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This unit study includes lessons and printables based on the book Rocks in His Head by Carol Otis Hurst.
Some people collect stamps. Other people collect coins. Carol Otis Hurst’s father collected rocks. Nobody ever thought his obsession would amount to anything. They said, “You’ve got rocks in your head” and “There’s no money in rocks.”
But year after year he kept on collecting, trading, displaying, and labeling his rocks. The Depression forced the family to sell their gas station and their house, but his interest in rocks never wavered. And in the end the science museum he had visited so often realized that a person with rocks in his head was just what was needed.
This story is the base for lessons on a wide variety of topics including Henry Ford, The Great Depression, idioms, repetition, synonyms, percent, types of rocks, and more! Grab our Rocks in His Head unit study and lapbook and get started.
Thanks to Celia Hartmann for writing the lessons for this Rocks in His Head unit study.
Rocks in His Head Unit Study Lessons
Here are some sample lessons from the Rocks in His Head Unit Study.
History: Henry Ford and the Model T
Henry Ford was born July 30, 1863 in Dearborn, Michigan. His family farmed. From early on, he did not care for farm work but instead enjoyed tinkering with the machines. He loved to take apart everything so he could understand how it worked. He became quite good at repairing machines that ran by steam and at repairing watches.
When he was 16, he left home, moved to Detroit, and began work as a machinist apprentice. He apprenticed for three years and returned to Dearborn. After that, he worked on steam engines and his father’s farm equipment, supplementing his income by working in a factory in Detroit. In 1888, Henry married Clara Bryant and ran a sawmill to provide a steady income.
In 1891, Henry became an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit. Finally, he was able to pursue what he loved–working with machines. Just two years later, he was promoted to Chief Engineer. At this time, he began experiments on internal combustion engines. (Less than 10 years earlier, the first car with an internal combustion engine had been built, and Henry realized this was the future of automobiles.) This experimenting led to the creation of the Quadricycle. Look up a picture of it. It doesn’t look like much of a car does it?! It was called a Quadricycle because it ran on four bicycle-like tires. It was not the first automobile to have been built in the world, but it was Henry’s first and it created a desire to make more.
At that time in history, automobiles were very expensive to buy, and so only the very rich could afford one. In 1903, Henry Ford created the Ford Motor Company. He proclaimed “I will build a car for the great multitude.” Five years later, in October 1908, his dream came true. He introduced the Model T that was not only reasonably priced, but was also easy to operate, reliable, and efficient. It began a new era of personal transportation: the Motor Age.
In the beginning, the cost of a Model T was $950. That was a lot of money to folks back then, but it was far less than the price of the other cars. Despite the low cost, Henry Ford strived to produce the car quicker and with standard parts so that the cost could be lowered. Early on it took over 12 hours to make a car, but in just six years he was able to cut the production time down to 1.5 hours. The Model T was produced for 19 years, until May 1927. Before that time period ended, Henry Ford’s company was able to make a Model T every 24 seconds and the price of the car was reduced to $280.
Henry was able to do this by using techniques that allowed for mass production. The Ford Motor Company was the first to use a conveyor belt-based assembly line to make the production process more efficient. This allowed workers to be quicker: each worker put on a section of the car before it moved to the next worker to receive another. Henry paid higher wages to his employees, $5 per day, which almost double what other car manufacturers paid! Workers who were paid more than average were more loyal to the company and less likely to quit their job. By cutting the work day from 9 to 8 hours, Henry operated his factory 24 hours a day using three shifts of workers.
By 1918, half of all the cars in America were Model Ts.
History: Stock Market Crash & The Great Depression
The Stock Market Crash of October 29, 1929 was one event that helped trigger The Great Depression. A stock exchange is a place where company stocks are bought, sold, or traded.
A company needs money and things to start and to continue operating. One way to get money is to sell “shares of stock” in the company. The company finds people to invest money in it. They give the company money to start/operate and then they own a share of the company. If the company does well, then their share of the company’s stock is worth more than what they initially invested. If they sell their share, then they get more money back than they first put into it and they have extra money. But the opposite is also true…if the company does NOT do well, then their share becomes worth less than what they initially invested. If the company continues to not do well, then an investor might sell his stock before it becomes worth very little. This means he will not get back all the money he first put into it.
Most stocks are bought and sold using a stock exchange. During the 1920s, the most important stock exchange was the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan, New York. During the 1920s, the stock market did very well. Many people purchased stocks and the value of the companies increased. Between 1920 and 1929, the value of stocks quadrupled. That means if a person invested $1 in 1920, then in 1929 it was worth $4. People thought this was a great way to make money and so they borrowed from banks so they could invest even more money in the stock market.
Then the stock values began to fall and on October 24, 1929, a day that has become known as Black Thursday, people began to panic that the value would continue to fall and so many of them sold their stocks. Over the weekend, still more people panicked at the thought that their stocks would soon become totally worthless and they decided to sell as soon as the stock exchange opened on Monday, October 28. They did so and the day has become known as Black Monday. Almost 13 million stocks were sold that day. This made the value of the remaining shares in the stock market fall even more. The next day, October 29–Black Tuesday–was even worse–over 16 million shares were sold. One month later, the market had fallen by almost 40%, a value of $100 billion. Over the next few years, the market continued to decline, though not as quickly as these three “Black” days. By mid-1932, the market had lost almost 90% of its value. It took over 20 years for the stock market to recover.
Many banks went out of business. People who had money in those banks lost it. Those who had lost money in the stock market also lost the money in their bank accounts and also could not pay back what they had borrowed. People were unable buy as much food or clothing, and they did not have money to buy extras like cars. Because there was less items being purchased, companies began to close and people lost their jobs. Those without jobs could not afford to buy even the necessities. To make matters worse, during the early 1930s, the Midwestern United States experienced a severe drought that become known as the Dust Bowl. Farmers were not able to produce food to sell. Many lost their farms. This time period that followed the stock market crash is known as the Great Depression.
The Great Depression did not just affect America, but much of Europe too. It was a time of no work, little food, etc. Prices of necessities were high and the money families had was low. People learned to make do with whatever they had or to use old things in new ways.
It was not until the United States entered WWII at the end of 1941 that the Depression ended in America.
You can grab a copy of the entire Rocks in His Head Unit Study and Lapbook in an easy-to-print file at the end of this post.
Rocks in His Head Lapbook Printables
In addition to the unit study lessons, the file includes these mini-books for your student to make a Rocks in His Head lapbook:
- Three Types of Rock Tab Book
- Rocks, Minerals, and Gemstones Shape Book
- Massachusetts Fast Facts Flap Book
- The Rock Cycle Diagram
- Jesus Is the Rock Matchbook
- Henry Ford Report Form & Pocket
- Stock Market Crash Simple Fold Book
- New Words Book
- Intrusive Rock vs. Extrusive Rock Shutterfold Book
- Repetition Pull-tab Book
- Rock Synonyms Book
- Mineral Categories Layer Book
How to Get Started with Your Rocks in His Head Unit Study & Lapbook
Follow these simple instructions to get started with the Rocks in His Head Unit Study:
- Buy a copy of the book, Rocks in His Head, or borrow one from your local library.
- Print the Rocks in His Head unit study.
- Choose the lessons you want to use with your student (a highlighter works great for this).
- Choose and prepare the lapbook printables you want to use with your student.
- Enjoy a week of having rocks in your head!
Get Your Free Rocks in His Head Unit Study & Lapbook
Simply click on the image below to access your free Rocks in His Head Unit Study and Lapbook.
More Resources for Exploring Rocks and Minerals
Check out these other unit studies and learn more about rocks and minerals.