Venus activities for kids

I’ve got a backlog of science activities I’m working through, and we actually completed our Venus activities over a month ago.  And like with my volcano activities, our Venus activities just didn’t feel like they went right originally.

Venus activities for kids

Venus is a volcano planet, so Venus activities are volcano based

There’s not a lot we know about Venus because of it’s location and because of its atmosphere.  We’ve sent several probes to Venus, but the probes are pretty much all destroyed upon going into the atmosphere because of its corrosive qualities.

We know Venus has lots of volcanoes, and this knowledge was convenient because we were studying volcanoes in our earth science at the time.

volcano activities for kids

So for that part of our Venus activities head over to the volcano activities post and marvel at how many ways you can make a volcano and how many ways our attempts went wrong.  Seriously, wrong in so many ways.

 

Venus activity: radar mapping

Venus activity radar simulation

You know what did work?  More or less….  Our radar mapping.

Supplies: empty box (I used a plastic shoe box lined with tissue paper so I could still use it afterwards), markers (I highly recommend this set of Pip-Squeaks Marker Tower, as the markers dry out I buy new ones and put them in),Bamboo Skewers, graph paper (Astronomy Notebooking Journal has one included for the Venus lesson if you are getting that), Plaster of Paris (I’ve started buying this in bulk after the Roman frescoes and our other projects in that vein), White Tissue Paper (you probably could use colored, but white works better).

Setup on the Radar activity before kids are involved:

Venus activity preparing radar measurement

  1. Pour a bunch of plaster of paris into your box.  The more you pour in the better your activity (more on that in my what I learned notes).  Make it as varied as possible, add high mountains and deep valleys.
  2. On your white tissue paper draw a grid and number it.  Preferably make the squares uniform in size.
  3. Color your bamboo skewer with different colored bands at a pre-measured distance.  I did half inch measuring.
  4. Tape the tissue paper grid over the box so they can’t see what is inside.

Explanation of our Venus activity (without this you’re just letting your kids play with sharp pointy things)

Because of Venus’ atmosphere we cannot see the planet’s surface.  If we look down all we see is a fog in perpetual motion.  So we’ve used radar to measure Venus’ surface and created a map to see what it is like.  That is what we are going to do today.  This will let us make a map of our “Venus surface.”

learning the importance of accurate measurements with Venus activity for kids

  1. Let your kids take turns poking the bamboo skewer straight down in the middle of the square to see how deep it goes. (straight up and down is very important).
  2. Record what is the first color showing outside of the tissue paper on your graph paper.
  3. Continue doing this for each of the squares on your “planet Venus.”

learning the importance of accurate measurements

What we learned from this Venus activity

  1. Measurement is very important.  Their answers were wildly different dependent on how they poked the skewer through the tissue paper.
  2. It’s a tricky job to measure things with radar.  You had to get the measurements right, you had to keep straight what area you were measuring, and you could sometimes force your way through an air bubble and mess up the readings.
  3. I learned I shouldn’t have used a leftover batch of plaster.  We didn’t have enough differentaition, so the measuring was rather boring for creating our map.
  4. I’d also say I should have made much smaller squares to get more accurate map.

Overall though it’s made for an interesting astronomy study.   I’m going to go ahead and publish this post, but later today I’ll come back with some suggestions of some more Venus activities.

Hannibal and the Punic Wars lesson

There’s some parts of Roman history that are fairly well known, people know of Julius Caesar, they know of Nero and Rome burning, they know about gladiators.  And if you say Hannibal, you’ll probably get at least a glimmer of reaction.  Hannibal is a turning point for Rome and the city of Carthage.

Hannibal and the punic wars lesson

Who is involved in the Punic Wars?

At about 200 BC Carthage and Rome were the two big cities and had quite a decent rivalry growing.  Rome had conquered the Italian ppeninsulaand were trying to decide if they were going to be an Italian empire, or if they were going to expand.

At the same time Carthage (originally a colony of Phoenicia), but now a power in its own right was expanding into Spain.

sides drawn up in the punic war conflict

As you can see in the picture up above, Carthage, the green group, had a lot more land, but it was recently conquered land and they were more traders, not soldiers.  Rome had a solid grip on their peninsula, and had a well drilled army.

