Saturday, November 22, 2014

8 Best Science Gifts for Your Young Scientist

Tis the season for gift-giving!  So many kids these days are way into science and would love a science-themed gift (or twelve!).  Here are the 8 Best Science Gifts for Your Young Scientist!

1. Insta-Snow
In Central Texas, we don't get much snow.  The good news is you can make your own!  This stuff is insanely cool and your young scientist will love having a white Christmas.  This little can of snow powder will make plenty of snow to play with this winter!

2. Alternative Energy Snap Circuits
This was a BIG favorite among my fifth graders.  Heck, it was even a big hit with me.  This snap circuits kit uses alternative energy to power bulbs, fans, and more.

3. Break Your Own Geodes
This is so cool!  I had kids break geodes one year and discover and identify the crystals inside.  This kit comes with 12 geodes.  You break them and use the guide to identify them.  So fun!

4. K'NEX Intro to Simple Machines
Remember K'NEX?  They've been around a really long time.  Nowadays, they have tons of kits to choose from.  Kids can explore, build, and learn!

5. Snap Circuits Lights
This is a newer set of snap circuits with a focus on light.  You can hook it up to your iPod, work with fiber optics, and more with this fun kit!

6. Stomp Rocket Jr.
I love this!  This is an affordable and super fun gift for little and big kids!  Just stomp or jump to launch the rocket.  Just about any kid will love this!

7. Bucket of Legos
There are hundreds of kits, but sometimes you just need a big bucket of Legos.  Pour them out and build, build, build.  This was always a personal favorite when I was a child.  :)

8. Contraptions
This is a simple idea for some serious fun.  This was another favorite among 4th and 5th graders, but I bet younger builders would love it too! Build a contraption and see how the ball will travel through. 

Happy holidays!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Science Solutions: Sequencing Guide

One of the most common questions I receive:
In what order do I teach these science concepts?

Thematic Teaching
I love combining standards as much as possible.  However, with a pacing guide and state testing in 5th (not to mention retests until the end of the school year), combining topics to be more thematic can be difficult.  Here's what I would L-O-V-E love to do:

Study the ocean.  Experiment to see how sand doesn't dissolve in water, but salt does dissolve.  Study constant properties of water and relative density.  Learn about the ocean's role in the water cycle, tides, and weathering, erosion, and deposition.  Study ocean plants and animals.  Learn about their life cycles, traits, and adaptations.

How fun does that sound?  I'm working on some ideas now for thematic units that bring in a variety of science concepts around a major theme, like the ocean.

While thematic teaching may not be an option for all of us, we can go in a particular order and still review other concepts in a thematic way.  Also, you can do a culminating project at the end of the year to combine all the topics learned.

Sequential Planning for the Year
This is a tough post to write because I can't write a plan for every grade level in every state.  However, I can give you an overview of what has worked well for me.

I've always been provided with a pacing guide from my districts so I never really got to CHOOSE the order in which to teach the concepts.  For the most part, the sequences provided made good sense, so I went with it.  Here is the order I prefer.

1. Nature of Science
I like to get a head start on measurement tools, observations, and the scientific method before moving forward with new content.  We reinforce and use these skills all year long, so a little introduction is great.

Scientific Communication
Scientific Method

2. Physical Science
I like moving to physical science next mainly because properties of matter will be something students use the rest of the school year, especially in earth science.  Let's be real here too.  There is a lot of prep that goes into physical science lessons and I'm at my best in September so it's better.  It's just better...

Properties of Matter
Constant Properties of Water
Mixtures, Solutions, and Compounds
Force and Motion
Forms of Energy
Light Energy
Thermal Energy
Electrical Energy

3. Earth Science
Earth science is nice for the middle of the year.  These concepts can be a bit more dense and it's helpful to be further into the year to begin earth science.

Natural Resources and Fossil Fuels
Alternative Energy Resources
Rocks and Fossils
Water Cycle
Weather and Climate
Sun, Earth, and Moon
Cycles in Space

4. Life Science
I like ending with life science because it's in spring, the time for life.  This makes outdoor observations, plants, and ecosystems a lot easier.  We typically spend less time on life science concepts, so it helps to end the year with it.

Food Webs
Inherited Traits and Learned Behaviors
Life Cycles
Human Body

Sunday, November 16, 2014

CAST 2014 with The Science Penguin

Hi everyone!  It's almost time for CAST!  This is my favorite conference of the year since it's in my home state of Texas.  Here's some info you may need if you are attending this year.

Getting Active with Interactive Notebooks
Below is a screenshot from, your hub for all things CAST.  I wanted to offer a longer 3 hour session, so I worked up this short course on using ISNs.  This session required attendees to pre-register and the session is full.  We will have snacks, prizes, and ready-to-use resources for all attendees.
Reach for ALL of the Stars (Individualizing Plans for STAAR)
This session is one hour and first come, first serve for anyone who's interested in planning for 5th Grade STAAR.  Nobody (that I know) loves testing, but it's a reality we deal with.  In this session, I'll show you how to plan for individual student needs.  Get week by week review plans for the 3 weeks before Science STAAR and enter to win prizes!
Exhibit Hall
Jennifer from 4mula Fun has a booth set up for Teachers of TpT.  I plan to spend some time at the booth and I hope you stop by to say '"hi"!

Teachers Thanking Teachers: Limited Time Freebies

It's that thankful time of year and I appreciate YOU!

A bunch of intermediate bloggers teamed up to bring you a special limited time freebie.  These files will be available only on Nov. 16 and Nov. 17.  They will be marked at regular price on Nov. 18.

I've listed Human Body Science Task Cards as a free product through Nov.17!  Stop by and download them today!

Big Thanks to Ladybug's Teacher Files for the beautiful Teachers Thanking Teachers image!
Stop by my friends' blogs to see what they are giving away!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Life Science Anchor Charts

It's been a while since I posted some anchor charts, but I have been organizing my anchor chart posts and wanted to make a post just for life science.

We study how photosynthesis occurs on a larger scale.

Ecosystems are made up of communities, which are made up of communities, which are made up of populations, which are made up of a species of organisms.  Got it?  :)

Structural Adaptations
We discuss structural adaptations and their functions at length in 5th grade.

Comparing Structures and Functions of Different Species
This is a fun way to think about how tails can serve VERY different purposes depending on the environment and organism.  I recommend making this chart along with the read aloud, What

Thanks for stopping by.  See more anchor charts!

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