The Science School Yard: 2017

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sustainability and The Three R's

This isn't new to us at our school...teaching about sustainability, energy, or even reducing, reusing, and recycling. We are a Green and Healthy School and with that comes some responsibilities when it comes to these concepts, but how can a classroom teacher integrate these ideas in a quick and effective way?

Reduce:
Reduce time in teaching these concepts by integrating a fun picture book that gets at the heart of helping the earth, conserving energy, or living a healthy life style.

Reduce time by using an activity easily found on the internet or use this freebie from my Earth Day Pack to help start you out!
                                         Grab you freebie here!

Reuse:
Sometimes it is nice to reuse an old lesson, but you just need a little refreshing! If you have a lesson on helping the Earth...how about save milk cartons, cut up cardboard boxes, and toilet paper rolls and now you have reusable supplies that build great towers! This is great for so many grade levels!

Recycle:
Teaching kids how to recycle and what to recycle is a great way to encourage a life long way to help the Earth. A fun game you can play is Separate the Trash. Bring in recyclables. Make cards labeled: glass, plastics, paper, garbage. Have teams take turns separating the trash and learning what is recyclable! You can even have them share ways to reduce or reuse items that are brought in. A great art project can stem from this activity, too!

Teaching sustainability is a great way to help kids become green and healthy.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Let's Get Growing...Five Ways To Grow With Your Students

It is that time of year at our school...garden time! We were the proud recipients of a Farm to School Grant five years ago and we are still growing strong!

This week we started planting seeds in two grade levels. So I thought I would give you some tips on how to plant seeds with your students...



 1. Have a planting station ready with soil, seeds, water, trays, and towels
2. Preteach how to plant seeds and practice this mantra:
-scoop
-pat
-poke
-drop
-cover
-water

3. While some students are planting have an activity for the others to do...I usually have them do an activity such as how to read a seed packet, how to plant a seed, or what do seeds need.

4. What they will be planted in? We do peet pots now, we have tried cups with holes in the bottom (too expensive), milk cartons (need lots of water and hard to cover with plastic to keep the water cycle doing the job), we have tried egg cartons, too (too little for my taste)

5. Where will you put the containers or we like to call them seed babies? We have grow lights...I mean huge ones, but if you don't...use the window sill or you can rig up a light source using pvc pipes and florescent grow lights found at hardware stores.

The big think is not over water, under water, have them get too leggy...okay gardening isn't an easy task, but when I see that a seed is magic and they can put their plants in the ground when it is warm enough it is worth the work to keep the babies alive!


Need some help with your plant unit? Check out this plant pack that I just finished up on!
FIND THE PLANT PACK HERE!
Let's get growing together! Plant a seed...plant ideas for your students...learning to garden is a life long skill that they can take with them. Whether it be in a small cup, a container, or a garden...growing seeds can really be a great way to bring the outdoors in!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

When Outdoors Meets Indoors: Camping Fun and Prizes

It has been such funny weather here in Wisconsin! It has rained for two days so indoor recess is always fun and then yesterday it snowed. So, lucky me, I have some leeway as to what I can teach our kindergartners.

What do you do if you need a quick, easy, fun and interactive STEM project? Grab a few simple supplies, a fun picture book, and maybe even some toys and you are all set!

 I decided to bring the outdoors...indoors  with camping activities and of course a quick and easy STEM activity with 4 simple supplies:

1. playdough or non-hardening clay
2. straws
3. paper or paper towel from school
4. A camper

If you haven't tried EPIC books, it was free when I signed up for it...if you are a teacher. So, we popped up this fun story that is on EPIC books!
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Give this fun STEM activity a try with the camper freebie here!
 Get these cute campers HERE!
If you would like to add some fun Camping themed Science packs check these out...
Find the CAMPING THEMED PACKS HERE!
Now for the fun part...we are a Green and Healthy School and with that I became Energy certified which means sometimes I get some great opportunities that come my way to test out some toys that go along with our focus on saving energy. Not only does this amazing toy allow my students to learn about ways to create light through other means than electricity, but this toy is also a STEM activity!

