Monday, 25 January 2016

Snowball Saver STEM Project

I am super excited to be blogging tonight.  You may have seen my posts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and made your way here, so welcome.  Stick around to hear all about something I dreamed up to do with my students in response to our work with The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.

Introducing the Snowball Saver!  What is a snowball saver?  Well, we have spent the last two weeks working with the book The Snowy Day.  As you will know, near the end of the story Peter's snowball melts, after he leaves it in his coat pocket.  My first graders giggled and said that Peter was really silly to put it in his pocket.  This lead to a discussion about what he could have done instead.  There were lots of suggestions that he should have put it in the freezer.  

This got me thinking about how to turn this wondering from my students into a challenge we could work on. We spent some time talking about how we could keep a snowball in our classroom.  Could we make something to store it in?  My students paired up and started brainstorming what they could make or build.  Some of their ideas were crazy and far fetched, like building a refrigerator and using concrete blocks to build a cold room in the classroom.  I figured I needed to help them be slightly more realistic in their thinking.  To do this we watched a great little video about making a "keep a cube" container, which is essentially the same thing.  Here is the link to the video on Youtube:  

This got them moving in the right direction.  I sent home a note to families with a few suggestions that most of the students came up with and then they added items to the list if there were other things they needed from home.  This ensured we had a good selection of found materials to build with.  

This morning I set out the collection I brought in.  I knew some would forget and some would not have anything to contribute.  Many children did contribute the class collection and we ended up with many more materials with which to build.  

STEM, winter STEM, inquiry based learning

We gathered on the carpet and I went over the steps we were going to follow in order to be real scientists investing the problem or challenge:  Can you keep a snowball from melting in our classroom?   The first thing partners did was gather their materials and make a materials list.  

STEM, winter STEM, inquiry based learning

Once partners were done with planning out their Snowball Savers they got to work creating it.  This part was fun but very messy.  There was paper, foil and lots of other random things everywhere, but everyone was engaged and they were having a blast.  

STEM, winter STEM, inquiry based learning

Now that the Snowball Saver was ready it was time for the snowball.  Up until this point the snowballs were all sitting in a cooler outside staying cold.  Before they were able to put them inside their Snowball Saver,  they needed to measure the diameter of their snowball so they had something to reference at the end, if the snowball did not melt.  They loved handling the cold snowballs and were very gentle so that they did not break apart.  

STEM, winter STEM, inquiry based learning
As soon as students got their snowballs I put our "control" snowball in a dish in the classroom.  We needed to see how fast it melted out in the open in order to compare to our protected snowballs.  

STEM, winter STEM, inquiry based learning

STEM, winter STEM, inquiry based learning

After the snowballs were safely tucked away it was time to draw a labeled diagram of the Snowball Saver.   Next, partners wrote the steps they followed in order to build their Snowball Saver, just like a real scientist.  

This process took us all morning.  Two hours after we started we took a look at our "control" snowball and it was almost melted, so it was time to check on our Snowball Savers.  The results might surprise you!  The results certainly surprised them.  

STEM, winter STEM, inquiry based learning

Almost all of the snowballs were still intact and only a few had started to really melt.  We decided if there was water in the container or on the wrap that they used around it then it was melting.  They were totally blown away by the results.  Only 1 of the Snowball Savers had a fully melted snowball.  

This is the one that showed no signs of melting.  It generated a lot of conversation as did the ones where the snowball was wrapped up with multiple layers of things like waxed paper, plastic wrap, newspaper, tinfoil etc.  Why did the snowball in a styrofoam container not melt at all?  How about the ones wrapped in of layers?  Lots of great questions were asked.  

STEM, winter STEM, inquiry based learning

I deem this project a total success.  It incorporated so many aspects of the curriculum and generated amazing conversation with the students.  It touched on the following curriculum areas: 
~ measurement
~ 3D Shapes
~ Science - matter/materials/fasteners
~ Science - structures
~ Writing - writing How to, creating a labeled picture or diagram, sequencing. 

Another possibility to link it to Oral Communication would be to interview students and have them explain their choices and why they think that their Snowball Saver will keep the snowball from melting.  

I hope you enjoyed this peek into my room at my first STEM inquiry.  This is now available in my store.  Click on any of the pictures to be taken to my store. 

I would love to hear your thoughts on this project.  Please comment below. Thanks so much for stopping by.  

Until next time, 

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Fujifilm Instax Camera Giveaway!

Do you love photography as much as I do?

I love taking pictures with my DSLR and my phone.  I am old enough to have been the subject of many polaroid photos when I was younger.  I totally remember the feeling of shaking the picture and waiting to see how it turned out.  I think I may just need one of these cameras, if only for nostagia's sake.

However,  I can't win this one but you can!  I have joined up with a group of great bloggers to giveaway a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 Camera.  It is super simple to enter.  Click the rafflecopter below to follow us on Instagram. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 22 January 2016

HP Ink and Printer Giveaway!

