Sunday, December 28, 2014

Force and Motion Experiments! Keeping Your Students Engaged

Hello! This is Crystal McGinnis from Missouri. Our school recently adopted the Next Generation Science Standards. One of the standards states that students will be taught force and motion including pushes and pulls. I remember having a very difficult time finding resources for this last year. With that in mind, I decided to create this unit to help my kindergarten students understand force and motion. My kindergarten students will complete five experiments (one each day), that will let them learn the basics of force and motion. The following are a few easy experiments that I will set up in my room. You can create these using easy to find objects.
Which Is Faster? Experiment
My kids will set up two ramps. I created these ramps out of left over Christmas cardboard and wrapping paper tubes. My kids will take turns testing the ramps to see how quickly the cars go down the ramps. They will see that the taller the ramp is, the faster the car will go. We will also test the ramps at the same height with different sized cars. Students will tally which car is faster. At the end, he or she will write their conclusion about the speed of the cars.

 Friction Experiment

My kids will use straws and marbles to test friction and its impact on movement. I will provide a straw and a marble for each student. Students will try to blow the marble on smooth surfaces and then again on rough surfaces.  They will see that it is much easier to push the marble on smooth surfaces. I will also provide different sizes of marbles for the students to see that it is easier to move lighter objects than heavier objects.
Penny Experiment (Lack of Force Causes No Movement)

My students will participate in an experiment where they will see that objects do not move unless a force causes movement. I will stack five pennies on top of a paper. I will quickly pull the paper from beneath the pennies. The pennies will stay in place. We will discuss that the pennies did not move because there was not anything that was pushing or pulling on the pennies. I will let each student try it. We will draw a picture of what we think will happen before the experiment, and we will also draw what actually happened. (If you try this experiment, make sure that most of the paper is hanging off of the surface before pulling it.)

Which Is Easier to Push? Experiment

I will provide my students with an assortment of small objects. Objects with wheels, balls, and objects with rough surfaces on the bottom. I will create a starting line. My students will practice pushing the objects from the starting line with the same amount of force. Students will see that some objects move much easier than other objects because of friction, size, and weight.
Pulling Objects Experiment
I will bring in a wagon for this experiment. Students will pull around different objects in the wagon. Some of the objects will be heavy objects such as rocks and a bowling ball, and some of the objects will be light weight such as stuffed animals. Students will see that it is difficult to move objects that are heavy. Students will then draw the "hard to pull" and "not hard to pull" objects on their recording sheet. We will then change up the experiment by trying to pull the wagon on different surfaces including bumpy surfaces and smooth surfaces. Students will determine that it is easier to move objects on smooth surfaces.

Pushes vs. Pulls Pocket Chart Sort

My students will complete this pocket chart sort. They will determine if objects are pushed, pulled, or both. We will complete this as a whole group activity. If you do not have a pocket chart, using hoola hoops as a sorting tool works perfectly. Place three hoola hoops on the ground. Students sort the pictures by placing them in the correct hoola hoop.
Pushes and Pulls Emergent Activity Readers

I always try to incorporate literacy into my science units. My students will read a book called "What Can I Push?" It discusses objects that are pushed and what makes it easy or difficult to do so. Students will them complete an activity on each page.
My Force and Motion Unit
These are just a few of the activities that I will be using in my classroom to teach force and motion to my kindergarten students. If you are interested in seeing more, check out the link below. This set includes recording sheets and instructions for all of the experiments, emergent readers, push/pull diagrams and activities, and much more.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Close Reading with Oreos

Hello! It's Allison from Stuckey in Second! I wanted to share a popular post that I recently had on my own blog. It was a big hit and I heard from a lot of teachers after they tried it in their own classrooms. I can't take the credit for the idea, but it sure was a great one and I couldn't resist sharing it over here too for all the Who's Who readers!!


What a fun day! My team and I heard about this awesome OREO cookie lesson from the third grade
teachers at our school and of course, since it involved OREOs, we had to try it!! It was just
one of those awesome lessons, better than I thought it would be. It made my whole day! (Even if the kids had been eating Oreos!)

For the full lesson, see Lindsay's store at Primary Polka Dots for her Close Reading lessons.

Here is how it went in my room today!!!
First, I passed out one cookie to each student. I did it in kind of a rushed way (on purpose) and told them to eat it AS SOON AS THEY GET IT. ("What!? Eat it before everyone else has one? This is weird...." All real comments.) By the time I was done passing them out, a few kids had finished their cookies. My plan was working perfectly. I encouraged a few kids to "Hurry, finish it up, we have to move on."

After some weird looks from the kids (Did I mention this was at 9:45 in the morning?) I had them all take out a Post-It note and a pencil. I asked them to write down what they just ate. ("Uh...okay...Mrs. Stuckey is losing it..." again, real comments.) A lot of the kids looked at me like I was asking a trick question, they were trying to write a complete sentence and use capitals and periods just to tell me they ate an Oreo. It was actually comical. Then I asked them to share with me what they ate, here were the responses:
Obviously, their responses were Oreo cookie, oreo, and one kid actually said Vanilla Wafer (gotta love it!) I didn't record that on the anchor chart because she was so embarrassed that she wrote that. But later, her mistake would be perfect for teaching the lesson.

