Introducing Science Tools in the Primary Classroom

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Hey y'all! If you've been following along with me, you'll know we've been discussing implementing science centers in the classroom. (If you've missed these, you can get caught up here.)

One of the biggest questions I get asked is, "How do you get started?"

I start the beginning of every year exploring what a scientist is and does. There are several awesome books for introducing science to your little learners. My new favorite is Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty.

After we read, we brainstorm what qualities scientists have and add these to our anchor chart. Students have their own they can add to their science notebooks.

Then, I let them explore different science tools, like magnifying glasses, balance scales, pipettes (water droppers), etc. 

The big thing about science centers is that the students can complete each task on their own. I review the expectations and picture cards with the whole class, then send them to centers to work independently. 

Younger students will need lots of guidance and encouragement to do things on their own, but the visual task cards and simple directions are just right for supporting students independence. 

The key to setting up science centers is establishing an environment that fosters student independence. The Next Generation Science Standards focus less on knowing information and more on making sense of it. In order for that to happen, students need to learn to think for themselves instead of waiting for the answer to be provided for them. 

Teach your students independence and lay the foundation for your science time with this Intro to Science Unit. You and your students will love the way it transforms your science class and takes student achievement to the next level.

Thanks for stopping by! Keep a lookout for more science center ideas coming soon!

Plants Science Centers

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Hey y'all! We're back for another round of science center ideas! Today, we're talking all about plants. (If you missed my post on setting up science centers, check them out here and grab your freebie!) 

On Monday, we set up an experiment to find out just how important sunlight is to plants. We put one plant in the sun, one in the shade, and one in the dark. At the end of the week, we check on our plants and see how they've changed. (Don't worry, I've never lost a plant in this process! You can revive the poor darkened plant by putting it back in the sun on Friday and giving it a little TLC.) 

Of course, no unit is complete without a story to get us started. I love The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle, but there are MANY great plant books to choose from.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, students go to different centers to learn about plant parts, what they do, plants we eat, the life cycle, and more!

Each lab station has direction cards with pictures and is just right for K-2 learners.

And each station is hands on, engaging, and fosters independence. 

My students always love tasting different parts of plants. I pick up some carrots, celery, spinach leaves, broccoli, and sunflower seeds at the store and the kids are always floored by how many plant parts they already eat. And who doesn't love a science activity you can eat?!

Check out the unit in my Teachers Pay Teachers store by clicking here or on the image below. 

What are your thoughts on science centers? Have you tried them in your classroom? Let me know in the comments below. Look for more science center ideas coming soon and thanks for stopping by!

Weather Centers

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Hey y'all! We're back with another round of science center ideas! If you missed the whole science center setup explanation, check it out here

Today, we're talking about weather stations. This unit is geared toward slightly older kids. My 3rd graders LOVED this unit at the beginning of the year, but 2nd graders could totally do this at the end of the year, and 4th graders could use this with extension activities. 

After we set the stage to engage on Monday, students go to independent centers Tuesday through Thursday. 

With Unit 1, students learn about types of weather, tools scientists use to measure weather, and the different levels of the atmosphere. 

STEAM activities are included for building a shelter from the elements and creating a windsock. Science and reading get integrated with a weather idioms matching game. On Friday, we created a tornado in a bottle and recorded our process in our science notebooks. 

 Take it a step further and keep centers going for another week with Unit 2.

In this unit, students learn about cloud types and what they signal…

…the water cycle...


…warm, cold, and stationary fronts (as well as what  front IS)...

…effects of weather and more. On Friday, we "made it rain" in a jar and recorded the process in our science notebooks. 

There are recording sheets for each lab, including Monday and Friday. All recording sheets fit in spiral or composition notebooks. And your lesson plans are DONE. 

You can check out each unit by clicking on the cover image above or grab both by clicking on the bundle image below. 

Thanks for stopping by! If you haven't picked up the science station startup freebie yet check it out now. And check back soon for more science center ideas!

Five Senses and a Freebie

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Hey y'all! Last time we talked, I introduced science centers. Now it's time to really show you what I mean. 

The five senses unit is one of my favorite units at the beginning of the year. I usually do this with kindergarten and 1st grade to learn both about what the five senses are and about how to use our senses during science time. 

On Monday, I introduce senses, usually reading My Five Senses by Aliki. We explore as a class what we do with each sense and what body part it's associated with. Anchor charts are great for this day.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, students go to stations. There are 6 stations, one for each of the 5 senses and one with a review book. Each station has a direction (task) card and a book or recording sheet for science notebooks, but I go over each station before sending the littles off. These direction cards have pictures to help guide them. 

Students work through each station spending 5-10 minutes at each one. I usually have mine all rotate centers at the same time to teach time management and to keep things flowing. With this setup, students will go to 2 stations per day and we'll meet before, between, and after to share out what we've learned. You could also have students switch centers as they finish them, but I find there are more off task behaviors that way.

Labs are hands on and do require a few inexpensive supplies. For this unit, students get to taste a few foods to explore this sense. I am always mindful of any allergies my students may have and they always love this station!

Recording sheets are easy for students to use independently and fit inside spiral or composition books easily. If science notebooks are not your thing, recording sheets can be stapled together to make a booklet students can take home at the end of the week. A culminating craft is included to finish off the unit on Friday. 

