Thursday, January 28, 2010

Toothpaste... :-)

It was a funny coincidence that we've talked about toothpaste two days in a row for totally different purposes. Mrs. McCleary's guidance lesson today was about the words we use with people and how they can either hurt people or make them feel good. She began the lesson by squeezing toothpaste on a plate and asking who would like to try to put the toothpaste back in the tube. Students gave it a good effort, but quickly came to the conclusion that once it's out, it's hard to put back in. The same goes for our words and actions--once something's been said or done, a person's feelings can be hurt and it takes a lot to repair feelings sometimes.
We also did a toothpaste investigation in science yesterday...trying to figure out whether toothpaste is a solid or liquid. The jury is still out. I'll get back to you on that. ;-)

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We're Famous!

I really love our document camera! I started something new today--each day, different students will become "famous" by displaying and sharing their writing using the document camera and the interactive white board. Today students tried using captions and labels in their how-to book illustrations. It was highly motivating!

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Change It!

Students enjoyed trying a new online activity today. If you'd like to try it at home, click the link below:

Students predicted what would happen to each solid or liquid before putting it in the freezer or oven. Here are some photos of us use this site on our interactive whiteboard.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Students have been getting into science lately! We had a great Four Winds class last week (see earlier post for more details) and we're nearing the end of our Solids and Liquids unit. Here are some new pictures...

Students have enjoyed choosing science activities from their "Solids and Liquids Station Contract." The sink or float experiment is one of their "Have-to" jobs this week. They need to do it, but they can choose when they do it.
I finally had a chance to do the Four Winds activity we didn't have time to do during our session last week. I lit some newspaper on fire, dropped it in the bottle, and put the hard-boiled egg on top of the bottle. Ask your child what happened to the egg. We had to practice the skill of patience--a skill scientists must have--since it took me a while to get it right. :-)
The sand table has been a fun way to have a hands-on experience with a solid that doesn't seem like a solid.
More sinking and floating...

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Ice Pops!

We made orange juice ice pops on Friday to illustrate how a liquid can change to a solid...and just to have fun. Ask your child to tell you about the steps--this was a great connection to how-to writing! No photos to share...but this one gives an idea of how we did it!

Books with a message...

Today I read the book, Oliver Button is a Sissy, by Tomie dePaola. While I do not condone the use of the word "sissy," the book has a great message and makes a point. In the story, a young boy likes activities that his friends and family consider to be "girl" activities--including dancing. His peers make fun of him because he doesn't want to do "boy things." But Oliver sticks to his interests and becomes a fantastic tap dancer, and his peers see that Oliver is a star for becoming good at what he loves.
If your child was at school today, ask him or her about this book. I think it could provide for some interesting discussion. Tomorrow, I will read Amazing Grace, a story about a girl who is told that she can't be Peter Pan in a play because she is a black girl, not a white boy. She proves them wrong! We will compare the two books and try to make text-to-text connections.

I love talking with people about books, so I thought you might enjoy some ideas for discussion at home!

Friday, January 22, 2010


Students took some time on Thursday to explore liquids in bottles. The focus was to make observations about different liquids--not to figure out what the liquids were. Students had many different approaches to their exploration (some sillier than others). :-)

These two were shaking the bottles to see what happened.

These girls noticed that some bottles were harder to roll than others. When we went back to discuss the properties of liquids today, students learned the property that made this true. Viscous (thick) liquids make the bottle harder to roll.

Making connections

We revisited text-to-self connections on Thursday using a great book--The Relatives Came, by Cynthia Rylant. In this book, a family takes a road trip to visit relatives far away. Great times happen when the relatives get together, but it sure is hard to say goodbye! Students made wonderful, meaningful connections to this book. They had the choice to write or draw their connections on a poster. They worked in small groups and did excellent work! Making connections is a comprehension skill we will continue to work on in reading. Next week we will focus more on text-to-text connections.

Four Winds!

Students enjoyed a great Four Winds session on Thursday morning--thank you Maura and Kathy! Students learned about the air and the many ways it affects the world around us.
This fit in nicely with our Solids and Liquids unit, since gas is the other state of matter which is not a focus of our unit, but of course is still very important!
Students enjoyed doing charades--this group showed how air helps birds fly.

This group showed how air gets trapped in a bear's fur and helps to keep it warm.

