The Science School Yard: January 2016

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Sour Taste in Science...

Yep...friends! Science can leave a sour taste...because of lemonade that is!!! Especially if the recipe is too concentrated with lemon juice or too diluted! This lesson is one I use for many reasons...

1. A wrap up for our FOSS Mixtures and Solutions vocabulary review...
2. A fun way to connect what we learned with Kool Aide and create a way for my students to make their own recipe using math measurements!
3. Connecting reading into my science classroom!
4. Letting my students be facilitators of their learning!
5. A way to assess vocabulary and still have fun!

I have created a freebie for you...everything you will need to make this marvelous story come to life and make science simple! The kids will find that even though it might be sour...science sure is sweet!
George's Marvelous Medicine Freebie HERE
Science is marvelous!

Sunday Scoop

Well, Hello Sunday! It has been wonderful to just relax and spend some time at the cottage...regrouping!
A shot from inside...looking out...oh how I miss that summer swinging! 
 Lots of germs at school and a sick child of my own...but our house is on the mend. That is why it is so nice to get away!  It sure is nice to connect with the Teaching Trio for a fun filled linky.

Here is the Sunday Scoop...Science School Yard Style!







Here's the scoop...












I was at a volleyball tournament and I was so wanting to finish some products when a volleyball landed right on my screen. All of my work...can only be worked on through a TV monitor. I need to buy a new computer...right now I am on my school computer which is a MAC. Not a fan. Any suggestions?

I love seeing how people decorate their rooms to set the stage to engage. In first grade, we are working on our FOSS balance and motion kit. I want to always make it a bit more fun so we use the circus theme to add to our balance activities. So, with balancing crayfish and balancing semi circles...which we incorporate Mirette and The Tight Rope to make the shapes mean something (Mirette is the triangle it looks like a skirt, and Bellini is the semi-circle...it makes it more interesting). Next week however, we are performing some circus acts for their teachers to show them what balance means. Tightrope walking, folder balancing, magic pencils, and more! I will be wearing a clown costume and a top hat...We have elephants...bears...and lions! Oh my!

I am planning for next week's fifth grade lesson and guess what, my lesson from last hear is on my broken computer. I will have to find a way to project it on the TV when my husband isn't watching it. I will find it...I will!

I was told by my two college kiddos that I don't send enough care packages...so I am bound and determined to send a card and goodies! I have to get that ready this week to make sure it gets there by Valentine's Day! Speaking of Valentine's Day...

STEM Valentine's Day Stations!(HERE)! I am getting them all ready for my little sweethearts
My...My...does time fly! My oldest daughter will be 21 on the 7th and we are headed to Minneapolis to meet her for a bit of shopping at the Mall of America then onto Mankato for birthday fun! She babysits for some cuties and we are throwing a Princess Party in the hotel!

I am really looking forward to seeing her and celebrating her milestone!

Happy Sunday and have a great week everyone!


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

We LAVA Science!

For the next two days...check out my TPT STORE for 28% off of EVERYTHING! Don't forget to use Code: Start16 at the check out! Time to be inspired to add some science into your school day!

Here is some motivation...We finished up our rock unit...FOSS Pebbles, Sand, and Silt with volcanoes. We focused on labeling our pictures just like non-fiction books...learning to listen for facts from our non-fiction books....and to connect volcanoes to rocks. Rocks are made because of volcanoes such as basalt, obsidian, and pumice. We learned the difference between lava and magma...and that a volcanologist is a scientist who studies volcanoes! Check out our simple science lesson!

1. We wrote what we already know about volcanoes...
2. We read a fun volcano story and tied it into our pop up book (EPIC books...Volcanoes)
A look at the book we use with our EPIC book...and what you would need to make science simple. 
3. I give them a sticky note to write one thing they learned about volcanoes to add to our chart...
Teaching kiddos text features and writing non-fiction is a great way to tie in language arts into science!

4. On trays...while my students are watching the short Pixar Film, Lava, I set out a tray with two cups...one with baking soda and soap...and one with red dyed vinegar.

