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Showing posts with label science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label science. Show all posts

Flat Teacher Adventures!

As we move toward summer break...which mind you we all sure could use...I wanted to keep connected with my students over the summer. I found some great ideas online and I am ready to help you make yourself flat and go on adventures with your students, too! Here is how to do it...

You might be seeing the Flat Teacher posts all over. This idea originated with the book Adventures of Flat Stanley, if you haven't see it...it is about a boy who gets flattened and goes on adventures all over the world! I am giving it a little twist for my own students, many who never get to go too many places. I want them to share their Science and STEM adventures threw posting videos and pictures on our flipgrid Classroom!

Let's Go On A Flat Teacher Adventure!

6 Easy Steps: 

1. Before you do anything, you need to make yourself flat! How to do that? Download the bitmoji app from the App store.

2, Now, head on over to your computer and get the chrome extension: Bitmoji Extension for Chrome

3. At this point you can edit and create your very own Flat Teacher! This is the fun part! For just the right pose such as your full body, search Pose, don't be too specific. Watch out for the space bar...don't do it. I used the words: wave, look, point, jump, run and walk for bitmojis that were without other images. I then right clicked and saved the image to my desktop to insert.

4. I first download my bitmoji  You can also save as a png which will make your background transparent. I copy and paste 6 bitmojis on one page to print and cut out. All I did was right clip and save my pictures to my desktop.

5. I printed mine on cardstock so they were stronger. Didn't have time to laminate because time was valuable...(four hours and out).

6. I used flipgrid for my virtual learning and WOW what a great free program on your computer with use with microsoft and google! I will have all of my students post their pictures or videos within our summer science spot within flipgrid!

If you are using flipgrid you will need to create a new banner. The dimensions are: 1500px x 500 px.

Want to download my science letter? Here you go...Free Bitmoji Summer Science Letter, even if you want to use the idea, you can print, sign and attach your bitmoji!

Have fun connecting this summer with this fun and easy activity that I can't wait to see the response. Flipgrid has allowed so many of my students to have their voice! Let's make Science and STEM child's play...together!


6 Ways To Fit Science Into Your Day

Trying to teach intermediate students science isn’t always easy. There are a lot of supplies to often set up and the concepts at times are much harder to explain. Often, science can even get put on the back burner. I am asked by other educators how do I find that extra time that is needed to give quality science curriculum? So, I want to share with you today a few quick tips to finding that time and making it count!

Targeting Standards

1.      Make sure that you are pinpointing the exact standard that you want to cover. whether it is 
NGSS or your districts requirements. Utilize the NGSS cross cutting strategies within their plans. 
That is a great guide to how you can even add the required concepts within your reading and writing 

Non-Fiction Science Connections

2.      Non-fiction reading in common core and in NGSS cross cutting … is a perfect way to add 
science concepts. For example, having a hard time fitting in ecosystems or food chains because the 
supplies needed seem a little out of reach? Then, a non fiction book and science/reading station is a 
perfect way to add a concept that seems out of reach. I purposely utilize Epic books which has a ton 
of great non-fiction science themed books that are perfect for your reading lesson. They even have a 
variety that can be read to students in order for you to differentiate learning. 

Tie that in with digital resources and are set to go! Digital resources come in so many different 
options. From Boom Cards to Google Slides it also allows for teachers to find ways to add science 
into their day! 

Science Stations in Reading/Writing

3.      Science Stations during your reading/writing block is another way to use your time wisely. If 
you incorporate a non fiction book along with a small experiment that has easy to follow step by step 
directions, this is another way to use your time wisely. Allowing students to share their learning with 
an app or internet tool is way to assess for understanding. My new go to for this is flipgrid. 

I set up a class grid, allow for students to go there for my pre-recorded instructions that I video for 
them, or you can even insert a youtube video  showing an experiment that you find online. If you just 
want them to learn more background knowledge about a science topic allow for that video to be 
inserted on flipgrid as well! Many of my colleagues are able to utilize google classroom which I wish 
I was able to use as well. Our district required their own paid version to house lessons in, but another 
great way to add science lessons in an app for them to utilize can be stored in google classroom.

