Sunday, February 25, 2018

St. Patrick's Day Leprechaun Rocks Science Experiment!

With St. Patrick's Day rapidly approaching, It made me think back to the past few years and the fun I had with my first grade students on this special day. You may have seen photos of Leprechaun Rocks floating around on the internet and I am going to teach you how to make them. I also wanted to share a free resource with you that kindergarten through second grade students would love!

 For the last two years I conducted a St. Patrick's day science experiment with my students. I explained to my students that the Leprechauns know I am a teacher and they leave me a cauldron full of leprechaun rocks to investigate with my students. 

We use a recording sheet to predict what will happen when we place a leprechaun rock in vinegar. Then I hand the students a plate, cup of vinegar, and a leprechaun rock. We normally do this outside because it can be messy. We then countdown from 10 and watch what happens when we place the leprechaun rocks into the vinegar. The students are amazed to see the bubbly reaction and are always thrilled to discover the leprechauns left a gold coin in the center of the rock for them to keep! I then have the students record the outcome of the experiment on their recording sheet and it is glued into their interactive STEAM notebooks.

Check out the video tutorial on how to create Leprechaun Rocks just like the leprechauns do! :)

If you are interested in this project, click this link to grab the free resource. It includes directions on how the leprechauns made the rocks (and how you can recreate them), how to conduct the experiment, and recording sheets for the activity.

Here is another resource you may want to grab for your St. Patrick's Day festivities!

St. Patrick's Day Sight Words

I hope you enjoy this resource and have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Simple Circuit STEAM Fun!

This year in my 4th/5th grade combination class we have been having a blast with science. We have spent quite a bit of time perfecting our simple circuits. After learning about current electricity and circuits we dove right into the experiment portion of our investigation. We created a number of simple circuits using a variety of materials.

Index Card Circuit

The first circuit was a very simple circuit using a minimum of supplies purchased from Amazon.
1 Index Card
2 pieces of Copper Tape (one piece needs to be slightly longer than the other)
1 3-Volt Coin Cell Battery

I introduced current electricity with a Bill Nye video (the kids LOVED it). I then modeled how to make the simple circuit and then turned the kids loose! The foil took a little getting used to and the kids were able to manipulate it with a little practice. I taught them how to use both hands while taking off the white paper, and a partner also came in handy for this step.

Step 1: Label one side of the index card with a + and one side with a -.
Step 2: Peel off the white paper for the short copper tape. Open the LED lead wires slightly and place the cooper tape over the lead wire and run it down the index card.
Step 3: Peel off the white paper for the long piece of copper tape and attach to the long LED. Run the rest of the tape down the index card but fold the tape over on itself at the bottom to create a switch. The long LED lead and long tape side will be the positive side and the short side will be the negative side.
Step 4: Place the negative side of the battery on the negative side of the circuit on the copper tape. Place the switch on the positive side of the battery to turn on the circuit.

Troubleshooting: If the circuit does not turn on, make sure the copper tape is adhering to the LED leads. Use a fingernail to smooth it out. Also check that your switch is not tearing, causing a break in the circuit.

My students then created a diagram of their simple circuit. To grab the diagram click here!

We began with this circuit because it was fairly basic. We tried a more complex circuit next!

Aluminum Wire Circuit

This circuit was definitely more difficult than the index card circuit. We talked a lot about growth mindset before we began so students remembered that this circuit would take some adjusting, trouble shooting, and lots of persistence!

Aluminum Wire or Copper Wire
Electrical Tape
Metal Fastener (Brad)
3-Volt Coin Cell Battery

I created a tutorial for my students and you can check it out below!

Once we completed the creation of the circuits, I had my students create videos describing how their circuit works. This was a great assessment and really helped me see which students had a in depth understanding of current electricity. You can check out my example video below.

The used these circuits to test the conductivity of materials in the classroom. We recorded the data on a conductors and insulators page. You can grab the page here.

Circuit Landscapes

The last circuit project was an arts integration activity. The students were to research a landscape that would be created out of oil pastels on cardboard. They then would be creating a circuit on the back with a switch to light up their art with up to 4 LED. The students got really creative and created space scenes, night scenes, the Eiffel Tower, and nature scenes. Take a peek at some of the creations below!

Chalkboard Paint Spray
Pre-wired LED
Copper Tape
3 Volt Coin Cell Battery

I hope you enjoyed learning about our circuits! These were definite favorites of my students this year! Feel free to email or comment with questions!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Flexible Seating in the Intermediate Grades

Flexible seating has been a huge component of my classroom for many years. My first grade students had great success with the seating and they thrived within our flexible seating classroom. When I moved to Southern California, I found out that I would be teaching a fourth and fifth grade combination class. I had a lot to consider when it came to fourth/fifth grade students and flexible seating...

Would they need their own supplies instead of shared supplies?
Would they need a space to call their own?
Would fourth/fifth graders require as much movement as first graders?
What about all the yoga balls and wobble stools I had for first graders? Would these items work?
What classroom furniture would I have to work with?
What would flexible seating look like with a class of 34 intermediate students vs. 24 first graders?

Checking out the classroom was the first stage in the planning process. When I saw my classroom I realized that I would need to change my vision for my classroom layout. I LOVE teaching with tables in my classroom. Being a new teacher at the school I had to make the classroom furniture in the room work with my classroom set-up. My classroom was a storage space before I moved in so there was a mishmash of desks and chairs to work with. So... for now the two-seater desks would have to work. 

