Tornadoes

We started our study by reading:

Inside Tornadoes

Inside Tornadoes

We modeled a tornado with:

Discovery Kids Tornado Lab

Discovery Kids Tornado Lab

You can turn the dial and progress the tornado through F1, F2, F3 tornadoes, etc.  You can also take the lid off and drop things in so you can see how they get sucked into the tornado.  The kids enjoyed this a lot.

The model also came with a DVD on tornadoes that we watched.

Storm Chasers

Storm Chasers

Then we discussed tornadoes in culture.  We watched the tornado scene from the movie Wizard of Oz.  Most tornadoes occur in Tornado Alley.  Kansas is part of Tornado Alley.  John Steuart Curry was a Kansan who liked to paint scenes of rural Kansas in the 1920s-1940s.  We looked at and discussed his famous painting, Tornado Over Kansas.  We discussed that he was part of the American Regionalism movement.  Then the kids made their own tornado artwork.

Tornado picture drawn by my daughter

Tornado picture drawn by my daughter

Collages

Read The Great Googlestein Museum Mystery by Jean Van Leeuwen.

The Googlestein Museum Mystery

The Googlestein Museum Mystery

In the story, three mice take up residence in the Guggenheim Museum.  While there, one of the mice, Fats, discovers his artistic talent and makes a series of collages that are displayed at the museum.

Look at pictures of the Guggenhein museum in New York and then make a collage, just like Fats does in the book!  Here’s the bathroom-themed one that my daughter made:

Bathroom-themed collage

Bathroom-themed collage

Modeling Rutherford’s Alpha Particle Experiment: Structure of the Atom

In 1909, Ernest Rutherford designed an experiment to shoot alpha particles at thin metallic foils.  When he did so, most of the alpha particles went straight through the foil, but a few scattered sideways and backwards.  Why?  It is because most of the atom is empty space.  Only when the alpha particles hit the nuclei of the foil atoms, which are very small, would the particles deflect.

To model this experiment, we laid out some spools to represent the nuclei of the foil atoms.  Then we rolled a handful of marbles, representing alpha particles, at the spools.  Most of the marbles passed through the empty spaces.  However, a couple hit the spools (making a nice pinging sound) and deflected sideways or backwards.

After doing this several times, we experimented with one marble.  We shot the marble at the spool.  Only a direct center hit caused the marble to go backwards, otherwise it deflected sideways.

Relative Clauses, Part III: Object Nouns vs. Subject Nouns

Relative clauses begin with the words:  thatwhichwhowhom, or whose.  These words are called relative pronouns because they are used in place of the noun the clause is describing.  We can see this by re-substituting the relative pronoun with the noun the clause is describing.

For example, in the sentence:

The man who lives across the street is on vacation.

The relative clause who lives across the street describes the noun man.  

The relative pronoun is who.  

If we re-substitute man for who, then the relative clause who lives across the street becomes:

the man lives across the street.  

The man is the subject of the clause, so our relative pronoun, who, is replacing a subject noun.

Consider another example:

I called the girl whom I met at the party.

The relative clause whom I met at the party describes the noun girl.  

The relative pronoun is whom.  

If we re-substitute girl for whom, then the relative clause whom I met at the party becomes:

the girl I met at the party  

In this case, the girl is the direct object of the clause, so our relative pronoun, whom, is replacing an object noun.

Follow-Up:

Have a number of sentences with relative clauses, each on a slip of paper.  Select a sentence.  Cut out the relative clause.  Identify the noun it is describing and cut it out.  Place the noun over the relative pronoun in the relative clause.  Identify if it is a subject noun or an object noun.

Introduction to the Decimal System, Part III

This lesson is basically the same as in Part II except the teacher and the child switch roles.

Make a pile of units.  To the left of that, make a pile of ten bars.  Make a pile of hundred squares to the left of the tens.  Make a pile of thousand cube to the left of the hundreds.  (This corresponds with their place value.)  Place a tray by the piles.

Place a number of units into the tray.  Ask your child how much is in the tray.  The child can touch each bead and count aloud, for instance: one unit, two units, three units.

Three units

Three units

Empty the tray and repeat with various quantities.

Do the same thing using only ten bars.

Do the same thing using only hundred squares.

Do the same thing using only thousand cubes.

Now, mix up the order.  For instance, request a number of units, then a number of thousands, then a number of hundreds, then a number of tens, etc.

Relative Clauses, Part II: Which vs. That

When the noun that the relative clause is describing is a thing, we begin the relative clause with the word ‘that’ or ‘which’.  We use ‘that’ when the clause provides us with need-to-know information to specifically identify the noun.  We use ‘which’ when the clause provides optional information.

Let’s consider this example:

Meat that is rotten smells bad.

If I omit the relative clause, I’m left with:

Meat smells bad.  

Leaving out the relative clause changes the meaning!  Not all meat smells bad.  I need to provide the information “that is rotten” to restrict the type of meat that smells bad.  Therefore, it is a restrictive relative clause and it begins with the word ‘that’.   

Another example:

A fly, which is an insect, landed on my hamburger.

If I omit the relative clause, I’m left with:

A fly landed on my hamburger.

Leaving out the relative clause does not change the meaning!  It is optional.  The relative clause does not restrict which fly we are talking about.  Hence,  it is a non-restrictive relative clause and begins with the word ‘which’.  And, because it is optional, it is offset by commas

Follow-Up:

Practice determining when to use which versus that.  Write sentences on slips of paper, omitting which or that.  Have the kids select a sentence and determine which word, which or that, is appropriate.  Have the correct answer on the back so they can check themselves.

