Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Mineral Madness

The third Geology lesson I put together for our co-op was all about minerals.

(To see the previous lessons posted, click on the links below:

This third lesson would serve as the instruction before our minerals lab that will take place the next time we meet.
This was a very hands-on lesson (which the children loved), but I was so busy teaching, I forgot to take many pictures of the children testing the minerals.  Therefore, a lot of the photographs in this post were taken later.

Before we got started on the new material, we discussed and shared our homework (our viewing sheets from The Magic School Bus episode we watched, our mineral coloring sheets, and our field trip reports from our visit to Providence Canyon).  Once those things were placed in our lapbooks, we quickly reviewed what we had learned so far and then discussed what we already knew about what makes up rocks -- minerals!

I found an awesome idea for a snack to demonstrate how minerals make up rock at https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/elementary-shenanigans-2902666/rock-buffet-new-unit-3277409067.
Using the sheet above (which can be found through the aforementioned website) and the ingredients to make Rice Krispies treats (as well as Trix cereal), I brought the children into the kitchen to put together "Rock Krispie Treats" and to document the "minerals" added, as directed.
The first "mineral" that the children were asked to illustrate was marshmallow.
While the marshmallow melted, the children filled out the sheets.
The second "mineral" was the Rice Krispies cereal and the third was the Trix cereal.  Mix all these "minerals" together, add heat and pressure, and we had "rock!"
Here is Maggie's completed sheet.  (You can click on the image itself to make it larger.)
Of course, the best part was snacking on our Rock Krispie Treats!
Then it was time to get into the heart of the lesson!  With the over 3,000 minerals found in the Earth's crust, it's important to know how to identify one from another.  First we talked about color.  The different minerals in these two rock samples give them their different colors.
 To help them understand some of the other things we do to identify minerals, I printed these little flapbooks from the "Rocks and Minerals Lapbook" purchase I made at https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Rocks-and-Minerals-Lapbook-Interactive-Kit-1167610.  We discussed each flap and placed the description under each before adhering them into our lapbooks.  First, we went over smell.  Does the mineral have an odor?  Sphalerite, which is full of the element sulfur, smells like rotten eggs.
Next, we talked about luster.  This sample of gypsum is dull because it is non-metallic.  (Minerals containing metals tend to be shiny, like galena.)
 After that, we discussed magnetism.  These samples of magnetite are attracted to this magnet.  (The children loved experimenting with this!)
 Next, we discussed shape.  All minerals are solids and so they have a definite shape.  You can identify some minerals by the shape of their crystals.  Look at this sample of pyrite on the left.  You can see its crystals are cubic.
Crystal quartz has a hexagonal shape.  I let each child count the six sides on each of these quartz samples.
 Then it was on to streak color!  Some minerals are known for the streak they leave behind when rubbed on a porcelain plate, like below.  If you have a sample of pyrite and don't know to look for the cubic crystals, you can rub it to see if you've got gold or not.  (Gold will leave a yellow streak while pyrite leaves behind a dark greenish-black streak like you see here.)
 Next, we rubbed hematite, which is known for its rust-colored streak.
 Graphite is used in some pencils!  As you see below, I can write with a corner of either of these samples and the mark left looks like it was made by a pencil.
 After streak, we talked about light, and what the words opaque, translucent, and transparent mean.  This sample of flourite is translucent because light can pass through it, but you aren't able to make out what an object is behind it like you would a transparent sample.
 Our quartz crystal is a fine example of a transparent mineral!
 Next, it was time to better understand the hardness of minerals!  We discussed the Mohs Scale of Hardness using the printable below (also printed from https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Rocks-and-Minerals-Lapbook-Interactive-Kit-1167610), which we then added to our lapbooks.
It was time to put this hardness scale to test!  The softest mineral?  Talc, which we make powder from!  We were able to easily scratch our sample with our fingernails as the scale read.
Here are samples of talc, gypsum, and flourite, respectively.  We were able to scratch all with the nail, only two (talc and gypsum) with our fingernails, and each with the harder mineral next to it!  This was fun!
We moved on to talk about texture, taste, cleavage and fracture.

As you can see from this mica (muscovite) sample, it cleaves in perfect sheets.
 After we discussed the different ways minerals can be tested to help us better identify them, we talked a bit about very valuable minerals, that is, gemstones, or precious stones.  We used this book, Eyewitness Books' Rocks & Minerals by Dr R. F. Symes, to see some samples of gemstones in their natural state, and then cut and polished.
Diamonds, of course, are considered precious stones!
Here is a picture of an emerald in rock, and a cut one as well.
 My mother-in-law gave me five tiny emeralds from Colombia that I showed to the children.  They were able to use the magnifying glass to see how they were expertly cut.
We also saw a picture of an opal as it looks in rock.
 This is a cut, polished opal that belonged to my grandmother.
I then gave them each an agate slice, a semi-precious stone, which are minerals of the quartz family.
After a couple of review questions to tie it all together, our two hours allotted for the co-op had passed, but I still had to hand out homework assignments.  I gave them this homework sheet (you can click directly on it to see it larger) with the instructions, followed by the additional sheets below.
For their first assignment, they have to complete this "Mohs Hardness Scale" worksheet I put together, using the scale to answer the questions.
The second assignment requires them to use the word bank at the bottom of this "Mineral Menu" page I put together to complete the minerals chart.
Finally, their third assignment is this "Mineral Mash-Up!" sheet, which requires them to use this Venn diagram to compare and contrast two minerals.  This one reads "graphite" and "hematite" but the other mineral pairs I assigned were talc & gypsum, graphite & magnetite, and galena & pyrite.  (Each child got a different pair.)
These will be due at our next lesson, Lesson 4, when we have our first lab, using what we learned in this lesson to identify some mystery minerals!  Can't wait!

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