What do we know about how the Earth has changed over time? Do we have the background knowledge (schema) to talk about these changes or do we need to do a lot of new learning? Let’s find out!
The question: How has the Earth changed over millions of years?
The task: take paper and felts and go write down what you know!
So here is what we think we know as of today.
Some definite themes and big discussion about:
“Something came crashing to Earth and killed the dinosaurs!” “Yeah! It was a ball!” “Not a ball! A meteor.” “No, an asteroid!” “Huh?’
Some people had a vague idea that the continents were not the same shape as they are today.
Every piece of land are together
The land was connected.
Spelling was not a priority in this exercise!
We definitely knew that some creatures have roamed the Earth that are not here today.
Other interesting discussion: Is there more water now? Or less? What about trees? Animals? When did people get here exactly? Is there more light now?
So we need some more information! We need a great book!
My son came home from school talking about a great book (you’ve got to love that as a Mom and a teacher!) that his teacher had read to him (thanks Ms. Conklin!) . This is how I came across The Pebble in my Pocket – A History of our Earth written by Meredith Hooper and illustrated by Chris Coady. This is a long book and took several sittings to complete it – especially because we had to stop frequently for great questions and discussion. My students loved this book and I loved reading it to them as they were so passionate with their comments and questions. It is pretty serious business when we go back millions and millions of years!
This book takes us on a 480 million year journey. We follow a piece of rock that formed as a result of a volcano and travelled through time to end up in a little girl’s pocket. On this amazing journey we learn how the earth has changed in many dramatic ways over time.
Great comments and questions I just have to share:
Kevin interrupted a few pages in, after finding out that rocks become smoother as they slide down mountains, travel through rivers, get battered by waves etc.
“Wait! I’m going to infer something! If a rock is bumpy it’s not from many years ago because the smooth ones are from long ago.”
We read about how there were no plants or trees at one point and Jeremiah wondered: “Back then, if you were in space, what would the Earth have looked like, what colours would you see?” (Is this not the most brilliant question?)
Miami was worried. “Ms. Gelson, you told us that trees give oxygen so if there were no trees, how could there be oxygen? Nothing could live!”
Kevin jumped in, “Wait Miami I’ve got something for you! There were little green plants and they could have given oxygen!”
Eddy started thinking as we discussed why the dinosaurs might be extinct. Some people thought a meteor hitting the Earth was the reason. “So if a meteor hit, and smoke didn’t let the sun through, the plants would die and the dinosaurs would die because they had nothing to eat and they would be too cold right?”
And the big, big question we had over and over again. “I know there were cave people but just how did those cave people get there?”
When we finished the book, we did a timeline exercise – sorting when different life existed on Earth. (i.e. 155 mya Small running Dinosaur Compsognathus) Then we grabbed felts and paper again and tried to write down new things we learned.
Now we have a better idea of how the Earth has changed.
Students included many things on their lists, including:
- land was formed by volcanoes
- fish became land creatures
- many ice ages occurred
- flowers grew after plants and trees
- many creatures are now extinct like mammoths
- the same land was sometimes frozen
So much to still learn, but we have a richer understanding thanks to this fantastic book!