Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe
He read the entire Elements book, then followed it by laying out the entire deck of cards to form the periodic table. This isn't the only activity you can do with these cards, however; there are lots of ideas for follow-up work and alternative exploration with the cards. One of my favorites is to take all of the cards in a column (or a row) of the periodic table and examine them to see what they have in common that causes them to be placed in the same category. This is something you cannot easily do with a book or a poster!
Other materials in the series which I don't yet have are
Molecules: The Elements and the Architecture of Everything
Other materials which I have used and highly recommend for the classroom are the First 20 Elements Three Part Cards by Montessori R&D [$45.00] and the Atom Board by ETC Montessori [$120.00]. Please note that you will have to purchase the red/proton, clear/neutron, and blue/electron beads for the Atom Board separately. Invaluable teacher background can be found in The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean... plus, it's a great read!
(Here are some great pictures of my former students using the Atom Board as well as examples of the 3-D kinetic mobiles of atoms which we made as part of our element study. I have the lesson plan for how to assemble the mobiles; let me know if you are interested and I'll be happy to share it.)
In other homeschool news, we implemented a new classroom job chart, nearly finished our read aloud story, and completed our Haunted Houses of Speech. Our poem for the week was "Fog" by Carl Sandburg. We worked on ongoing Handwork projects and received our beautiful handwork tote bags which were made by a talented grandparent. Email me if you'd like the pattern! They have a handy internal pocket specifically for knitting needles, as well as an attached fabric strip to use for storing your straight pins!
We also had an awesome new Special start this week: Structured Word Inquiry. Thank you, all of the parents and family members of our students who come in to share your talents and enrich our school day.
In Extra Lesson, my older students did Puddle Question #3 from our 8th grade Math book, completed a Reading & Writing Survey, and solved a very fun/challenging One-Step Equations Picture Puzzle which included solving problems in all four operations with negative numbers.
In Art, we did Marble Painting, made a great -- and so easy -- playdough recipe with 2 cups cornstarch + 1 cup lotion, and read the Native American legend Owl Eyes and followed it with creating our own animals out of clay.
My Old Testament Stories group did a ton of watercolor painting this week. We painted the second painting for Day One (and there was light) as well as Day Three (parting of the waters, dry land, plants). Then we completed two paintings for Day Four: the sun and the moon.
My Four Seasons & Poetry group continued with our Biomes lessons from Waseca. These are a follow-up to the Parts of the Biome jars.
the awesome solar energy jar!
We did the Air Cycle Ballet for "Air" and read The Drop in My Drink: The Story of Water on Our Planet and made a water cycle in a ziploc bag for "Water." This water cycle activity is easy and effective. Just use a Sharpie to draw a line of waves two-thirds of the way down from the top of the bag for the ocean. Add a few clouds in the sky and a sun. Then dye some water blue using food coloring and pour it into the bag up to the top of your ocean waves. Add a few ice cubes for icebergs. Tape with strong tape up in a sunny window and watch the melting, evaporation, condensation, and precipitation.
The story goes super-well with a glass of water from the tap. I recommend having everyone pour themselves a glass of water before you begin to read. And our new classroom camel routine has worked so well to encourage students to drink. (When you finish your glass of water you can go and get him; when the next child finishes his or her water, the camel moves to sit by that person. The kids just love to gulp down their water and go get the camel so he can be beside them as they work.) Our friendly little wooden bactrian makes the rounds throughout the classroom each day. Even I drink more water with that little camel around to remind me! 10 dollars well spent. Plus Zac can play with him when the school day is over!
Holztiger Little Camel Figure
We began lessons for the "Soil" part of the biome this week as well. We read How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World and followed it with the nomenclature booklets for the Layers of the Soil. Then yesterday I did the Four Components of Productive Soil lesson (find this fabulous lesson plan at my previous blog post -- just don't forget to have 20 nickels on hand!) and the Apple Lesson.
Next week we will move on to the seasons Spring and Summer, as well as the "Plants" and "Animals" parts of the biome. To help spur an interest in the parts of the plant, I sent students home with the Growing Celery Indoors activity from 17 Apart. We do this all the time and it is fascinating to watch.
pictures from their blog post
The younger group is also writing a series of poems for their Poetry main lesson books. We are all using our Morning Pages creative writing time to practice poetry writing, but they are taking the next step and polishing and publishing their work in their MLBs. We did Autumn haiku and acrostic poems, and then moved to practicing Imagery and Rhyme Scheme for our Winter poems. I shared one of my favorite poems with the class, Velvet Shoes by Elinor Wylie (found in Poetry of Earth, collected and edited by Adrienne Adams). Our read aloud, The Adventures of Maya the Bee, is excellent for examples of rich language. Two that I specifically pointed out to the class were "a full clear disk of silver, from which the radiance poured down that beautified the world" (moon) and "a little polished terra-cotta half-sphere with seven black dots on its cupola of a back" (ladybug). Our poem for the week was also a good example. Becca just paused in the middle of her Cranberry-Chutney Turkey Salad Sandwich, turned to Leah at the dinner table, and said, "Hey, Leah, did you know that the fog comes in on little cat feet?"