Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Drag N Drop Math with Mr. Nussbaum

Here is an excellent demonstration of what online math practice should look like.

If you have never been to Mr. Nussbaum's website, then you must visit and bookmark it for your students. He has spent so much time really making his website "top-notch"
Click the picture below to visit his site:

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Columbus Day STEM Activities

For years, my grade level colleagues and I have done a Columbus Day Turn-A-Round with our classes. The most classes we have a done at a time were 10 classes. 10 classes made too many trades, so we narrowed it to 5. Some of the activities we did are in my newest product as a bundle.

This set of STEM activities can be "just a fun day," but with the right focus and discussions, these really FUN activities can be a powerful learning tool.
There are 8 STEM activities included:

1. Build a Sextant

This is an easy build with readily available materials. Students can then walk outside and give it a try. It was not the easiest tool to use, but it was just about the best navigation tool at the time.

2. Make a Compass

It is very easy and it is accurate to the magnetic north pole. I also have a class set of compasses that my students use outside to practice using one.

3. Design a Flag and Race to the Pole

I use the white tablecloths from the dollar store. If you don't plan on raising them, you could use paper or poster board.

4. Build a Better Boat

Since my students do the STEM activity Barge Building, I have them discover which boat would be better on the open sea. They collect one of their milk cartons and use both ends to experiment which one holds up in waves.
Students use both ends of the milk carton to represent a flat bottomed boat and one similar to the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. It is a bit messy, but it is a great learning experience.

5. Discovery Game

I have researched and included 29 things associated with Columbus and his explorations. I hide these things under a box and give students 1 minute to look and one minute to write down everything they see. Then I have student partner up and they get one minute to look with with partner, and then one minute to write down the information. We then discuss how teamwork really helps our perspective. It is a fun game, and it gives them a chance to discuss where Columbus encountered these items on his journeys.

6. Indian Necklaces with Colored Pasta

We have used all different shapes and sizes of pasta, but this is my favorite.
Students create necklaces. Our local Native Americans, the Yokuts, once used shell necklaces as money. We like to make connections to the Yokuts when we do this activity. There are many beautiful shell necklaces at our local museum, so this is an easy tie-in. If time allows, how students vote on the designs after they finish creating their necklaces.

7. Boat Race To Spain

The day would not be complete without a boat race back to Spain so Columbus could get the credit for his discoveries instead of Martin Pinzon.
The students each make a boat ahead of time in their classrooms, and they each race their boats. Each team then chooses the boat they want to represent their teams. On the day of the activities, each team races against each other using straws and our specially made oceans. All students record scores in their Columbus Journals to discover the winning team. 
Results are then posted for the winning team in each class. Students record those results to see which class had the fasted boat. Pictures are taken so they can compare designs. 

8. Building a Fort

I'm sure you remember that Columbus had to leave behind men because the Santa Maria ran aground. Those sailors left behind had to build a fort. Of course there were no instructions, so we added this interesting STEM activity. No matter what happens, this activity is a "win" if you discuss the outcomes. We have used many materials, but the ones we use now are seen below.
I love to watch the interaction between the students because I learn so much about them. Who can work together, who can compromise, who can organize. Sometimes, just to be mischievous, I sneak one piece of candy in the set, to see how they students react. I have 10 sets of these "forts" and I have the students work in groups of 4. When we get to the discussion time, I tell them the one piece of candy represents the little gold they found. For the teams that "don't get along" they begin to realize how hard it must have been for those sailors who were left behind, and the poor natives they encountered. It also begins to make sense why the natives killed off all the sailors. Although the forts seldom get built completely, it is one of the most powerful lessons.

Most of these activities you can do on your own. I have compiled instructions and tips to help pulling off this incredible day a bit easier, and it can be purchased at my TpT store. If I were to sell these items, I would sell them for $2.50-3.00 a piece, so I believe I am offering an incredible savings.

Additionally, I have included a special notebook with pages designed especially for these STEM activities.
Note that the cover is the same as for my Journal Writing. That is because I combine the pages into one incredible journal that is used for 1) summarizing the journey of Columbus, 2) students personal journaling, 3) research, 4) Columbus Day STEM activities. 

This is just one page of the STEM activities.

To get information on my other Columbus products see the following links:


Friday, September 25, 2015

Columbus Craftivity Challenges Students to Create...

... Although this craftivity is one of my culminating activities to my Christopher Columbus Unit, it can be an awesome "jumping off point" into many studies.

First, we use our hats on field trips. If several classes are doing this, then have each class write the students names in different colors: One year we used red, blue, black, purple, and orange.

