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Friday, June 17

Rocky Mountain High (John Denver)

(scroll to bottom for unit study)  

Today, on Fan Field Trip Friday, we're following the footsteps of the Smith Family on their Road Trip Adventure Across the USA!  It's off to Colorado Springs, visit the Garden of the Gods!  And here is your accompanying unit study...  (photo credit : Garden of the Gods)
Rocks & Minerals Unit Study

Mom Smith writes :
One of the places that our family is glad we didn't miss on a Road Trip Adventure across the USA is Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Before we explored the park, we checked out the Visitor and Nature Center which was filled with educational exhibits. At this hands-on learning station, we reviewed what we knew about rocks and learned about the different rocks that we'd see at Garden of the Gods.  On the Upper Terrace of the Visitor Center, we enjoyed the views and took a closer look at the area.
rocks of the garden exhibitvisitor center at garden of the gods

At other displays and dioramas, we discovered that:
  • the Ute People, who are ancestors of the Red Rock People, used this area as their tribal meeting grounds
  • a variety of flora and fauna can be found on these native grasslands and woodlands of Colorado
  • Native Americans used every part of the yucca plant
    • the roots were used to make soap
    • the petals and pods were a food source
    • the leaves were used to make baskets
    • and the stalk fibers were used to make ropes
With the help of a guide and map, we identified the snow-covered peaks of Pikes Peak, Queens Canyon Quarry, and the Gateway Rocks to the Garden of the Gods.  After our visit to the Visitor Center and lessons on what we were going to see, we headed inside the park.  We explored Garden of the Gods from the car and on foot. We drove along Garden Drive and Juniper Way Loop.  We strolled the Perkins Garden Trail, and we hiked the Siamese Twins Trail.
garden of the godsgarden of the gods
Along the way, we tried to identify as many rock formations with the curious names as we could find.
Some of the most popular rock formations are easy to spot, like Balanced Rock and Tower of Babel
and Kissing Camels.
balanced Rocktower of babelkisssing camels
Geology lessons didn't end at the Visitor and Nature Center.  At wayside exhibits, we read and learned about water and wind erosion, and then looked up and saw the effects of each.
garden of the godsgarden of the gods
Botany lessons continued in the park, too.  We went on a scavenger hunt for the plants we had learned about in the center.  We saw lots of pinon tress and yucca plants.  In addition to rock formations and plants, our family had hoped to see a mule deer or a Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep that we had read about at the center, but we didn't see either. We did see several magpies and a canyon wren.
pinon juniper DSCN1274
Colorado was a great place to learn about geology, history, and botany at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs!
garden of the godsgarden of the gods
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