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Teaching about how seeds and plants grow is actually one of my favorite Springtime topics! It lends itself to a lot of hands-on activities and great read-aloud books. The best part is that it’s usually after all of our state testing has concluded. You know what that means… it’s time to enjoy the last half of the school year. And what better way to do that, than by diving deep into PLANTS 

In this post, I share a few kid-friendly science videos that I like to use with my own students. I’m sure your kiddos are like mine, and LOVE watching science videos too! Just so you know, I’ve grouped the videos by topic. I think this will help you find what you’re looking for even quicker. One more thing, I tried to pick videos that are relatively short,  so you shouldn’t have any problems squeezing them into your existing lessons.

How Does A Seed Become A Plant? - YouTube

My kids absolutely love watching SciShow Kid videos. That’s why I’ve included quite a few of them… This specific video is a great introduction to the process of germination. Students will learn the name of the different parts of a seed (seed coat, embryo, + endosperm) and understand the role of the seed coat. They’ll even learn that some seeds are dormant.

Bean Time-Lapse - 25 days | Soil cross section - YouTube

This next video is different than all the others. It’s a time-lapse video of an actual seed germinating over a period of 25 days. It’s fascinating! Your kids are going to love watching the entire process unfold right before their very eyes. Let me warn you ahead of time… you’re going to have to play this video more than once

Seed Germination | #aumsum - YouTube

Your kids are going to love this adorable cartoon that explains the process of germination. It goes into quite a bit of detail explaining how the seed coat falls off and how the roots grow downward seeking “nourishment” for the plant. Yes, even though it’s a cartoon, the vocabulary is there for students to soak up.

Plant Life Cycle - Online Lesson for 3rd Grade - YouTube

This next one is a little more advanced. I would not use it as an intro. video, but it’s definitely worth watching. It focuses on the life cycle of a flowering plant and touches on the idea that some plants produce spores instead of seeds. It also goes on to explain different ways seeds are dispersed.

Photosynthesis | #aumsum - YouTube

In a fun and playful cartoon, your students see the complicated process of photosynthesis come to life. Don’t let the cartoon format fool you… This video covers challenging terms like stomata, chloroplasts, chlorophyll, and glucose. It even shows the chemical formula for photosynthesis. But don’t worry, it’s not too complicated for kids grade 2-4. Another must watch video!

Photosynthesis | Photosynthesis in plants | Photosynthesis - Biology basics for children | elearnin - YouTube

This video, unlike the last one, is for the advanced learner.  The narrator does a good job of making connections between plants and humans.  For example, he compares photosynthesis to humans cooking in the kitchen. Love this!!!! He also compares plants drinking water from the soil to humans drinking with a straw. These connections are powerful for our little learners. That’s why even though this video might go into a little more detail than my 3rd graders need, I still think it’s worth including in this collection.

Look Inside a Flower! | Science Project for Kids - YouTube

If you’re looking for a simple video that goes over the parts of a flower, their functions, the role of pollinators, and gives a brief overview of pollination, then this one is for you. My favorite part is around minute 2:49. This is when a flower is dissected or taken apart so that students can clearly identify all of its parts. Since I usually conduct this lab with my students, I thought it might be a good idea to show this video prior to conducting the lab so that students are clear on the stamen and pistil.

Like Fruit? Thank a Bee! - YouTube

Bees are the main character in this video! It’s all about showing kids the importance of pollinators.

Pollination for Kids | Flower Learning Video - YouTube

This video goes at a slower pace than the others, however, it’s still worth watching. Especially if your kiddos learn from repetition. By the end of this video, your students will be able to identify the stamen and pistil. They’ll also be able to name a few different types of pollinators.  At the end, there’s even a quick quiz to test what they’ve learned.

Grow Your Own Plants! - #sciencegoals - YouTube

Once you show this video,  you’re going to have to conduct this lab in your class. So don’t say I didn’t warn you  This video shows an experiment that involves growing plants in four different ways. One plant is given everything it needs to grow… water, soil, and sunlight. Then each of the remaining plants will lack one of the things that plants need. For example, one of the plants won’t have access to sunlight,  another won’t be given water, and the last plant will be planted in the sand instead of soil.

What Happened to Our Plants? | Science Project for Kids - YouTube

This one is a continuation of the last video. It actually shows what happened to the four plants after some time passed. I love that the “scientist” in this video actually acknowledges a mistake she made in her experimentation process. This shows students what I’ve been teaching them all year long… we learn from our mistakes.  If your kiddos are new to the experimentation process, this is a great starter video.

The Color-Changing Celery Experiment! - YouTube

We’re all very familiar with the experiment that involves a stalk of celery “drinking” colored water. Well, this video shows just that. So if you’re not able to conduct the actual experiment, you can always show your kiddos this video instead.

Grow Your Own Potatoes! - YouTube

Not all plants have to start from a seed. In this video, you’ll actually get to see how a potato is grown from another potato. If time is not on your side when it comes to conducting experiments, this video will be perfect for you. Students can actually see the entire process from start to finish.

PLANT RESPONSES : TROPISMS - YouTube

This video goes into detail as to how plants respond to various stimuli. Specifically, it covers four types of tropisms: phototropism, hydrotropism, gravitropism, and thigmotropism. Oh wow! Yea those are pretty complicated topics right there. Don’t worry… the video doesn’t go into a lot of detail and with your support, I’m sure 3rd and 4th graders will be able to understand what’s going on.

Mimosa Pudica - The Sensitive Plant - YouTube

Thigmotropism is a plants response to touch. What better way to show students what you’re talking about, then by seeing a real-life plant that responds to touch. Be prepared, your kids are going to think this is the coolest plant ever! Don’t be surprised if they ask you to bring in a Touch Me Not to school.

Meat-Eating Plants - YouTube

Most kids have heard of a Venus Flytrap, but I bet they haven’t heard of Sundews or Pitcher Plants. Wait till they find out what those carnivorous plants do with their food.

Where Do Bananas Come From? | Botany for Kids - YouTube

Did you know that bananas are not grown from seeds? Yup, you heard me right! And that’s just one fun fact your kiddos will learn. This video is filled with banana facts. I guarantee you that your students are going to be in awe with this one. For example, did you know that a banana tree is not actually a tree? 

