Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Timeline of Life, Part 2

In the Mesozoic and Cenozoic,  there were only a few images that I used from the Garden of Francis download. 

For the Mesozoic, I used this article, The Three Ages of Dinosaurs, to help me decide on what to include. Then, the first place I checked for images was Super Coloring. If I couldn't find something there, I did a google image search. The dinosaurs were easy to research, and it was easy to find images.

In the Mesozoic, I followed the trail leading to the Age of Mammals by including the therapsid Lystrosaurus and Eozostrodon in the Triassic, Oligokyphus in the Jurassic, and Repenomamus and Cimolestes in the Cretaceous.

After the Permian extinction event and the disappearance of the primitive sea lilies, I tried to include some other things that went on in the sea. Apparently, coral barriers formed in the Triassic, starfish diversified in the Jurassic, giant bivalves joined the party in large numbers during the Cretaceous, and the first true starfish genus showed up in the Paleogene.

I also researched insects and plants. Beetles diversified in the Triassic and flies arrived. Googling Jurassic insects led me to the scary, giant flea-like insects. The Cretaceous saw termites and mosquitos, and the first true butterflies flitted into the Paleogene. Cycadeoids were nommed on by dinos in the Jurassic, angiosperms diversified in the Cretaceous, and grasses appeared in the Paleogene. Man cultivated grains in the Quaternary. 

I have some cool marine beasties swimming along the bottom of the Mesozoic. In the Cenozoic, I was excited to include megalodon. Sharks had been swimming around since the Paleozoic, but the extinction of the large marine reptiles at the end of the Mesozoic left the apex predator position open. I included the damselfish in the Quaternary because I read an article discussing it as an example of evolution in action.

I liked the large herbivore from the Garden of Francis mutes and liked that they also included the whale, so I followed up with the elephant in the Neogene.

I really wanted to include a saber-tooth tiger (smilodon). Once I added him, a miacoid in the Paleogene seemed obvious. Although not descended from smilodon, the tiger seemed the appropriate miacoid descendant to include in the Quaternary. 

The Garden of Francis mutes included the man, so I added the ape in the Neogene and the primate in the Paleogene. 

The mutes included eohippus and mesohippus, so I added pliohippus and the modern horse. 

The archaeopteryx was included in the mutes. After him, I included feathered a feathered dinosaur, ichthyornis, and hesperornis in the Cretaceous; gastornis in the Paleogene and a hummingbird and an American Kestrel in the Quaternary. I chose the modern birds based on my middle son's favorites, but finches would be the obvious bird to include.

I continued with the paleo-maps along the bottom, extinction events, and ice age information. I wrapped up our timeline with some information about the geologic timescale. 

I am pleased with the finished product, but there is always more. ;) I wish I would have included more Cephalopods and more turtles. I wish frogs were there. I am sad to have excluded the wooly mammoth and the giant wombat. Ah well, too many animals only so much space. Oh- and why include plants and no fungi! OK, OK, what is on there makes me smile... big. :D

The Great Lessons, Lesson 2: The Coming of Life: Part 2

Doodle continued working with his art history timeline. 

In our second week of covering Lesson 2, Doodle reviewed insect metamorphosis using the free ladybug life cycle cards from Montessori Print Shop. For some reason the adult insect didn't print properly. :(

He continued using the five big major extinction events cards and added the five major ice ages that I made.

Using both the free set and the $1.99 set from Montessori Print Shop, Doodle looked at dinosaurs. 

He also wrote a paragraph on three different dinosaurs that he chose from the cards. The goal was to include all the facts on the card and three things from online research that he thought were interesting or important. Here is one of the three:

Archaeopteryx is a member of the family Archaeopterygidae. It was named by Hermann von Meyer in 1861. Its name means ancient feather or wing. A total of eleven Archaeopteryx specimens have been found plus a feather. Although it had feathers and could fly, it had similarities to dinosaurs, including its teeth, skull, lack of a horny bill, and some bone structures. Paleontologists view Archaeopteryx as a transition between dinosaurs and modern birds. This early bird lived in the late Jurassic period about one hundred fifty million years ago and was about one foot long and weighed eleven to eighteen ounces. Archaeopteryx is the oldest-known fossil animal that is generally accepted as a bird.     