Flipped Lessons

4. Flipped lessons are my new favorite way to teach science after going virtual this year. A flipped       lesson allows you to prerecord a lesson, a concept, and/or background information that you would have used class time for. As students view the video before class, they are getting the needed information that you would have used class time for. This frees up time for you to do demonstrations and experiments and not use the time in class to do that. I still need to review the concepts for friends that didn’t watch ahead of time, but if a student misses out on the experiment, because now they must first watch the video and do the follow-up questions, they don’t want to miss the “fun” stuff. The amount of students not watching the prerecorded lessons declines.  I also find that if I record my demonstration then the students that miss out can now see that or review if they missed something.
You might be saying that is  a lot of time that is used to create those videos, but once you have them and you label them, you are set for years to come. I use screen-cast-omatic. There are other video sites such as screencastify that work perfectly well, too.  Not sure you can know what to say on your video? Use a teleprompter program on your computer and read what you would like to say. you can see how I do that in my video link here:

Supply Short Cuts and Quick Lessons

5. Find lessons, that are already made for you. If you have a kit such as FOSS, which we use, bag up the lessons for easy year after year accessibility. When we went into quarantine mode, it was a bit easier for me to grab my lessons out of the box, because they were all labeled and prepackaged. I put mine in plastic ziplocked baggies and label them with permanent markers and place them in the kit along with the sheets I used for the lessons if I utilized printed versions. If you have no kits, then make sure that you find a storage system that works best for you. I tub my kindergarten lessons along with the picture books and supplies I even use for it. This really does save a ton of time. If you don’t already do that then you will thank me!

Boom Learning Decks

6.Boom learning decks are another go to for easily checking my students for understanding! I create decks that focus on my big ideas. I can give my students a boom deck right after I teach conductors and insulators to see if they got my lesson and the concept I was teaching.   It allow my students immediate feedback to their learning and if you utilize the data you can use it for grading purposes.

Take a look at these science boom decks that can make adding science to your day a little bit easier!
Science School Yard Science Boom Decks

I hope you can find ways to add science to your busy day...your kids will thank you!

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Top 4 Tools To Help Teach Science Remotely

Remote learning by any means has not been easy for anyone. We all had quite a learning curve dealt to us, but it is how we have been able to adapt and find new ways to get to your students that is key to everyone's success! What I have found in the last six weeks, is that I keep evolving and finding new ways to implement my lessons. To help you find new ways, too, I am sharing with you my favorite finds. Here are my top 4 teaching tools that have got me through teaching remotely. 


I have been using flipgrid for a meeting place for my Science Lessons and classrooms. This has allowed me a site that I can see my students, check for understanding, as well as have the accountability that I need.  I am able to star the assignments that I have looked at and even comment back through an email setting, or even create a video for them! I also utilize the ability to host a five minute or less video review lesson or even share a video from youtube for them to watch. You Tube might be a great place to house your video lessons that are over 5 minutes then for them. Students can showcase an assignment by showing you what they did and explain their thinking. 

Flipgrid are the meeting place for your classroom, your school, your department or any learning community to discuss topics or lessons. Flipgrid sets up an  icebreaker. For science you can have students add lesson/experiment reflections, share their thinking, explore STEM principles, give mini-presentations, and showcase their learning. Setting up a rubric so that the students can see what they need to do to show you what they know can be utilized by adding a document to flipgrid.

 How I use it:
  • I voice record my lesson
  • I can star the students I graded so when new ones come in, I know where to start
  • I use the mixed tapes to store the science stars of the week 
  • I use the mixed tapes to store students that still need my help
  • I have students share their thinking and then I can check for understanding using a rubric
  • I share videos I want them to view from youtube
  • I email back to the students a personal message
  • It allow students to view their friends and make comments on what they liked and learned

Screencastify or Screen-cast-omatic

Screen Casts are designed from the ground up to be the safest, simplest video creation tool for teachers and students. I can  make learning more personal for my students and can provide my science lessons each week for distance learning. In the future I can use them for flipped classrooms lessons, by recording lessons, assignment explanations, and giving my students verbal feedback. I can tape myself incorporating a lesson, and use the teleprompter to write my lessons and then choose web cam and screen, make my cam the smallest it can go then teleprompt above so it looks like I am looking at the camera! I just start the prompter and it allows a space at the bottom for me to put the web cam! 