Here is the cute...and I mean cute...video...
5. We then talk about the difference between magma and lava. Then...one...two...three...we erupt a volcano!
Volcano fun! Easy clean up, too!

6. Finally, we watch a real volcano erupt and follow it up with drawing and labeling a volcano which we add to our bulletin board...We Lava Science!












Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tacky Penguin Palaces

This week, we celebrated with a penguin antics winter fun reward party in 4th and 2nd grades. Second graders learned about working as a team after reading Tacky...then with tape and paper they started their penguin palaces to see who could build one as tall as possible that fits Tacky on top. They could earn bonus items after waddling over to get a vocabulary question...can they remember what opaque means....we shall see!
The planning stage...working together...listening to everyone's ideas before starting is key to successful teamwork! Modifying and adjusting is also important as you take a look at the raft below!

Fourth graders, for a motivational goal, they needed to pass their bones identification test to have an engineering reward. They could pick what materials they wanted to use in order to build their palaces. The other students worked with me on studying the bones...a retest...then an oral Simon says...game to help them remember.

I love the final results...the smiles....the team work!

With melty marshmallows...they decided Tacky could use a raft instead!

This tall marshmallow tower was a hit! Tacky loved his palace!

Love the smiles on their faces when they are successful team members and have fun to boot!

Noodles were a great addition to this tower!
 This activity can be found in my Penguin Winter Antics STEM Station Pack. Check it out...

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Digging Dinosaurs!

Okay...so I use FOSS as a basis of all of my units. Let's just say not all of them are completely engaging. Give you an example...Pebbles, Sand, and Silt. With first graders they would eat me alive when I have them for an hour! SOOOOOO.....

I often add my own twist or extend a lesson to something that covers a scientific topic, NGSS, or STEM. That also helps me make it more exciting to teach as well. There is only so many rocks you can wash or rub together before they start heckling you!

This week, in first grade we added fossils! Yes...those wonderful animals and plants that are so old that they turn to stone! They are found in the ground usually in sedimentary rock, and paleontologists dig for them...just like geologists dig for rocks! The connection begins!

Here is my hour long lesson in a nutshell...
1. What is a fossil? anchor chart
2. Read an EPIC book called Fossils
3. Add to the anchor chart
4. Then...visit a virtual museum to see real dinosaur bones! They loved this! And it will be the basis of all of my connections on paleobiology! The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History tour
The real fossil hall is closed until 2019.
5. We then dig for fossil bones in a bucket of sand. Each student gets in a group of 3-4 at a table. They take turns digging for puzzle pieces I had laminated that had a dinosaur skeleton on it! They pass the bucket when they find one. This allows for everyone to have equal turns and a smoother activity!
6. After the dig is over, I take the sand buckets and leave them to take it to the museum they will put the jigsaw together to rig their dinosaur for their exhibit!
7. When they are done...if done early they get to play with plastic dinosaurs at the carpet.
8. We then tour each exhibit (table group) to see their dinosaur. We really dig what they did as a team!
9. We follow up with a reflection sheet



10. We create fossils using plastic snakes, bugs, dinosaurs, shells, and plant leaves. They each get a piece of pottery clay that dried into a "rock" quickly.
11. We finish up our time with a really fun action book...

I hope you were digging this post, too! Finding fun and easy ways to teach science and get your kiddos engaged is what makes learning special!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Building Engineers!

Our school is getting a significant addition for the next school year! We are adding 4-K classrooms, a bigger lunchroom, and more classrooms. Not to mention...I will have my own room!!!!!!!!!! I am currently teaching in the teachers' lounge.

I am taking this opportunity to have my students observe how a foundation is built, how buildings need a plan, and how everyone has to work together to complete the job! This week, our second graders are finishing their solid part of the FOSS solids and liquids unit. What a great time to add a STEM activity...building a skyscraper!
Here are some of their creations...
All you need is Jenga blogs and cardstock paper and this STEM activity is a hit!

The students have to take into account cost. Each Jenga piece they use costs one dollar! We discussed how to get a bid for building...costs of building...and creating a strong product!

They must work as a team and if it knocks down, they must modify and adjust to build a stronger foundation...