The World's Smelliest Flower - YouTube

Some flowers smell really good, but others are simply disgusting! This video is all about the smelliest flowers in the world. Think dirty diapers and rotten eggs… YUCK!!!!

Plants with Weapons! - YouTube

Do you know that milky white substance that oozes out of some leaves when you pluck them off a plant? That’s actually a plant’s way of defending itself. That’s not the only “weapon” plants use to stay safe from animals. This video goes on to explain how plants, that cannot move, protect themselves from predators that can.

Looking For A Plant Unit To Use With These Videos

These kid-friendly videos are only part of your plant unit. There’s so much material to cover when it comes to seeds and plants, that videos alone cannot possibly cover it all. That’s why in addition to these videos, and a few read aloud books, I like to use this All About Plant Unit that includes:

  • 11-page kid-friendly informational text booklet
  • 7 quick checks to assess students’ understanding throughout the unit (answer keys provided)
  • 3-page unit assessment (answer keys Provided)
  • 35 vocabulary cards w/real life pictures
  • 5 Experiments- lab sheets with discussion questions
  • Writing Connection- 5 writing prompts

If you’d like to take a closer look at the complete unit click HERE or on the picture above.

If you liked the videos, feel free to Pin the image above so that you can come back to it later! More Plant Unit Resources

*Kid-friendly books about seeds and plants

*Complete Plants Unit

You’ll find more science resources on my  Elementary Science Ideas Pinterest board and my Science: Plants Pinterest board. 

The post Videos You Should Be Using Throughout Your Plant Unit appeared first on More Time 2 Teach.

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One of my favorite science units to teach in the spring is my All About Plant Unit! I can’t help it… I just love a good read aloud for teaching about plants, and it has nothing to do with my love for plants or gardening. As a matter of fact, if I’m being honest, I have a black thumb  You see I can’t even keep a poor cactus alive #sadreality

I do, however, enjoy my students love for all things nature + having a kid-friendly book list to use is important! That’s why I’m sharing 6 of my favorite books for teaching about plants and seeds to elementary students.  Read more about each one below!

Each of the books I’m going to share with you today can easily be found at the library or purchased on Amazon. Just click the links below and stock up on some great read alouds for your plant unit. I don’t know about you, but I   using my prime membership to get FREE 2-day shipping! I guess you can say I’m a little impatient when it comes to shopping… LOL!

Seed to Plant By Kristin Baird Rattini

My kiddos and I absolutely love National Geographic Readers! Their kid-friendly text and beautiful photographs are always a hit.

This non-fiction text is perfect for starting off your plant unit. It introduces the parts of a plant, what plants need to grow, the idea that seeds can be found in different parts of a plant, explains seed dispersal, and even touches upon pollination. WOW, look at all that goodness in one book! Now keep in mind, this is a great starter book. It does NOT go into a lot of detail. However, it’s great for setting the tone and activating your students’ background knowledge. To top it off, your kiddos will get a kick out of the fun facts shared in this reader. For example, did you know that the heaviest seed in the world weighs as much as a fourth grader? 

Oh Say Can You Seed? All About Flowering Plants by Bonnie Worth

Don’t let this Dr. Seussish book fool you! Just because it’s a fun tale written in a Dr. Seuss rhyming style doesn’t mean its babyish by any means. Trust me, this book is filled with information perfect for a plant unit for kids in grade 2-4.

In this story told by the Cat in the Hat, the Cat leads two children throughout the wonderful world of flowering plants. He teaches them how plants are not only used for food, but also for clothing + medicine when we are sick. It also includes facts on the parts of a seed, photosynthesis, and pollination just to name a few. The author does a great job of including many important plant facts all while giving kids relatable examples that they’re used to seeing in their daily lives. That connection to the real world makes this book a perfect read aloud for teaching about plants.

Tops & Bottoms by Janet Stevens

This book is not the typical non-fiction books we’re used to reading during science class. It’s actually a trickster tale! Whenever I get a chance, I love to weave literature into my science units and this book is a perfect pick to do just that.

In this story, a clever hare solves his family’s problem by tricking a lazy bear.  They both start a gardening business in which Hare’s tricks and hard work allow him to reap up all the vegetable profits. The bear, on the other hand, sleeps through every planting season and doesn’t make any profit. {Doesn’t this kinda remind you of the fable The Ant and the Grasshopper?} Despite being a great piece of literature, it’s also perfect for introducing students to the concept of harvesting and the idea that some of the foods we eat are actually on the tops of plants and others on the bottom (think roots + carrots).

Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move by JoAnn Early Macken

With its beautiful illustrations and understandable text, this book is another great non-fiction text that can be used across the curriculum. I could spend an entire week on this book in my classroom. I mean check out an example of the author’s poetic language… “maple seeds fly like shiny green helicopters, tumbleweeds scatter their seeds as they roll, roll, roll; locust tree pods skitter and skate on slippery ice”. WOW… did you spot all that figurative language? 

Besides being a great book for the ELA classroom, it’s also a perfect read aloud for teaching about plants. In this book, the author introduces the reader to the idea of seed dispersal. She goes on to explain that seeds are not just planted by people but by animals as well. They’re also planted in many different climates and in many different places. So if you’re looking for a book focused on the many ways that plants travel, this is the text for you.

From Seed To Plant by Gail Gibbons

Gail Gibbons is a wonderful author! Her books are always a perfect read aloud for my 3rd graders. In this book, she uses simple language and colorful illustrations to introduce young readers to the complicated process of pollination, seed formation, and germination. What I love about Gibbons is that she always has a way of explaining difficult concepts in such a way that children are able to understand.

Plants by Kathryn Williams

It’s very difficult to find books for young readers with such captivating photographs of the real world. That’s why I’m including another National Geographic Reader. My kids love rereading them + I love integrating them into my science units.

This reader is not only a quick read but full of accurate and interesting scientific facts about the structure + function of plants as well as their ability to adapt to their environment. Your kids are going to love this book as well!

