Life Science

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!

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Project Boards Make for an Easy Status of the Class

The end of the year in my classroom brings lots of big projects!  As my 5th graders get ready to go off to middle school, I want them to be prepared to tackle time management with lengthier, more complex assignments.  Students have spent about an hour a day over the last 2 weeks working on a biome web design activity where they research a biome and build a website designed to teach younger students about their biome.  This project is huge.  Not only are they researching and writing about their learning, they are also adding images, text, and activities to a live website!  It can be difficult to know where students are and if they are making progress towards goals.  So, to help me monitor how my students are progressing, we use a project board.  It’s simple.  Students move their clip to show their progression on a project.  When I notice a student (or group) is falling behind, I can see it and intervene.  Students who are ahead of the game may need a mini-lesson on going deeper, or they may be ready for an extension.  This year I used the stiff foam poster board because it sits easily on the marker tray of my white board and I can move it around if needed.  Check it out, below!

@thepensivesloth class project biomes classroom management research 5th grade

Use a foam board and clothespins to make a project board for lengthy assignments. Project boards help you to get a status of the class and intervene with students who fall behind or need extension activities because they are zooming ahead.

Thanks for stopping by!

–The Pensive Sloth

 

End of Year Behavior Booster–It’s Sciencetastic!

Every teacher knows that the end of the year can present some classroom management challenges.  Kids are excited about summer, there are loose ends to tie up with library books and paperwork, and for some reason students think that when state testing is over, so is all the learning.  So, I am trying something new this year–Using SCIENCE to encourage excellent behavior!  I love science.  My students love science.  And there are so many great hands-on activities that don’t quite fit into the year.  Why not do those NOW as the year is winding down?

Here’s my plan.  I’m starting with an owl pellet lab.  Owl pellets are great for reviewing life science concepts like food chains, ecosystems, and much more!  So, to encourage great behavior, we have set a goal that our class needs to earn 10 points to earn the owl pellet lab and we will track our points each day.  When we reach 10, we earn the owl pellet lab!  The sooner we reach 10 points, the sooner we get to dig in to those owl pellets.  I’ve even posted a chart in the room to track our points, and since we are working with integers, I’ve tied that in too.

@thepensivesloth Owl Pellet Lab #5thgrade #classroommanagement

End of the Year Motivator–We are using science to encourage excellent behavior as the year winds down. Here is our class chart as we work to earn 10 points for an owl pellet lab activity.

I am also planning to build solar powered ovens for cooking smores and to build and test paper airplanes, but students are going to have to earn it!  My kids are excited and I could see this working for all kinds of things–reader’s theater, math art projects, and much more.  Want to know a secret?  I actually planned to do this stuff anyway, but now I get a little more bang for my buck with a little class motivation.

–The Pensive Sloth

5th Grade Life Science: Physical and Behavioral Adaptations

We are in full life science mode right now and spent the last few days learning about adaptations.  Students made vocabulary foldables for new words and we sorted adaptations into physical (structural) and behavioral categories using a tree map.

To show what they have learned, students are inventing an animal!  I’m super excited about this ‘Invent an Animal’ project and so are they.  I’ve given them each the description of an imaginary habitat and they have to invent an animal with specific adaptations for surviving in this environment.  I’ll come back and let you know how it all worked out!

Glad you stopped in!

–The Pensive Sloth

@thepensivesloth 5th grade life science adaptations anchor chart

Tree map sorting adaptations into two categories.

@thepensivesloth 5th Grade Animal Adaptations Vocabulary

Our adaptations word wall– I’m trying something new with my word walls so that they are portable and content specific rather than alphabetical. Students made foldables of these words by defining them in their own words and drawing a picture. We will add the foldables to our science notebooks.

@thepensivesloth Darkling Beetles Mealworms Pupa insect life cycle

UPDATE–We’re Still Infested!

This will be short, but I wanted to send an update about how our mealworms have become Darkling Beetles.  They started emerging from their pupal stage on Monday, March 31, and most were a very light brown.  I think we only have one pupa left, all others have emerged and turned black.  I was under the impression that they ate their exoskeletons.  I guess not because there are TONS of exoskeletons in the cage.  There are still a few dead mealworms that I need to remove, which could be contributing to a strange odor, but with STAAR testing it has been super busy and all of our critters have been locked in a cabinet since Monday afternoon.  They were released from the cabinet today to pose for these pictures!  To read about our full insect zoo, click here.

