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Germs, Bacteria, and Virus Science

Wow! What a week. I have to say that I typically don't research germs and viruses, but I can't stop watching the news or reading an article about the Coronavirus. This last week, a long term substitute who went to Italy for a few days, stepped into our school to help the newly hired teacher get ready for her new job before she arrived this next week. Needless to say, our school was heavily disinfected and it now has impacted us right in our classrooms and in our community. Thank goodness she didn't have contact with any children or adults! 

I wasn't going to address the virus in my class, but it has become so much a part of our school conversation Friday, so as the science teacher who works with each student in my school, it was time for me to make sure that we had lessons that could help our students with the understanding of what germs are and how to stay germ free. So, this weekend, I spent a ton of time organizing a new germ unit that I started right off the bat on Monday! 
We have been using Mystery Doug for the germs video. It is pretty good and I am using it for grades K-5th grade with supplemental activities and sheets included in the link below.

Extension Activities and Ideas...
K-1 Activity: Glitter Germs
  1. Get a small bottle of hand sanitizer (good luck if you don't have any now, stores are getting sold out fast...). Fill the hand sanitizer with glitter. I use bigger pieces of glitter and not the small stuff. It is easier to wash off.
  2. Describe how the glitter represents germs. We need to wash away the germs by washing our hands. 
We wash our hands with water first, then with soap and water. I line them up at the bathroom and practice as we wait for someone to finish

    K-5 Cinnamon Test:
  1. I practice hand washing with the cinnamon test and petroleum jelly, too. This one isn't as messy. I ask for 3-4 volunteers, then on their hand they shake with I rub petroleum jelly on it. I sprinkle the hand with cinnamon which represents germs. 
  2. We then shake and give high fives seeing how easy the germs spread. 
  3. We then wash our hands for 20 seconds!
I have used this song to inspire them...

K-5 Activity: Black Pepper Activity
  1.  Discuss the importance of washing hands
  2. Get a flat tray and fill it almost full with water
  3. Sprinkle black pepper on the surface of the water (enough so that the surface is filled with pepper)
  4. Describe how the pepper represents germs and why it is important to use soap and water to wash our hands
  5. Demonstrate by adding a couple of drops of dish soap to the surface and have students observe ( I use a dropper)
  6. The germs will immediately cling to the side of the bowl to get away from the soap
  7. Remind them of the importance of washing their hands (demonstrate hand washing techniques as well as the 20 second reminder of how long it should be! I say two ABC's, the chorus to Frozen, or two Happy Birthday's!)
I am sharing my germ science freebie for the 2020 school year as more and more schools go to elearning. Help your students learn how germs spread, and how to stay healthy with my Germ Science Resource for you found here. 

Stay healthy and safe! Please feel free to share your ideas below if you have any ideas to add to our germ free lessons! Literally, as I was writing this post, we got a call letting us know we are going virtual tomorrow. No time to train our kids or even give them their bags of supplies...wish me luck!

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Leap Year STEM

In STEM club this week, we wanted to find a way to add some Leap Year Science and engineering to our hour. The funny thing is that no one really knew why leap year even exists. We generated some great ideas and then we headed over to Mystery Doug to find out the answers. We followed up with some great origami inspirations, which was taught by a student led team... and we finished it up with creating a game that needed to incorporate our frog in some way.

The criteria and constraints:

  • the frog had to be part of the game
  • you only have 15 minutes to prepare the game 
  • the game must have written rules
  • the frog doesn't have to jump as part of the game
  • you must use what you see around the room as the supplies for the game

The science components that we included in day two of our STEM club Leap Frog Theme was to create a controlled experiment using our frogs.

We tested the following variables:

  1. Does the size of the frog make the frog hop farther?
  2. Does the type of paper used determine how far our frog jumps?
  3. Does where we fold the bottom affect how far the frog jumps?
  4. Does how/where we push on the back of the frog affect how far our frog jumps?
Mystery Doug has a great video all about Leap Year, which is a perfect springboard for your leapfrog lessons in science! Find the Mystery Doug video here. 

Leap Frog Leap Year Science and STEM Pack Found HERE.
I am hoppy that you joined me here in the Science School Yard! Happy February 29th!
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Landforms In Science

A discussion came up in one of our second grade classrooms this week in regards to the 65 degree temperature that occurred in Antarctica this last week. When the second graders arrived I was ready and waiting to start a new mini-unit that can help my students understand some new vocabulary words along with hands-on activities that can allow them to make the connections they need to start to figure out the why's of the importance in learning about our Earth.

Landforms are one of those topics that at first our second graders and beyond struggle with. Given names to land and water so that we can decipher their similarities and differences. The best part is that at first they might say a park or road is a landform, or even name a landform around where they live, however as they get to see pictures of other habitats or biomes they start to add new vocabulary to their ever growing list.

