Science 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

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.

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

Thinking Maps and Anchor Charts–The Brace Map

I love Thinking Maps! If you haven’t heard of them, a quick search will help you find lots of information. In a nutshell, Thinking Maps are a set of 8 specific graphic organizers based on 8 cognitive skills. They are meant to help students visually represent content based on relationships. The focus of this post will be on The Brace Map.

Brace Maps are used to analyze the structure of whole/part relationships. The Brace Map is quite popular in my classroom.  Here are two ways we have used it this past year!

At the beginning of the year while setting up reading workshop we always discuss genres.  This is a great opportunity for a Brace Map.  You can see we started with genre and categorized it into fiction and non-fiction.  We then took it one step further and broke each of those into parts.

A Brace Map we created at the beginning of the year when learning about different genres.

A Brace Map we created at the beginning of the year when learning about different genres.

Ok, this next one is a little funny.  I have to say that my anchor charts don’t always turn out like those glorious ones you see on Pinterest with all of the color and professional illustrations.  Someday I fully expect to see them on a FAIL meme.  I was not blessed with artistic talents.  Nope.  But this does not stop me in adding illustrations to my anchor charts!  It is important for students to have illustrations to accompany new vocabulary.   ELL students really need these and the brain loves color and novelty, so illustrations are a must!  I don’t pre-make my anchor charts.  We gather together to record our thinking and I’m usually in a hurry to keep up the momentum, so I quickly sketch!  My students and I get a chuckle sometimes (OK, often) at the drawings, it gives them something to look forward to when we meet on the rug, and it lets them know that it is OK to take risks and laugh at your mistakes.  Oh, and we label things a lot so that it is obvious what was drawn there.  Here it is folks…a Brace Map of human body systems that we created during our health unit.

A hilarious anchor chart on human body systems.  We used a Brace Map to sort the whole into parts.

A hilarious anchor chart on human body systems. We used a Brace Map to sort the whole into parts.

I hope you got a chuckle, and perhaps learned a little about how to use Brace Maps in your classroom!

–The Pensive Sloth