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Quick Air Science Ideas Based on NGSS

Air is all around us. Air moves things, Air interacts with other objects, and Air is an invisible gas that takes up space. Here are a few quick air activities that you can add to your science lessons based on the following K-2nd grade NGSS concepts...

Starting Point: 
Learning about air is the foundation for teaching structure and properties of matter as you learn that air is a gas and takes up space. I teach these mini lessons to my second graders to teach them to plan and conduct investigations to describe how different kinds of materials and objects have observable properties.

The Plan:
I first show them a clear plastic baggie filled with air. I let them know we are going to learn about something very special that can change weather and be very dangerous at times. I have it in the bag. What is in the bag can also move other things and interact with objects. I then show them the bag. Most believe nothing is in the bag, however there is always one that guesses air.

Giving them a plastic bag of their own filled with objects that are light and heavy, flat and 3-D is a great way to then teach properties and what makes them a solid or a gas. (I don't give them liquids at this point) I let them blow with a straw or with their own breath and see how air moves things. I love reading the story The Wind Blew. Perfect for adding in what is a prediction!

Book Connection: The Wind Blew by Pat Hutchins

STEM Connections: I love having the students make a maze to blow a cotton ball through. We also read The Three Pigs and build houses made of blocks to blow down.

Book Connections: The Three Pigs by James Marshall

Air Concept #2:
The framework core ideas that NGSS covers as you teach about air are: ESS2 D Weather and Climate, this is where we build up what is air and how and why can it be part of regulating weather and climate?

The concept air moves things can now be expanded to air interacts with other objects. Tie in weather reports, predicting the weather, and how moving air affects the weather. Observe clouds...create wind socks or pinwheels to observe wind movement.

STEM Connections: blow bubbles to watch the direction the wind is blowing...make your own bubble wand to test it out!

Book Connection: I like to use Feel The Wind by Arthur Dorros

Air Concept #3:
We also tie in a Kindergarten NGSS performance expectation: using and observing weather conditions can help us describe patterns over time. Keeping track of the weather as well as predicting the forecast is a great way to teach that predictions are only a guess. You can also tie in patterns and seasonal changes.

Book Connections: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba

STEM Connections: This all can tie into ESS3 where students learn about how Earth's surface processes and human activities affect each other. This can work with teaching natural resources such as how we use air as power. Creating wind turbines or boats powered by the wind is a perfect STEM connection!
                                      Wind Science and STEM Pack
Looking for a kindergarten through second grade pack that has everything you need? HERE is a great Wind Science and STEM Pack for you!

Looking for something for your older kiddos? Check out this STEM Quick Pick Energy Pack! 
                                      Energy STEM/NGSS Science Quick Pick

Time to air on the side of fun and engaging Science and STEM lessons that tie into NGSS! Whether you use FOSS Air and Weather lessons, NGSS, or TIEKS or anything in between it is always great to find new ideas to add to what you are already doing!

In this post, for your convenience, you may find Amazon Affiliate links to resources. This means that with your purchase of items Amazon will pass on small percentages to me. This will not create extra costs for you at all! It will help me keep this blog running!
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Six "Apple"ing Apple Science Connections

Apples this time of year can be an "apple"ing way to teach students about so many science related topics. I love to grab some apples from a the store or a local orchard, any way you organize it...I apple-aud you!

Here are just a few ways that you can add apple themed ideas to your science lessons...

10 Apples Up On Top

I use this really fun video to tie in math and STEM! I use toilet paper tubes, red pom poms, and green tongue depressors to have student balance the apples up on top of their tree that they make. Before we watch the video, we learn the parts of an apple tree! It is actually amazing that the students in kindergarten and first grade don't know words such as bark, trunk, stem, and leaves.

A fun tip is to have them hug their trunk, stretch their branches, sway their leaves, and wiggle their roots!

Apple Senses

Apples are a perfect way to teach the five senses! Not only can they look and observe...they can feel how wet and sticky they are...they can hear the crunch...they can smell the sweet or sour...and of course they can taste!

I love to give them options to even add some math for a quick survey! Do they prefer green, red, yellow, or a mix of color such as red and yellow?

                                 Here is a link to a free apple themed pack for you! 

