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Four easy STEM activities for Kindergarten

Hello Friends,

 Well, we are now in the 4th quarter. As always, it hardly seems possible that we are in the home stretch! The fun thing about the 4th quarter is how independent and competent my students have become. They know our classroom routines/schedules and are pretty capable of accomplishing most everything that I ask them to do. That makes for a smooth running day which of course, causes a spike in learning - woo hoo!



I thought that I would share four STEM activities that we did this past week. I took a class this past summer on the Next Generation Science Standards. An area that fascinated me was the turn that teaching is taking from teacher directed to student generated learning. I have always been a hands-on teacher, but I often would give my students the whole picture before giving them the opportunity to try it out. In my class, I was told that students should be given the opportunity to explore FIRST; then the discussion of what they experienced is turned into the lesson. It is a learning tweak that has challenged me as a teacher. I have had to let go and allow my students to find a path to the outcome without much direction from me. It's been fun watching them start with a hypothesis, test it out, and eventually come to a conclusion. Each of these activities took about 10 minutes. I set a timer and my kiddos rotated through each one.



ACTIVITY 1: 

 Your teddy bear is stuck at the bottom of a well. You have a rope. How can you get your animal out of the well?

As you can see from the photo above, Teddy was in a bucket in the "well". The chair was the well. My students were told that they could not climb into the well to get Teddy. They had to get both Teddy and the bucket out of the well at the same time. It was interesting to watch them try to figure out what to do. Finally, they realized that if they looped the rope over the handle, they could PULL Teddy AND the bucket out of the well. After rescuing Teddy, they asked if they could put other animal friends in the well. Of course! This allowed them to understand that you need more strength to pull something that is heavy compared to something that is light.



 ACTIVITY 2: 


How does a parachute work? Follow the steps to make a parachute. Tie your parachute to a small toy. Have a race between a toy NOT tied to a parachute and a toy that IS tied to a parachute. Which toy hits the floor first? If you were on the top of the mountain and needed to get down, would you jump or use a parachute? Why?

This activity was hard for my kinders; mainly because it involved tying knots! If you have a parent volunteer, I would suggest stationing them at this activity to help with the tying. I also suggest that you use lightweight paper and as well as a lightweight toy. We used regular copy paper and it was really too heavy. We also tied a clothespin to the bottom of the yarn which seemed too heavy. We did this activity as a follow-up to our gravity explorations. Their task was to understand how a parachute creates AIR RESISTANCE that slows down the effect of gravity. The fun part in this activity was that that they were able to stand up on a "mountain" (ladder) and drop their parachute!





ACTIVITY 3:  

Set up the empty bottles.
Try to knock the bottles down without using your hands.
How can you knock the most bottles down at the same time?


This was a simple activity to explore PUSH. The hardest part of the activity was collecting the empty bottles! We used empty water bottles. My husband suggested that I weight them somehow with rice or sand. BUT, I did not and the kids still had a good time and learned something about push and strength.


ACTIVITY 4: 

How can you get the pom-pom from one end to the other without using your hands? 

I wanted my kids to experiment with wind power and to come to the conclusion that wind is a force that PUSHES. I applied blue tape on two sides of a table. I laid out various sizes of pom-poms in which to experiment. They used their wind power to PUSH the pom-poms from one side of the table to another.

 The next day, we discussed our conclusions. They then did a recording sheet showing their results.





 If you would like the recording sheets and the station signs, click HERE.
    
This is a Google doc.  If your school blocks sites that are outside the network, you will be unable to access this download at school. You will have to download it at home.

Until next time, my friends!

Blessings,

Spring Break.... A Way for Teachers to Feel Energized for the Sprint to the End!

Hello Friends,

I am starting my spring break today.... We are not going anywhere. Of course, I WISH that we were on a plane flying to some exotic place where I could put my toes in the water and see amazing sights. But, at this particular point in my life, that possibility does not exist and I am okay with that. I happen to live in a university town, so getting around town and exploring is much easier when there are less people around. I have absolutely NOTHING on my "to do" list..... and I okay with that, too!

Teachers really do need this little break... (kids do, too!) I sometimes wish that I could show people what my school day (week) is like.... Despite the fact that it LOOKS like my day starts at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 2:30 p.m., that is not the case. My sister-in-law is a nurse who works 12 hour days. I have a fire fighter friend who works a shift that involves staying at the station for 24 hours; always being prepared for an emergency. Although, my days do not involve staying at school for that length of time, my day DOES involve long hours; much more than my "paid time" shows.....

My day starts at 5:30 a.m. I get up, shower, get dressed, grab breakfast, and check email. After replying to parent emails, I am off to school by 6:45 a.m. When I arrive at school, I make sure that I am organized, know my plans for the day, and have materials ready for the day ahead. An unprepared teacher is the kiss of death. Kids have a unique radar... they can tell when a teacher is "winging it" and that is not a place in which I want to be!


 When the kids arrive at 7:50 a.m., I put on my game face; even if I am tired, stressed, or have the sniffles. I am the captain of the ship and my students need my strength and positive attitude.  I encourage, coax reluctant learners to try, mend broken school supplies, help kids negotiate problems, while at the same time, differentiating curriculum to reach all learning styles and skills. Don't get me wrong..... I LOVE what I do! When a child reaches a goal and is proud of what he/she has accomplished, I feel their joy. When the bell rings at 2:30 p.m., I tell my students good-bye and look forward to when I will see them again.

