Using Galileo to Study Astronomy, Math, History and Physics

Galileo Graphic

In light of my discovery that a significant amount of Astrophysicists have dyslexia, I decided to start our year studying Galileo. Of course you don’t have to have dyslexia to study Galileo, nor do you have to have dyslexia to use this lesson block.

This block can also be adapted to any age, many of the books we loved most were picture books that really glossed over the inquisition, and watching the night sky is fun for any age!

Galileo is really the perfect person to use to study moon phases. And September is a great time to study the moon because it is usually clear, and the temperature is perfect for spending evenings outside.

(One of the great things about homeschooling, is it really doesn’t matter how late it is when the moon comes out!)

Here’s an outline of our block on Galileo, and how, by chosing one larger topic, we are able to learn a number of subjects.

Who was Galileo?

We began by reading books on Galileo to familiarize ourselves with who he was, and what made him tick. For fun we also included the book How They Croaked, because boys love gruesome! We also watched a video to create a deeper understanding by incorporating the visual. (I will include a reading list at the end of the post.)

Using a telescope

We learned that Galileo invented the telescope as we know it today,  and in turn, invented the microscope as well.

We decided to use the telescope the same way Galileo did, we observed the moon, and made drawings of what we saw. It was fun, and a little creepy, to do this outside at night, just as Galileo did.

Creating a Calendar

We choose to create a calendar that would outline the moon phases so we could see if our observations through our telescope matched the recorded, and expected moon phases. This can be done with the naked eye, you do not need a telescope.

In creating the calendar we incorporated the mathematic principles of columns and rows, and using measurements and division.

In order to create a calendar we had to decide how to divide a piece of paper to have even columns and rows. 

We then needed to use a ruler to make our measurements, and then use it again to draw our straight lines.

Then we choose to write our dates in the first row only, so we could practice our +7 addition facts going down the column.

Because this was the month of September, we also took this opportunity to learn the rhyme:

30 days pass September;
April, June and November.

We will continue to create a calendar at the beginning of every month.

History

Galileo lived during a very important time in history. We took this opportunity to talk about the Renaissance and other famous people and advancements made during this time.

He also lived during the Inquisition, a dark time in the history of the Catholic Church. We talked about why this happened, and the consequences it had on the advancement of science.

This was also a good time to briefly discuss Aristotle and Copernicus. As Galileo debunked many of Aristotle’s theories, and attempted to uphold Copernicus.

We also had the opportunity to talk a little bit about Pisa, Venice, Rome and Padua. All places that Galileo lived at one time or another.

Physics

Galileo was the first scientist to debunk Aristotle’s statement that objects fell at varying speeds based on their weight.

Galileo discovered that objects fell at the same rate regardless of their weight, and demonstrated this by dropping a cannon ball and a musket ball from the top of the bell tower we know as the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Astronomy

Galileo made many discoveries that were worthy of learning about. Of course most importantly, and all of them fall under the umbrella, of proving that the earth, and all of the planets revolve around the sun.

This of course was against the Catholic church’s belief that the Earth was the center of the universe and all planets revolved around it.

Galileo was the first person to identify Jupiter’s four moons, and in order to impress the Medici family, he named the moons after the four Medici sons.

Biology

As the inventor of the first microscope, Galileo was the first to make drawings of insects and discovered the beauty of the natural world on a miniature scale.

 

Learning about Galileo has been enlightening and fun. We have been inspired to recreate some of his experiments, and have had a renewed interest in the night sky.

What I love about learning this way, is it has sparked many spontaneous and random conversations about The Inquisition, the planets, and history in general.

We are really enjoying our time delving deeper into this subject, and based on what interests us most, we will choose our next victim!

Books:

Galileo’s Leaning Tower Experiment by Wendy Macdonald

galileo leaning tower

I, Galileo by Bonnie Christensen

i, galileo

How They Croaked by Georgia Bragg and Kevin O’Malley

howtheycroaked

Books on the Moon and Planets:

Jump into Science: Moon by Steve Tomecek

moon book

 

13 Planets: The LAtest View of the Solar System by David Aguilar

13 planets

 

The Moon: Astronaut Travel Guides

moon astronaut travel guides

 

Boy, Were we wrong about the Solar System! by Kathleen Kudlinski

boy were we wrong solar system

 

Fly Guy Presents Space by Tedd Arnold

fly guy space

 

Two GREAT videos. I am a big fan of using videos with Isaiah. He seems to retain things so much more when we utilize every aspect of his senses.

Start Smart Science; I need to Know All About the Moon – I could not find this on Amazon, I got this video from my Library and highly recommend it!

