Ice Age is one of our favorite family movies. When we went on a Yellowstone trip a few years ago (60 hours in the car, for 9 days, through 7 states, with 4 kids, thank you very much), I think we watched that movie at least 20 times. It's one of our favorite quotable movies.
On July 13th, our family will be front and center, with our large box of popcorn and contraband candy, watching Ice Age 4: Continental Drift. And because there is no way to turn off my teacher brain (yes, I have tried), I thought I would do a unit study the week before the movie to prepare us for it. That way, when the characters are throwing around terms like "continental drift", "plate tectonics", and "Pangaea", my kids will have some background information, instead of just watching the movie to see what kind of trouble Sid the Sloth is in this time.
(If you are wondering how I feel about teaching on the topic of creationism vs. evolution, because the Ice Age movies do address evolution, I will weigh in on that topic at the end of this post. If you don't really care, and want to see what I have come up with for our unit study, read on! Honestly, I hope you don't care.)
The first thing I always do when I am planning a unit study is to do a library search on appropriate topics and themes. I did a search of "continental drift", "plate tectonics", and "Pangaea", and came up with the following books and videos to use. Although I like non-fiction books, I like Living Books, fictional picture books, even more.
The Island that Moved, written by Meredith Hooper and illustrated by Lucia DeLeiris
Take one small island. Beautiful. Remote. Explorable. Then follow it on a journey through millions of years. Where did the island come from? Where is it heading? And what does it tell us about Earth's history? Award-winning science writer Meredith Hooper joins illustrator Lucia deLeiris as they use the story of a single island to introduce the fascinating science of plate tectonics&150the shifting plates that form Earth's surface. It's the story of how the forces that formed the island, of the plants and animals that inhabited the island through time, and of how the island travelled through the ages to its current position by the Antarctic peninsula. With a compelling text and striking illustrations, The Island that Moved provides an intriguing introduction to an amazing science.
What Came First?, written and illustrated by Sandro Natalini
"What came first? The chicken? The egg? Lots of stories begin with 'once upon a time' and so does this one; close to fourteen billion years ago, according to scientists. . ." When was the Earth created and how? And the most pressing question of all -- how did humans come to be?What Came First'is a funny but scientifically sound introduction to evolution. Learn about the Big Bang, where it all started, and read vivid descriptions of a melting pot full of microscopic organisms -- the very beginnings of life -- to the first oceanic life forms and, with the formation of the continents, the first land mammals, all the way through to the evolution of the plant, animal, and human life that surrounds us today. Natalini expertly guides young readers to examine the science behind the creation of life, all the while nudging them forward to find the answers that lie behind existence. Complemented by an assortment of rich and colorful illustrations as well as detailed timelines and charts,What Came First? is a welcome resource for the child who is seeking his or her own explanations the origins or our world.
See what was on Earth for those billions of years that we weren't here. Narrated by Martin Sheen.
I have reviewed the book Geology Crafts for Kids, and found some great crafts and activities we can use.
What better way to understand how something works than to see it and do it, by watching an animation and doing a puzzle.
Field trips are the absolute most interesting and fun way to nail down a topic. I have contacted the Tulsa Geoscience Center to see if they would be interested in preparing a fact-specific presentation on the topics addressed in the movie. Even if they won't do that (and it doesn't hurt to ask, by the way), we will still make a trip there. Everyday of the week, the public is invited to go through many different Activity rooms. There is a room that covers seismic acticity and plate tectonics. We have been there before, and it's definitely worth a specific fact-seeking trip again.
Over the years, our dinosaur toy stash has dwindled. So, I think I will buy us a new bucket of dinosaurs for a little play acting. Maybe something along these lines.
And, since we have all of these dinosaurs now, we might as well do a unit on dinosaurs, too!
Now on to the heavy topic: Creationism vs. Evolution. Should this be taught to our children? I won't begin to address your children. I will only address how I feel about teaching mine. You can agree or disagree. It doesn't really matter to me. I won't judge you, so don't judge me.
This topic is is a heated one whereby Creationists and Evolutionists alike think they have all the answers. But, they don't. Our family believes in the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. We are a Christian Family. But we also know that science is real. We also know that our children will be confronted with scientific theories, and they should be informed. There is scientific proof that dinosaurs exist. I don't know how it happened in the scheme of Creationist beliefs. Creationists believe that the earth can't be more than 6,000 years old; Evolutionists throw around terms like millions and billions of years ago. We like to believe that we know how God thinks: that his day was 24 hours. There is no question that God is the creator of all. But how long did his seven days to create the Earth really take? If you know this answer, you are God. We don't know exactly how things happened, and we need to quit pretending that we do. God designed it that way.
This year Dawson and I used an evolution-based Biology book as our spine. God was not mentioned, except by us. Every time we got to a place in the book where it said, "and we don't know why this happens ...", Dawson and I would look at each other and say, "God happened."
I want my children to be informed, not confused. I also don't want them to assume that they have all the answers to life's questions. At times they just need to have faith in God and His creation and plan.
** To counter-balance the evolutionist side, I have also reviewed and planned to check out some great creationist picture books for us to read. We will read God Made it for You! by Charles Lehmann, One Day in Paradise by Helme Heine, and The Seven Days of Creation by Leonard Everett Fisher.