Ask Alison: Geology (part 1)

003

Andrea and I talk everyday. The majority of our conversations revolves around homeschooling, and there is a phrase one of us utters every couple of days: “Ask Alison.” Sometimes it’s a question “Did you ask Alison . . . ” Sometimes it’s a statement “I’m going to ask Alison . . . ” Sometimes it’s a command, “Oh, when you talk to her, ask Alison . . . ” So hence a periodic pop-up on the blog here: Ask Alison. We all met at Taproot two years ago and hit it off instantly. You may remember her bird block back in August. It was a great way to start our year and I know a few other people took her advice as well.

A couple of months ago, I was completely spinning my wheels about the sixth grade geology block. I had a few resources, a couple of books, but no spark, no direction and no idea about how to bring it to Vincent. On a whim, I emailed Alison and asked her for a place to start. She emailed me about four times in 30 minutes. The woman is a science dynamo! The list below is a synthesis of her suggestions. We we able to find 80% of the books at the library and loved, loved, loved our geology block. I will post our block summary at some point, but I wanted to share Alison’s suggestions and enthusiasm in case you need a little inspiration yourself.

***

Here is a book list of books my boys loved for this block. Personally l like to do the structure of the Earth as a whole from core to crust. I think of geology as being about land forms, rock types (igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary) and gem stones, volcanoes, earthquakes – plate tectonics, the history of the Earth’s formation (connects to astronomy) – maybe some fossils and paleontology thrown in for good measure. The idea of sifting through layers so to speak – the layers contain hidden treasures and each layer goes with a period in the Earth’s history – the fossil record.
Resources:
  • How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World – by Faith McNulty
  • The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth – by Joanna Cole. I know, I know but kids LOVE it – I feel like I might have been Mrs. Frizzle in another life. (Sheila’s note: Alison was DEFINITELY Ms. Frizzle in a former life!!) There is probably a DVD of this somewhere out there as well.
  • Cave by Donald Silver
  • Life Story: The Story of Life on our Earth From its Beginning up to Now by Virginia Lee Burton (Mike Mulligan’s author)
  • Geography from A to Z: A Picture Glossary by Jack Knowlton – good source of spelling words – play with modeling the land forms with clay and digging  them in the dirt etc.
  • Earth From Above for Young Readers by Yves Bertrand. Beautiful book – you can mix it up and just open to a page a day (random surprise!) and then find where it is on the globe and talk about what the surface is like there (biome) and what land forms are present. Kids love it – geography and geology
  • Check out the DVD Gum Boots which is about diamond miners in South Africa and a musical and dance genre they created
  • Let’s Go Rock Collecting by Roma Gans – seems a little youngish at first but both my boys LOVED it and it has a lot of really complex information presented in a very easy to understand way. Especially the three kinds of rock and how they are formed
  • Mountain Dance by Thomas Locker – beautiful.
  • Mastodon Mystery by Taylor Morrison
  • And for you  – John McPhee Basin and Range. I’m hard-core:)
  • Seymour Simon – EarthquakesVolcanoesIcebergs and Glaciers
  • Billy and Blaze and the Lost Quarry, C.W. Anderson
  • Billy and Blaze and the Indian Cave, C.W. Anderson

Project Ideas:

  • Rock and Gemstone pocket guides
  • Visit a jewelry store and/or a rock shop
  • Start a rock collection – organize by kind of rock, where and how are the gemstones were mined – geography again.
  • Get a crystal growing kit and some geodes to hit with hammers and crack open.
  • Oreo cookies and Plate tectonics – sound good?
  • Also think about making a clay model of the earth with the different layers in different colors and then slicing it in half.
  • You guys could also do some of those Dinosaur Digs in a Box to make it easy for you.  A surprise for a rainy day – you could drink some wine when they dig and chip away. (Sheila’s note: How can you not love her??!!)
  • Visit a Natural History Museum