Our first grade classes are begining their unit of inquiry on plants and animal, one of their lines of inquiry being animals and plants depend on each other for survival. I read Eric Carle’s book, The Tiny Seed and we focused on the IB concepts of connection and change. How were the plants (seeds) in the story connected to the animals and how did the seed change?
After reading the book to one class and the discussion that followed, I realized that our students did not have much experience with seeds. I went home and looked through all the seeds I have and brought some in for the students to look at.
Variety of Seeds and Magnifying Glasses
I brought in eight different types of flower seeds that I had on hand that showed a variety of shapes and sizes. I put a few on white sheets of papers with index cards as labels. They enjoyed using the magnifying glass and they made a number of observations about the seeds. They said one type looked like raisins, another like chocolate chips. An easy way to bring to the idea of seeds to life; well easy for me as I am a gardener and have lots of seeds on hand!
I have been reading Roald Dahl’s The BFG to my fourth grade classes trying to encourage them to read (and finish) chapter books. After several weeks and realizing that I wouldn’t finish before the end of the year, I bought 3 copies of the book from the bookstore and gave them to the teachers after they promised they would read everyday until they finished it (I will be checking with the students and ask for my book back if they aren’t holding to their promise).
Hands-On Activities in the Library: Science Meets Literature
Sooooo…what to do next? I was thinking of some sort of hands-on, maker space sort of activity and with our school system’s science olympiad coming up soon, I looked at the state science performance standards. As a judge for the science olympiad I know a laser light relay is one of the events and decided to set it up in the library. This would also give the students going to the olympiad some practice. The Georgia Standard of Excellence: Science: “S4P1 b. Plan and carry out investigations to describe the path light travels from a light source to a mirror and how it is reflected by the mirror using different angles.” I borrowed most of the supplies from our science lab, but did have to scrounge up 7 flashlights!
Linda Sue Park’s Firekeeper’s Son
I remembered reading a book that had something to do with fires being lit in a relay along mountain tops and after some key word searching in our school library catalog and came up with Linda Sue Park’s book. I read her book, Firekeeper’s Son, which tells the story set in Korea in the 1800’s which relied on a series of firekeepers atop mountains who lit fires from the coast to the king inland at his palace. If the fires were lit, then there were no enemies invading from the sea. The students became “firekeepers” using a flashlight.
A Temporary Science Lab
Students worked in small groups and each had 3 mirrors, a flashlight and a photo of a Korean palace (where the king lives). They had to use all three mirrors to aim a beam of light onto the palace. So they were “firekeepers” relaying the message via mirror to the “palace” so the king would know all was well, no enemies in the land.
It really wasn’t a science lesson, but I just wanted to give the students an opportunity to play around and figure things out for themselves. I don’t think they have enough time with hands-on activities. After they were successful with the mirrors, they had three prisms to work with. This was also another chance for them to practice team work and social skills. They were so excited and had a great time and they might just have learned something!
We, in Albany, Georgia, are not in the path of totality of the August 21st solar eclipse, but the sun will be 90% eclipsed here. Our school system has decided to extend the school day for students from 2:30 to 3:30 to avoid children being transported on buses during the eclipse. I wanted to get the students excited now!
I’ve adapted this lesson for the different grade levels and varying amounts of time I have with a class. I’ve now decided that all classes grades 1-5 will practice viewing the sun safely up until the day of the eclipse.
I started out with a fifth grade class on Monday and they used my Livebinder to access a online dictionary to look up the word eclipse and view a brief video from USA Today. They recorded one fact they learned from the video. I did this as a whole group activity (using the projector and screen) for the younger grades or if I didn’t have sufficient time with the older students.
One student made a cereal box eclipse viewer, which we then used to view the sun.
I’ve adapted this lesson through out the week and of course some days we couldn’t practice because it got cloudy! But hopefully all the classes will have the opportunity to practice with the eclipse glasses (which they will all have on the 21st), a cereal box viewer, and binocular viewing before eclipse day.
Almost every time they see the sun through the glasses, they say “Wow,” “Cool,” or “Whoa!” (By the way the boys not using the glasses are swatting away gnats….it’s a south Georgia phenomenon).
We experimented to see if you could take a photo of the projection of the sun inside the cereal box viewer and you can! We’ll be ready to record the different shapes of the sun as it makes it way to 90% of being obscured.The binocular projection method is trickier, but they all loved it when we were successfully in projecting the sun on the paper.
I can’t wait!