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.
Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about the sun.
Take children outside to do Eyes Closed and Tracing Shadows to begin with. You will revisit the shadow tracings later.
Materials: sidewalk chalk, one for every two students.
*Remind children that they must never look directly at the sun for it can harm their eyes.
Objective: To notice how we can sense the direction of the sun even with our eyes closed.
Bring children outside. Remind them that looking directly at the sun can be harmful to their eyes. Have everyone close their eyes and turn slowly in a circle two times, and then stop when they feel the sun shining on the back of their heads. 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