To help you incorporate landforms into your science/social studies lessons, here are 5 quick activities that I was able to incorporate this week in science in my one hour with my second graders!

Idea 1:
Second graders don't know landform words...I used EPIC Books Landforms by William B. Rice which has some great examples and ways to teach what a landform is.
Landforms (Science Readers: Content and Literacy) by [William B. Rice]

Idea 2:
We then generate a list of words that we heard so far as well as words that describe what land and water words we use around us. We created an anchor chart that can support our new words.

Idea 3: 
We use a landform game that allows for students to get a review of the word landform and what it means. I love using qr codes for the students to access in a game format where they can at their own pace find answers in a scavenger hunt format, write the room format, or even just around the table time.

Idea 4: 
After we review what we found on our QR code activity, we follow up with a quick review from SciShow Kids. These videos are short and packed with a ton of great information, pictures, and vocabulary to support adding to what they already know.

Idea 5:
Now it is time to review again with landform cards that have the picture and words on them. We then set out cubes that they can build the feature that is on the card. We then travel the globe (classroom) to see the different landforms that are found on the Earth's surface.

These ideas help me reinforce the 5 E's of Science...
Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate

Engage them by asking what they know...explore what it means with our book, Explain with our QR codes, Elaborate by creating a 3-D model STEM creation, and I like to finish up by turning over our qr code record sheet and draw me three new words they learned followed by a drawing of each!

These ideas, sheets, cards, and lessons can be found in my landform pack. Find the landform pack here!
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Valentine Ideas For The Science Classroom

One of my favorite things about Valentine's Day as a kid was making and then giving all of the handmade Valentine's Day cards to the other kids in my class. We made boxes for our cards at home and brought them in to gather all of our valentines and chomp down the candy treats that came along with some of them! 

Now, there are so many other things pulling at us in terms of time, even policies that are in place now that weren't there when we were kids. As we move into find ways to incorporate kindness and positive growth mindset, Valentine's Day is a perfect opportunity to do just that. 

 I teach all of our Kindergarten through Fifth Graders is that at times if I differentiate my big STEM Engineering Ideas I can set up one bucket, create different sheets that work for different grade levels, and when a holiday like Valentine's Day comes around I can be set to go hour after hour...all I have to do is replenish the materials used...and here's a BIG one...have each group that finishes with the bucket to leave it as close to the way they found it as possible! (I find that before we share out...they need to clean up because the group that cleans up first gets to present first.

Here are some great ideas that can really be differentiated for multiple grade levels and find ways to teach about kindness and positive growth  Today was the best when a group of fifth graders were watching the presentations I recorded of the second graders and I heard them say how those second graders sure are smart because their ideas were amazing!  The other weird thing was that our littles were able to work faster and more efficiently than our fifth graders as well!


STEM Station 1: Candy Heart Carrier
In this one has you creating a short love note using at least four candy hearts in the note. We used note cards for our notes. I love how creative the kids can get with the candy hearts. As for the carrier...give the kiddos some ideas on how to carry mail or objects and they are set to go! Give them paper, string, tape, glue...

STEM Station 2: Valentine Bouquet
This one was so cute...I had them making flowers for someone they loved. Using paper, tissue paper, straws, pipe cleaners, glue, tape...the cutest part was when we got done one of my kiddos came over and gave me their flowers! So super adorable!

STEM Station 3: Candy Heart Dispenser

So I did this one with second graders and fourth and fifth graders...the second graders were so very creative and were able to do it quicker than those older kids. Go figure! I gave them Styrofoam cups (other cups, too but they seemed to go to the Styrofoam), tongue depressors, candy hearts, tape, toilet paper tubes...I love how they could get the candy hearts to come out one at a time. This one really showed their creativity!

STEM Station 4: Love Bugs
Great review of the parts of an insect. Have them include a head, thorax, and abdomen, eyes, antennas, six legs...give them egg cartons, bottle tops, construction paper, pipe cleaners, straws, google eyes...Get them making a love bug for a love bug of theirs to give it to!

STEM Station 5: Cupid's Archery Game 

Having them create a bow using plastic spoons and knives if you tape up the sharp parts, Craft sticks, Straws, Straws, Rubber bands, Paper clips, and good ole' masking tape!

But, Let's talk organization... I love having the supplies in the bucket, but remember to have them clean up and recycle or throw away before they even put anything back in the bucket. Only reusable supplies and unused supplies get put back in exactly like they first saw it. 

I have them clean up before we share and line up. We have a quality control person (bucket brigade) that inspects the bucket and then brings in back to our central location. They are in charge of making sure the team is cleaned up! It works pretty slick!

