Thursday, October 27, 2016

Rocks Change: The Rock Cycle

This week, we had our second lesson of our Geology co-op, entitled, "Rocks Change: The Rock Cycle," about weathering, erosion, deposition, the three rock types, and, of course, the rock cycle.  Before we started the lesson, though, we went over our homework from our last lesson (you can find that material at  After everyone shared their completed homework with one another, we added those assignments to our lapbooks and got into weathering, erosion, and deposition.
We discussed what these three terms meant and looked at different photographs that showed weathering, including this one of Providence Canyon ("Little Grand Canyon") in our very own state.  (We will visit Providence Canyon tomorrow on a field trip with our group, to see this drastic weathering of rock for ourselves.)  It is amazing that this is what just two hundred years of weathering can do to rock.  (Providence Canyon was the result of poor farming practices in the early 1800s.)
After we better understood these three terms, we added them to our lapbooks, using the download from  (Very inexpensively, I downloaded this resource and I can use it all year with our co-op.)
 (I had given them slips of paper with the definitions on them and they had to place the correct definition under its word.)
After we finished with that concept, it was time for a snack!  I bought the "Beach" and "Oreo Dirt" cups JELL-O Creations kits at the grocery store and decided I'd put them together and call them "Sand" and "Soil" cups for our lesson.
Mags chose a "Sand" cup!
While the kids snacked, I read Hello, Rock by Roger Bradfield.
Next, we learned about the three rock types (igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic) and added those to our lapbook, too, using another printable from 
Finally, it was time to learn all about the rock cycle.
After some discussion, we added the printable of the rock cycle from (another inexpensive download that I will use all year) to our lapbooks.
It looks great!
Next, to demonstrate the rock cycle (and for some fun), we set out to complete the Starburst candy rock cycle experiment that is all over the internet.  I liked the simple description that this YouTuber gives ( and I followed his direction when leading the kids through the same.
First, I instructed them to unwrap their four Starburst candies.  (I was sure to give them four different colors so each candy could represent a different rock.)
Next, I instructed them to "weather" their rocks into tiny pieces ("sediments") using some scissors.
After they had "weathered," we "eroded" the "sediments" into one area of the plate, accumulating them in their "site of deposition."
Once accumulated, I challenged them to "compact the sediments and cement them together" to make a "sedimentary rock."
One of our "sedimentary rocks!"
Next, it was time to turn our "sedimentary rock" into a "metamorphic rock."  We placed each in a Ziploc bag and kneaded it in our hands to add heat.  Next, we used our plate to press on the Ziploc bag to add the necessary pressure to change our "rocks."  We did this for a few minutes, removing the "rock" at one point to fold it in half before placing it back into the bag for more heat and pressure upon it.
Finally, we had "metamorphic rocks."  It was time to change them again, this time into "igneous rocks" with extreme heat to melt them.  We made simple bowls out of tin foil and placed our "rocks" inside.
Then, we placed them on a hot plate to let them heat slowly.
It didn't take long before our "rocks" started to melt.
Soon, it was hot, bubbling "magma beneath the Earth's surface."  We turned off our heat source and removed the bowls to allow the "lava" to cool and harden.

Once cool and hard, we peeled away the foil bowls to reveal our new "igneous rocks!"  So neat!  (They loved this activity and it was really simple.)
To be sure we understood everything we had learned today, I had them complete a simple worksheet with a word bank (I can't remember where I got it from), which we then placed in our lapbooks, too.
To finish our review, we all watched the fun rock cycle video at  (I have attached it, below.)
Then, it was time for homework assignments.  First, I challenged them to watch The Magic School Bus's "Rocks and Rolls" episode at, then write about their favorite part from the video in a complete sentence
Second, I assigned them another mineral coloring page from Dover's Rocks and Minerals Coloring Book by T. D. Burns.  (They each get a coloring page with the name of a specific mineral on it and then have to go research that mineral to find out how it should be colored.)
This time, Maggie got Sphalerite.  This is her representation of it.
The third part of our homework will be completed after tomorrow's field trip to Providence Canyon, a simple field trip report.
Finally, we wrapped up our lesson with a couple of parting gifts: a bookmark with the three rock types listed on it (I can't remember where I got these from now) ... 
... and some Pop Rocks!
Happy studying!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