These 6 kid-friendly read aloud texts for teaching about plants is only part of your plant unit. There’s just so much material to cover on seeds and plants that books alone cannot possibly cover it all. That’s why in addition to these read alouds, I like to use this All About Plant Unit that includes:

  • 11-page kid-friendly informational text booklet
  • 7 quick checks to assess students’ understanding throughout the unit (answer keys provided)
  • 3-page unit assessment (answer keys Provided)
  • 35 vocabulary cards w/real life pictures
  • 5 Experiments- lab sheets with discussion questions
  • Writing Connection- 5 writing prompts

If you’d like to take a closer look at the complete unit you can click HERE or on the picture above.

If you liked these read-aloud books, feel free to use the image above to save this post to your Pinterest board.

The post Read Aloud Books for Teaching About Plants | Mentor Texts for Science appeared first on More Time 2 Teach.

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Anytime there’s a break from our regular classroom routine, there’s a period of re-adjustment. Winter Break is no different! After spending a few weeks going to sleep at who knows what time… waking up late… and eating ALL THE THINGS, getting back into ANY sort of routine is going to be especially difficult. I’m not talking only about the kiddos here! Getting back from Winter Break is hard for us adults too. That’s why we should plan ahead and avoid any unexpected meltdowns or surprises.

Let Them Share 

The first thing we can do to ease the pain is to let our babies share. When students return from break many of them return UBER excited! They can’t wait to tell you or their friends where they’ve been, what they’ve done, or what games they’ve played. Some kiddos are just excited to be back and that alone spikes their energy levels.

Plan time at the beginning of the day for students to talk about their break or simply share what’s on their minds or in their hearts. You can even have them journal for a few minutes so they have an idea about what they’re going to talk about. Don’t forget to share what you did during your break too! I know my kiddos love it when I tell them about my family or what my dogs have been up to. This is a great opportunity to connect with your babies and help bring back that classroom community that you worked so hard for the first few months of the school year.

Review Rules + Routines 

After being gone for a few days, everyone needs a few basic reminders. So think back to the first week of school… Take a few minutes to go over your 5 classroom rules (or however many rules you have). You can even make it fun by role-playing! Or perhaps even play a game of charades where a student acts out a rule and the rest of the class tries to guess the rule. Don’t forget to also go over your policy for sharpening pencils during the day, using the bathroom, and walking in the halls. Although your kiddos left for break well trained, you’ll notice that when they return it’s like they have a slice case of amnesia.

Have fun reviewing your class rules!

Out With The Old + In With The New

Usually, the return from break also signals the start of a new semester. So what better time to clean out those folders and messy papers falling out of students desks. On the first day back set aside some time to clean house. Have students remove everything from inside their desks. Then have them go through every folder and crumpled up paper. Any work from the first 2 semesters that they no longer need should be removed. Have them recycle old papers or take them home.

Next up… school supplies! This is usually the time of year when I pass back the extra supply baggies I collected from each student at the beginning of the year.  I collect any broken crayons and students replenish the supplies they keep at their desk. If I notice that a student needs more highlighters or pencils for the second half of the year, I simply send THIS note home to parents. Taking some time out now to organize and stock up on school supplies helps to keep chaos in check.

Time to freshen up each table’s caddy too!

Click on the picture to download this editable letter for FREE…

Time To Review 

I can pretty much guarantee that when you return from Winter Break the kids are going to be tired, you’re going to be tired, parents are going to be tired… heck we’re all going to be a mess of tired zombies walking around. That’s why the first few days are ideal for review. Rather than jumping into new material on day 1, use the day to not only review rules + routines, but review material students are already familiar with. This would be a great time to whip out task cards and play a game of scoot. You could also play some multiplication games to get your students’ math juices flowing. Try to make the first day back as fun and exciting as the first day of school!

Task cards are great for review… and they’re fun too!

Flip thru interactive notebooks to refresh your memory.

Get those brain muscles flexing again…

Set Goals For The New Year

One of the things I love about returning to class in January is that it’s a chance to start fresh! Talk to your students about goals. What comes really easy to them? What are they good at? What area do they need to grow in? What did they struggle with during the first half of the year? This would be a great time to have some deep collaborative conversations with your kiddos. Setting goals is not an easy task! But reflecting on 2018 and what they can do to make the second half of the year better is a great start. I usually like to spend some time the first week back reflecting on the past year with THIS mini booklet. We also work together to come up with math, reading, and writing goals!

Before you know it, you and your students will be back on track and ready to tackle the remainder of the year!

MAKE SURE TO PIN AND SAVE THIS POST FOR FUTURE REFERENCE

The post Returning From Winter Break: Tips For A Smooth Start appeared first on More Time 2 Teach.

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Grading is one of those tasks we have a love-hate relationship with… There’s nothing better than grading students work and seeing how far they’ve come. At the same time, there’s nothing worse than having a stack of papers sitting on your desk screaming GRADE ME … GRADE ME!!!!

Here’s a list of 5 mistakes I’ve made throughout the years and what I’ve learned works Grade Tests One By One:

DO NOT grade one student’s test from start to finish! Instead, grade page 1 of ALL your students’ papers, then flip and grade all page 2’s, and so forth. Grading one page at a time is quicker than grading an entire test. You can grade faster with this method because you only have to remember a small group of answers at a time like ABDD, ABDD, ABDD, ABDD… This means there are fewer chances of making any mistakes. By grading one page at a time you’re also more likely to spot tricky questions. When you continuously mark the 3rd question on page 2 wrong you know somethings up.

Skip Correct Answers:

Do not skip over answers that are correct. When grading papers, place check marks on correct answers in addition to placing an X on wrong answers. You’re probably wondering why you should do both? Well, it’s very hard to tell if a question has been scored if it has no X or ✓. By placing a checkmark on each correct answer, parents and students know for certain that you’ve checked their paper. It also helps if you have to stop in the middle of grading and pick it up the following day. Without ✓’s or X’s, it’s difficult to tell where you left off. Basically, every question on a test should have either an X or a ✓.

