The recent Volcanic eruption in Ice Land had been a centre of news. My kids were utterly fascinated by Volcanoes and had been following all the news on Ice Land volcanic eruption and the resulting clouds of gases and its effect. No wonder that they wanted to learn about volcanoes and it was rather impossible to attract them with anything else in the previous days. I found out a lot of activities, ideas and lesson plans to help us in our learning. I am presenting here a sort of unit study/ lesson plan that can be adopted for the learners of different ages and interests.
1. It all starts with Earth
Children would be able to understand the volcanoes better if they knew the formation of planet Earth. There are tons of way to explain it. You can pretend that an apple is the planet Earth, cut it half (horizontally). The skin can be the crust, the pulp can be the mantle, core for core and seeds can be pretended as the solid inner core. Use this interactive to explain the concept in detail if the learners are interested. Or you can read "The Magic School Bus inside the earth" by Joanna Cole. This explains the layers of the earth and the composition of each. You can even brainstorm one or all of the sciences that study the layers of the earth and the importance of each.
Using construction paper, together you and your child can model the layers of the earth. Blue 8 1/2 " circle labeled 6-40 miles. The crust is made of many plates which "float" above mantle. The crust is thicker and lighter at the continents and thinner and denser at the ocean floor. Brown 7 " circle labeled 1,800 miles. The mantle lies below the crust. It is a thick layer of solid rock. Many scientists believe that the mantle transfers heat from the core to the surface. Yellow 6" circle labeled 1,375 miles. The outer core is made of melted iron and nickel. It is much denser than the rock layers above it. The temperature of the outer core can range form 4000 to 9000 F. Black 3" diameter circle labeled 1,750 miles. The inner core is made of solid iron and nickel. These materials sank to the center of the earth while it was still in a molten form. Use white construction paper for the background and label each circle at the top as it is glued to the background.
2. The Plates
Boil an egg for approximately 5 – 8 minutes, depending on the size of the eggs, and let it be thoroughly cooled. Take this medium-boiled egg (once completely cold) and roll it gently on a paper towel, so that the shell cracks but does not break off. Explain to the learners that the broken eggshell is like Earth’s crust – it is not one solid piece, instead it is broken up into smaller chunks called plates. Give the learner/s an egg each and let them make their own “Plates”. Now ask the learner/s to GENTLY squeeze their egg. They should see some movement in the pieces of the eggshell. Explain that the Earth’s plates are in motion – they float on top of the liquid mantle. Now ask students to squeeze the egg harder. They should notice some material oozing out of the cracks. (Be prepared for a mess!) Explain that on Earth, sometimes when the plates move magma escapes from between the cracks, and causes a volcanic eruption. To avoid wasting of food, you can always scrape the remains of eggs, and cook in an oiled pan for a minute or two, season with salt and pepper and eat with toast.
3. Which is your Plate?
Once the children have understood the concept behind Plates, you can use this interactive to demonstrate how the plates are covering the surface of earth and how volcanic activity is greater at the border of plates. Challenge the learner/s to find out the Plate on which their country is located.
4. Amazing Volcanoes
Now sit back and enjoy! watch as many videos and pictures as you can get your hands on about Volcanoes. Here are a few video segments about a Hawaiian volcano from PBS to get you started. Or if you have bandwidth to burn here is the full episode. Here is a live footage of Icelandic Volcano, April 2010. And here are some spectacular pictures of the gas cloud emitted by the same volcano. Try to find out the meanings of the Volcanic words. Here is a list of words you may want to find the meanings of. Challenge your learner to think on his/her own the sources that can help e.g. books, internet etc. This website gives a full anatomy of volcano and here are some more pictures to help you understand different words.
Young learners may draw a volcano and try using these words to label it and the older ones may write a sentence or two explaining each word. You can make word search games or try this one.
5. Look, Sound and Feel
Ask the learner/s to look at the photos and video clips, and record what a volcano sounds like, looks like, and acts like. You may want to use this Y chart. You can ask the learner/s to write a cinquain poem - each line builds on the one before, and the finished poem looks like a triangle or a volcano. Here is a pattern for the cinquain poem you may want to use. (In my house this sheet was met with utmost gloom :) so may be its not for you as well)
6. Make your own Volcano
Been coped up for too long inside the house? Right its time to go outside and have some healthy messy fun! For this mess (activity) you will need
a small empty soda/water plastic bottle
Baking soda (not powder)
Red food color (optional)
Fill the bottle with 2 tablespoons of baking soda and a few drops of food color. Dig a hole in the ground and bury the bottle halfway in it. Make a mountain around the rest of the bottle with mud, keeping the mouth of the bottle open. You can use weeds to make a forest on your mountain. Put half a cup of vinegar in a small jug/cup and pour it inside the bottle. Watch your volcano erupt! Be prepared to repeat and repeat and repeat and….
