Most Effective Way To Make Learning Interesting For Kids

by Mary Ann on September 22, 2010

An Example of Recognizing and Responding to a Spark – Part 2

Homemade sugar crystals

Yesterday I talked about a Spark that I caught from one of my granddaughters, Ashley,and how she urged me to teach Chemistry and Physics (indirectly, through learning about crystals). It was at their level of course, but they were really keen to know more. She asked about crystals and so we began a journey of exploration to find out more about them. One of the things that we did, was head off to the library.

All the way to the library Ashley and Aubrey looked at large rocks that people had in their yards and driveways as decorations.Many


had small shiny bits in them. They asked if they were crystals or “that rock that flakes apart”. I shared with them the term mica, which is what they were talking about. They would make a decision on each one as to whether they thought it was mica or crystal bits in the rock.

At the Library we picked out about five books on rocks and crystals. They weren’t all for children. I began by reading them a children’s book on how rocks are made. It talked about volcanoes and igneous rocks. It talked about sand and the shells of tiny sea animals and how sedimentary rocks are made. It showed in very simple terms how metamorphic rocks are made. This information really caught their attention. They asked questions about everything and practically had their noses on the page to get a really good look at all the pictures.

Mummies of Pompeii

They were fascinated with the fact that there was hot, melted rock inside the earth called magma and that sometimes it erupts from the earth. Lizzy wanted to know what erupt meant. They were very interested in information about what happens when lava cools. They were intrigued by the fact that when it cools it becomes igneous rock and sometimes if there were people nearby it left mummies. They squealed at the pictures of the mummies.

The adult books had hundreds of pictures of crystals with very long names. Ashley worked on sounding out dozens of them. We found a wonderful picture that showed crystals that were transparent, translucent and opaque. Wow, a follow up to the “familiar conversation” we had had earlier that day. We spent a few minutes picking out things in the library that fit each description. Windows were transparent, colored glass was translucent and the door frames were opaque (sorta).

There were pictures of gold flecks in rock and different types of gold mining described.

Gold in rock

We saw a picture of a rock collection in an egg carton. Right away they began discussing where we could go to get good rocks to make our own rock collection. The girls thought that it would be really fun to find the rocks and then figure out if they were igneous or sedimentary.

There was a chart in both the adult books and the kids’ book showing the softest rock, talc and the hardest rock, diamond. They couldn’t believe there was ground up rock in body power and that wedding rings were really rocks.

We read a book on the history of salt, which is a crystal. There was a chart showing that there are 92 elements that make up the earth and that salt is made up of two of them, sodium and chloride. Ashley and Lizzy thought it was pretty funny that we eat a rock, of sorts, on our food. (I googled periodic table later, only to learn there are now 118 elements in the Periodic Table)

We were probably at the library pouring over the books for about an hour and a half. When it was time to go I was just heading out but Lizzy said, “Grandma shouldn’t we take some of these books home so we can look at them some more. They each choose the adult book with all the pictures. I chose another child’s book on how rocks are made.

It was Saturday afternoon, a beautiful day. They were on vacation at grandmas. The neighbor girl they love to play with was home. Yet here was a six year old and an eight year old diligently learning about rocks and crystals. They were absorbed in the information. It was fun. They LOVED it. That is because they weren’t required to learn it. They didn’t have to worry about memorizing it. There wasn’t going to be a test.

Later that evening Ashley said, “Grandma, we’re kinda finding everything crystal today. We didn’t the other day. (Long pause) I guess that’s because we learned about crystals today.”

Tomorrow we will head on home from the Library and learn more about crystals.

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