I will be sharing more tips for easy clean up in an upcoming post!

Want it all in one place? STEM Velope Valentine Pack can be found here! I love these interactive holiday themed activities...just in time for Valentine's Day!

STEM Station 6: Playing With the Queen of Hearths

All you need is a deck of cards and a little clear tape. Even though this might seem easy because you only have one thing to work with...it really can be a balancing challenge. Teamwork is also a great way to bring in positive growth mindset as well as kindness. For each card that they add, one kind thing can be shared with the team by a new person in the group.

Constraints of this activity can range from how many levels need to exist, how high it needs to be, or how many cards need to be used.

Need to find ideas already set to go in packs set for you! Press on the link below to head on over to find what you need to make Valentine's Day Special! From STEM-Velops ...developing engineers...to STEM stations ready for any grade level! Valentine's Day PACKS HERE!

Valentine's Day STEM Pack
Heart Healthy Science Stations
STEM-Velops Valentine 5 Pack
Google/STEM Valentine Digital and Printable Pack
Valentine's Day Themed Measurement Pack and STEM Connections


Don't forget to sign up for our Science School Yard Scoop~lots of great extra freebies in your inbox as well as in our free resource library!

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Water Cycle Ideas and Diorama Freebie

Sometimes it's nice to just take a break from the experiments and all the set up of activities in order to stop and make connections in a completely different way. Water is essential for life on earth and learning about the water cycle through a diorama is just the way to show what they know. Follow this simple activity and grab your free resource at the end!

Four Easy Steps to the Water Cycle Connection!

Step 1:

Gather your materials. All you need is:

  • paper: green (grass/land), brown (the ground/earth), yellow (sun), blue (water and rain), white (clouds and snow)
  • a box such as a shoe box...I use empty juice box boxes that we have at school for breakfast and after school classes
  • string or fish line to hand the clouds or precipitation
  • cotton balls if you want them to make puffy clouds
  • Sheets from my Water Cycle Freebie! Would love for you to rate it if you like it:)
Step 2: 

I like to start off by teaching about the water cycle. I use a great video linked below.

When finished I have them learn the six major words we want to see in the diorama. I have hand motions to help with those kinesthetic thinkers. 
  1. accumulation (hands move around in a circle with fingers down)
  2. evaporation(fingers wiggle up toward sky)
  3. condensation (hands go together to form a cloud shape, hands folded together)
  4. precipitation (fingers wiggle down)
  5. run off (fingers flow from high spot to low spot)
  6. ground water (fingers are moving down as if playing a piano)

Now...a bit of a trick question...which word starts the water cycle? There is no beginning or end! So as you teach it pick one and make sure that you go in order 1-4 from above. There is an order to it. 

Step 3:

Learning the vocabulary is very important so we then work on our vocabulary sheets after playing a game. 
How to play the game:
  1.  Gather blue cubes... a ton they signify precipitation/rain
  2. make cloud finger puppets

Literally, the best game to see the water cycle in action. We have some kids have their hands be the clouds with the finger puppet clouds on. The other kids gather the cubes placed on the ground. It is their job to pick them up and put them into clouds hands. They will fall. You now have the four key words. As they pick up it is evaporation, in clouds condensation, falling is precipitation, and on the ground accumulation.

Step 4: 

Diorama time! I assign numbers on each table. 1's do accumulation, 2's do condensation, 3's do precipitation, and 4's do run off. We then have them finish and then work on something off of this list...sun, evaporation with arrows, labeling and gluing. This helps everyone focus and be part of the team effort!

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5 Snow Themed STEM Activities That Are Sure To Engage

Winter is now upon us here where I live  and as we prepare for more snow and even a possible snow day...we can anticipate those white flakes falling down from the sky!  I know I am not the only one watching the weather forecast as we prepare to head to school or curled up under a warm blanket and spend the day sipping hot cocoa and watching the snow fall.

Snow Themed STEM Activities

There is nothing so thrilling to watch beautiful snowflakes that fall from the sky. The ones where you put out your mitten and catch on to see the fascinating shapes that the one little snowflake reveals.  Here are my top five activities that I utilize in my classroom as well as in my after school STEM club!

STEM Idea #1: Snowflake Building Station

Supply Suggestions: 

*white buttons
*white cubes
*white pompoms
*cotton balls
*white straws
*packing peanuts

Book Connection: Snowflake Bentley

Snowflake video connection:

STEM Idea #2: Symmetry Snowflakes

Supply Suggestions: 

*Cotton Swabs set on a blue sheet of paper (or white cubes on a blue sheet of paper)
*or rubberbands and geoboards (we use the app geoboard which is great)

I give them only one supply...I suggest cotton swabs or white cubes

I like to play this powerpoint video that shows different beautiful examples of snowflakes so they can generate ideas and have  relaxing music as they work.