Apple Layers vs. Earth Layers

An apple is a great way to teach the layers of the Earth! The outside skin is like the crust of the Earth. The next layer the pulp or the flesh is like the mantle, and the thin line that separates the flesh from the seeds is the outer core. The outer core can represent the inner core.  You can even connect the stem to relate to the axis.

Apple Perspective

I love this activity for older students...I get a jug of apple juice. I dye a pitcher of it red, a pitcher of it green, and a pitcher I leave plain apple juice. I then ask them to use their sense of taste and let me know what kind of kool aid the red and green are. Then I give them apple juice and ask them what this drink is. We discuss perspective because the color changes what they seem to taste.  This usually blows them away! This activity and apple perspective can be found HERE!

Apple Preservation

We use lemon juice, Milk of Magnesia, baking soda, lemon juice, and water to test how to keep an apple from turning brown.  We learn why apples turn brown through a fun controlled experiment! This is a quick way to teach variables and controlled experiments.

Apple STEM Connections 

Apples are great way to build structures with. I cut the apples into small pieces and give each student a cup of apples and some toothpicks. We look at objects and nature or how fall is represented: in hay bails, pumpkins, football...then they build that structure. Students then try to identify what someone built!

Another fun STEM connection is to make an apple picking maze on the wall with toilet paper tubes and  red/ green pompoms. The students must make an apple chute/maze to get the apples from the tree or top of the chute to the cup at the bottom for collection. They need so many turns and so many tubes.

This pack is ready for you! Find Apple STEM Connections HERE!

Flipping Over Apples

One of my favorite ways to teach lately is to use flip books. I use to feel that I needed to use every page of my flip books, but I love using two sheets printed out on one page to have students use as stations! I love that I can also use it through multiple grade levels and pick certain pages for a specific class to use, which allows me to utilize the apples on our school apple tree in a more diverse way!

I use to feel that I needed to use each sheet  with a class, but time is really valuable and I only have an hour per week with each grade level. Find this Flip book by following this link...
Together we can make Science Child's Play and much more...APPLE-ing!

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Growth Mindset Goal Setting For Back To School

I think that growth mindset is always important to focus on when you teach, especially for back to school. I especially think that positive growth mindset is something that really shines through when a teacher has taught their students strategies for working through a road block! This summer was truly and eye opener for me in regards to the importance of teaching students those positive strategies.

Case in point, I taught summer school to students that were from other elementary schools in our district. A few of my own students that I taught in my science classrooms were sprinkled among the groups for STEM Garden Club...which changed to Environmental STEM Club after I realized that the new students I had weren't quite ready to head outside to master gardening.

So, inside I posed several STEM challenges. I would first pose a challenge, go through the constraints of the project and then let them go through the engineering process after a review of supplies and expectations. To my surprise, the students that I worked diligently all year with on growth mindset strategies could easily push through a challenge, find ways to problem solve, and remained positive when faced with an obstacle. Several times during our STEM challenges each week, we would have another student from another school cry, get angry, give up, whine...I would use the strategies that I used all year with that child, but they didn't have the tools to work through their issues.

What that showed me was that teaching positive growth mindset is key to helping our students have a tool box of strategies to road blocks they will have in any situation in their lives. I thought I would share several ideas that I will be starting off with as well as use in the course of the school year. As I work with a new school this year once again, (they like to move specialists around way too much) those ideas will be used on new students. I will also continue to use these strategies on the students at my base school!

We, as adults, also have beliefs about our own abilities and our own mindset which causes us to react in a certain way every time we are faced with a problem or experience. I start with my Growth Mindset Bulletin Board so that I can refer to it each and every time!

Here are my top goals for each new school year:

Goal 1: We must instill in our students a passion for learning. In your lessons, in the way you establish your relationships. That first day they meet you, rock it!

Goal 2:  We must teach ourselves and our students that failure is a springboard for growth, which we can always learn from. If they aren't ready or need a little help when they fail a task we must be ready with strategies to teach them. I teach one strategy at a time using my bulletin board as a guide.

Goal 3: We must learn that mistakes  are opportunities to grow and learn (build the foundation of what is mindset, so when growth occurs they can recognize it!) In science, mistakes are going to happen, results aren't going to be perfect, we must teach that in the moment so they hear it and see it from us.

