Sea-Floor Spreading - Activity for Kids

Week 26: We did a sea-floor spreading tectonic plate movement activity.

Earthquakes, mountains, tsunamis, and volcanoes are all related through the movement of tectonic plates. Volcanoes are located where tectonic plates meet, where they part, and at cracks and holes withing the plates. The Pacific Ring of Fire is the prime example of plates sliding beneath one another resulting in volcanic activity.

Earthquakes are common in the region of Indonesia and there are many volcanoes. The entire west coast of California is an earthquake zone and contains many volcanoes. Indonesia and California lie on the Pacific Ring of Fire where tectonic plates collide. On blank outline maps the kids marked locations of major volcanoes.

How the Earth was Made - The Deepest Place on Earth 

The Marianas's Trench, the deepest place on Earth is the primary location at which land sinks back into the Earth's core. Originally discovered during the 1800's, it took almost a century before scientists could explain how it works. I highly recommend this video as well as other movies in the series.

Volcanoes: Journey to the Crater's Edge was an excellent non-fiction book to read in conjunction with this activity. It is a photo-filled picture book of volcanoes across the world. The introduction explains the ways volcanoes are created, and each subsequent page provides a few paragraphs detail on a different volcano or volcanic landscape.

Tectonic Plate Activity 

Where plates slide apart magma can seep out. This phenomenon, known as sea floor spreading, results in the creation of new land. On place this occurs is the Mid-Atlantic Ridge beneath the surface of the ocean.

Following Janice VanCleave's A+ Projects in Earth Science: Winning Experiments for Science Fairs and Extra Credit we created a model of sea floor spreading.

In this project, the cylindrical container represents the surface of the Earth. A slit was cut into the container to represent the mid-ocean ridge. The paper emerging from the ridge is formed as the tectonic plates move away from each other and magma rises beneath the surface to fill the gaps.

Magnetic Field and Sea Floor Creation

As the magma forming new sea floor cools, the magnetic particles within the rock align with the Earth's magnetic field. Since the field has changed directions many times in the past, by matching aligned particles, rates of spreading can be calculated.

To model how the magnetic particles align with the magnetic field over time and move apart from the mid-ocean ridge, the new land was colored as it emerged from the Earth.

Over time, land created at the same time on opposite sides of the ridge, moved farther and farther apart.

Land Sinking into the Mantle

As new land is created, some land returns to the center of the Earth.

To represent this, two additional slits were cut into the surface of the Earth. The paper that represented the land was attached to a pencil.

As the pencil was spun, new land simultaneously was created and destroyed.

Our Science Page contains more Earth Science Activities as well as activities on cells, plants, simple machines and the human body.

* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
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Medieval Games and Middle Ages Feast

Week 25: We dressed in costume, played medieval games, cooked medieval dishes and had a feast.

Between eggs, oats, ale and cheese middle age peasants were lucky to consume over 3500 calories per day. We can do that easily as one fast food meal can yield upwards of 2700 calories. Foods were simple and whole. Medieval Cookery contains a great list recipes for medieval dishes.

Medieval Games
Backgammon and Chess were commonly played during the middle ages.

In Bocci Ball, competitors first throw the tiny ball which is the target. Then players take turns to see who can throw their two bigger balls the closest. The closest ball throws the target during the next round.

Archery - Target Practice

Medieval Food

Turnips with spices and turnips with cheese.

Rice with cheese.

These two very interesting pies were delicious. The one on the left contained a mixture of apple, cheese and egg. The one on the right was a lot like a mushroom quiche with pumpkin pie spices.

The legend of the pretzel says they were created to represent the folded arm position of praying monks and given to children.

Roman Noodles

Chicken legs - Served cold of course.

Apple Tarts

Archery Contest to Select the King

The festivities ended after this young man shot his arrow right through the apple to be declared the king.

This was the final week of our medieval history co-op. Please sign-up to follow Highhill Education as we continue our history studies with the Renaissance.


We created homonym stories.

Homonyms are words which sound alike but have different meanings; sow and sew, blue and blew, beat and beet. They can create confusion for people new to the language and similarly for young children. Once kids are familiar with the dual meaning of words, however, they can make great subjects for stories.

The Honey Cake Mix-Up (Disney's Out & About With Pooh, Vol. 5) - When Pooh tries to help Roo make a honey cake, he's confused about what type of flour (flower) to put into the cake. This story is a fun way to introduce children to homonyms.

After reading the story, we discussed many other homonyms and their meanings. Alan Cooper's Homonym List is long and contains a short definition of each form or the word. ABC Teach Homonyms list is only two pages and great for scanning and homonym ideas.

Then we worked to create our own homonym centered stories.

Playing the Organ

We played an organ.