We looked at our prehistoric marine life posters.
Be careful! The fossils will chew on your head.
We watched two free DVDs from HHMI- The Day the Mesozoic Died and The Origin of Species.

He also read a little in A Really Short History of Nearly Everything, and I finished our Timeline of Life and will write a separate post about what went into making it.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Timeline of Life, Part 1

OMG! These things are crazy expensive. Is it worth it to pay $200+ for a timeline? For us, I decided that it was definitely not worth the money for a rising sixth grader who will probably spend two weeks with Lesson 2 this summer. While we plan to visit the grand scheme of things again in the fall, it will be through Big History Project and not Montessori Great Lessons. The coming of life on earth will be the same, so a timeline would be nice. I would definitely pay $50 for a 2'x10' poster that covered the Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic, but any more than that kind of makes me cough. I would even have paid $80 for a 2'x10' timeline poster that came with a blank 2'x10' poster and digital download cut outs to place on the blank one. I would have seriously considered $100 if it came with all of the previously mentioned items and some nice extras that go along with Lesson 2, even if the extras were just digital downloads. However, I cannot bring myself to pay over $200 for a timeline, blank, and pieces that will be used for two weeks.

So, after I finished ranting about the cost, I went to the Parent-Teacher Store and purchased a 2'x12' roll of bulletin board paper for <$4 with tax and got to work. I figured a scale of 1"/ 5 million years and marked off periods including the Ediacaran from the Proterozoic Eon. I purchased the timeline mute images for $6 from Garden of Francis and started coloring. I printed paleogeographic images from the Paleomap Project. I printed information about the big five mass extinction events from BBC Nature.I also used information from BBC Nature's Geological Time Periods. I used information from all over the place including BBC about ice ages. I researched trilobites, sea lilies, insects, amphibians, and early reptiles to try to get a handle on general times of diversification and extinction. I thought this article about the complete hexapod fossil helpful/ interesting. You can see my little blue hexapod running out of the Devonian period and into the Carboniferous.

It may not be completely accurate scientifically, but, as Miss Barbara pointed out, this is an impressionistic introduction, but I do hope the few things I researched are close to current scientific understanding!

Unfortunately, the images of dinosaurs from the Garden of Francis mutes are too few and too old school inaccurate to use for my Mesozoic section so more research is ahead for this next week!

The Great Lessons, Lesson 2- The Coming of Life: Part 1

This week Doodle continued working with his timeline art cards, and began Lesson 2, The Coming of Life.

I don't think that I have actually posted a picture of the art history timeline cards. They are from TeachersPayTeachers for $3, I figure we will be using them long enough that they were worth laminating. There are 22 three-part cards (so 66 pieces) covering art from the stone age through modern. Right now Doodle is working with cards 1-11.

For Lesson 2, I used Miss Barbara's Story of the Coming of Life- modified on the fly. I told the story a little each day and we completed it through the Permian.

To coordinate with the Coming of Life, I put together a packet on cells. I went to TeachersPayTeachers and searched for free materials on cells. So, everything was free except I the Cell Graphic Organizer by Bond with James that I purchased for $3.50.

If I had been on the ball, I would have asked Doodle to layout the inside material differently where he could have cut between each word. Then, he could have lifted each flap individually and used the lapbook as a study aid. The way he glued the information on the inside flaps prohibits cutting, but it is attractive and logically well-organized. I just wanted the share about cutting between the strips in case anyone saw it and thought about make one. 

From Montessori Print Shop, I bought the four individual items for 6 Kingdoms of Life. Although I felt like this would just be review, it was worth the < $8 to print and cut the material. It turns out that he did need a refresher for putting kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species. Also he didn't mind having the easier cards in his material.

I also created some cards for the big five mass extinction events using information from the BBC website. The information was begging to by printed out on cards.

Here is how I organized and stored the materials. With the materials primarily being flat, one cubbyhole was enough. The microscope has its own cubby, and the prepared slides and other microscope stuff is in the cubby to the left of the microscope.

Doodle read The Big Picture Book by John Long, and we talked about trilobites, sea scorpions, sea lilies, and giant dragonflies. We are trying to hatch some triops. It has only been a couple of days, but so far nothing has hatched. :( I hope they do!

