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4 years ago we took an amazing trip to Inner Space Caverns. It was during my youngest son's first year of homeschooling, and it sparked a desire to learn more.
Using the One Small Square - Cave book that I found at our local library as a spine, we did an in depth unit on caves that, looking back, is one of the highlights of our homeschool experience.
I've written up a 13-15 day Unit Study on Caves for others to use too (see links below). It includes the activities that we did, along with others I've found that also look fun for various ages of kids. This is a "choose your own activity" adventure. You choose which activities are right for your children. It is however designed with the idea that you will actually visit a cave (and has some activities aimed specifically at visiting Inner Space, since it's the nearest large cave to Waco). If you're not visiting a cave, or are visiting a different cave, it shouldn't be too hard to tweak this to fit your needs.
While we did our unit AFTER visiting Inner Space Caverns, I re-designed this unit to come before a cave visit (since Cave book we used has lots of ideas that to actually do IN a cave. ) But, of course, visiting a cave first would spark interest, and you can absolutely do it that way too (it's what we did, after all). If you do a cave visit first I suggest skipping ahead to Day 13 - Inner Space Visit which has some suggested activities for the day before, during the visit, and after the visit. Of course, if you can afford multiple cave trips, there are other nearby caves you can visit, and there is also the Natural Bridge Caverns in San Antonio (which I've heard are amazing) which you could visit before, after, or during the unit. And there's even a "faux cave" in the Mayborn Museum that would make an easy side trip during your study.
MAIN TEXT USED
One Small Square - Cave by Donald Silver is beautifully writing and illustrated ...its not your typical dry science material, but it's still rich with information. Like all of his "One Small Square" books it takes you into an environment (this time a cave), and asks you to explore "one small square" of it in great depth. The sections are short enough to hold the short attention span of my 7 year old, but deep enough to make a real science study using this book as the spine even for older kids. There are fun experiments and activities in sidebars throughout. You can find this book at West Waco Library or on Amazon or various other booksellers.
CAVE UNIT STUDY
- Day 1: The Cave Entrance
- Day 2: The Twilight Zone
- Day 3: Winter Guests
- Day 4: The Dark Zone
- Day 5: Cave Formations
- Day 6: Bats
- Day 7: Cave Adapted Creatures
- BONUS DAY: Karst (Optional)
- Day 8: Cave Pools and Water Creatures
- Day 9: How Caves Form
- Day 10: Famous Caves
- Day 11: Types of Caves
- Day 12: More Cave Creatures
- Day 13-15: CAVE VISIT (before, during and after)
The reading schedule and discussion questions are also contained in a printable Discussion/Reading Guide PDF (which does not include the activities, videos, book suggestions, ect....just what pages to read daily from the Donald Silver Caves book, and the discussion questions with them).
(NOTE: While usually blog posts here go from newest to oldest, since I posted this all at once I posted it in order).