Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Magnets Experiments!

Just finished our magnets unit!  Check out some of our experiments and activities:
Most are quick and easy!

Horseshoe War!  We battle these horseshoe magnets to be sure students understand the difference between not attracting and repelling!  Like poles will repel-- Magnets and wood do not attract or repel!

How to Make a Temporary Magnet
See My earlier post for pictures, directions and teaching tips/tools for how to make a temporary magnet!

Trick Magnets
Head to your nearest Dollar Tree!
$1 for a set of these super cool trick magnets!  They amaze the kids when they attract through your hand.  Hide one on the back of your clipboard, and just start sliding it around.  Shh... as they notice the other magnet magically sliding around, they grin!

Floating Paperclip!
See this post for a super exciting, quick and very little work experiment on magnetic field!

Magnet Race
Review attract and repel by putting colored stickers on the poles of your magnets, so students can identify north and north and south and south.  Use one magnet to repel-without touching- the other magnet to the opposite side of the tray!  First one there is the Winner!  Get too close to the magnet's pair?  They will attract and you have to start over!  The race is on!  Place cards beside the tray that read "attract" and "repel" so the kiddos know to use these words as they are describing the experience!  They hardly know they are learning!

Floating magnets!
Don't have this display model?
Stick a pencil through several ceramic magnets with their like poles facing.  They float!  Students do a great job of explaining why this happens!  Review magnetic field by pulling the magnets away from each other?  Why do they no longer repel or attract?

Magnetic Field Models
Worth every penny!  Buy these!  I've tried pouring iron filings onto a glass picture frame--- What a mess!  These little kits are super easy for clean up and are safe for the kids to use themselves.  Hand them two magnets and have them describe how attract looks different from repel!  Why????

Draw a map... you know some triangle mountains, snake like rivers and Christmas trees.  Slap a winding path through the middle and discuss what happens when a hiker gets lost.  How do you find your way out?  Why would a compass be helpful?  What does a magnet do to a compass?  What does a large iron object do to a compass?  How does it work?  Great activator!

Attract/Won't Attract Experiment 
Place various items in tubs and allow students to test them.  I always put different types of metals in mine!  It throws them off every time!  Especially the penny!  Try an aluminum can!
Recording sheet is FREE at my TpT store!

How to Make an Electromagnet:
materials- copper wire, nail, 9 volt battery
Coil the wire around the nail like this and hold the other end to the terminals of the battery.  It won't be very strong, but it will certainly attract a few spent staples- just enough to AMAZE the kids!

For me, experiments catch their attention, but they need the vocabulary in print!  Check out my word wall words, vocabulary matching sets, dominoes for vocabulary.

Vocabulary review with these awesome, kid friendly foldables (available at my TpT Store)

Check out my TpT store, Tab Purvis, for my vocabulary bundle, review game and most popular- magnets minibook!

Happy Experimenting!

Penguin Videos and Webcam!

Who likes penguins?  Me!!!  (and every kid in my class!)  We've been working on Mr. Popper's Penguins and the kids are beginning an informational writing piece this month.  I love that every ability level can find success with this topic.  One of my students impressed me after watching one of these clips when he asked if this was a rookery.  Rookery?!?  Awesome!  He's using the vocabulary from our unit!  So proud! 

These videos are short and sweet.  The content is appropriate for school and I've embedded the videos- so for all my not-so-tech-savy friends, you don't have to worry about crazy side banners popping up when you pull up youtube.  These videos are written into the page so you dont have to worry about surprises!

My kids loved these penguin videos!  They are produced by BBC and Discovery. 

Happy penguin watching!

Birth and March of the Emperor Penguins

Penguins launch like rockets from the water.

Emperor Penguin vs. Sea Leopard BBC

Emperor Penguins - The Greatest Wildlife Show on Earth - BBC
Penguin Webcam | SeaWorld San Diego

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Top FREE Apps for Elementary Science Teachers

Teach Science?  Want some cool interactive and FREE apps to use?  Check these out!  The last one is my latest discovery and I'm fascinated with it!  I can't wait until I teach animal adaptations for birds' beaks!  This will be perfect!

Dinosaur:  American Museum of Natural History

Take your class on a virtual fieldtrip to this museum!  See tons of dinosaur fossils and find out about their history.  Boys will surely become young paleontologists as they love digging through this collection.  My favorite:  Styracosaurus albertensis from Red Deer River region in Alberta, Canada, about 75 million years old! discovered in 1915. 
I had the opportunity last summer to visit the Natural History Museum for Children in London and was completely AMAZED to see real fossils!  This small town gal had never seen anything remotely like it.  It made me realize that if I hadn't, my kids certainly had not!  Since I can't pack them up and Miss Frizzle them up to Washington, D.C. from Georgia... this is the next best thing!

