Rocks and Minerals Lapbook and Unit Study – Part I

*This series will be a 2 post series. Check back next week for part two!

I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was to start this unit. I remember my rock collection as a girl. Our neighbor had a bed of river rock in their garden and I would spend hours digging through it always looking for just the right specimens. I imagined finding a glorious Indian arrowhead or a real dinosaur fossil. I would pour over the limestone that made up part of our wall in the front yard and carefully pick out chunks of rock that did have fossils in them. My imagination of what part of the dinosaur it might be from was far superior then the actual fossil sea shells they actually were. I remember combing the shores of a nearby river on family fishing trips searching for pieces of fool’s gold. I remember visiting a real cave and being mesmerized by the stalagmites and stalactites. I couldn’t wait to share this love with my children. As I was pouring over books and settling on activities, my husband would sigh and say, “Are you ever going to be done working?” But all I could think was this is not work!

Our school mission: head to the park and collect rocks. Use recycled egg cartons to hold specimens. Collect only 12 of the most interesting ones you can find. Head back home to identify and classify.

~ Experiments and Activities ~

The first thing we did was sit down and try to identify all the cool rocks we found. We have two wonderful field guides for this that the kids used: Smithsonian’s Rock and Gem and Eyewitness Rock and Minerals. I believe the kids classifie about 75% of their rocks and are still trying to figure out what the others are. This part was by far their favorite part of the week! Part of our identification came in the form of vinegar tests. Apparently any rock that has a bit of carbonate in it (think calcium, baking soda, chalk) will fizz when drops of vinegar are applied. Lily had great fun with this experiment.

Next we discovered how sedimentary rock is formed. We watched the Magic School Bus video on erosion (see below) and then did our own experiment in a mason jar. Fill jar with dirt (sand, soil, rocks) and water. Shake and let sit for an hour or two. Discuss the layering that happens.

We also talked about the layers of the earth. We listened to the kids favorite song (haven’t forgot the layers yet!) and watched this video:

Then we did a hands-on experiment to show how this works. We filled a tub with water (our liquid, moving magma mantle layer) then set pieces of wood to float on top (our continents, or earth crust). I showed how even not touching them they were always moving just slightly on the magma because of a solid floating on a liquid. This transitioned beautifully into a discussion on plate tectonics and how they work. We practiced butting the wood pieces up against each other in different directions to see how direction of force changed the outcome.

This led beautifully into a discussion on how mountains were formed. We used clay to showcase this phenomenon. We layered colors (our rock) into two long strips and then pushed them against each other until they buckled and folded causing both a mountain and the layers we so often see in rocks.

We also discussed climate change and how that affects the earth’s crust. The ice weighs down the crust sinking it deeper into the magma and then, during time of warming, suddenly (or violently) lifts back up to the surface again. Pretty cool stuff that I’ve never thought about before.

All this talk of plate tectonics led to a natural discussion of Pangaea. I had the kids trace the continents with tracing paper and then cut out their own Pangaea puzzle. They first had to fit it together how they thought it might go then I showed them what scientists theory was.

We went to this really cool site: Continental Drift Puzzle and they were able to interactively try their hand at the Pangaea puzzle. The really cool thing about this site is the ability to rotate the continents. And you can do it how you think, you can try with a Pangaea outline, or just see how you measure up.

The main book I used as inspiration for these experiments was an older book I found at our library called Rocks and Soil by Robert Snedden.

~ Geology Living books  ~

Let’s Go Rock Collecting

Magic School Bus: Inside the Earth

Magic School Bus: Rocky Road Trip – this one is a chapter book that we used as a read-aloud at lunch time. It corresponds to the free lapbook below.

 Cool Rocks – Tracy Kompelien

 Geology Rocks!
50 Hands-on Activities to Explore the Earth

***************

~ Free Rock and Mineral Lapbooks, Printables, and Unit Studies ~

Magic School Bus: Rock Road Trip Lapbook  Yee Shall Know

Rocks and Mineral Lapbook – Homeschool Treasure Trove

Geology ideas and printables –  Eclectic Education

Geology printables – Enchanted Learning

Geology Squidoo Lens

***************

~ Rock Videos ~

Eyewitness Rock and Mineral Video

Magic School Bus Rocks and Rolls ~ Parts 1

Magic School Bus Rocks and Rolls ~ Parts 2

Magic School Bus Rocks and Rolls ~ Parts 3

*Note for you creationist science moms ~ I know many people, Christian and secular, debate the young/old earth theories. You will have to deal with a lot of editing of pretty much all the books if you do believe in the young earth theory. That said, here is a wonderful source via Answers in Creation to draw from if you need.

DON’T FORGET TO PIN THIS!!!

