This past week and a half we have been exploring rocks. My kindergarteners are absolutely loving this unit and many of them told me that they have now started rock collections at home due to their new found love of rocks!
To begin the unit, I set out my rock collection at our “I wonder” table and allowed my students to explore, wonder, and play with the items I set out.
While spending time at the center, my students had so many great ideas and questions about the rocks that our unit came together very quickly.
To help answer some of my students’ preliminary questions, I read a few books to help build schema. We started with “Dave’s Down-To-Earth Rock Shop” because it combines both math and science concepts in the same book. It also lends itself to an easy follow up activity.
Throughout the book, Dave organizes and sorts his rocks in different ways. He sorts them by color, size, type of rock, and hardness (to name a few). My students loved discussing the different ways that he was sorting and were eager to look closely at rocks and practice sorting them. I divided my students into teams and gave them each a mini rock collection. They then got to work sorting and labeling their rocks.
In groups, my students discussed the best way to sort their rocks and then documented what they noticed. They labeled their rocks using many adjectives.
This group sorted by color and put them in glass bowls so that others could look at their rock collection. They said that they were setting up a display just like Dave did in the book!
Other students looked really closely at their rocks to make sure that they were organizing them into the correct categories!
This started much conversation about rocks and the different types of rocks that we were observing.
From here, I taught a few mini lessons on the layers of the earth and the three different types of rocks that we could find.
During our morning meeting we labeled the earth’s layers and learned more about each one. SciShow Kids has some great videos to help with these lessons!
We then created three dimensional earths out of modeling clay to further illustrate this teaching point.
To do this, we started with a sphere of red modeling clay. (We used Model Magic.) Then, we added a layer around our sphere for each layer of the earth. We used red for the core; orange for the mantle, and yellow for the crust.
Finally, we added a blue layer around the entire sphere and placed green continents on it.
When we cut them in half, my students were AMAZED to see the layers of the earth!!
They were SO proud of their creations and I heard from many parents, that their child gave them a lesson on the layers of the earth when they got home from school that day!
The next day, my students were SOOO excited to discover an agate investigation station at our light table.
My students loved carefully observing them and describing them.
They also got to see a real geode cut in half. (Notice that my students’ “rock collection” is proudly displayed on this table!)
We watched a video on geodes to learn more about our agates and geodes and then grew our own geodes in a crockpot!
To grow geodes, we formed white pipe cleaners into circles and then attached them to a metal paper holder.
Before I had gotten to school that day, I added BOILING hot water into my crockpot and added about 2 cups of Borax into the water. I stirred it until the Borax had nearly complete disappeared. With my students, we added another cup and a half of Borax and blue and purple food coloring to the pot. The goal is to saturate your water with Borax so that crystals will grow. We then let the geodes grow overnight.
The next morning when I got to school, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect but luckily it worked! When I lifted the paper holder up, this is what I saw.
(I was SOOOO excited!!)
I cut off a geode for each student to examine and we spent the morning practicing writing, observing, and drawing our geodes!
The class was a-buzz with such happy kindergarten workers!
They couldn’t believe what we grew in the crockpot!
They loved moving the geodes to the light table to look at them through our microscope and get an even closer (illuminated) look at them.
To culminate our unit, I bought each child a “crack open” geode and we had a blast smashing them open and looking at real geodes.
Throughout this unit we were able to discuss many things. We were able to fine tune our understand of living and nonliving things, using adjectives, reading and writing color words, and so basic Earth science skills.