Thursday, June 22, 2017

"Metamorphic Rock Stock" LAB

Today was our very last Geology class with our co-op, our metamorphic rocks lab.  This is bittersweet.  It's sweet because we have completed another successful co-op year (finishing two courses, both Geology and Georgia History) and have learned a lot.  And it's sweet because it's the hardest course I have ever planned and taught (having no true curriculum to use to guide me and having to adapt such heavy material to children as young as six) and it's over.  But yet it's bitter because we have really enjoyed this course and it is sad to see it end.  Though it was a challenge for me, there was real fruit in teaching it.  The children learned way more about the earth's crust than they knew when we started and I think they each developed a real appreciation for what they now see as more than "just a rock."  We are excited that are co-op continues in two weeks with a new course, however -- World Geography, which we will study in depth through the entire 2017-2018 school year!  (I will be making posts for this soon!)

So, to wrap up our Geology studies for you (you can find the ten course lessons and our two field trip posts at, here is the synopsis of today's lab and a look at our completed lapbooks.

In our last lesson (, we studied metamorphic rocks in depth.  This was our third and final rock type to study.  Today, to test our knowledge on these impressive rocks, we completed the "Metamorphic Rock Stock" Lab.  Here is the lab sheet that I created.
Each child was given a lab sheet along with a mystery rock (they rolled a dice to see which number mystery rock they would get), which included this sample of red marble ...
 ... green slate ...
 ... and schist.
They then went through the lab stations to answer questions to help them identify which of the mystery rocks they had.  The first station ("Color Counts!") required them to accurately draw and color their rock sample, and answer a question about whether or not their sample had a shiny luster.
Station #2 ("Grain Gain") required them to study the grains of their sample.  Were they coarse, like sand?  Smoother than sand, like silt?  Or maybe very smooth, like clay?
Here is Maggie, at Station #2.
Finally, at Station #3, they did the "Texture Test," determining if their sample was rough to the touch, or smooth, and whether or not their sample looked like it could flake easily.
 Once every child had been through the stations, they were given time to study the characteristics of the metamorphic rocks listed on the back window.  With these information sheets, and their lab sheets, they were able to then take a guess at which mystery rock they had.
Maggie correctly identified her sample as "schist."
 Once our lab was complete, it was time to finalize our lapbooks.  

I know I have shared elements of this lapbook with you in prior Geology posts, but I wanted to share the completed project with you in its entirety because it is such a treasure to have in celebration of all of our learning.  (Some of these great lapbook foldables were purchased for download.  For the ones you like, look at the links I have under my Geology tab at, and you can find them to download, too.)  Some of the great stickers you see were purchased through RedBubble (

Here is the front of Maggie's lapbook, decorated as she liked.
 When you open it, this is the first spread you see.
 We put information on minerals and the rock cycle in the first folder to the far left.
 Under the rock cycle sheet, we have all of her work during that time, including this field trip form from our field trip to Providence Canyon ("Little Grand Canyon").
 In the second folder, we have more on minerals and also the information we collected about igneous rocks.
 There are so many great things we learned and did.  This is another field trip form, from our field trip to Flat Rock Park to see the monadnocks with the igneous intrusions.
 Mags' igneous rock narrative!
 Her "Mineral Mash-up" Venn diagram, comparing and contrasting two, separate minerals.
The third folder in our lapbook holds all of our information about sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.
 Here is her sedimentary rock comic strip!
 And her "Sedimentary Sandwich" project sheet!
 Her limestone rubbing!
There are so many memories from this year in this one, little lapbook!  I know we will treasure it for a long, long time.

"All done and it feels good!"
Thank you for joining us on our Geology journey!  It has been a fun ride!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Lesson 8 of Apologia's Exploring Creation with Botany is all about "Stems."
 We use the Junior Botany Notebooking Journal with every lesson, to record what we learn and the fun projects we do together.  I know some people opt to not buy the journals, but I highly recommend them.  This is our third journal (for our third Apologia science course) and each one serves as a special book of memories of all the fun we have together.  It's not a workbook.  It's a scrapbook.
To start this lesson, we read pages 117-120 from our text, learning about different stems (both woody and herbaceous), vascular bundles of xylem and phloem in stems, the role of the vascular cambium in stems, and the fact that cacti have no leaves -- what you see are their stems!  Fascinating!