@thepensivesloth Darkling Beetles Mealworms Pupa insect life cycle

I numbered the photo so that it would be easier to see what is what.

@thepensivesloth insect life cycle mealworms darkling beetles pupa larvae

Here’s a side view. The beetles are fairly active, but clumsy and slow. The kids had a great time watching them emerge on Monday. Very memorable!

I also bought some Flightless Fruit Flies to add to our classroom insect zoo.  Who knew there was such a thing?  And, shouldn’t they be called Flightless Fruit Bugs since they can’t fly?  I haven’t opened the container to see if they really are flightless because they appear to have fully functioning wings and I don’t care to find out yet.  We will open them when our Praying Mantises hatch.  These little Flightless Fruit Flies are thoroughly disgusting, so your students would love them!  You can buy them in a vial at Petsmart or Petco for about $5.99.  I think they last a few weeks which is about how long we have had them.  They come in a small, clear cylinder which is perfect for passing around.  What’s great about them is that you can see the larva growing as the maggots inch around, you can see some pupa that look like little Cumin spice seeds, and the adult flies crawling around near the top.  I’ve heard you can put them in a new container with a piece of rotten fruit and keep the colony going on forever.  Not so sure about that one.  Hopefully the Mantises will finish them off…but what will I do with the larvae?  Anyway…the kids had a great time being grossed out!

Flightless Fruit Flies Classroom Insect Zoo metamorphosis insect life cycles

These are Flightless Fruit Flies. They are perfect for learning about complete and incomplete metamorphosis. The blue stuff at the bottom must be food, the red in the middle is some kind of net for them to crawl around, and the little white things…those are maggots (fruit fly larvae). Gross!

Funny story–I almost killed the flies.  I left them in the car overnight so I wouldn’t forget them the next day.  As is typical for Texas, the temperature went from a warm 70 something to freezing overnight.  When I found them in the car that morning, nothing was moving.  Nada.  I set them in a desk drawer at school and they started moving about.  I guess they didn’t get too cold!  Whew!

 

–The Pensive Sloth

 

PS–If you are looking for an activity to review complete and incomplete metamorphosis, look no further!  Check out this insect life cycle sort.  Perfect for reviewing before the science STAAR test.

Insect Life Cycle Sort for Complete and Incomplete Metamorphosis

Click the picture to see this in my TPT store. Great STAAR review!

 

My Many Anchor Charts Monday

Here’s a quick photo post about what has been happening in my classroom the last few weeks!

We read a book about the Lewis and Clark expedition then made a diagram to show Thomas Jefferson's goals for the expedition.  As a class, we did a shared writing exercise turning our diagram into a letter to TJ!  As we read, we kept a record of the animals, plants, land, water, and Indian tribes we encountered.  AND we drew pictures!  I hope you like my bison and grizzly bear.  Have I mentioned that I was not blessed with artistic talents???

We read a book about the Lewis and Clark expedition then made a diagram to show Thomas Jefferson’s goals for the expedition. As a class, we did a shared writing exercise turning our diagram into a letter to TJ! As we read, we kept a record of the animals, plants, land, water, and Indian tribes we encountered. AND we drew pictures! I hope you like my bison and grizzly bear. Have I mentioned that I was not blessed with artistic talents??? Want you kids to LOVE learning about Lewis and Clark, click the picture for a rockin’ rap about Lewis and Clark.

Students researched different territories acquired by the US in the 19th century and presented their reports to the class while I recorded their findings.  Fun!  We learned about the Oregon Country, Mexican Cession, Gadsden Purchase, Florida Acquisition, Louisiana Purchase, Texas Annexation, and what the US was like in 1783.

Students researched different territories acquired by the US in the 19th century and presented their reports to the class while I recorded their findings. Fun! We learned about the Oregon Country, Mexican Cession, Gadsden Purchase, Florida Acquisition, Louisiana Purchase, Texas Annexation, and what the US was like in 1783.