The start of the Punic Wars and Hannibal’s part in it

Both sides traded fights for a bit, but the big problem came when Rome set forth and sailed on Carthage.  Carthage cried bloody murder and called their best general, Hannibal to come home and defend them.

Now Hannibal had a choice, go home and sail his army over the seas to defend his home, OR attack the Romans on their own land.  Hit them where it hurts and cause the Senate to withdraw the Roman army.

Hannibal and the Punic wars

Hannibal chose to march his army across Spain, and over the Alps to Italy and attack Rome.  In one of the most famous marches across Europe he got his army with all of those elephants over the Alps very quickly and surprised all of Rome with his war elephants.

Scipio Africanus quote to Hannibal

Scipio Africanus, Roman general for the Punic Wars

Enter Scipio Africanus.  Scipio ranks in the lore of Roman history as one of its greatest generals.  He fought Hannibal to a standstill and destroyed his march on Rome, even though Rome had no idea how to deal with the elephants.

To truly get an idea how the battle went we watched the Decisive Battles episode on the Battle of Cannae between Hannibal and Scipio.

In the end Hannibal escaped, and Scipio was recalled to Rome.  Carthage and Rome both started rebuilding their forces.  This was just a temporary truce because neither of them could let the other survive.

The Third Punic War ended with the complete destruction of Carthage.  Rome did not trust them to keep their peace treaty, so they went in burned the city to the ground, salted the earth, and destroyed any chance of the city building back up, and made its holdings into a Roman province.  This secured more trading rights, a fairly good port, and ended the threat of war for a while.  Now Rome could turn its eyes East to look at Greece.

 

Finishing up the Punic Wars with a notebooking page

punic wars notebooking page

After we’d gone over all of that the kids completed a notebooking page about the Punic Wars.  Bad spelling and everything.

 

Resources for the Punic Wars lesson

How to make a Roman mosaic out of candy

As we moved through history, we paused in our trek through Mystery of History 2 (affiliate link) to learn more about Romans.  There’s a bunch of hands on lessons I wanted the kids to have a chance with, and there was no way we could do that progressing at our normal pace.

Roman mosaic with candy

Side note, you should see how some of my Illuminations (affiliate link) schedules look by the end of the week, I write all sorts of kooky notes on them, and scribble stuff, and draw arrows.

I bring that up because to have room in our schedule, which is all too often packed ridiculously full, I doubled up one week of history to get a bunch done, and crammed in as much of the “book learning” as I could into one week, so we had a glorious week of unplanned awesomeness to do.

But the plague went through our house, that’s another story, but I just wanted to say, that’s the beauty of flexibility in homeschooling.

 

Back to Roman Mosaics

(I’m talking on Thursday night about teaching active/distracted kids, and you can see why I NEED to know about this topic)

Roman mosaic supplies

I gathered all of the small bits of candy I had to make our mosaics, and plates, because while it would be even cooler mortared onto a sugar cookie, I didn’t want to make cookies right then.

After taunting the kids with all of those little bowls of candy, I hauled them over to the computer to look at pictures of Roman mosaics I took this summer at the Art Institute of Chicago.  If you’ve never been there, I highly recommend it.

Roman mosaics

As you can see animals and every day life were a common theme in mosaics.  You can also tell the colors are somewhat washed out, and aren’t as bright as our candy.  From everything I’ve read in their day these were very bright and vibrant colors, if you look at the restoration of some classic Renaissance artwork you can see how colors fade and change through time.

making a Roman mosaic

The kids set to work, and happily built their creations as we talked about what they were building and why they were making those particular mosaics.

Art can be a great glimpse into what you’re kids are thinking and they’re a great time to talk with your kids because everyone is forced to slow down and think about what they’re doing.

Roman mosaic craft

Everyohne’s final product.  The mostly blue one is Superman’s it’s a clone trooper.  The orange and yellow one is mine, it’s a volcano erupting (I had Pompeii in mind).  Princess has the purple one that is a dolphin jumping in the air.  Batman just had fun building a mosaic.

eat the evidence

Of course, you have to eat the evidence, it wouldn’t do for anyone to know, you’d had that much sugar.

 

linking up to:

History and Geography over at All Things Beautiful (finally got a history post written)

 

for more Rome ideas check out my Rome to Reformation board.

