Monday, September 30, 2019

Wrapping Up Landforms & Water Features

Here are the previous posts from this main lesson block:

Now here we are concluding our study of metamorphosis forms.

Monday, September 23

  • review Glacier / Fjord / Iceberg three-part cards from Mandala Resources, add to classroom display, add to MLB
  • examine Water Cycle Mat from Waseca Biomes
  • discuss and make Archipelego / Atoll / Reef metamorphosis in clay

Tuesday, September 24

Thursday, September 26

Friday, September 27 - Field Trip

  • review River / Bay / Estuary, add to classroom display, add to MLB
  • discuss River / Tributary / River Basin / Delta
  • use wooden blocks and play silks to model the gradual buildup of sediment from river meanders and the formation of oxbow lakes
  • take class field trip to Inspiration Point in Wolf Lake IL and Devil's Backbone State Park in Grand Tower IL; hike Inspiration Point trail; view and discuss Pine Hill Escarpment, Mississippi River, Mississippi River basin, levees, Big Muddy River (tributary), and LaRue Swamp (abandoned river meander); consider whether levees which help farmers protect their land interfere with the natural drainage system in the river basin, which could potentially make flooding worse
  • Inspiration Point Trail, Shawnee National Forest, Wolf Lake IL

    Devil's Backbone Park and Tower Rock, Grand Tower IL

    Geology Underfoot in Illinois
    by Raymond Wiggers
    chapter 23, "A Fault-Seeking Expedition"

Monday, September 30 - Field Trip

  • review River / Tributary / River Basin / Delta, add to classroom display, add to MLB
  • take class field trip to Giant City State Park in Makanda IL; hike Devil's Standtable Nature Trail and discuss its formation; enjoy a picnic lunch; visit Giant City State Park Visitor's Center, look at topographical map of the park, watch film, ask questions of the naturalist, and look at displays explaining the history and geography of our region and the formation of the dramatic sandstone features
  • explain Plain / Plateau / Butte / Earth Pillar, add to classroom display

While at Giant City State Park I saw several flyers for fun upcoming events:

click on any image to enlarge

Tomorrow we will add final landforms & water features to our books, number pages, add the table of contents, and decorate the front and back covers.

One last suggestion for a great family field trip to follow up on this topic... Little Grand Canyon, Pomona IL.

We also finished reading Abel's Island by William Steig (which was the absolutely perfect complement to this main lesson block).

Next up on our read aloud list: The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth!

This post contains affiliate links to materials I truly use for homeschooling. Qualifying purchases provide me with revenue. Thank you for your support!

Saturday, September 28, 2019

What to Do When Science Experiments Don't Work Out

One of the biggest problems I have with Science instruction is when an activity is billed as an experiment but it truly isn't. VERY RARELY does a book of Science Experiments for children actually have experiments in it. In fact, I think Asia Citro's The Curious Kid's Science Book is the only one I've seen.

The Curious Kid's Science Book

by Asia Citro

Most books have Demonstrations... they tell you what materials to collect, they tell you what procedures to follow, they tell you what will happen, and they tell you why it is happening. It's a demonstration of a scientific idea and it's been carefully crafted to work and to help you understand that idea.

I'm sorry, but that's not really an Experiment.

"Is slug slime as strong as a glue stick?"
I totally want to know the answer to that question (Asia doesn't tell us) and I would dearly love to design the experiment that would help me figure it out.

Think about it from the child's point of view.

An Experiment is when you do not know what will happen. It is when maybe even your teacher does not know what will happen. It is when you and everyone who is doing it with you are actually thinking like scientists. It is when you are testing your ideas and taking notes and thinking it through and tweaking something in your materials or your procedure (changing only one variable at a time, of course) and then testing your ideas again.

When an experiment does not work out, rejoice! It's an opportunity to really model scientific inquiry. This week in Science Club we were blessed with two experiments that did not work out. And we had two demonstrations.

Friday, September 27

The astute observer will notice that we switched Sean Connolly books!

We started Science Club this year with the Periodic Table of the Elements. Now we are looking further at combinations and determining whether they are simply a mixture (like the iron filings and sand, which we mixed with a spoon and then separated with a magnet covered in plastic wrap) or an actual chemical reaction (like baking soda and vinegar reacting and carbon dioxide gas being formed in the process).

I demonstrated a mixture with the iron filings and sand; I demonstrated a chemical reaction with the baking soda & vinegar in "Frankenstein's Hand."

We also reviewed last week's demonstration, "On the Trail of Cavendish," where we had seen a chemical reaction in action. We found water vapor inside a glass which had been placed over a burning candle and left there until the candle went out. Our experience was that the combustion had been a "bond breaker"; the water vapor appeared because the bonds between the carbon and hydrogen in the candle wax had been broken and so hydrogen was able to join with the oxygen in the air to make water. Carbon was also able to join with the oxygen to make carbon dioxide. Bonds were broken. New bonds formed. We acted this out in our group with handshakes.

