Anchor Charts

5th Grade Properties of Matter Daily Science Review

Spiral review.  When I think about spiraling through skills, math is the first thing that comes to mind.  But daily review isn’t just for math, it can also be very powerful for science!  Students need repetition and multiple opportunities to engage with content and vocabulary if we want them to hold onto the concepts we are teaching.  Here’s an idea for adding a little spiral review to your science routine.

  1. Give students a copy of this recording sheet.  It’s free to download, just click here.  There are 5 spaces, one for each day of the week.
  2. Display a photo of matter.  This can be anything!  Just do a Google search and show a photo of salt, copper pennies, an iron nail, a helium balloon, a wood popsicle stick, a plastic fork, etc.
  3. Let students talk with a partner and fill out the chart for that type of matter, discussing magnetism, physical state, relative density, solubility, and conductivity.
  4. Finally, share and discuss as a class, having students make corrections on their chart.

5th Grade Properties of Matter Daily Review for STAAR From The Pensive Sloth

If you don’t want to make copies, you can just make an anchor chart with the questions and have students create the chart on a sheet of notebook paper or in their notebooks.  My suggestion is to have them do this in their science notebooks for 2 weeks straight.  Then, once a week for a while.  I think if you did this every day, all year long, it would get old really fast!  Something like this–

Properties of Matter Anchor Chart for Reviewing for 5th Grade STAAR Science

Go forth and teach science!

–The Pensive Sloth

Here comes a shameless plug…If you are interested in a version of this that includes 30 slides of different “matter,” a teacher answer key, and several recording sheet options, you’re in luck!  I’ve got one at TPT and you can find it HERE.  There’s also a challenge question on each slide to get students thinking, and a version of slides as task cards so you can put it in a science station.

Teaching Properties of Matter Daily Review Slides and Task Cards from The Pensive Sloth

Shut Up and Take My Money Teacher Style: The Amazing Moving Plant

The Amazing Moving Plant Shut Up and Take My Money Teacher Style Blog Series About Classroom Gadgets from The Pensive Sloth

It’s time for another Shut Up and Take My Money–Teacher Style post because there are so many cool things in the world you just have to get for your classroom!

If you’re a elementary science teacher, then you know that SPRING means Life Science and your classroom is hopping with critters and plants.  Ours is literally hopping with crickets that were supposed to make it into the eco-columns, but that’s another story!  Well, the other day I was watching TV and saw a commercial for something called the “Tickle Me Plant.”  The official name is Mimosa Pudica, but some people call it the sensitive plant or shy plant.  What really struck me about this plant was that I knew it would be a hit with students…and might just help them to learn a little about plant adaptations.  Basically, when the plant is touched, the leaves drop and it kind of looks like the plant is dying, but it’s not!  Wait a little while and the plant will be back to normal again.  Here’s a quick video so you can see for yourself:

Then tonight, while shopping at Michaels, I accidentally discovered an aisle filled with cool science toys and there it was!  The Amazing Moving Plant (Mimosa Pudica).  And on sale!  I’m planning to set it up and let it sprout at home before introducing it to students so that when I take it to school, it is ready to wow them with its adaptation of ‘playing dead’ when disturbed.  Here’s a few other plants with cool adaptations I plan to show my students.  We might even do a little research!

Plant Adaptations Anchor Chart from The Pensive Sloth for 5th Grade STAAR Life Science

I’ll let you know how it goes!  For more Just Take My Money–Teacher Style, you can read about Circuit Scribe and how your students can DRAW working electrical circuits.

–The Pensive Sloth

***NOTE–I was NOT paid and am not affiliated with any of the above groups.  I’m just a teacher-consumer interested in new tools to make learning fun for my students!***

UPDATE–The kids LOVED this!  It took some time for the seeds to sprout, and only about half of them did, but they really enjoyed watching them grow.  Unfortunately, we planted them so late in the year that we didn’t really get to enjoy the plants before the summer break.  I sent the plants home with a student.  I’d love to know if they’re still alive.  Let’s hope they remembered to water them!