So here is the fun part... because I am testing this toy out for this amazing company Tenergy...they are donating 6 of these lanterns on my blog! If you sign up and win, they will send you a free lantern for a quick review of the product! Pretty simple! Click on the link HERE to sign up!
                     https://goo.gl/forms/doHmjnE2lwWPavYN2





Whether your indoors or outdoors camping can be fun! Add a little STEM, a fun Tenergy Powered Toy and it's even better!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Earth Day: Planting a Seed with Three Easy Steps

Wanting to teach about Earth Day, but don't know where to get started? First, don't just jump on the bandwagon without knowing a little bit about how Earth Day came to be...

Earth Day...How did this "holiday" even get started? The book that inspired Earth Day was the Silent Spring written by Rachel Carson which dealt with the state of the environment and what was happening to our air, water, forests, and animals.  Earth Day is the  largest secular holiday which beats Valentines Day and Halloween! 

1969...the year I was born...yes I am getting up there... people were getting really upset with what we were doing to our environment from the use of  DDT which significantly impacted the Eagle population to the pollution of our water ways caused by the dumping of chemicals into our rivers, lakes, streams  from factories around the country. 

The worst oil spill of the time occurred in 1969 as well. Senator Gaylord Nelson from my state of Wisconsin started taking a look at ways we could teach others about what we were doing to our environment. Our significant impact on the Earth from population growth to climate change continues to be a problem both politically and environmentally, but how can we continue to help our future generations learn about the importance of saving our Earth, going green, recycling, growing gardens, appreciating nature...without causing other issues? 


On April 22nd, 1970 the first Earth Day was celebrated.  Teach in's were used to help educate others on what impact we have on the Earth is and what the devastating impact Earth faces if we continue down this path. Grass roots levels organized to help the cause in 1970 with  over 20 million Americans celebrated Earth Day that first year!   The Environmental Protection Agency was created which  laid  the groundwork for the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act to name a few. 

How can we take what they did back in 1970 and teach our students that they can make a difference just by the choices they make? We want to help our students learn about the environment and we care about our world so that we all  can make good choices for our future! 

Here are three simple ideas:

1. Show a song or video. Then have them write about what they heard. This simple song is about 8 principles for a better world! Respecting and caring for ALL living things from trees to seeds, animals big and small...a great message!




2. Have students go outside and just take in their environment! Draw what they see. Write down what living things they can observe. Give them time to really look at their surroundings for plants and animals,  and nature!  Let them breath in the clean air. Then have them share ways to go green with each other! 

This one one of my favorite Earth Day memories! Sitting and taking it all in until you just need to share with the teacher what you saw!!!! I love her excitement as she is ready to tell me her observations!

3. Have them connect with an activity about sustainability or going green!
From STEM lessons, to sustainability concepts, or even an energy activity a hands-on science connection is a great way to get your students connecting with their environment and also become problem solvers as they tackle some of our environments biggest issues.

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Building a wind turbine can be complex or simple. Differentiating to meet your level of comfort is key. As an energy certified teacher, I made a wind turbine that can be tested after the students create their fans. You can produce wind powered cars...solar ovens, sun dials...All it takes though is planting that seed!

Taking the time to teach about Earth Day can come from a book, a video, a quick writing prompt or even a STEM project, but the important thing is that we are teaching our students to be stewards of the Earth and that EACH day can be EARTH day!  

Interested in any of the Earth Day challenges? Check out my Earth Day Resources HERE!

Let's celebrate the Earth! Stop by the Science School Yard TPT store for  an EARTH DAY FREEIBE, TOO!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Three Easy Steps to make Heredity or Learned Behavior Connections

We are starting our plant unit shortly after break. It is my favorite time of year! Teaching my 400 students about the power of a garden is thrilling. Even better when I can use our FOSS Insect and Plants units,  as well as NGSS standards in my lessons is perfect!

How can you take NGSS standards and time it into a reading lesson, writing lesson, or even your own science curriculum can be easy with these simple steps.

STEP 1: Find NGSS standards that tie into your curriculum

I have to teach plants and insects so finding a way to teach this with an activity is key! I have to teach these concepts so they are in FOSS and in NGSS. This is the connection I am seeking! 

 For first grade a perfect connection can come with the Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits Standard for 1st grade. This sounds quite complicated, but here is a simple way to do that.

The standard states, "make observations to construct an evidence-based account that young plants and animals look like, but not exactly like,  their parents."