Mark Correct Answers On The Test:

Many teachers I know like to circle the correct answers on tests. Don’t do this! I know we’d like to believe that our students go through their tests looking for mistakes they’ve made. We also like to think that by marking the right answers for them we’re actually helping them. But we’re not! Instead of circling correct answers, place an X on the student’s incorrect answer choices. DO NOT circle or mark the correct answers. Make a point to plan some time to go over tests with the class or in small groups. At this time, have your  STUDENTS mark the right answers by highlighting them. Not only do students love using highlighters, but this is also a great way to show parents that you reviewed the test in class. This is also a great time for you to address any misconceptions or common errors your students are making.

Record Test Scores Directly Online:

I remember when I first started teaching and we kept all grades in a paper bound grade book. Well, those days are long gone. Everything nowadays is electronic. Which I actually L-O-V-E! There’s nothing more beautiful than a computer that can calculate a student’s average the minute you enter a new grade. Gone are the days of teachers spending hours with a grading calculator manually inputting every.single.grade praying they don’t make a mistake. So I’m the first one to say that technology is great… WHEN IT WORKS!

That’s why I recommend that you record all of your grades on paper first. Then transfer it to the electronic grade book. Having a hard copy is a MUST. If you have a parent meeting and the internet is down, you won’t go into panic mode if you have a hard copy. I can’t tell you how many times a student was withdrawn from my class and I was asked to provide a copy of their grades. With a hard copy, that’s not a big deal. If something happens to the electronic grade book you’re covered. It’s better to be safe than sorry. There’s nothing more time consuming than having to go into your student’s work folder to record each and every grade all over again. Save yourself a headache and just keep a paper copy JUST IN CASE! You’ll thank me for this tip one day… trust me!

>>Click here to download a FREE copy of the grading sheets pictured above<<

Use E-Z Graders:

Long gone are the days of searching around your desk for that cardboard rectangle called an E-Z Grader. When you want to figure out the grading scale for a 23 item test just whip out your cell phone and use a free grading app. When you’re juggling being a teacher, mom, wife, sister, etc… you’ve got to simplify your life or you’ll go crazy! Having a grading app means you don’t have to worry about packing up or losing something else. Our phone is always handy and there are quite a few free grading apps to choose from.  I’ve been using the Groovy Grader (pictured above) for a few years now and love it. It’s very user-friendly and quite similar to the old-fashioned E-Z grader.

Hope you’ve found these grading tips helpful. If you have any more suggestions to add to the list I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

The post Teacher Tips For Grading Papers appeared first on More Time 2 Teach.

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Science labs can get a little messy sometimes! And I don’t know about you, but I get a little nervous about my kids dirtying their school clothes during our labs. I mean you never know what’s going to permanently stain their uniforms, right? That’s why this year I’ve decided to eliminate the stress by having my kiddos DESIGN and MAKE their own lab coats. I figured it would be a great activity to incorporate into Back To School week! It’s also something that the kids can use throughout the entire year and even on special occasions…

Making these lab coats is pretty simple and a great way to get kids excited about science! Once the kids put them on, they’ll magically transform into real scientists  It’s also a great way to start off the year! Imagine all the conversations you can have with your students about the role of scientists, what tools they use, how they conduct experiments and so many others. I mean talk about high engagement!!!! And the best part is that these are all topics we end up covering in the first 2 weeks of school anyways when we begin our Intro. To Science Unit .

Materials Needed:
  • Men’s white t-shirt size large or X-large. (You’ll want to make sure they’re large enough to cover the children’s clothes.)
  • Crayola Markers (Don’t use permanent markers such as Sharpies because they bleed right through the t-shirts and the last thing you want is permanent marker stains on your classroom desks )
  • Scissors
  • Blank t-shirt design (This is so students can sketch out their designs first.)
  • Some Science Inspiration (Science related clipart or pictures.)
  • Pencil and eraser
Directions:

  1. Fold the shirt in half and then cut down the middle. Make sure you’re cutting through ONLY the top layer of the t-shirt. You’re basically cutting the front of your shirt so it opens up like a jacket.

2. Have students design their lab coats on a blank sheet of paper. I like having my students sketch out their designs first so that they don’t make mistakes on their actual shirt. It’s much easier to erase something from a sheet of paper than from a t-shirt. Before sketching, we also take some time to discuss some science tools or words. I’ve found that this helps to get the creative juices flowing. If you notice that kids are still having difficulties you can always show them the science related pictures or clipart. Just remind them that this is only for inspiration. They do NOT need to draw exactly what they see on that sheet. You’re just giving them a few ideas. Now you want them to make it their own.

To get these blank t-shirt sketch sheets and science inspiration page for FREE, simply join my email list using the form below.


 

3. Have students copy their design onto their white shirt using a pencil.

4. Use markers to outline and color in your design.

Besides pictures students can also write words on their lab coats that scientists might use. For example: question, problem, hypothesis, data, experiments, conclusion, results, explore, curious, etc… If they want, they can even draw on the back. The possibilities really are endless. That’s what I love so much about this project. They’re going to have so much  FUN!!!!! You’ll be the #coolclass in no time!

5. The final step is to put on your new lab coat and let the experimenting begin!!!!!!

Are you ready to have your students design and create their own lab coats?  I’m sure they’ll be up for the challenge.

The post DIY Science Lab Coats appeared first on More Time 2 Teach.

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As much as I love the Spring Time, I hate the fact that it’s also a reminder that state testing is right around the corner. Unfortunately, it’s not something that we can really escape! If so, I think we’d all be on that train #canIgetanAmen… What we CAN do, is make sure that we’re prepared for the BIG DAY so that it’s as stress-free as possible!

Prep Your Scripts:

Rather than wait until the morning of testing to read a lengthy set of directions you have to read verbatim, ask to take a look at it at least a day or two ahead of time. This gives you time to familiarize yourself with the script and answer any questions you might have. Testing day can be pretty nerve-wracking! Trust me, even though I’ve sat through my fair share of tests, I still get nervous every year  Having to read a lengthy script doesn’t make things any easier!

You want to feel comfortable and confident reading. If you’re students see you relaxed and calm, then they’ll feel it too. I mean the last thing you want is for them to hear your voice shaking or to see you nervously flipping back and forth in the manual frantically looking for the correct testing session.