I used the Clock of Eras and some information from fossils-facts-and-finds. I was sure to include the explanation of the color choices, because I like the thoughtfulness behind them and also because they are also the colors used on The Timeline on Life.

As a giant mommy project, this week I began I creating our very own Timeline of Life. I worked alongside the story, so it is completed through the Permian. I'll do a separate post explaining what all went into creating it, but here is a picture:

Saturday, June 7, 2014


This is a very clear break down of Eons, Eras, Periods, and Epochs listing the appearance of life during each. I am going to cut and past the information and give the link to the original page.




Geologic time is the 4.6 Billion year history of Earth, from its origin to the present, as inferred from the rock record, both on Earth and the Moon, and the geochemical make-up of those two bodies. Geologic time is sometimes called "deep time".
Geologic time is divided into a four-level hierarchy of time intervals:
EONS -- The first and largest division of geologic time.
ERAS -- The second division of geologic time; each era has at least two periods.
PERIODS-- The third division of geologic time. Periods are named for either location or characteristics of the defining rock formations.

Location = the region where the period's characteristic rocks were first studied.

Characteristics = the nature of the unique system of rocks and rock formations that define the Period.

EPOCHS -- The fourth division of geologic time; represents the subdivisions of a period.
The time of the transition from one interval of geologic time to the subsequent one is usually marked by a relatively abrupt change in fossil types and numbers.

is not known precisely, with the uncertainty increasing with increasing age since fossils become rarer and harder to identify in the distant past.

There are four eons: Pre-Archean or Hadean; Archean; Proterozoic, Phanerozoic. The first three eons account for most of Earth's existence; collectively these three are called the Pre-Cambrian.

PRE-ARCHEAN EON (or HADEAN EON) - 4.6 to 3.8 Billion years
~4.6 BYA -- Formation of Earth and Moon (as indicated by dating of meteorites and rocks from the Moon)

~4 BYA -- Likely origin of life

This is the "hidden" portion of geologic time as there is little evidence of this time remaining in Earth's rocks.

ARCHEAN EON - 3.8 to 2.5 Billion years
The eon of first life

~3.8 BYA -- Oldest known rocks

~3.5 BYA -- Oldest known fossils (single celled organisms resembling bacteria)

3.2 BYA -- First known plants (algae)

PROTEROZOIC EON - 2.5 Billion to 570 Million years
The eon of the first multicelled life

1.2 BYA -- First known animal (jellyfish)
(End of the Pre-Cambrian -- a period at least five times longer than all the geologic time that follows.)

PHANEROZOIC EON - 570 Million years to the Present The eon of complex life

PALEOZOIC ERA - 570 Million years to 245 Million years

The era of ocean life; land animals appear toward the end of this era

Cambrian Period - 570 Million years to 505 Millions years

Onset marked by the appearance of first shellfish and corals; sometime called the "age of marine invertebrates"

Abundant fossils appear in the rock record for the first time

End of the Cambrian denoted by the appearance of fish

Ordovician Period - 505 Million years to 438 Million years

Between 510M and 505MYA - Fish first appear in the fossil record; these are the first vertebrates

Silurian Period - 438 Million to 408 Million years

Appearance of the first land plants; mountain building in Europe

Devonian Period - 408 to 360 Million years

The first insects and first amphibians/tetrapods; "age of fishes"; first abundant forests on land

Mississippian Period - 360 to 320 Million years - (see also Carboniferous Period)

Abundant amphibians and the appearance of the first reptiles

Pennsylvanian Period - 320 to 286 Million years

305 MYA -- The first mammal-like reptiles

Permian Period - 286 to 245 Million years

Reptiles spread and diversify; evaporate deposits; glaciation in the Southern Hemisphere

MESOZOIC ERA - 245 Million to 65 Million years

The era of reptiles; some times called the "age of the dinosaurs"

Triassic Period - 245 to 208 Million years

First appearance of dinosaurs in the fossil record

Jurassic Period - 208 to 145 Million years

First appearance of mammals (around 222 MYA); dominance of the dinosaurs; mountain building in North America

150 MYA -- First birds

Cretaceous Period - 145 to 65 Million years

Flowering plants appear and spread rapidly; continued increase in dinosaurs.

Climate warmer than at present, with sea level higher

This period (and also the Mesozoic Era) end abruptly with death of the dinosaurs.

