Child-Led Learning: Geology and Earthquakes

My son was reading this book about the 1906 earthquake and he had so many questions about it. I could tell he was really working on processing the information, so I put together some activities and experiments we could do together to help him understand the science behind the event. Since we focus on child-led learning, I try to keep an eye out for interests my kids express and build upon them with some scaffolding and resources.

Child-Led Learning: Supporting with Resources

I found a great site, KidsGeo, with a nice progression of geology, so each week we learned about one or two concepts and we mostly followed the order listed, so we weren’t jumping all over the place. For each concept, we would read the brief overview and then do a hands on activity to showcase it.

Let Them Take the Lead

I’ve started using big poster boards that the kids can decorate to document our progress in certain subjects. The kids are really proud of these and my third grader even put this one up above his bed when we were done with it. The idea behind the poster board is that their immediate retention is probably limited, but they might look back and reference it from time to time and if we revisit it again next year, it will be a great refresher. We also used gemstones to decorate it which was a fun way to kick off a new program.

child led learning geology poster
Oh just ignore the part where he wrote “that is boring” – it was before I showed all all the fun activities I’ve lister here!

Provide Opportunities for Deeper Knowledge 

I’m not a huge fan of flashcards used the traditional way, but with these, we added each flashcard to the board after we learned about it, so we could slowly watch the poster fill up. We didn’t use all of the flashcards, but they were nice visuals. I did pay for these, even though I love a free printable. They were $3 on Teachers Pay Teachers.

child led learning geology homeschool unschool curriculum, activities, tools

Keep in Fun and Expand on Interests

I also found this great Pangea Flip Book free printable from Layers of Learning and it was a fun way to visualize continental drift. I just had the kids color them, cut them out and staple them into a book. A fun, easy way to start the day. We actually used this to transition from our geology program to dinosaurs.

child led learning pangea printable

Incorporate Art and Visuals

This was also a find on Teacher Pay Teachers and probably one of the kids’ favorite projects, just because it looked very cool when it was done. I’m torn on this one though because the continents weren’t very accurately drawn, so we started to label them and it was quite confusing. I wonder if there are other ones drawn more accurately or if it would be worth making one?

child led learning earth crust printable

Provide Opportunities for Hands-On Experiments

This was the most delicious project we did – we made a large tray of Jello and then used toothpicks and marshmallows to build structures. We made 3 total and we tested them all on how sturdy they were when we shook the Jello. Did they fall over? I got this great idea from Keeping Life Creative.

child led learning geology homeschool unschool curriculum, activities, tools

Child-Led Means Looking Forward to Learning Opportunities

And because sweets are always a big motivator, we also looked at different earthquake faults using cookies; an idea I got from Sorting Sprinkles on Flikr. Most use Oreos, but we only had these delicious double chocolate cookies on hand.

child led learning geology homeschool unschool curriculum, activities, tools

This was a child-led interest that we took to the next level through experiments, resources and providing opportunities to dive deeper into a subject in fun, interactive ways. After this, we moved onto the rock cycle, which was a similar process with varying materials.


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