Coffee to Flowers

From Coffee to Flowers

The best ideas come from you. Here’s one that nine-year-old Drew shared this week.

Our family gets coffee grinds from PT’s (coffee shop) and uses these in our composting. We studied seeds and flowers in Nancy Larson Science 1, so we planted seeds in our compost soil to see how they’d grow. We used regular dirt and the compost soil to see which one grew best.

When the flowers were big enough, we put each one in its own pot with the compost soil. Then we wrote a card with the name of the flower and told how we made new soil by composting. Our church has a list of people who get Meals On Wheels. So we visited them and took each one a flower. They liked our flowers, and we liked making them smile.

What a terrific way of helping children learn about both composting and compassion. Drew’s mom is involving her children in the community and showing us how to combine subjects and concerns in fun ways of learning.

If you want more information on composting, check these websites:

Sierra Club video

Keep America Beautiful

What are you doing? Share your ideas and projects with other homeschool parents. Use the Comments section below, or send an email.

What to do with a Half Eaten Apple

When the boys went shopping, they came home with the biggest apples ever! They are beautiful. And, they are big. So what happens when young boys want an enormous apple for a snack? Guess?



 It was just too much apple left to toss, and no one wanted it. So, I decided to give it to our feathery neighbors. When this happens in your house, have the children repurpose and share with your neighbors.

What’s Needed:

Half-eaten apple                                              Twine

Peanut butter                                                   Plastic zip tie

Wooden or metal skewer                                Wild birdseed

Scissors to cut twine                                        Plastic bowl to catch birdseed

I’m omitting the written instructions. This is a learning opportunity for the children to learn by using visual instructions, and have everything they need to complete the apple birdfeeders. If they have problems, please let me know.





Feed the Birds – Suet Cakes

The peanut butter pine cones were such a hit with our feathery neighbors that we decided to try another treat for them. This time we made suet cakes, with a twist.

What you need:

  • Suet, grease, or lard (melted)                           
  • Wild birdseed              
  • Peanut butter
  • Oatmeal                                             
  • Dried fruit (optional)                                             
  • Square sandwich-sized plastic container
  •  Zip tie
  • Wire holder for hanging suet cakes (purchased)

Suet is a mutton or beef fat that’s stored around the kidneys, and most grocery stores won’t have it. The butcher suggested checking with a locker plant to get the suet. Instead, I saved grease from bacon (about ½ cup).  I’ve read that lard works just as well.

I researched what usually composed suet cakes and decided to add a few extra goodies. The basic recipe is even parts suet, peanut butter, oatmeal and two or three times that much wild birdseed. So it could be ½ cup melted suet (grease or lard), ½ cup peanut butter, ½ cup oatmeal, and 1 to 1½ cups wild birdseed.



Measuring the birdseed is a terrific exercise in equivalents. Put the birdseed in one large bowl and have ¼, ½, and 1 cup measuring cups available. Younger children can play and learn with the birdseed and measuring cups a la Montessori. To provide some structure, have them compare filling the ¼ cup two times with filling the ½ cup once. Ask how many ¼ cups it would take for 1 cup. Vary the questions and measures. You can also have the children chart the measures and equivalents. Charting and measuring will especially help visual learners. The more senses we involve in any learning makes stronger, lasting connections.


I made the suet bird cakes like I make soup or a casserole. I see what’s in the refrigerator and the cupboard, then I improvise. In the back of the cupboard, I found some dried prunes and decided they would be good. I reconstituted them, which means I added ½ cup of water to the prunes and microwaved them for about three minutes until they absorbed most of the water. Then, I pureed them in the food processor, so they were the consistency of applesauce. For this batch of bird cakes, we mixed the melted grease, pureed prunes, and birdseed. Then I poured or pressed the mixture into the square plastic container. I let it freeze until set


We made another batch of bird cakes from ½ cup melted grease, ½ cup peanut butter, ½ cup oatmeal, and 1½ cups of birdseed. We poured or pressed the mixture into a square plastic container that’s about 4” x 4” and placed in freezer to set.

We released the bird cake from the plastic container by turning it upside down and pushing on the bottom. We put the bird cake in the suet cake holder.


The holders come with a hanger, which means there’s a short chain with a hook. For me, the chain/hook didn’t work well. So, we attached a plastic zip tie to the holder, keeping a large loop in the zip tie. This made it easy to get the holders on the tree branches.


I used the telescoping pole we have to hang lights on the house. It worked great.

Feed the Birds

In 1964, we learned to “say the biggest word I ever heard—supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from Mary Poppins, who was just about the most amazing nanny ever. One song from the movie relayed the theme and message of the movie, “Feed the Birds.” It was Walt Disney’s favorite song and the first song written about the merits of charity and caring for others. 

Winter’s frigid temperatures cause me to worry about our feathered neighbors, and charity starts at home. So, today we’ll make pine cone treats and feed the birds.

What you need: pine cones, peanut butter, wild birdseed, twine, and plastic zip tie (optional).

Cut pieces of twine into 24” pieces.

Starting about 8” from the end of the twine, wrap it twice around each pine cone, make a simple knot to hold the twine in place, and tie the ends of the twine together. This is the tree hanger.



Pretend you are finger-painting with peanut butter and thoroughly “paint” the pine cone. This is a treat, painting with peanut butter. Be sure to push peanut butter into the crevices and indentations of the pine cone.



Hold the pine cone over a bowl to catch falling birdseed, then pour birdseed over the pine cone, turning it so all surfaces are covered.


Push extra birdseed into the pine cone so that it’s completely covered with seeds.



Use the twine loop to hang the pine cone over the tree branches. I always look for a short, sturdy stub of branch that’s been pruned. You can also add a plastic zip tie to the twine loop. Be sure to leave a good loop on the zip tie. Zip-tie loops are great for hanging ornaments, bird feeders, and pine cones in trees.



The birds seem to love these treats. We decorated our weeping mulberry tree with the pine cones, and then we watched.




These two were taking turns eating and watching out for the other.