Lesson Launch–Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources

My 4th graders are starting a unit on renewable and nonrenewable resources.  I wanted to get my kids thinking about where the things around us come from and decided to try this activity as the ENGAGE part of the lesson.  I also wanted to know how much they already knew!  It turns out nobody has any idea where plastic comes from.  Back to the lesson…  so, I taped a photo of a school bus to some chart paper and had students sketch a bus in their science notebooks.  Then, we worked together to label what materials the bus was made of.  Simple enough.  Rubber tires, glass windows, leather seat covers (not really, but it worked for the lesson), cotton stuffing in the seats, metal engine, gasoline in the tank, etc.  I told them we must label everything!  While the gas isn’t actually part of the bus, I prompted that one.  I needed a launching pad for a future fossil fuels lesson.

Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources School Bus Anchor Chart from The Pensive Sloth

I guess since plastic looks like glass, several students thought it came from sand, too.

My next question was, “So where do we get glass for the windows?  Rubber for the tires?  Gas for the tank?  Cotton for the stuffing?” and so on.  Now this got them thinking.  Luckily we read about how glass is made before the holiday break.  SAND!  But what about the rest of the stuff?  This prompted great discussions and questions.  We returned to our chart.  Beneath each label we listed where that materials came from, and if we didn’t know, we made our best guess and put a question mark beside it.  We’ll revisit the chart and make changes after we learn where the materials actually come from.  Moving forward, as we explore renewable and nonrenewable resources, we can go back and decide which materials on the bus can be renewed in our lifetime and which can not.

–The Pensive Sloth

Opinion Writing About the Causes of the American Revolution

I’m a big believer in writing in all subjects.  When kids formally record their ideas on paper, it helps new concepts stick.  Being self contained gives me the freedom to integrate writing into everything!  We write in science, math, and even social studies. My 5th graders study American history and learn about the causes leading up to the American Revolution.  This makes for the perfect opinion essay prompt!  Students discuss in groups which event most upset the colonists and why.  We then share them in small groups or hold a class debate, depending on how much time we have.

Content Writing Opinion Essay Anchor Chart American Revolution

Here’s the prompt, some sentence starters to support your ELL students, and a definition of ‘opinion essay.’

You can see my Revolutionary Thinking Maps series at The Lesson Deli blog.  There’s a post and anchor chart on the events leading up to the American Revolution to help support this content-area writing assignment.

–The Pensive Sloth

Teach History With Me–World War I and The Christmas Truce for Kids

Teach History With Me Blog Series from The Pensive Sloth for Teaching 5th and 6th Grade HistoryI never really liked history in school.  All I really remember is my 7th grade teacher giving us a packet of worksheets to fill in as we read a chapter in the book or my high school US history teacher holding classes in the bleachers so that he could practice with his baseball team on the field during the spring season.  I’m not kidding.  We filled in our worksheets from the bleachers, chasing after them (reluctantly) from time to time when the wind blew them away!  When I started teaching American history to my 5th graders, I wanted things to be different.  I wanted learning history to be fun…and hopefully memorable.

The week before Christmas is when I whip out one of my favorite history lessons–World War I and the Christmas Truce.

World War 1 and the Christmas Truce History Lesson 5th Grade

  • DAY 1–CAUSES OF THE WAR
    • We spend the first day learning about the events leading up to the war.  Of course there is the Archduke Ferdinand moment, but that was but one part.  There is so much more!  We discuss and act out the role of different countries as they seek to control lands in Africa (imperialism).  Every country wants to be wealthier, right?  Of course they do, and Africa had lots of natural resources!  We share our thoughts about why countries become allies and enemies and discuss why countries want to compete with each other to have the best weapons and strongest armies (militarism).  Then we discuss immigration and the different cultures that were coming to American soil during the early 20th century, each with their own beliefs and loyalties (nationalism), and how and why America decided to join the war.  By the end of the lesson students have a conceptual understanding of what led to the war.
  • DAY 2–TRENCH WARFARE
    • After reviewing what led to the war, it is time to dig in deep and discuss trench warfare!  We discuss the sacrifices the soldiers made and what life was like for them in the trenches.  What new weapons made the war so deadly and the chances of survival for those that fought–would they get trench foot?  Trench fever? Or killed or injured by the weapons of that time?  What was medical care like?  The YouTube video above does a great job of explaining trench warfare.  Please preview to make sure it is appropriate for your students.
Christmas in the Trenches 5th Grade Christmas and World War 1 History Lesson