Goal 4: We must teach mindset, use tools such as visuals to refer to, and help push through the negative feeling to learn something new, that means we can also teach what fixed mindset means, should we quit? (fixed) or work through a problem? (growth)...

Again I go to my bulletin board, find the poster that refers to what issue we are presented with and then we use it as a teachable moment. We connect that situation with a moment that we can relate to, ask others for ideas, walk them through the tough stuff, and keep going. Sometimes our kiddos shut down, I keep on going and push through it at times for them to model the correct expectation.

Goal 5: We must use the power of "YET" which is so very powerful! I use the word YET all the time! "No, you didn't get it YET." "We didn't find the solution, YET." "Our data isn't right, YET." What can we do to get it? Try again, ask a friend, find our mistake...They will need help, but in the end after time and consistency, you will see that more of your students will actually start understanding and practicing growth mindset. (and maybe even call each other out for fixed mindset)

Goal 6: Let's not forget the importance of positive reinforcement, find ways to rephrase how a child (or we) are feeling and teach strategies to work through our struggles. We all need to hear the positives! "I see you are really trying." "I like how you were observing the process." Even if they can't seem to understand the whole picture, we can always find a positive for them to hear!

Goal 7: Reflect on how one dealt with a situation or road block and how that connects to the feelings that happened. What I mean by that is when someone uses fixed mindset, it is okay to reflect back on it when the lesson is done, when time and anger pass, in the moment if it can be productive. Reflection is a great tool for us to grow! They can reflect on their participation, their understanding, their attitude.

Due to only seeing my students for an hour a week, I start off each class, kindergarten through fifth grade with an introduction lesson on whatever I am going to teach. After giving directions, I give an example of a time that I couldn't solve a problem. I show them my bulletin board, that we refer to each time a situation comes up where learning positive growth mindset can occur. I share a famous mistake with them...Play Do! Here is a link to an article of the top 10 Greatest Accidental Inventions!

In the next few weeks, I will be sharing strategies and resources to help you establish a growth mindset environment for you and your students! To start with grab these free printable posters!

Let's help ourselves and our students by providing the fundamentals of positive growth mindset. Setting up the new year with a fresh start ... positivity is key to a successful year! Want the whole pack including letters for the bulletin board, book marks, and reflection sheet, brain clip art and more? Let's put it all together, HERE!
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Back To School STEM and Character Building Ideas

When you have a new building or grade level that you are starting as the new school year begins, like me, or you need to find a way to refresh your back to school lessons, each year we have to try to find ways to not only build relationships, but make sure that our lessons are engaging and are student-centered! Most importantly, we want students to connect their learning to the real world.

I have been trying to find a way to make back to school STEM activities something that will get any skeptical new student walking into my classroom excited about the prospects of  a new teacher a positive thing! Why not focus on something that most kids love...PIZZA!

 I created some new stations for my students that I am really excited about! I am already getting the supplies ready for the first week of school...great thing is I can use the back to school supplies that they bring in to actually set up some of the STEM stations!

I also wasn't quite sure that I was going to be able to find the pizza themed books in our library right away, so I made sure that each of the books that I picked were available on You Tube!

Pete's A Pizza is great for showing how each one of us can stand for something! Pete's parents help him feel better when he is sad...each student can think about something they have to offer their class! Then...make a pizza stand!  I got some free pizza boxes from a local pizza place!

The second book I am going to use is The Little Red Hen Makes A Pizza! This is perfect for reviewing our personal goals for the year, setting new goals and reviewing school goals!

If we want something (like making a pizza), you have to have follow steps to take to accomplish what you want!

 I am using this next one that will help me connect our school garden! We grow a pizza garden, so at my garden school I will be using this book to tie in how to make a pizza! The anatomy of the pizza...the anatomy of goal setting! Love the connections! We will be able to go to our garden and pick basil, tomatoes, peppers, onions...unless the Japanese Beetles get them all.

Finally, I am going to be using this book to tie in the last of the STEM activities...building a broom bot that goes along with a part of the book, Secret Pizza Party! Perfect book for hosting your own secret pizza party! I want to have our kiddos masks just like raccoon!