The Homeschool Mother's Journal


Charlotte Mason Grammar ~ Free Language Lessons

Looking for a Charlotte Mason Grammar book that’s gentle yet thorough? Something with substance yet delightful to look at? A book that  you can curl on the couch and read conversationally? Well, then do I have some gems for you!

Today my oldest daughter (7) came to me requesting the grammar books we used to do (from Queen’s Homeschooling). I stopped buying them because she outgrew the phonics book she was using at the time and my eldest son wanted nitty-gritty grammar. We switched to Barron’s Painless Grammar for him (which he loves and reads in his free time…one of his favorite take-to-the-bathroom books) and just allowed her to concentrate on learning how to read fluently. Now she is asking for grammar again and she wants that Victorian feel to her grammar book. She highly enjoys the Charlotte Mason picture study and oral compositions and narrations whereas that part was drudgery for my son.

But as much as I wanted to grant her wish and order a Queen’s book, I’ve made myself a pledge to use what I have and not spend money on more homeschool supplies. Isn’t there a public domain copy of a Charlotte Mason style language lessons book I thought to myself? Yes, yes there was. But only the advanced Intermediate Language Lessons by Emma Serl. The Primary Language Lessons I would have to buy.

 

 

    Intermediate Language Lessons, Vol II – Emma Serl

Oh, but what’s this? Primary Language Lessons by another author? Could it be the same? Would it work for us? I was very excited to find this set that covers all of the Grammar stage. I showed my daughter and she was excited and wanted to print it out today. I downloaded it for free, happy with myself for finding a solution when out of the corner of my eye I caught some other titles.                        

 

 

 Sheldon’s Primary Language Lessons

Sheldon’s advanced language lessons: Grammar and composition

And I started clicking and reading and getting very excited. Do others know this is out here???? A veritable treasure trove of elegant words and noble ideas and substantial, rare English usage. I feel like I won the homeschool lottery today! My only vice now is coveting the Kindle or iPad…how nice to skip printer and ink and download these 150+page books directly to a tablet for the young student to use. I see this perfect blending of antiquated substance and modern technology! Sigh. Next year maybe!

     Language Lessons: A First Book of English – Wilbur Fisk Gordy, William Edward Mead

Practical Composition and Rhetoric – William Edward Mead, Wilbur Fisk Gordy

I was very excited to see this Practical Composition and Rhetoric. what a perfect carry-over to learn and practice great writing skills…writing skills lost to most of our public school system today. I admit, being a public schooled child, that I will most likely learn as much as my junior high – high school student with this book!

 

 

Introductory Language Lessons – Lawton Bryan Evans

Elements of English – Lawton Bryan Evans

I know that sometimes following a more Charlotte Mason inspired curriculum leaves me feeling as if I’m not doing enough…what with shorter lessons, less subjects, less drill and a more gentle approach. Yet looking through these wonderful public domain treasures  left me in awe. We have lost the art of language. In our rush to get better test scores we have left behind words and ideas and language that shaped nations. Sure, we know grammar. Sure, we can diagram a sentence (well, some of us anyway). But can we take that technical knowledge and turn it into ideas and thoughts that capture the spirit and move us forward? I see very little of that these days. And I believe that may be why it is so hard (even for us…gasp…adults) to pick up a classical work and read it. We feel like we are wading through it and I believe it is because that sort of language doesn’t come naturally for us anymore. Reading it feels like going against the grain and leaves us tired and frustrated. How I don’t want that for my children!

Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education.”  ~ Charlotte Mason

P.S. I added all of these wonderful works to my Free Resources Page! Go check it out.

How to File Paperwork if You Are Not a Planner {a.k.a. Unschooling}

That time is upon us once again….

Yep, filing paper work with the state education board. Fun. Fun.

This is my yearly quandary…

One of the huge advantages of homeschooling is following a MUCH more relaxed schedule. For us that contains a fair amount of unschooling…or child-led interests and rabbit trails. These really can’t be planned per say. But our state requires curriculum to be approved ahead of time. How do you balance spontaneity with a detailed plan to your state?

I do plan…in a general large-scale sorta way. We do history generally chronological. This year it will be modern history with an emphasis on the Great Depression, WWI and II, and the Industrial Revolution. But most of my planning comes in the form of strewing. I look for great living books to have on hand during chunks of learning time. I keep a running book list that I can use when purchasing on Amazon or at a library sale. We follow math and phonics in a somewhat sequential order but even these I hate to delegate to a “grade” because each of my children learn at different rates and sometimes we are still in the middle of a book when the school year “ends” and sometimes we are already in the middle of another book.

When I was trying to write out detailed plans to my state I was getting bogged down. What would we cover this year…when would we cover it…when would we be done? These questions my state would want to know and I would start sweating and becoming grumpy mommy as I desperately tried to put something on paper.