This group showed how maple seeds (helicopters) fall from trees and the air carries them to the ground where they can grow into new trees.

Four Winds always starts with a puppet show to help reinforce the lesson's theme. The kids LOVE the puppet shows!

More Four Winds...

Students really enjoyed the three experiment stations, exploring more about the power and importance of air!

Exploring air pockets!
Making things fly!

Exploring air pressure!

Bullying versus normal conflict...

Mrs. McCleary has been discussing the important topic of bullying with students during Guidance lessons on Thursday. This week, students explored the difference between bullying and a normal conflict. A big difference is that bullying is usually done in secret and is meant to hurt or intimidate someone else, whereas normal conflicts take place openly with other kids around and are usually resolved quickly. Mrs. McCleary read a great book, The Bully Blockers Club to highlight examples of bullying and what to do if you think you're being bullied.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Math Homework

Just a quick note to let you know that this week's math homework is the math facts (addition and subtraction) page that was sent home today (it has a color code). It looks different than the usual Home Links pages. It is due on Friday, as usual.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Constructing with solids

Students enjoyed being engineers on Friday! They were given the solid objects we had been exploring during our science time all week and given the task of building with them. They could choose to build a tower, a building, or a bridge. They could also choose whether to work independently or with a partner. It was interesting to see how they used the materials--they had a limited amount of objects and could not use tape or glue. On Tuesday, we'll discuss how the properties of various materials determined how they could best be used. We will also move onto some explorations of liquids! Please note: the cups used in the construction were donated...I am in no way promoting the products shown!

Guess the Property

Students have been learning about the properties of solid objects during our science unit about Solids and Liquids. Students have become familiar with vocabulary we can use to describe an object's properties, such as rigid, flexible, smooth, rough, etc. Students played "Guess My Property" last week to practice identifying properties that objects have in common. We used an excellent piece of technology that we have in our classroom--a document camera-- to help play the game. Students selected two objects with a property in common, put them under the document camera, and then asked students to guess the common property. Students taught the game to Miss Stevens' class the next day! Now that students know this game, they can play it with a friend when they have extra time during the day.
Many objects share several properties, so students would either day, "That's true, but that's not what I'm thinking." OR "Yes, you guessed the property!"

The mystery property for these two objects (a rubber tube and a wooden cylinder) was that they are both smooth.

The common property here was that the objects both have a color.
Students LOVED using the document camera! I was able to purchase the camera through a technology course I took over the summer. I am learning more about how to integrate it into everyday instruction.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Solids and Liquids

I kicked off our "Solids and Liquids" science unit on Monday by asking students what they THINK they know about solids and liquids and what they are wondering (their "burning questions"). They had some great thoughts! After making our chart, I called students up to my table one by one to sort items into three categories--Solid, Liquid, or Not Sure. Students had to sort sand, salt, a plastic baggie, a tennis ball, corn syrup, shaving cream, popcorn kernels, a pretend piece of pizza, soda, applesauce, dice, and a Bingo chip. It was intriguing to watch their scientific brains at work! What a great pre-assessment. I will do the same activity AFTER the unit to check for understanding.
I love his perplexed look. He was really thinking about this!
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Students seem to have a bit of "cabin fever" lately, and the energy level has been quite high. When possible, we end our day with a short free choice time. It's fun to see the creativity that happens in the classroom during these less structured times.

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Puzzle, Poems, and Penguins

Puzzles are always a favorite during free choice or the Puzzles and Games station during our literacy station time.

These students were working on poems for their Poetry and Song Notebooks at the Poetry and
Song station.

Students followed "how-to" directions to create penguins at the art station last week. This is a nice correlation to our latest writing unit of study.
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Before many writing units of study, I try to "immerse" students in a genre. For example, before students began writing how-to books, they studied famous authors' how-to books to look for smart writing ideas that could help them in their own writing. They noticed a lot, such as numbering the steps, including illustrations that go with the words, providing a list of materials, and including a "snazzy" introduction. Students are studying how-to books for this purpose in the photos below. They really seemed to enjoy this activity and learned a lot from it!
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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Last-Minute Request

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Hi everyone!

If you have any grocery store inserts from the newspaper that you could send into school this week, that would be very helpful. Other sales flyers and old magazines would be great too. Students will use these materials during our Solids and Liquids unit. Anything with colorful pictures of things we use in our daily lives will work well. Thank you!