Because we did several science activities, we wore our hats when studying new science concepts.

Basically, we wore our hats when we studied new "big ideas," which really set the students up for noticing that they were learning something new that was important.

Now, onto the actual...

Columbus Craftivity:

 that Challenges Students to Create!

Before attempting this craftivity, you will need to purchase hats. I always purchase mine from Oriental Trading. If you find a cheaper source, please let me know. I'm always on the look-out for the best deal.

First, students need to know the story of that discovery voyage of Columbus, so they can decide what to put on their hats. Next, they should plan out what they are going to draw on strips of paper the size of the drawing space. Additionally, they should practice drawing (which is included in the powerpoint). 
The teacher actually models how to make some of the things to give students direction.

Finally, they should use markers to actually design their hats. I use permanent markers because fabric markers are so expensive. You can decide which kind of marker to use based on what is in your supply cabinet and your budget.

These hats are truly a work of art! Even if they turn out messy, they represent the students and their journey through your class. So visit my TpT store and get the Instructions today!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Research Columbus Through His Journal

How do you study about Columbus? 

Did you notice that I didn't say, "celebrate Columbus?"
I have several different things that I do. Today I'm going to share how I start my unit on Columbus, which is actually part of my "Explorers Unit."

Don't you just love having your students keep a journal? 
Here is a journal for when you study about Christopher Columbus and his monumental voyage in 1492
I like to read from I, Columbus, My Journal. I switch it up and either have them summarize what happened, or have them write down their own experiences in their nifty little Columbus Journals-- depending on what is happening at school or in the community.

If you don't have access to the book, I, Columbus, My Journal, then there is a free site where you can get a kid-friendly version of the Journal which I have included in my unit.
The actual journal my students use is quite simple, but cute! I got the graphics from Educlips, and the adorable border from Creative Clips.

I also include a page with just lines, so you can run off as many as your students will need.

I do not think any product is complete without some research, so I have included a link to my web-page, where I have additional links to Columbus.
I test each of the sites listed before I begin the unit to ensure that they work. If you click on the picture above, you can actually go to my webpage and see what is available.
I know that primary sources are often hard to come by, so here is a letter from Columbus. You can find it on my web-site as well.

Here are some older pictures for study as well as poems and stories.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Science Game: PeriodicTable Battleship! Remarkably Unique, Educational, and Engaging!

I have to give a shout-out to Karyn at Teach Beside Me for her clever Battleship idea with the Periodic Table. I came across it on Pinterest, and think it is clever and unique idea.
I just had to include one of Karyn's eye-appealing pins. If you click on the picture, the link will take you to the Teach Beside Me page where you can learn how to create this battleship game for your students. 

Of course, with such an interesting idea, I had to look around the Teach Beside Me blog. I discovered many other great science ideas that I will get to use in my classroom. I just love discovering how creative teachers get kids engaged in learning. Thanks Karyn!

The beautifully colored Periodic Table comes from ScienceNotes.org

Monday, September 7, 2015

Bread in a Baggie ~ Yields Cool Results

My grandson found the coolest experiment on Facebook, and he sent me the link so I could do it with my students. It is free, and easy, and a very effective visual.
This was originally posted by Courtney Lee Simpson
I am going to do this, but will use 4 slices of bread:
1. Controlled: I'll use gloved and place the bread in the ziplock. 

2. Dirty Hands: I'll pass the bread around for students to handle after lunch recess.
3. Anti-bacterial foam: Students will clean hands with the anit-bacterial foam and then pass the bread.
4. Students will all wash their hand and pass around the 4th slice of bread. We will check daily and try to graph the change.

If you would like to know how Courtney did this, then click on the picture or her name to take you to her post.

If you try this out, please send your results so our classes can compare them.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Teaching About 9-11 ~ It is an Awesome Responsibility

9-11 is fast approaching, and if you are like me, then you have probably been putting all of your energy into the new school year, laying the foundation for procedures, and really learning who your students are and how to meet both their educational needs as well as emotional needs.

Since we have a three-day weekend, many of us are taking a breath and giving ourselves a change to recharge the batteries. While recharging, new ideas and thoughts keep popping into my thoughts. Now that it is September, I wanted to make sure I do something for 9-11, and since I couldn't remember what I did last year, I started looking around and found a post by HoJo that includes a a WebQuest and a video, so you might want to take a look, by clicking on the picture below:

I do remember my students working on this FREE Interactive Timeline activity by Lovin Lit.