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Monday, July 20, 2009

Nim's Island Activities - Chapters 3&4

~ How Do Islands Form? ~

Today we started our day in a very Nim-like fashion.  The kids woke their dad with squeals of "can you open our coconut!"  Poor guy, and on his vacation no less.  They drank some of the coconut milk, and didn't seem too impressed, but they were thrilled to watch as he smashed the husk on our stone step to reveal the meat inside.  They happily ate "banana-and-coconut mush" (oatmeal with bananas and coconut) for breakfast and then brushed their teeth Nim style -  outdoors with much giggling and searching for a plant "that needs the spit."
Our focus this week is Island Formation.  We started with a very simple demonstration of the concept of plate-tectonics (using chocolate covered marshmallows YUM!)
When force is applied the crust (chocolate) cracks and moves, sometimes revealing the deeper layers of the earth - told you it was simple.  We talked about the movement of these plates along fault lines, and how these weaknesses in the earth's crust give magma a chance to reach the surface, thus creating volcanoes.  Those volcanoes in turn can create oceanic islands.  

We watched a few videos depicting the formation of volcanic islands.  One about Hawaii, and another about the formation of Surtsey which is good, but the audio quality is lousy, so turn your speakers WAY up.  We also enjoyed flipping through the photos taken by the crew of the Maiken when they accidentally stumbled upon the birth of a brand new island.  These pictures are impressive!  The kids had all sorts of questions about this - was the boat okay, can the volcano kill people, how long did it take, and on and on.  All good questions! 

Our activity today was to make Salt-dough maps as suggested by Professor H.  We had a good time laughing at his antics as he tried to deal with dough that was far too wet.  The kids were all feeling very sure of themselves and proud of their own sculpting abilities after seeing his ridiculous attempts to work with that dough. 
This is the recipe for Salt-dough that we used (for 6 kids):
4 cups flour
2 cups table salt
2 Tablespoons cream of tartar (to keep the finished product from cracking)
+/-   2 cups of water 

- Mix the dry ingredients together.  Add approx 3/4 of the water then slowly add more until the dough just barely starts to form a ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl.  
- Knead the dough for a few min (I let my kitchenaid do the work) to make the dough softer and create a better consistency.
Professor H did a good job demonstrating the different landforms with the dough, and we will be adding these pieces to our notebooks.  
For our final craft we borrowed an idea from Tracey and added pipe-cleaner palm trees to the scenery after our islands were finished.   Our plan is to paint them next week.  We'll see if I actually follow through with it.  The idea of all those kids wielding paintbrushes in my dining room has me nervous.  

Want to share our Nim's Island adventure? Join our Flickr pool to allow your kids to join in the discussion, and share their own photos and videos.


Doris said...

I love what you are doing with the kids.

Tracey said...

Looks great!