Don’t get me wrong…the planning part felt good. When I was done I felt this sense of accomplishment. Oh, of course that’s what we’ll study this year (i.e. science lessons all mapped out in great detai)! Happily I would start our year and miserably I would end it feeling like a failure because we were SO off track. Never mind that my kids were learning at a rapid pace. Never mind that they had filled their time with way more additional learning then I had written down. All I saw was those original lessons plans with a big red F across them!

Then I came up with a brilliant idea. Why not just write down a Scope and Sequence based on everything I had? I just started typing by category. Math? These were the books I owned (text and living). These were the manipulatives I owned. These were the games I owned. I put general grades after them. For instance, after listing Math U See I put K-5th Grade in parenthesis behind it. Suddenly I began to see a skeleton take shape. Eventually this is what I would teach to all my kids through all of their elementary school years and some beyond. Before I knew it I had an 8 page Elementary Scope & Sequence that MORE than covered any paltry state requirements.

I am free! This year all I had to do was pull up that file, delete and add a few things and in less than an hour I was finished. Print. Mail. Ahhhh….THAT felt good! The best part? Doesn’t matter that I’m homeschooling (officially) three children all at different grade levels. This one paper covers them all. Doesn’t matter where we are at the beginning of the year or the end. We have the freedom and leisure to learn any of this stuff at our own pace and our state has the peace of mind that we will be covering all the bases…eventually!

Here is a peek at my copy (your own will, obviously, vary) as well as a copy of my statement about using living books as that inventory list is WAY too long to send my state!

Elementary Scope & Sequence

Learning History Through Living Books

Feel free to download and steal these and modify for your own use!

Happy planning!!!

(P.S. please let me now if these links do not download right and I will try to fix! I tested them and so far so good.)

The Homeschool Mother's Journal 

 

 

The Learning Room ~ Working the Workboxes

This week saw a new change for us. I’ve been thinking about implementing workboxes for a while now. I especially started thinking about it when I serendipitously discovered that two of the boxes I had been holding toys in actually fit hanging file folders. I knew I couldn’t use the traditional method…not with six+ kids eventually all homeschooling at once!

2009-2010 Work Tubs

We had been using basic work tubs in that each child each had their own tub that held all their workbooks, school papers, pencil case, etc. that they pulled out during school time. These worked great for a year or so. My oldest two loved having their own books in their own space. I loved being able to throw everything into a tub and just tuck it away at the end of the school day. Our system broke down this year with a preschooler and two toddlers who thought it great fun to get into and dump out the tubs on an almost daily basis despite being disciplined for it. And I was also finding power struggles over kids wanting to work on a book that I hadn’t planned on for the day just because they saw it in their tub.

I now needed a system that ~

  • Fit on a bookshelf up high in a minimal amount of space away from destructive little kid hands.
  • Allowed the two older kids to pull out their workboxes and know exactly what to do and when/how long they had to do it along with the oder they were to do it in.
  • Allowed for me to work more one-on-one with my younger children who are desperate for my attention during school time.
  • Allowed for me to take 5 minutes in the evening to plan throw things together for the next day.
  • Allowed for me to use it in a very formal we-have-a-good-curriculum-plan-for-the-year sort of way or the spontaneous follow-the-rabbit-trail sort of way or the project-week-independent-interest-led-study sort of way.
  • Allowed for me to implement more of the notebooking/lapbooking pages I’ve collected in an organized manner.
  • Can also be used the same sort of way with the preschoolers/toddlers and guided activities.

So I researched one weekend and found this wonderful site of another researcher who had gone before me. Just love those trailblazers! I looked at all the examples of workbox systems working for others and took a few ideas and made it my own based on my needs. Most of my ideas are taken from how Ruby Slippers implements workboxes in their home. Here is what I came up with that worked wonderfully for us this week.

  • I took the clear plastic totes and hung about 6-8 file folders in it.
  • I took about five minutes to write out 15 minutes, 30 minutes over and over on one piece of cardstock and the numbers 1-6 twice on another piece and generically cut them into about one inch sqares.
  • I paperclipped the numbers to the folders on one side.
  • I put in what I wanted them to work on for the next day when I wanted them to work on it. (If it was something they didn’t have in the box like typing on the computer I just wrote what I wanted them to do on a piece of recycled paper and put that in the file).
  • I paperclipped the timed squares on the other side of the folder.
  • I taped a piece of cardstock in the back of the bin that said: FREE TIME if you have all your chores and schoolwork done.

