Sunday, December 21, 2014

How Granite Forms - Activity for Kids

Geology Unit Study

Week 7: We modeled the formation process of granite.

Granite is an igneous rock which forms underground. The bigger the crystals in the granite, the stronger the granite. Some of the hardest granite on Earth is found in Yosemite National Park.

We watched the documentary, How The Earth Was Made - Yosemite, as part of our Glacier study as well as for learning about granite. When granite cools slowly, large crystals are formed. In Yosemite, a crack in the surface enabled liquid magma to seep out. The magma kept the cooling granite warm for a longer period of time greatly increasing the cooling time. As it took a long time for the granite to cool, large crystals developed.

After watching the video, we used Crayola Model Magic to illustrate the granite formation process.

 First many crystals were formed by breaking the dough into small pieces.

 Next, small crystals were quickly stuck together to form granite.

 The processes was repeated with larger crystals to illustrate stronger granite.

The big crystals on the left represent strong granite which cooled very slowly.

More hands-on science ideas are on our Science Page.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Renaissance Unit Study - Martin Luther

Week 12: We made salt dough maps of Germany which highlighted the places Martin Luther visited.

During the Renaissance, officials from the church in Rome traveled to the north selling indulgences. Purchasing an indulgence ensured safe passage into heaven, and helped to finance the building of St. Peters. Indulgences however, were not the only immoral acts practiced by the church.

Since the Bible primarily existed in Latin, the people had to rely on others to interpret its meaning. Martin Luther, a priest from the north, believed the inability of the people to read the Bible for themselves allowed greater corruption in the church.

Martin Luther took issue with indulgences and other practices of the church which he considered immoral. He made his view known to church officials and desired reform within the establishment. In addition, he worked to translate the Bible into German so the common man could read it for himself. Unfortunately, church officials did not want reform and they saw Martin Luther as a threat. In fact, he was considered an outlaw by the church.

Martin Luther lived in Germany and therefore his influence was greatest in the north. Although it was not his intention, his desire for reform lead to the formation of the Protestant Church. Throughout his life, he lived and traveled throughout Germany, and therefore, we created salt dough maps of Germany marking the locations where he spent time.

Salt Dough Recipe
1 cup of salt
2 cups of flour
1 cup of warm water

We live in Germany, so in addition to marking the locations where Martin Luther lived the kids marked a few favorite cities. Trier was marked on my son's map because he ate schnitzel in a restaurant and really liked it. He also labeled Munich and Berlin the capital.

My daughter added hedgehogs, pretzels, and mountains because she likes them all and Germany has them.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Leukemia - Immunizations after Chemo

Jemma received two immunization shots today: DT&P and Pneumonia & Hepatitis. Six months ago she took her last dose of chemotherapy medicine. Since then her blood has been in recovery. One consequence of taking chemotherapy is nullification or reduction in protection of immunizations received as a baby. Once chemotherapy is finished, doctors wait several months and then begin a series of immunizations similar to what newborn babies receive, but a little more condensed.

Two months ago Jemma had a blood test which checked the effectiveness of her prior vaccinations. The results were mixed. She still had a small amount of protection for some diseases, but no protection against others. The doctors say these results vary among children, and they normally re-vaccinate regardless. Her vaccinations today contained no live viruses. In three more months (nine months from the end of her last dose of chemotherapy) she will be vaccinated against chicken pox, which does contain a live virus. In addition, two months ago she had a blood test for possible diseases transferred via blood transfusions such as hepatitis and HIV. Thankfully, the results were negative for all of the diseases for which she was tested.

Over the past six months we have been acting like a normal family. Jemma has participated in numerous activities and a few days have passed where I didn't even think about Leukemia. However, since Jemma's immune system is in recovery, she is not able to fight off illness nearly as effectively as my other two children.

The week of November 17th she visited the hospital twice due to a virus and had a similar experience beginning on Dec 12th. It's likely that her latest virus was the same virus my son had the week before. In his case, I barely knew he was sick. He had a runny nose and mentioned a sore throat, but was able to play outside and participate in all his normal activities. Jemma, on the other hand, was wiped out. The virus gave her a fever of 103 and kept her out of commission for four days.

