Making Science Stations Work for You

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Hey y'all! Have you taken the plunge and tried science stations yet? If you have, excellent! If you haven't, or you want to but aren't sure how to manage it, here's a few ideas on how it could work for you, but first, let's cover the basics.

What:

Science stations are a set of 6 stations the kids go to throughout the week. We typically have a whole group lesson on Monday, do 2 rotations a day on Tuesday through Thursday, and have a culminating activity on Friday. The whole time during rotations, I am walking around monitoring students, providing feedback, and making sure they are understanding the big ideas in each station. 

Why:

Why should you try science stations? In my classroom, science stations are the most organized and engaging part of our whole day. The kids are excited, they know the routine without any prompts from me, they are independent in their learning, and I rarely have a student off task. This is the time of day when I hear, "This is the best day ever!" most frequently. The kids are LEARNING and they see it as play. It's a win-win.

To get our stations organized, I label each box with a lab number. Students are assigned a group and typically rotate through each center together, but not always as I'll show you below. These are shoebox sized plastic bins I picked up from Target, but you can find them anywhere.

Who:

Keep your groups flexible. I assign my students groups based on how they interact with each other. I may pair a couple of struggling readers together if I know they can persevere and sound things out together. I may pair a high kid and a low kid together if I know they can work well together. You know your kiddos. Set them up in groups that get along well together but won't get each other off task.

Don't be afraid to mix things up either. If I see they're getting a little too comfortable together, I'll reassign groups. If they're off the charts awesome, I'll let them pick their partners for the week. You be the judge on what your students can handle.


How:

The "how" is flexible. More often than not, we do centers the way they are described above. But not all weeks are that organized. Sometimes we have an early release that cuts into our science time. Sometimes, we have special event that messes with our schedule. Whatever the reason, there are other ways to make it work.

Option 1: You have a four day week, so you can do the Monday experiment on the first day of the week, then do 3 stations a day on the next two days, and the big experiment on the last day of the week.

Option 2: Do the Monday experiment on your first full science time of the week. Set up the centers on a day where you have a full hour and half or more and rotate through all 6. Then, do the Friday experiment on the next full science day. This requires some stamina from your littles. I wouldn't do this setup at the very beginning of the year.

Option 3: Do the Monday experiment on a full science day. Setup all the centers on a day when you have a solid hour and half, but let them choose which ones to go to, how long to stay, and where to go next. Do the Friday experiment at the end of the week.

**I use this option with seasonal, task-oriented units like Valentine's or St. Patrick's Day. I do not use this setup with content heavy units because I want to make sure they get to every. single. station.


Option 4: If you're pressed for time or your district has a specific curriculum you HAVE to use during science time, integrate the centers into reading or math block. The book lab can easily become a literacy center during reading and measurement labs can easily fit into your math block.

I visited a school where all of the curriculum is integrated into the same blocks of time. Students had 3-4 hours a day in total to visit all of their reading, math, and various other centers, and could go to whichever center they wanted during those time blocks. (The teacher taught reading and math in small groups during that time.) If you have a schedule like this, you could setup one or two stations a day for students to explore.

Option 5: Do one activity a day whole group. This isn't the same as stations, obviously, but if you have a class that just can't handle it then this might be your best bet for setting expectations.

I personally don't like doing it this way. Even my toughest classes were the best behaved during science stations, so I am a HUGE advocate for rotations. However, you have to do what's best for your students and their learning styles.

Putting it all Together:

I hope I answered a few questions for you. I've heard many teachers say they love reading and math centers but are hesitant to try science stations because they've never taught it that way. If you're at that point right now, rest assured that it can be done and your students will love you for it. Teaching science this way has been SO MUCH FUN for both my students and me. I no longer have wiggly ones interrupting the whole group lesson because they can't sit still after lunch. The fast pace of the centers keeps them engaged and focused.

To grab a copy of the center organization signs, click here (it's free!). And stay tuned for more science units coming soon. 

Stay sweet,

ABC Countdown to Summer

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Hey y'all! It's finally starting to warm up and the countdown to the end of the year is beginning. In kindergarten, we love to wrap up the school year with an ABC Countdown to Summer.

Each day for the last 26 days of school, we review each letter and sound with a fun activity, treat, or dress-up day. I send home a note to families letting them know what we're up to and attach the calendar of events for the next month. You can get a copy of the letter here and the editable calendar here. (Fonts used are KG Miss Kindergarten and KG Part of Me.)


Items listed in blue are things the students bring with them to school, items in red are things the kids wear, and items in black are things I take care of, like ice pops or a dance party.  They're all pretty simple and you can always ask parents for donations if needed. 

I hope you have a wonderful last few days with your students and make wonderful and exciting memories. Stay tuned for more great resources to end your school year strong.

Stay sweet,

2 Digit and 3 Digit Addition Practice

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Hey y'all! It's that time of year again. We're in the home stretch and it's time to make sure our littles are solid in their understanding of...well, everything we ever taught them! If your class is anything like mine, you have some that are still working on addition without regrouping, some working on addition with regrouping, and some ready for the next level. Isn't teaching fun?!