How to use it in your science classroom:
  • screencast an experiment so they can watch it before, during, and after class
  • tape your lessons for kids that are gone
  • give directions for assignments to share out
  • screencast a lesson introduction
  • use for flipping lessons and saving time once they come to class if they view it ahead of time

Boom Learning
I have loved Boom decks for my students! Boom is a platform that allows teachers to purchase and/or create digital activities for students. Boom “decks” are made up of individual, digital task cards for students to complete.
I use Boom for...
  • Differentiating my science instruction, different decks for different kiddos
  • It gives students immediate feedback (dings for correct, oops for incorrect and they get to try again!)
  • Students Get EXCITED about learning with badges and fun digital “rewards” for their work
  • Holding students accountable for their independent work especially in stations or at home
  • It saves me a ton of time because it automatically grades. 
  • It also saves paper...it's paperless!

What do I need in order to use Boom in my classroom?

  • A computer, tablet, or interactive whiteboard
  • An internet browser that is 3 or fewer years old (OR the free Boom app)
  • A free or paid  Boom Account (if you open a new account and click a link you get from a TeachersPayTeachers Boom card purchase, you’ll get 3 months free btw)
  • An internet connection that students can use on a computer/tablet to access the Boom decks
  • you can have a free account which will let you utilize fast pins when purchase them, but won't grade them and keep data which a paid membership will do.
Option A: Copy and paste the complete link for students to play
Option B: Go to the Boom main page (boomlearning.com) on a computer (or on the Boom app). Click on the “FastPlay” button. Enter the pin and click “play.” A fast pin is only good for a certain amount of days (14 days) which will tell you on the fast pin button. 
You can create your own boom decks for your students, send the deck link to families or students and it is one of the simplest tools to use and the kids LOVE them! Boom Learning Site can be found HERE!

Google Classroom
Google Classroom  is a free service for schools, non-profits, and anyone with a personal Google account. The best part of this is that a teacher and student can use in and out  of schools. Classroom saves time and paper, and makes it easy to create classes, "hand out" assignments, communicate with each other, keep track of student assignments,  and be organized.

How to use it in science classrooms:
  • Once set up, you can share a code with your class to join. Once they join they can find your assignments, videos, and class work inside the class.
  • This is paperless, so it saves time with copies
  • It allows everyone to one place for organized science lessons, google documents, flipped lesson videos and more!
  • This allows for easy communication and can be used in class, in their homerooms, and at home on any device.
  • Best yet, it's a google suites product so it connects with all your other google activities such as google slides and forms!
I would love to hear what tools have gotten you through this as well. Keep on keeping on!

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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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Cranberry Ideas For Science and STEM Fall Lessons

It's fall and cranberries are being harvested here in Wisconsin! November brings to the stores those amazing tart berries which are perfect for connecting science and STEM. Here are some great connections for you and your students!

STEM Activity #1: Cranberry Towers

Cranberry towers are perfect for reviewing measurement as they try to build the tallest towers. All you need are fresh cranberries and toothpicks. I also use cranberries and toothpicks with kindergartners to review shapes.

STEM Activity #2: Cranberry Bog Boats

One of the NGSS focuses is to make observations to construct an evidence-based account of how an object made of a small set of pieces can be disassembled and into a new object. This is a perfect opportunity to use the cranberries and the toothpicks again. We design and build bog boats...yes bog because that is where the berries grow and are harvested. This is perfect for connecting a bit of cranberry information.

We use the following video to connect our boats and find that not all boats will float. We then make observations and gather evidence as to what floats best. (it also gives some really great information about the plant and we tie it into native american lessons along with pemmican which was eaten by Wisconsin First Nations)

Science Idea #1: Sink or Float for Littles and Bigs

First off, our students eat craisins at breakfast fairly often, so I figured when I showed them a cranberry they might know immediately what I was holding...was I wrong. Here, we live in a state that produces more cranberries than everyone and our students don't know what this native fruit is. I heard grapes and raspberries, but not one said cranberry. We predicted what would happen if we put them in water, then I demonstrated. We then opened them up to see why they floated. They have air pockets! We then tried a variety of different fruits and vegetables to test their buoyancy .  This concept is great for any age! Cranberries can be a perfect fall springboard!