First:  I asked them what it takes to create a skyscraper or better yet an addition to a school? We looked at the plans that we have of our new addition and school.

Second: We discussed what they might see when we take a look outside? And what is a foundation?

Third: We went on our field trip! Take a look at what we got to see!

He was inches away from the window! They watched him scoop dirt up...dump it...then pound it down! It was pretty amazing!


Finally: We went back to read a book and build a skyscraper!

This book was a great connector for what we were about to build. Each jenga piece was worth one dollar and they had to build the skyscraper with the most floors! They had to be architects first and create a plan just like the one I showed them of our new addition! They worked so hard!

What a great way to tie in something that is happening around you. What mini-field trip can you take your kiddos on? What can they see on your school grounds? Don't forget to check out the Skyscraper freebie for your little engineers {FREEBIE HERE}!
Engineering Connections With Picture Books: Towers

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sunday Scoop

I am not always great with resolutions, however...this year I am working on some words to be inspired by.  A motivational word bucket list so to speak. On January 1st...I went to Currently and was amazed at all of the great words that are inspiring us this year! I wrote many of those words down and added a few of my own! I now have them posted at school, in my teacher notebook, and even in a little jar! I wish I could take a picture right now, however...one of the words on my list is...

RELAX! So...I am up north at our cottage...sitting by the fire...and thinking...I need to connect with other teachers...CONNECT is another word on my list! Two birds with one stone! So...

I popped over to The Teaching Trio to connect once again with some great bloggers! I have missed posting each week!


Here's the Scoop...
This week...is our first traveling volleyball tournament in Milwaukee. It is a 3 and 1/2 hour trip for us, but I will have two of my girls with me. We are going to make it a memory packed weekend...that is my hope! One of my words is ADVENTURE...I will see what that adventure might be! We will be CONNECTING with family for starters!

I am still setting up for this week's lessons. They are a bit more adventurous as well. We are celebrating with a Penguin Party using my STEM Winter Antics Pack with my 2nd graders to wrap up our solids part of our FOSS solids and liquids unit!  I am also planning with my amazing...wonderful librarian, lessons to go with our Makey Makey boards that I just purchased for science/art/music/library so that we can COLLABORATE ...yes another goal...hope to do that with other teachers in other schools, too!

Also hoping to finish my holiday STEM St. Patrick's Day Pack and STEM Easter Pack, but really love my STEM Robot Pack...so I am aiming for 2 more done this week. GOALS are another one of those magic words and my goals are big this 2016!

So with all that being said...FUN is a big goal in my mind! I think sometimes we are on a hamster wheel ...always doing the same thing. I only have so much time with my children...I must make some fun happen. So...today? Not sure, but I will think of something!

Happy January!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Currently January...Happy New Year!

It has been a wonderful vacation. Full of cooking, cleaning, and family!!! I might not love the cooking and cleaning up that goes with it...I might not even love cleaning out closets and torturing our garbage man with over 11 bags of garbage, but it feels good! No more papers shoved in empty spots or gift bags in 5 different spots...anyone relate? Most importantly...our time with family has been priceless. Currently...I am sitting here feeling very thankful that we survived another year and that we have so much to happy about from the year 2015...as well as amazing events to look forward to in 2016!

I love connecting with Farley Over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade. I love seeing how everyone else is doing, too!













Listening: OK...no more football since I started...now the Twilight Zone! Much more fun! Love the twists and turns of the plots!

Loving: the time off! We have stayed up late and woke up late! I got a new mattress and let's just say...I sleep so much better! Loved the card games...Wii competitions, shopping expeditions, movie watching, cleaning and purging our bedrooms and closets of years of memories... Loving my hubby and I going out to eat on New Year's...loving that all my kids were home for a week together...loving that we spent some great family time with my sister and her family...love these pics of today's water park fun...(forgive the hair...)
My sister and I...love the time together and the talks we have had! I am so grateful!

My niece...we went down the slide and were experts at the lazy river! 

My nephew is a cutie, petutie! He only wanted me to go down the slide with him! My heart is so full!

Here are 3 out of my 4 kiddos with their cousin! What a great day filled with fun and family!