This strand is repeated again in 3rd grade with the same standard, however they add, "analyze and interpret data to provide evidence that plants and animals have traits inherited from parents and that variations of these traits exist in a group of similar organisms."

Step 2: Find an activity that will allow your students to see the standards in action or help them make a visual connection

Now, what to do. I came up with a simple lesson for you to tie a fun activity to both grade levels!

Let's make bugs! All you need is three body shapes...I chose triangles, circles, and hearts. I cut them out of colored paper...all the same color I might add. 

Next, make shapes for the top, you could also make wings, but we discuss how some insects have colorful exoskeletons. 

Now, it's time to cut out legs. I have the students get three and cut them in half after we discuss that insects have 6 legs.

Finally, I buy puff balls for the kids to pick as eyes.  

I get the kiddos into groups of two. I call each student one and two. One's go and get their bug parts: 1 body, 1 top piece, 3 legs to cut in half, and two eyes. Twos can now come up. To get them thinking differently, they can come up as a team picking if they want to be the same or different. You can even shake dice and evens mean you are the same and odds are you are different!

Once bugs are glued together, time to make the baby bug. Ones are the mother bug, and twos are the daddy bug. To set up the cards, print pieces that state mom's body, dad's body, new body. I have included the cards as a freebie below!!!

I then glue them on a colored paper. Each part is on a different color. They take turns picking the parts and going to the designated spot for the baby bug parts. 

The best part is that they are able to compare how their baby has inherited certain traits from the parents! Refer back to the NGSS standards to connect what they now know!

Step 3: Pull it all together with a vocabulary review or quiz

We made an anchor chart with the definitions and examples that we came up with. I also have cards made up that we put on the correct part of our chart. These sheets can be found in my Heredity Pack on TPT. 
The perfect pack for teaching NGSS Heredity Standards! HERE

I find that my students, in any grade that I teach, struggle with the Tier 3 words. New words need visuals and they need to be repeated, displayed, manipulated...the more exposure they get to the science terms the more retention you will see! So when you can add an art related project that can really show vocabulary words that time to NGSS standards...then you are set!

The NGSS standards that I focus on are:

1-LS- 3: Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that young plants and animals are like, but not exactly like their parents. 

3-LS3-1.  Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence that plants and animals have traits inherited from parents and that variation of these traits

Thanks for stopping by...You can find the cards and quiz freebie HERE!

This activity is a perfect way to tie in your insect unit with NGSS first and 3rd grade standards! The freebie can also be found in the large heredity pack HERE!

Friday, March 24, 2017

STEM and Easter Connections Make Learners and Teachers HOPPY!

Sometimes it is just plain fun to plan for a holiday! I know that some people think it might be a waste of time, or it is just plain impossible to fit in...what if I told you that a small 30 minutes of STEM engagement is just what your learners need to develop problem solving skills, and team building strategies!

Why STEM? Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math expands to every part of our lives. Students are able to develop a passion for STEM challenges allowing them to be part of hands-on and minds-on lessons that will allow them to be exposed to potential occupations in the future. This can also help develop problem solving skills as well as help them build, modify, and share as a team!

Take for example, the four stations that I use with four different grade levels. If you just tuned in...I teach K-5th grade science to over 400 kiddos! LOVE it!

Here are three quick reasons that I use STEM around the holidays:
1. It allows for use of the engineering design model/process
2. It allows students to be able to use hands-on inquiry based strategies
3. It allows for students to apply science and math to what they are building which is real application to a given problem!
Find your EASTER STATIONS HERE!

Our 5th graders make Jelly Bean Picker Uppers! Problem Solving and Team Building and under 30 minutes!

Our 4th graders work on egg protectors! Did I say problem solving and team building yet? I can get them to make and test in just roughly 30 minutes. Time constraints are key!

3rd graders are working on Easter Baskets with two pieces of paper and a small bit of tape! Problem solving using area/perimeter strategies is perfect for this team activity!

Finally, our 2nd graders build Peep Towers using paper and tape as well. Love to see their creativity added to problem solving and team building!

You can also use these activities with kindergarteners and first graders if they are up for a challenge!

