First Great Lesson Experiments

I’ve been prepping for the Great Lessons for a while. The Great Lessons are five stories told over the year ( and repeated yearly) meant to inspire the child to take on their academic work — to inspire a purpose for it all.  To me these lessons mark the transition from primary to lower elementary work. All in all, I’ve been intimidated to get it right.

The first Great Lesson is called the Creation Story or “God with No Hands.” It is absolutely beautiful.

You can read it in full here. The conclusion of the story goes like this:

Today, as it was yesterday and millions of years ago God’s laws are obeyed in the same way.  The world spins ’round and ’round itself and ’round and ’round the sun.  And today, as it was millions of years ago, the Earth and the elements and the compounds it is made of whisper with one voice, “I joyfully obey.”

The first Great Lesson presents the world of science, namely chemistry and physics, earth science, geography, astronomy, geology, and meteorology. So much to tackle, so many choices of study in just one Great Lesson (with four more lessons to follow in the year — oh my). For a good overview of what the lessons tackle overall, check out this post.

To prepare for the first Great Lesson, we’ve set out on our Cultural shelves a series of experiments. These experiments give a concrete, hands-on demonstration of a law of chemistry or a physics truth. I found the command cards from this post. There are 20 experiments but I’ve decided to set out 4 at a time. I also added a green envelop that holds the science fact, so when the work is completed they get to reveal how it relates to the story.

I present the experiments to the kids; then they are free to choose them to work independently during their work period. Science work has been very popular this week, let me tell you.

Not going to lie — prep looked something like this over the weekend:

The Oreos were needed.


On the shelf the experiments look like so:

And in action they looked like this:

The volcano is made with plasticine modeling clay. This allows for the kids to make and remake (and remake, remake, remake, remake) volcanoes. The clay doesn’t absorb the liquid or dry out. They’ve experimented with tall, narrow volcanoes and short, fat volcanoes, ones that have holes along the top or at the bottom. That work has been much enjoyed! Practically speaking, I keep the vinegar and refill the little blue pitcher when the volcano is ready. They spoon one scoop of baking soda in and then pour the vinegar themselves. They also learned the proper way to clean up and restore their work. They bring the volcano clay to the sink to rinse it (with paper towel underneath). They carry and dump the tray over to the sink then wipe it dry. They rinse out the little blue jug and return it, the clay, the bag of baking soda, spoon, funnel and command card to the tray. The tray is then returned to the shelf.

Learning that there are temperatures colder than frozen ice. My Florida kids are very impressed with this one.

States of matter work



Doing a 3 period lesson on solid, liquid, gas 

This experiment we deviated a bit since the command card calls for using metal filings. I didn’t want to risk those getting scattered everywhere, so we opted for Crazy Aaron’s magnetic putty.

I’ll share 4 more experiments Monday when we rotate our work out. Can’t wait!

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