Follow Ticia Adventures in Mommydom’s board Mystery of History 2 on Pinterest.

Layers of the Earth lesson

This year we’re covering two sciences: astronomy and earth science.  Our first several lessons of earth science have been wonderful because it’s coincided well with our geography.  This week we started on the layers of the earth, and I was happy as a clam when Eva Varga shared her layers of the earth lesson, so I could freely steal from it.

play dough layers of the earth model

Our Layers of the Earth lesson

{This post contains affiliate links.  For more information read my disclosure page}

 

First off was the book work, I read them the passage from CKE Earth and Space (affiliate link) and they were all interested in the different layers, and could recite them back, but I’m not sure they got it completely.  Thankfully day 2 of the week’s lesson in Illuminations (affiliate link) was the hands on activity, and the kids really got into it.

making play dough for layers of the earth lesson

First, I made the play dough.  Well to be more accurate, I started to make the play dough only to discover we were out of cream of tartar sauce.  This led to a panicked post to the Kid Blogger Network group on Facebook asking if I could make play dough without it, because I was already halfway through measuring and mixing up stuff.  Between their answers and my google searches I decided to just leave out the cream of tartar.  I did however let one of the boys take way too many pictures of us making it.

Then I sat the kids down and started reviewing and putting together our models.  I was very surprised at how much they’d remembered because I thought they hadn’t remembered a thing, but they could tell it all to me as they put together their models.

layers of the earth, inner core

The inner core we decided should be red because it’s “red hot.”  I mistakenly told them it was liquid because it was so hot, and then I flash-backed to Star Wars Episodes I (affiliate link) and started snickering about a liquid core and swimming through it, and how it doesn’t work like that (you may have some clue why my kids don’t focus well, my mind is a truly scary place).

layers of the earth model outer core The outer core is the actual liquid part.  We chose for it to be yellow to show how hot it still is, but not as hot as the inner core.

layers of the earth mantle

We chose white for the mantle, and that’s mainly because I couldn’t convince anyone to mix colors in for another color of play dough.  They were kind of done with kneading and mixing play dough for colors.  They wanted to play.

layers of the earth crust

The crust is green or blue depending on my kid.  Batman chose green because he likes yellow and blue, and green is yellow and blue mixed together.  Superman chose blue because he likes blue best.  Princess was sad because she couldn’t put pink on the outside.  But the green represents the land, and the blue represents water.  I figure out earth is 70% water on the surface, so that’s close enough.

layers of the earth lesson printable

At the end of it all they put together the layers of the earth printable from Eva Varga’s post I linked to at the top.

I was quite pleasantly surprised a few days later when I asked about the different layers and the kids were able to tell  them to me along with what the layers were like, so lesson well learned.

 

If you’d like some more earth science ideas, I’d highly recommend checking out my Earth Sciences pinterest board.

Mac bath experience

And for those of you wondering what ended up happening with our dog, we washed him again in baking soda, dish soap, and vinegar, and he was not happy.  In the end he had some very soft fur, still smelled slightly of skunk, and was very unhappy with us.

 

 

I also have some rather sad news.  This will be the last Science Sunday with a linkie.  I’ve been praying and thinking over this for a while, and I think it’s time to close this down.  I’ll still be writing our science adventures fairly regularly, but I’ve noticed not as many of you linking up, and not many of you click through to check on the links that are linked up.  Next week I’ll feature the best from this month, and that will be the end of it.

 

 

Hands on Pompeii Lesson

There are sometimes your lessons go fabulously, and this was one of those times, which was nice to have happen in a rather busy month.

Hands on Pompeii lesson

{This post contains affiliate links.  For more information read my disclosure page}

“Boring” part of the Pompeii lesson (translation, not messy)

Our Pompeii lesson started when I saw the independent reading on Illuminations (affiliate link) was “Pompeii…Buried Alive!” (affiliate link).  I generally speaking really enjoy the later Step Into Reading Books and this was no different.  It has a great overview of what happened and had all of my kids enthralled.  So much so I think they finished it more or less two days of reading lessons (approximately 30 minutes of reading out loud, minus some other activities).

After all that time reading about Pompeii, I decided to skip reading the actual text from MOH2 (affiliate link) for now and come back to that later if need be.

