Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Metamorphic Rocks

Today, we studied metamorphic rocks with our Geology co-op, our third and final rock type.  This will be followed by our last lab (to cover metamorphic rocks) in a few weeks.
All year, we have been working on a lapbook for Geology, which we have added to with each new lesson.  (We will finish our lapbooks and fill in any gaps of space at our last lesson.  Stay tuned.)
 We have been learning so much!  (Check my "Geology" tab for links to the posts on each lesson and to find the resources I used for all these great printables (
(All of our homework and lab sheets are behind these colored sheets.)
Today's study helped us fill up our last section.
For each lesson, I like to give the children some fun additions for their lapbooks to go with their work.  For today's, I printed this image off of a Google search for metamorphic rocks, which they added.
I also found this adorable gneiss sticker (below) for their lapbooks at Redbubble (  (They loved this one!)
After we talked about the general definition for metamorphic rocks, we put this printable in our lapbooks (purchased from which opens to reveal the answers to the tabs.
When we discussed the formation of metamorphic rocks, and how tectonic plates work to push into mountains, we used the blankets idea we found at  However, in our demonstration, we used small towels.  On the top layer (the paper towel), I wrote "Tectonic Plate A" and "Tectonic Plate B," with a clear line separating the two, to help them better understand.
Pushed together, we formed a "mountain!"
To demonstrate this concept further, I used the tectonic plates activity using graham crackers, found at  (In the picture below, the graham cracker was broken into two so each piece could represent a separate tectonic plate.
We added a little water to the plate, which made the crackers soggy, and then pushed the two together.
Immediately, we had folding!  This is how mountains are made!  And metamorphic rocks are formed from the heat and pressure that occurs during this process!
(The children loved creating their own!)
Today, we focused on four metamorphic rocks: slate, marble, gneiss, and schist.
The first we discussed was gneiss.  It makes up most of the earth's lower crust.

Next, we moved onto marble.  It can be many colors.
For today's snack, I made "Marble Munch," or "Metamorphic Munch," just white and regular chocolate chips, melted and poured together to create the marbling effect you see below.
 Once it cooled, I broke it into pieces.  Yum!
After our snack, we talked about some of the different marbles.  First, we discussed white marble.  It has been used for centuries to create works of fine art, like the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial.  It was made of white marble found in our state, the state of Georgia!
Here is my sample of white marble that we passed around.
 Next, we discussed red marble.  It gets its reddish colors from mineral impurities (like iron oxides).
 The next marble we passed around was serpentine marble, so named for its greenish markings and its scaly appearance.  (There are many samples that are much better (greener) than mine.)
The final marble we discussed was dolomite marble.  It is used often as building material.
The next metamorphic rock we learned about was slate.  Slate is metamorphosed shale and mudstone, both sedimentary rocks with very fine sediments.  This is why slate is so smooth.  You have more than likely seen it used for walkways.
 I passed around this sample of green slate.  Any ideas what this was once used for?
Green slate was used for chalkboards!
Our last metamorphic rock to discuss was schist.  It is flaky and has a shiny luster because of the presence of mica in it.

 My schist sample is biotite schist.
After we finished passing around our samples, we put together our metamorphic rocks pocket (also from  In it, we put the printed paddles for the samples we discussed, as well as stickers for some of these rocks that we got out of ...
...our Learning About Rocks sticker book from Dover (purchased online).  (These kids get such a thrill out of filling up those pockets!)

It's the end of the school year and their batteries need recharging, so for homework, I only assigned one thing.  I asked the students to take home their lapbooks, look through them carefully, then answer the two questions on the sheet I made, below.  I can't wait to hear their answers!  (I will update this post with Maggie's sheet once she completes her homework assignment.)
That wrapped up our metamorphic rocks lesson.  As I said, the next time we meet, we will have our metamorphic rocks lab (with mystery metamorphic rocks that each child will have to identify), and we will complete our lapbooks with some fun, final additions I purchased from Red Bubble.  To end our co-op, we are having a pool party to celebrate!  Check back soon for our final Geology post!

"Sedimentary Study" Lab

After every Geology lesson with our co-op, we have a lab, to help us identify rocks or minerals in the category we just studied.  Most recently, we learned about sedimentary rocks.  (I posted on that lesson at  So, today's lab was our "Sedimentary Study" Lab.  Each sample was a mystery to the child who received it and through the "Sedimentary Study" stations, the goal was to identify the sample correctly.  To do that, I created this lab sheet, with questions that would help the children properly identify their rocks.
The samples in the mix (in no particular order) included crinoidal limestone ...
 ... quartz sandstone ...
 ... and conglomerate.
Each sample was bagged and numbered and each child got to roll a dice to determine which mystery rock he/she would be identifying.  Maggie rolled mystery rock #1!