The new science standards require students to think differently about science. What better way to lay the foundation for this than by fostering independent learning. My students are always so proud of themselves when they are able to complete the whole task on their own. To check this unit out in my store, click here or on the picture below. 

If you missed the post about how science centers are run in my classroom, click here to get all caught up and catch the freebie. 

Thanks for stopping by. Check back soon for more science unit ideas!

Science Station Startup

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Hey y'all! Today I'm sharing with you a little revolution that's been occurring in my classroom the last few years.

It all started with my first graders who totally needed to get up and move after lunch. (Can you say, "serious case of the wiggles?") Then, my 3rd graders needed more independent learning. And with the Next Generation Science Standards…let's just say change was in order.

So…science started looking more and more like Daily 5. We already have literacy centers and math centers. Why not science centers? The weekly schedule looks like this:

Cool, right?! My big kids this year were so excited about how independent they were during science stations and one said, "We're like totally learning stuff!" :)

Now, if you're ready to try it out, you can totally set up stations on your own. You can pull resources from lots of different places and piece it together yourself OR you can let me do the work for you.

Yes, you read that right. Science stations are already ready for you to jump right in. You can even download the starter kit right here. Check out science stations already up and running here and keep a lookout for more resources coming VERY soon!

What are your thoughts on science stations? Have you tried anything like it before? Let me know in the comments below.

End of the Year Math Fun

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The end is near! Every year it seems that the months just fly by. I don't know how this is possible since the days and weeks last FOREVER, but the months sure don't! I remember meeting my littles on the first day very clearly, and the wonder and hope we all shared.

Now, we're looking ahead to the last couple of months. We're finishing up lessons, reviewing what we've already learned, and starting to think about preventing that summer slide. I absolutely love end of the year centers for these reasons. I can prep it all in March or April and rotate them out for the next few weeks. By this time of the year, the kids are independent in centers and I'm able to do targeted interventions or reteach as needed.

Clip cards are perfect for our littlest learners. They can work on fine motor while reviewing academic skills. These pretty clothespins came from Walmart and they were less than $1! I love adding seasonal colors and props into our centers.

Place value can be tricky for my kinders and firsties so we practice quite a bit. For this game, students roll a die or two and add that many base ten blocks to their game board. The first player to get to 100 wins. I give my students only 10 "ones" each so that they HAVE to trade them out for a "ten" when they get past ten ones. It's perfect for practicing regrouping. The 2nd grade edition includes ones, tens, and hundreds and players race to 1,000.

My first graders love practicing fractions with this spinner game. They spin the paper clip and color in that fraction of a frog. So if they land on 1/2, they'd color half a frog. They can either play alone and when the board is covered, they're done. Or, two players can each use a different color crayon and take turns.

By this point in the year, we've practiced fact families for several weeks already. With this center, students can practice this skill independently. I used this as a write the room last year, but I'm loving having the kids move to center stations and housing all the cards in one place. Placing them in a basket or sensory bin keeps them all in one place and prevents a card or two from getting lost. The kids still get movement in when they switch centers and with the flexible seating choices available.

ALL of my students have loved measuring things. I don't know what it is, but give them some manipulatives they go nuts! :) The kindergarten and 1st grade units both have non-standard measurement recording sheets and the 2nd grade unit has options for inches and centimeters.

Each grade level has a different Bump! game. Kindergarten has roll 2 dice and cover, 1st grade has roll 3 dice and cover, and 2nd grade has roll 3 dice and subtract the sum from 50. Plenty of options to keep them on their toes!

In Texas, our littles take the TEMI test three times a year to measure their math skills. One of the tasks is number sequencing. Kindergarteners are expected to sequence numbers to 20 and first graders are expected to sequence to 100. With this activity, students fill in the missing number on the pail and record the sequence on their answer sheet. The 2nd grade version works on number patterns/skip counting.

Another way we practice sequencing is with these write the room cards. The kindergarten version has students writing the next two numbers. 1st grade writes the number that is ten more, and ten more after that. 2nd grade adds on 100.

I love roll and covers, can you tell? They're just so simple and the kiddos are engaged the whole time! With this one, they roll and add 10. 2nd graders roll 2 dice and double their sum. Kinders roll and cover with 2 dice. (Yes, I know there is a typo on this image. The file has been updated since I took this pic.)

Comparing numbers can be tricky for many of my students. They know which way to read the number, but for some reason, they forget sometimes. I like giving them these and reviewing place value orders. The kindergarten version compares numbers to 20, 1st grade compares to 100, and 2nd grade works with numbers to 1,000. 

There are time games in both the 1st and 2nd grade units, but this one is my favorite. Students spin the spinners and write the hour and minute that the spinner lands on. They can practice writing the digital time and putting the hands on the clocks. 

Also included are money games, addition and subtraction games, word problems (2nd grade), and more! You can check out all the details by clicking on any of the pictures or by clicking here. The theme for these centers is camping, cookout, and summer. They're all super easy to add seasonal props to (hello, Target dollar spot!).

Whew! That was super long. I hope you got some valuable ideas for the end of the school year. I love prepping everything early so May isn't quite as overwhelming as it could be. What's your favorite thing about the end of the school year? Let me know in the comments below! Have a great day!

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