Playing an organ is like playing the piano, but there is a lot more gymnastics involved. Piano music contains a treble clef which is typically played by the right hand and a bass clef which is typically played by the left hand. Organ music contains these two, plus an additional bass clef for the feet. As the hands move through chords and melodies, the feet do too. Sometimes it's necessary to play one note with the toe, and the next note with the heel so as to create a smooth transition. In addition, the feet often cross as they move up and down the keyboard.

A standard piano contains seven and a half octaves. Our cheap keyboard contains five. The church organ we played contains four and a half on the top row, four and a half on the middle row, and two and a half on the feet for a total of eleven and one half octaves.

Since organs are primarily housed in churches, and all churches are different, organs are custom made. Hence, they are not cheap and all are a little different. Sometimes the organ is located on a second story behind the congregation, and other times it is in the front. An upgrade to the one in the photos which added the top row of keys was completed around ten years ago for sixty thousand euros.

Lots of air is required for the 70,000 or so pipes which create the sound. Older organs needed several people to pump air through the pipes with a type of bellows system while the organist played. More modern organs use electricity, but there are many which still require at least some manual pumping of air.

The typical path to becoming an organist, is to first learn the piano, but our friend and host learned the organ first and doesn't play the piano. The speed and strength used to push piano keys changes the sound, but organ keys only are on or off and require lots of pressure. Knowing the details of each instrument is important, but I think with a month or two of practice, she would be an excellent pianist too.

Yankee Doodle on the Organ

Testing out the Foot Pedals

Trying Piano Songs

The kids and I were hooked right away. We stayed and played for an hour and a half. Thanks so much Katrin.

Two-Digit Multiplication Game

Games make learning math fun, and the possibilities are endless. This multiplication game is a variation Shut The Box which teaches basic addition.

To play this two-digit multiplication game, all that's needed are some manipulatives that represent ones, tens and hundreds and some dice or cards. These units were made from card stock paper. To give the game a money twist, pennies, dimes and dollars can be used for units, as they represent ones, tens and hundreds.

Non-standard dice which contain more than six sides are best. Icosahedron shaped die contain the numbers 1-20, dodecahedron die contain the numbers 1-12 and octahedron die contain the numbers 1-8. If these are not available, paper can be taped to the faces of a standard die and marked with any desired numbers.

Be the first to get rid of units.

We began with 4 hundreds, 14 tens and 20 ones or a total of 560 units for each player.

Roll the dice, multiply the numbers and remove that number of units. The dice in the example above show 13x8. First 8 was multiplied by 3 (8x3) and the units were gathered and placed on one side of the dice. Next 10 was multiplied by 8 (8x10) and the units were placed on the other side. Finally all of the units were set aside.

This example shows 14 x 8. 32 Units are placed on one side for the one-digit multiplication, and 80 units are placed on the other for the tens.

This game is a fun way to introduce the concept of two digit multiplication. When playing we began with an eight-sided die and a twenty sided die. Then we switched the eight-sided die for a twelve-sided die. My daughter was excited to be able to get rid of more units.

Playing the game with money, it may be better to get the pennies, dimes and dollars from the bank, and the player with the highest amount at the end of six rounds is the winner.

Here's a list of excellent blog hops to get even more educational activity ideas.

Tectonic Plate Activity for Kids

Week 25: We used crackers and cream cheese to show how tectonic plates move.

Volcanoes, earthquakes, mountains are all related through tectonic plates. Tectonic plates are in constant motion. They smash together, drift apart, slip beneath one another and sometimes crack. Whenever and wherever they move earthquakes occur. Volcanoes are formed by the magma seeping out anywhere it has an opportunity. Mountains form when two plates smash together and crumple raising the ground between them.

Quake!: Disaster in San Francisco, 1906 is a fictional story written for children. During the earthquake a young Jewish boy is separated from his family. Soon after the quake, he rescues and befriends a young Chinese boy. Together the two face discrimination, and feel the welcome of people from other backgrounds on their journeys to locate their families. It was an exciting book to read in conjunction with this activity.

Just days before the 1906 San Francisco earthquake a filmmaker from Chicago mounted a camera on a street car and set the car in motion while recording. The film captures the chaos of the busy city with horse drawn carriages, motor cars, street cars, few traffic rules, no cross walks and people everywhere.

There is a stark contrast between the above movie and this one which shows still photos of the earthquake damage.

Plate Tectonics Activity

Several blogs have detailed similar activities.
Studying Plate Tectonics at Life's Adventures
Earth Science: Plate Movements and Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Mountain Making at The Homeschool Den
How Mountains are Made at We Made That

Cream cheese (magma) was spread on a plate and two crackers (tectonic plates) were placed on the top.

Part 1

As the plates pushed together and one slipped beneath, magma between the plates was forced up. (Pacific Ring of Fire).

Part 2
This time the crackers were moistened with water so they would fold.

 As two plates crash into each other they fold and the ground raised between them. (Himalaya Mountains)

Stay tuned to Highhill Education. There are more volcano and plate tectonic activities coming in the next few weeks.

Here's a list of excellent blog hops to get even more educational activity ideas.
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