Friday, October 19, 2012
Layers of the Earth, Magnetism
The first great lesson, God with no Hands, led to follow up work on volcanoes. The work on volcanoes led to a great interest in the inside of the Earth. For this reason, the next lesson I chose from the KotU albums was about the layers of the Earth. The explanation given in Jessica's album tied itself beautifully to the "Dance of the Elements" portion of the great lesson and the "liquids settle according to weight" experiment. I made my own chart like the example in the album because the ETC Press chart I have did not use the same vocabulary, nor does the image illustrate the "settling according to weight" idea or emphasize the magnetism of the barysphere like the chart in the album did.
This is the ETC chart. We will probably use it in later study when we talk in more detail again about the layers of the Earth.
I cannot recommend the book How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World enough! We own it and the boys have read it before. They suggested we bring it back out right away. The tone is marvelous. It reminds me very much of the "If You Give a Pig a Pancake" books.
I expected this work to lead to interest in geysers, dirt and rocks, or the bottom of the ocean. Instead Kal-El was fascinated with the concept of the barysphere and it's role in keeping us from falling off the Earth by pulling everything toward it. He wanted to know more about magnetism. I wasn't ready for magnetism. My album has about two sentences about magnetism. This was exactly what I've been worrying about.
Fortunately, several people had recommended a series of books to me that solved my problem. Right on my iPad along with the albums I was using in the first place I had the Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding series. A few finger taps and a keyword search and I was on to several pages of Montessori-style lessons on magnetism. Jessica from Keys of the Universe coincidentally wrote about this resource in detail today so you can pop over to her blog to read all about it.
We pulled out the magnets that we have from our supply drawers and started with the recommended "magnetic"/"not-magnetic" work. We added in vocabulary regarding "attraction." This kept them busy for an hour. We'll be heading into the other works, such as poles and magnetic fields, next week. The book did exactly what I needed it to...buy me time to order some extra magnets and iron filings to do the continuing work as well as time to go to the library where we found some books on magnetism and some videos.
Once again Franklyn Branley hit the mark perfectly. I recommend his book What Makes a Magnet? for this age level.
The next day we continued our work on the layers of the Earth. The boys made models of the Earth's layers from playdoh.
I will say that this post is a good example of how the Great Lessons and followups are doing a more-than-adequate job of driving child-led work across multiple subjects. I think I gave the God With No Hands lesson three weeks ago. I don't want to stop the boys lines of inquiry by interrupting them with the next lesson, which will certainly spark new lines of inquiry and extinguish these. However, by not having had some of the other Great Lessons Kal-El is missing out on some connections he would be making in other areas. For example, we are talking a lot about etymology in geometry and grammar but he hasn't had the history of language lessons.
So, one of my few complaints about elementary Montessori albums, including Jessica's, is not knowing what to do next. I don't know what to do on Monday. Do I do the "further details of the composition of the Earth" lesson followed by formation of mountains? Or, do I bump over to "attraction and gravity." If I do bump over to "attraction and gravity" do I go through the four lessons in that chapter that precede "attraction and gravity" first, or can I jump right into it? OR have I lost momentum on the OTHER great lessons follow ups. Should I be presenting the black strip on Monday instead? Grrr.