In Lesson 2 of Apologia's Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day, we learned all about whales (both toothed and baleen whales), which includes dolphins and porpoises.  What a fun lesson!  We learned so much!  Here is what we did.
After reading in our text about the two kinds of whales, tails (flukes), and whales' songs, we listened to some different whale songs at  We also completed some work in our notebooking journal.  (I always love her little pictures!)
Next, we read Baby Whales Drink Milk by Barbara Juster Esbensen ... 
... The Sea Mammal Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta ...
... and A Whale of a Tale!  All About Porpoises, Dolphins, and Whales by Bonnie Worth.
 The next day, we read some more in our text about blowholes, whale blow (Did you know you can identify some whale species by the spout they make when they blow?), how whales beach themselves, and how whales moves (breaching, spyhopping, lobtailing, and logging).  We talked about the history of whalers, migration, calves, and echolocation.  We also started our study of toothed whales.

Then, it was time for our first little experiment to demonstrate how echolocation works for whales.  We used two paper cones.  We each took one and took turns talking in our cone towards the wall or listening in our cone towards the same wall.  We then did the same thing again, sans cones.  We could hear better with the cones than without.  This helped us better understand how whales are able to pick up sounds from objects in the water through echolocation.  We recorded our results in our notebooking journal.
After that, we learned more about dolphins, porpoises (and the differences between them), killer whales, and beluga whales. In our next experiment, we set out to explain why beluga whales can swim in water up to 64 degrees below freezing (-32).  (Shouldn't the water be solid?)  For this experiment, we used two cups with water, two tablespoons of salt, a permanent marker, and our freezer.  We added the two tablespoons of salt to only one of the cups and marked it to distinguish it from the one without salt.
Then, in the freezer they went!
 After a couple of hours, the one without salt was completely frozen and the one with salt was still liquid.  So THAT'S how it works!  The salt content in the ocean keeps the water from freezing solid.  And we learned that more and more salt is entering the oceans every year.  Fascinating!
(We recorded these results in our notebooking journal, too.)
Next, we read about narwhals, sperm whales, and started our study of baleen whales.  This included blue whales, humpback whales, gray whales, and right whales.  Next, we read Dolphin Talk: Whistles, Clicks, and Clapping Jaws by Wendy Pfeffer ...
... and The Magic School Bus's The Wild Whale Watch by Eva Moore.
We did a little more work in our notebooking journal after that.
Then, using Mac's Field Guide to Marine Mammals of North America ... 
... and Evan-Moor's Making Books with Pockets: September ...
... we completed this fun spread in our journal where we added pictures of the different whales we learned about.
Next, we completed the "Baleen Model" from that same Evan-Moor pockets book (pages 76 and 79).
 (I love that Apologia's notebooking journals allow us space to add in projects of our own, like this.)
We set out to make the blow minibook from the Evan-Moor book, too.
(Each page of the minibook has a wave where she was able to label the whale blow, with the description of the blow(s) under the label.  So cute!)
The next day we worked on this lesson, Daddy was home.  It was perfect because it was time to use our Usborne Build the Bones: Whale book to put together the model of the whale skeleton provided.
They got right to work!
 The finished product looked great!  She was so proud!
After that, Maggie was ready to make her first additions to her ocean box, her whales!
She and Daddy made a right whale ...
... (He looks so good!) ...
... a dolphin, and also a blue whale.
 Here they are, in the ocean box, with the whale skeleton model on top.  We wanted our critters to hang, suspended, to appear like they were swimming, but no matter how hard we tried, they hung funny.  (I think the clay we used was too heavy.)  Instead, we decided to make little raised platforms, covered in our ocean paper and blue cellophane, to place critters at different heights in our box.  We think it will be fine once the box is all filled up with critters.
 We cut the blue whale in half and super-glued one half to the top of the box and the other half on the underside to make it look like he was breaching.  (A toothpick between the two halves helped hold it together.)
Once our ocean box was updated, we finished the notebooking activities for this lesson ...
... and set up our last experiment.  This one was simple.  Using two cups and a string, we made an old-fashioned "telephone" to demonstrate how sound travels better through materials, like water (in this case, string), than it does in air.  Much like a tight string of yarn, ocean water can carry sound waves a long way, which is one reason cetaceans (whales) can communicate with others that are far away.
Next lesson?  Seals and sea cows!  Can't wait!

*UPDATE:  Shortly after this lesson, we visited The Estuarium at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab on Dauphin Island, Alabama.  We snapped these pictures of Mags comparing her height to the length of a fully grown dolphin ...
 ... and this skeleton of one!  Neat!
We also visited the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta and had fun observing the beluga whales!
Whales are really amazing creatures!