Relative Clauses, Part I

We all know that we use adjectives to describe nouns.  For instance, in the sentence:

I wore a red shirt.  

‘Red’ describes the shirt.  ‘Red’ is an adjective.

 But, sometimes one word is not enough to describe a noun.  Sometimes, we need to use a clause to describe a noun.  Consider the sentence:

The cannon that Lafayette captured is inside.

The clause “that Lafayette captured” describes the noun ‘cannon‘.  A clause that describes a noun is called an adjective clause because it functions like an adjective.  It is also has another name.  It is also called a relative clause.

Another example:

My hat, which I got for my birthday, just blew away.

The clause “which I got for my birthday” describes the noun ‘hat’.  It is a relative clause.

A third example:

The man who lives across the street is on vacation.

The clause who lives across the street” describes the noun‘man’.  It is a relative clause.  

A fourth example:

I called the girl whom I met at the party.

The clause whom I met at the party” describes the noun ‘girl’.  It is a relative clause.

A final example:

I met the boy whose mother is the librarian.

The clausewhose mother is the librarian” describes the noun ‘boy’.  It is a relative clause.

Relative clauses begin with the words:  that, which, who, whom, or whose.

Follow-Up:

Practice identifying relative clauses.  Write sentences on slips of paper.  Have the kids select a sentence and, using scissors, cut the relative clause out of the sentence.

Magnetism

Super Magnet kit

Super Magnet kit

We use the Super Magnet kit by 4M as part of our study on magnetism.  The magnets in the kit are of a nice strength to easily demonstrate basic magnetic principles.  It includes 2 rectangular magnets and 2 circular magnets.  The magnets are encased in plastic and the different poles are color-coded red and blue, which is nice because it’s easy to demonstrate that different poles attract and like poles repel.

Along with the magnets are a variety of magnet holders – a horseshoe, wand, mini-wand, 2 cars, and 2 boat attachments.  The mini-wand includes materials to use it as a fishing pole style magnet.

The included pamphlet outlines 10 different experiments.  I demonstrate each experiment first, and then let the kids try it.  Once their interest wanes in a particular experiment, then I introduce another.

1.  Test a variety of materials to see if they are magnetic or not.  Although they just say to go around and test materials, you can facilitate this by having 8-10 different materials available in a basket for testing.  Rotate the materials out every few days so they can experiment with lots of different things. Make 2 separate piles:  magnetic and non-magnetic.

2.  Fishing game – demonstrating that magnetism works through liquids.

3.  Table UFO – magnetism works through gases.

4.  Car race in a table maze – magnetism works through solids.

5.  Yacht race – another demonstration of magnetism working through water.

6.  Mysterious dangler – demonstrating attracting/repelling nature of magnets.

7.  Magnetic rover – Earth is a big magnet & compasses

8.  Levitron – repelling nature of magnets.

9.  Racer – repelling nature of magnets.

10.  Magnetic sculpture – magnetic objects can become temporary magnets.

And of course, the kids find out tons just by experimenting on their own.  Remember to keep magnets away from all electronic devices and supervise appropriately.

Introduction to the Decimal System: Part II

As in Part I, this lesson uses the Montessori Golden Bead material.  It provides a ‘hands-on’ explanation of the decimal system.

Make a pile of units.  To the left of that, make a pile of ten bars.  Make a pile of hundred squares to the left of the tens.  Make a pile of thousand cube to the left of the hundreds.  (This corresponds with their place value.)  Place a tray by the piles.

Sit a few feet away and ask your child to bring you a specific number of units in the tray – for instance, “three units”.

Three units

Three units

When they bring them to you, count them aloud as you touch them:  one unit, two units, three units.  Then, have them return them to the pile.  Repeat with various quantities.

Do the same for tens – for instance, ask for “four tens”.

Four tens

Four tens

When they bring them to you, count them aloud as you touch them:  one ten, two tens, three tens, four tens.  Repeat with various quantities.

Do the same for hundreds – for instance, ask for “three hundreds”.

Three hundreds

Three hundreds

When they bring them to you, count them aloud as you touch them:  one hundred, two hundreds, three hundreds.  Repeat with various quantities.

Do the same for thousands - for instance, ask for “two thousands”.

Two thousands

Two thousands

When they bring them to you, count them aloud as you touch them:  one thousand, two thousand.  Repeat with various quantities.

Mix up the order.  For instance, request a number of units, then a number of thousands, then a number of hundreds, then a number of tens, etc.

Perfection and the Geometric Cabinet

Playing Perfection

Playing Perfection

The game, Perfection, by Milton Bradley, can be used as an advanced extension of the Montessori Geometric Cabinet.  It is great for kids who’ve mastered the Geometric Cabinet, but especially meaningful for older kids who never used the Geometric Cabinet.

Just like the Geometric Cabinet, Perfection consist of geometric shaped peg puzzles.  The Perfection shapes are considerably smaller than those in the Geometric Cabinet and so are more challenging to discern.   The pegs help exercise fine motor skills.

Both materials require you to use visual perception skills to differentiate between shapes.  The puzzle-style layout means that only the correct solution will fit.

One feature it has that makes it appealing for older kids is a time limit – one minute to complete the board.  Since it has a countdown counter, kids can try to beat their former time, and so see themselves improve.  Younger kids may decide to play the game without using the timer – just for the satisfaction of completing the puzzle.