Instead I told them to build some Legos.  I gave them a small Lego plate and sent them to build their idea of a Roman town.  And they happily did so.

Then I set them to cleaning the massive mess they’d made (which still isn’t cleaned up almost 2 weeks later, due to other circumstances), while I prepped the next part of the activity.

 The Hands on Part of the Pompeii lesson

Pompeii lesson

I went outside and started burying their city.  I threw a few rocks in there, large amounts of dirt, some ash from our fire pit, but generally was not too careful.  My goal was to knock a few things about in the burying, just as the settling of the ash and the occasional large debris that came about caused damage to the actual city.

Then I called the kids outs to see their buried town, which led to cries of dismay as they realized their gorgeous cities were buried and I’d covered their treasured Legos in dirt.  There might have been real tears.

Digging up Pompeii lesson

Slowly they dug up the city of Pompeii.  I emphasized not disturbing the layers and working to ensure they preserved how it was found.  They did some drawings, but they were much to engrossed in digging up their archeological dig to really care about perfect preservation skills.

As a side note, this is the fourth time we’ve done an activity like this, previously we’ve had an archeological dig, a dinosaur dig, and a marine recovery.  I think this was our most successful dig.  The Lego city made it much more interesting to dig for, and easier for them to visualize what it’s like to dig up a site.

Pompeii lesson for kids

After all of that, and the kids happily dug through for over an hour.  Seriously, eventually I just left them to it as I went inside to watch a Bright Ideas Press’ last G+ hangout. (I put this picture up on my facebook page).

Pompeii lesson notebooking pages

The next day we finally listened to our MOH2 lesson on the topic as they filled out their notebook pages (and did you see, they’re on sale this month?).  We finished it up watching a Pompeii movie on Netflix.  I opted not to show them the romantic soap opera masquerading as a historical movie called “Pompeii” (the reviews I read said, “IF you want to watch Titanic with a volcano and random explosions, watch this,” No thank you).

What we learned from our Pompeii lessons

I almost forgot to include this, but there were so many great things to come out of this lesson:

  1. Archaeology can be very hard at times.  You don’t know exactly where things are, or what you’re looking for.  It’s easy to break items as you unbury them.
  2. It is disappointing when your hard work is buried/destroyed.  They felt sad and hurt I’d buried and messed up their Lego creations, they got a small taste of how the people who survived Pompeii felt.
  3. There are multiple ways to learn.  We tried most of the major modalities.  We got in visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and all of them helped my kids to absorb this lesson.  Not all lessons is it possible to do this on, but when it is, it’s a great way to learn more.

 

Solar System model review

Since we’re studying astronomy this year I knew I wanted a good solar system model for the kids to be able to look at. So, I drove down to our local Mardel’s and sat there studying the 10 different models they had.

And to make sure I had a really good comparison I then walked down the street to the Hobby Lobby and compared the ones on their “educational models” aisle. And I found our “perfect” solar system model: Geosafari Motorized Solar System (affiliate link).

Solar system model to learn about the planets

 

What I wanted in a solar system model

  • Sturdy, very sturdy.  I’ve bought a couple of models recently that did not hold up to my kids rough handling, and since we’ll be referring back to it all year long, it needs to be sturdy.
  • Somewhat to scale.  Nothing in the price range I’m willing to pay will be anything close to scale, but I want them to understand there is a huge size differential between Pluto and Jupiter.
  • Not Styrofoam.
  • Nice to have: motorized so they can see the planets move
  • Nice to have: light up
  • Nice to have: easily removable so they can look at the planets in more detail

(In case you’re wondering my best friends and I came up with a 10 page long list of what we’re looking for in a guy, everything from MUST have, to it’d be nice but it’s not a deal breaker, so I have a long habit of making lists like this, and much longer)

solar system model

I sat in Mardel’s for a good 30 minutes staring at all of the models, I got the salesperson to let me take them out of the boxes to examine them more closely, and finally decided on the Geosafari Motorized Solar System (affiliate link).

 

Putting together our solar system model

solar system model materials

That random pile of stuff is all you need for the model.  The kids looked bored out of their minds because I wouldn’t let them touch the model until I’d laid all the pieces out.  Poor Superman was not happy, he wanted to just start pulling pieces out willy nilly.

