Thursday, February 27, 2014

Geography and Zoology Come Together

Most of our homeschool curriculum is our own. We follow the Montessori method as closely as we can at home for all of the major subjects. We add a little bit of Waldorf for Art and Nature study, we supplement with some fun things like Life of Fred and Brain Quest workbooks. I have always thought the idea of Homeschool Co-ops was great but they use their specific curriculum which I have never found to be Montessori. We have, however, been lucky enough to find a Homeschool group that is not a co-op. We do not do classes together but we do have clubs and park play days where we can get together and enjoy time together with others who homeschool. One of our favorite clubs in our group is Geography Club. Each month during the school year we choose one country to study. Each child (sometimes children in the same family work together) chooses a particular subject relating to the country we are studying. We study however we choose and present in any manner we like. The children do charts, drawings, powerpoint slideshows, dances, photos, or bring in items from that country. Its always a fun afternoon when we get together and the children present what they have learned. It is a great way for them to get excited about what they have learned because they can share it with the other children. They also get experience with public speaking which is always helpful. In addition to the presentations, we each bring in a dish we have made that is traditionally eaten in the country we are studying. We all get a yummy lunch and the children get to try foods from around the world. I can not say enough good things about this club, if you have a group of homeschool children, consider starting your own Geography Club.

February's country was New Zealand. T decided to focus on the volcanos of New Zealand. When we looked at the map at the beginning of the month we noticed that New Zealand is in the Ring of Fire, which is the part of the world where the most volcanoes exist. Since we studies volcanos extensively at the beginning of the year with the First Great Lesson, he found this interesting. He used his Montessori world puzzle map to make this chart to show that New Zealand is part of the Ring of Fire and explained what that means during his oral presentation.

On the back of his chart he made a larger scale map of New Zealand, using the Montessori Australia puzzle map and indicated where each volcano is located in red ink.

For our traditional food we chose a dessert recipe called Hokey Pokey. It is made of corn syrup, sugar and baking soda.

First you combine the corn syrup and sugar and let it melt together. Then you boil it for 3 minutes.

Then you add the baking soda which creates a reaction. Bubbles form and the mixture turns a nice yellow color.

When you pour the mixture out onto a dish it hardens with the bubbles inside, creating a honeycomb effect. It was quite sweet and yummy.

We had a great time studying New Zealand and its many volcanos. This week we took a trip to our local museum to view their newest exhibit which is all about Whales! We found several references to New Zealand in our studies of whales at the museum. It is always fun when there is a correlation between subjects and the student notices all on his own.

This map shows how whales often beach themselves on the shores of New Zealand. The shores are unique in this area because they drop very quickly into very deep water. Whales will swim close to the shore because they do not realize that the water will become shallow so quickly. It also causes tidal waves to be very strong so that if a whale is swimming in that deep water which is close to the shore and a tidal wave hits him, he will be pushed rapidly into the shallow water and the wave will go down quickly leaving the whale beached.

There was also an area that talked about the Maori people who are indigenous to New Zealand, and showed several examples of things that were made from the teeth and bones of whales.

The museum was hosting a Homeschool Day which included several hands on activities about whales. Here the children were learning about blubber and how it helps protect whales from the icy oceans.

Both of the children were quite fond of the blubber model. It was not actual blubber but a model that looked and felt like it.

Then they put on a glove made of neoprene to see how it protected their hand from the ice water. In the past we have done another experiment where we put a layer of shortening between two plastic bags which works similarly.

They learned about baleen by using toothbrushes to get dirt out of water as opposed to using teeth (clips).

Then they folded origami whales and colored them. T is very interested in origami (we recently read Sudoku and the thousand paper cranes) so he had fun with this. B was more interested in peeling the paper off of the crayons than coloring.

T added some wiggly eyes to his whale, cute right?

They got to touch a whale rib bone

And a whale vertebra

We really enjoyed the whale exhibit. They had so many specimens that it was amazing.

This Sperm whale was HUGE!

We enjoyed comparing skulls of several different whales.

The kids got to crawl through a life size model of a Blue Whale heart.

Whale vertebra and rib bone

Baleen (the hairlike material that is in the whale's mouth, it is used to collect small sea life for food)

We also found out a very cool fact that I hadn't known before. Whales started out as land animals and evolved into sea animals. Once I thought about it for a few minutes it made total sense. If you have gone through the Great Lesson #2, The Coming of Life, you would know the pattern of life started in the sea and then came onto land. A whale is a Mammal so the ancestry of the whale started in the sea initially, then came onto land as the mammals appeared, then later went back to the sea.
This timeline chart was especially helpful (click them to make them bigger):

I am sure by now, if you have been reading my blog for any amount of time, that you know we are museum junkies. We just love going to the museum and its even better when their special exhibits correlate with some of the work we have been doing recently. Nothing brings it all together like real specimens and hands on activities.

No comments:

Post a Comment