Google Earth

Wow!  Begin by seeing the entire world and zoom little by little all the way down to the front door of your school!  Crazy!  (Check out your own driveway, too!)  Super cool way to teach geography and scale!
I can stop trying to layer pictures of the United States, Georgia and our hometown into some -not so convincing graphic- production to try to get them to visualize the scale!  This is SO much better!

My newest fav!
Wildlab Bird
I've only used the preview mode and it is loaded with fancy options!  Begin by choosing your habitat- woodland, coastal, wetland or grassland and then select a structure style- such as:  owl-like, hawk-like, heron-like, etc.  Pictures of SOOOOO many birds pop up and you can even hear recordings of their calls and see their locations mapped out! 
My husband's a duck hunter and our little one year old girl walks around saying "duck" all the time!  She was just as amazed as I was with the sounds and pictures!  Quack, Quack!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Opportunity Costs

Opportunity costs!

I love this lesson!

Have the kids imagine they are in the checkout aisle of the store!
Ask them to remember a time that they were standing there and really wanted to buy something. What did they want?

How many times have they wanted to buy more than one thing?

Have the students discuss with their partner which two items would make their choice difficult.
They love this!! Thinking about candy and chips and coke and bubble gum!
Great Day!!!!

Use chart paper to document their opportunity costs. I always go first. Its funny, but EVERY year after we do this lesson, I have sweet little students bringing me my favorite candy! Yum! :) I love teaching!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Should We Use TV Shows to Teach?

We must remember that this generation of children is growing up quite differently than we did.  They are driven by electronics in a way that we never will be.  I'm not saying I'm ready to shut up and show movies, but I do think that short, well chosen segments are certainly worth your time.

So I'm watching History Channel this afternoon because, yes, I am that big of a nerd. Have you ever seen How the States Got Their Shape? What a cool show for geography.
The website, History Channel: How the States Got Their Shapes, has full episodes and clips for many of the states.  Maine?  Nevada?  California?  All there!  Did you know that California drew their own state lines to include the gold filled Sierra Nevada Mountains?  Sure did!  Nevada was extended south to reach the Colorado River.  Smart move!  Most of the clips are less than 4 minutes long.  What a great way to bring in history, geography and technology!  Check it out.

I especially like their sly references to slavery, the transcontinental railroad and other features that fall in our social studies curriculum!


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Economics Picture Books for 3rd Grade

Want more bang for your buck?  Use these picture books as part of your reading and economics unit!  Some are short and sweet and can fill a transition time or short break, while others are lengthy and make a great lesson in itself! 

I love being able to share a book with the class.  Third graders love to have stories read to them.  Try these to help those kiddos make those economic connections that just aren't sinking in!
Happy Teaching!

The Great Fuzz Frenzy by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel Scarcity
Check out my earlier blog The Great Fuzz Frenzy for teaching tips with this book!

Max’s Dragon Shirt by Rosemary Wells Wants/needs

Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst Opportunity cost

Abuela’s Weave by Omar Castaneda Producers/Consumers

A New Coat for Anna by Harriet Ziefert Bartering

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin Human resources

Boom Town by Sonia Levitin Entrepreneurs

The Berenstain Bears’ Dollars and Sense by Stan and Jan Berenstain Money/banking

The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks by Joanna Cole Natural Resources

Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier Saving

How the Second Grade Got $8,205.50 to Visit the Statue of Liberty
by Nathan Zimelman Profit
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin Strikes

My school library already had each of these books!  Great way to integrate your curriculum!

Sideline:  Check out my Economics Mega Bundle at Teachers Pay Teachers for vocabulary foldables, dominoes, word wall sets, reading sheets, performance activities, board games, file folder card games, lesson plans, anchor charts, parent involvement activities and more!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How to Put Together My Magnet Minibook!

So I've had several people ask...

Here's the trick for putting together the magnet minibook!

I hope the step by step pictures help you out. If not, leave me a comment and I'll get back with you ASAP.

For those who haven't seen my magnets minibook, it's available on my TpT store. It covers types of magnets, objects that are and are not attracted, magnetic and nonmagnetic metals, magnetic fields, electromagnets, and more!

The bag doubles as a keeper for your vocabulary cards! Pictures and artwork extend student understanding! 24 pages with space for students to include their own responses :)

Hope your kids love it as much as mine do!

Pollution Experiment: Black Banana Week 2 and Oil Spill Experiment

Check out week 2’s picture of our decomposing banana. 

