We began, of course, by reviewing the previous lesson, The Eye. Students completed their summaries and illustrations for their main lesson books.
One child even made a little index card for the experiment "The Blind Spot" and placed it in a small envelope taped inside the back cover of his MLB.
Day One Story & Exploration
I took my story for The Vestibular System from Linda Allison's book, Blood and Guts: A Working Guide to Your Own Insides.
The chapter is called "Balance: The Sense of Upright." I required that the older students take notes during the lesson.
In our analogy of The Great River, vision is one of the five senses which serves as Cabinet members and advisors to the President, the Brain. I explained to students that balance is also one of our senses! There are more than just five (in fact, Rudolf Steiner referred to twelve). As such, the Vestibular System is also part of the Department of Communcation. You can think of it as just another office in the Department.
For this system, more than for the others we have done so far, I wished I had extra items available for the demonstrations. I've put them in bold.
We read page 105 (Design Problem, Inner Ear) and talked about how unstable a two-legged stool would be! In fact, it would be great to have a four-legged stool and a three-legged stool in the classroom to show.
We read page 106 (Up and Down Sense) and talked about how the bone dust trickles down through the liquid like snow in a snow globe. Again, it would be great to have a snow globe handy! You could even make a snow globe as a follow-up activity. This "little hairs sensing change in liquid" is a technique the body uses again and again, so it helps if kids really can picture it and understand it.
We read page 107 (Sense of Direction) and talked about what it means that our world is 3-D. I actually had the students feel this out... bring your hands up toward the ceiling and down toward the floor, bring your hands to your right side and to your left side, bring your hands toward your heart and away from your heart. Each semicircular canal is responsible for sensing one of these directions. It would be great to have play dough available to model their curves, each in a different direction.
We did the Lag-Behind Effect activity on page 107. This is a simple demonstration that just uses a glass of water and some cinnamon. It helps if the glass of water has been sitting stationery on the table the whole time.
We did the Upright Without Sight activity on page 108 and then read the rest of the page (Quick Shifts) as well as page 109 (Incredible Balancing Act).
We finished with page 110 (What is Balance?) and I balanced a pencil on my outstretched finger. Then we did the activities in Equilibrium Appreciation.
Day Two Review & Exploration
On the second day we reviewed The Vestibular System using the nomenclature three-part cards from ETC Montessori. This taught us the name of each of the semi-circular canals, as well as the term cochlea, which was a great transition into the next lesson, The Ear. Students already knew this one was coming next... because they had already asked me about the parts of the ear which are used for hearing, as opposed to balance.
Main Lesson Book
Students began to draft their summaries and illustrations for The Vestibular System.
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