Snowflake Video Connection:

Book Connection: The Story of Snow

STEM Idea #3: The Shape of a Snowflake 

Supply Suggestions: 

*each student gets 25 small marshmallows that have been set out for a day...not so sticky!
*each student gets 25 toothpicks

Book Connection: Curious About Snow

Image result for curious about snow book

STEM Idea # 4: Snow Day Fun 

Supply Suggestions:

Snow forts-toothpicks and marshmallows (I like to reuse supplies that I already have from the last activity...to use them in a different way is always fun!)

Sled-straws, cardboard, popsicle sticks, egg cartons, and masking tape

Snowball Launcher- rubber bands, popsicle sticks, bottle tops or the bottom of cups, hot glue

Book Connection: Snow Day (favorite book ever! Perfect for teaching point of view because it's the teacher that wants a snow day and the kids don't get that until the last page!)

Image result for snow day book

STEM Idea # 5: The Tallest Snowman

I love this challenge because the book shows that even if you are small you still can do BIG things! This challenge is fun to watch as the students work together to create a 3-D snowman...but the challenge is to make the tallest, best snowman!

Supply Suggestions: 

*two pieces of typing paper
*18 inches of masking tape
*brown for arms, black for eyes and mouth, orange for nose...

Book Connection: The Biggest, Best Snowman

How To Build A Snowman Video Connection:

The beauty of using seasonal STEM activities is that you can integrate reading, writing, social studies, science, and math into your school day, keeping "fun"...academic.

Want to get these activities and sheets all in one spot? Here are the links!

Snow Day Winter STEM Pack
Snowflake Science and STEM Pack

Grab this resource this week for free (1/26/20-1/31/20) before it goes on sale on my TPT site!

Follow the link to this  snowman science and STEM resource HERE!

New Year...New STEM Ideas

Happy New Year's Eve eve! I hope you are busy soaking in the last few days of 2019. I'll make this short and sweet so that you can back to enjoying your much deserved break. I have been taking some time to breath this break. I have watched a ton of Netflix and played many games of scrabble. I even took some tests to see how the new year will go for me! I am a rooster born in 1969 and they say 2020 is going to be my year! I also learned on another test that I am a type 2 on my enneagram test which means I am a supportive advisor...so I guess that means I am going to help my teacher friends a lot this new year! So let's get started!

I have a bit of time right now to plan for Thursday, back to school. I thought I would share some New Year STEM ideas to get you ready for the new year!

New Year STEM Idea 1: Confetti Thrower/Popper

Suggested Materials: 
  • balloons
  • toilet paper tubes/cups
  • rubber bands
  • little papers for their resolutions
  • things to decorate the tubes such as markers, stickers, pompoms...

Book Connection: Squirrel's New Year's Resolution

Big Idea:

Students can build shooters in order to fling their resolutions to a circle, where each resolution gets picked up by someone else and read out loud. This gives them an audience and gives others great ideas for the new year!

New Year STEM Idea 2: Ball Drop

Suggested Materials:

  • different types of paper
  • string/yarn/fish line
  • cardboard tubes
  • binder clips/paper clips
  • dowels/rulers
  • tape, scissors, glue
  • variety of small balls or have them create their own
Big Idea:

Teams create a new year's eve ball drop after learning about the history of the ball drop. This is also a perfect time to talk about traditions in your classroom after students come back from a break and often have just participated in a tradition. 

Video Connection:

New Year STEM Activity 3: Noise Makers

Suggested Materials:
  • rice/dried beans/popcorn
  • toilet paper rolls
  • popsicle sticks
  • egg cartons
  • plastic spoons
  • paper
  • glue/tape/markers/crayons
Big Idea:

Sound science lessons can fit nicely here. Each student creates a noise maker using the supplies set out after generating a list of instruments they use in music class or have seen being played. 

Book Connection:

A great book that shows all of the cultural celebrations that New Year's brings. I use black-eyed peas to signify good luck like the book!

New Year STEM Activity 4: New Year Hat


I will only let them use paper and glue this year...last year we used way too many pipe cleaners! You have to say we all can learn! I think they are amazing out of pipe cleaners though...your call.

Big Idea:

I teach cycles and patterns in our universe for a science lesson. This is a great book to talk about new beginnings and about how cycles of events continue to come and go. This book can be read all year long!

Book Connection:

All of these ideas can be found all in one place! Grab the New Year STEM pack this week for a great hands on way to add science and STEM to your first week back! 
My whole store will be on sale to ring in the new year from January 31st-January 1st! Perfect time to get it on sale and to also grab the Chinese New Year Pack for January 25th!

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