Astronomy with Bill Nye This is another video to get from the Library, it is made by Discovery School, and you shouldn’t have a problem finding it. It covers many of the issues that you will find yourself discussion as part of your Galileo lesson.

 

Books we found that were not so great:
Galileo, ( his life and ideas) for Kids by Richard Panchyk (way too involved and intense)
Who Was Galileo? by Patricia Brennan Demuth (also, way too wordy)
Starry Messenger by Peter Sis (The pictures are super complicated, the text is way too basic)

I would love to hear how you used Galileo to explore your homeschool studies!

 

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It’s Math His Way

IMG_0725I love my boy so much. I love him, but sometimes teaching him is H-A-R-D impossible. The funny thing is, he’s pretty good at math, he just wants to do it his way. So, on the day that we were going to work on Roman Numerals he decided to do it his way.

Sometimes I even let my brains listen through the frustration. This time it was a good thing. We had the mancala beads out to learn odds and evens (we’ll get to that soon) the little dude said “I don’t want to draw Roman Numerals, I’m going to do them like this.”
IMG_0726 IMG_0727 And then when it was time to do the drawings to go with our fable – instead he said, “No I want to draw the story of King Equal.” Well, what was I going to say? No? No sweetie, you can’t draw math stories, it’s fable time now.

Dude you go for it, draw away. “Oh, and mom, can I have the gnomes while I do it?”

“Sure honey, you can have whatever you want.”IMG_0728

Today – Sunshine and Gnomes

I realize I’ve been gone a while, and if you are coming back to say hi I certainly thank you. Our journey has had its share of ups and downs. Our struggles with rhythm, my writing schedule and the boy’s willful nature and sometimes flat-out refusal to do anything that even appears to be learning. I am often met with the sentence “I get your schemes mama, I know what you’re trying to do.”

I have decided to take a step back. To travel at the boy’s pace and at one that I can live with as well as live up to. This is not a race, I will not compare him with other children. We will learn everyday because living is learning.

Today was a good day. I woke up with a headache and dreaded the day. But when I came out to the living room the boy was already teaching himself his odds and evens using the mancala marbles. The gnomes and Sequence were standing guard and The Book Eating Boy was waiting patiently to be read. It was going to be a good day after all.

sunshine and gnomes

Learning Math Visually

As a homeschooling mama, one originally rooted in Waldorf, teaching math to a rambunctious visual learner can be daunting.  I began in Waldorf, teaching him the Quality of numbers.

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This was a beautiful idea to me, I enjoyed trying to create a way to touch him with this idea.  Perhaps I should have persisted. Or, perhaps I was correct in knowing that this was not the right way for my boy.

So, we moved on to something more tangible.  I mentioned earlier, that Isaiah is a visual learner.  A very visual learner, and so, I decided to give a program called MathUSee a try.  This turned out to be fairly more successful.  Up until this point,  Isaiah had a great deal of difficulty understanding numbers past 10.  The shear nonsensity of their names made it almost impossible for him to decipher.  Eleven? Twelve?  What do these things mean, he wondered? Even further down the line was the elusive twenty and thirty.  If you let him count un-interrupted he could count to 20 by rote.  However, if you asked him what came after 10? Well that was another story.  Often when rattling off his numbers eleventytwo came after 19.  Because what was 20 anyway?

MathUSee really helped him to understand the “quality” of numbers in a way that was completely comfortable to him.

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Using blocks of different colors, he began to understand the significance of the placement of numbers.  That where a number falls on “decimal street” determines how you say a number.

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The blue bars represent the “10’s” the green blocks represent the “units” or “ones”.  Here he is building the 74.  He is learning that the placement of the 7 is the same as 7 “tens”, the placement of the 4 is the same as 4″units”.

For every number we learn, he is learning the “quality” of that number.  Isaiah started to like math, he began to enjoy “building numbers”.  Of course, every once in a while those blocks became make-shift legos, and math turned into an airfield and landing planes, but that’s OK.  To me that was a sign that he was on over-load and we should come back to it.

Admittedly, MathUSee is not as beautiful as the Waldorf way.  However, I believe now that I have a grasp of MathUSee, I can find a way to blend the two.  Yes it is un-orthodox.  Yet, I still continue to see the beauty in Waldorf every day, and my desire to keep it’s learning style as part of our lives is very strong.  Once I find the best way to reach him, it seems I can back into where we should be with Waldorf.

I read a very inspiring post today by Sheila at Sure as The World.  It was an example of learning the Grade 1: Four Processes.  She has definitely inspired me to go back over my Waldorf curriculum and see how I might link back in the beauty of the story telling to explain the four processes.  Thank you Sheila!  I will let you all know how it goes!