Click the book cover to go the Amazon.com listing.

  • DAY 3–“CHRISTMAS IN THE TRENCHES” BOOK
    • Time to hear from a soldier!  I read the book “Christmas in the Trenches” by John McCutcheon. It’s a fabulous story!  A grandfather tells about Christmas night during the war, when enemy soldiers put down their weapons and ventured into no-man’s land to celebrate together.  The kids are always in awe at this idea.  If you order this book from Amazon.com it comes with a CD that includes the song “Silent Night” in German.  The kids LOVE it!

Garth Brooks Thumbs Up Meme World War 1 and The Christmas Truce Lesson

  • DAY 4–“BELLEAU WOOD” SONG/POEM BY GARTH BROOKS
    • This is where students really have to make connections and pull it all together.  I give the kids a printed copy of the song “Belleau Wood” by Garth Brooks.  NOTE–The word ‘hell’ is used towards the end.  I edited this out, both in the paper copy I give students and the audio version I play.  Know your audience.  It is used very appropriately in my opinion, but I err on the side of caution with language in 5th grade.  Back to the lesson…The song presents one soldier’s account of the Christmas truce.  I always get chills when listening.  I play the song once and they follow along.  We stop and discuss the content of the song as it relates to WWI, then talk about the poetic elements–speaker, change in tone, word choice, etc.
World War 1 and the Christmas Truce History Lesson 5th Grade

I like to post words on a chart while we are learning new content.  This helps students use the language during discussions and writing. A few of the really new or challenging terms can be taught before the lesson, which is especially helpful for ELL students. I have found that in the upper grades, content or unit specific word charts work better for me than a word wall.  I leave them up all year, but when we move to a new unit in social studies, I place the new chart on top.  Some kids still revisit the old charts when looking for a word.

  • DAY 5–ASSESSMENT
    • I do give an integrated assessment over the whole thing–a few poetry questions on the song, a pencil and paper quiz and essay on the content, some activities with the new vocabulary and so on.  Gotta get a few grades and check for mastery!
World War 1 and the Christmas Truce History Lesson 5th Grade

Critical Thinking–Discuss what might cause countries to be allies or enemies. Students can also work in groups to learn about the countries on either side, their flags, and the current relations they have with the United States.

PS–I’m working on a packet of resources to go with this lesson.  It’s not quite finished.  Hopefully over the Christmas break I can fit it into my busy napping schedule!

For more Teach History with Me posts, check out these posts on The Civil War and MLK and the Civil Rights Movement

–The Pensive Sloth

Reindeer Trail Mix…and an Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Looking for a goofy treat to share with your students this holiday season?  How about Reindeer Trail Mix!  Now, I started making this stuff years ago when I taught 1st grade and it was a hit.  When I moved to the upper grades, I needed a festive snack for our holiday party but wasn’t quite sure if my 5th and 6th graders would go along with the cheesiness of making “Reindeer Food.”  I decided to give it a try and…it turned out great!  The more I cheesed it up, the better.  Here’s the secret recipe:

 INGREDIENTS

  • “Reindeer Chow”–Coco Puff cereal
  • “Snowballs”–Small marshmallows
  • “Twigs”–Pretzel sticks
  • “Berries”–M & M candies
  • “Magic Flying Powder–Colored sugar, like you would sprinkle on cookies
  • A Ziplock baggie for each student