 

solar system model construction

And yes we have taken this apart and put it together several times since this first time.

But once we started putting planets in they were happy as clams and went took turns putting all 9 planets in.  That’s right, I’m still going to call Pluto a planet even if the national association of astronomers says otherwise.

There was some deal-making between the kids because they decided they liked different planets more than others, but in the end we had the planets all put together.

Now comes the fun part of the solar system model: playing (learning) from it

solar system model measuring the planets distance

As we put it together and looked at all of the cool pieces we learned a few things.

  1. The planets are widely different in size.  Little bitty Pluto is smaller than a marble.
  2. Jupiter is rather cool with its’ giant red spot.
  3. The rings of Saturn led to much discussion of what they could be made of.
  4. We were all fascinated to see how the planets moved around, and how they were placed on different dates.
  5. It takes planets wildly different amounts of time to go around the sun (and this is with the sizing being off significantly).

solar system model chart

Then we looked at the planetary features chart.  That was fascinating (I may have watched too much TOS Star Trek growing up).  I was intrigued by the symbols, and my kids were amazed at how long the different years are, and the length of days on different planets.

Eventually I just let them have fun looking at and playing with our new solar system model, and they had at it.

solar system model observation

Batman in particular spent a great deal of time looking at it.  He’s the reason we’re studying astronomy this year because he wanted to learn all about space.  He spent a lot of time looking at how the planets are not in a row and how they rotate at different angles.  I can’t wait for his mind to be blown to realize they don’t even all rotate in a single plane, Neptune is actually on a completely different axis.

Once I’ve put it back together again I’ll let you know about our other astronomy model, that one has not been as big of a hit, and is part of why I was so picky on our solar system model.

 Want more solar system information?

Follow Ticia Adventures in Mommydom’s board astronomy for kids on Pinterest.

  Or my astronomy tag.      Photobucket

Science Sunday

 

<div align="center"><a href="http://adventuresinmommydom.org/category/science-sunday/" title="Science Sunday"><img src="http://i1097.photobucket.com/albums/g344/Ticia1/AiMScienceSundaycopy.jpg" alt="Science Sunday" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

 

Now link up your SCIENCE posts, new and old, and then visit some of the other posts linked up and say hi. I’m going to be pinning, commenting, FBing or tweeting all of the posts linked up as the week goes by. At the end of the month I’m going to feature the best posts linked up.

Make sure to include a link back to my blog so people can come back from your post to see what others have done.  By linking you are agreeing I can feature your posts in a round up post later (I may use a picture to feature, but will link back).


Xerxes lesson for elementary kids

Our Xerxes lesson is actually one we completed almost 5 months ago, but I haven’t been able to sit down and explain just what we did. 

Who is Xerxes?

Xerxes is important for a couple of reasons, first because he managed some rather impressive and important engineering feats, and managed a rather large empire, and second because he’s married to Esther in the Bible (or at least that’s one of the leading theories among Biblical scholars)

Xerxes’ father attempted to defeat the Greeks, but suffered a rather humiliating defeat at the Battle of Marathon, and Xerxes obsessed over this.  Xerxes decided it would take way too long for his army to march around the Hellespont, and so he built a giant bridge for his army to cross.

Xerxes and the Hellespont lesson

Just so you can understand the full magnitude of this, he is building a bridge across a sea by lashing boats together and putting sod over them.  This is a HUGE undertaking.

His army successfully crosses and he goes on to fight the Greeks at the Battle of Thermopylae.  He wins decisively, and we watched the Decisive Battles episode: Battle of Thermopylae to learn more about it (my boys are now obsessed with this show, in case you’re wondering):

 

However, he pressed his advantage too far and pursued the fleeing Greeks to Salamis where he lost the battle.  The next year the Greeks were able to push Xerxes and the rest of the Persians out of Greece.

Xerxes was quite a competent king for his time, and achieved some truly impressive things.

Xerxes lesson for elementary

Xerxes lesson: rebuild the Hellespont Bridge

I wanted the kids to understand the engineering genius required to build a bridge on the scope we’re talking about.  Part of me wanted them to build a bridge across an entire river, but I realized that would take a lot more materials than we had, and a lot more time than we necessarily want to put in.  So our Xerxes lesson was just crossing a much smaller area.

supplies for Xerxes challenge lesson

supplies for our Xerxes lesson:

fabric, yarn, pipe cleaners, egg cartons, popsicle sticks, various wooden pieces, and a few random toys

learning about xerxes

We arrived at the park and dumped out the backpacks full of supplies I’d had them scrounge up and said “Figure out how to build a bridge across this span,” and they got to it.

