keep all my unmatched socks!


*Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links.