Geology Resources As Promised

Photobucket Photo by jhritz

After the previous post’s focus on Earth Science, I proudly present a compilation of geology sites you should refer to if you’re looking to further explore this intriguing subject with your kids…

Kids.gov | Geology

Preschool Science | Book List for Earth Science

Geological Society of America | K-12 Teacher Resources

Project Niu | Nature Imparts Understanding

Ask an Earth-Scientist

Rock Identification | Self-Paced Tutorial

Earth Science Week | October 11-17, 2009!!

Kid Info | List of Geology Sites

This Dynamic Planet | Geologic Investigations Map

Start Your Own Kids Geology Club

Geology & Education | Classroom Archive

The Science of an Earthquake | USGS Kids

For Kids Only | NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise     

Geology Rocks

kids and rocks
Photo by Rick

Green living has come to the forefront of the world’s focus. What better way to introduce good environmental habits to my kids than starting with the dirt and the rocks and the true, beautiful grit the world is made of? Preschoolers most certainly understand rocks before recycling, dirt before biodegradable.

I have dreamt up a starter kit of activities for those of you finding this approach appealing.

Geology Activity Ideas

• If your yard is equipped with a sandbox, sneak some interesting earth-related toys into the depths, and give your kid a shovel & a collander.  If you don’t have a sandbox, improvise- maybe a cardboard box full of oatmeal?  I would have a hard time finding much more than playground pebbles to bury as artifacts in my neighborhood, so I would keep it light & fun with fake dinosaurs, play jewelry, bones from our Operation game… or anything that will grab my kids’ attention & keep them interested.  Once the paleontologists have finished finding their materials, explain to them the realism of the occupation.  Let them know that the ground itself is a timeline of all the life that ever tread upon it.  It may be difficult in many cases with young children, but try & convey the essence of history… and how much time the earth has encapsulated just by existing.  Paraphrased, perhaps.<

• The Green Link:  As soon as your child understands the idea of the earth as a box of treasures from our past, then you can let them know that not everything is good for the earth.  Recycling can ensue naturally from there, having already established a foundation for the concept that you can refer back to.   

• If you want to go a little further, re-do the paleontology activity in the sandbox, but bury things that are good or normal for the earth and also items that are damaging.  Once the objects have been uncovered, you can categorize together, with you supplying the reasoning for each if necessary.  

• I love volcano-making fun.   Geology rocks for sure.  No matter your child’s age, this easy easy activity is great for explaining volcanoes, and the levels of the earth from the crust to the core.  Some kids will be ready to dive into plate tectonics, so act as their springboard and use their learning style as a guide for how to approach illustrating the point.  My learning style includes a little of everything, so I pretty much use whatever I have on-hand to make it work.  I’d LOVE a cross-sectional model of Earth, but it’s low on the list so I draw these concepts with crayon to the best of my ability for now, and I learn more in the process.

• I think it’d be fun to simulate an earthquake, too.  I’ll take the box springs out from under our mattress, then rumble the bed from below with the kids on sitting on the mattress above.  This activity is definitely a stretch, but I just want to introduce the concept of an earthquake while associating it with volcanoes and the way they both originate below the earth’s surface.  Quaking a trampoline from underneath would do the exact same thing.

sedimentary rock

• If you happen to have play dough in different, distinct colors that aren’t muddled & indistinguishable… I don’t… make pancakes out of the different colors and stack them, alternating colors.  You don’t have to mix the colors, just stack them.  Get a butter knife & cut out a section of the stack to illustrate sedimentary rock.  Again, the earth’s age plays so many different roles in the version on Earth that we know.  Showing your kids that even rock has age may make an impression, but if it doesn’t you’ve still taught them about a really cool part of Earth.  I love driving through canyons & passing the “Watch for Falling Rock” signs.  It makes me feel like Earth is alive even in its supposedly lifeless rock formations.

• While you have the dough out make 4 pancakes (not necessarily round) about 1/4″ high out of one color (they will mix).  It doesn’t matter if they’re the same size. You take two, and have your child take two.  With one in each hand, spread your arms out, then slowly smash (gently) the two masses you’re holding together. You’ve just simulated mountain formation with your child. If you’re already introduced them to plate tectonics, you can continue the discussion and explain that the same force that causes volcanoes and earthquakes made the mountains.  

• Make a pile of sugar about 2″ high in a medium mixing bowl, and have a cup of water nearby.  Tilt the bowl toward you so that the sugar shifts closer to the side of the bowl rather than the middle.  OVER THE SINK, slowly pour water from the far side of the bowl through the middle of the sugar mound.  When the water has erroded a valley through the sugar, you have successfully simulated valley formation.  

• I hope my little ideas inspire some action in this sector of your teaching.  I am working on a list of geological resources, but there are so many that I feel I’d be a slacker if I didn’t continue my search & make the list more complete before sharing.