They tried out a couple of different ideas before deciding the egg cartons would be the most effective way to span our sea.  The biggest challenge was securing the pieces together (they used pipe cleaners) and how to secure the bridge at the start and end of the bridge (very long pieces of yarn tied around rocks).

Xerxes lesson

After successfully building a bridge they tried out how our bridge would stand up against a storm.  While it did get covered in water, and we may have lost a soldier or two overboard, most of the bridge stood up to the splashing just fine.

 

Xerxes lesson: writing

The second part of our lesson was to write a WHO paragraph about Xerxes.  We’ve been talking a lot about what paragraphs should look like.  If my kids were left to themselves here is how all paragraphs would go.

Xerxes was a king.  Xerxes was important.  Xerxes as a bad man.  Xerxes fought people.

Not very interesting, is it?  It also doesn’t really tell you all that much about him either.

Brainstorm together to help reluctant writers 

First we brainstormed as many things as we could think of about who Xerxes was or what Xerxes did.  Then we talked about paragraph structure.

A “WHO paragraph” has 4 sentences.  The first sentence tells us WHO the person is.  You then expand with more details about that person, and wrap it up with a sentence about WHAT they did (I’m feeling kinda fuzzy on this right now, so I can see the kids and I both need a review for our writing).

I wrote a sample paragraph using what we’d brainstormed, and then they took turns writing about Xerxes themselves.  As I recall their sentences went something like this:

Xerxes was a king.  Xerxes hated Greeks.  He was a good warrior.  Xerxes fought Greeks.

For a quick writing lesson, it was pretty good.  We’re working on their paragraphs making more sense, because by the end of the upcoming school year I want them writing 5 paragraph essays.  We’ve got a lot of work to do on that front.

 

more ideas or materials for a Xerxes lesson

linking up to All Things Beautiful

Zoo animals for Kids

Fingers crossed this week my kids are going to the zoo, I hope.  After most zoo trips we spend some time reviewing all we know about the animals we saw and talking about the zoo animals.

Zoo animals for elementary kids

Tigers are a great place to start because you can emulate a tiger hunting in the jungle with only a couple of blind folds and an open room.  My kids loved this activity, and we played it several times over the course of a few days.

Learning about cougars

Then look at another big cat, the cougar and learn about how cougars hunt in this unique game.

After you’ve explored big cats, start looking at elephants.  First measure how tall they are in comparison to you.  That can be a great comparison.  Then try to use an elephant trunk.

Studying Elephants

From the elephants head over and check out the marsupials.  Make a kangaroo pouch and how to hop like a kangaroo, then figure out how far does a kangaroo jump as you study these fun animals.

Then look at the ungulates, giraffes, horses, gazelles, and how are ungulates classified.

After the giraffes and sitting still for a minute you might want to move around and try to move like a primate.

A few of the zoos we went to had a small beaver colony, and I have to say these hard working animals are fun to watch, and even more fun to imitate as you build a beaver dam if you have a good supply of pillows and blankets.

Using-art-and-role-play-to-teach-science_thumb

We usually will head over to the bears and watch them for a few minutes, one of our favorite zoos was in Arizona called “Bearizona,” and we learned some great bear safety tips and made a fun bear cave craft.

Science Sunday classifying animal teeth

Finally, I’d sum up your zoo animal lesson with a look at animal teeth.  Almost all of the animals at the zoo have teeth, and it’s fun to predict what they eat based off of their teeth.

 

For all of the posts in this series head on over to Zoology for Kids.

For a great series of posts written by some other awesome homeschooling Moms (including about 3 more series on science) head on over to Summer Hopscotch 2014

Elijah activities, God’s fiery prophet

There’s certain Bible figures I really resonate with, and Elijah is one of them.  I think we’d get along very well, and I have to admit I like his sense of humor.

Yes, I think there are a lot of places in the Bible you can see God’s sense of humor.  This story is one of them.