Next, I passed out ANOTHER Oreo (could it be true!?), but I told them this time they could NOT eat the Oreo! I had them come down to the carpet with their Oreo cookie and I explained to them what they were going to do next.

  • Look at the cookie carefully.
  • Smell the cookie.
  • Think about the cookie.
  • Eat the cookie VERY slowly with your eyes closed, thinking about every bite you take.
  • Think about the texture and the taste of the cookie while you are eating.
What happened next was quite comical because they were literally SAVORING these cookies. I took a few pictures of them eating them with their eyes closed and I SO wish I could share them with you, but I won't.

When they finished, we did our "second read" of the Oreo. I had the categories in red written on the
anchor chart (while they were eating). I asked them to describe all of the parts listed. They couldn't stop talking! Look at how much they had to say after their "second read" of the Oreo!

The lesson that we all learned: It's okay to read through something fast the first time (like their first Oreo cookie), but if you do, you can only recall minimal information about it. If you reread it a second time and THINK while you are reading, you can recall a lot more! In fact, it might be smarter to do that the FIRST time!

My little lady that said she ate a Vanilla Wafer...perfect opportunity for my lesson! Sometimes we read through something so fast and with so little thinking that we literally DO NOT KNOW what we read! Right? She ate an Oreo and when she was done, had no idea what she had just eaten...just like our reading sometimes! 

They loved it! I loved it! They were excited about Oreos in the morning and asking if we could please do more reading lessons like this one! Ha. I was excited to show them a concrete example of how to Close Read! The rest of the day, we referred to our reading as our "first Oreo" or a "second Oreo." For example: Wait a minute, I didn't understand that. Let me REREAD and think about my Oreo (the text) one more time.

Try it tomorrow! You will love it too! So glad that this activity was introduced to me by some of the other amazing teachers at my school and I just couldn't wait to share it with you all!

Update: I've recently discovered that Lindsay, over at Primary Polka Dots originally had this great Oreo idea and has the full lesson included in her Close Reading Passage packets. It's amazing how such a great idea can be spread far and wide: across schools, school districts, and across the country. In the few short months since I have posted this blog post about using Oreos in my classroom to teach close reading, I have had such an overwhelming response. Thank you Lindsay for the great idea! You are touching the lives of children far and wide, without even realizing it!! 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

New Year's Activities

It's Christmas Eve!  Merry Christmas!

You're probably reading this post well after the Christmas holiday, so I'm going to focus on New Year's Activities you can do with your students. Have you planned your first week back from the long holiday break? Or are you a procrastinator like me? Here are a few ideas that might get your creative juices flowing!

Ideas from Pinterest

This is from Scholastic and is a great reminder on the need to "reset" your classroom  in the new year.  I needed this reminder! I totally need to refocus my classroom management and do some activities that reteach how we act within our four walls.

I highly suggest you click through to the article and see all the great charts and ideas.


Here are a few craftivities that are so cute. Some are great for the smaller kiddos and some for mid-elementary.

This would be an awesome one to receive as a parent:

And one more that would be so fun for students to wear on their first day back:

Science Experiments

I think my own kiddos would love this one!

New Year's Flap Book

Last but not least, this New Year's Flap Book will keep students busy for a couple days as they contemplate 2014 and their goals for 2015.

So, what do you have planned for your first week back from the long holiday break? Comment below with a link to the activity. I'd love to add ideas more to my repertoire.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Do You Instagram?

Hey there!  It's Kay from Sommer's Lion Pride!

I hope you all are enjoying your holiday break!  So far I have been spending my time finishing up my Christmas shopping, trying to relax, and hanging out with family and friends.

Today I want to talk about Instagram.  If you are one of those teachers who don't think that you have time for another social network, think again!  I find that posting a photo or two to Instagram a day is easy and fun!  And I really love seeing what other teachers are doing in their classrooms and out of their classrooms!

Here are some of my photos from December.

You can see that most of my posts are school related, but I do occasionally throw in a personal photo.

Sooo many teachers are on Instagram and are sharing different aspects of their teaching!  Come join the fun!  You can follow me {HERE}.

And I would love if you would leave your Instagram name in the comments so I can follow you!

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Parent Gifts {Authentic and Personal}

Hi everyone! I'm Brandy from Firstie Kidoodles. I am SO excited to be a part of the Who's Who blog and to share some of my ideas with you.

Today I'm going to share with you what I had my firsties do for parent gifts this year.  I have always struggled with parent gifts.  The school that I teach at has a very diverse student population.  There are a variety of holidays and beliefs that are celebrated, so I feel like I have to be careful and not celebrate Christmas too much and give my firsties the opportunity to learn about all of the holidays that are celebrated by others during this time of year.  I try to keep that in mind when deciding what I would like to have the kiddos do for gifts for their parents.

