Monthly Archives: August 2011

Thinking through the Clock of Eras Next Step

As I began thinking about the Clock of Eras in preparation for the Timeline of Life work, I began to wonder about a transition.  There seems to be so much that is skipped in this work.  I understand the impressionistic nature of the work yet, especially for the slightly older child, there are swaths of information that can inform deeper lessons like organic chemistry. So, I broke out the Claremont lessons for inspiration.  I’ve always admired the attention to the beginnings of time and the excitement that they bring the children.

As it is a new year, I thought that perhaps we should look back at the beginnings.  I began to create a series of hybrid lessons.

Detailed Discussion of the Earth’s Development Six Parts

Primary Aim:  To take the impressionistic lesson from the lower elementary presentation and revisit and expand upon it in the later upper elementary or erd kinder.

Secondary Aim: To continue the awe of the gifts that God gives to all the creatures He creates.  Moving the awe from all the work that had to be done before mammals could survive to a detailed look at the complexity of the work that was done.  Here is the beginning of the process.

Materials to make or acquire for All Parts of the Lesson: A 25 foot length of color coordinated fabric representing 15,000,000.

The fabric is divided into eons and eras.

Pre-hadean and Hadean 66.66 inches  (grey)

Archaean 33 inches  (black)

Proterozoic 162 inches (yellow)

Paleozoic 23.08 inches (blue)

Mesozoic 10.75 inches (brown)

Cenozoic 4.25 inches (green)


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Let the Lectures Begin!

The Vices are heading to several lectures and one play this coming month.

On August 31, 1886 an earthquake hit Charleston, the  College of Charleston is hosting a lecture about one of the famous heros of this tragedy.

Here is a summary of the lecture:  A massive earthquake centered near Charleston sent shockwaves up the East Coast. In the aftermath, residents of the old port city were left with death and destruction. This is a gripping account of the natural disaster and the turbulent social change in the last quarter of the 19th century. This is also the story of Francis Warrington Dawson, a British expatriate drawn to the South by the romance of the Confederacy. As editor of Charleston’s News and Courier, Dawson walked a lonely and dangerous path, risking his life and reputation to find common ground between the races. Hailed as a hero in the aftermath of the earthquake, Dawson was denounced by white supremacists and murdered less than three years after the disaster. His killer was acquitted after a sensational trial that unmasked a Charleston underworld of decadence and corruption.

Immediately following that on Thursday, we are heading over to the annual Shakespeare production by the College of Charleston.

Photo Credit: The Charleston City Paper

Jessica Maggor reviewed Antony and Cleopatra.

What if in Saturday Night Fever, John Travolta suddenly broke out into a Shakespearean sonnet? If this sounds appealing to you, you’ll want to see the College of Charleston’s disco take on Antony and Cleopatra, where the characters will sing and dance to the hits of the musical era. As part of its 15th annual Shakespeare Project, the theater department will present Shakespeare’s play, adapted by director J.A. Ball, telling the tragic tale of Mark Antony and Egyptian Queen Cleopatra with a twist. We bet Travolta would have made an excellent Antony in the actor’s heyday.

Perhaps one of the most anticipated lectures is on September 22.  Rachel Scott is going to be lecturing on Leprosy and Leper Hospitals in Late Medieval Ireland.  Does that not sound cool.


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And on a schedule.

The school year has officially begun.


What does our world look like for this year?  Thanks for asking.

My family of origin’s health has been touchy for quite some time, and it is coming to a climax.  We are anticipating traveling about four hours to their home quite a bit, and I need to be available to make that trip without worrying about letting other families down.  The boys’ dad really wants them to have a diploma recognized by the state of SC. (I know home school diplomas are.  Let’s not go down that road.) He went to a college whose diplomas weren’t recognized universally and this has been frustrating in his search for a masters.  Sooooooooooooo.  They found a school that is online and free!  Whoooo hooo.  It is the Whitmore School.  I agreed to let them try it because the students must work to mastery (read do it until they get it correct) and the students only work on a maximum of three classes at any given time.  I’m sure there will be more to say about this later.

We’ve lost AR, BR, and LR from our site.  Their mom had to go back to work so they are off to “regular” school.  And as all Montessori kids, they are ahead in many things, behind in a few, and making the transition.

The W family is visiting regularly and working a great deal from home.   BW is as you have seen dedicating his year to the study of time.  DW is looking at the history of the English Language and the History of Europe in the process.


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I dedicated this year…

This morning BW arrived and began working on his latest project.  He has become fixated on dinosaurs. This has led us to the impressionistic lesson of the Clock of Eras.  We’ve looked at the clock a couple of ways.

The first was for BW to find an object that was a large enough circle to match the clock poster.  He traced it and we worked out folding it fractionally to add up to the 12 “hours” on the clock.  Each wedge was cut out and methodically/frantically BW shaded the colors of the impressionistic chart onto each wedge.  The last few wedges involved using a protractor to measure and transfer the angles onto the wedges so that the sizes would be correct.  This project was done over three days and represents one of his best pieces completed with minimal adult guidance.


BW's Liner Clock of Eras with his 12 hour measurement (8am to 8 pm) and Gary Davidson's tickets photocopied because BW's hands still don't love tons of writing.

The second way was to measure colored yarn pieces and tie them together in the appropriate length to see the scale linearly. In the same process, BW and his mom measured out the back door and across the back yard to the beginning of time. This helped him realize that the creation of the universe and the creation of the crusted Earth are two vastly different things.


