Science

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: Moon In My Room

Moon In My Room Shut Up and Take My Money Blog Series About Classroom Gadgets from the Pensive Sloth

One of the hardest science concepts to teach well is moon phases and patterns in the sky.  It’s a 4th grade science standard here in Texas and it’s tested on our 5th grade science STAAR test.  Every year my kids struggle with this.  Every. Stinking. Year.  Last week I noticed my father-in-law had a digital clock that also showed the current moon phase.  I’d never seen such magic.  After resisting the urge to “borrow” it, I headed to Amazon to find one of my own, and I found something better–Uncle Milton’s Moon In My Room (On sale and I only paid $15.99!).  It’s pretty much as described.  A model of the moon for your room that you can control with a remote.  Here’s a video you can watch so you can see for yourself how spectacular this gadget is.

 

What I like and how I plan to use it:

  • The plastic moon is 3D, bumpy, and looks pretty realistic.  We’ll have to pass it around so the kids can feel the surface.
  • It’s easy to use.  You push a button on the remote to change phases and you can cycle through several times to help the kids see the pattern (much more important than just memorizing phase names).  Or, you can push the automatic button and the moon will cycle through all phases on its own.
  • I think we’ll hang a chart beside the moon for the kids to use to help identify the phases, then turn off the lights and quiz ourselves to practice.  Waxing gibbous, first quarter, waning crescent…oh the fun we’ll have!
  • Students can draw the moon they see at night in their moon journals, and we’ll match our classroom moon to the current moon phase.
Teaching Moon Phases for Science STAAR with Moon In My Room Gadget

Here’s a few photos I took while playing with the moon! First, before I unboxed it. Second, the full moon lit up with the remote beside it. Third, a waning crescent moon with the remote.

What I don’t like:

  • The model moon lights up.  This is only a problem because I worry my students will think the real moon makes it’s own light.  Not true.  This is a perfect opportunity to introduce the limitations of models to students.  Teachable moment!
  • I will probably lose the remote and it won’t work without it.

I’ll come back and post an update in a few weeks to let you know what my students think.  If you’re looking for more Shut Up and Take My Money posts on cool things to buy for your classroom, hop on over and read about the Amazing Moving Plant and the Circuit Scribe.

–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!***

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

Jumpstart January Linky and Giveaway 2015–Tips for Keeping Vocabulary Instruction Fresh

Jumpstart January Blog Hop and Giveaway Lesson Deli

Learning new words can be tough and things have changed a lot since I was in 5th grade over 20 years ago.  I remember getting a list of words from my teacher and using the dictionary or textbook glossary to copy the definitions verbatim from the book.  Sometimes we would write the definition a few times or use the new terms to fill in the blanks.  If we were lucky, we got to write a sentence with all 20 words for homework on Tuesday night.  Now, those activities still have their place.  There are times when using words in sentences and locating definitions is necessary and important, but I’ve learned after several years of teaching that those activities alone aren’t sticky, meaning that they don’t help students get to know and use new words.

My goal when teaching vocabulary is to give my students as many real experiences as I can with new words.  Here are my top 4 things to do when teaching vocabulary:

1.  Maximum Exposure–If they can see it, use it, touch it, etc. they are more likely to understand it.  You and I know that a delta is a landform built up when sediment is dropped off at the mouth of a river, right?  But what does that look like?  How does the sediment get there?  Will I ever get to see a delta if I live in west Texas?  Simply showing a satellite photo of a few major deltas in the world can make this term come alive for students.    Pull up an image of the Lena Delta from the Nasa Earth Observatory and talk about it.  But, don’t just show them one delta.  Then pull up an image of a different delta and observe, discuss, and sketch a diagram in science notebooks.  Perhaps the Mississippi Delta in Louisiana.  That second photo will help the new word stick.  Why?  Because now they have enough background to really analyze the Mississippi Delta and start asking some questions.  They’ve seen one and can now make connections between the two pictures.

2.  Variety is the Spice of Life–And also the spice of vocabulary instruction.  If you use the same strategies for every word, every time, students get bored.  Mix things up.  The human brain perks up when something novel is happening.  Use actions to represent words like predator (show claws and fangs) and prey (hands together like saying a prayer “Please don’t let me get eaten.”).  Take student outside with hand lenses to look at the sediments in the sidewalk when talking about cementation.  Hold a debate about whether their are more magnetic things in the room or more non-magnetic things.

3.  Real-World Meanings–Sometimes giving an example or describing a word is more helpful than defining it.  When learning new words, I like to get students to record what they think will help them remember what the word means, and that isn’t always just the definition.  Model different ways to get to know new words and encourage students to write meanings that make sense to them, not just definitions.

4.  YouTube–If you’ve read some of my other posts you know that I love using YouTube in the classroom.  There are some things that can only be experienced live, and YouTube is the closest to live that we’ve got to observe such things as the tides coming in and out or a glacier moving over time.   Give it a try!  A 30 second clip can make a word of difference.

Looking to make vocabulary instruction come alive in your science classroom?  How about a freebie for teaching properties of light that includes a foldable, cut and paste activity, quiz,  AND teaching points for bringing vocabulary alive in the classroom!

Proprerties of Light Vocabulary Freebie

Click the image to download a vocabulary unit for teaching Properties of Light.

FREEBIE–Properties of Light Vocabulary Unit

Physical Science Vocabulary From The Pensive Sloth

Plus, from NOW until January 4th, 2015.  my science vocabulary units are on sale for only a dollar!

Physical Science     Earth Science     Life Science

Jumpstart January Next Stop Blog Hop and Giveaway

Next stop…Misty Miller of Little Room Under the Stairs!When you make it through the whole hop, you will land at The Lesson Deli page where you can enter to win a $50 Target gift card!  Best of luck and happy new year!

Shut Up and Take My Money Teacher Style: Circuit Scribe

Circuit Scribe Shut Up and Take My Money Teacher Style Blog Series About Classroom Gadgets from The Pensive Sloth

There is a hilarious site called Shut Up and Take My Money that peddles unusual gadgets and such.  Not all of which are suitable for work, so if you are reading this at school I suggest clicking on that link when you get home.  Well, here’s the first in a series of a teacher-style version of classroom must-haves!

Somehow I happened upon this YouTube video for a product called Circuit Scribe.

Then promptly checked out their Kickstarter page.  They raised almost $700,000 dollars!!!  But… the product won’t ship until August.  Boohoo!  You can pre-order here.  Basically, it allows you to draw circuits that work.  Imagine the many ways you could use this in your science classroom.  Talk about STEM!

You should know that I’m not patient, so I found something similar on Amazon that I can play with until I get my Circuit Scribe!  I ordered this $10 pen that contains nickel instead of silver and I can not wait to  give it a try.  I should probably go buy some watch batteries and LED lights.  I’ll come back and share the fun when it arrives.

–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:  While this is a really cool product, I don’t see it being affordable enough for regular classroom use.  After playing with it myself for an evening (I was very impressed), I realized that this could get costly with a group of 5th graders and opted to go with a different circuit activity at school.  It required some major problem-solving on my part, with trial and error as I figured out how to fold the paper just right so the positive and negative sides of the batteries connected to my hand-drawn ‘wires.’  I could see middle and high-school students really thriving with this, but my little elementary guys would need to use a lot of ink for their trial/error sessions, and it’s a little pricey for my tastes because you’d have to replace the pens every year.  Perhaps if you wrote a grant? 

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!