Now the older two knew exactly what to do, in what order, and how long they had to do it. It really did only take me five minutes to throw together at night before I went to bed! And twice during the week I was too tired before bed so I took five minutes after breakfast to throw it together. The system worked beautifully. I especially like the paperclips. It allowed the freedom to switch things around very easily. And the kids LOVED having control over how their school day went and knowing when it ended. It turned the routine I had in my head into actual reality in our week. It even worked so well that on the day I had my ladies Bible class and daddy is watching the kids, schoolwork STILL got done! This has never happened before. The kids just effortlessly knew what to do and dad effortlessly played with the little kids managed their school time! I did just purchase two clip on timers so they each have their own to use for next week.

Hooray for workboxes!

Linked with Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers @


HIS Timing

I wasn’t going to post today. I was planning on really digging in and having a filled, focused day like yesterday. But then I read Elizabeth’s post on simplicity. And then I read Jenny’s post on simplicity. And this is where I have been struggling lately. I was convicted. I want…crave…need simplicity in my life. I see it in Him. I see it in His order. Like Elizabeth said, the simple and complex together in unison. I look out the window at the beautiful snow covered fields with the lightly falling down and the frosted trees and it is simple…simply beautiful.

But then I stare at the frosted window and marvel at the actual complexity of an ice crystal. My mind can’t even begin to wrap around it…the mathematics, the science, the geometry. How can He be so simple…I AM…and yet so complex…Alpha to Omega?

But it is really only me who makes it too complicated. It is me who gets distracted as I am in the middle of one chore and start doing another without finishing the first. It is me who thinks I must have a perfect plan in order to do school, assign chores, make a menu or grocery list. And it is me who gets derailed because I don’t have a perfect plan therefore the thing doesn’t get done because I am still “working” on my plan. Not that planning is bad, but my planning always seems to stay in planning and never moves to action.

Why did yesterday work so well? Aside from the obvious praying and staying in Him, I think it came from the simplicity of me not getting sucked into my own complexity. Does that make any sense? I stayed in the moment. Instead of getting distracted by another chore I was reminded to stay with the one I was doing and when I did that the chore got done in a timely manner and I was still on schedule. Did everything get done that I wanted in the day? Well, no. But then no day ever will. When I was tempted to hop on line I was reminded that I would have the freedom later and that allowed me to give attention ~ simple, blessed attention ~ to the one who needed it. When I needed to pull together a menu for the week and everything in my being wanted to sit at the computer and map it out I, instead, pulled out a piece of scratch paper and spent 10 minutes chicken-scratching a rough menu based on what I knew we had in the house. Does it look pretty hanging on the fridge? Nope. But I do know exactly what to make for dinner tonight and I still had time to finish up dinner yesterday while the little one napped.

And, of course, knowing all this does NOT make it easier to do or apply to my own life. I still must live in His grace and strength moment by moment or else I end up caving to myself…my fleshly desires. Not the obvious drinking and gluttony we all think of but the subtle flesh cravings…perfectionism, organization, doing what I want when I want. None of the things I want to do are bad. Most are really quite good and uplifting and helpful. But the time in which I do them is all wrong. And I think that is the key. His timing. His timing is always perfect. If we rest in Him our burdens will be light not because the work is easier but because His timing of the work will edify, purify and make us into who He plans us to be.

It is this truth I will rest in today as I am wrestling with caring for six very individualized, complex, perfect little beings.

Thank you Elizabeth for allowing us to link up and explore this ever-needed conversation of simplicity for mothers in this very complex, fallen world.

Small step buttonD1

Scheduling…or not!

While I am taking a break nursing in the middle of our put-together-the-playroom-by-the-end-of-the-day project, I linked to the site of another homeschooling momma who journals a little of everything. (Can you tell the name of the blog drew me there? Gentle Art of Chaos…ahhh, how that spoke to me!!!) And then I linked to her How I Schedule School Subjects  post and then I read and laughed the whole time shaking my head. And then I read and laughed and shook my head some more as I thought of my husband who JUST had this conversation with me the other day on how I just frustrate my own self by setting up systems that are bound to fail. And then I laughed as I cried as I read…

In case you want to make your own chart (and really, who wouldn’t?)

…and, again, thought of my husband tsking me as I DO want to make this chart!!! (Really, I’ve been thinking magnets for a while now. Now I know, it can work. Right? Right?)

So, stop on over and read about how we schedule too! (Well, not the chart part…yet…but all the rest is how we fly!)

She is definitely getting added to my blogroll!!!

Free Printable Worksheets!

While looking up some help for Lily with spelling today, I ran across this site.

It’s called Super Teacher Worksheets and is full of free printable worksheets in pdf format. Since I’ve been thinking alot about pdf’s and how to organize them (post here, forum question here), I was excited to go ahead and add a bunch of these to my own growing collection before official organizing took place.

My especially favorite downloads today:

Happy Browsing!