I’d also recommend using Post-it notes to flag the different sessions. Use them as tabs and label them Reading Session 1,  Math Session 2,  etc… Then grab a highlighter and actually highlight everything  you actually need to read to the kids. Make notes on the margins if needed. If you have any questions such as how to handle student accommodations or what’s the protocol you need to follow if a student has to use the restroom in the middle of the test, now’s the time to get some answers. Make sure you write ALL your questions down AND get them answered PRIOR to testing day.

Rearrange Desks:

In order to give kids enough time to get comfortable with their “testing seats”,  rearrange their desks at least a week or two in advance. This will give them a chance to get used to the new seating arrangement.

Perhaps they’ve never sat by a window or the computers before. Moving them ahead of time, allows them to explore that side of the room so that by the time testing rolls around, they’re familiar with it. It also gives YOU some time to figure out if that arrangement works for testing day. Be prepared to shuffle desks around more than once. Sometimes you make a move thinking it’s for the best and then quickly realize that you’ve made matters worst. If this happens, just know that it’s normal… simply try something different.

Strategically place your students in areas of the room with the least distractions. You know your students best! If you have any kiddos that sit on their knees or have a hard time sitting down, you definitely don’t want them sitting in the front row #thatwouldbetrouble. I remember one year when I had a girl that had to test standing up. Needless to say, I made sure her testing seat was in the back corner of the room so that even while standing, she couldn’t see other student’s booklets.

Class Coverup:

Coverup any posters, word walls, class work, or material that might help your students during the test. If you’re not sure if something should be covered or not, cover it just in case. I’ve heard of some people opting to open up their cabinet doors instead of actually covering what’s on them. Please, DON’T do this!!!  Your kiddos are not used to seeing what’s inside your cupboards. Opening them up on testing day might distract them, especially when they’re in the middle of the test and just don’t know what to do with themselves.

Years ago I used to take everything down from my walls or cabinets. It was such a pain and I absolutely hated it! My class looked so bare and uninviting… I don’t do that anymore. I’ve since learned not to take things down, but rather cover them up with motivational posters or inspiring words created by none other that MY KIDDOS THEMSELVES!!!!  Not only will it give your students a sense of ownership, but imagine one of your nervous nelly’s looking up in the middle of the test all anxious and worried. All of a sudden they catch a glimpse of another student’s poster with the words “You Got This!” written on it… Can you say divine intervention

Plan, Plan, Plan:

Plan for snacks, motivational letters, or words of wisdom PRIOR to the morning of testing… Don’t wait for the day before or the morning of and think you’re gonna make magic happen. It doesn’t work that way! Although it’d be nice if it did, LOL…

It’s very easy to forget to plan something ahead of time since this time of year we are simply drained! We are anxious and honestly just dying for the test to be over with! Many times we’re so caught up with crunch time that before we realize it, test day has snuck up on is and we’ve got absolutely nothing planned #dontletthishappentoyou

Keep in mind that you don’t need to plan anything extravagant! It can be as simple as giving your students a testing tips bookmarker the day before the test. Or you might want to print up a few words of inspiration and have the kids color them in. Then post them around the classroom. I’ve also used these in the past. If you have any anxious kiddos you might want to use these Stop.Breathe.Go bookmarkers instead. They’re great for teaching your kiddos how to relax and calm down when their feeling nervous.

If you really want to go all out, you might want to have your students’ parents and family members personalize a letter for each day of testing. I’m going to be 100% honest with you… this does take quite a bit of planning and prepping ahead of time. BUT… That’s a capital B-U-T, I can tell you that every year I’ve done this, I’ve had parents and kids tell me how much they LOVED writing and receiving these motivational letters. I’ve even had students come back and see me a few years later who have asked if I still continue to do this.

What To Wear:

Plan what you’re going to wear on the day of testing ahead of time. I know you’re probably asking yourself what kind of a tip is that, but trust me this is gold! I mean you don’t want to wear anything that might make noise or distract your students. For example, if you’re like me and love wearing bangles, testing day is NOT the day to show off all your arm candy. Instead, make sure all your accessories are of the silent kind!

Next, choose your shoes carefully. You’re not only going for comfort but you’re also looking for quiet. You want shoes that can go into stealth mode and that don’t sound as if you have a T-Rex marching around your classroom. If you must wear your heels, simply bring a pair of flip flops to change into while the test is going on. Then switch back before leaving the class.

I hope you’ve found these tips to be pretty simple and helpful! Best of luck for your kiddos 

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The post 5 Things You Need To Do Before Testing Begins appeared first on More Time 2 Teach.

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During the month of April when things get pretty hectic due to state testing, I like to plan fun science lessons! And with Earth Day just around the corner what better time to focus on a topic that effects us ALL… Pollution and taking care of our beautiful blue planet!!!

In the past I’ve shared with you some great websites on recycling that actually walk you through the recycling process from beginning to end (In a kid friendly manner, I promise). Talk about an eye opener for kids  It’s good for them to see what happens to their trash once it’s picked up in front of their house. If you’d like to check those videos out, you can find them here.

If you’re looking for some fun recycling projects you can’t go wrong with any of the 10 ideas found in this post. And if  you’re like me and absolutely love including snacks into your lessons, you can’t miss out on this mouth watering and fairly simple Earth Day Bark recipe. Trust me… you’re going to thank me!!!

Ok, Ok… let’s talk about today’s fun lesson! Today’s post is all about teaching kids about water pollution. A topic that I think is sometimes overlooked… especially in the primary grades. But what I’m sharing with you today is so doable with even younger kiddos, let’s say 2nd or 3rd grade.

To activate the kids’ background knowledge and add some new schema I’d read the book Oil Spill! by Melvin Berger. This kid-friendly book is a nice way to introduce students to the Exxon Valdez disaster and the effects of oil spills and water pollution.  It also goes on to talk about the damage that occurs and how to deal with an actual spill.