Text structure/organization anchor chart to help students understand how authors communicate relationships between ideas.

Text structure/organization anchor chart to help students understand how authors communicate relationships between ideas.

I wrote about Fraction Boot Camp in another post if you want to learn more.  As a class we set goals for common assessments and chart our progress.  When we do really well we have a picnic lunch outside.  I used smiley faces to cover up class averages.  Great activity as you prepare for state testing (STAAR).  It certainly helps with motivation!

I wrote about Fraction Boot Camp in another post. Click the picture if you want to learn more.  As a class we set goals for common assessments and chart our progress. When we do really well we have a picnic lunch outside. I used smiley faces to cover up class averages. Great activity as you prepare for state testing (STAAR). It certainly helps with motivation!

Anchor chart showing incomplete and complete metamorphosis.  Want to see our metamorphosis lab in action?  Check out the post on our Insect Zoo.

Anchor chart showing incomplete and complete metamorphosis. Want to see our metamorphosis lab in action? Click this picture to read a post on our Insect Zoo!

We had a great time launching the interdependency lesson.  Students brainstormed living and non-living things in a park environment and illustrated and wrote about how everything was connected, or interdependent on each other for survival.  Once again, feel free to giggle at my artwork!  I certainly do...but I have fun drawing!

We had a great time launching the interdependency lesson. Students brainstormed living and non-living things in a park environment and illustrated and wrote about how everything was connected, or interdependent on each other for survival. Once again, feel free to giggle at my artwork! I certainly do…but I have fun drawing!

Infested: All About Our Classroom Insect Zoo

Our Insect Zoo--We are studying complete and incomplete metamorphosis.  Which insects undergo complete metamorphosis?  Incomplete metamorphosis?

Our Insect Zoo–We are studying complete and incomplete metamorphosis. Which insects undergo complete metamorphosis? Incomplete metamorphosis?

One of our state standards for 5th grade life science is insect life cycles.  Students are expected to describe the differences between incomplete and complete metamorphosis.  What better way to do this than by watching it happen in real time!  So, we have created an insect zoo in our classroom.  You can do it too!  Here are our inhabitants.

Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches–These little guys are awesome.  The kids can handle them, they are hardy (so if you forget to feed them for a day or week then they are fine), and there are so many concepts you can teach!  I partner students up and give each pair an adult roach in a plastic tub to touch and observe.  They love this!  There is usually some screaming and jumping back at first, but they really bond with the little roaches and start naming them by the end of the lesson.  I had students sketch and label what they observed and write down questions to look up later and let me tell you, they did some serious Googling!  There is nothing like seeing a kiddo truly engaged and searching to find out answers to their own questions.  We always hold a debrief session and meet together on the rug to record what we have learned, especially new vocabulary.  Oh, and these guys go through INCOMPLETE METAMORPHOSIS.

This is our hissing cockroach tank. The babies (nymphs) only escape every now and then...

This is our hissing cockroach tank. The babies (nymphs) only escape every now and then…

There are a few nymphs, or babies, on the underside of the toilet paper tube. There are lots more nymphs under the other tubes!

There are a few nymphs, or babies, on the underside of the toilet paper tube. There are lots more nymphs under the other tubes!

Here are our hissing cockroach pets from the top. These are adults. That yellow stuff in the corner is Cricket Quencher and is an easy way to provide water for cockroaches. They drown in water dishes that are too deep!

Here are our hissing cockroach pets from the top. These are adults. That yellow stuff in the corner is Cricket Quencher and is an easy way to provide water for cockroaches. They drown in water dishes that are too deep!

Darkling Beetles (AKA Mealworms)--I’m a little grossed out by these little guys in their pupal state, but these insects are a perfect example of COMPLETE metamorphosis.  You can pick up mealworms at some bait shops or pet stores.  I got mine at Petsmart.  They are super cheap and easy to care for.  They recommend oatmeal for them to munch and crawl around in.  You should also provide a slice of potato every other day for water and extra carbs!  Mealworms don’t watch their weight.  Their goal, like all larva, is to pump up…to get fat!  Anyway, with these guys your students will be able to see the larva, pupa, and adults.  I’ve never seen an egg because they are so small.  Mealworms are safe for students to handle in their larval state.  We try not to disturb them when they are pupa just in case that would prevent them from making it to the adult stage.

