Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bubble Gum Lab and a SALE!

Today my second graders just concluded an experiment that they were doing with students from our High School Engineering Class called "The Bubble Gum Lab." Students learned to use the Scientific Method to answer the question, "What happens to the mass of a piece of Bubble Gum once it is chewed?"

Today's final session involved recording data and drawing conclusions. The high schoolers used a conversion chart to measure the height of the bars for bar graphs from the data that my students had recorded in their first session of the lab. There, they had weighed the bubble gum before and after chewing and recorded the weight in cm. Students used today's measurements to create colorful bar graphs that showed the weight of the gum before and after chewing.

From the bar graphs, students drew the conclusion that the mass of the bubble gum gets lighter once it is chewed. They also found out that gum is made from plastic so they should never swallow it!

3 Million Strong TpT Sale:

I love this banner made by Beth at Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs... It announces our TpT 3 Million Teachers Strong Celebration Sale going on Thursday and Friday, Feb. 27-28th. 

My entire store will be 20% off and you can get an EXTRA 8% off if you use the code TPT3 when you check out.  This is the perfect time to shop for items on your Wish List.

Have fun shopping!



Friday, February 21, 2014

Five For Friday {February 21, 2014}

This week I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching's Five For Friday and sharing pictures from my very first attempt at S.T.E.M. Friday in my science classroom. I couldn't wait to try some of Smart Chick's S.T.E.M. Engineering Challenges that I found on her blog. If you are considering integrating S.T.E.M. this year or in the near future, I highly recommend you checking out this awesome blog.

With all the weather related snow days and delays that we've had at school lately, we ended up having Valentine's Day Parties and the 100th Day of School on the same day last Friday. That meant doubly hyped excited kiddos all day long. On top of that, Friday is Friday Science Flicks day in the science room. My students look so forward to their day of fun, mostly science-related videos, that I could not dare throw anything different at them. Not this day. So we ended up watching Magic School Bus and Steve Spangler videos rather than doing all my great S.T.E.M. Engineering Challenges that I had planned that day. Ho Hum.

Anyway, so I decided to postpone S.T.E.M. Friday until this week. I'm glad I did because it went off without a hitch and the students had a blast. I did too!

The first thing I did was to print out the title of each Engineering Challenge along with the directions and put them inside a sheet protector.  I put all the materials for each Challenge in one of my FOSS tubs, one per science table. Throughout their 40 minute science period, I had students rotate to at least one or two other tables as centers.

ONE: For this first challenge, students needed to use (100 for the 100th day) toothpicks and two cups of mini-marshmallows to construct the highest free-standing tower possible. It needed to be strong enough to hold up a weight of some kind.

It took the students a little while to figure out how to design their structures. Their biggest challenges were getting the structures to stand up and coping with sticky fingers caused by handling the marshmallows so much. They didn't complain too much though. They were having too much fun figuring out how to make their towers.

TWO: For their second challenge, students did the House of Cards Challenge. For this one, they used one deck of cards to try to construct the tallest tower possible on a flat surface, using only one pack of playing cards.

Just getting the cards to stand up was a huge challenge for my second graders. They started out on the table and ended up on the carpet for more traction. This is one challenge that they will need to ponder for next time.

THREE: The third challenge was called the Geodesic Dome Challenge. For this one, students used toothpicks and Dots candies to construct a geodesic dome strong enough to hold up a small stuffed animal. Do you know how hard it was to keep those yummy smelling gummies out of the mouths of my second graders? I admit I had to pull the "MILLION TRILLION GERMS" card on them before they thought twice about popping one in their mouths without me looking. You better believe those that tried got told on though. Kids are so funny!

I could tell this was one of my students' favorites. Some of them were even able to make the dome. They were so proud when they got their dome to actually hold a TY beanie baby.

FOUR: Another challenging center was the Note Card Tower Challenge. For this one, students were challenged to use 100 note cards and only 12 inches of scotch tape to construct a tower at least two feet tall that could hold up a small stuffed animal.

This was quite the challenge for most groups, but one group actually got a tower up and holding a beanie baby. Okay. Yes, the adult in the background did help them out a lot. (Wink).

FIVE: For another center, students put together 100 piece puzzles. This was even a challenge for my second graders. I was surprised that not one group got a complete puzzle together within the class period. They worked hard at them though.

PLUS ONE MORE: The most favorite of the challenges of the day was one of the simplest (doesn't it figure?). The 100 Cups Challenge. Students loved making castles and towers with these paper cups. The funnest part of all however for them was crashing them down on the table. 

