Exploring our Physical World
To develop a sense of place we need an understanding of the Earth itself – the ground beneath our feet, the air we breathe, the water that fills our lakes, streams and oceans and the other living things that share our planet. We’ll look at the Earth’s geosphere when we study rocks and erosion, at the atmosphere when we learn about the blanket of air that surrounds us, and at the hydrosphere when we learn about the water cycle, winds, clouds, and weather. Throughout we’ll consider the biosphere, the living things in our world, and how they interact with the other components.
Our exploration starts with the sun, the engine that powers Earth’s major systems. In Sunlight and Shadow we’ll see how and why we experience day and night and the seasons, and we’ll consider how sunlight supplies the energy for photosynthesis, fuels the water cycle, and provides the right conditions for life. Beginning our study of the geosphere, in Erosion we’ll look at the process of erosion that has shaped and formed the Earth’s landforms over time by wearing away and carrying away rocks, soil, sand, and sediments, and depositing them in new places. We’ll look at how gravity, water, wind, and ice change the land, and we’ll consider the impact humans have as well. In Rocks and Minerals we’ll study the Earth’s crust, looking at rocks and learning how they’ve been formed and reformed, and at fossils, considering how they tell us about organisms and conditions in the past. We’ll examine minerals, testing their different properties as we try to identify them, and look at rocks we find outside for evidence of how they were made and how far they’ve traveled. Continue reading Earth
air The mixture of gases that forms the earth’s atmosphere.
air pressure The weight of air pressing on the earth; at sea level, about 14.7 pounds per square inch.
angle of repose The greatest angle at which rocks, sand, or other material can remain without sliding.
anvil bone The tiny bone in our middle ear, shaped like an anvil, that conducts sound waves to the stirrup bone.
auditory nerve The nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain that allows us to hear different sounds. Continue reading Earth – Vocabulary for Children
The sun gives a rhythm to our lives – day follows night, shadows grow shorter and longer, the seasons follow a regular progression over the year. We are adapted to these daily and seasonal changes, and our lives are structured around them. Bats hunt at night and dragonflies in the daytime, leaves turn colors in the fall, buds swell in the spring. Whether plant or animal, diurnal or nocturnal, all living things depend on the sun for providing heat and light and making our planet habitable. Continue reading Sunlight and Shadow – Background
**Caution: It is not safe to look directly at the sun!**
FOCUS: As the Earth spins on its axis and travels around the sun, we experience day and night and the seasons. The sun’s rays give us energy in the form of light and heat. Solar energy warms the Earth, fuels the water cycle, and generates our weather systems. It provides the energy for plants to carry out photosynthesis, the basis of food chains and webs, and the conditions in which living things can exist. Through engineering we can also harness the sun’s energy for our own uses.
Introduction: What are some things the children have noticed about the sun? (If convenient, bring children outside to do “Eyes Closed” and “Tracing Shadows” to begin with, and then revisit the shadow tracings later.) Continue reading Sunlight and Shadow – Activities
The Sun is Falling!
Characters: Gracie Grouse, Myrtle Turtle, Honeybee, Rosie Raspberry, Benjy Bear.
Gracie Grouse Squawk, squawk! Look out, look out! The sun is falling! The sun is falling!
Myrtle Turtle: The sun is falling? How do you know, Gracie Grouse?
Grouse How do I know? Why, it was high up above my head just a little while ago. And now look, it’s halfway down the sky. It must be falling down! Continue reading Sunlight and Shadow – Puppet Show
SUNLIGHT AND SHADOW ALIGNMENT WITH
NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS
The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Sunlight and Shadow – Standards
The landscape around us is a patchwork of mountains and valleys, steep cliffs and gentle slopes, lakes, ponds, and puddles, stitched together with a network of rivers and streams. The features of our landscape tell a story about the process of erosion, in which landforms are worn away and their fragments carried off to another place. Jagged mountains became rolling hills, flat plains became deep river gorges, steep bluffs crumble into the sea.
