Saturday, April 20, 2013
    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: 
     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:

Motion, Marble Runs, and More...

Saturday, April 13, 2013
     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 There are multiple you tube how-to videos for these templates.

For the giveaway... Check out my blogger friend's birthday giveaway:

Join Antonia's B-day Bash and Giveaway Celebration in honor of 200 blog followers! 

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. 

Moon Craters

Tuesday, March 19, 2013
   In my kindergarten classes, we have been talking about the night sky and last week, we focused on the moon. How long does it take for the moon to orbit the earth and long does it take for the moon to go through all of its phases (29.5 days)? What are the phases? What does the surface of the moon look like? etc.

   First, we used Google Earth and Google Sky to explore the moon. We learned that the moon has mountains and craters caused by different sized asteroids. Brave teacher that I am, we decided to recreate the moon's surface using flour and cocoa powder (for color). First, I let them do it inside. Each group had a round container with "moon dust" and a selection of different size "asteroids" (balls). They were instructed to drop different sized asteroids from different heights to see how this affected the size of the craters. I have since created a lab sheet for this activity which will be posted in my TPT store. After a lot of fun and a huge mess, we moved outside! :)

Whole Brain Teaching

Sunday, January 6, 2013
I feel like a groupie! None other than CHRIS BIFFLE is coming to my school tomorrow! Woohoo! I am actually excited about going back to school tomorrow for professional development. :) I have been using whole brain teaching classroom rules in my lab/classroom for four years and now we are using several whole brain teaching concepts at our school in some classrooms. If you have never heard of Whole Brain Teaching, I highly recommend checking out videos on you tube. It will change the way you teach and run your classroom forever! :)

Winter Sale and linky party!

Friday, December 21, 2012
Winter Sale and Linky Party with Second Grade Math Maniac!

Candy Fun!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

I have been doing several candy investigations and experiments with the kids lately. We are putting those Halloween leftovers to good use! It is amazing what you can do with a bag of skittles! :) I will be posting more about the experiments this week. Great activities that you can use for science and math!
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