Books We Are Using This Year
  • The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    by Jeff West,S. Wise Bauer,Jeff (ILT) West, Susan Wise Bauer
  • Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    by Bernard J Nebel PhD
  • Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    by Steven P. Demme
  • First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    by -Author-
  • Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    by Mona Brookes
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Entries in geology (3)


Exploding a volcano with The Magic Schoolbus (review)

I won't make this another review of another science kit, but since I was disappointed with the Young Scientist Club kit I should mention The Magic Schoolbus Erupting Volcanoes Kit left me happier (which is funny because I'm not big on those books). I also got this one on Zulily for a steal, but I think I paid $14, which is a much smaller discount than for the other kits, but the price difference was reflected in the quality. The kit included a poster and an instruction booklet, which was written to the "young scientist" (unlike the instructions in the Young Scientist Club kit which were to the parent). The information was good as it was laid out on the poster and explained in the booklet, but the booklet was also basically a quiz with the busy work of correctly placing answer stickers, and that we could have done without. It also came with a volcano shield, something that the Young Scientist Club volcano kit does not include, and which, if we'd had time, we would have happily created ourselves, but this was a fun shortcut to get us directly to exploding and erupting. It also came with eye protection (fun!) and in general the equipment felt of a better quality (albeit still of plastic, of course). And I guess that turned into a short review.

We actually did this a couple of days ago, just a day after the acids and bases. Calvin started with paint. I'd already told him that the exploding of his own volcano had more to do with art and chemistry than volcanoes, so he set right to the decorating part. The kit included water paint for this step, but it just didn't stick so I broke out the poster paints instead. since it was warped from being in the box we held it splayed into shape using a rock (which also got painted and is in our garden now :o)

The mere existence of the eye protection, and possibly the use of the word "explode", set Calvin a bit on edge. He suited right up, and on pouring the vinegar into the baking soda solution he jumped right back to watch from a safe distance. We ran several trials before deciding on the right combination of ingredients. I love that we weren't given a "recipe" but were urged to find our own by trial and error.

The kit came with red food dye for the ultimate lava look, but after the first one, when we ended up with red fingers and a slightly red driveway, we ran the trials without it. That made the final explosion more dramatic. Well, that and the fact that we did this all outside and just as we were finishing the thunderheads were rolling in and the sky was rumbling in the distance. Time to head inside.


Felt, the volcano edition

It's been a while since I made new felt. It's been a while since Calvin asked for new felt (although he does continue to get his old sets out at least once a month for quiet play time), and then a couple days ago he became rather intent on having a volcano felt set. The first day he asked me to make him said set I told him to make me a list of what such a set would include, because I just couldn't get my mind wrapped around it. All the "volcano felt set" images I found when I searched online were actually dinosaur related (and you'll remember that Calvin's interest is most definitely volcano related, not dinosaur related), and it left me wondering. Calvin's list included a sleeping volcano, a volcano erupting with "volcano red" lava, houses, people, and sheep. Sheep?

When we sat down to work on this today I asked him to draw a picture of what his ideal volcano felt set would be. I guess he forgot about the people today. The sheep seemed to be the real goal.

I did most of the cutting, but Calvin selected the colors, did all the basic design work, and helped with the hot glue.

Having now seen him at work with the set I now understand (or think I understand) that what he's going for is a reenactment of the Pinatubo evacuation as we saw it on the National Geographic special we watched a while back. He reassured me, for instance, that the sheep in this picture is not being touched by the lava because he has been "evacuated" and is in a town far away from the volcano. "It's a matter of perspective," I was told.


Egyptian volcanoes

It has been a really long time since I shared any of Calvin's art, or really anything at all in this space other than book reviews. I wish I could say that was just a matter of not posting, but actually we haven't done much art as of late—we've been reading a lot of and playing make-believe, but other than that we've been outside and most of our activities have just been general day to day things that I've written about in the journal. I've been trying to sort out how I'll use this space on the site now that I use the journal space so much more, and so much more inclusively. Right now it's becoming mostly a book review site, and we're even in a transition on that front. Now that Calvin reads so much more on his own we are going through our read alouds more slowly and in the past I've only asked him to write reviews on the read alouds. Though we usually talk about the books he's read after he finishes them, and sometimes he still reads to me, he's not excessively fond of writing reviews so I haven't asked him to do so more often than before. So that leaves us with the weekly bookshelf post, lots of my own book reviews, and a handful of Calvin's for right now. But I have other plans in the works. I think we just go in spurts, that's all.

And today Calvin has some art to share. He specifically asked for these to be posted here. These drawings are a result of a rediscovery of the Egyptian hieroglyph stamps and a still active fascination with volcanoes. Note his creation of hieroglyphs for "volcano" and "dangerous lava", or so he tells me they mean.