Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Farm Fun!



Kindergarten students are learning all about farm life, where are food comes from, and all things agriculture! We have chicks in the incubator and we have been checking on their progress with our ovascope. Everyone had fun doing our egg dissection lab: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Egg-Dissection-primary.
You can download our lab sheets for free at my TPT store. Also check out our farm unit:
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Farm-Fun-Learning-on-the-mooove

 
 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Chess

    Consider adding chess into your students' day. Chess can help develop memory, improve concentration, promote logical thinking, and promote imagination/creativity. Did you know that chess is part of the daily academic curriculum in thirty countries? More information about chess in schools around the world: http://cis.fide.com/. 
 
                                                                                                              
                                                                 
     One of the essential goals of education is to teach children to think critically: students must learn to make reasoned judgments. Chess is an excellent tool to demonstrate the theme of critical thinking. During a game a player must formulate a plan of attack or defense. 

      Chess is an excellent tool to teach problem solving skills to all levels of students especially in the formative primary years. Instructional gaming is one of the most motivational tools in the good teacher's toolbox.  Children love games. Chess motivates them to become willing problem solvers and spend hours quietly immersed in logical thinking. These same young students often cannot sit still for fifteen minutes in the traditional classroom. 

For more research and statistics on the benefits of chess in education: 
http://www.psmcd.net/otherfiles/BenefitsOfChessInEdScreen2.pdf

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Motion, Marble Runs, and More...

     For physical science, nothing is more fun than marble runs! In kindergarten, I have premade plastic marble run tracks that students can put together to build their own design. This can provide hours of purposeful play. Students are engaged in the inquiry process and are able to apply what they've learned about force and motion to a real situation. It also helps the younger students with eye-hand coordination and hand dexterity. In first grade, their theme during this particular unit is based on the "If You Give a _______, a _________". We write our own story about one of our lab critters, "If You Give a Reptile a Rollercoaster." And we build an amazing marble run/roller coaster. I premake tracks and turns out of cardstock and they design their own rollercoaster in teams. For 2nd grade, their theme is based around Mercy Watson books and we write our own Mercy story about her wanting to go to an amusement park. We then create, design, and build our own rollercoasters out of cardstock. If you are in need of a great marble run template set, check out http://www.paperrollercoasters.com/products.htm. There are multiple you tube how-to videos for these templates.



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The Nature of Science

        I always start off the year with the nature of science, but you can teach it anytime of the school year. The students need to learn how scientists use specific skills and processes to explore their curiosities. The first skill we learn is observation. A great easy activity for observation is to line up your class in two rows facing each other. Have them turn around facing away and change one small thing about their appearance (a button, shoelace, hairbow, collar up, etc.), have them turn back around and guess what is different. Shuffle the line and repeat. You can also have the principal or another teacher stop by for something random. Have them leave, change one thing about their appearance and stop back by in five minutes. Have everyone write down what changed and turn it in. Give the winner a prize.

    Another important skill is working together and collaboration. I usually give them a challenge investigation to solve while learning how to work as a team. Something that is engaging and requires the use of inquiry skills is "The Bridge." Tell them that they will be engineers for the day and build a structure that must hold weight. A great picture book to introduce the lesson is "Iggy Peck the Architect". 
Next, give each group one notecard and a bunch of blocks the same size. The rules are that they have to keep two blocks as far apart as possible (under the outside edges of the notecard) and stack as many blocks as they can on the structure. The team with the most blocks on their structure wins. They are allowed to make one modification. Now the fun begins. They will try it all. I have seen it all! Don't tell them the answer! You can guide them, but it is important that they figure it out. The best way to build the structure is to make your one modification, folding the notecard accordian style.  A triangle shape is the strongest! This activity can cover a range of grades. Keep it basic for primary and for the older grades, add in some tools like the digital scale and level. You can also add the design process or the scientific process.

                                     
 
      I hope I have given you some ideas on how to incorporate simple activities that promote scientific inquiry.