Sunday, April 30, 2017

Teaching about the Beach

One of my favourite units to teach is my Beach Unit which would of course include a field trip to one of our local beaches. Living here on the west coast we are lucky enough to be surrounding by beautiful rocky and sandy beaches which makes learning about the beach so much fun!  

My Beach Unit consists of 56 pages of games, activities, and worksheets which can be used in the classroom leading up to your beach trip and I have also included activities such as task cards which will keep your class busy while at the beach and a 5 senses booklet which will challenge your students to use their senses while at the beach.

All beach photos were taken in and around Tofino British Columbia.  

This beach unit also includes a variety of activities that will help your students gain a greater understanding a appreciation of the environment and the creatures that we share our beaches with. 

Included is a sea creatures matching game where students get to play a game similar to memory, where they take turns flipping over cards with the goal of matching the sea creature with the correct adaptation.This fun game can be played in pairs or as a solo "what do I do when I'm done?" activity.  

Classroom scavengers hunts are also always a fun way to learn new facts. My beach unit includes a fun set of posters each with a beach theme for you to hang around the room. Students can then explore the posters and find the answers to the questions on their question and answer fact foldable. Students can also use the scavenger hunt posters or do their own mini research projects to find 5 facts about a sea creature of their choosing to write about on their fact foldable. 

Check out this and other  fabulous resources in my TPT store! 

Learning Outdoors: Ideas to Get Students Learning about their Local Environment

I'm loving the nicer weather and thinking about ways to get my students learning outside in the natural environment. Students spend a lot of time indoors and glued 'almost literally' to technology. 

Below are a list of activities that you can do outdoors to not only get students thinking about their natural environment, but also gets students outside getting exercise and fresh air! 

1. Bug Hunting 
Have your students search under rocks, logs, on the forest floor for insects. Have them use a magnifying glass to get a closer look. Identify the bug and draw a picture. If students choose to, they can do a further inquiry about their insects. 

2. Bird watching 
Take the class to the beach, bird sanctionary, or pond to look for birds. Students can then inquire about the type of bird, the shape of it's feet, the type of beak it has and from this information predict what it eats, where it nests, and then find other facts about the birds they find. 

3. Plant a tree or a garden
Have students truly connect with the outdoors and learn the life cycle of a plant by planting seeds and taking care of a plant. 

4. Webbing 
This is a game/activity that gets students thinking about the interconnectedness of forest or beach life. You will need a ball of yarn. The first student names a plant and then holds the end of the yarn and passes the ball of yarn to another student who says the name of a plant or animal that eats that plant. Students will continue to pass the ball of yarn around while going through the food chain of that local area. 

5. Sardines 
This is a fun game to play outdoors. With this game there is one hider and the rest of the class is the seekers. One person counts to 50 while the hider runs and hides. After 50 seconds the class separates to find the hider. When a classmate finds the hider they squeeze in the hiding spot and hide with the hider until everyone finds them. 

6. Outdoor role playing 
This a mindful activity where students get to think about their natural environment and become part of it. With this activity you will ask students to be a frog, a rock, a mountain... anything that is in your local natural environment. After awhile you can turn the game around and have students role play and you guess what they are. 

7. Use a stethoscope to listen to a tree. 

8. Have a nature scavenger hunt! 
This is always fun to have students look for leaves, pine cones, plants, and trees. Students can draw certain things they find or collect them. Another idea is to have a nature alphabet scavenger hunt where students look for an item in their local environment that begins with each letter of the alphabet. 

Are you interested in doing an outdoor scavenger hunt with your students? 
You should check out my Exploring Our Local Environment: Scavenger Hunt and Inquiry Project Unit. This unit starts off with an outdoor scavenger hunt and includes a variety of graphic organizers and activities that can be completed in any outdoor setting. The unit ends with all of the criteria, assessment, and resources that you will need for students to narrow in on one aspect of interest in their local environment and complete an inquiry project on their chosen interest. 

9. Go for a Hike
Have students go for a hike and then make a map of the local park or area. 

10. Rock garden 
This is a fun way to get students in touch with nature. Have students go for a walk and find a rock to bring it back to the classroom. On their chosen rock students can paint or use permanent markers to create an image to represent one fact about their local environment. 