BW's own Clock of Eras

The third way was to set the timer beginning at 8:00 for the appropriate amount of time for each of the Eons and Epochs.  As the day progressed the timer would go off . They used their timer in the Ipad and set the buzzer to the sound they though illustrated the period.

BW has been doing his writing by taking a particular dinosaur and making an outline.

I.  Reproduce.

A.  Oviperious

All the way through Roman numeral number four. After we correct for spelling, he dictates sentences to me that I type and then print out and staple with his outline.  He does several a day.  He is loving the study of the march of life through time.

He declared, as he finished his Clock of Eras glue down,  “This is an appropriate work because I’ve dedicated this year to the study of time!”


Filed under Biology, BW, Geography and World Studies, Geology, God With No Hands, Science

Clock of Eras

BW and DW working out a linear version of the Clock of Eras

The Clock of Eras is one of the Classic Montessori Lesson.  As all of the history lessons, it covers multiple disciplines – history, science, and math.

The presentation is given after the long black stip.   It is a link between the God With No Hands lesson and the Time Line of Life Lesson. It is a different way of looking at time as well.  It is a chart.  Don’t give into the temptation to make it into a puzzle or a deep scientific lesson.  It is  there to help children think about how long the earth had been around been around before humans.

Also the idea that everything has a job to do for the glory of God.  All the creatures came before to help make the world ready for humans and their survival.

We need to define a few terms:

  • Eon (and super-eon) is the largest length of geological time.  There are 4 eons. Eons are divided into eras.  Haden, Archean, Proterozoic, and Phanerozoic
  • Era is a period of geological time.  There are 12 eras in geological time.  These times are divided into periods.
  • Periods are the smallest measure of geological time that is documented on the Clock of Eras.
Again this is an IMPRESSIONISTIC Lesson.  It is meant to be brief and not over detailed.  Often people add and add to the lesson.  You can loose the main impressions in the details.  Less is more in this lesson.
Begin with a question:  
I wonder how long off all of the creating took?
Remind the children of the long black strip. Remind them of the little amount of time man has been around in comparison to the length of time that God ordained for the earth.
Today we are going to look  at time in a different way.  We are going to think of it as if it were the face of the clock.  Would you like to think of time like the hours and minutes of a clock?
We are going to look at all the time that the Earth has had a crust as like the 12 hours on the face of the clock.  The clock on the wall has the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.12.  Now look at our chart it has the same 12 numbers.
(Take your time here.  This requires younger children to process a good bit.)
Point at the black section.
We’ll look at this first time period it is called an EON.  Remember the God With No Hands lesson?  We talked about how hot the Earth was when she was created and how it took a very, very long time to cool off?  This section represents the last bit of that cooling – when the Earth began to look like a shriveled apple.
Point at the yellow section.
In the time between 4 and 10 is the EON that represents the beginnings of a world we would recognize.  Between 4 and 5 on the clock is when the rains  began to come down and cleanse the sky so an atmosphere could form.  The rains were also washing the Earth.  They washed salts into the seas.  Many scientists also believe that this is when God created the first life – like a little drop of  jelly.
Point to the clock and the time between 5 and 6
After the little blob of jelly, other creatures were created.  They floated in the seas.  They ate the salts and the abundant minerals that were in the seas. They had a great work.  These tiny creatures’ had the job of making the seas ready for larger creatures.  They did their jobs perfectly and the sea floors are full of their skeletons to this day.  This time between 4 and 10 is called the Archaic Eon.  These words are Greek and Archaic means “very old.”
Point to the blue, brown, green and red areas of the clock.
Things began to move very quickly and all of these together are one EON.  To help us understand the changes we are going to divide the EONs into ERAs.
Point to the blue area.
After all these creatures did the work that God gave them, God created other creatures.  Many of these creatures began to live not only in the water but also on the land – they are called amphibians. This happened a very long time ago. We call this time Paleozoic Era.  paleo – old and zoic – animals.  So what was this the time of?
Point to the brown area.
Then after the amphibians began to become more comfortable on land this era began.  Geologists call this time the Mesozoic Era.  Meso – middle and what did zoic mean?   This is the time that the great reptiles and giant grasses and ferns lived.  The reptiles could stay on land and were able to go where no animals had ever been before.
Now let’s look at the clock again.  There isn’t much time left.  How much do you think is left on our 12 hour clock?
Point to the green section.
After the Mesozoic Era, we arrive to the Cenozoic Era.  Ceno means recent and zoic means???  The recent plants and animals that came during this time are the same ones we would recognize. The great reptiles all died out in this time. God created the birds and animals we would know.  All this time has passed and there are no humans.  There is only a little bit of time left. Something very special happens at the very end of the Cenozoic Era.  This last little bit is a section of the Era is red.  It is a period (a smaller piece of of the Era).
Point to the Red thread.
It is a special time – this red time.  Finally we have come to the time when humans were made.  This time period  is called the Neozoic Period  – neo means new.  All this time – all these hours and we have been here just this little sliver of time.

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Pit Firing Pots

JV and DV took a class at Firefly’s intensive week that covered pit firing pottery.  They spent a week discussing geological formations which produce clay, looking at types of clays, learning various techniques for forming pots, and the methods to fire the types of clay.

DV found the various clays really different and produced a variety of results from – gorgeous ping upon firing (the ping means the pot fired well and completely) to explosion in the fire.

Keith Grenoble is a very talented, laid back instructor.  He loves geology.  The boys met him through flint knaping. He enjoys being with people and can’t help but talk about what he knows.

DV and JV enjoyed themselves immensely.  I spent an afternoon at the fire sitting and making cordage.  I almost wish I had taken this class.

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