While in recovery, she has been sick with several viruses. In fact, the immunizations she received today had to be rescheduled twice. Nevertheless, she is doing very well. Receiving immunizations was a huge milestone. We are all so thankful for the doctors and nurses who have treated Jemma over the past two-and-a-half years, as well as to the scientists who studied Leukemia and developed treatment protocols for this form of cancer.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Published Authors Write Rough Drafts Too

We explored the rough draft of a published author.

Writing is often fun for kids until it's time to take a rough draft to the next step. After all, they read lots of books and they all look great. The kids never get the opportunity to see the rough drafts from published authors.

Unfortunately Dr. Seuss died before he had the chance to complete the story which was eventually published under the title Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! Fortunately for us, not only was the story celebrating alternative teachers completed, but the published version contains Dr. Seuss's rough draft.

The story from Dr. Seuss was in fact in a very rough form. It contained sketches and verses and ideas for characters, but it lacked a plot. It was in more of a concept form than a rough draft. The book explains how Dr. Seuss' sketches were transformed into the published story.

This rare opportunity to see a Dr. Seuss rough draft was an eye opening experience for my children. Before this, I think they thought authors just wrote down a finished version.

Check out these Blog Hops for activity ideas from others.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The History of Modern Art

We visited a Modern Art Museum and also learned how modern art evolved.

I must admit that I've never been a big fan of modern art and have never really been able to understand it. Much of it looks quite simple enough that a child could have created it, and some of it looks as if it was created by spilling paint on the floor. To me, in addition to aesthetic appeal art needs to appear like it was a challenge to create.

A large yellow circle on a black background may look like rising sun, or a glowing ball of fire, but to me, I think I could copy it without too much struggle. On the other hand, I really enjoy geometric art. MC Escher's tessellations are absorbing as are the repeating patterns of eastern art.

Although this piece is three dimensional, it still seems quite plain. I just don't get it.



Well, it turns out I'm not alone in my lack of appreciation for modern art. Enter Prager University. Prager University is a web site which produces short videos (5 minutes or so) designed to make people think. Although I do not agree with several of the videos, there are many I really do like. The topics range from religion to capitalism to how to be happy.

This video entitled "Why is Modern Art so Bad," explains the history of modern art and how it evolved. It was actually quite interesting, so if you have 5 minutes why not watch it?

Check out these Blog Hops for activity ideas from others.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Volume in Milliliters

Distance, Area, Volume Unit Study

Day 11: We determined how much different containers could hold in milliliters.

In Germany restaurant beverages are not sold in small, medium and large sizes, but rather in milliliters or liters. .3 liter and .5 liter sizes are the most common. How much is .3 liters?

First several drinking vessels were gathered.

Next, they were placed in size order by appearance.

Next, they were filled with water and the water was dumped into a container containing milliliter markings.

Each container was labeled with the amount of liquid it could hold and reordered if necessary. The kids learned why the Eeorye cup is my favorite one. (It holds the most liquid.)

Check out these Blog Hops for activity ideas from others. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Geology Unit Study - Rock Identification

Week 6: We identified rocks.

Rocks are used to build roads, buildings, make glass, and carve. They are set into jewelry, used as game pieces, table tops, and in a variety of other ways. Within the three main categories of rock sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous, rocks can be further divided.

The book How the Earth Works (How It Works) has a nine step process for further identifying rocks. Many of the steps are similar to those used in Mineral Identification. Looking at the grains within a rock, determining if it fizzes with vinegar, testing its hardness, and calculating its density provide significant clues to identification.

The first step was to determine if the rock fizzed with vinegar. If it did fizz, it was likely to be a type of limestone.

Each of the steps in the process asks a question and then directs to another step depending on the answer.

By working through the steps rocks identification is narrowed to sedimentary, metamorphic or igneous rock. For each type there are examples of the most common rocks from the group with pictures and some characteristics of the rock.

The rock section of geology contains pictures and brief descriptions of different types of rocks which was helpful during the identification process.

Rock identification is difficult, and going through the steps in the process gave us a better idea of what to look for when examining new rocks.

For activity ideas from others check out these blog hops.

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