I am so excited to be helping Stephanie celebrate her birthday and she is DEFINITELY celebrating! Guess who will be getting the presents - YOU!

If you are the lucky winner you will get a package valued at $220.  You will get a $100 HP color printer and a $120 Hp Instant Ink "gift card" ... which is equivalent to an ENTIRE YEAR of color printing. Yes.... A FULL YEAR! 
*up to 300 color pages per month*

Head over to her blog by clicking {HERE} or on the picture above to enter.  Good Luck!

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Get your Graph On!

Thanks for stopping by!  I have a lot going on in the classroom right now and I am having a hard time getting inspiration to blog.  Tonight it struck me that I should just keep it simple and talk about what we have been doing during our Graphing unit lately.  Get ready for a practical post!

Graphing is a skill that usually comes fairly quickly for students.  They work on it a lot in Kindergarten.  When teaching it I always start with concrete graphs - we make graphs with ourselves which the kids love!  We look at our clothing, our hair, our shoes etc and sort ourselves out and make a graph using the tiles on the floor as the spaces to stand on.  Next, we pull out the math manipulatives and start making concrete graphs at the tables.  I like to use a ruler as a 'starting line' so that students can clearly see where the objects go.

Collecting primary data is another skill that requires a lot of practice and I  do a lot of whole group work around that skill to prepare them for asking their own questions and conducting a survey.  I like to make the surveys applicable to our classroom lives so students see the real reason for doing this in real life.  Recently, we maxed out our champ on Go Noodle (we love that site) and needed to choose a new champ.  This was a great opportunity to conduct a survey.

After lots of whole group opportunities I introduced centers for independent practice.  During this time I work with one group of students while the others are working at their centers.  We always spend a day exploring the centers beforehand to make sure that "most" students can be independent. I try to ensure there is at least 1 "teacher" who can help those who are stuck, in each group.

Graphing boxes are one of my centers.  There is  a collection of boxes filled with small items: erasers, beads, pom poms, gems etc.  The Dollar Store is the perfect place to find things to add  your graphing boxes.  The students create the concrete graph with the objects and then translate that information into a bar graph or picture graph.  

My Grab and Graph center is another center we use to practice making a concrete graph, then a bar graph.  At the bottom there is opportunity to practice communicating about the graph to explain what the data tells. There is little reading to be done on the page so it makes it easier for your early readers and writers to complete with independence.

Grab and Graph Math Center
My Spin and Graph centers are also a big hit since they involve using dry erase markers.  Everything is more fun with markers, according to my students.  The worksheets for this center involves a bit more writing so it is perfect for those students that are ready to handle more writing.  Some of my non-writers often draw the picture on the line to communicate their thinking.  

Spin and Graph Match Center
Would you like to see what we did next?  Head to the second installment of Get Your Graph On over {HERE} 

Before you go I wanted to share with you a graphing freebie that we will be using in a few weeks on Valentine's Day.  I love, love, love it!  It really gets kids to slow down and look at their valentines.  In the past I was disappointed in the way the kids rummaged through their cards in search of treats and other special things.  Last year they contentedly looked through their cards, made judgements about what category worked best and completed their graph. It was a proud teacher moment.  Click on the photo to head over to my store to download it.  

Until next time,

Friday, 1 January 2016

January Currently ~ Happy New Year!

It is time for Farley's Currently and I am actually linking up on the first day of the month.  That is definitely a rarity for me!  


My husband is an avid TV watcher while I am a computer user.  He is watching and PVRing the 80's retrospective on Discovery.  I am listening to it in the background as I write multiple blog posts and Facebook.  


There are still a few more days of holidays but.....


I need to figure out my classroom life soon.  I have a general idea of plans for Monday but that is about it.  


TIME!  There is never enough of it and I wish I could just fit everything in but the reality is that I will only accomplish so much and accept defeat with the rest.  


Do I really have to get dressed?  My PJs are comfy and I am not leaving the house so I think it will be a pajama day for me.  However I think I should eat considering the rumbling in my stomach and the smells coming from my kitchen. 

One little word - MOTIVATION

This word works for me on so many levels - motivation in my teaching life, TPT life and in my own personal life.  One of my goals is to take better care of myself and my health this year which starts by eating better and using my treadmill.  

Five for Friday ~ Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2016!  I am excited to link up with Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching and share my Five for Friday.

We spent most of this week in New York City so I am going to post my 5 Faves from our trip!

We arrived to a very warm afternoon/evening that quickly turned into a wet evening.  The first thing I wanted to see was the tree at Rockefeller Center.  I love Christmas and a 70 ft high tree was something that had to be seen.  It was as beautiful as I was hoping but I did not picture trying to enjoy it in the pouring rain being elbowed and jostled by people from every angle.  I have been to NYC before but the sheer number of people there at Christmas is unreal.

