The Science School Yard: November 2015

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Christmas and Winter STEM Wishlist

What an exciting time of year. It is time to add some items to your Christmas Wish list! For two days TPT is holding a sale for you to save big this holiday season! This means a SITEWIDE SALE on Monday and Tuesday! These amazing sales don't happen very often, so it's no surprise that we all ge a little excited when it does happen! For a great reason...EVERYTHING in my store is 28% off! Don't forget to use the code SMILE at checkout!


The kids are ready for ways to add joy and holiday cheer to your classroom...but keep the academics alive! Why not try some great STEM activities to do just that!

 Why not add some simple science activities that get your students actively engaged. Here is how to  make STEM simple by easy activities with simple materials...

Kids love penguins! How about creating a penguin ice skating rink...a penguin playground...or marshmallow tower for penguin????

STEM Penguin Winter Antics Pack on TPT
Quick and easy STEM stations such as gumdrop chimney...treats for Santa table...and packaging presents...

STEM Christmas Stations on TPT

Another pack I use each year with my 5th graders is the Holiday Science pack filled with activities that include mixtures and solutions because that is the FOSS unit I am working on. I try to keep up with my road map by adding some activities that can really fit both needs!

If your looking for other ways to continue the winter...Christmas...holiday science scene...I also gave my teachers the Gingerbread STEM Pack which I love to do with my students after Christmas because it breaks up the winter blahs!  Try this quick and easy STEM pack...

My new pack I made last year for my classroom teachers that incorporates reading, writing, math, and science really incorporates each letter in S...T...E...M! Winter/Christmas STEM Stations that include candy...cookies...mittens and more!

Monday, November 16, 2015

I Am Thankful For...Freebie!

I am so very thankful for my blogging friends...visitors...and anyone else who pops on by my site! I am appreciative that you are here and that you stop by to see what I am doing in my science school yard with my 400 kiddos! To thank you for being here...I have posted a small freebie that my second graders were working on as they finished the acorn trees and mazes. They couldn't get enough of the fun hands on STEM activities. Check out the  pictures of their hideouts! You can have fun with this one this week as we get closer to Thanksgiving.
Can the turkey hide in here???

Maybe a scary sign will deter the hunters...

Bars might keep them out!

Here is what to do...
1. Pick a fun Turkey Trouble story where poor turkey might be dinner...
2. Set out materials for them to get or have them ready at the tables...
3. Let them build their own little turkey hide out to help the turkey not be dinner!
4. Place the paper turkey inside the hideout and then...
5. Let the kids share their ideas and reflect with their sheets.

A little writing...a little reading...a little science and engineering! If you like this freebie...take a look at my STEM stations on TPT.

Download your freebie station HERE.
Thanks for stopping by! I am thankful for you!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Turkey and Billy Goat Science

 This week, we started to use my STEM Fall Into Thanksgiving Pack. We have finished up our first units for FOSS at many grade levels and it is sure fun to take a STEM break!

I love the way that the book Run, Turkey, Run! fits our STEM activity of making a maze. We used the story map to create scenery along the way...You could always use another turkey book's story line to help your engineers...You can find the TPT STEM Fall Into Thanksgiving Pack Here!

Here are some of their amazing turkey runs!
They loved working together as a team to create the runs and the scenery, but most of all to play with the maze!
What a great Fall STEM station!


Their teacher even had fun!

Their finished products! 
In Kindergarten...we finished up another positional word STEM activity with the Three Billy Goats Gruff! There is a great version of this story to read on EPIC books that is a nice positive twist! It goes along well with the positive twist on Miss Muffet we use with the song on youtube!
This version is great...the troll doesn't want to "have them for dinner"...He wants to have them over for dinner!
  Take a look at the kindergarten bridges and puppets that they use to retell the story! Science and language arts can go hand in hand!
We work with retelling word cards...up...across...over...under...next to...

We draw and discuss what a bridge needs in order to get across...

We then let our kinders play with the puppets to reenact the story line!
I love to see them be creative and play and science can do that! 
STEM Three Billy Goats Gruff Pack
   Next week...boats to go under the bridge! They are very excited!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Falling Into STEM

My 2nd graders just got done with their air and weather unit. I wanted to do something fun with them so I chose one of my STEM activities out of my new STEM Fall Into Thanksgiving Pack. I did this with older kids last week and I gave them more supplies. This week I tried it with littles and fewer materials made better trees. I love how they problem solved after we drew the parts of a tree in our notebooks and labeled the parts a tree has...

Take a look at their tree creations...
This tree's branches were sagging. I asked them what kind of tree it would be...we agreed either a tree knocked over by a tornado or a weeping willow.

This group struggled...but on their final attempt....the acorns and pine cones sat on top. They told me that the branches were together and didn't spread out.

I love how they started using the parts of the tree to describe what they still needed to include!