Elijah the fiery prophet of God

Sarcastic answer: We can learn how to mouth off to our enemies.  Oh wait, I don’t want to teach my kids that (though they picked up on it very well).

 

Elijah activities

We read through the story and I wanted to replicate how I did the Elijah lesson with my Sunday School class a few years ago.  My kids wanted to decorate peg dolls to act out the story, so our desires coincided, this time.

We spent a happy hour or so decorating our dolls, my kids lamented the dwindling number of dolls, and I made a note to order more dolls soon.  And we started retelling the story.

Elijah and Ahab

God called Elijah to confront King Ahab (Yes, Ahab is represented by our Dumbledore from the Harry Potter set) about his sin, in particular worshipping and sacrificing to Baal and told him “There will be no rain until God says so unless you repent.”   King Ahab didn’t take too kindly to this, so Elijah ran for his life to the wilderness for his life.

Elijah fed by the ravens

There he was fed by ravens every morning and evening for the next year or so until the brook dried up.  Our ravens are represented here by our owls…..

Elijah and the widow

God sent Elijah up to the widow in Zarephath and there he asks her for some bread, and she answers, “I was going to make the last of our flour and oil into a loaf of bread for my son and I to eat, and then lay down to die.”

Elijah tells her it will be well, and they are able to eat their meal, yet the flour and oil is not gone.  This continues on for quite sometime until one day her son becomes ill.

She loses faith (I think most of us Moms would at that point), and says “Why did you save us for my son to die?”  Elijah went upstairs and prayed to God for wisdom and the boy was healed.  As a side note, I’ve always thought the description of how Elijah prayed for the boy sounded rather like CPR.

Elijah and the prophets of Baal

Finally God told Elijah it was time to confront King Ahab and all of the false prophets.  This is where we get into my sense of humor comments.

Elijah graciously let the prophets of Ball go first in lighting their fire, but they were not successful, so he asked if maybe, just maybe their god didn’t hear, so maybe they should shout louder.  And they did!  At this point I picture Elijah trying not too hard to laugh at them, then he asks if maybe their God is sleeping and it just goes downhill from there.  My kids laugh every time we’ve told this story.

Finally Elijah gets started and has them pile up the offering and then pour 12 buckets of water on it.  So much that it’s filled the trench he dug around the altar.  Then Elijah prays and a column of fire consumes the whole altar, right there:  BOOM altar destroyed.

Elijah turns to the Israelites and says “destroy the false prophets,” and the Israelites kill all those false prophets and King Ahab takes off running.  That’s when Elijah thinks “Oh crud, what did I just do?” and he takes off running too.  Oh, and it starts raining.

That rain is important.

Because the rain probably slowed down Ahab’s chariot and got it stuck in the mud.  IN the meantime Elijah ran off to Samaria and talked to Jezebel.

Elijah and Jezebel

He gives her a bit of bad news, she threatens to kill him, and he runs some more.  At this point he’s easily run a full marathon, if not more.  And he keeps running because he’s scared she really will kill him.  Eventually he just collapses and says “God kill me!”  God doesn’t listen, but gets him up to eat and drink and makes him sleep.

Elijah is a lesson in geography and how it's important to know where things happen

Unrelated Geography rant

This is a great example of why geography is important.  If you don’t know geography you, don’t understand in this one day Elijah has essentially run from the top of northern Israel down into Judah.  He’s tired and emotionally wiped out from the confrontation, but without this information, Elijah just comes off as whiny.

Back to your regularly scheduled Elijah story

Elijah and the still small voice

Now we get to my favorite part of the story.

Okay, I lie, this is just the favorite part we include in this story.  There’s another Elijah story I love even more, but it doesn’t fit thematically.

God led Elijah down to Mount Horeb, and there he rested for 40 days.  After Elijah was rested God called him up to the top of the mountain to meet him.

Then a great wind blew up and the trees tossed, and Elijah hid his face from the wind.  But God was not in the wind.

An earthquake came and knocked rocks down, Elijah quaked in fear as rocks hurled about him.  But God was not in the earthquake.

A fire flared around Elijah, smoke rolled out causing Elijah to cough.  But God was not in the fire.

All was quiet and Elijah heard a still small voice.  And God was there in that still small voice.