Want a piece of the pie? Ready for your back to school with hands on STEM activities with integrated character building connections! This pack is a perfect way to build relationships with your new students...hands on and fun!
Looking for the whole pizza pack for your character building lessons and STEM connections? You can find it HERE! Happy Back to School!
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FOSS and Science Stations

For the 28 years I have been teaching our district has used FOSS as our science program. I am using these kits as I teach my kindergarten through fifth grade students. We have build a pretty solid road map that helps us determine what lesson we are teaching per week to each class. As our district adopted the WI science standards which are almost identical to NGSS, we had to create our new road maps to make sure that each of the standards were covered. That meant that we had to look at consolidating lessons, working them into stations, as well as cutting the FOSS lessons that do not meet our new standards.

We wanted to also make sure that we were adding engineering as well as find ways to study vocabulary, assess our knowledge, and gather grades when we only see our kiddos once a week, for an hour! That means we have to be really creative with our time and we had to learn how to make every lesson and moment count! (Not to mention that we are also needing to help our school math goal in science...I will be sharing in my next post how I am attempting to do just that).

I want to share with you a few strategies that we came up with as we kept the FOSS kits, learned to consolidate and create stations, and found creative ways to work in assessment and vocabulary.

Learning To Consolidate:
As we looked at the time we have with each of our students, looked at the fact that we needed to find ways to show their progress, as well as assess them, we had to find a way to create lessons that were meaty and created a way for our students to retain information.

I focused this year on the 5E model of writing my science lessons!

Using my FOSS lessons, I find a way to engage in what we are going to learn that day. I give them part of the experiment as an introduction or way to explore what we are going to be learning or I give them a way to start to investigate the "experiment" that goes along with the FOSS kit. When students are done with their investigations, some tables are done earlier than others, one method to adding other layers to each lesson is to find ways to have students explain their thinking, use a record sheet to write down what they learned and any observations that they made.
Variables and Castle Storming Station
One way that I use FOSS as an extension is to have students finish an experiment and then take it up a notch. We learned about variables for an example then we made castles to show what we learned!

Elaboration can be done at their tables or even as stations around the room! I love when my learners can get up and move around, get up and be responsible for their ongoing learning, and continue to focus on not only explaining, but elaborating! This might mean a quick STEM challenge, an extension of the experiment, qr code vocabulary games, digital review lessons that I made for each FOSS unit, or a quick game such as task cards or review!
Human Body Leg and Kick Ball Station

If students can get done early, I also add ways for them to continue their learning through games as well! We have to create something at times that can be used to create a fun competition or interactive game to utilize what we are learning at the time! We had to make legs in fourth grade Human Body, why not use what we made to see how our leg muscles react when we kick!

One huge incentive to get done is the ability to elaborate! I also can take the opportunity to help the groups that might need my time, a reteach, or even a way to evaluate their learning!

Setting Up Stations!

Creating stations while using a science kit like FOSS can be a bit time consuming at first, however once you create stations, they can be used over and over again! Check out my FOSS extensions on TPT if you want to find resources to elaborate!

Station Ideas:
1. vocabulary review
2. experiment sheets
3. assessment
4. ticket out the door
5. digital recordings and picture explanations
6. STEM connections
7. extension sheets
8. math connections
9. Book creator or adobe spark
10. digital activities and review
11. task cards
12. reading connections
13. writing connections
14. maker space
15. meeting with small groups

Stations can be used after your initial introduction lesson. They can also be used to consolidate smaller activities and experiments as well. Finding ways to add stations can help you find ways to meet with groups to check for understanding as well as guide them if they are struggling.

Assessment and Vocabulary Review Stations

A great way to add a quick review is to use games that incorporate vocabulary and questions that we have been asked during an experiment or that they will see on an assessment.

I love using qr codes for a quick review and assessment. QR codes are great because they can check what they know after trying to answer the questions first. They can also have a partner and see who can answer the question first. You can have them answer the questions then use the qr code to review what they know.

I also think ticket out the door is important as a quick way to check for understanding. I use digital sheets that they can place in our Itslearning site (like Google Classroom) or they can air drop their screen shot of their sheet for me to see where they are at. I also check it at the door if we are needing a quick check and go! Here is the resource that I created and use with my 2nd-5th graders!