I am also so HOPPY that you stopped by that I am sharing a fun Easter Freebie right here for you! Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Basketball Fever using the NCAA and STEM/Science Connections

I love to connect what is going on in the real world and bring it into my science classroom! We are just finishing up many of the FOSS kits, so why not add some engaging STEM activities that are also timely!

Throughout March you can integrate this basketball inspired activity to your school day! For me it is also a way to share with my students a little bit about myself...

We are an athletic family. My husband is a PE teacher and a Baseball and Football coach. My kids also are and have been three sport athletes. I love to share little stories with my students so when March Madness rolled around this year, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to share what my family does! Each year, our family along with the significant others (boyfriends of our daughters) sign up for Fantasy Football and now NCAA brackets. We have to enter who we believe will win the 16 games played. Once we all have picked, we write down and verify what the winner would like as a prize. Let's just say last year's winner was my husband and the two lowest scoring...otherwise know as the BIG losers had to cut his toenails. Yes...he won and yes...this is what they had to do.

This year...if I win, I want everyone that loses to cook a meal for the family. With my picky bunch, it is perfect. No one can complain about MY cooking. I love to share these types of stories...Why you might ask...to show traditions...to show how other families interact...to show them a free way to get everyone doing something together.

Now to connect it to STEM and Science...I get them all excited! I let them know who I want to win...okay I picked Duke...and then I ask them if they would like to have a little basketball competition. I also have to let you know...I use this as an incentive. If they pass the end of the unit test, they are in our bracket...if they do not they take the test over and are spectators. I have very few kids not pass. I then as the kids work on the STEM activity can work with my kiddos that are struggling. I can do a reteach and also build vocabulary.

Take a look at what you can do with recyclables and simple dollar store finds...


Once we set up the constraints and criteria...I assign one side of the table to build the flipper and the other side the hoop. This is what both teams will use for the first round of competition. Whoever wins...moves on. If it is tie...we have a different competition...wadded paper thrown into a garbage can! We play by putting tape on the floor and have them each take turns from the spot. It is like a free throw line...they throw at the same time...whoever gets the first basket wins!

Now we move on to the next round of winners and repeat. Each team gets a set time to shoot and try to score. When that time is up, the next team gets a chance to beat that amount. I give 4 minutes. At two I say switch shooters.  The spectators sit around the courts (tables). We play until we have a winning team! They love it!

I found basketball candy at a Party Store. I also give them a championship metal to show how far they made it! Here is a Free Copy of the March Madness Trophy for stopping by!


Thinking of your own basketball tournament in March or for a great end of the year activity for indoors or outdoors you can get your STEM March Madness Basketball Pack HERE.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Felling Lucky With St. Patrick's Day STEM

I am pretty lucky! I get to teach Science all day...everyday! My students come to me excited and leave saying things like "that was fun" and I even hear "I love Science!".I get so many hugs...so many high fives...I even can say the behavior issues that other teachers see at times in their room, doesn't really show up in mine.

I can attribute that to what science can do for kids. It can actively engage them when other classes don't. It can get them thinking for themselves instead of being very robotic with other concepts.

Here is how lucky I feel today...

My week with students starts often before a given holiday...so I get to celebrate all week. Dr. Seuss WEEK...Halloween WEEK...you name it I get to teach under that topic ALL week. This week in particular is lucky! I start with some of my lowest classes (academically).  I can at times give them the answers to the test right before the test in a review and they still struggle...even when the test is read to them.

Why am I telling you this? Well, let's just say I have done my STEM St. Patrick's Day Pack for two years now and this group of kiddos this week so far have blown me away with their creative traps and wishing wells. It surely made me wonder how students that struggle on the fact based tests, can perform such amazingly thought worthy and unique ideas!

Different grade level...different STEM concept! Lucky me that I made 4 sSt. Patrick's Day STEM Pack Can Be Found HERE!tations! In our wishing well activity my third graders got to make something similar to the water wheel we made in our FOSS Water kit. I gave them each a gold coin to add a wish to. They needed to put it in something on the ground that would then be mechanically pulled up to the table top! It was so great to see them work together and then share their wishes!


I also wanted to share what STEM can do...in any subject...in any holiday...letting students problem solve...create... modify...and share is truly what kids desperately need especially at testing time and right before a break they so need! (us, too!)

