Thursday, November 29, 2012

Galaxies & Constellations

There are many reasons why December is one of my favorite months, but one BIG reason is because we are studying OUTER SPACE! There's something about teaching outer space that makes my heart skip a beat. We're just diving into our universe, but we have started by identifying our location (in the Milky Way) and how that compared to other groups of stars (also known as...constellations) In 5th grade, we do not assess constellations or put much focus on them, but it connects to how our Earth rotates on its axis. It was enlightening for many students to understand how we see different constellations at different times of the year... depending on where we are on the globe. 

To compare constellations and galaxies, we created a Double Bubble Thinking Map. Side note, in this unit I'm REALLY trying to incorporate the use of more and more thinking maps. They're incredible ways to organize information and another great way to take notes. For example, we created a brace map at the beginning of our unit to write down vocabulary words and associate them in groups. Now, back on track! Below, you see a student working with his group to pull information from a resource page and the text book and create a double bubble. After the small groups worked for 5-7 minutes, we shared out our new information and created a class double bubble. 

After we had ironed out the differences between galaxies and constellations... we started creating! Students were given months, chalk, a guide, and stars. Badda bing... badda boom! 

Today, I was trying to decide what to DO with the constellations and I thought, "Duh.. we need to look up." I hopped on a table and started tacking them to the ceiling. At the end of the day, we all stared into the "sky" and found constellations! 

Tomorrow, we're continuing our conversation about the SUN ... our closest star! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Glitter Blast!

In continuation with my "It's not you Thanksgiving, it's me" series, I bring to you another Christmas craft. Sunday was a whirlwind of DIY-mania. Hopefully, this post may bring a little peace and joy to your evening!

At Michaels I bought white wooden block letters and gave them a little make over. I spray painted each one a metallic gold and glitter blasted them with paint. I wish I had coined the term, "Glitter Blast", but the spray paint company beat me to it. I plan on incorporating it into my vocabulary more often. 

 It's a puzzle. Can you figure out what the word is supposed to be? I'm glad I painted the letters in the wrong order and then took the picture. 

I glitter-blasted (according to the spray can) my letters to give them a little sparkle. I love the way they shimmer and shine in the sunlight! Practically Edward Cullen in letter form. 

I stuck the letters on a wreath and added a few pine cones and berry garland to give it that classy Christmas feel. The letters are little wonky on the wreath, but that's my middle name. Wonky. Jordon Wonky F. Nothing is ever straight or in perfect order... every thing I do has a little wonky touch. The more I say "wonky" out loud the weirder it sounds. 

Peace on Earth and goodwill to men.

In addition to my "peace" letters, I also bought larger white block letters at Michaels. I painted them metallic gold with a glitter blast as well. They are happily propped up against my lamp next to a photo that brings me joy. 

That's all folks! 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Chalkboard Christmas

First, I must apoligize to Thanksgiving. Mentally, I have already moved onto Christmas. My house, too, has already moved onto the winter holidays. It's not you, Thanksgiving, it's me. 

This two day work week mentality has my crafting juices flowing. My grades were exported on Friday (hip hip hooray), so I'm ready to enjoy this week with all of the people that I love the most! One of my many projects this afternoon were chalkboard creations. I purchased these little wooden cut outs at Michaels today and gave them a new look. 

Several hours later, I gave each one a cute little holiday quote. It seemed appropriate to write something about chilly weather on the snowflake. If you're getting technical, it's really not cold outside. Actually, it's quite wonderful outside right now. But, we're not technical here. 

For the bell, I picked a quote from my favorite Christmas book, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". Because you know, in Who-ville they say the Grinch's small heart grew THREE SIZES that day!

Lastly, I gave an old poster a new look with, yes... you guessed it! chalkboard paint. Now, proudly hanging in my living room is a quote from one of my favorite movies, Elf.  Buddy the Elf provides a lot of my motivational quotes around the holidays. He's a wise 'ol elf!

 Happy Sunday!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tuna Sandwiches Make Tongues Excited

I'd like to give a special shout out to Felix Baumgartner for making my job extra easy today. Because of his recent jump from the edge of space, we had fun talking about the layers of the atmosphere. First, we ironed out the basics. We started from the bottom (on the edge of Earth) and worked our way out to space. Using a handy little guide I found here. We talked about what happens in each layer: clouds, meteors, northern lights, satellites, etc. Thanks to a colleague's suggestion, I taught my kids the mnemonic device: Tuna (Troposphere), Sandwiches (Stratosphere), Make (Mesosphere), Tongues (Thermosphere), Excited (Exosphere). Once we had figured out how each layer worked, we moved on to discuss Mr. Baumgartner. The exciting part!

Along with the little images included on the printable, I had each student sketch a little stick figure and write FELIX'S SPACE JUMP in the box. I told them predict where they thought Felix jumped from. I warned them not to glue just yet because I would reveal the correct answer later. The student below got a little excited and glued too soon. If you look closely, you can see the "NOT" on the Felix hanging out in the Exosphere. 

Oh, Tuna. 
Thanks to the power of the world wide web, I was able to show my students incredible footage of Baumgartner's previous missions (incredible!!) and the unforgettable space jump.  Below are the videos I used from YouTube. 

Download a Copy Here!
Thanks to Krissy Venosdale for making this awesome poster for classrooms. Check out her incredibly inspirational blog here.  I downloaded one and have had it hanging up since the jump. You should too!!

I, again, must thank Felix. You made my Monday very exciting and kept my students completly captivated by your daredevil stunts. Keep it up, Felix! We're all rooting for you!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Water Water Water Cycle, Ya'll!

I'm guilty. I'm guilty of picking two favorite subjects in science. Yes! Lock me up... I'm guilty of loving our weather and outer space unit a little too much.  Right now, we are studying weather and specifically the water cycle. Last year, we made water cycles in ziplock baggies (you can read about our water cycle excitement from last year here). This year, we decided to GO BIG with our own water cycle creations. Thanks to the wonderful Corkboard Connection blogs by Laura here... I found her idea to create a water cycle in a rotisserie container. So, that's exactly what we did!

Thanks to a generous donation of containers from Hyvee, small groups created their very own greenhouse. I told them the supplies to gather (rock, soil, foil for a pond, and water) and we headed outside. Luckily for us, November 1st (today) was an unseasonably warm day. We were outside enjoying the sunshine all day long. 

C'mon.. do something!

Waiting on Mother Nature to Work Magic!
Later in the afternoon, after our beautiful energy source (ahem...the sun) worked its magic, we checked out our little cycles. Honestly, you would have thought that I gave some of my kids a huge candy bar wrapped with gold paper because they FLIPPED OUT.  They were pumped to see condensation forming and vapor surrounding their container. It was incredible! I loved seeing them so excited about our project. 

We brought our cycles in overnight and a few students decided to label them for tomorrow. I was pleasantly surprised, and equally delighted, to see they had labeled them as their "cloud" group.  Let me back up... during each unit I change the name of each pod to something I want them to memorize. Read about it here. Right now, all of my groups are different types of clouds. Here you can see a picture of the Cumulus' water cycle. 

Ahhh... Science! It's a beautiful thing. Tomorrow, my students are headed on an incredible journey! Their fate as a water molecule is in the hands of the dice. Happy Friday!

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