Living books plus hands-on investigation are hallmarks of a Charlotte Mason (CM) education. Our study of rocks & minerals was right along those lines.
I wanted to start off with something that would immediately get Sprite enthusiastic about the topic, so I assigned her to choose any four rocks from our collection and fill out the Rock Detective page from Considering God’s Creation. CGC is a wonderful resource for elementary level science and nature study. You can read my review of this curriculum here.
Sprite adored studying the rocks in this way and did more than the four I asked her to do.
Then we did some reading from living books, tying in the facts in the books to what Sprite had already experienced with her rock exploration.
- Kingfisher Science Encyclopedia (yes, the new, used, library discard one!)
- DK Eye Wonder Rocks and Minerals
- My First Guide: Rocks and Minerals
I’m so glad we had the Kingfisher Encyclopedia because the two other books, although good books, are a bit too simplistic for 5th grade Sprite.
Then Sprite compiled all she’d learned into this brilliant notebooking page.
Next step was focusing on the Moh’s Hardness Scale. Sprite did a fantastic job on this notebooking page. The part that most impressed me was her chart at the bottom. I noticed rocks there that were not in the hardness diagrams of our book, and when I asked her how she chose them, she said she tested the hardness of the rocks herself. I was so excited that she trusted her own observations and didn’t feel a need to simply copy the book.
We then shifted to the computer for watching some great visuals of the rock cycle.
I thought this collection of interactive rock cycle diagrams and quizzes was the best online rock resource. The website says it’s for grades 7-9, but it was accessible for 5th grade Sprite with my help.
It goes through all the basics with really clear visuals and then assesses with some nice quizzes.
[Interactives at Learner.org is a fabulous webpage! Besides the rock cycle interactives, there are many other topics. Be sure to check it out!]
More great interactive diagrams of the rock cycle:
My plan was to have Sprite make a notebooking page with the rock cycle. But watching her as she did the quizzes, I realized that she didn’t grasp the concepts well enough to go forward with a narration. So I changed plans and located a good diagram I could cut up.
That image was a good base, but it was a bit tiny, so I started to whip up some printable rock cycle pieces using Publisher. Voila! I had a moment of inspiration. Instead of giving her the pieces, I should have her make the pieces herself.
When I was a public school teacher, I heard a lecture by another teacher who asked a very penetrating question, “Who is doing all the work? You or the students?” This was Charlotte Mason’ s problem with unit studies, too. She felt the teacher did too much digesting and repackaging the information rather than letting the child do that.
So instead of giving Sprite pieces to cut out, I gave her directions for making the pieces. And then she used them to demonstrate the rock cycle. This is her finished product. Then, of course, I asked her to use her diagram to explain (narrate) the rock cycle.
I now feel confident that she understands the processes in the rock cycle. And she told me (again) that she loves making things like this. I know that not all children enjoy creating with paper, but this style fits Sprite to a tee. The document I created can be downloaded on the Freebies page or directly from here.
The document does include the printable pieces which were my original idea. Feel free to use those if your child does not benefit from or enjoy making things himself. We are all different, and you may not want to invest as much time in the rock cycle as we did.