My school day does not end at 2:30 p.m., though..... When my kiddos are gone, there is a classroom to tidy up, papers/projects to go through, faculty meetings to attend, after school tutoring, parent-teacher conferences, emails to answer...... I usually leave school around 3:30 or 4:00 p.m. I KNOW that still sounds like an easy day.... but...... preparing for school does not end there. When I get home, I try to get in some kind of exercise. I think about dinner. I might throw in a load of laundry or empty the dishwasher. I make time for my family..... and then.... I check lesson plans. Most days, I revise my plans in some way. I usually work on school plans for at least an hour... then when I am satisfied, put them away.

As with many teachers, we are sponsors or leaders for after school (or evening) activities. This year, I am helping with the junior high play. That involves evening time; back at school. I certainly am not complaining, but this is not a paid position AND I am not the director of the play; only the helper. Our director is our Art teacher and he does so much more than direct the play. He also teaches K-8 Art everyday. In his spare time, he works on script revisions, meets with the costume committee, works on the scenery..... his job goes from sunrise to sunset...



It is difficult for teachers to take off a day of work during the school week. Preparing for a sub takes more time than teaching the lesson yourself. When I leave for a 2 day conference, it takes me 4 days to prepare. I cannot imagine what it must be like to impulsively take a day off of work. And then when we DO leave, we remember in the middle of the workshop that we forgot to tell the sub where the sharpened pencils are kept or what to do when Billy says his tummy hurts.... And if we get sick and HAVE to take a day off.... we must have a tub full of a day's activities ready to go. No... taking a day off during the school year is not an easy task for us.

So... my friends, when teachers are told that they have an "easy" job, this just is not true. Teachers serve; just as firefighters, police officers, and nurses do. Having a week to step back, relax, and rejuvenate both our bodies and minds makes it possible for us to return to our students filled with the energy we need to aid them to get to the finish line filled with the tools they need to end the year strong!

To all my teacher friends.... enjoy your break! Use it to prepare for the ending stretch.... and don't feel the need to accomplish more than the time you have to do it! Sometimes having an empty "to do" list is just what the doctor ordered!

Until next time,

Blessings,


Lucky / Unlucky ELA Card Game - for Little Kids - Editable!

Hello Friends,

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Lucky-Unlucky-ELA-Card-Game-Editable-3025342

My kiddos love to play this simple card game. It can played in a small group led by a teacher or put into a learning center. Because the game is editable, you can make the game match the skills of your students. It can be used for many concepts....  sight words, CVC words, CVCe words, or concept words. 




 To add a challenge to the game, create “Einstein cards.  These are cards with a more difficult word or concept.

 Presently, this resource is free in my TPT store.... Enjoy!

Blessings,


Simple Addition and Subtraction Valentine Math mat activities

Hello Friends,

We have been talking about addition combinations for the number ten. The kids have been using two sided counters to make several combinations, so I thought that I would give this concept a Valentine twist.

First, I gave my kinders a copy of this heart sheet. I told them to color SOME hearts purple and SOME hearts red. The rule was that they could NOT be all red or all purple. The outside of the hearts could be any color.

After coloring their hearts, they cut and glued them to top of a red piece of construction paper. They added the words to the bottom and then composed their number sentence.



Here is what they did for subtraction...

Once again, they were given a sheet with ten hearts. I copied it upon pink paper. I told them that they could color the icing of the heart cookies any color.

After coloring the hearts, they glued SOME of the hearts upon a white plate. The rule was that they could NOT glue all the hearts upon the plate.  (My kinders decorated the outside edge of the plate because I could not find a Valentine plate that was white on the bottom and decorated on the edge. Any kind of plate would work - your kids could even cut a circle out of construction paper to make a plate. )

I cut hands out of skin colored paper for my kinders, but they could also trace their own hands onto paper. The hands were glued to the top of the paper and the plate in the center. The hearts that were NOT glued to the plate were glued upon the hands and around the plate. They then composed their subtraction sentence.




You can click HERE to download the Google doc for this activity.
PLEASE NOTE: IF YOU RECEIVE AN ERROR MESSAGE ASKING ME FOR PERMISSION TO SHARE THIS DOCUMENT, YOU ARE PROBABLY TRYING TO DOWNLOAD IT AT SCHOOL. TRY DOWNLOADING AT HOME. MANY SCHOOLS BLOCK DOWNLOADS  OF DOCUMENTS OUTSIDE THEIR NETWORK.

Having Fun with the Circus and Creating a Community Map from Boxes

Oh my friends.... It has been too long...... I have no real excuse except that January is such a busy month for us. We perform a circus every year for charity. This year, our kids earned over $1,000! We are giving the money to a local organization here in our community that feeds needy kids on the weekend. We are so excited to be able to help them!

I thought that I would share some of the photos from our circus. We started practice when the kids returned from Christmas break. We practiced every day until our dress rehearsal on January 31. Our performance was on February 2. We had a packed house! Our kids have a circus parade through the school halls and we end up in our multi-purpose room at the other end of the school. We raise our money by collecting donations from the school kids as we progress through the halls in our circus parade. The parents (and friends) who watch our performance donate money.








The kids also make a representation of themselves that we display in our hallway. I love how colorful our halls look!








This year, our kiddos created a community using boxes and paper. I love it! We lay a long piece of bulletin board paper down the middle of our hallway. The kids add details with paper - roads, sidewalks, lakes.



You can find the script for the circus HERE. 


 Until next time!

Blessings,



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