Category Archives: Science

April Showers bring May Flowers

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If you’re like me – you’re wrapping up your Spring Break.  Or maybe, you’re just about to begin.  Or, maybe, you’re like some of my Georgia friends and Spring Break was week ago – before Spring had even started.  No matter your finishing point on the break scale, you may be searching for new and fun ideas to keep your students engaged these last few weeks of the year.  Testing is about to begin for upper grades.  Class schedules will be altered.  Recess plans may have to move from outdoors to indoors because of noise.  I’ve been using Google, Pinterest, and blogs to find creative ways to enhance our last nine weeks of school.

SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS!

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http://www.education.com/activity/kindergarten/science/

I also blogged about other fun experiments a couple of years ago: https://withliteracyinmind.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/snippets-2/

If you have them – iPAD PROJECTS

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http://iteachwithipads.net/2015/03/31/building-early-literacy-skills-with-ipads/

https://withliteracyinmind.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/kindergarten-and-the-writing-process/

http://barrowmediacenter.com/tag/kindergarten/

SHOW and TELL

This one is pretty self explanatory – create a schedule and fill some time blocks with Show and Tell.  The kids have been sneaking toys to school anyway! (Well, mine have!)

GUEST READERS
(featured below, my hubby)

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Again, create a schedule for parents, community members, or even other teachers.  My kids love being read to and when someone else comes in – it is extra special. You can easily create a google doc that can be emailed out for sign up.

RECYCLED CRAFTS/ MAKER SPACE

I automatically save tissue boxes, shoe boxes, and toilet paper rolls.  Let’s put these items to great use!  The Pinterest board below has so many great ideas.

https://www.pinterest.com/susanmomof5/kids-crafts-recycled-materials/

Aren’t sure what a maker space is?

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http://kindergartenmakerspace.blogspot.com/

NATURE WALKS

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We have a green way near our school as well as plenty of trees.  If you have the beauty of nature around you – and the parental permission necessary – take your kiddos for a hike.  Document your walk with iPads or other hand-helds, pictures, or science journals.

GO NOODLE

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It’s FREE, engaging, and FUN!
https://www.gonoodle.com/

HAPPY SPRING!

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Filed under iPads, Literacy, Read Alouds, Science, Technology

Kindergarten and the Writing Process

“Writing might be magical, but it’s not magic. It’s a process, a rational series of decisions and steps that every writer makes and takes, no matter what the length, the deadline, even the genre.” – Donald Murray

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Say what you will about Lucy Calkins – especially since her mass marketed writing program has been released.  I hold firm to her (and my) foundational beliefs about the writing process.  All children can be writers. We meet writers where they are, capture them with great literature, and inspire them to find the writer within.

The not fun part is when the writing process gets “put upon” students.  It is presented as a series of “must do” steps just to feel that a piece is complete. It can be daunting and disheartening, especially to our youngest writers.

So how do we present these steps to our emerging readers and writers?  I prefer to model the different phases of the process.  You will not see a step by step guide to the process in my classroom.  There is not a poster of the process as a cycle (which is my preference – a piece of writing can always be returned to if the writer chooses).  I teach five and six year olds and the walls of our classroom are filled with anchor charts they have created. You may see a check list of things to remember.  You may see rubric of what our “best work” should look like.  But you will not see “THE WRITING PROCESS” laid out on our walls.

Throughout the year, we build on our writing.  We begin with labeling, progress to simple sentences, and finally (hopefully) we write multiple sentences with details.  We emphasize adding details – both to our drawings and our writing.  We use graphic organizers (brainstorming), 4 squares (rough drafts), iPad apps and paper (publishing).  We read our writing out loud – to a friend, to a teacher, to ourselves.  We check our sight words with the word wall.  We ask each other questions (editing/revising).

The last two weeks, we have been exploring the ocean and all it offers.  My students this year are very interested in animals and habitats.  We started a project this week that allows us to put two of our favorite things together – research and the iPad.  Using the “plan” below, students began researching an ocean animal of their choice.

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Students used library books, Pebble Go, Brainpop Jr, and other sources (each other) for research.  I modeled adding information to the plan after reading or listening to research.  We learn early on that copying every word from a book or the computer is a big NO NO.  We learn that we must use words from our own heads, not another author’s words.  If we write it, we need to be able to read it!  Not to mention that whole plagiarism thing!

