Monday, November 29, 2010

Earth Science Unit -- Gravity

We're off to do a unit on earth science -- studying concepts such as gravity, horizontal/vertical, directionality--N,S,E,W, and then moving on to the layers of the earth and the surface of the earth -- the "ups and downs, ins and outs" of the landforms and waterforms and how wind, water and earth's forces change the surface of the earth.

I get asked every now and then how I plan for our homeschool units.  I'm pretty much always a unit or two ahead (in my head), knowing that we'll move on to a new history/science/culture/child-interest-led unit or whatever. So in my spare time (??ie. late at night mostly!!) I think and read and jot notes in my "rainbow" notebook as things cross my path for 3 or 4 weeks before we actually start a unit.

In this case, I've been wanting to cover landforms and waterforms--mountains, valleys, plateaus, peninsulas, isthmus, bays and that sort of thing.  I have some beautiful cards from, but wanted to go beyond just looking at the forms and making clay models (we'll do this too, but I wanted to flush the unit out a bit since LD is now in second grade).  For the past week or two my bedtime reading has been Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2 by Bernard J. Nebel. I looked through this book a year or so ago, but found it too advanced for our family at the time.  But now it has some great lesson plans that I plan to use.  I also decided to sign up for the teacher file box (30% discount through homeschool buyer's coop) because I felt I could use a lot of their resources in the next 3 or 4 months. (At some point in the next couple of months I'll be doing a fairy tale unit with the kids and the teacher file box had a lot of cute/creative ideas for that!)

Anyway, today was our first day of our earth science unit-- and the kids were both totally engaged (and begged to go on!).  Yay! A good start! Here's what we covered:
I started off dropping things -- AHHH!  Gravity pulled my pencil to the floor!!  AHHH! Gravity pulled my book to the floor!  And then I asked the kids what gravity was.  From there we talked about gravity's pull on objects -- and used the scale to see what gravity's pull on LD, ED, a box full of plates etc. was in pounds.  They ran around collecting things to weigh!  We also read a handout/mini-book about gravity.
Next we placed LD and his best buddy Bradon on the globe.  I asked why Bradon there in Australia wasn't falling on his head... Gravity, of course!  We talked about how the concept of "up" and "down" doesn't always work -- and so we use other terms -- horizontal and vertical to talk about our relation to the earth. (More about that in a sec.)
I had DD make me this picture of a girl with a helium balloon (while LD was continuing to weigh things and write them down).  I asked why the balloon wasn't falling to the ground? Why wasn't gravity working on the balloon?  They were able to answer that really easily but we still went on with our next little demonstration.

Here the kids poured water and oil in a jar and examined it to see which was heavier. We've done this many times before, but they still were entranced watching the oil rise to the top. And, of course we talked  how this is similar to the helium balloon as it is lighter than the air around it. 

Finally, we went into the living room to do a quick "Simon Says" round which included lots of "horizontals" and "verticals."  We also demonstrated horizontal/vertical with pencils -- and we'll go on to talk about that more tomorrow (or when we next get to science).

Every few years, we circle around to cover basic material again. You may be interested in the Earth Science Unit we did more recently -- and be sure to check out our Earth Science Unit Study Packet It includes worksheets about the solar system, the layers of the Earth, plate tectonics, the ring of fire, earthquake activity and volcanoes. I also included more than a dozen hands-on activities we did with this unit including activities about plate tectonics, using a compass, earthquakes, volcanoes, instructions on how to make a shake table and more!
 Homeschool Earth Science Unit Study

1 comment:

  1. You did a wonderful job of teaching this lesson, with lots of fun activities (don't you just love Homeschooling?)! Your children will probably remember this forever, and they certainly weren't bored.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Faith's Firm Foundation