Science Idea #2: Cranberry Juice and Chemical Reactions 

I found this video a few years back and I have been using it every year during our FOSS Mixtures and Solutions Unit every year since. Using Cranberry juice as well as vinegar and lemon juice can create a perfect activity to talk about acids and bases. 

Want to find all of these activities along with sheets, links, record sheets, lesson plans and more engaging cranberry Science and STEM ideas? Find everything you need HERE!
Just in time for that Thanksgiving week lessons...both fun, engaging, and educational!

Those of you with free educator EPIC book subscriptions, the book Cranberry (Watch It Grow) is perfect for your lesson as well! Happy Thanksgiving!
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Pumpkin Time STEM Quick Pick

This week, my kindergartners are learning about pumpkins. A quick and easy STEM activity is just what my little pumpkins need to learn how to be creative! You can either grab a book such as the Itsy Bitsy Pumpkin which I love... or even the 5 Little Pumpkins that have a springboard that you could use to have them build a wall, gate, or step that the pumpkin can sit on!

I love to use the little pumpkins we grow in our school garden, but any little pumpkin can do! Here are the other materials that you can use...

Materials:  tongue depressors, cubes,  ten number blocks, blocks, and book such as the Itsy Bitsy Pumpkin

I use a tray to place all of the different choices on and then I set out the blocks at their table tops.

 Quick Pick Ideas: A quick pick for me is an activity that can take less than 30 minutes including a book a STEM challenge. We were able to learn the life cycle of a pumpkin, as well as read a story then pose the challenge. I then have the trays set out at the tables for the students to go to when I am done with the book and science lesson. I also set out one little pumpkin per table for them to test their designs with. We learn about modifications real fast when a pumpkin doesn't balance.

Links You Might Like:
Fall STEM Ideas
Fall Flip Book
Pumpkin Themed Activities
Digital Pumpkin Activities with STEM and Math Connections

Time to make Science Child's Play with this quick pick! Your little pumpkins will love it! This is an easy activity to "patch" together as well.

In this post, for your convenience, you may find Amazon Affiliate links to resources. This means that with your purchase of items Amazon will pass on small percentages to me. This will not create extra costs for you at all! It will help me keep this blog running!
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Quick Air Science Ideas Based on NGSS

Air is all around us. Air moves things, Air interacts with other objects, and Air is an invisible gas that takes up space. Here are a few quick air activities that you can add to your science lessons based on the following K-2nd grade NGSS concepts...

Starting Point: 
Learning about air is the foundation for teaching structure and properties of matter as you learn that air is a gas and takes up space. I teach these mini lessons to my second graders to teach them to plan and conduct investigations to describe how different kinds of materials and objects have observable properties.

The Plan:
I first show them a clear plastic baggie filled with air. I let them know we are going to learn about something very special that can change weather and be very dangerous at times. I have it in the bag. What is in the bag can also move other things and interact with objects. I then show them the bag. Most believe nothing is in the bag, however there is always one that guesses air.

Giving them a plastic bag of their own filled with objects that are light and heavy, flat and 3-D is a great way to then teach properties and what makes them a solid or a gas. (I don't give them liquids at this point) I let them blow with a straw or with their own breath and see how air moves things. I love reading the story The Wind Blew. Perfect for adding in what is a prediction!

Book Connection: The Wind Blew by Pat Hutchins

STEM Connections: I love having the students make a maze to blow a cotton ball through. We also read The Three Pigs and build houses made of blocks to blow down.

Book Connections: The Three Pigs by James Marshall

Air Concept #2:
The framework core ideas that NGSS covers as you teach about air are: ESS2 D Weather and Climate, this is where we build up what is air and how and why can it be part of regulating weather and climate?

The concept air moves things can now be expanded to air interacts with other objects. Tie in weather reports, predicting the weather, and how moving air affects the weather. Observe clouds...create wind socks or pinwheels to observe wind movement.

STEM Connections: blow bubbles to watch the direction the wind is blowing...make your own bubble wand to test it out!

Book Connection: I like to use Feel The Wind by Arthur Dorros

Air Concept #3:
We also tie in a Kindergarten NGSS performance expectation: using and observing weather conditions can help us describe patterns over time. Keeping track of the weather as well as predicting the forecast is a great way to teach that predictions are only a guess. You can also tie in patterns and seasonal changes.