Looking for more ideas for learning outdoors? Check out my Bubbles Unit! This 34 page science unit is jam packed with hands on bubbles related science activities, graphic organizers, and much more! 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

We were Inspired by Van Gogh's Sunflowers

On a rainy afternoon this past week I decided to have my students do some colourful Van Gogh art to hopefully invite Spring to start soon here on the beautiful West Coast of Canada. I started off the lesson by explaining who Van Gogh was and I used a short video made by ‘Free School’ called ‘Vincent Van Gogh a Short Biography for Kids’. We then had a short discussion about what we learned about Van Gogh from the film and connections we had made to Van Gogh and where we had seen his art. 

We then moved on to drawing our versions of Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ using pencil. As a class I directed the students to first draw the table or horizon and then the vase and then the flowers. I reminded students that this is their art and although we are being inspired by Van Gogh and his very famous painting we are creating our own art and we are welcome to add, subtract, or make different. 

After the drawings were complete, we used pastels to add colour to our art. I’m really impressed with how our art went! I am hoping with some colourful sunflowers decorating the classroom walls we will be inviting Spring and some warmer weather to our community! 

For more ideas about bringing some colourful art into your classroom check out my Elements of Art Unit. This comprehensive unit includes a poster, lesson, and art project for each of the 7 elements of art and a set of task cards that includes more ideas about teaching art and additional art activities you can use in your classroom. 


Friday, April 14, 2017

STEM Easter Baskets and Traditionalish Easter Egg Decorating...

For Easter this year in the classroom, I decided to keep things simple and traditional. It was also report card season, so things have been insanely busy! Because of the craziness of my schedule we decorated our hard boiled eggs the way that I decorated Easter eggs when I was small. 

First the students used crayons to draw designs on 
their eggs. I separated all of the white crayons that we had in the classroom for students to use, but I also welcomed students to use the rest of the crayons as well. I then set up a 'dye station' where students dipped their eggs in a solution made out of one cup water, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, and 7-10 drops of food colouring. I kept things very simple. I only had red, blue, and yellow coloured dyes for students to choose from. Our eggs were simple, but also super colourful! Students were welcome to take their eggs home or eat them at school. 

Yesterday we designed and built our Easter Baskets for students to carry their decorated Easter eggs home in. I set up the Easter baskets like I set up my other STEM activities (My class has been doing a lot of STEM activities. Stay tuned for later blog posts with pictures, ideas, and announcements about how I have been incorporating STEM into my classroom). For the Easter baskets, I told the students that they were given the challenge of designing and constructing a basket using only popsicle sticks and white glue. (I did not allow them to use a hot glue gun, but I did give them a hint about letting the walls of their baskets dry before construction). Later, when the baskets were close to completion, handed out little flowers, ribbon, and nesting materials that I found from our local dollar store to decorate their baskets. Unlike other STEM challenges we have done, students made their baskets independently, not in small groups and students were NOT asked to write about and reflect on what they learned and what they would do differently next time... ect. Overall the baskets turned out really well! They were cute and functional. 

If you are looking for Spring activities to use in your classroom check out my Bubbles: A Science Unit. This unit is all about hands on science experiments with a focus on making predictions, trial and error, and the scientific method. Each bubble experiment comes with directions and a experiment reflection page. 

Another terrific Spring unit would be my Worms and Composting unitThis unit is packed full of activities all about worms and composting. This unit includes directions for having a compost in your classroom. (I did this activity with a grade 2 class and they loved monitoring the breakdown of the fruit peels and other compost material from their lunches). I have also included a variety of activities designed to help your students have a better understanding of these little misunderstood creatures. 

And last, but not least! My Exploring Our Local Environment is a 31 page unit designed to get your students outdoors and learning about their own local outdoor surroundings. This unit is perfect for the end of the school year! 

All three of these terrific units are highly engaging, hands on, and include the outdoors which is perfect for keeping students busy, interested, and learning as the weather gets warmer and the school year starts to come to an end!