Now it was time to do two more messy and fun chemical reactions, both of which required us to be outside and both of which were perfect for a hot and sunny late September day.

My students have been begging me to do baking soda & vinegar volcanoes and test tube rockets. So we did. That's the whole point of the wishlists!

However, after carefully making our volcano model (digging clay from the back yard, soaking it in a tub of water to soften it, and then slapping it up the sides of a 1 L water bottle) and carefully following the amounts of baking soda, vinegar, and dish detergent in Connolly's book, we found NO ERUPTION. The mixture didn't bubble enough to come out of the bottle.

Great! Now we could tweak the recipe and come up with a better one. Doubling the baking soda and then tripling the vinegar gave us a very satisfying reaction, one which worked so fast that we could barely get the funnel out of the way before ooze was coming out of the volcano's opening.

After messy clay digging & volcano building fun, it was time for the final project. The famous Mentos and Diet Coke eruption was something I had been dreading (a bit) because it was 12 Mentos and a 2 L bottle of Diet Coke... which is supposed to be quite impressive. Of course, as the teacher I was the one in charge of loading the test tube with a dozen Mentos, balancing it upside down on a 2 inch square piece of cardboard placed over the open mouth of the soda bottle, pulling the cardboard out of the way, and sprinting to safety before I got dramatically sticky & wet.

In preparation for this experiment, I went ahead and got the test tubes and test tube rack which I have had on my Amazon wish list for several years.

They are beautiful test tubes and I'm truly glad that I have them... but I didn't measure a Mentos before buying them. Connolly said "test tube" so I got some. Turns out that the diameter of said tubes (20 mm) is not as big as the diameter of the candy (> 20 mm).

Ok, time to brainstorm.

After some discussion we decided to use a toilet paper tube instead. We stacked the Mentos in the toilet paper tube balanced on the cardboard square, and then I pulled the cardboard away and dashed to the sidelines.

As it turns out, only about four Mentos went into the bottle (we still got a pretty cool geyser but it wasn't as big as it would have been with three times as many Mentos). Most of them just fell into the grass.

Great! Now we could tweak the candy delivery system and come up with a better one. Time to get out Science notebooks and brainstorm and sketch...

If you have any ideas to share for this, please feel free to comment. And I'll let you know what happens next week when we tackle this problem again!

This post contains affiliate links to materials I truly use for homeschooling. Qualifying purchases provide me with revenue. Thank you for your support!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

September - Michael and the Dragon

On the Waldorf calendar, September 29 is Michaelmas. Here are a few notes from our week of Dragon Fun!

We continued with Songs, Verses & Movement for classroom routines, and made a few changes to our Circle Time series of verses and finger plays.

Circle Time

Monday, September 23

It is always so challenging to find a Michaelmas story that is suitable for early childhood, but I really love the one in Tell Me a Story. And the children loved hearing this Autumn story each day this week. I found that when I got to the part about a "cloak of light," I instinctively reached for a white silk and tied it around my shoulders. We all want to bravely fight that dragon!

I had made a Michaelmas Candle many years ago when my girls were small, so we greatly enjoyed lighting it and watching it during snack time. It was almost as if the dragon was breathing out the fire. This was just a handmade red rolled beeswax candle which I embellished with decorating beeswax. Today I got out my rolled beeswax candlemaking supplies and helped each child roll a small candle to take home.

Tuesday, September 24

Today we sprinkle dyed wool felt for our dragon finger puppets! This is so easy to do and gives absolutely beautiful results! All you need is a piece of white pure wool felt, bowls, spoons, colors of unsweetened Kool-Aid powder, water, and a rimmed baking sheet. Lay the felt on the baking sheet, saturate with water, sprinkle colors (don't use Grape because the powder is black), and watch the colors flow and blend. They continue moving for a long time.

The colors on this dyed felt are perfect for tropical fish finger puppets, dragons, etc. I even used it as the "icing" on our play kitchen felt cookies!

Going on a Bell Hunt was a big hit. Two children walked holding their bells as quietly as possible so that they would not make a sound and the third child hid in the fort pretending to be the dragon in his lair. When the other children got close, the dragon would rush out roaring and the other children would run around the yard wildly ringing their bells as loudly as possible.

Thursday, September 26

Today was Stone Soup day AND a bread baking day! We started right away with the cooking. I tackled the Stone Soup in the kitchen, calling students in one at a time to help, and in the living room older children paired up with younger children to assist them with shaping their Dragon Bread.

