Hang in there my teacher friends. You got this! Here’s a little humor to help you make it to the finish line…
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Finally, share and discuss as a class, having students make corrections on their chart.
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–
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.
Funko Pops. They’ve been the thorn in my side for several months now. When we went on vacation this summer, a few came back with us. When I arrive home after a long day of teaching, there’s often a Pops-sized box on the porch from Amazon or some other online retailer. I literally can’t escape them because they’ve become my husband’s obsession. Usually these little guys stay in his office. It’s one of those unwritten house rules, but when my husband looked less than enthusiastic about putting up the tree this year, I got an idea and decided to make use of the little devils.
The first challenge was finding a way to hang them on the tree without *damaging* them (Mr. Pensive Sloth insisted upon this). Luckily we had some pipe cleaners around. I tried wrapping the wire around their scrawny necks, but they just fell over. The same thing happened when I wrapped it around their torsos. The little buggers are so top heavy, that everywhere I tried to hang them from just resulted in a Pop facing down. I thought I was onto something when I decided we’d just hang them all up by their tiny feet and have upside down Pops all over the tree. I was quite fond of this idea, but it was quickly vetoed.
I’d almost given up when I figured it out. Cue 90s pop song…”This is how we do it…” Here are the steps from the photograph (below):
- Gather a Pop and a pipe cleaner. We had white and they matched our tree, but if your tree is green, consider green pipe cleaners so they blend in.
- Fold the pipe cleaner in half and put it around the neck with the open part in the back.
- Twist the two ends together close to the neck.
- Bring the sides up around the head of the Pop, near where the ears would be.
- Twist the two ends very tightly together at the top so they don’t slide back and forth.
- Hang on the tree! There is usually enough left to twist around a branch, but if there isn’t you can make a hook out of a small piece of pipe cleaner and attach this to the one around the head.
NOTE: This doesn’t work for all Pops. Some heads are bigger than others, some have decorations on their already enormous heads that prevent a pipe cleaner from going around easily, etc. On a few of the big ones, I did the same thing after twisting two pipe cleaners together. You just have to be creative if you really want it on the tree. Or give up and choose a different Pop. We did that too sometimes. As you can see, we also have a fake Christmas tree, so the branches are pretty strong and can be bent around to support the pops. Some of these little guys are crazy heavy for their size, so if you’ve got a real tree, test a few out first.
Overall it was a lot of fun! We got into a rhythm where I added the pipe cleaners and my husband carefully placed each Pop on the tree. He enjoyed making sure the characters stayed with their bonded Pop families. Here’s the final product!
If you’ve got children or a husband with a wild collection of small objects (Pops, superheroes, dolls, toy cars, Beanie Boos, etc.), why not turn it into something fun and make a themed Christmas tree? Share your ideas and experiences below.
Now, you may be wondering how this is related to teaching. It’s not, but was so much fun that I had to share! Of course if you have a bunch of Pops around and want to do this in your classroom, I’m sure your kiddos would love it (make sure to use school-friendly Pops!). I did get an idea that I plan to have the kiddos start on next week. A favorite character theme Christmas tree. More info on that coming soon!
–The Pensive Sloth
Thanksgiving break has been delightful! A whole week to…do laundry, cook, catch up on housework, clean out closets, fix the dishwasher, replace a door, and of course sleep in, Netflix, spend time with the family and eat yummy food. But on Monday, it all begins again. Are you ready?
Good luck. May the force be with you. Stay strong. We’re all depending on you. You can do it!
–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.
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!***
Ok, I know this isn’t teaching related, but it was fun and is relevant for October and Halloween! I decided to try something new with my pumpkin this year, and I discovered pumpkin drilling! Here’s what it looks like–
Should you want to try this on your own, you should know a few things.
1. Your forearm will hurt. Power drills are heavy. You have to hold that thing while you drill hundreds of holes. Be prepared.
2. Pumpkin bits will be everywhere. I didn’t realize the power of the drill, and I may have been a little over zealous at first, sending chunks all about my dining room. If you push that button ever so slightly and slow down, it’s not bad. Maybe you should do this outside?
3. If you have dogs, they’ll eat the pumpkin bits they can reach. They took care of the floor, but I’m going to have to wipe down the walls myself. Fun fact: Pumpkin improves your dog’s breath.
4. If you have people in the room, they’ll be annoyed when they get hit with flying pumpkin for the 4th time.
5. You’ll look up at the clock and notice it’s past midnight, you have to teach tomorrow, and wonder how in the world putting holes in a pumpkin can take you three hours. THREE HOURS?
FUN DISCOVERY–An avocado slicer will get your pumpkin crazy clean on the inside. In that kitchen drawer filled with strange utensils I never use, I found this thing and WOW. Try it next year. NOTE: Avocados are easy to slice. Why does this thing exist? They should call it a pumpkin cleaner-outer.
Have a happy Halloween my teacher friends! Eat lots of chocolate.
–The Pensive Sloth
NOT THAT: Label everything (cubbies, mailboxes, lockers, etc.) with student names.
My big tip for heading back to school is to assign your students numbers at the beginning of the year. Here’s why:
FIRST: You can easily number your student mailboxes, cubbies, folders, and more and not have to re-label everything each year. It saves a lot of time! Plus, you don’t have to wait for your class list to label stuff. If you teach upper elementary, consider using roman numerals. Then students HAVE to learn what those mean! Imagine NOT having to peel name stickers off of everything at the end of the year and instead just putting up those circle dot stickers they sell at Walmart once every few years.
SECOND: Finding out who is missing an assignment is so much easier. One of my classroom jobs is “paper manager.” Their job is to collect all papers and put them in number order. I teach students to write their number very large in the top left hand corner of every paper at the beginning of the year. The paper managers can quickly find who is missing an assignment and gather it from the student. If the assignment isn’t done, or a student is absent, the paper manager writes a list on a sticky note and puts it on the stack before paper clipping the bundle of assignments together.
THIRD: By about week three I have my numbered list memorized. It helps a ton during emergency drills and field trips. I can call my class list out from memory to see if anyone is missing. Yes, most of the time I have my gradebook and can look at my list, but if I’m ever without it, I’m fine!
You might be saying, “But I want my classroom to be personal. Students should have their names on cubbies!” I have used this system with success for over a decade. Even with first graders! A veteran teacher shared this tip with me and I’m quite grateful! Some students truly want their name on stuff and here is my suggestion: Let them! Students can decorate an index card with their name and use a piece of painter’s tape to affix the name to the cubby/locker/desk.
Now for the giveaway stuff… you’ve worked hard setting up that classroom! Would you like to win a $25 Amazon gift card from The Pensive Sloth to spoil yourself (or buy something for your classroom)? Of course you would! Click the link below to be taken to Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway.
My giveaway terms: To be eligible to win, you must be a teacher or homeschooling parent in the US or Canada. Verification may be required. Once a winner is chosen and contacted, he/she has 24 hours to respond by email. If a response isn’t received in the time frame, a new winner will be selected and contacted. If something seems fishy, I reserve the right to use Rafflecopter to select a new winner. Only one $25 Amazon gift card will be given away.
More great giveaway stuff…Click the NEXT STOP image below to see what Miss Stefany has to share and giveaway! There are nine teacher bloggers in this hop, each giving away something fantastic, so don’t stop here. Keep going! You can do it! After you hop through, you’ll land at the Lesson Deli page where you can enter to win a $100 gift card to TPT.