When do you feel the most connected to the world around you?  Can you tell when your kids are connected?

SimpleKids Showcase #1

Welcome to the first installment of the SimpleKids Showcase!

Mariah from Playful Learning.com has contributed the following two projects.

The first:  The Colors Of Us is a brilliantly creative self-portrait craft for your children to explore.  The pictures below follow the event from beginning to end, and the directions for creating your own can be found at PlayfulLearning.com

Colors of Us PlayfulLearning

The Second: Map of My Heart is just as great, and your children will explore what is most important to them while simultaneously practicing writing skill.  Directions for making your own are also found at PlayfulLearning.com.

I’s like to thank Mariah for her contributions, and I recommend this fantastic site for anyone looking to find her offerings of learning experiences that promote positive family interactions.

Map Of My Heart

Our next submission is from Brittany, whose child has crafted one of the sweetest projects I’ve ever seen.  This I Love You Mommy Mailbox is a place for her child to leave love notes at a whim.  What a way to continue the fun and love of an already precious craft-making session.  I might make one for MY mom; I bet she’s love it the same way I would treasure one from my kids.

I Love You Mommy Mailbox

Keep the submissions coming; I can’t wait for your kids to enter this spotlight!

Assessment of Your Child’s Learning Style

Student Thinking
Photo by foundphotoslj

When you are speaking to more than one child, chances are, each child will be learning from you in a different way. We can easily tell the differences in what children learn, but when we investigate the how factor, it may simplify the process when getting your message across.

There are three Learning Styles that constitute the how factor, and they are easy to apply to your children when the time is taken to simply observe their play.

Visual learners are basically stimulated by seeing information. From projectors and chalkboards to their own art and handwriting, children who benefit the most from visual teaching have typically excelled at exercises involving puzzles, construction, invention, sketching, visual metaphors, and design.

Auditory learners thrive by hearing information. A lot of times, the written words needs to be spoken for these learners to fully understand the intended message. “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it,” undeniably applies to aural learning; these children will do best reading aloud or using audio books, as the inflections of a reader’s voice will help decode the purpose of punctuation and phrasing on the page.

Tactile or kinesthetic learners need the hands-on approach. In any way possible, these learners need to move or act to associate knowledge literally to “what you do with it”. Children with this learning style benefit from dancing and exercise while reciting information. Maybe make up an ABC dance or hop-scotch method. That way, the child has interacted with the material and will have been more impacted by it.

Applying the Methods

Take the opportunity to step back and watch when your child is playing with all of those toys you know make your child’s brain tick. Use these Learning Styles as a general measure when you look at the facial expressions and body language during stimulating activities. If it’s difficult to tell, try teaching one simple lesson to your child for every learning style.

Take notes; I think it will help with the process when you begin to compare and contrast the different stories and styles while revisiting your child’s subsequent paraphrasing.

Take the following game plan of sorts as a starting point for familiarizing yourself with your child’s learning style.

Day 1: Tell your child a story with a moral and wait several hours after you’re done to casually mention the story. Optimally, try to find an audio tape or CD to accompany the story so the story becomes a distinct aural experience. When you ask about the moral and see what has been retained, this will be the assessing the effectiveness of the auditory learning style.

Day 2: Use a different story with a different moral, but use a felt board or coloring pages to illustrate the story. In order to gauge your child’s kinetic/tactile learning, they must be actively involved in the story. There are many ways to do this if you can find a way to incorporate interactive tools like play dough or construction paper.

Later, initiate the subtle questioning again- if you have to, use an inflection in your voice that suggests you don’t know the answer and need their help remembering.

Day 3: Again, choose another story unique to the learning style you’re trying to explore. This time, use a chalkboard or poster board to have your child learn visually. Your child will not be active during this assessment; we’re trying to determine what’s held in their mind’s eye when trying to go back and retrieve the information later.

When teaching, draw vivid diagrams and illustrate direction with arrows. (I am no artist so I use stick people, but it does the job, I hope) Try to associate certain colors with words with consistency, and take note of what the words were. When you ask them about the story, refer back to the words & see if they have made a lasting impression.

I found another educational inspiration that I’d like to share, if you don’t already know his work. Dr. Howard Gardner is the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and I love his book, Frames of Mind. In this book, Dr. Gardner explores the idea of Multiple Intelligence, a theory comprised of seven different ways a person can demonstrate their intellectual ability.

With each of these assessment techniques, you have the ability to thoroughly analyze what your child has learned and how. This approach includes the three learning styles above, naming them Visual/Spatial Intelligence, Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence and Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence. Aside from these familiar concepts, other facets of Multiple Intelligence Theory include:<

Logical/Mathematical Intelligence describes students who have a great ability conceptualizing in numerical terms. These children would typically be the ones acting upon curiosity and performing, or creating, experiments.

