I wanted to boost my children's investigative skills, so I took them off-timetable for the day and had a science day!
Egg-citing Eggs-periments! (Couldn't resist!)
We started with an egg (or was it a chicken??) and carried out three investigations.
1: How can we make an egg float?
2: What is an egg?
Okay, so this investigation should have been called What's inside an egg? but the children struggled to define an egg. Firstly, they initially only considered a hen's egg, ignoring other bids, reptiles and fish. Secondly, they saw its primary function as food for humans. We cracked them open to look inside for clues!
3. How do different drinks affect our teeth?
This question surprised the children, as we were looking at eggs! The children worked in teams of 4, each choosing a drink to investigate after discussing what would be interesting to compare. They put the shell from their egg into a cup and covered it with their drink choice, making it a fair test by measuring the amount of liquid in each cup. We'll look at them over the next week, recording our observations. Photos to follow!
Our afternoon consisted of a carousel of quick science investigations, considering how to record our findings. I like children to choose how to present their work.
1: How can you make an orange sink?
Why does it float with its skin but sink without?
I challenged the children to make the orange sink. They quickly tried removing the skin. They had a lot of different ideas about why this worked and it sparked some great discussion. The actual reason is to do with the skin holding air pockets. After trying to make it re-float, some of the children tried a small with air trapped inside and made the link.
2: Can we make a slinky sound like a ray gun?!
Granted, this isn't the most scientific question, but I LOVE this experiment!
If you drop a metal slinky, over the banking and jingling, you can hear a quiet 'ray-gun', sci-fi type of sound. It's very hard to explain! However, if you place a paper cup touching the end of the slinky before you drop it, it amplifies the sound and sounds really cool! The kids can experiment with hitting it in different ways and using different types of cup. A slinky can also be used to see how sound travels - if you flick one end, you can see a ripple run along it. It's a great way to show a wave that doesn't look like the sea!
3: What is it?
For this very simple activity, I printed lots of different pictures taken under very powerful microscopes. There was a wide variety: a butterfly's wing, a sugar-beet root (above), a cancer cell (below), bone, toilet paper (below - on the desk). The children chose their own way to record their thoughts. Some drew part of it using a post-it frame (cut a hole out of the middle of a post-it, stick it on and draw what's inside the frame - it helps them to focus on detail); some wrote 'I see, I think, I wonder' (something we've done before); others did a spider diagram of links, questions and ideas. I didn't reveal what they were until the end of the day!
We had a fantastic day and the children really got to challenge their ideas and use their investigative skills. I really enjoy theme days and so do the kids - definitely building some into my next topic!
I love teaching Maths. More than any other subject, learning is tangible - you can so often do something by the end of the lesson that you couldn't at the beginning. I have a real drive at the moment to give children the chance to apply their Maths in real-life contexts. I don't mean giving them word problems describing real-life situations, but actually doing a practical activity .
So, here's Friday's challenge:
Download the (slightly differentiated) letter:
I gave each pair an iPad and showed them some recipe and grocery shopping websites. We chatted a little about what we would need to find out and then off they went! Asda & Ocado were great, because you can add to your online basket without registering.
I like real-life, open-ended tasks like this one. There are so many directions to take it in - cost per person, scheduling the timings of the preparation and dinner, using ratio to calculate how much they would need for their guests. As I went around the classroom, I could guide and challenge each pair appropriately, letting their learning be guided by their experience on the day and questions they raised. While they may never be contestants on Come Dine With Me, they will inevitably have to budget, plan meals and do their grocery shopping at some point in their lives.
I've started making a note in the back of my diary every time I use Maths in my life. I'm quickly building a bank of lesson ideas that can be stretched, differentiated and explored in a multitude of ways: planning a trip (timetables, costs, data analysis of how popular a place is), sorting out bills & energy savings, buying Christmas gifts & calculating how much gift-wrap to buy & the net of the boxes... the list goes on and on!
Today, as part of our Mission to Mars topic, we made rockets!
Working in teams of 4, each tied a string taught between the fences (you could easily use chairs - I just love being outside!), with a straw threaded on. Using a balloon pump, they then put 20 pumps of air into a balloon and taped it to the straw with duck tape, keeping hold of the end.
The for the best bit...let it go! The children then measured the stopping distance. We tried to time them so we could work out the speed, but unfortunately our timers don't have hundredths of a second so weren't accurate enough.
We talked about the forces at work. To help our 'space shuttle' to land safely, we needed to add a parachute brake to slow it down a little. The children used their understanding of forces to design a parachute to slow down the shuttle. At this stage, it was useful to talk about air resistance, rather than simply weighting it down.
We repeated our test, evaluated and made some improvements and repeated it a final time. Each time, the measured the stopping distance.
We could use this to calculate how successful the parachutes were.
I loved this activity! As well as being part of our Topic, we used our teamwork and Maths skills, too. The children learnt a lot about Science and it was interesting to address air resistance when the parachutes had to work horizontally.
I am so proud of the writing my children have been doing this week!
We brainstormed some different vocabulary that we could use for a shipwreck story. We decided to set our story in the 1500s so I showed them the opening scene of Disney's Pocahontas to give them a visual to draw from and we added to our vocab bank.
In teams (the children work in mixed-ability teams of 4), they thought about the 5 senses and the emotions of the dock as a ship prepares to leave.
(Okay, maybe not my best example of modelling neat writing, but I get excited and rush!)I. That's when I did my usual trick and changed my lesson because I had an idea!! I handed out hurriedly cut strips of paper then assigned each pair an item from our mindmap. Their challenge was to write just one sentence to describe it. Not just any sentence...a STONKING SENTENCE! I encouraged them to draw on all of the descriptive techniques they know - personification, metaphor, simile, 'show me, don't tell me' - and write the best sentence they can.
For the next lesson, I photocopied every strip onto one sheet and gave each pair a copy. These formed the backbone of their opening paragraph. With their partner, they read, edited, eliminated and ordered sentences to form a good paragraph. They didn't cut them out and physically re-arrange, because I want them to orally rehearse to listen for sense and style, but with a younger class this might be an idea.
The activity gave the children the opportunity to work together and share their skills, then to steal ideas and sentence structures from their peers. It was also a chance to practise their editing skills and the result was fantastic!
Next, the children are going to practise these skills independently in a similar story, but this time it's their mission to Mars that will end in disaster, fitting in perfectly with our topic!
Hi! I'm Mrs P: passionate primary school teacher!