We then read about the largest cactus in the world out of our Usborne Starting Point Science book (Volume 1, page 44), the saguaro.  It grows as high as 50 feet and lives for over 200 years!
From there, we did some work in Evan-Moor's Giant Science Resource Book.
We completed two worksheets.  The first was this "Parts of a Plant" sheet which required her to label the parts of different plants (page 14).
The second was this one, entitled, "Plants We Eat."  Looking at each item, she had to determine which part of the plant goes on our plates!
After reading about how xylem is responsible for moving water up a plant's stem from the roots, Maggie demonstrated this action with her straw.
We then got to work to see xylem in action with the suggested celery activity from the text (page 123).  Maggie decided she wanted to experiment with both red ...
... and blue!
We placed our stems in the water and waited.
After a couple of days, we noticed how hard that xylem had been working!
We had red and blue leaves!
With the added color, the xylem tubes were now easy to spot on the underside of the celery stalks!
We decided to experiment some more with xylem, this time with more colors (with green and yellow added), and with a different kind of stem, with white carnations.
Going into their baths, the blossoms were stark white.
In three days, though it's hard to see, each blossom had a tinge of the color it had sat in.  (Blue showed up the best.)
Here, we have blue ...
... green ...
... yellow ...
... and red.
(It was actually easier to see some of the color on the underside of the petals.)
The white rose we stuck in blue actually picked up the color much better than the carnation in blue did.  So I would suggest trying this activity with white roses instead of white carnations.
All of our experiments (notes and photos) go into our journal.
We did yet another experiment with some of our extra carnations that we found in our 501 Science Experiments book ("Stem-less Flowers," #115).  This experiment demonstrates how helpful a stem is to a flower.
We started out with two flowers of equal size and health (by appearance).
Then, we chopped the stem off of one.
Here they are, one "Stem-less."  We kept both out of water and just laid them on the counter for observation.
After two days, we could see a real difference!  The one with the stem (right) still looked great, even out of water all this time.  The one without the stem (left) had reduced in size significantly, and appeared much more wilted.  Interesting!  Even without water, stems provide for plants!
We continued recording.
Maggie has been wanting to try to grow and keep a cactus, so this was a great lesson to do that!  I purchased both a ""Carol Cactus" plant kit (by Eco Plant Pals) ...
... and an "Aloe Alin" plant kit (also by Eco Plant Pals) from Hobby Lobby for us to put together.
She was so excited!  We put them together and they now soak up sun on her desk.  
(*As of the date this post was published, both have small sprouts!)
After all of our stem experiments were set up, we continued reading in our text about auxins and phototropism.  

We then completed the "Phototropism Activity" outlined on page 122 of the text.  Using clay, we shaped a thick "stem."  Then, we pinched one side of it to represent the "dark side" of the stem.  This simulated what auxins do in a real stem.  As we pinched to your right, the side of the stem that was facing the light (the left), bent towards the light.  Neat!
We continued to journal all that we were learning.
 We read about some interesting stems in our Usborne Mysteries & Marvels of Nature book ("Plants on the Move" (with images of phototropism), pages 18-19, "Plants Fight Back" (stem defenses), page 31, and "A Tough Life" (plants exposed to extreme temperatures), pages 102-103).
 We looked at another stem defense (thorns) in our Plant Adaptations science photo cards pack.  (I have loved using these because every photo card comes with lots of information about what is pictured.)
Here is the photo card we looked at for this lesson from that pack.
We then decided it was time to look at some stems up close.  We have three stem slides in our microscope slides collection ("Stem of Cotton," "Stem of Wood Dicotyledon," and "Stem of Corn").  We looked at all three.
What we noticed about all of them was the many tube openings (those vascular bundles of xylem and phloem) in each.  Those stems do important work!
Next, we completed the "Twisted Branches" activity outlined on page 123 of the text.  (This we recorded on page 139 of our journal.)
For a final experiment for our study of stems (specifically, phototropism), we purchased this Grow-A-Maze kit by Green Science.  (I got it on the clearance rack at Hobby Lobby for $6.59.)  With it, we would plant some seeds and watch their shoots navigate through the maze we created to reach the light at the top.  We were excited to get started!
We decided to pick some of the seeds we knew to sprout quicker than most -- bean seeds!  Here are our seeds in the window, laying with moist paper towels to encourage them.
Within a few days, we had victory!
We followed the instructions in the kit to set the seeds up and will wait a bit longer for the shoots to grow before attaching the maze top.  (We will update this post when they do!)
We finished up our notebooking work and called it another great lesson!
Lesson 9 of this text, "Trees," is already in mid-study at our house.  After this week, we only have three more lessons left in this course.  Maggie is already mourning the end to our Botany studies.  It has been fantastic.  Check back with us for Lesson 9!