Below are my notes from last year, which I used again this year. I was glad that I had written so many details in that blog post!

I used frozen bread dough which I thawed in the fridge overnight.

I got it out at 8:45 am to warm up and at 9 am we immediately began to shape it and decorate it to be our dragon buns (some nice pictures of this are on page 147 of All Year Round). We had to get to work so early in order for the bread to have enough time to have its second rise so that we could bake it and eat it before the children left. Going straight to the shaping and decorating was quite relaxing and fun and children were quietly busy with their currants and sliced almonds making dragon-esque eyes and scales.

It worked well to make the dragons first, then let them rise during morning play time and circle time. When we went into the kitchen for snack we could see that they had doubled in size. I put them in the oven to bake and then took them out and let them cool while the children were at recess. They got to eat their bread when they came back in from outside play, and share what was left of their dragons with their families when they went home.

    Simplest Dragon Bread Baking - Notes

    I got Rhodes White Bread in the three loaf pack. We thawed two loaves, enough for four children to make dragon bread. I followed package instructions in all regards except the shaping of the dragons.

    7 pm - 9 am
    Thaw dough in fridge overnight (each loaf thaws in a loaf pan)

    9 am - 9:30 am
    Give each child 1/2 loaf of bread dough on a piece of parchment paper. Write each child's name on the paper. Shape dough into dragons and decorate with dried currants and sliced almonds.

    9:30 am - 11 am
    Place parchment paper pieces in a warm place uncovered to let rise

    11 am - 11:20 am
    Lift dragons off parchment paper and place on baking sheet. Use a piece of paper to draw a diagram of where each child's dragon is. Bake bread at 350 degress F for 20 minutes

    11:20 am - 11:40 am
    Allow to cool for 20 minutes

    11:40 am - 12 noon
    Eat! Don't forget to share your dragon bread with friends and family

We also spent some time today talking about sewing patterns and I showed the children the dragon finger puppet pattern I drew (based on this picture) and then cut out of tracing paper. I showed them how a pattern is pinned onto fabric and then cut out with sharp scissors. Since our sprinkle dyed felt has so many various colors in it, they each got to choose exactly where they'd like the dragon pattern to be placed. They also chose a piece of colored wool felt from Magic Cabin to be the backside color of their dragon. I have learned from experience that it's really difficult to make a finger puppet that has the Kool Aid wool felt on both sides, since it becomes much stiffer when it is dyed. The color combinations the children chose are lovely.

Ms. Anna worked in the art room helping older children with their cutting and sewing (they really wanted to do this project too) and next week I will work together with the younger ones to carefully sew their dragon finger puppets.

"Jump the River" was also a big hit! And here was our list of veggies in the Stone Soup this week. Thank you to everyone who contributed:

    sweet potato
    sweet yellow and red peppers
    non-spicy jalapeno peppers
    red onion

This post contains affiliate links to materials I truly use for homeschooling. Qualifying purchases provide me with revenue. Thank you for your support!

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Photos from the Start of the School Year

working on our collaborative classroom tapestry,
the Backyard Biome

converting improper fractions to mixed numbers

a lesson on the Short Bead Chains
for skip counting & square numbers

graph paper multiplication
(this lesson comes after the Checker Board)

2165 x 3

a lesson on the Hundred Board

from Waseca Biomes

this food chain chart can be used
with the wooden plant & animal pieces

looking at our first landform three-part card

creating and symbolizing a sentence about the
Coral Reef using the Grammar materials

coral reef artwork with acrylic ink

practicing washing vegetables

working together on the Tree of Life
from Waseca Biomes

helping prepare lunch at Dayempur Farm

the swimming pond is wonderful this time of year!

the barn where children have their Carpentry lessons

fort building takes teamwork!

working together
(ages 2 to 6)

the clay cave is added to our Abel's Island scene

a motif for form drawing

weaving on a shoebox
creating personal tapestries

a lesson on the Checker Board

this Montessori material combines the place value
color coding of the Stamp Game with the
digit color coding of the Colored Bead Chains
and is used for long multiplication 

it can be used for hands on multiplication of large quantities
(a multiplicand to the hundred millions place
times a four digit multiplier)

mixing custom colors of watercolor paint

painting the rocks at the bottom of a waterfall

adding the sheet of water pouring down vertically

splattering to create
the texture of the splashing water

adding final details with watercolor pencils

the Cosmic Story in Science Club

joyful cooking at the mud kitchen

taking the dolls for a walk outside

noticing landforms & water features that are
mirror images of each other

Miss Shelby brings giant bubble making wands
to share with everyone

we mix up a batch of bubble stuff in the mud kitchen sink

it works!!!!!

everyone wants a turn

making bubble soup

our brand-new handmade knitting needles