Our next stop was to see the lights of 5th and 6th Avenue.  A teacher I follow on Instagram had posted a video of Saks and I had to see it for myself.  All I can say is WOW!  If  you have not seen it then you must.  I can't upload my video as it is too big, but I am sure if you google it you can find it. I am sad that most of my pics have spots on them due to the droplets on my lens!

Today was a day of sightseeing.  I have been to NYC before but never really learned much about the city, so we did the hop on/hop off bus and it did not disappoint.  We saw a lot of Midtown and then into Harlem and Spanish Harlem.  Our final stop was a boat cruise out around the Statue of Liberty and a view of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Skylines.  Isn't that a beautiful site?

Today was yet another rainy day!  It seems that I might not get to experience NYC without the rain! We started our day in this rainy place

In order to experience this!

My hair looks A LOT worse for wear but you can only do so much when you are being rained on and don't have access to a bathroom to try to fix yourself up.  The show was unbelievable.  I have been to two other Broadway shows (Grease and Rock of Ages) but this was by far the best.
Our final day and finally, no rain, so we can experience a dry but brief walk around Central Park. Our hotel was just 2 blocks from the park but we continually headed downtown instead.  It was a nice way to end our trip before hopping in a cab for the chaotic ride back to Penn Station and to our train home.

We had such an amazing time!

Now it is time to think about going back to the classroom.  I am going to take  it slow and stay with familiar content when we start on Monday morning.  We are going to spend a lot of time talking and I know they will want to share their gifts so they ill be writing a thank you letter to someone for one of the special gifts they received.

Thanks for stopping by and have a blessed New Year!

Looking Back ~ My Blog Year in Review

Happy New Year!  I am linking up with my friend and colleague Erin from Mrs. Beattie's Classroom to share my top 10 most read posts of 2015.  It was eye opening going over my statistics from last year and finding out which posts were most popular with my readers.  You can visit each post if you would like to check it out by clicking on each title.

And now... here are my top 10!

Number 10 ~ Classroom Reveal! 

In this post I shared my classroom setup for our start up in September.  It is alway A LOT of work getting a classroom ready for a new class and I was pretty happy with how it turned out!

Number 9 ~ Tada ~ A New Look Blog Reveal

I was so excited to have my blog redone early on this year by Kristen at Chalk and Apples.  I designed my blog when I decided to start this journey but wasn't prepared to try to overhaul it myself. That is a job best left to the expert.  I am still thrilled when I look at even after many months!

Number 8 ~ Halloween Hop # 1

I am coming to realize that any blog hops are a great way to access a new audience and hopefully entice viewers to come back for more content.  A number of my top 10 posts are ones that were part of a blog hop.  Check out this post and wishlist my Hallowe'en freebie for next year.

Number 7 ~ Back To School

Katie from Pop Into Primary and I hosted a back to school blog hop to share our favouite tips to start out the year.  I blogged about using take home bags.  Lots of people took the time to link up so this is a worthwhile post to come back to next August.

Number 6 ~ Five for Frunday

I don't remember to participate in the 5 for Friday posts very often but obviously I should, as this was a pretty popular post.  This post was truly a recap of a week in the life of my first grade classroom. We were all about bucket filling this week and my students were working on their Bucket Filler booklets.

Number 5 ~ #littlefishteacherblogger

This post needs some explanation.  Do you remember when Periscope blew up for teachers following the #teacherspayteachers conference in Vegas?  Well, I was hooked on Periscope hook line and sinker.  There was so much going on and I started to scope and watch scopes and there was a lot of talk about how teachers new to the blogging/tpt world could start out in a sea of big, successful teachers and teacherpreneurs.  I listened to a scope that alluded to this and then went on to scope about how we #littlefish could band together and be supportive of one and other.  I created a link up for those who felt that way to link up and find one and other and provide readership to newbie bloggers etc.  To date 156 teacher bloggers have linked up and I hope they have visited the post and checked out the blogs.

Number 4 ~ Hallowe'en Hop #2

This was the second of 3 Hallowe'en posts.  I got a little carried away getting involved in link ups in the month of October.  Here is another freebie that you can wishlist for next year.

Number 3 ~ 2D geometry and dabbling with Inquiry

In this post I highlighted my centers for 2D geometry and shared a bit about my first baby steps into implementing inquiry in my classroom.

Number 2 ~ Summer blog hop

I participated in another blog hop over the summer to share about my summer vacation.  It was a lot of fun sharing about my summer vacation and reading about everyone who linked up.

Number 1 ~ What's in your Guided Reading Toolkit?

I am so happy to see that this was my most viewed post of 2015.  I poured a lot of time and energy into this post and into the comprehension checks question cards that are featured in this post.  I have been working really hard to improve my practice in terms of teaching guided reading and this post highlights some of my tried and true strategies.

Thank you so much for stopping by and checking out my top 10.  I am excited for what 2016 holds in store for me!

Until next time,