Rivendell Science


We transitioned from investigating the types and uses of different resources all over the country with our Native American studies to Mountains and Plains resources of Colorado and finally the basics of Geology.

All students have been introduced to the rock cycle: Igneous, Sedimentary and Metamorphic. They will begin to act as Geologists with tests such as luster, streak, scratch, cleavage and basic mineral identification.

PK sorted rocks by look- streaks and strips, holes and cracks, smooth and shiny, sparkles and crystals and size and shape.

YK- Sorted sediment by size from Boulder, cobble, pebble, granule, sand, silt and clay. The biggest to smallest was easy, but matching names to size was more of a challenge. They then sorted a variety of tricky pictures such as brick, diamond, kitty litter, quartz, turquoise or shell and fossil into ROCK NOT ROCK categories which raised some great questions and further investigation.

MK- had the same ROCK NOT ROCK activity and broke into groups to further investigate rocks such as quartz, sandstone, pumice, granite, obsidian and limestone to figure out if these rocks were Igneous, Sedimentary or Metamorphic. This will be our introduction to next weeks mineral identification and classification.

OK first started with identifying the 4 types of mountains to learn how each were formed and understand the story of how rock forms, moves and morphs from state to state. We used this information to help with our rock cycle understanding and will take this a step further with mineral identification. Once we understand the relationship with all three we will be well on our way to reading the landscape and understanding the story left behind when we dive into fossils and prehistoric time periods.


Native Americans of the past and present

Our new topic unit is Native Americans.  I am approaching it from a natural resources perspective. I am teaching the kids by identifying the landscape of a particular region one can also identify the natural resources of that region.  The United States is broken into 6-8 regions while referring to Native American’s. These regions are the North, Pacific Northwest Coast, California, Great Basin, Plateau, Plains, Southwest, Northeast, Southeast.

I have taken time with each group to sit in circle and tell stories….while explaining that along with living on this continent a Long Long Long time before any other settlers’, this may be the only thing that all Native Americans have in common.  I am trying to debunk the myth that all native people wore head dresses, lived in tepees and performed pow-wow’s.  You too may take time this month to ensure that your student student has an accurate understanding of just how diverse this group of people are.

The natural resource part of our study is where things get exciting. PK and YK are sorting animals and plants into their accurate habitats, matching appropriate shelter made from wood to a forest region, clay to a desert or bison hide tepees to a plains region. They are noticing tools and trade items that would also be made from local materials such as totem poles from large trees of the PNW or clay pots from the red sandstone in the desert or grass baskets and root diggers that would be necessary for gather food on the plateau or rice field.

MK and OK are also taking notice of this regional resource based lifestyle, but moving into the present day resources that natives still use and manage.  MK will learn about Native Americans and reservations and our government’s agreements regarding first rights to resources. They will dive a bit into shoreline and fishery management and how tribes along the waterways still have subsistence fishing or whaling.  They will learn where tribal rights govern the use of coal and wind energy  throughout the west and protect open space in many states.

My general objective is to connect the land with the people and how although shopping for all materials today is available, cultural practices still occur within tribal life today, including pow-wow’s!



We have been studying all things universe!!! Our weekly theme within the topic units for all grades is

Oct. 9-13 Gravity /Planets, Oct. 16-20 stars, Oct.23-27 the moon, Oct. 30-Nov 3. universe, Nov.6-10 Humans in Space

Our space exploration has started with gravity. We learned that the more mass something has, the bigger its gravitational force.  Next we classified planets according to size, distance, color and gassy or massy or both! We have investigated the life cycle of stars and phases of the moon as well as constellations and what happens to a bright star.

Our PK have played with gravity and designed their own constellations.

YK have classified the planets and dropped and measured craters on our model moons.

MK have created a picture/word wall for all classes to learn from and made models to explain rotate and revolve.

Ok have mastered the acronym to memorize planets, experimented with seasons and have begun the journey into understanding fusion, refraction and gases that make up our universe.


Preschool Science intro to Astronomy

Preschoolers took time to talk and play with Gravity today!  We learned that the Sun is so big and weighs so much it has enough gravity to hold the Earth and all the other planets together. We also learned that the Earth has enough gravity to hold the moon, but the moon barely has enough gravity to hold us. All of the discussion was centered around big, medium, small- light, medium, heavy.

We took time to play with gravity in the Lab before we move into our new topic Unit~ Astronomy!

If you are not seeing any pictures of your child, please email me and give permission to post on this blog page. I have some real gems.

Our Ancient MesoAmerican model is complete!

The OK and MK have made a map of their model and welcome you to come take a tour in the Science Lab this week!

Here are a few pics of the model.  YK took turns choosing artifacts and I read them the facts that MK and OK researched and wrote about their model. This made for an amazing collaborative demonstration of learning and wrap up to Inca, Aztec, Mayan Topic Unit.

Mayan, Aztec and Incan Engineering

We started the process of engineering this week.

PK got to use blocks to design long roads, bridges, walls and temples while YK< MK and OK worked on group and individual designs.