In this lab, we had three stations for each child to hit.  The first station was "Color Counts!"
At this station, the children drew a picture of their rocks on their lab sheets.
 Here is Mags, working away at station #1!
Station #2 required the children to study the sediments in their sedimentary rocks,
At this station, they had to answer whether or not their samples had fossils, large pebbles, rounded sediments or jagged ones, and crystals.
 Maggie noticed crystals of quartz in her sedimentary rock!  Interesting find.
The last station in this lab was "Grain Gain!"  Here, the children had to describe the size of the grains in their rocks.  Were they coarse, like sand?  Finer than sand, like silt?  Or maybe very soft, like clay?
Maggie determined the grains in her rock were coarse, like sand.
After going through each of the stations, the children returned to the main table and completed their lab sheets.  After answering all of the questions, they were asked to make an educated guess of which mystery rock they thought they had.  Maggie thought she had quartz sandstone.  (Here is her lab sheet.)
She was right!  Great job, Mags!
Only one more rock type to go (metamorphic rocks) and this year's co-op will be complete!  That means two more posts, our metamorphic lesson and our lab.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Maori of New Zealand

 Lesson 44 of Volume II of The Mystery of History is all about "The Maori of New Zealand," the native people of these large, Polynesian islands in the South Pacific Ocean.
After reading all about them in our text (pages 257-260), we looked them up in The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History, a book I use often to supplement our history lessons.
 We found them on pages 274-275 of the same.
 A few years ago, my parents visited New Zealand and brought back these two Maori dolls for Maggie.  I was so excited to pull them out for this lesson!
 On this doll, you can see the moko tattooing on the face that was customary for the Maori.
And on this doll, you can see a large charm worn around the neck.
 From the content in the Usborne book, we learned that it was a good luck charm depicting an ancestor.  The eyes are bulging and the tongue is out because this was the Maori's tradition during their war dances (called Haka): bulging their eyes and sticking their tongues out as far as they would go, with the intention of intimidating their enemies.
 Also in the Usborne book, we learned about the carved heads of Easter Island, another island in the Pacific, though not part of New Zealand.  (This is why it was not mentioned in the text.)  But I thought it was worth discussing.  Some of them are over 40 feet tall!
 We have the Safari, Ltd. "World Landmarks" Toob (pictured below), which includes these carved heads, so I took it out for Maggie to see.
Neat!  I think this would be fun to use in a diorama this year when we study Oceania when we start our new geography curriculum.  (Stay tuned ...)
 A species unique to New Zealand is the kiwi bird.  (Isn't it adorable?!)  It was named this by the Maori because of the sounds it makes -- "kee wee."
We were fortunate to have a kiwi souvenir, too, from my parents' trip.
When you press the belly, it makes the sound of a kiwi, so we were able to hear it.  It's quite loud!
The text says, "... the name 'kiwi' has further been used to describe a little round, brown, fuzzy fruit -- probably because it looks like the bird!  Though kiwi fruit is not originally from New Zealand ..."
In the activities section (page 261), there is a suggestion to make a cute, little kiwi bird out of a kiwi fruit.  Of course, this sounded too fun to pass up!  Here is our bird's body.
 Instead of using a permanent marker to make the eyes as instructed by the text, I remember I had these fun googly eye push pins.  Perfect!
 We used a toothpick for the beak, and brown cardstock for the feet, and our fruit was looking more and more like the bird!  Maggie loved this!
We did an image search of the Maori people and found plenty of them with their moko tattoos and war faces on.
 Even their wooden carvings had this face!
Maggie practiced her own Maori war face in her bathroom mirror.
 I think it was intimidating enough!  Silly girl!
 We learned from our reading in the text that New Zealand was also home to the moa, a now extinct, flightless bird that had a powerful kick.  We learned about the moa two years ago and its story was what triggered Maggie's passion for endangered/extinct species.  (Since, we have accumulated quite a collection of books on the subject and she is a walking encyclopedia of facts about it.  Ah, homeschooling.)  To review what we knew about the moa, we read page 28 out of our Almost Gone: The World's Rarest Animals book by Steve Jenkins.
Here is what the moa looked like.
 It could grow up to thirteen feet tall (WHOA!) and so using our tape measure, we measured out thirteen feet along our hallway.  This would be Maggie's height next to a tall moa bird if its head hit the wall at the end of the hallway.  That was one BIG bird!
 (Our tape measure actually measured only 12 feet, hence the reason Maggie was scooted down in the picture.)
Finally, Maggie wrote out the longest word in the Maori language.  It is LOOOOONG!  The text says it's "a name meaning 'the hilltop where Tamatea Polai Whenua played his flute to his loved one.' "  The word is ...
Whew!  Try saying that three times fast.  Or even once.
We had a great time learning about the Maori people!  I hope one day we will get to visit New Zealand, too!