 

What I learn from Elijah

a still small wind

I’m a lot like Elijah.  I like to smart off when it’s not the wisest thing to do.  I tend to tilt at windmills, and I like to DO.  I want to be active, and I expect God to be there in that business.

I don’t want to stay still.

But that is not always where God is.  God is most often seen and found in calmness and the small moments.

I need to work on just being, and waiting for God.

 

More Elijah activities and resources

Elijah craft collection (the boys were sad we ran out of time to make the ravens)

Elijah and the prophets of Baal

Elijah unit

Where is God craft (we did print out this one for Princess)

Buck Denver Asks: What’s in the Bible? Volume Five – Israel Gets a King
(my kids love the Elijah part of this, they laugh their heads off every time)

 

 

Get your own Elijah lesson

Elijah lesson

As always get your own copy of this Elijah lesson by clicking on the picture above OR clicking on Elijah lesson.

See the spectacular way Elijah’s life ends in Elisha, God’s servant.

Learn about the brain activities

After we made our play dough brain cell model, and our play dough brain model.

Now it’s time to get into even further details about our brain.

how our brain works

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The kids all got out their Anatomy Notebooks (affiliate link) and readied large numbers of markers and pencils ready to color the parts.

brain diagram

Then I drew my amazing brain, which to me looks a bit like a Truffula tree from a Dr. Seuss book.  But that didn’t stop their ability to follow along, especially as I pointed to where each part was on our brain as we talked through it all.

The job of the frontal lobe, check out the blog post for the other parts of the brain

The frontal lobe does a lot of work for us.  It’s involved in our speech and language, it helps process our sense of smell, creates thoughts and ideas, and provides the fine motor skills we need to write, sew, and do all those crafts my kids love.  It also helps process emotions.

This goes a long way to explain why those head injuries are so devastating.  they often happen to the front of our head where so much of our higher brain functions are going on.

Temporal lobe responsibilities, for rest of the brain check out the blog post

The Temporal Lobe is a great support for the Frontal Lobe.  They work together on the sense of smell, and our temporal lobe connects all that sensory information to our memories.  That’s why a smell will remind us of something.

It’s also the area of our brain that recognizes music and other less pleasant noise.  So, I’m guessing Beethoven had a very well-developed Temporal lobe.  I by contrast, do not.

pareital lobe explained, for rest of the brain check out the blog post

Our pareital lobe then finishes up processing most of our sensory information.  It’s also where our sense of touch is processed and our pain center.  All those blows to the back of the head heroes take in movies, they have to do a real number on their senses, and also explains why in the books I read it talks about losing feeling in fingers with a head injury.

Occipital lobe, for rest of the brain check out the blog post

Our final part of the brain is our Occipital lobe (do you capitalize parts of the brain?).  And that little part all the way at the back of our head is responsible for our sense of sight.  We got a very long explanation of why it’s necessary to be so far away in the next chapter on senses, which my currently tired brain is not remembering.

This also goes a long way to explain why Superman lost his sense of sight briefly when he slipped and fell on the ice several years ago.

Cerebral Cortex width, visual brain lesson for kids

Then we learned about our cerebral cortex, which is the gray matter on the outside of our brains.  Prior to reading this, I’d always thought of our cerebral cortex as this huge thing because you keep hearing it referenced in movies and TV shows, but 4 pennies isn’t really that thick is it?

brain reaction time

From there we started learning about our synaptic response time, which is aided by the myelin on our neurons.  The thicker our myelin, the quicker our twitch response.

The kids and I tried measuring how quickly we could grab a ruler as it dropped.  Very quickly we discovered they did not have a good response time, which explains all of the broken dishes I’ve had over the years of kids.  I think in the last 6 months we’ve broken at least 1 dish a month.  It’s never anything deliberate, but it’s always a spectacularly loud sound, and very large spatter area.

test your cerebellum

Our final activity for the brain itself was to test our cerebellum.  Our cerebellum processes all of the information our senses sends it and figures out where that information needs to go.

Trying to touch your nose with your extended fingers with your eyes closed requires a large amount of information processed.  Large amounts, and the kids all did it fairly well, but it was amusing to see them working and concentrating to do it.

 

Next week I’ll share with you our spinal column activity (hint, it tastes really good), and that will finish off our Nervous System Unit.

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