Wanting: More special moments with family! I really loved the time our family spent together. Planning and following through on those moments are a new year's resolution.

Needing: To finish some holiday STEM packs, but I am waiting for some fun new clip art that might be showing up from Graphics From the Pond! I love Mel's work! I have almost everything done...maybe I need to get back to work...been playing too much! It has been a fun and eventful break! It is almost over...

My word is appreciation. I have to remember to be appreciative of people and events around me! Appreciative of the learning that takes place in my classroom. Appreciative when I have a special moment with my family...I have to see the little things around me and be thankful for them...appreciative!

I am so appreciative of TPT this year! My product sales have been pretty good...steadily climbing...finding more ways to add great science activities into my classroom and into my store. TPT has helped me provide some help to my two daughters in college and even helped me not put our Christmas presents on the credit card! I don't feel so scared about not having enough money to pay all of the bills. I also am appreciative of TPT getting my creativity going! I love finding great ways to integrate STEM and stations into my FOSS lessons and TPT keeps me thinking. I love being able to do that when so many teachers are having to present their lessons out of a scripted book! Appreciative! That is what I feel!

Happy New year blogger friends and thanks for stopping by! I am almost done with a freebie...stop on back!

STEMTASTIC New Year!

This last year was filled with a lot of great changes in my classroom. I took my FOSS lessons and made sure that I could add a STEM lesson for each kit that I use. I am happy to say that my students are interacting and engineering each month kindergarten through 5th grade. It isn't always easy when you have to stick to a road map, but here are some great ways to find a spot for STEM:

1. Using a great picture book, you can have students connect to the story by interacting in a building activity that coordinates with what they just heard. For example, we are learning about Solids and Liquids in our 2nd grade FOSS unit. I took the book Up Goes The Skyscrapers by Gail Gibbons. We used solids to create the tallest tower. We then wrote about it and reflecting on what worked and what could be modified. Then we tried again! 
2. Another great idea is using an anchor chart to help you set the stage for learning. Use what you have to teach science and then pose a problem to the students so that they have to create a solution. Here is an example... I have to teach the FOSS Water unit. We created an anchor chart that has us try to figure out why water is so important in our lives. I posed the problem..."What would happen if there was a major catastrophe that would cause the water to be unsafe...like an oil spill? How could it effect the environment? What could be environmental engineers and figure out what we could do to clean up a spill." That started a great engineering lesson and an oil spill clean up. It was a great way to also start our water unit.
Oil spill clean up supplies and environmental engineering challenge...Can you clean up an oil spill? How does this affect our water supply? 


Another great idea that was sparked by our Animal Adaptation unit was to create our own animal using the book What If You Had Animal Teeth? or What If You Had Animal Hair? by Sandra Markle. Both great introductions to how animal parts help them survive and defend themselves. It followed with an anchor chart of how animals have different hair and teeth and how it helps them. We then created an animal that protected their food... a piece of candy. A great internet game to connect is Build Your Wild Self ( I showed it on our smartboard and they drew what adaptation they wanted on their own drawing as I built my wild self. I discussed why picking that adaptation might help me. This helped them then create their 3-D model).
Great books to integrate reading, writing, and STEM!
Here is their wild selves after picking ideas off the smartboard interactive as a large group.

Here are the 3-D models. This is a great writing connection as well as an engineering project for any kindergarten and first grade classroom!


3. Another great way to integrate STEM into your classroom is incorporate it right around a holiday! I love integrating STEM during a change of seasons as well. STEM Winter Stations and STEM Valentine Stations are in the future and my students can't wait! Here are the STEM packs I made this last month to get ready for winter and Valentine's Day. I am already getting set for ST. Patrick's Day and Easter! Stay tuned!
STEM Penguin Winter Antics Stations great for theme days or reward days!

STEM Valentine's Day Stations to integrate four fun STEM stations into your school day!

STEM Winter Stations 2 is a great way to have some winter indoor fun! Find a great book, create an anchor chart, and then set up a supply station or have the supplies already set for the kiddos and you are set! Science made simple!
Have a STEMtastic New Year! And remember there are always ways to add science and engineering into your school day!