Erosion is the process by which rocks and sediments are loosened and moved to different places on the Earth’s surface, where they may be deposited and become parts of other landforms, or buried to eventually become solid rock again. The agents of erosion – wind, water, ice, and gravity – are powerful forces constantly at work shaping and reshaping the land. Continue reading Erosion – Background
FOCUS: Our study of the geosphere begins with a look at how, over time, the powerful agents of erosion have shaped and formed our landscape. Gravity, water, wind, and ice are constantly weathering, wearing away, and moving rocks, soil, sand, and sediments and depositing them elsewhere. We’ll also consider the impact humans have on erosion, deposition, and our ever-changing landscape.
Introduction: Ask the children what they notice when it rains on a dirt road or in a sandbox, or when a wave hits a sandcastle. Or bring in a small basin with sand piled at one end and spray water on it while the children watch. What happens to the sand or soil or gravel? Continue reading Erosion – Activities
Just Wearing Away
Characters: Roger Rock, Benny Boulder, Wilma Wind, Rory River, Tiny Boulder, Tiny Rock
Props: water spray bottle, cookie sheet for thunder noise.
Roger Rock Howdy, Benny Boulder.
Benny Boulder Hi, Roger Rock. Continue reading Erosion – Puppet Show
EROSION ALIGNMENT WITH
NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS
The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Erosion – Standards
Who hasn’t stopped to pick up a pebble, to admire or wonder about its color or texture, or just to toss it in your hand? Rocks speak to us, especially as children, and for some people, like geologists, sculptors, stone masons, and rock hounds, the fascination with rocks lasts a lifetime. Of course rocks can’t really talk, but they can tell us about the history of our rocky planet and its living creatures, if we know where and how to look.
Every pebble we find is part of the geosphere, the rocky covering of our planet. The Earth’s crust is a layer of rock from three to thirty miles thick that underlies Continue reading Rocks and Minerals – Background
FOCUS: Studying rocks helps us to piece together the story of how the geosphere, the Earth’s rocky outer layer, has been shaped and changed over time. We’ll meet some rocks that formed by three different processes, examine some minerals we find in rocks, and look for fossils of ancient creatures. Underlying all the Earth’s land and water, rocks provide a foundation that supports the living world, gives clues about past life forms, and provides us with many materials that we use in our everyday lives.
Introduction: Holding up a rock, ask the children, “What are some differences you notice about rocks? Did this rock start out this small?” Continue reading Rocks and Minerals – Activities
The Rock Stars
Characters: Girl, Rock Hound, Granny Granite, Sandy Sandstone, Nora Gneiss.
Props: Sign with the word “GNEISS”; sunglasses attached to back side of rock puppets
Girl Out you go, Howie, but remember, no digging for bones in the yard! (exits)
Rock Hound Bones? I’m not digging for bones. I’m a Rock Hound and I’m digging for rocks! (sniffs) I think there’s one here – I’ll just dig a tiny little hole… (Granite appears) And here’s a rock with nice speckles – gray, black, white… Continue reading Rocks and Minerals – Puppet Show
ROCKS AND MINERALS ALIGNMENT WITH
NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS
The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Rocks and Minerals – Standards
The Earth’s atmosphere, the layer of air that surrounds the planet, is a protective blanket that shields us from harmful radiation and traps heat energy, storing warmth from the sun and keeping temperatures in a range that makes life possible. Animals need air to breathe, plants need it for photosynthesis, and living things also use air to fly, carry scents and sounds, and keep warm. With its many functions in our lives, it’s worthwhile exploring the nature of air.
Held in place by Earth’s gravity, the atmosphere is an envelope of air that extends outward from the surface for some 500 miles, becoming thinner and sparser with distance. Dry air is composed primarily of three gases, with nitrogen making up Continue reading Blanket of Air – Background