Our mealworms chillin' in their tank

Our mealworms chillin’ in their tank

You can see two stages in this picture, the long brown guys are the larva, the off white guys are the pupa.  You can see a really white pupa in the middle.  He just shed his exoskeleton that afternoon!

You can see two stages in this picture, the long brown guys are the larva, the off white guys are the pupa. You can see a really white pupa in the middle. He just shed his exoskeleton that afternoon!  The dark brown worms didn’t make it…funeral arrangements have not been planned yet. 🙂

Here's a view from the front of the pupa and larva.  Darkling beetles will emerge soon...

Here’s a view from the front of the pupa and larva. Darkling beetles will emerge soon…The yellow Cricket Quencher isn’t necessary right now because the pupa don’t eat or drink.  There were a few larva left, so I put it in for them.  We were all out of potatoes!

Superworms–This is my first year working with Superworms, but I wanted to have 2 examples of COMPLETE METAMORPHOSIS for my students so I discovered the Superworm.  I always thought that they were just big mealworms.  They aren’t.  They are a species like the mealworm, but these guys are not safe for students to handle because they can pinch with their mouths.  Superworms are bigger and a lot more active than mealworms.  Also, you can’t refrigerate them.  You may wonder “Why would I refrigerate worms?”  Well, if you put mealworms in the fridge they will go into an dormant state for a while and won’t pupate.  If you put Superworms in the fridge, they die.  Superworms are slightly more fun to observe because they do wiggle more.  You care for them in about the same way.  Oatmeal and potatoes.  Boy can they eat a potato!  In just a day there will be holes all in  your potato slice.  What is REALLY cool about Superworms is that they won’t pupate unless isolated.  What this means is that you have to separate each into a little container so that there is no food, water, or movement around it.  Only then will it begin to pupate.  Like I said, this is a first for me.  We haven’t isolated them yet, but I think I will use a fishing lure box or craft storage box.  I’ve heard that they will eat right out of egg cartons!  I’ll post pictures when they start to pupate.

Here are our Superworms!

Here are our Superworms!

Here you can see a bunch of the little guys.  I had to wiggle the tank to get them to come to the top.

Here you can see a bunch of the little guys. I had to wiggle the tank to get them to come to the top.  The yellow stuff is the Cricket Quencher.  It isn’t necessary if you add a potato or moist fruit each day, but I was all out of potatoes and fruit.

Superworms--larva of a beetle, though I don't remember what kind.  Fun!

Superworms–larva of a beetle, though I don’t remember what kind. Fun!

Praying Mantis–If you want to teach your students about cannibalism, then these are the guys to help you do it!  Actually, I don’t think any of us plan to do that, but that is exactly what happens when the nymphs emerge if you don’t feed them.  The Praying Mantis is a great example of INCOMPLETE METAMORPHOSIS.  They hatch from an egg case as tiny nymphs and almost immediately start hunting.  No fruit flies?  That’s ok.  I’ll eat my siblings.  It is truly survival of the fittest.  We will feed these guys fruit flies and watch them grow!  I’ll post more pictures as they do.  You can order a Praying Mantis egg case online.  Ours came set up in their habitat already!  I don’t think the students have a grasp on how many will emerge from the egg case.  We are planning to grow our own fruit flies as food, so watch for a post on that soon.  I love science!!!

If you look closely you can see the egg case on the branch in the top left corner.  I wonder how many little insects are in there?

If you look closely you can see the egg case on the branch in the top left corner. I wonder how many little insects are in there?

Is the plural of mantis mantids or mantises???  You can see the egg case in the top right corner hanging off the branch.  We can't wait for the nymphs to come out!

Is the plural of mantis mantids or mantises??? You can see the egg case in the top right corner hanging off the branch. We can’t wait for the nymphs to come out!

Thanks for stopping by…follow this blog for updates on our insect zoo!

–The Pensive Sloth