I've done different things every year I've taught and haven't found one that I LOVE until this year.  While I love the idea of having the kids make an adorable ornament of some sort, I feel like that relates too much to a Christmas tree and not other holidays, so I've tried to stay away from them.  One year I had each kiddo make a handprint calendar.  Were they adorable? Yes. Would the parents love them? Yes. Did they take a lot of time to prep and make? Yes.  Did all of the parents actually keep them and use them? Probably not.  Last year I had each kiddo make their own puzzle, and I took head shots of each child,  had them printed in black and white, and sent them home.

Enter this year. I wanted to still do the head shots because let's face it. They are just adorable, timeless, and perfect for any parent.  I wanted to do something more with the picture to make it more of a gift.  Then I stumbled across these puppies on Amazon.

I had searched all over online for a picture frame that they could color or decorate and couldn't find anything that A-wasn't grossly overpriced and B-didn't look cheap.  There were many pros about these. 1-They are white and perfect for my firsties to draw on to decorate. 2-They fit a 4x6 picture. 3-They had the backing for the matte. 4-They had a storage bag to protect the finished product. 5-I could get a lot, for a small amount, to last almost 5 years! Sign. Me. Up!

The week after Thanksgiving I take all of my firsties outside to take a close head shot picture.  Although they are adorable in color, I typically get them in black and white because I think it's timeless.  I order them in a matte finish from Shutterfly.  Here's an example.
Once the pictures come in, I called a small group of my firsties back to my bean table to decorate their picture mats.  I asked each student to bring back their markers.  We talked about a few ideas on how to decorate.  Did they want to write the year?  Did they want to write a sweet message like I love you? Did they want to just draw a design? Did they want to write Merry Christmas or Happy Hannukah?  I told them to really think through how they wanted to decorate it before they started because they would only get one to decorate.   And off to work they went. {HI, HO!}

Once they finished decorating the mat, I told them that if they wanted to decorate or write something on the backing that goes behind the picture they could.  Many of them wrote their name or wrote Merry Christmas 2014.

After they had decorated both pieces, I took the picture and put some double sided tape on the back.  I centered the picture on the photo backing, and laid the mat on top of that.  Once it was all together I put it in the baggie and saved them until it was time to send them home.

I'm sorry that I don't have a finished product to show you, but I promise you that they were precious.  They were authentic. They aren't directed towards a specific belief or religion.  They are cheap. They are easy to make. They were straight from the heart of a first grader. They are something that I feel confident would not just get thrown away.

I know that it is too late to make these with your students this year for the holiday season, but maybe you will find that you love them as much as I do next year.  I have also considered making these for Mother's Day.  We are out for summer break on Father's Day, but for those of you who aren't could make them for Father's Day too.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season! Hop on over to my blog or TPT store for more ideas and inspiration!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Top 5 Word Work Activity Ideas

We are excited to pop on here today to share some of our favorite word work ideas for the primary classroom. We use tons of different ideas each week, but these are our top five that seem to keep making an appearance, day after day.  

One of the main reasons these activities stick around in our classrooms is because they work and are super simple to implement each day! Check out a few ways that we use these handy little tools to help our little readers become better each day at reading new words.

Thanks to TeachingSuperPower for the graphics and Hello Literacy for the fonts!
Please stop by our blog Learning to the Core for more hands-on ideas for your students!

Have a great day!
Amanda & Aylin

Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Hey Friends!  I'm Abbie Jinnings from Tales From The First Grade!

I am so excited to share with you today an interactive summarizing lesson! I don't know about you, but my students always want to tell me so much when summarizing!  I am working with them on developing an understanding for the important or "best" parts of a story!  

Let's get started!  I prepared for the lessons by setting up my anchor charts! Here is our summarizing basic definition chart.

After we set the foundation of what a summary is, I "hooked" the students on the new concept with some hands on learning.  We made a trail mix out of corn cereal, raisins, and M&M's!  As we made the trail mix we discussed how a story has lots of details and parts, just like our trail mix.   The trail mix is great together, just like all the details in a story.  As in the trail mix and a story, some parts are better than others.  I instructed the students to look through their trail mix and pick the best ingredient!  

After the students determined the best ingredient they sorted the mix.  All the children were sure the chocolate goodness of the M&M was the best! 

After a small snack of trail mix we had a discussion about the connection between the best parts of a book and the best parts of the trail mix.  From there we read the book Charlie and the Christmas Kitty by Ree Drummond.  If you have not read one of her Charlie books you must!!  Not only do I love her cooking show she is now one of my favorite authors.  Back to the lesson..  After reading we completed an anchor chart over somebody, wanted, but, so.  

We ended our mini unit over summarizing with completing a flip book over Charlie and the Christmas Kitty.  I love using flip books as a response to literature!  My students do best with illustrating the  front page and writing on the inside.  

Hope you are inspired to add some hands on activities to your comprehension lessons!  

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Merry Christmas