CENOZOIC ERA - 65 Million years to the Present

The era of mammals.

Tertiary Period - 65 Million to 1.6 Million years ago

Paleocene Epoch - 65 Million to 58 Million years ago

Began with extinction of the dinosaurs

Mountain building in Europe and Asia

Eocene Epoch - 58 Million to 37 Million years ago

Horses (around 53 MYA), whales, and monkeys first appear in the fossil record

Oligocene Epoch - 37 Million to 24 Million years ago

Elephants and apes first appear in the fossil record

Miocene Epoch - 24 Million to 5 Million years ago

Hominids first appear in the fossil record

Pilocene Epoch - 5 Million to 1.6 Million years ago

2 MYA -- First humanlike animals

Quaternary Period - 1.6 Million years to the Present

Pleistocene Epoch -- 1.6 Million to 10,000 years ago

The modern ice age; first modern humans appear

Holocene Epoch - 10,000 years ago to present day

Began with the end of the most recent glaciation

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Great Lessons: Lesson 1, The Coming of the Universe and Earth

Lesson 1, The Coming of the Universe and Earth
This was a quick one week introduction for a rising sixth grader who had never experienced the Montessori Great Lessons.

We read the first 75 pages of A Really Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.

 Doodle read How the World Began: Creation in Myths and Legends

We read and looked at the poster The Cosmos: You Are There.

We read and printed the Cosmic Timeline shown at the scale of one calendar year from the University of Victoria site of Prof. Arif Babul and attached it to the poster.

We went to the park and did The Earth as a Peppercorn solar system model. There are a lot of descriptions online explaining how to do this activity. I took ideas from several, but this is the one we used to pace off the distance. It, of course, isn't as exact as actually measuring the distances, but it was awfully convenient. We actually only made it to Uranus as the park area wasn't large enough to accommodate the all the planets and Pluto. We plan to try this activity again with friends who have a straight dead end road near their home.

Doodle is sitting beside Uranus and the sun is all the way in the treeline in the background.

We also visited went to an inflatable planetarium that was made available free as a public outreach initiative. There were less than ten of us who attended the teen/ adult session, so it was more personal than any planetarium show that I have attended. Doodle really enjoyed going. It was definitely the highlight of Lesson 1.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Summer Introduction to the Great Lessons for a Rising Sixth Grader

As Doodle and I have never done more than dabble with Montessori mixing little pieces into our curriculum, he has never experienced the Great Lessons. This June and July, we will be doing a quick introduction. I am very excited and hope Doodle will be as well.

Alongside the Great Lessons, we will be reading A Really Short History of Everything by Bill Bryson, and, when we reach Lesson 3, we will read From Then to Now by Christopher Moore.

For our overview, I tried to find just one book for each lesson that was short but at an appropriate interest level for a rising sixth grader. I also tried to find something visual. I don’t plan to do much in the way of output.

Lesson 1, The Coming of the Universe and Earth
How the World Began: Creation in Myths and Legends

The Cosmos: You Are There

We will print the Cosmic Timeline shown at the scale of one calendar year from the University of Victoria site of Prof. Arif Babul and attach it to the poster.

We will go to the park and do The Earth as a Peppercorn solar system model. There are a lot of descriptions online explaining how to do this activity.

Lesson 2, The Coming of Life
The Big Picture Book

The Eras of Life

We will print this Clock of Eras and attach it to the poster. I may also print a timeline of life that includes major extinction events, and attach it to the poster. There are several I am looking at online.

This very kind blogger has made a free downloadable timeline of life available in this post that I will modify and use.

Lesson 3, The Coming of Human Beings
Begin reading From Then to Now by Christopher Moore. Plan to continue with this while doing Lessons 4 and 5.

Human Evolution

We will print and attach this graphic to the Human Evolution poster.

We will watch this video from the Smithsonian’s exhibit: What Does It Mean to Be Human?

Lesson 4, The History of Language
Ox, House, Stick: The History of Our Alphabet

We will watch The History of Writing- A Brief History of Writing, an amusing and, uhhm, patriotic amateur video.

Lesson 5, The History of Mathematics/ Numbers
The History of Counting

We will watch The History of Mathematics that was created by a Montessori teacher.

We begin next week!