Use FOSS in your classroom? Please share any ideas and strategies that you use for extensions, elaborations, and evaluations. We can all use some great ideas!

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Amazon Prime Day Finds For Teachers

Amazon Prime Day starts  today and will continue until through tomorrow.  That’s 2 days of awesome savings! Have you heard about Amazon Prime Day?  It’s a huge sale at Amazon with savings on 100,000+ items.

 It’s bigger than Black Friday for Amazon and I know they’ll be lots of savings on craft products and supplies. This year, I’ll be watching the deals for everything TEACHER related  and updating this post with my latest finds. I use these for my STEM stations and Science lessons so when I can get a deal, I am all for it!
 I've been sorting through the deals and have put together a list that I have here at this link: 
In order to take advantage of any of the deals, you need to be a Prime Member.  If you aren’t a member of prime, you should be!  I love Amazon Prime.  I use it all the time (probably more than I should) and recommend you try it, too. You can sign up for a 30 day free trial of Prime and get access to all of the Prime Day savings.  To try it for free, just click this link to sign up (and get access to the great Prime Day deals).

Happy shopping! If you find great deals, share them here and I will link them up for everyone!
This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more)!  Read my full disclosure policy.
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8 Moon Landing Anniversary Projects

July 20th is coming up next week! It's a very special anniversary...it is the 50th anniversary of the first spaceflight that landed on the moon!

Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that landed the first two humans into space. Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin, both American. They landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969! How do we use this to springboard a great science and STEM lesson? Here are 10 ways to engage students in this celebration!

Idea 1: Virtual Race to the Moon

Virtual Race To The Moon is for you...the teacher! Keeping yourself healthy and your students healthy is important! Check out this challenge!

Idea 2: Show the Lunar Landing

Have your students watch the moon landing. Littles can start with Astronauts can, have, are... Bigs can discuss why some thought it was a hoax or they can even take a poll to see who would want to fly to space and why.

Idea 3: Read a Great Book
I love using the book One Giant Leap written by Robert Burleigh. 

Find that book here! 
I also like to use the book If You Decide to Go to the Moon by Faith McNulty. This is a great springboard for having kids really helps kids relate to how you would pack, how you would feel, and how you get home.
Find this book here!

Idea 4: Do a STEM activity

I love using toilet paper tubes to have the students create the moon landing! We use the tubes as a ramp system to get from Earth(a picture representation taped on the wall) to the moon (another picture) They must have three bends, and land safely in a bucket or on a tray. I use pompoms or ping pong balls as the spacecraft. 

Idea 5: Oreo Moon Phases

I love having my older students (bigs) create moon phase posters using Oreo cookies. They love this project! Gail Gibbons has a great book, Moon Phases that you can use, but I just love the rap to go with this project!

I use cheap dollar store cookies because they don't get to eat them and it saves some money. I give them plastic knives so that they can scrape off the frosting as well. I want them to take what they know and create a representation and then we analyze if their model is correct and if they can explain how the cycle works.

Idea 6:  Moon Crater Painting

Very simply, I cut out grey paper circles. I set out trays and white paint. We used circular objects to make the craters. You can use bottle tops like we did. This is a quick and fun little follow up on what craters on the moon look like and how they are made. We used our sentence strips to show what we know.

Idea 7: Moon Crater Ball Drop

I love this activity for my littles. Grab black paper and a plate. Add flour to the plate. Make sure you have plenty of floor covering so that you don't make too much of a mess. Grab different sized balls that can create different sized craters and you are good to go! Each ball represents a different sized meteors and asteroids that hit the surface of the moon and left a crater.

Idea 8: Moon Phase Games

I made this free resource for you to help with the phases of the moon! Grab your free copy here ! Use it as a memory game, a review, or even for an anchor chart!


Want to find these ideas, sheets, activities, and a few bonus activities all in one place ready for you to just print and go? Check out my moon phase packs by following this link: Moon Phase Science Pack and STEM Connections

Because I teach both primary and intermediate, I have packs for both age groups! Check out my pack I use with my K-2nd graders! You can find that pack HERE!
                                     Science Stations: Solar System and STEM for K-1

I love you to the moon and back! Let's make Science and STEM child's play!

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                       Some of the links are affiliated links, meaning in no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through to purchase.
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