Saturday, February 28, 2015

What’s the MATTER with YOU!?
Solid?  Liquid?  Gas?  Figuring out the contents of the six balloons was a fun way to investigate the question:  What are the properties of solids, liquids and gases? 
A big idea we discuss: Some properties help us classify matter as solid, liquid, or gas.  What does this mean?  How do we use the information we discover to help us figure out how to classify matter?
Six balloons.  What’s in them?
Here’s what they found on DAY TWO:
flour, dish soap, rice, water, air, and carbon dioxide
Oh what fun we had!  You know you’ve had a great lesson when the room looks like a bomb went off in it.  It was awesome.

Which substances were solids? 
How can you tell when something is a solid?  What were the properties of the solids while they were in the balloon?
The pieces kept their shape, and individual grains of rice could be felt.  They made some noise when moved in the balloon.  When the solids were pushed or squeezed in the balloon, sometimes the balloon stayed in the new position.
What were the properties of the solids outside of the balloon? 
The pieces could be picked up by hand, piled and dug into with a spoon, and held in a cup.  The pieces didn’t change shape when they were in a container or moved around.  Rice didn’t fit in the syringe; flour clogged it.
How did the flour (a powder) differ from the rice?  Could you see individual particles in the powder when using magnifying lenses? 
Powder consists of very small, loose solid particles.  Particles can be separated from each other and keep their own shapes.  Powders share some characteristics of liquids, because they can be poured, but they form mounds, not flat pools.
Which substances were Liquids?
What made you think the substance in the balloon was a liquid? 
The liquid flattened out inside the bottom of the balloon when it was resting on a table.  When the balloon was pushed, the liquid made the balloon bulge.  There weren’t any hard pieces inside.
What were the properties of the water outside of the balloon?
It could be poured, it could be stirred to make waves, and it could be squirted through a syringe.  The water could be stirred more easily than the dish soap.  The water couldn’t be mounded or piled up like the solids could.  When it was at rest in a spoon or a cup, the water filled the bottom of the container in a pool with a flat surface.  It couldn’t be squeezed into less space inside a syringe when students held a finger over the syringe opening. 
Which were Gases?
What were the properties of the gases inside the balloon?
They felt lighter than the liquid, but one gas might have felt heavier than the other.  There weren’t any bumps or hard pieces inside.  When the gases were pushed or squeezed inside the balloon, it would bulge out, but the balloon wouldn’t stay that way.  What happened to the gases when they opened the balloons?
They escaped into the air in the room.  What could they do with air and a syringe?
They could capture air from the room and easily push it through a syringe.  They could squeeze air into less space inside the syringe when holding a finger over the opening. 

Vocabulary Words:  gas, investigation, investigative question, liquid, observation, observe, powder, procedure, property, solid, state

Monday, February 23, 2015


I found these little gems at an art fair in Palm Springs, CA.  This man creates these amazing blocks from THREE different kinds of wood and then he applies mineral oil to help keep them clean and pretty.  The designs are all original and they will allow my sweet kids to create MAGICAL and WONDERFUL structures.  When I unveiled them today, the kids were SOOOoOOOoOO excited.  Yay!  If we aren’t going to be able to go OUTSIDE, we are going to make magical buildings on the INSIDE. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Valentine Art and Writing

We had a great time working on our hearts.  We poured our love into these pieces of wonderful artwork using sharpie markers and watercolors.  Kids then wrote about their Valentines and put it all together on a piece of colorful construction paper.  xo
Kindergarten Brochures
 We’ve been HIRED by Mrs. Scarnecchia to create brochures for our Kindergarten Roundup, which is on Thursday, February 26th.  We have brainstormed a HUGE list of things that we might include in our brochures and will spend time working on the brochures up until Roundup on Thursday.  Love these kids and their great ideas.  Look for our final product pictures at the end of the week!  Yay!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Our Last Tower Activity

We have had a LOT of fun creating towers, working with our peers and doing our best to create tall towers with the materials we are given.  In this case, the goal was to build a tall tower with mini marshmallows and toothpicks.  Using the skills we have learned from our previous activities, they worked SO well together.  Groups were formed randomly and kids were able to write their own ideas before meeting as a group.  They then met as a group to discuss their ideas and form a plan.  They had 27 minutes to build the tallest tower possible.  Of course, as with the other activities, this was no simple task.  In the end, we didn’t measure the towers, as it was far more important how well they worked with one another and the things they learned throughout the process.  Some groups doubled up on toothpicks, making their structures stronger.  Other groups concentrated on making the base of the structure wide and strong.  One group had a “back up” plan, “You know, just in case this one doesn’t work.”  EVERY SINGLE KID participated and helped their team.  Our class is full of builders.  They LOVE being able to manipulate and create structures from the materials I provide.  It’s fun to watch their faces as they create.  They recall things that both worked and didn’t work from our previous STEM activities and there is a LOT more discussion within the groups about WHY an idea will work.  They are becoming able to give EVIDENCE of why they think an idea will work.  Ask them to tell you the difference between our STEM activitieswhat stuck with them?
Biography Reports
 Who Was...THE KING, BABY!
 Who Was...Claude Monet
 Who Was...Steven Spielberg
 Who Was...Steve Jobs
Who Was...Barack Obama
In December, I displayed a huge number of titles from the WHO WAS series on the desks in our classroom while they were in specials.  When they returned to the roomwe went SHOPPING!  We discussed the many ways you choose a book (book cover, friend recommendation, know about a book and want to know more, etc.) and spent 25 minutes moving around the desks, investigating the various titles available to them.  They meandered, read the backs of the books, some read the introduction of a few books that interested them, and talked with one another about who they were interested in knowing more about.  As we all started reading a WIDE variety of books, we talked about what biographies have in common, why they are written and how they differ from autobiographies.  As we read, we not only discussed what was interesting about our person, but started taking notes too.  Note taking can be difficult and kids need to practice taking the time to write down something they learned, a question they have, or a fact they want to remember as they read.  We often use sticky notes as we read in our reading books (the space of a sticky note isn’t intimidating and they stick in the book as we read) and are then able to talk about things we noticed while reading using our notes.  After break, we continued working on our biographies (most kids had finished reading the book by this time) and we moved on to the final project.  Using the information we wrote on our goldenrod Biography Notes paper, we used started our WHO AM I!? writing.