SETTING UP

I usually lay all of the ingredients out in bowls and post the recipe on an anchor chart.  The kids are pretty good about inferring what each ingredient in the recipe represents (twigs = pretzel sticks).  Students then go down the line to make their own trail mix, but…With the colored sugar, AKA “Magic Flying Powder,” I tape a fictional label over the manufacturer’s label.  That’s where it gets really cheesy!  It reads something like this–

“Magic Flying Powder:  Super concentrated flying powder for reindeer use only.  Use caution when feeding, making sure not to over sprinkle.  Using more than 2 shakes may cause such consequences as flight to the moon.” 

The kiddos know it is just their teacher being goofy, but they love to break the rules and over sprinkle, then joke about how they used so much that they will probably end up on Jupiter.  It’s fun for all!  HINT:  Buy an extra bottle of the “Magic Flying Powder” and keep it hidden.  Almost every year there are a few students who go way overboard and I run out, which makes those last kiddos to make the trail mix sad.  If that happens, you can pull out your extra bottle and brighten their day!

Reindeer Trail Mix Recipe Anchor Chart from The Pensive Sloth  (holidays in the upper elementary classroom)

LAST MINUTE CHRISTMAS SHOPPING???

How would an Amazon gift card help?  A teacher blogger friend of mine is hosting a giveaway for a $65 Amazon gift card.  Entering is easy.  Click the picture below and head on over to NC Teacher Chick’s blog where a Rafflecopter is waiting for your entry.  The giveaway runs Tuesday December 16 through Sunday December 20, 2014.  Good luck!

Christmas Giveaway Amazon Gift Card from NC Teacher Chick December 2014

Click the image to visit NC Teacher Chick’s blog and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway. The giveaway runs Tuesday December 16 through Saturday December 20, 2014.  Good luck!

Using Tape/Strip Diagrams in Upper Elementary Math

Ok, so I recently learned about tape/strip diagrams.  These simple little diagrams go by so many names!  You may have heard them called bar models and part-part-whole boxes (in younger grades).  In a nutshell, the diagrams help students look at part-whole relationships when problem solving.  What I really like about them is that they provide a visual for students and help build algebraic thinking skills.

Strip Tape Diagram Anchor Chart from The Pensive Sloth

Use strip/tape diagrams to boost algebraic thinking skills with your upper elementary math students.

3 Things To Do With Strip/Tape Diagrams in Upper Elementary Math

1–Model using them to solve word problems.  Model a lot!  Students need to see how they can be applied in a variety of problems, to identify when the whole is missing and when a part is missing, so they can internalize this strategy.  You can start simple with problems that have 2 parts and build from there.

2–Use them with the skills for your grade level.  In first and second grade, students may be using them with one and two digit numbers.  But, in the upper grades they can be applied to adding and subtracting with decimals and multiple digit numbers.

3–The beauty of these diagrams is that they don’t give the kids an equation to solve.  The student has to come up with the equation!  Kids have to manipulate the numbers in their mind to build the equation, especially when one part is missing.  Make kids write the equation they used to isolate the missing variable, X.  This really gets them thinking!

The diagrams are nothing new.  They’ve been around for years, but they seem to be resurfacing because they have been referenced recently in the standards.  In Texas (where I teach) they can be found in the new math TEKS in 3rd and 4th grade.  Texas calls them strip diagrams.  They are also referenced in Common Core.  To be honest, when using them with my 5th graders I use the word TAPE DIAGRAM on purpose, not STRIP DIAGRAM.  If you teach 5th grade, you understand why!

–The Pensive Sloth

PS– If you are interested in some task cards for tape/strip diagrams, I put together a set for my students to practice adding and subtracting decimals.  There are 3 sets of task cards in this pack for a total of 72 task cards.  Plus, they have QR codes so students can self check!  A non-QR code version is also included.

strip tape diagram task cards from The Pensive Sloth

Looking for practice activities for your students using strip/tape diagrams? Check out this set from my TPT store.