Another great text I found that addresses the Gulf Coast oil spill disaster is this article by Scholastic News. It’s a great informational text to read with students and have them annotate or highlight. I love the fact that its non-fiction, a genre that tends to be tricky for my 3rd graders. It’s also great to review those text features we talk so much about in 3rd grade.

Once your students have a good understanding of the disastrous effects of an oil spill, it’s time to get them experimenting!!! Let them see first hand how difficult it is to clean up an oil spill

Don’t forget to practice those scientific method steps while you’re experimenting. These FREE lab sheets go perfectly with the experiment! I’ve even included a separate page of discussion questions for the kiddos to think about and answer. Have FUN LEARNING!

Oil Spill Experiment

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Oil Spill Experiment

The following materials are needed for the activity. There are a few extra supplies in the picture below just in case you’d like to extend the experiment… I’ll share more on that later.

Materials Needed:
  • Water
  • Blue food coloring- to make the water stand out a bit from the clear container
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Deep Clear Container
  • Cotton Balls
  • Plastic Mini Boat
  • Plastic Ocean Animals
  • Small Rocks/ Stones
  • Sponge
  • Spoon
  • Plastic cup to put cotton balls in
  • Paper Towels
  • Optional- Dawn Dish Soap
  • Optional- Bird Feather
  • Optional- Animal Fur (the fabric kind, of course )

Setting Up:

Fill the clear plastic container halfway with water and add 1-2 drops of food coloring. Mix with the spoon. Allow students to create their ocean habitat using the rocks and plastic animals. Next, add the boat to the ocean.

Adding the Crude Oil:

I found these adorable test tubes at the Dollar Tree. Just fill them up about 3/4 of the way with vegetable oil and scoop in a small amount of cocoa powder. You only need a little to give it that crude oil look.  Then screw the lid on and shake. I would probably make the crude oil ahead of time to save some time and prevent a mess.

Fill the Tanker With Oil:

Have students empty the oil into the boat to simulate a tanker carrying crude oil across the ocean.

Oh NO!!!!! The Water Is Polluted:

Have students tip the boat over spilling ALL the crude oil into the crystal blue ocean waters  Your kids will probably start talking about how the oil is “sticking together” and about “how easy it’s going to be to pick up”!… YEA, THAT’S WHAT YOU THINK!!!

The Pick-Up Process Begins:

Start off by having students predict which tool they think is going to do the best job removing oil from the water. Will it be a spoon, cotton balls, or a sponge? Next, let them try with each tool and have them record their findings. Be prepared for many shocked and frustrated faces. If there’s one thing that this experiment shows, it’s that removing oil from water is NOT EASY!!!!  As a matter of fact, it seems that the more you try to remove the oil, the more it seems to spread!

Most kids think that the cotton balls will quickly pick up the mess. Don’t worry, they’ll quickly figure out they need A LOT of cotton balls to soak up small amounts of oil. Don’t forget to ask them to think about how much work would need to go into picking up millions of gallons of oil that spilled into the ocean. Especially since it’s taking them quite a bit of cotton balls!

The sponge is not much better either! As a matter of fact, it seems that every time the sponge gets close to the oil, it moves away. So an effect of trying to pick up the oil is that it spreads even further #ohno

Optional Activity:

Once your kiddos have had fun experimenting with cleaning up an oil spill, why not give them an opportunity to see how the oil spill affects animals, right? Using the same dirty water from the experiment above, give students a feather or piece of animal fur. Have them brainstorm ways to remove the oil from the animal’s skin. Then hand them a paper towel and let them try wiping the oil away. Talk about what they notice… Is it working? Finally, mix a few drops of Dawn dishwashing soap into a bowl of clean water and let them run the feather or fur through the soapy water. Did that help any? If anything, this experiment will be a big eye-opener for your kiddos!

I hope you give this experiment a try… It’s sure to be a crowd pleaser, and your kiddos will walk away with a new respect for taking care of our planet’s water!

If you’re looking for a unit to use during Earth Day or simply to teach your kiddos how to take care of our lovely blue planet, no need to look any further! I use this every year and it’s been a HUGE hit!!!

It includes a 7 page booklet with informational text that covers topics such as “Why Love Our Earth”, “What is Earth Day?”, “Reduce-Reuse- & Recycle”, “How Does Recycling Work?”, “What Can Be Recycled?”, “What Can YOU Do?”, and “How Will YOU love the Earth?”

It also includes Quick Checks that can be used throughout the unit to assess students learning and understanding…  I tell you this resource has it all!

 

Vocab. cards with real-life pictures bring everything to life and encourage kids to make connections with the real world…

Finally, if you need a last minute Earth Day project, nothing beats an art project with SHAVING CREAM! If you’ve never done it before, you don’t know what you’re missing!!! Not only does it make beautiful artwork, but your class will be left smelling wonderfully fresh #bestsmellever

The post How to Completely Change the Way Your Kids Think About Pollution appeared first on More Time 2 Teach.

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We all know that it’s important to keep the lines of communication open with our student’s parents. But how do we do this when our time is limited?  One way I’ve been able to do this is by taking advantage of technology… and by technology I mean an app called REMIND. Not only am I loving this app, but for the past 2 years, I’ve only heard positive feedback from parents. So much so, that I’ve even had colleagues approach me about it because former parents have mentioned it to them.

If you’ve never heard of REMIND, no worries… I’m here to give you the 411 so that you can decide if this is something that might work for you

What Is Remind?

Remind is a free service, or app, that makes it easy to stay connected with parents. With Remind you can send real-time messages to all your parents, to a selected group of parents, or even to an individual mom or dad right from your cell phone or computer. This comes in quite handy when you need to send a quick message letting parents know of any last minute schedule changes. {Like when you have a parent conference scheduled, but get into a car accident on your way to school and have to reschedule #truestory

Something else that really attracted me to this service, is that all phone numbers remain private. That’s right… no need to share your number with parents or even for them to give you theirs. You also have the choice of allowing parents to respond to your messages or you can turn the feature off and they’ll receive your messages but won’t be able to reply. The choice is yours!

So What Exactly Can I Do With Remind?