If you are still looking for something for St. Patrick's Day...this is the perfect way teach keep your students engaged! They will be as lucky as my students have been!
St. Patrick's Day STEM Pack Can Be Found HERE!


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Human Body Digital Research...Engaging and Interactive Science

We use the FOSS Human Body Pack with our 4th graders. We focus on several of the body systems as we go through this pack. There are some nice interactive activities that my students love. From animal bone identification that we use when I bring in real animal bones...to identifying human bones as I bring in X-rays from a doctor's office!

We work with the skeletal system when we deal with the bones of humans and animals.

We even work with the muscular system when we build a leg and thumb and discuss joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons.

I think though that it is important to also discuss the other systems such as the digestive and circulatory system. I also think it is important to challenge them with some great STEM activities.




The great thing is that I work with three fourth grade classroom teachers that wanted to connect writing and science together! Not only do I get to have my students participate in great hands-on activities, but I get to create a Google Human Body Pack to have them download so that they can work on it in their classrooms!

Thinking of ways to add digital activities to use in your classroom? Here is a great starting point!

The teachers had them download the qr code and assigned each group with a body system. Then the groups did the following:






1. researched information
2. added information to the slide/jpeg
3. they outlined their bodies using bulletin board paper and then made a labeled model for their system
4. The then worked on their speeches
5. They finally presented using our Apple TV's which allowed their iPads to be projected.
6. We even had the students put their iPads around the room for the other classrooms to come in and look at. They took notes to learn each body system!

It is also a perfect opportunity to build a workable hand especially right before March Madness...we can always make connections! Stay tuned for a later post and watch a little basketball being played in Science!

Find your Human Body Digital Resources HERE! Every-BODY will be happy!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Doesn't Have To Be Seuss Week To Make Connections in Science!

Every year, when I work with my 3rd graders on their FOSS Water Unit I can't wait until I get to water wheels. It is the only STEM related activity in many of the kits. Don't get me wrong, I do love having FOSS to guide me, but let's just say at times it needs some more meat.

This particular lesson though...is a great way to add in  a ton of ideas that are all water related and I have just the book that makes this lesson even better.

Dr. Seuss's book A Fish Out of Water is perfect. It has double meaning, too! What is it like to be a fish out of water? Have we all been there? (I also love the addition of Mr. Carp telling everyone that this always happens because the boys don't listen)

Here is how it goes...

1. I start off asking what does it mean a fish out of water? We make a list and then I explain that it kind of means the person is completely clueless or directionless when put into an unfamiliar surroundings or an unfamiliar situation.

2. Perfect time for you to ask if they have ever now felt like a fish out of water. Cue the stories!

3. I now add my what is sustainable energy lesson discussing non renewable and renewable resources. Here is how...What would it be like if you had to all of a sudden live somewhere where there was no electricity or running water. Could you let's say...live off the grid? We discuss tiny homes and the movement and what that would look like.

4. Now that they have thought a little about what they could use that is a natural resource or a sustainable resource...we generate a list. Sun...Water...Wind...we even add trees and corn. If we continue to plant them...

5. I let them know that today after our story they are going to be a fish out of water. I am going to give them only...cue FOSS lesson: 5 red wheels, 1 yellow dowel, three binder clips, a string, and Otto! Yes, Otto. A fish out of water. It is their job to get him in the bucket by only using hydro power!
If you do not have STEM, I have a supply list and alternative in My Water Pack on TPT found HERE.

6. I read the book and then share with them how they will, just like Otto be a fish out of water! They must work together to create a water wheel. I then pop up the google search results for images on Water Wheels. We talk about the shape of the wheel that looks like a bike tire. They are to work together as a team to see who can save Otto first.  Competition is what makes this extra fun!

7. Supply lots of towels. Stand back. Watch the magic happen. (I sometimes have to give clues as to what to do, if time is running out, but I wait a while and keep referring back to the water wheel pictures!)

Here are some freebies that you can use...writing connections, pattern, and reflections! You can download them as worksheets or download them for your iPads! I save them to my camera roll...air drop them to my students...then they place it in Explain Everything (you can use PicCollage) in order to be able to insert videos, pictures and text boxes!

3 Page Freebie Found HERE
Don't feel like a fish out of water every time you plan for a science lesson...grab a freebie...follow the plan...check back often!