I decided to arrange my students into groups to start the year. I would assess their needs and go from there. I brought in my stability cushions, lap desks, and wobble stools (even though they were first grade-sized). I began the year providing each child with a "home base" seat. This was their desk to hold their items since we didn't have tables. I brought in a standing desk, bean bag chairs, pillows (emoji pillows came from Amazon), and lowered a table. Ikea is local for me so I was fortunate enough to obtain some flexible seating options at a great price. We started on day one with  flexible seating expectations that I used with my first graders and the students took our flexible seating responsibilities very seriously. 

 Throughout the day we would integrate flexible seating for various projects and assignments, then meet at their  "home base" seat or the carpet area for direct instruction. I quickly learned, like my first grade students, fourth graders need to move while they are learning! Scholastic bonus points came in very handy to purchase some wobble stools that were better suited for my fourth graders. I decided to forgo the yoga balls due to the lack of space in my new room, but wanted to get additional wobble stools for my classroom. I purchased some wobble stools through Amazon and I set up a Donor's Choose project for additional wobble stools that would fit my students.  While I await the possibility of funding for the stools, we are using the first grade stools and my students love them and don't mind that they are not as tall. If you would like to donate to the funding of our wobble stools, click here!

I am very pleased with the modified version of the flexible seating in my classroom that we have currently set up and I have a vision to make the classroom even more flexible! I have my eye on white board tables that flip up and roll. I would love these tables because it would allow for collaboration and the students could use the white board surface for writing and note taking. The tables could then be flipped up to present to the class. The rolling option could enable our class to become a wide open space for projects. I also found hexagonal dry-erase top tables that I love. These looked great for collaboration. I am currently in search of grants to help fund these items and I am hopeful that I can make the vision work!

I am excited to see where flexible seating in our fourth and fifth grade takes us. I will be sure to update the blog about all on the challenges and successes throughout the year. I would love to hear how flexible seating has gone for you! 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Full STEAM Ahead!

There have been many changes in my world recently and I couldn't be happier about the excitement the last few months has had in store for me. This summer I relocated from Northern California to sunny Southern California. I am absolutely LOVING life down here by the beach.

Along with a new city comes a new school! I was extremely fortunate to be hired by an innovative district in full support of their teachers and classroom creativity. I was hired at a STEAM school and I have been having so much fun implementing science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics  as much as possible.

While I have had lots of experience teaching the little ones I am currently experiencing life teaching intermediate students as a fourth and fifth grade combination teacher!

I can't wait to share some of the amazing projects the students have been working on.

First, take a peek into my classroom... Working with older kids has allowed me to embrace topics of their interest level. I decided to use emojis and hashtags as a component of my classroom. Check out the pics below!

 I am a lover of flexible seating and with my fourth and fifth graders is looks a little different than it did for my first graders... A post on flexible seating with older kids will be coming soon!

 Below I have some of our bulletin boards... more information about each project will be coming soon!

 Red Ribbon Week Door- My students used their digital art skills to transform themselves into superheroes!

 Self Portrait Acrylic Quilt

Electrical Circuit LED Art

Stay tuned for posts about our STEAM activities, flexible seating, and more!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Open House 2017

Well this year's Open House was a success! My students proudly displayed all of their projects and shared their knowledge with their parents. We took part in 6 weeks of ocean research. We studied many ocean animals and wrote informational writing pieces in our ocean research journals. We also completed culminating art projects for each of the animals we learned about.

This was the bulletin board that is displayed in the hallway as you enter the classroom. Our octopus project welcomed the families into our ocean research center. To find out how we made our octopus art click here!

We made these adorable shell and pipe cleaner crabs. I ordered the shells online and the students painted them red. They then glued on the pipe cleaner legs and eyes. 

 The students wrote an informational piece on each ocean animal we studied. We compiled these pieces of writing in our Ocean Research Journals. The students had an impressive 10-page book for the event!

 We created divers and three-dimensional turtles. I attached the turtles on a sponge painted paper bulletin board with green butcher paper seaweed.

After reading The Rainbow Fish and discussing the story elements, the students created their own Rainbow Fish with glitter scales of course!

 These adorable clownfish were so much fun to make out of paper mache! We studied these amazing creatures then created the fish. The students put layers of paper dipped in paper mache paste all over a balloon. After a few days the fish were dry and ready to be painted. The students painted them using a shiny orange paint, then added white stripes. Then the orange foam fins and tail were added with hot glue. The mouth is made of model magic formed into a ring and the eyes are large google eyes. I hung the fish in the classroom with fishing line attached to the top fin of each fish.

 The students chose 6 of their favorite ocean animals and completed a research cube. These cubes were hung around the room using fishing line. Grab these Animal Research Report Cubes here!

 We also read Mister Seahorse and created watercolor seahorses to display on a bulletin board. First the students used the wet-on-wet method and painted all over a piece of watercolor paper. Then the students sprinkled a little salt to create a textured/bubble effect. Once the paintings were dry, the students traced using a pattern I created and cut out their seahorse. After the seahorse body was cut, the students cut little spikes to add to the back and drew on eyes.

We also created humpback whale diagrams to display the students' knowledge of the beautiful sea creatures as well as their knowledge of the diagram text feature. 

The students took part in collaborative diagrams. Together they used our informational text to create a diagram of a toothed whale or baleen whale. They completed these diagrams in groups of six and we proudly displayed them for the parents to see.

I am so proud of all of the hard work from my students this year. Open House was a great way to celebrate the end of the year! I will miss this group of kiddos so much!