But seriously, I hate drill and kill exercises, but sometimes all they really need is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! So here's a little scoot game to get them going.


There are four different levels: 2 digit addition without regrouping, 2 digit addition with regrouping, 3 digit addition without regrouping, and 3 digit addition with regrouping. Answer keys are included for each level.


I love scoot games because they can be played so many ways.
♥ You can have it super orderly by setting the cards up around the room and having everyone move at the same time.
♥ You could put them on the wall and use it at a write the room.
♥ You could put them in a sensory bin for any of your kiddos that still need that extra stimulation (or just because it's fun!).
♥ You could make it into a Quiz, Quiz, Trade game.


What's Quiz, Quiz, Trade? Well it's a game where the kids quiz each other. Each student gets a card and finds a partner. Each partner quizzes the other one with the equation on their card. After both partners have had a chance to answer, they trade cards and find another partner. The game can repeat as many times as you want. You could do 3 or 4 rounds for a warm up each day if you wanted to, or play one long epic game, depending on the attention spans of your students. For students to check their work, write the answer to each equation on the back.


This game is super simple, but so much fun. And with differentiated levels, it's sure to meet your second and third graders' needs. You can check out at my Teachers Pay Teachers store here. Thank you for stopping by and stay tuned for more sweet deals coming soon!

Stay sweet,

End of the Year Math Centers

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Hey y'all! The end of the school year will be here before you know it. I don't know about you, but I like to have things prepped and ready to go as soon possible so I can kick back and enjoy my time with my students. These end of the year math centers will carry your students all the way through April and May, or May and June depending on when you get out for summer break.


All math centers review skills learned throughout the year. Kindergarten centers focus on:
☼ Addition within 20 (3 centers)
☼ Subtraction within 10
☼ Missing addend
☼ Number order
☼ Counting on 
☼ Comparing numbers (2 centers)
☼ Measurement (non standard)
☼ Addition and subtraction mixed practice
☼ US coin identification 
☼ Place Value
☼ Skip Counting (by 2's, 5's, and 10's) 
☼ Graphing (4 centers) 
☼ Shapes
☼ Missing number (TEMI practice)



The first section of centers in each unit has a camping theme, the next set includes some lunch/cookout type things, and the last section has a beach theme. They're perfect to carry you through the warming up period and into the summer sunshine.


First grade centers use numbers to 100. These centers review:
☼ Missing addend
☼ Number order
☼ Number comparisons (2 centers)
☼ Measurement
☼ Fact families
☼ Adding 3 numbers (2 games)
☼ Time to the hour and half hour
☼ Graphing (3 centers)
☼ Fractions
☼ Adding 10 (2 centers)
☼ Subtraction (within 20)
☼ Coins
☼ Place value/Base 10
☼ Missing number (TEMI practice)






And 2nd grade centers work with numbers to 999. The skills reviewed are:
☼ Addition within 100, with regrouping (4 centers)
☼ Subtraction within 100, with and without regrouping (2 centers)
☼ Comparing 3-digit numbers (2 centers)
☼ Measurement (inches and centimeters)
☼ Addition and subtraction word problems (1 and 2 step)
☼ Time to the 5 minutes (3 centers)
☼ Adding US coins
☼ Graphing (3 centers)
☼ Place value
☼ Adding 100
☼ Skip counting






My students always love these centers and I know yours will, too! For more information on each unit, you can check out each unit here. Stay tuned for more great ideas coming soon.

Stay sweet,

End of the Year Summer STEAM Centers

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Hey y'all. I don't know about you, but I'm ready for some warmer weather! (Yes, I know it's early, but one can dream right?)

Anyway, in thinking about the end of the year, I wanted to make sure my students were inspired to keep STEAMing throughout the summer, so I designed these challenges to get them thinking creatively about things they could easily build with at home.


On Monday, we start the week off by testing out different types or SPF's of sunscreen on dark colored pieces of construction paper. I took a picture of our experiment but they look really creepy on camera. Just sayin'. They're so much better in real life. 


Tuesday through Thursday, the kids go to a series of six science rotations. Each one has a visual instruction card and a recording sheet for science notebooks. If you don't use science notebooks, you can always staple the pages together to make a little booklet so the papers don't end up everywhere. 


Students make a palm tree out of toothpicks and pool noodle slices, test the density of different types of water, and build a hammock, waterslide, umbrella, and a sandcastle. All of the instructions and lesson plans are included so there is no guessing about what is supposed to be in each center.






On Friday, each student builds a solar oven to cook their s'mores with. If the end of the school year is still pretty cool where you live or you're lucky enough to have a rainy day (hello, inside recess!), then you can totally use a heat lamp to do the same thing. Don't forget to make one for yourself, too. Every teacher needs chocolate by the end of the year (okay, okay—all year!).


A list of materials is included as well as tips and ideas for making everything run smoothly.  You can check the stations out in more detail here. If you haven't tried science stations yet, what are you waiting for? It really is the most engaging, exciting part of our whole day and the kids love it.

Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for more science stations coming soon. Have a great week and stay sweet!


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