  • Send reminders or updates for upcoming meetings, dress down days, field trips, events, school activities, holiday events, class parties, etc…
  • Schedule announcements to go out on a certain day and time
  • Send messages to the entire class or individual parents
  • Send info. about upcoming projects or assignments
  • Share weekly updates of what the students are learning in class
  • Share class photos during field trips, special activities, or even excellent work
  • Keep absent students in the loop by texting parents what assignments they need to make up
  • Share links to sites parents might find helpful
  • Answer parent questions about homework, class material, assignments, etc..
  • Share personalized feedback
  • Send home quick updates about student progress
  • Announce something you forgot during the day
  • Inform parents of last minute calendar/ schedule changes
  • Let parents know that you are in need of volunteers
  • Let parents know that report cards or progress reports are coming home
  • Remind parents of their conference date and time
  • Reach out to a parent who has yet to return a form you sent home for them to complete and return
  • Reach out to a parent whose child you might be concerned about
  • Stay connected with parents whose children might require special attention
Using Remind to Build a Classroom Family - YouTube
How Do I Set It Up?
    1. Create an account here. It takes maybe 2 minutes to do this! Very simple…
    2. Add parents. The easiest way I have found to to do this is by sending home a letter explaining the app and having them text your specific class code to the number 81010. In the picture below you can see the letter I use in my class. If you’d like a copy, feel free to download the letter by clicking on the picture below. I’ve also included directions for locating your unique class code.
    3. Once your parents have signed up… Go ahead and start messaging them! It’s really that easy!!!!

I hope you’ll give Remind a try because it’s really changed the way I communicate with my parents. Not to mention all the time it’s saving me !!!

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Hi there, Friends!  Last week I decided to tackle fractions on a number line. I’ll admit it… I was a bit nervous planning for the week! I mean having taught third for many years, I know that students usually have a hard time making the connection between fractions and number lines. I also understand the importance of mastering this concept. Kiddos that don’t really “get it”,  end up having a difficult time when we get to measurement… especially when it comes to using a ruler to measure to the nearest half inch or quarter inch. So how do we make sure our students don’t fall into the “I Don’t Get It Group?”

To make sure that all my students were able to make the connection between fractions and number lines, I took out my fraction bars or fraction strips. I wanted to make sure they understood 2 important concepts. The first, was that the distance between the numbers 0 and 1 is equal to a whole. (This is the easy part… The kids usually get it!) The second, and trickier step, is that the lengths between the ticks, mark the fractional parts. (This is where you’ll get a few deer in head light looks )Take a look below to see what I’m talking about.

To help my students make the connection between fractions and number lines I provided them with plenty of practice using fractions bars. Being able to touch, see, and move around parts of a whole makes fractions so much easier to grasp.

I asked them to show me various fractions such as how many fourths equal a whole. Next, I would ask them to draw a number line underneath their fraction bars. We discussed how the 1 stands for 4/4 or 1 whole. Drawing that number line underneath the fraction bars was really starting to make things clearer for them. They were now starting to see that the ticks on the number line referred to a certain number of pieces out of the whole.

Next, we practiced adding “tick marks” to our number line to mark the fractional parts. If our whole is made up of thirds we labeled 1/3, 2/3, etc… I like to have my students count out loud as they label each part. The repetition of hearing 1/4, 2/4, 3/4, 4/4  especially help those that take a little longer to make the connection.

After we practiced labeling a few number lines, I introduced the concept of “points” on a number line. We also discussed how each point could be represented by a different letter.

Finally, when I started to see them creating their own number lines, labeling them correctly, and answering

questions, I exposed them to fractions greater than one. It was so easy for them to see the connection especially with the help of the fraction bars. This just goes to prove that 3rd graders are not too old to use manipulatives. As a matter of fact, I have found that the minute I whip them out, I get my students undivided attention.

By spending a little time practicing with fraction strips, your students will be ready for measurement in no time!

Do you like to use fraction bars too or would you rather teach this lesson without any manipulatives? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

Pin the image above to be able to save this post and come back to it later…

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Being a teacher and a mom is NO.EASY.TASK!!!

I mean motherhood alone is exhausting and challenging!  Now try adding another 8 hours of teaching children into the mix and it’s enough to make anyone go mad… Heck at times life has gotten so hectic that I’ve even gone to work with two different colored shoes. Can you picture that? I don’t even want to think about what my parents were thinking when they saw me   The sad part, is that I didn’t realize it until the end of the day. Sometimes I think it’s only a matter of time before I show up at work in fuzzy slippers!

So how do we juggle our crazy busy teacher life and are just as crazy mommy life? The reality is, that unless we learn to slow down and find a balance between the two,  we’re headed for a serious nervous breakdown. Trust me, I’m speaking from experience… Been there, done that, and I can tell you that it’s not pretty. I’ve found that by setting some priorities and making a few simple changes, we can lead happier and healthier lives inside the classroom as well as at home.

The first thing we need to do is to train ourselves to …

Leave Work Behind

You can begin by leaving your school work in the classroom. DO NOT BRING WORK HOME! I’m serious… That means no papers to grade, no teachers editions, no lesson plans to complete, nada!!!!!! Leave all of your teacher worries at school. That’s where they belong in the first place. Your family deserves your undivided attention. {Remember… family first } Let’s be honest, most of the time you take your teacher bag loaded with papers to grade over the weekend and you never even get to it. So why even bother bringing them home? It’ll just make you feel guilty. Leave them at work. I promise they will be waiting for you on Monday morning!

Do What Makes You Feel Good

As teachers and mothers, we’re used to taking care of everyone else but ourselves. Why is it that we always put ourselves last? We need to stop doing that! We need to love and take care of ourselves. Remember, in order for us to be able to take care of others, we need to be emotionally and physically healthy. That’s why it’s so important that we learn to schedule some “Me Time” in EVERY. SINGLE.DAY.