Book Connections: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba

STEM Connections: This all can tie into ESS3 where students learn about how Earth's surface processes and human activities affect each other. This can work with teaching natural resources such as how we use air as power. Creating wind turbines or boats powered by the wind is a perfect STEM connection!
                                      Wind Science and STEM Pack
Looking for a kindergarten through second grade pack that has everything you need? HERE is a great Wind Science and STEM Pack for you!

Looking for something for your older kiddos? Check out this STEM Quick Pick Energy Pack! 
                                      Energy STEM/NGSS Science Quick Pick

Time to air on the side of fun and engaging Science and STEM lessons that tie into NGSS! Whether you use FOSS Air and Weather lessons, NGSS, or TIEKS or anything in between it is always great to find new ideas to add to what you are already doing!

In this post, for your convenience, you may find Amazon Affiliate links to resources. This means that with your purchase of items Amazon will pass on small percentages to me. This will not create extra costs for you at all! It will help me keep this blog running!
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Six "Apple"ing Apple Science Connections

Apples this time of year can be an "apple"ing way to teach students about so many science related topics. I love to grab some apples from a the store or a local orchard, any way you organize it...I apple-aud you!

Here are just a few ways that you can add apple themed ideas to your science lessons...

10 Apples Up On Top

I use this really fun video to tie in math and STEM! I use toilet paper tubes, red pom poms, and green tongue depressors to have student balance the apples up on top of their tree that they make. Before we watch the video, we learn the parts of an apple tree! It is actually amazing that the students in kindergarten and first grade don't know words such as bark, trunk, stem, and leaves.

A fun tip is to have them hug their trunk, stretch their branches, sway their leaves, and wiggle their roots!

Apple Senses

Apples are a perfect way to teach the five senses! Not only can they look and observe...they can feel how wet and sticky they are...they can hear the crunch...they can smell the sweet or sour...and of course they can taste!

I love to give them options to even add some math for a quick survey! Do they prefer green, red, yellow, or a mix of color such as red and yellow?

                                 Here is a link to a free apple themed pack for you! 

Apple Layers vs. Earth Layers

An apple is a great way to teach the layers of the Earth! The outside skin is like the crust of the Earth. The next layer the pulp or the flesh is like the mantle, and the thin line that separates the flesh from the seeds is the outer core. The outer core can represent the inner core.  You can even connect the stem to relate to the axis.

Apple Perspective

I love this activity for older students...I get a jug of apple juice. I dye a pitcher of it red, a pitcher of it green, and a pitcher I leave plain apple juice. I then ask them to use their sense of taste and let me know what kind of kool aid the red and green are. Then I give them apple juice and ask them what this drink is. We discuss perspective because the color changes what they seem to taste.  This usually blows them away! This activity and apple perspective can be found HERE!

Apple Preservation

We use lemon juice, Milk of Magnesia, baking soda, lemon juice, and water to test how to keep an apple from turning brown.  We learn why apples turn brown through a fun controlled experiment! This is a quick way to teach variables and controlled experiments.

Apple STEM Connections 

Apples are great way to build structures with. I cut the apples into small pieces and give each student a cup of apples and some toothpicks. We look at objects and nature or how fall is represented: in hay bails, pumpkins, football...then they build that structure. Students then try to identify what someone built!

Another fun STEM connection is to make an apple picking maze on the wall with toilet paper tubes and  red/ green pompoms. The students must make an apple chute/maze to get the apples from the tree or top of the chute to the cup at the bottom for collection. They need so many turns and so many tubes.

This pack is ready for you! Find Apple STEM Connections HERE!

Flipping Over Apples

One of my favorite ways to teach lately is to use flip books. I use to feel that I needed to use every page of my flip books, but I love using two sheets printed out on one page to have students use as stations! I love that I can also use it through multiple grade levels and pick certain pages for a specific class to use, which allows me to utilize the apples on our school apple tree in a more diverse way!

I use to feel that I needed to use each sheet  with a class, but time is really valuable and I only have an hour per week with each grade level. Find this Flip book by following this link...
Together we can make Science Child's Play and much more...APPLE-ing!

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