And oh, one more thing I promise. TpT is having huge SALE starting on 2/27-2/28. Everything in my store will be 20% off. Don't miss it! Stock up on all your wish list items.

Have a great weekend, everybody!


Monday, February 17, 2014

SNOW, Bubble Gum Lab, & Foldable [Freebie], etc.

School has been quite challenging lately due to the incredible winter weather we've been having in the northeast. Over the past two weeks we've had more school closings and delays than full days, making it very hard to get into the groove of things. Recently we had our biggest storm yet, measuring over a foot of snow in my area. We've had about three storms in a row, and we're expecting another one on the morning that we return from the President's Day holiday. WOWee! I absolutely love getting to stand at my door and watch the beautiful snow fall down and blanket my neighborhood on our days off, getting to stay in my PJs all day long, and catch up on my daytime shows, but I must be honest now and admit that cabin fever may be about to set in for me. Besides, with all the snow days now our school year will definitely be extended well into June. Boo!

We did manage to get a few days of school in this past week, however, several of which were school delays, where our day began at 11:00 am. Within that time, I was able to have a pretty exciting week with the students when they came to science class.

Our second graders are participating in a "Bubble Gum Lab" with our High School STEM Academy students. They are learning the Scientific Method to determine the answer to the question, "What happens to the mass of a piece of bubble gum once it is chewed?" For Part I of the Lab, the students loved getting to chew bubble gum for the entire class, share their observations, make predictions (make a hypothesis), test their hypothesis, and record their data.

Students were introduced to the scientific method by making observations about a picture. They practiced using prior knowledge to look closely at the picture on the SMART Board and make inferences.

They came up with a hypothesis about the bubble gum, namely, "I think the mass (weight) of the bubble gum when it is chewed will... (get heavier, get lighter, or, stay the same)."

Next the High School students helped my students use electronic scales to record the weight of the gum before chewing it, as well as the weight of the cup and wrapper.

Students will conclude the Bubble Gum Lab shortly with Part 2, where they will get to show their data by creating bar graphs. Finally, they will come to a conclusion about the mass of the bubble gum based on their data. 

Double-Sided Flap Book Foldable [Freebie]

Students also got to start a fun new foldable flap book (double-sided) that I created to help them review the properties of liquids (transparent, translucent, foamy, viscous, bubbly, and color).

Students write the name of each of the six properties of liquids on each of the three flaps on either side of the foldable. The pictures come from the FOSS Solids and Liquids duplication masters. I had the students color the liquids the colors of our liquids, cut them out, and glue them to either side of the foldable under the flaps. They wrote the meaning of the property on the underside of the flaps. You can get directions on how to make the foldable below.

First graders are just learning about other properties of liquids by observing liquids in bottles. They identified bottles of transparent, translucent, foamy, bubbly, viscous liquids. They also saw that liquids can have many colors.

Their favorite part was holding the bottles up to the light to see the translucent liquids, and shaking the bottles to see which liquids make bubbles and were foamy.

Click here to get directions to make the foldable flapbook.


Oh, and did I mention that we managed to fit in the 100th Day of School and Valentine's parties into the week as well?

Since the 100th Day of School fell on a day that we had a two-hour delay, I decided to delay my plans for having a day of STEM Challenges until next Friday. Instead, Friday was Friday Science Flicks day. This is the day (every other Friday) that I show enrichment videos which tie into the theme for the week. Since it happened to be Valentines day, I showed a Magic School Bus video where the setting was Valentines Day called Magic School Bus: Gets Charged. Students got to learn about how a light bulb gets charged.


Wow, what a week we've had! It always amazes me when I look back on the week and see just how much ground we have covered. AMAZING!

I hope you enjoy your week,

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Thinglink: George Washington Carver

Today I have to thank Matt over at Digital: Divide and Conquer for his great Tried it on Tuesday post this week. It featured the very cool technology tool called Thinglink, which helps educators create interactive images that help students develop 21st century skills and enrich their enthusiasm for learning. As I browsed the site I was inspired to try one of my own.

Since February focuses on famous African Americans, I made a Thinglink on the scientist George Washington Carver to share. Just hover over the picture and then click on all of the icons to see and hear many interesting facts and images on Dr. Carver.


I had a lot of fun creating this to introduce my students to George Washington Carver. It is very interactive and engaging and meets the needs of many of my students. You will definitely want to add this site to your repertoire of cool ed tech tools. You can also collaborate with other educators on Thinglink to share your images and ideas.




