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Showing posts with label earth materials. Show all posts
Showing posts with label earth materials. Show all posts

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!

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Science Rock and Roll

It was that time of year...time to finish our FOSS Earth Materials Stations...Moh's Hardness scale... Calcite Quest...Properties of a Rock...It isn't always the most exciting and at times it loses the kids. The kit can be loooonnnnggggg.

I know I am not alone. We all have units that make it hard for us to keep the kiddos attention. Units that we have to follow because of district initiatives. We follow the plans...we try to add a fun twist...we think "how can we shake it up a bit?"

To finish up on the Rock Cycle lessons that I added, I also mixed it up with a little "ROCK" and roll. QR codes are a great way to get kids actively engaged in concepts such as vocabulary, studying for a test, and reviewing concepts.

Sometimes my students scoot around the room....sometimes they have the cards at a station...other times like this we make it a competition.

Here is how it works...
1, Playing some rock instrumental music sets the mood. I just have it playing in the background lightly.
2. I share with the group that they are going to be rock stars today. Each time they pick a new card, that lead rocker will read the question, working as rock stars to try to figure out the answer.
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Rock Cycle Questions and Record Sheet...my students ROCKED IT!
In a group of 3-4 they take turns reading, having everyone record, checking the qr code for the correct answer, changing it if they are wrong,  and passing it to the number 2, then 3 rocker.... Each leader must also make sure that the same process is followed each time. Read, record, check, correct, pass to next rock star!


3. When each box is filled in with the correct answer, the band of rock stars must come up to me and show me that they rocked it out together. If they are all finished...first...I give them rock candy and a polished rock.
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The Rock Stars LOVED the candy rocks! 
4. We finish up by reviewing the Big Ideas of our FOSS unit and I continue to find other students that are "rockin' it" with sharing what they know about the scratch test...vinegar test, the difference between a rock and a mineral...

Here is a link to your own Rock Star Rock Cycle Review Freebie!
Rock On My Friends...we all can be rock star teachers and get our students to be excited about what we are teaching! Sometimes it's nice to get a little help from your back up band (with a freebie!)
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Plugging Into Environmental Education

 I was asked last week about the importance of environmental education and why I spend the effort in my science classes teaching students about the outdoors.  We have an extensive farm to school garden and are recognized as a Green and Healthy School. Environmental lessons are key to helping save our planet.  My answer was simple...

Having nature based activities not only meets many of the new NGSS standards, but it engages both boys and girls in a hands-on way! Here are some other key components to why we need to add environmental education into our school week.
Sustainability Lessons and Activities
1. Connections
Environmental Education connects students to the outdoors and disconnects them from their virtual worlds that this generation of students is living in.

2. Service Learning
Service learning is defined by the National Service Learning Clearinghouse as "a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities."

Whether that be a neighborhood clean-up and recycling effort or helping a local wildlife organization with fundraising efforts students can learn the value of the needs in their community outside of their own lives.

3. Stewards of The Earth
Let's admit it...we have done a pretty good job messing up the Earth lately. Landfills are filling...we are using our fossil fuels at a rapidly growing rate...we are going to need the help of this generation to come up with some viable solutions!

Teaching our students about the outdoor world outside of their classroom walls will help to improve their understanding of the world around them. From planting a school garden, to composting...teaching  about renewable resources or taking pond samples to test the alkaline levels...it is our responsibility to help our students learn to use and protect our natural environment through conservation and sustainable lessons and modeling positive behaviors.

Aldo Leapold once said, "We abuse land because we see it as a commondity belonging to us. Wehn we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect." 

              Stop back to learn more ways to include environmental education into your Science School Yard!



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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!
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Digging For Gold In Science

Funny thing is...I was a social studies minor. I never really had a great science teacher to get me excited about science. So...when I can take a social studies topic and combine it with a science I am golden! Here is an idea for your school garden...

Last year, my second graders planted potatoes. Little did they know they would be digging for gold...Yukon Gold to be exact. This little lesson is a great way to teach the gold rush, measurement,  and Earth Materials. Here is the Freebie Link For You!!

First...I had the kiddos come in and get them excited about digging for gold. I put the book Gold Rush on Epic books up on the Smartboard. I shared the book and compared what they would be doing outside. When the story was done I had each student pick a card: either I will get to California by boat or I will get to California by boat. They found a partner with the same card. (Just a fun way to find a new partner....) The boaters got to pick a tool at the mercantile...then they were off to stake their claim (using spoons with their names on them as their stakes.) Each spot was in a grid pattern.
Marking a grid in the potato patch...staking a claim...and digging for gold!
The students had a set time to dig for gold. The boaters got three extra minutes in the garden...finally the covered wagon crew. When they found gold...it was magic!
Look at that gold! This is a great way to start our FOSS Earth Materials unit! Digging in the Earth to find rocks and minerals!
Next, we needed to see who had the "mother lode"! We spend two weeks learning how to use a scale and measure in grams. Once again using a garden helps tie in social studies, science, and math!
Using a scale to measure how much each prospector was able to find was a great connection to math! 
Next, it is time to record our weights on our graph. Keeping record allows us to see which group out of 4 classes doing this activity actually hauls in the "mother lode". You can see some kiddos in the background even weighing their potatoes again!

How exciting for the kids to reap the benefits of what they planted in second grade in a great lesson about history!

Prep: gridding a potato patch, getting spoons ready with markers, setting out a mercantile with tools, printing sheets and cards up, letting them dig, having them measure, then reflecting on learning. A highly productive lesson to teach science...social studies...and math! I love that we could use our school garden in such a successful way. These potatoes will be our September Harvest of The Month!
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3rd Grade Rocks

One of our FOSS kits is Earth Materials. We use it with our 3rd graders for ENCORE science. That means that I am a "specialist" who teaches our kiddos science for one hour per week. The teachers this year are to teach science in their classrooms using our theme or unit. Our district six years ago went to this model to give our teachers more prep time, and to get science to our students. In some rooms it meant more science and in others...less. This year, we have a new schedule that allows for our classroom teachers to enhance science in their rooms so I made this for my teachers to help me make.
We are learning about the rock cycle in our 3rd grade science classrooms. I made a little activity that helps our kiddos review the three types of rocks using a graphic I put up on the projector. We are in the middle of creating this book for review.  I will post pictures next week when they get closer to completion.  Check it out at TPT.


I  used the following resources to share with my classroom teachers:
http://www.learner.org/interactives/rockcycle/index.html

http://studyjams.scholastic.com/studyjams/jams/science/rocks-minerals-landforms/rock-cycle.htm

http://www.cotf.edu/ete/modules/msese/earthsysflr/rock.html

Our kiddos loved this song, they know the tune and can sing along!


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