“Me Time” can be as simple as a 30 min bubble bath with absolutely no interruptions. It can also be an exercise class after school. Perhaps your guilty pleasure is an hour at night to watch your favorite Netflix episode. Whatever it is, make time for it! Set an alarm on your phone to go off at a certain time every day just to make sure you don’t get caught up in mommyhood. When your alarm goes off, leave your hubby in charge and let everyone know you’ll be back in 30 min to an hour.  One more thing… don’t feel guilty about doing something for yourself #youareworthit

Prioritize Your To Do List

I bet you have a To Do List or 2 or 3 lists running at the same time… I know what it’s like because I use to be the same way! The problem was that looking at that list every day just served as a constant reminder of everything I had to do. This just caused me more stress and anxiety. I always felt that as I crossed 2 things off, 5 more magically appeared. I swear they were like Gremlins multiplying every time I turned my back!

I’m not suggesting that you toss out your To Do List… With my memory, if I did that I’d never get anything done. All I’m saying is that you learn to prioritize. I like to keep a master list in a notebook dedicated for school stuff. Every morning when I arrive at my classroom, the first thing I do is select 3 goals to complete by the end of the day. I like to call them Today’s Top 3. I then record these goals on a brightly colored Post-it and stick it on my computer so that it’s in my face all day long. Those are the only goals I will focus on for the day! If I accomplish those 3 things, then I’ve had a productive day and can choose to select another Top 3.

This method has not only helped me prioritize my To Do’s, but also relieved some of the stress I felt every time I glanced at my ridiculously long list. Since using this system, I have found that I am much more productive. At home, I follow the same process. The only difference is that I might use one Post-it for the entire week rather than one a day. {If you’d like to download directions for printing your own Today’s Top 3, you can do that right here. And if you’d like to read some more about them, check out this post.

Set A Check Out Time

Choose a time that you will leave work every afternoon. Try to pick something as close to dismissal as possible. You already dedicate 8 hours of your day to work, the last thing you want is to spend an additional 2-3 hours after school. Especially since you’re not getting paid for them and your family is waiting for you.

Once you’ve chosen a time,  set an alarm on your phone. When that alarm goes off, it’s time to check out. Forget about all the things on your list you have yet to cross off. Just pick up your bag and go. Also, this means no checking emails at home or communicating with parents. Once you are gone, consider yourself in Mommy mode. Anything that needs to get done will get done tomorrow. The best piece of advice I’ve heard comes from a country music superstar …

Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.

-Dolly Parton

Learn To Say No

This has been one of the hardest lessons for me to learn. I’m the type of person that likes to help others. When my admin calls me and asks me to join a committee or attend a PD, I’m there. However, I’ve quickly learned that because I am always saying yes, my free time is quickly filling up with tasks for everyone else but myself. This has resulted in more of my “free” time being taken away, higher stress levels, and more anxiety! Can’t tell you how many sleepless nights I’ve had thinking about a PD I have to organize and present all while completing my regular teaching duties.

I have come to terms that when you are a responsible,  hardworking individual who says yes a lot, your workload automatically doubles and triples. Why? Because everyone and their mothers come to you to complete the tasks that they know others are not willing to do. That is, until the day you learn to respectively say No!

It took me a very long time and quite a few meltdowns to finally realize that it was in my best interest to be selective about what tasks I choose to take on. So learn to say no to your admin, learn to say no to your colleagues, learn to say no to those responsibilities that do not bring happiness to your life. As a result, this will free up some time for you to say YES to those commitments that bring you the most amount of joy! Life is too short to spend it doing other peoples work.

Organize Your Days

Children and adults strive for routine. Not only does it help us know what to expect, but from a planning perspective, it makes things so much easier to prepare for. So learn to organize your days.

Begin at school by deciding which tasks you’re going to complete on each day of the week. For example, on Mondays, I like to begin planning for the following weeks ELA lessons. Tuesdays are set aside for prepping for math instruction and Wednesdays are for content (science or social studies). Thursday is my copy, grading, and filing day. On this day I make sure I’ve prepared all the copies for the following week, graded some papers, and filed them away. Then on Friday, I sort all my copies for the upcoming week and make sure nothing’s missing. I also use this day to catch up on any tasks pending from the week.

I also keep a dinner schedule at home. On Mondays, we always eat a meal that includes chicken.  Tuesdays are Taco night… so something with ground turkey it is. Wednesdays are our meaty night so I usually create a dish with flank steak or pot roast. Thursday is reserved for leftovers (Yay, mom gets a rest!) and Friday is pizza night. Saturday is family night, so we usually go out to eat (Yay, another day off from the kitchen!) and Sundays I usually make Italian sausage or meatballs… something that’s somewhat precooked and easy to prep is what I look for. Especially since sometimes I use Sundays to pre-cook meals for the upcoming week.

Meal Plan

One of my stressors is getting home from an exhausting day at work having to figure out what to make for dinner. That’s why I’ve committed to planning my weekly meals on Saturday. Not only does this eliminate the “I get home starving and down a bag of chips before I can even think about dinner syndrome”, but I’ve found that it also encourages me to cook healthier meals. As a matter of fact, those weeks that I do NOT meal plan are just a disaster in my house.

There are 2 apps that I absolutely love to use while meal planning. The first one is Pinterest. My family is not the easiest one to feed. I mean my husband has a gluten allergy, my daughter does not eat seafood at all, and my son loves healthy options. So coming up with new meal ideas can be frustrating! That’s why I like to count on my trusty friend… Pinterest. He never lets me down 

This is where my second favorite app, Paprika comes into play. It cost about $4.99 but has been the best $5 investment I’ve made so far. With Paprika you can save any recipe you find on the web. Once you copy and paste the URL of the page where you found the recipe, Paprika automatically imports a picture of the meal, an ingredients list, and the directions. This means you no longer have to scroll through an entire post just to locate the recipe.  Oh, and you can also save your recipes into folders such as Chicken, Meat, Seafood, etc… Can you say lifesaver! After you’ve made the recipe, go back in and give it star ratings based on your families reviews. If you need to double or triple a recipe, it’s also as easy as clicking on “scale and convert”. Paprika will then automatically convert the ingredients list for you. Can I please get an AMEN?!?!

Do you have a few tricks of your own for juggling mommyhood and your teaching career? If so, I’d love to hear from you!!! I’m always on the look out for new tricks of the trade…

Pin the image below to be able to save this post and come back to it later…

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