The kiddos made a list of factors that occur outside that are affecting the decomposition rate.  Topping the list:  rain, ants and temperature. 

I haven’t generated a conversation about how or why these things could affect decomposition yet.  Instead, we began tracking a rotting banana that we are keeping inside to compare to the one outside.  They liked to poke their fingers in it during the first week, but now that it’s oozing rotten juice, they steer clear!

I can’t wait to have them compare these two bananas in a couple more weeks.  I plan to post specific vocabulary (decompose, rot, and compost) beside the bananas so they can remember to use the words when they are describing what they see.  I’m a HUGE believer in posting word walls so those visual kids can see and hear the words!

For those I Hate Science Teachers—if you can’t stand the idea of having a rotting banana in the back of your class, show the kiddos these pictures and have them compare and draw conclusions.  Better than nothing!


I googled oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and showed the class a few pictures of oil slathered pelicans, fish, crabs, etc.  The room was silenced by the graphic pictures of animals in distress.  We discussed how the quality of life had changed, food web destroyed, habitats damaged, etc.  I like for my kids to verbalize that pollution doesn’t just kill; it also diminishes the livelihood of animals. 
$1.88- buy some brightly colored feathers at Walmart
Kitchen cabinet- cooking oil
Closet- old tshirts

Super easy experiment- 
After realizing the damage that oil has on animals and their habitats, pass a feather to each student and drizzle oil on one of their hands.  Have them cover the feather with the oil.  I challenge mine to try to remove the oil.  Of course they can’t.  Have them try to not use their thumbs, because, of course, birds don’t have thumbs.  When they give up, pass out the soap.  Old tshirts?  Save the environment one paper towel at a time!  Use an old tshirt as a hand towel!  My kids think I’m crazy for it, but I bet they’ll remember it for a long time!
Begin a discussion on how these animals in the Gulf of Mexico had no possibility of cleaning themselves from a disastrous mistake make by humans.  They enjoyed the experiment and really get the concept of how humans are affecting ocean ecosystems. 
Thoughts for next time:  put food coloring in the oil so it’s easier to see, put the oil and feather in a bowl of water and have them try to also remove the oil from the water.  This wouldn’t take much more on the setup end, but it would extend the experiment to specifically include effects on the habitat and animal.

Much thanks to my mom, who always thinks out of the box, says no to nothing, and inspired me to be a science teacher,

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Where Did the Water Go?: All About Soils

So as you know, I teach 3rd grade in the great state of Georgia. Types of soils is one of our science standards. Being that I taught my Earth Science unit in August and September, I decided last week was a good time to review. In my room, we do centers every Thursday. This means small group experiments, review, and just general hands on, concrete learning for either our current unit or to refresh an old one.
I found The Science Penguin's TpT Store when I did a general search for soils experiments. Ari's FREE experiment was perfect!

Disclaimer: In no way do I benefit from The Science Penguin for this blog. I was so impressed by the ease of the experiment, the way the kids understood the concept and the overall experience. I wanted to share it with you all!

To the good stuff:
Start out by downloading the activity from TpT and making copies of the recording sheet. Pull out 4 funnels, graduated cylinders, petire dishes and coffee filters. Grab your sand, loam, clay and gravel. I got my gravel from a bag for the fish tank! Use what you have, right?

Set up the experiment like this:

Next measure 40 mL of water to pour into each graduated cylinder. I put food coloring in mine, so it would be easier for the kiddos to see. Step them through the logic: If 40 mL goes in, and 38 mL comes out, where is the other 2 mL? Is this addition, subtraction, multiplication or division?

Repeat for all 4 cylinders. Alright!! Never TELL them again that clay holds water better than sand.  Let them SEE it! Even my low kids were having those Ah-Haa moments!

I did the experiment as a whole group, per the directions of Ari @ The Science Penguin, and left the recording sheet for the kiddos to do when they came to that center. Easy as can be!

After doing this experiment, the only thing I would add is to write labels for each of the types of soil. I like to incorporate written language to catch those linguistic and visual learners! Words to consider: gravel, sand, clay, loam, retain, funnel, graduated cylinder

I passed out the recording sheet the next day to be sure that each student had completed it correctly and to review the conclusions that were drawn. Next Thursday, I'm going to bring in some grass seed and see if we can get them to grow in each type of soil. Put these two concepts together and tadaaa! Mission accomplished! Thanks, Ari @ The Science Penguin! I look forward to using your experiments again!

Visit her TpT Store for tons of cool experiments and definitely check out her Science Weekly Five activities!