Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Celebration

As a proud Irish woman, I love to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with my students.  This year I don't get to celebrate with my students since I'm on maternity leave awaiting my second baby to make her arrival any day now (already 1 week overdue!).  So I figured I'd use the time and share some of the activities I do with my class.

I always make the classroom a disarray as if a leprechaun visited our room (even in 5th grade they get a kick out of it).  I sprinkle their desks with gold glitter, use green paint and create leprechaun foot prints around the room and hide gold coins.  Students who find a gold coin are instructed by a letter that has been left by the leprechaun to trade it in with me for class cash.  I also have Lucky Clover Certificates (FREE download in my TpT store) that I hide throughout the classroom as well.  If students find one of those, they receive a fun St. Patrick's Day pencil or eraser. 

In addition to those extra fun things, I also try to tie the holiday into my other subjects.  In Religion we always discuss why we celebrate St. Patrick's Day and I show them a quick video from YouTube that talks about the history of St. Patrick's Day.  It's interesting and under three minutes.  We also discuss the metaphor that St. Patrick drove "out the snakes" in Ireland and how we think that really relates to our religion. 

In math class, we typically do our usual math lesson but I also give the students my Shamrock Decimal worksheet which can also be found in my TpT store for FREE.  In art class, I love to have my students create a leprechaun of their own for a fun arts and craft project.  I found this one here that I really like and they always turn out super cute!  She includes all the directions needed to create it and the pattern pieces. 

The project that my students usually enjoy most of all on St. Patrick's Day is our Science Lab that we do.  Students create a Silly Putty like substance.  I start by putting my kids into groups of 4 and we cover their desks with paper (green of course!). I hand out all the supplies but I do not tell the kids what substances they are working with.  Instead they need to use their senses of smell, touch and sight to determine what each ingredient is.  As they complete the lab, they work on a three page handout that I give them that correlates with what they are doing.  Students love this project and are even more excited when they find out they get to take it home.  You can download my St. Patrick's Day Science packet for FREE at my TpT store.

I only ask that if you use any of my FREE St. Patrick's Day products that you leave me feedback.  You can see them all here:  St. Patrick's Day products

Do you do anything special with your students for St. Patrick's Day?  Share below.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Techie Tuesday: Owl Pellets

Every year my students and I dissect owl pellets for one of our Science labs in Life Science.  I purchase my owl pellets from Owl Brand Discovery Kits.  In addition to always being a fair price, they also provide you with free printables.  We watch a quick YouTube video which discusses what exactly a Barn Owl Pellet is since most students mistake it for owl feces. 

After watching the video, I quickly go over how to dissect a pellet carefully.  The students work in groups of two using tweezers and picks to uncover as many bones as possible in their owl pellets.  When they were finished, they spent time sorting the bones and determining which rodent they came from.  In years past, I've always had them use handouts that I provided.  However, this year I purchased and downloaded the app called Owl Pellets which is developed by Carolina Biological Supply (they also have a free version too!).  This app provides charts in which students can classify the bones, a database in which they can enter the data of their discoveries and compare with other students from across the nation.  Additionally, it has videos the students can watch as well. 

After the students sorted and separated out the bones, they then had to try to construct a skeleton on a piece of black construction paper.  The different groups of students would share bones so they could construct as much of a complete skeleton as possible. 

This activity always ends up being one of the class' favorites.  It combines not only science but a hands on opportunity which I find is best when it comes to discovery.  Do you dissect anything in your science class?  Tell me about it below. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Lenten Activity: Stations of the Cross Dioramas

As we enter the season of Lent, one of my favorite activities that my students do every year is our Stations of the Cross Dioramas.  Instead of sending this project home, my students take a couple of weeks during Religion class to work on their chosen station.  They are required to bring in a shoe box (of course I have extras for those who don't have one) and any materials they want to make their 3-D scene.  In addition, I open up my art closet and they can use any supplies (paint, construction paper, etc. that I have).  We talk about what makes a diorama unique and after each student chooses a station they want to work on, they are let loose to create.  The only requirement I have when they choose stations is that each of the 14 must be represented. 

Prior to working on the project, we review the different stations and I enjoy showing them this Puppet movie on the Stations of the Cross that I located on YouTube.

After the students have created their diorama they then are required to complete a writing assignment on it.  They discuss in detail what is happening in their diorama scene and reflect upon why the station is important.  This project is always a favorite of the students and what I love most about it is that they are ALL student created (no parental help).  I'm amazed at the creativity that the students display.  Since they do such an amazing job, I find it important that we share our work so we invite the rest of the school to stop by during a certain time to view the different stations. 

Here are some examples from this year's class:

Interested in doing this project with your class?  You can check it out in my TpT store here.
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