We began by sharing information, questions and ideas we already have. We did this by answering essential questions such as “why do we study ancient civilizations?” or what challenges did the Mayans face while building their civilization?” This type of brainstorm allows all the children to formulate questions, answer with enthusiasm and build on each others’ ideas. This critical thinking style will be used with every topic unit throughout the year. There is no right answer so everyone can practice sharing in class.

MK and OK used our Ipads to research images and information to inspire them and off we went with cardboard, wood, glue and more!  The ancient villages will be our focus to learn and peer teach from.

OPEN LAB time!

I am excited to make time for two open lab sessions this year!  I will host open lab on Tuesdays and Thursdays after lunch from 12-1.   All MK and OK have a chance to  earn open lab time through critical thinking, collaboration, careful use of materials and inspiring scientific behaviors!  I will track this in class time on Thursdays and Fridays and post the list of invitees outside my classroom door on Tuesday and Wednesday morning.

Every child will get a chance before I invite kids back for a second time. I will use this as a reminder of behaviors I adore, policies and procedures that are expected and focused attention in science class. Open lab is ultimately meant to allow students the time to tinker, follow experiments and use the Innovation Station tools and science toys freeley.
If your student misses their open lab time they will have to wait until later. The procedure for checking open lab invites is clear and meant to be part of an independent process, just as their time during lab will be.

I provide all the consumable materials, experiment resources, inspiring videos, guidance and safety: but there is not a topic or expectation for what they do with their time.  A few of the popular choices so far are shown in pictures below.

If your student has not been invited to open lab, DO NOT WORRY> the list is 20 kids per week so it will take a bit of time to get to everyone.  If they have only come once by December, chances are they are having a hard time with some aspect of science class. This may be a good time to talk to them about “what they have loved or is hard for them.” Feel free to email me if you have any feedback or questions.

Kari Gill-

Incan record keeping- Quipu

Our young scientists got a taste of archaeology this week in science. They also honed in on knot tying skills.  For all of you parents who are still buying Velcro shoes, you can stop by and thank me. Each one of your kiddos worked hard on telling their own story through knots.

The quipu is a record of Incan crops, population, taxes, livestock and more. The Incas were thought to have been a primitive society, but 600 years of Peruvian mountain preservation shows us there were indeed records, stories, and accounting of all types written on the chords. Quipu were made of llama and alpaca fur, dyed to represent cultural data such as war, crops and population then tied in various sizes, and shapes using a base 10 numeral system with big knots representing 10 and smaller knots 1.

Ask your child about their personal story and what numbers they tied into their quipu?

Welcome Back to Science and Engineering at Rivendell

The summer has been great, but I am TRULY happy to be back with your kiddos in our Science Lab!

I have heard a lot about your students’ summer fun and especially viewing the Solar Eclipse! I went to Nebraska to experience TOTALITY!! I cried for 2.5 minutes, it was such a beautiful experience. No scientific language could express the magic of taking off the glasses and seeing a 365 degree sunset! The corn fields were perfect for watching my shadow go from crisp to vanish in an instant. The birds were confused, my dog was uncertain and the cheering crowd all confirmed it was a rare moment to remember!

I am collecting viewing glasses to send to kids in South America, who will have a chance to see the Eclipse in 2019, so bring in your used pair.

The first 2 weeks in science have really been about policies, procedures and play.  PK went on a scavenger hunt, circling the pictures of things they found in the lab. YK, MK, and OK got to explore an area of the lab and teach our peers what, where, why and how to use it properly.  MK and OK also took time to practice the scientific method while exploring a science toy.

They used the method- OBSERVE< EXPLORE> PREDICT> ANALYSE> RECORD> CONCLUDE – we will keep all worksheets and handouts at school in their science notebook. It will come home at the end of the year. I believe a collection is more memorable than random sheets each week.



The lab will have 2 OPEN LAB times this year. Students will be invited to come to Lab on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at lunch. This time is for building, exploring, following simple experiment cards and free science play. ALL MK and OK will eventually have a turn, but the list of invited students will be posted outside my door in the morning and the students who are invited will be chosen because of great thinking, peer collaboration, amazing work, participation and following Lab rules and responsibilities. If your student says ” I never get to go to open lab, it could mean they are struggling a bit to stay on task in science class.” It could also mean that they have not come up in the rotation yet~ since everyone in the class is rocking it!  Feel free to email me with any questions. kari@rivendell-school.org

Food Chain and Metamorphosis

Our ponds/Rivers Studies naturally got the student’s curious about food chains and life cycles. SO we dove in to learn more about the trophic cascade!

PK and YK have been sorting creatures into herbivore, omnivore, carnivore in hunting games outside, on paper and more. They are now familiar with decomposers  and a multi-leveled food chain.

MK and OK got a close up look at autotrophs (plants) and primary, secondary and tertiary consumers such as ourselves.  We have investigated the Wolves of Yellowstone and what they call a trophic cascade!

Wolves of Yellowstone: EARTH A New Wild – Nature Works Everywhere