Tuesday, August 30, 2011

End of the Day


Typically the worst part of the school day for me is that period at the end of the day when the bus bell rings and you are waiting for the car riders and walker/bikers to be dismissed. I'm sure it only lasts less then ten minutes but it feels longer and I swear I age ten years in the process :)

In an attempt to keep the class focused during those long minutes I started playing Steve Spangler on Ellen Videos that I downloaded (using the YouTube downloader written about here). The kids love the humor and look forward to seeing what kind of science Steve uses to make Ellen laugh. The videos last anywhere from 7-10 minutes and are perfect end of the day fillers.

I would highly recommend watching them before showing them in class to ensure the content is appropriate for your students.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fossils Part II


This isn't an edible fossil like an earlier post but I thought this would easy to do in a classroom. Directions can be found on Art Projects for Kids blog. I have a willing third grade teacher so I hope to post pictures soon!

Cookie Moon Phases


I've seen these cookie moon phases before (click here for a description of the activity on Science Bob's Blog) and wanted to share my "Moon Phase" cookie story.


After seeing these online I thought it would be fun to do it in class as part of our Astronomy unit. I decided to make these at home. They turned out adorable. Then I decided to eat them (justifying that I would let my kids eat them in class :) It quickly became apparent that 8 Oreo cookies was way too many to eat (I definitely felt queasy). I went back to the online directions and found out that I was suppose to use "mini Oreo cookies" (which made much more sense).



A note of caution, the mini Oreo cookies may not be as cost effective with large groups of children (when I taught middle school I had 80+ children). It is definitely cheaper to buy the generic chocolate sandwich cookies. I would just provide a snack or sandwich baggie so the kids could take the leftovers home.

No Name Bin


This is definitively a pet peeve of mine! Really....how hard is it to put your name on a piece of paper particularly when the first thing I say is "Put your name on your paper and give me a thumbs up when it is done." You would be surprised at the number of papers I get back with no names. It was to the point that I would ask children to turn to their left or right and CHECK that the child next to them put their name on the paper :)

I saw this NO NAME paper bin idea on this Flicker site and thought it was a GREAT idea. Passing it along in case anyone else suffers like me.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cute Clouds


Sure they may be a little "cutesy" but I liked the height representation. Thank you to the teacher on the blog The Inspired Apple for posting.

Trying to think of a way that I can incorporate pull tab clouds into the notebook to represent the cloud heights :)

Fossil Cookies


Mmmm....our third grade students study fossils as as part of their Earth materials unit. This Martha Stewart recipe for fossil cookies looks like it might be something that can be worked into the unit.
I don't like the fact that you have to freeze the cookies first (making the project a two day event) and (unless you have a toaster oven in the classroom) you would have to make them at home.
Some schools don't allow hot plates or toaster ovens. If you aren't sure...DON'T ASK (easier to get forgiveness then permission). I feel TOTALLY fine with bringing in a toaster oven for this one activity and then taking it back home. I would most likely want a parent to help "watch" the toaster oven but the darn things have to bake for 30 minutes.
If any cooks out there have a better idea please let me know.

Stars In a Jar


This was just a fun looking project. Children would scatter glow paint inside of mason jars and create their own stars in a jar. I would do this in conjunction with our astronomy unit - most likely as an end of unit activity.

Cloud Window


Someone shared this idea for a cloud window on this nature site. I think the intent is to puchase a kit from the site. However I am looking at it thinking it would be pretty easy to do on my own with a class. Fourth grade goes into weather soon and I might make it a point to try this with a group.

Inexpensive Storage



Saw this on a blog titled "The First Grade School Box". Loved the simplicity of this idea. I think even with my limited construction ability I could make it :)


It was made with painted cinder blocks and plywood.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tree Ring Plates



Another project we did in our life science class for educators was talk about tree rings. I liked the activity one teacher did with her kids where they used a paper plate and the students made rings for each year of their life. They had to write something significant that happened in their life in each ring they made. I thought it was a fun idea for anyone studying plants.

Plant in a Bottle



I took a life science class for educators this summer in upstate South Carolina and one of the inquiry activities we did was with a plant in a jar.

The question we were asked was how long could a plant live in a closed container. We had to come up with a hypothesis and then support our claim. Some people could not make a hypothesis without more information and we wrote those questions on our flip chart paper, i.e. How fast does a plant use up oxygen?

We then planted small plants inside a plastic container (think Glad Ware) and marked the date on the outside. We were told to keep them out of direct sunlight and not to open them until we came back for our follow up class (a month later).

Sadly most of our plants died. My plant died because the leaves started touching the sides and became water logged. Others died because they spent the month in direct sunlight or got rolled around in the back of their car :) The professor said it was the first time he used the glad ware containers (due to the cost involved in the project) and had never seen so many plants die before. He then showed us a plant he has had in a closed jar in his office for four year (see last picture).

I thought this was a great inquiry project and one I could easily make a year long. We start with inquiry (where we would set up the project) and then move on to weather. In our weather unit we can use the experiment to illustrate the water cycle and transpiration. We then move on to our light unit and we can talk about how light behaves when it hits transparent and translucent objects like our container (in fact you could try different containers and see if that makes a difference). In our astronomy unit we can talk about how sunlight effects growth and in our organisms unit we can use the project to highlight what is needed in a habitat. At the end of the year students can take their plants home.

I know this project could get pricey but i thought it would also make a good grant project.


Scientific Method - 3rd Grade


I was invited to teach the scientific method in a third grade classroom today and had a blast! As most of you know, I am out of the classroom this year in a technology coach position and a part of my job is to model the use of technology in the classroom. I told the teacher (who is going to try notebooking this year) that I found some fun scientific method songs on YouTube and she asked me to come in and teach.

We went through the steps of the scientific method and used it to answer the question, "Do taller children have bigger feet then smaller children?" In the picture above the students collected their data (drew a bar the size of their feet) and used a ruler to measure their graph and record their results. We talked about the data and what conclusions we could draw from the graph. The kids enjoyed the activity and (of course) loved getting to take off their shoes.

Plant Presses for the Classroom


I was at a training this summer where we pressed plants using a homemade press (second picture). I thought that was pretty cool and certainly something a teacher could make using two pieces of cut plywood and pieces of cardboard in between. The plants/flowers were put between newspaper and put on a cardboard piece and then stacked with other specimens between the plywood. The instructor said it take about 2 weeks to dry out. The whole thing was cinched with luggage straps.
They also showed us how to make a mini flower press (first picture) using cardboard and index cards. Obviously these would be smaller specimens and the professor suggested putting wax paper between the layers. The rubber bands would be used to secure the "press".

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Door Decorations







This is a fairly new phenominom in our school - covering classroom doors with fabric. I've seen it done with paper but there are several teachers who are doing it this year with fabric and hot glue.



I am not sure how it will stand up during the year, probably better then paper though. I would definitely caution against the use of excessive patterned fabric. I find the letters that Mrs. Peterson used made it difficult to see against the competting pattern of the door and border fabric.


Science - Leveled Readers



I came across these baskets in a fifth grade classroom and I really liked the idea for storing science leveled readers.



Normally the leveled readers that come with the textbook tend to stay stashed in a closet or remain forgotten on a bookshelf. The baskets allow for independent student exploration and for ready use in science or reading.