Once the plan was complete, they showed a teacher what they had.  We had conferences about how to use the information in the best way. They could choose an app to make their project or actual paper.  Many students chose to create a paper book about their animal.  Either way, what they produced what meaningful to them – and they learned about the writing process along the way.

Here are some examples, still works in progress:

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This student opted to leave his planning page in his book.  He thought it would make a great table of contents!

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These are writings that I know the students will return to again and again as they learn more.  They have asked to not take them home yet – just in case! Wonderful authors in the making!

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Filed under iPads, Literacy, Lower Grades, Reading Workshop, Science, Technology, Writing Workshop

B “LOOM”ing with Connected Learning

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Recently, a mentor posted on Facebook about the Banding Together project (here is his blog post from today).  I have been looking for more opportunities to incorporate service learning into the classroom.  Today, we had a “Project Friday”.  During the project portions of our daily rotations, students created bracelets and rings using rainbow looms brought in by students.  We also made necklaces with beads or created toys with craft sticks.  All of these items will be sent to students in India.

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To preface the lesson, I asked if anyone had ever heard of India.  Hands were raised, but no one knew where it was.  They all knew it was a different place from year.  A global view, geographically speaking, is a difficult concept for kindergarteners to grasp.  It all just seems far fetched that there are imaginary lines that divide continents, countries, and states.

We have become very interested in maps lately, so I went to National Geographic Kids to find a friendly link for us to research.  This site did not disappoint.  We saw a map, photos, and a video.  We also read information together.  A student asked how the items would get to India and so we learned about US Postal Airplanes, lay overs for long flights, and the oceans between our two countries.

From that mini lesson, we set to work!  Students worked collaboratively using the looms.  They showed such patience with each other.  If a student said, “I want to keep this!” Another quickly reminded her, “These aren’t for us!”  Such big hearts inside such little bodies.

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After lunch, we read a popular trickster tale, Monkey.  We compared the monkey to the fox in Gingerbread Boy.  We wondered if students heard Monkey more than Gingerbread Boy since India is a different country.  A student asked if we could Skype with a class there.  That led to a lesson on time zones!  Which was a great connection to our previous lessons on Earth and the sun.

Here are some of our creations from today:

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How are you connecting your students learning?

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Filed under Collaborative Learning, Connected Learning, Science, Technology

Food Scientists and #GRA13EC

Earlier, I mentioned the power of students having voice and choice in their learning.  My students’ voices led us to discovering maple syrup, where it comes from, and how it is made.  Being southerners, we do not know much about winter – let alone tapping trees for sap.  So, we went on a search for our own answers.  As we continued to explore fall, we learned about other trees and how they change with the seasons.

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One of our “go to” resources for questions we have is Brainpop Jr.  We absolutely LOVE Annie and Moby.  The videos are short, direct, and keep the students engaged.  My students already know that Annie and Moby can help us with most things.  We watched the video about seasons and then ordered changes that happen.

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Our exploration of seasons and trees ended with our “experiment” involving maple syrup and regular pancake syrup.  We watched how maple syrup is made – from tree to bottle.  We connected our Global Read Aloud author, Eric Carle, with our activity as well by reading Pancake, Pancake.  Finally, we started put on our scientists thinking caps and got down to business.

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Our experiment began with observations about the two kinds of syrup.  As the syrup was poured we noted the speed it flowed out of the bottle (fast or slow), the thickness of it (like water or glue), and the color (light brown or dark brown).  We poured the syrups into clear cups to make it easier to see.  Next was our taste test.  Each group of students had waffles to use as tools for tasting.  We made sure to only taste one kind at a time and we didn’t drink anything while tasting.  We tasted regular pancake syrup first.  Next, we tasted maple syrup.  Some of us were nervous, because we had never had it before.  Everyone was a brave scientist and tried a little! After tasting, we voted.

20131111-141110.jpgWe counted the votes and then compared the numbers.  In math we are talking about more/less and greater/fewer.  We knew that regular pancake syrup had the most votes because 11 is greater than 7.  Once the votes were counted, we finished our waffles.

All good scientists discuss their experiments when they are over.  Some questions we asked and answered were:

  • Why did you like regular pancake syrup better?
  • Why did you like maple syrup better?
  • Where did the maple syrup come from?
  • How was the maple syrup made?
  • Where do you think the regular pancake syrup came from?
  • How do you think the pancake syrup was made?

How can you be a scientist today?

 

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Filed under Global Read Aloud 2013, Literacy, math literacy, Read Alouds, Science