Friday, November 09, 2012

Rocks Unit

We started our year off with a unit inspired by O Boy's recent fascination with all things rocks.  This past summer we spent quite a bit of time hammering open rocks, looking for gold, digging up garnets and basically being amazed at all the different kinds of rocks.  So I decided to build an eclectic unit around rocks.  Here are some of the things we included...

After we started the year reading about and painting volcanoes, and I was hunting around for a good read-aloud, I was reminded of the fantastic book The Twenty One Balloons, based on the real-life eruption of Krakatoa.  This broadened out our study in so many fun ways.  We were able to study, paint, and build hot air balloons while we continued our rocks study.  So after we painted our volcanoes, the next week we had to paint hot air balloons flying over the volcanoes, of course.  We also learned a lot about Krakatoa, San Francisco (including where they are geographically) and the time period in which The Twenty One Balloons is set.
This is O Boy's volcano and hot air balloon.  I love watching him take the basics of a task and turn it into so much more than I ever imagined.

On his volcano, he not only included my requirements (magma, lava and a volcano), but a scientist, an Indian shooting an arrow at the volcano (still not sure about that one), a city being demolished by the incoming lava, a helicopter flying overhead, and all sorts of things being spewed out of the volcano.

This is Mr. T's barebones volcano.  He aims to meet the bottom line requirements and move on.  He did put lava and magma in the right place and, on subsequent days, colored a  hot air balloon (the top one was colored by the Little Sweetie).  Coloring pictures and staying within the lines are not two of his favorite activities, so it's something we work on as often as I can motivate him to do it.  On this particular balloon he did very well when he was helped by having the areas he wanted to color outlined first.

Here is the Little Sweetie's volcano - and it even has a line of magma running down the center!  Flying above it is a hot air balloon painted by Mr. T.
Using the GEOLOGY ROCKS unit study book we did several great experiments on rocks, crystal formation and the different kinds of rocks.  Here we are making some sugar crystals that we cooled slowly to see how igneous rocks appear when they cool slowly.

One thing O Boy has enjoyed doing this year is coming up with snacks that go along with whatever we are studying.  On this day he made little "volcanoes" out of halved apples, peanut butter and craisins (performing as magma and lava).

Mr. T is really working on learning his beginning skip counting sets.  Here he is, having just lined up all the 10s to 100!

On youtube there is a fun video series done by the Hungry Geologist (see end of post) demonstrating many rock concepts using food.  One of our favorites is when he shows how the 3 kinds of rocks are formed (using candy).  Here is O Boy getting ready to melt some chocolate to demonstrate how igneous rocks are formed by extreme heating and then cooling.  We poured the melted chocolate over frozen blueberries to demonstrate rapid cooling.  And then, of course, we ate it all up!
Here are the kids with all the materials to make some delicious sedimentary rocks.  We layered all sorts of things to make some beautiful layers: raisins, rice crispies, m and m's, and chocolate chips.
Sedimentary rocks

Igneous rocks (melted chocolate quickly cooled over frozen blueberries).
Igneous rocks
We never did the metamorphic rocks cooking experiment because our microwave began shooting sparks !! while we were melting the chocolate for the igneous rocks experiment.  That was a mystery we never solved.  We ended up having to buy a new microwave and by that time, we'd moved on to studying outer space.
And now can I eat it??
An experiment to see how crystals look when they are cooled quickly.
Rock candy!  It shatters easily and is delicious to munch.
The two kinds of crystals: the ones on the stick were cooled slowly and the round circle cooled quickly.

Here's Mr. T and his wonderful helper/teacher, Super Ginny, working on some tissue paper hot air balloons.

Finished product!
You can find the patterns for these here.
This was a color by number I worked on with Mr. T.  It was pretty challenging for him because some of the spaces were so small.  But he stuck it out and I had him cut it out to add a little cutting to the activity.
After we read about the amazing houses in The Twenty One Balloons, I had the boys write a bit about an amazing house they could pretend to live in.  O Boy got to pick his photo out.  Here's what they came up with:

My house is on Mars.  My house can fly.  I go to my house on Saturday.  My house rocketship is in a secret place!

Mr. T's says: Our house is a bulldozer.  My house is silly.

One other fun thing that O Boy did was to illustrate sections of The Twenty One Balloons as we read it.  Here is his picture of the Airy Go Round.
Here is his picture of the diamond mines.
Mr. F and Professor Sherman holding diamonds.

This is his picture of Krakatoa, with the green grassy area surrounded by their houses (next to the active volcano!).

Here is another fun thing O Boy came up with during this unit: a Volcano Book he worked very hard on one afternoon.

Cover of the book
Different kinds of volcanoes.  If you know your volcano types, you'll recognize these!
A volcano in action.  I think he was also showing the different kinds of things that shoot out of volcanoes.
A cross section of a volcano, showing the magma coming out.

How a volcano grows.  When he showed this to me, he said, "Just like that volcano in that field with that farmer."  You'll have to read about the volcano discovered in Paricutin, Mexico to see what he means.

Books we read:

Some links to other resources we used:
Watch the Hungry Geologist video (on the 3 kinds of rocks) here.
Check out our favorite video on rocks here.
Watch the Magic School Bus Blows Its Top here.