Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Rocks rock!

Geology.  I hadn't studied it before or since college, but I loved it and I wanted to share it with our co-op this year.  I will be teaching it over ten lessons, so this post shows what we did in Lesson 1.  I hope you can get some ideas from it for your own geology study.

While I was planning, I came across this Of QUARTZ I Love Geology shirt on Amazon.  PERFECT.  I had to have it to wear for each of my lessons.
On the day of our first lesson, I set up each child's place at the table.  This year, we will be working on large lapbooks, adding to them as we study so that at the end of the year, we will each have a thick lapbook on all things geology.  I also provided each child with what they would need for this lesson, including metallic colored pencils, for those shiny rock and mineral specimens we will be drawing!
First, we defined geology.  What is geology?  Geology is an earth science, the study of the materials that make up the earth and the processes that form and change those materials.  We also talked about natural resources and how rocks are the densest and heaviest natural resources we have.

Rocks make up the crust, the solid outer layer of the earth, but in order to understand that, we needed to discuss the different layers.  I used our Usborne See Inside Planet Earth flap book to explain it.
Then, we colored a flap printable of the earth's layers for our lapbooks.
Next, we defined a couple of words before moving on.  The first two words we defined for our vocabulary pocket were geologist and rocks.  These, too, were placed in our lapbook.
Next, we talked about why geology is important and how geologists help keep us safe.

 Finally, it was snack time!  Before our lesson, I made the fudge rocks that I've made in the past.  (You can find the recipe through this link: http://homeschoolingmom2mags.blogspot.com/search/label/Rocks.)  I thought they turned out so good!  They look so real!  I planned to let the children each pick two to put in a bowl with a scoop of Rocky Road ice cream.  (I love themes!)
It made for happy snackers!
While they snacked, I read Dave's Down-to-Earth Rock Shop by Stuart J. Murphy.  I wanted them to understand from this read that rocks can be grouped and categorized in many different ways. 
After our reading, I gave them each a big bag of interesting rocks and minerals to sort in the way they chose.
Thanks to a generous friend who was cleaning out her teenage son's closet, I now have a great collection!
They loved this activity!
Once we had all played with and sorted our rock groups, we read A Rock Is Lively by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long.
This book has such beautiful illustrations!
I love it!

After our second read, we talked about the many things we get from rocks and minerals, including the things I had placed on this tray to show them.  We also talked about how things made with rock last, like the pyramids made of limestone.
Next, we talked about a bit of a tougher concept, the recipe for rocks, that is, elements make minerals which make rocks.  We defined elements and minerals, adding those words to our lapbook, then briefly talked about the Periodic Table and examined this hunk of Zinc (#30 on the Table) that I got from my friend, Daniel, who used to work at the Duracell plant.  (The boys loved this.)
To help explain this concept of elements and minerals making up rocks, I used a few great resources, including National Geographic Kids' Rocks and Minerals by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld ...
 ... Eyewitness Books' Rocks & Minerals ... 
 ... and National Geographic Kids' Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Rocks & Minerals by Nancy Honovich.  (Using this last book, we would look up a common mineral, read its chemical composition, then go back to the Periodic Table to use those abbreviations to find out what elements made up that mineral.)
To break up the heavy, my friend, Stacie, brought some newly made soap bricks (she is a master soap maker) for the kids to shape into rocks so they could have soap rocks for the bath!  (They loved this.)
Once shaped, they were left to dry.
They look great!
In our co-op, we give homework since it will be a month before their next lesson with each teacher.  (This helps keep it fresh in their minds in the interim.)  I gave them three separate assignments to complete over the month.  First, I made up this worksheet to help them learn rock observation.  (Click on the image itself to see it larger.)
Here is Maggie's completed sheet.
Next, I gave them each one copy of a coloring page out of this Rocks and Minerals Coloring Book by T. D. Burns.  (I think I bought this from Dover.)  I challenged them to do an internet search of that rock or mineral to see its true colors, then color their page to match it.
Maggie got the rare mineral, Crocoite, which is red and orange and quite beautiful with its masses of needle-like crystals.  (I picked it for her because her favorite color is red.)  Interestingly, the finest specimens of this mineral have been found only in Tasmania.  Poor-quality specimens have been found in a few other places.
Their third at-home assignment was an experiment, using cereal and a magnet, among a few other household items.  I made an experiment sheet for it, below.  (Again, simply click on the picture to see it larger.)  The purpose of this activity was twofold: (1) to get the children to see how elements and minerals make up so many things in their everyday lives; and (2) to use the Periodic Table to find information.
Mags chose Rice Krispies for her experiment.  Here, she's crushing the cereal to prep it for the next step.
 In this step, she is stirring the cereal mixture with a pencil that has a magnet taped securely to its end.
 After ten minutes, we noticed granules of a material on our magnet.  We checked the ingredients list on our cereal box to determine what in our cereal could be magnetic.  We found out that it was fortified with iron!  We then looked on the Periodic Table of Elements to note that it was a metal, its abbreviation is Fe. and it is number 26 on the table.  Maggie hollered, "You mean there's metal in my cereal?!"  Science is so fun!
Before they left, I gave each a parting prize -- rubber bouncing balls that I bought through Oriental Trading.  They were very excited about them!
Next lesson, we will discuss how rocks change.  We will learn about weathering and erosion and study the rock cycle.  We will also discuss the three types of rocks in brief (these will be studied in depth later in the year) and how the earth's processes can change rocks from one type to another.  We will also continue to add to our lapbook.  Watch for Lesson 2!

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