My two buddies on this STEM team started building a forest! They were able to make two and they were so proud of themselves!
The part I liked best is that I could let my students work on a quick and easy activity during this fall season. I am handing off the supplies and a fun book to my first and third grade friends for next week's first Paw celebration!


If you interested in this or 3 other STEM activities for Fall and Thanksgiving check out this pack!

Here is a treat for you...leave me a comment...I never get them...and I will pick one lucky winner to receive this pack for free!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

I am Thankful For Teaching Science

Every day that I come to school, I hear teachers frustrated with the new math and reading programs. Their canned lessons do not allow for creativity and the joy of reading at times is being sucked right out of the classrooms.  I see teachers testing each week and progress monitoring ALL the time. I watch them as they drop off my kids and routinely say, "at least they will have some fun in science today...". I feel so fortunate to teach science to over 400 Kindergarten through 5th graders at my school. I guess I have made it my personal mission to bring joy...creativity...imagination... challenges... and hands on learning to each lesson I create each week.

Now...let me tell you...it isn't always easy.  I have a road map to follow with FOSS as my main lesson. The science teachers that teach the same lessons...now have a common assessment...so I do have to stick to the plan...but.....

it is really how I deliver it to my kiddos. Calcite detectives sure sounds better than we are now doing the calcite test.   Adding a fossil lesson to our Earth Materials lessons sure pays off...with Harbor Freight puzzles for 2.00 and the EPIC Book... Each team got a bucket of sand with the puzzle pieces in it. They had to dig for the bones...figure out what dinosaur they found...then just like the book make sure different people had jobs! The curators got to work setting up a museum for the dinosaur. It was EPIC!


Digging For Bones!
Researchers trying to identify their find...

The paleontologists putting their puzzle together!
 The excitement was contagious.  I am thankful that I am able to find ways to make connections with my FOSS lessons. Take for example the catapult lesson. Can be ok, but if kids know the background of catapults and then have a reason to learn about the variables so that they can storm the castle...well now we are talking. Here is the introduction video I used...they loved it!
Now for the connections...
Their castle calculations...what variables will they use to scale the castle walls?


The finished castles...

               These resources can be found in my Variable Pack...check it out at TPT. I also made a new STEM Fall Into Thanksgiving Pack along with five other STEM packs. I did this primarily because my teachers are able to have a 45 minute reward time twice a month and they needed some easy ideas. They are so excited to be able to add STEM into their classrooms and allow the students to learn and have fun! Here is the pack we are using this month!

What are you thankful for? I am thankful for everyone that comes to visit the Science School Yard. Let me know if there is anything you ever need!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Currently November

I have been very busy in October. We are working hard to add NGSS and STEM into our science lessons....we gutted our school garden and redesigned it to make it more user and mower friendly...harvesting everything we could so that our kiddos could eat it in the lunchroom. Organized the Great Lakes Apple Crunch Day...and finished four products for our STEM classes and our teachers to use for our special PAW celebrations twice a month! They are more seasonal for our kids K-5 to enjoy. I am finishing two more today...my goal was 100 products by November...and I have one more to go. Currently it is NOVEMBER and so I have to make sure it is done today so that I meet my goal. I am connecting with Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade to share with you what I am up to!


Listening...We are up north. Setting out corn and apples for the deer...checking the deer cam...and whoa...take a look at what we saw...


So now we are back at the cabin talking fantasy football! I love when he shares what he is up to.

Our district is proud of all of the great things that are happening in our school garden. Our food service administrator is 100% on board to wanting every child in our district being positively affected by our school garden as well. We make videos for schools to share our Wisconsin Wednesday's food that is served in all of our schools...and with that they literally gave me a clean slate. This week, while kids were gone, and teachers had in-service...the district cut all of the sod out of the garden...cut down two trees that were causing safety issues...ground all the stumps down...dug out all of the overgrown flowers to make way for our large scale pumpkin patch...started to build new raised beds...took our 5 benches to redo over the winter...and will be cementing a new area for our picnic tables within the garden! I am sooooo excited for a chance to really make this garden special.
They saved our asparagus...but take a look at my clean slate...The Kindergartners will be so excited about their pumpkin patch next to the school. Blueberry bushes...raspberry patch...three large  raised beds...any suggestions???? 
Thinking...my kids need to get me their lists...I hate waiting until after "black" Friday.

Loving...someone on TPT made a large purchase yesterday. I wish I could thank them! I am so appreciative!

Needing...to finish new STEM stations for our teachers. We just implemented a new PAW award celebration for students making good choices. The teachers are in need of quick and easy...fun...and educational ideas that they don't always get to do. Here is what I made this week for them...
STEM Christmas Stations on TPT

Bird Beak Stations and STEM Connection on TPT

STEM Halloween Stations on TPT
I am finishing STEM Fall Into Thanksgiving Stations and STEM Candy Stations tonight! I will meet my goal if I can finish it today...Thanks for stopping by! I can't wait until I can eat pie...and see all of my kids around my table again! I miss my two college kiddos...it isn't the same without them...