Older kids may be interested in finding out the reason behind the ‘eruption’ so you can squeeze in some chemistry. Learner/s can also be asked (persuaded) to write a how-to essay for this activity, draw pictures or they can use a digital camera to take pictures on every step and make a photo how-to essay. Make sure to involve some writing. If you haven’t got a yard, you can use play dough to shape the volcano around the bottle and do this activity inside. This page has some info about volcanoes, the chemistry behind the mock volcano eruption and some tips on doing this activity inside the house. (They have a recipe to make dough with flour but I think the edibles shouldn’t be used as they go to waste).
If you like more hand on activities, this page has some that look like fun, although aimed for older learners. But you will need to think up ways to use the leftover edibles. Or if the activities are too messy for your taste, try erupting a virtual volcano.
7. Types of Volcanoes
Even if you are making your own volcano, try this virtual volcano as well as it gives a good understanding of plate boundaries, active volcanoes on Earth, anatomy of the volcano, its different types and the factors making them different.
8. Games and Information
If you or your learner would like more information on Volcanoes, here are a few suggestions: (click on the pictures)
And here is a list of all things Volcano.
Playing games can also be a good way of learning about volcanoes. Here are a few suggestions:(click the pictures)
9. Adopt a Volcano
Now that the learner/s know quite a lot about volcanoes in general, try to be more specific. From this list let the learner/s find a volcano they want to research about. Or you can ‘visit’ the volcanoes of the world through this Google Earth tour Volcanoes. The Mountains of Fire Google Earth tour lets you visit lots of volcanoes in far east. (For more information about Google Tours click here)
Once your learner/s has found a volcano he/she is interested in, challenge them to find out as many things as they can about it. Find out which city/town is nearest to it, is it active or dormant, the date of last eruption, the type of volcano it is etc . Try writing a Wikipedia style article for it. If your learner/s like the idea you can take the activity further by making your own encyclopedia and writing articles for everything and anything you are studying about. Here is a sample article on Kilimanjaro volcano in Africa. Let the learner/s understand how an encyclopedia article gives a summary of information in the beginning. You can customize this activity according to the age of your learner/s. Younger learner/s can make a “My Volcano” type of book where they draw pictures or write 10 things about volcanoes etc. Or the learner/s can use digital means of conveying information like a digital poster or presentations. Here is a list of some work by students of different ages.
10. Time Lapse Video
The following are links to webcams looking at the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Ice Land. Learner/s can take a screenshot every few minutes and add them to PowerPoint slides to produce a time-lapse representation of how things are changing over time. For screenshots you can use free softwares like Jing or Screentoaster
11. Volcanic Math
There are lots of ways you can use your child’s current fascination in order to teach some math. If your child is currently enthralled with volcanoes, you can use the height of different volcanoes for a quick ordering activity, represent the information through graphs, make some word problems using volcanoes etc. Get some inspiration from here and here.
12. Be a reporter
Study the impact of a volcanic eruption on the life of people. You and your learner can take advantage of the recent eruption in Ice Land and read as much as you can about it in newspaper archives. Use Google Wonder Wheel to find information. Then have a go at writing your own newspaper article about the volcano ash chaos. You can even produce a series of articles on an imaginary volcano which was dormant for years but now an activity is being recorded in it. Use this application to make your own newspaper with a headline about your Volcano.
13. Safety around Volcanoes
Discuss with your child about how it would feel to be living near a volcano (assuming you are not already living near one) What should be the safety plan etc. Kids can surf these sites to learn more about Safety around Volcanoes and Volcano safety tips.
14. Islamic perspective on Volcanoes
Though there is no particular duaa for the volcanoes, being Muslims we understand that all these natural disasters are either a form of test for us or a warning from Almighty Allaah. Kids should know the aqeeda that everything is from Allaah and though the scientific reasons are a fact, they are just the asbaab. This point though listed in last is not the least. And this aqeeda can not be driven home through a lesson plan or activity and then be done with it, rather it should be revised frequently and the behavior of the parents should be an example of it.
15. More Ideas
Below is a list of some more lesson plans if you want to carry on with this topic. Some of the activities/ ideas mentioned in these lesson plans are already discussed in this blog post, but you may find some new inspirations.
Here is a list of activities discussed in this post and the areas of learning they cover.
1. It all starts with earth – literacy, ict, geography
2. The plates – hands on
3. Which is your plate – ict, geography
4. Amazing volcanoes – art, literacy
5. Look, sound and feel – literacy
6. Make your own volcano – hands on, science
7. Types of volcanoes – ict, geography
8. Games and information – ict, literacy, science, geography
9. Adopt a volcano – ict, literacy, geography
10. Time lapse video – ict
11. Volcanic math – math
12. Be a reporter – art, literacy, ict
13. Safety around volcanoes – literacy, ict
14. Islamic perspective on volcanoes – Islamic
As always I would be glad to get some feedback, about if and how you used some/all of the activities. Share more ideas/activities by posting comments on this blog post. Jazakumullah!