Tuesday, February 4, 2014

100th Day S.T.E.M. Activities

This year for the 100th Day of School I've decided to incorporate S.T.E.M. activities into my day. I came across some awesome STEM Teaching Resources over at Smart Chick's Growing A STEM Classroom blog. They are called Engineering Challenges and I have adapted them to my first and second graders, as well as to the 100th Day of School. You can click on the blue links below to go to her products.

What is the strongest bridge you can make with all 100 playing cards?

-Use: 100 playing cards, weights, and a flat surface.

-Using only the playing cards, build the strongest bridge possible to hold as much weight as possible using only cards.

What is the strongest geodesic dome you can build using 100 toothpicks and mini marshmallows or gum drops?

-Use: 100 toothpicks, mini-marshmallows or gum drops, weights, and a flat surface.

-Build the strongest geodesic design with the toothpicks and marshmallows or gum drops. Test with books or other weights.

Using 100 paper clips, can you create a paper clip chain that can hold the most weight?

-Use:  100 paper clips, plastic pail with handle or other container, weights (pennies, etc.) and a flat surface.

-Using the 100 paper clips, construct a chain that can hold the most weight.

Using 100 index cards and 12 inches of tape, can you build a tower that is at least two feet tall and can hold a small stuffed animal?

-Use:  100 index cards, 12 inches of tape, one small stuffed animal (beanie baby size), scissors

-Using the 100 index cards, 12 inches of tape, construct a tower that is at least two feet tall (24 inches) and can hold the weight of a small stuffed animal.

5         5.   One Hundred Toothpicks Engineering Challenge – 

What is the tallest free-standing tower you can build using 100 toothpicks and two cups of mini-marshmallows?

-Use: 100 toothpicks, 2 cups mini-marshmallows, tape measure, flat surface

-Construct the tallest tower (any shape possible) using the 100 toothpicks and the 2 cups of mini-marshmallows

I'm looking forward to trying these S.T.E.M. Challenges with my students. I will be posting pictures soon to share how our day went. 

Happy 100th Day!
Monday, February 3, 2014


Hi, Everyone,
It's been a while since I've posted,  I know. I guess you can say that I've been in a sort of wintertime funk. I'll explain later in the post. Today I'm motivated by all the cool blogs I've been reading, and so I'm linking up with Farley for February's Currently. This will be the start of a series of posts this week since I'm actually taking the time to post. I have had a lot of great ideas, just haven't taken the time to do it. I hope I'm not the only one.

Today we are home on another Snow Day! This makes another of many days this winter so far. I can't even remember how many, counting all the two-hour delays. 

Here's the scoop on the Currently:

Listening: All day I've been listening to the local news coverage on our latest winter storm. We've had a lot of them so far this winter, but this one claims to be the one bringing the most snow. My husband got out the yard stick, and sure enough, we have about 5 1/2 inches so far, and the snow isn't scheduled to stop for about another hour or so.

Loving:  I'm loving being home for another snow day! There's something wonderful about getting that robo phone call early in the morning announcing, "Schools are CLOSED." Today I actually slept in. That was great because it was a rather late night for me because we went to a Super Bowl Party. I was so hyped when I got home from all the food and iced tea that I drank so it took me quite a while to fall off to sleep. That was a very welcome call this morning.

Thinking: Now I'm thinking about when our school year will actually end. We've had so many snow days this year that our Spring Break has been shortened to only about two and a half days or less. I wonder if we will have to add this day to the end of the year now. UGH!

Wanting: My husband tells me that our snow blower needs a new spark plug. That's not good because the snow is really heavy and pretty deep. That means we will have to get out the shovels today. Boy I wish that snow blower was working.

Needing: Without a snow blower now, I need to be a good wife and help the hubby shovel. So I offered to help shovel and didn't get a decline :-(  This is not one of my favorite things to do since we have a pretty large driveway.

2 Truths and a Fib:
1. Snow days are awesome!  TRUE. I love snow days. They're beautiful and I get to lounge around all day in my PJs. I get to PIN my heart out, read my favorite blogs on Bloglovin', stay on Facebook without feeling guilty and even take a nap during the course of my day. Yippee!

2. I absolutely love winter time. FALSE. I'm a dead of the summer baby. I was born in early August so I  prefer the hot balmy days of summer over the frigid cold days of winter. I love summer. The hotter the better. Winter time throws me into a funk.

3. This is my favorite time of year. TRUE. This is my favorite time of year. Especially when we get a ton of snow days. We get quite of few of them here in the northeast. Since the winter Christmas Break, we've worked very few full school days over the past month or so.

Staying Warm and Cozy,