Musical/Rhythmic Intelligence is pretty easy to recognize. Students favoring this learning style are able to produce, appreciate and describe patterns of sound around them. Natural sounds are somewhat more obvious to these children.

Interpersonal Intelligence befalls on those who naturally empathize with others before offering opinions or advice. “Reading” people and having an uncanny sense of how another is feeling are traits of this Intelligence type. Interpersonal learners are the natural counselors in our world… and also the politicians and lawyers.

Intrapersonal Intelligence suits those who have an uncanny sense of self. They turn inward for their approach to learning before they begin to take in the information. Learning this way focuses on one’s own strengths and weaknesses in a constant effort to improve their internal state of mind.

Hopefully digesting these methods of assessment will allow a better sense of what is being learned by your little ones and how. It is highly unlikely that your child uses purely one method, but being aware of the characteristics of all of them may make finding the one they favor easier.

Are there any of these learning styles that you hadn’t considered? Do you think they’ll be helpful for you and your family?

GIVEAWAY – Hearth Song Exclusive Triplet

This giveaway is now closed.

I had planned on this giveaway having another post before it, but my delegated time for working in the last few days has been consumed by trying to get the site back up… for this giveaway. So, I’ll get to the assessment of your kids’ knowledge retention in the next couple days. In the mean time, you should be entering as many times as allowed for this:

Hearth Song is an unbelievable company dedicated to the seamless unity of play and education. Many of the toys they offer are open-ended with very little instruction. However, I venture to claim that all of the Hearth Song Exclusives promote a boundless amount of creativity and almost no effort.

That’s a pretty big deal. I have focused a lot of energy on trying to make learning fun… on trying to engage them in the creative process and getting them to activate that imaginative, this-is-what-makes-YOU-exceptional, part of the brain. It‘s incredibly refreshing and a little humbling to open these toys from Hearth Song and have that cognitive process stripped of all difficulty.

AND, one lucky reader will win this Hearth Song Exclusive triplet!

Here’s what’s included (and pictured):

Connectagons: I had my doubts about this product. Judging on the picture alone, I thought they looked like an overwhelming amount of flimsy discs that will likely be lost in a matter of days. 240 pieces of anything in a house with children is ambitious for a company to assume you’ll keep around, eh?

I became a huge advocate of connectagons in a matter of minutes. They’re NOT flimsy; they are made out of wood. The bright assortment of painted discs are thick enough to be sturdy, but Hearth Song made them thin enough to maintain an almost weightless state.

240 discs x 8 useable slots for construction each.< Honestly, I can’t watch my kids play with these. I’m on the floor with them and building away.

About the storage: I winced a little upon opening the outer packaging for the connectagons. I was thinking, “Okay, there are 240 little things inside this small box and I’m never going to be able to make them condense into this size again.” Ha! You open the cardboard outer box only to find a wooden inner box about the size of a cigar box. The top slides out from an inner groove of the sides only to reveal neat, happy little rows of connectagons stacked like poker chips. This alone sold me on the product. Toy-making genius, really.

Domino Race:
I definitely remember lining up dominoes vertically only to watch a fun trail of them falling down. But the dominoes I used were the rounded black dominoes… you know, dominoes. These are dominoes done the Hearth Song way. You can build bridges, stairs and ramps with the accessories in the pack. There is a marker for both the Start & Finish lines for kids to create a limitless array of tracks that only they can create… there’s no diagram on purpose. The awesome people at Hearth Song have donated both the original set of Domino Race and the Add-On Set accessory pack for this giveaway.  Don’t worry, they come with a drawstring storage bag.

Automoblox: Finally, I asked Hearth Song if they’d donate one of the many sets in their Automoblox collection. What I’m giving away is the A9 Compact. All of the Automoblox collections work together. If you buy one, it stands alone as creative building, and it helps young kids to get a better feel for how real things are put together. When you combine a few sets, it allows for a huge range of options that are all compatible and incredibly entertaining.

How to Enter for the (awesome) Hearth Song Triplet Giveaway:

1. Leave a comment in response to the question: When, and with what objects, do you see your kids thinking and having fun at the same time?

2. Subscribe! After you do, email me at simplekidsblog [at] gmail [dot] com with NEW SUBSCRIBER as the subject. If you’re already a subscriber, email me with “Current Subscriber” as the subject!

3.Post this on your blog, or update your twitter status, or join SimpleKids on Facebook and email me with “POSTED” as the subject and the link to where I can find it.

Five entries is the limit with all-of-the-above included.

This giveaway will end on Thursday, 12 February at 11:59 PM. You have plenty of time to spread the word and enter as many times as allowed.

If your friends don’t have kids, tell them to enter for the benefit of your kids.