Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gluesticks: SUPER Science Kit! (Christmas Gift Idea)

Gluesticks: SUPER Science Kit! (Christmas Gift Idea)

Spoiler Alert to my family members! This is what your kids are getting for Christmas! Can you believe it? A Science Kit for a Christmas gift! Wonderful idea!

Nicole (former chemistry teacher) @ Thrifty Decorating, also posted about putting together a science kit!

This idea is STEM Mom Approved!  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Matching Color Pictures to Color Words

Free Student Printable: Matching Color Pictures to Color Words: from

Well, I've uploaded my first document to Teachers Pay Teachers. I've downloaded a lot of great resources through this website, and support the concept of paying hard-working teachers directly for the great materials they develop. I'm checking out how this goes, and may post more of my printables there. 

In our kindergarten goals, we will be learning our color words. I couldn't find anything I really liked or that had a progression of recognizing, reading, and then writing color words, so I've developed a series of handouts that we will be using. This set is just the first in a series...more to come. 

Sample Student Printable page for "Matching color pictures to color words" from

Here is my description of the handout that I posted on TPT. These student handouts will help emerging readers recognize 10 color words and to distinguish it from other color words. Product includes 5 student activity pages, with two colors per page. The colored pairs include green and red, blue and orange, yellow and purple, black and white, pink and brown. Directions at the top of each page read, "Look at the picture and say its color. Draw a line from the picture to all the words that spell its color. There are 5 for each picture." The color words are written in a variety of all uppercase letters or in all lowercase letters as well as a variety of font types.
Sample Student Printable page for "Matching color pictures to color words" from

If you are interested in downloading this free printable, you can visit my TPT store by clicking on the button.

Kindergarten, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Homeschooler -

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Wormy Art and Handwriting

Kindergarten Unit on Worms from No Doubt Learning, STEMmom, and The Usual Mayhem

Welcome to the last official Wormy Wednesday! I've had so much fun developing this earthworm unit with Andrea from No Doubt Learning and Erin from The Usual Mayhem
One of the art projects we did as part of our worm unit was to use rubber worms to stamp patterns. However, it became a bit more like worm throwing than stamping here at our house!  

"Ww" art piece using rubber worms:

Boy painting art piece using rubber worms:

Finished art piece by a kinder using rubber worm:

Worm-themed art and handwriting from

Like many boys in kindergarten, my son is not a big fan of practicing his handwriting. I have written    a lot about how well we've done with Handwriting Without Tears (HWT).  During our earthworm unit I continued some handwriting practice using the slate of HWT, and his workbook, but we also did some sensory activities with the letter "W" as well as the word "worm." 

Boy practicing the letter "W" using HWT:

Testing Wind Turbines: An Engineering Lab Part 2

Testing the Power of Student-Designed Turbines:

Previously I shared with you how I spent three class sessions on Building Wind Turbines from the Windwise Curriculum.  In this post I want to share how we tested to see how powerful our turbines were. 

Session 4: Increase your Wind Turbine's Ability to Do Work (its Power) 

I will admit when I read the power-testing section of the Windwise curriculum I was unsure of how it would work. They had a diagram of 2x4's to hold a power-testing contraption. I didn't feel like making an elaborate contraption for this lab, so I broke it down into what I knew I needed.

Needed to Build a Turbine Testing Apparatus

  • Fan
  • Pennies or other unit that has equal weight so numbers may be compared
  • Something to hold weight: paper or plastic cup
  • String or twine and tape
  • Way to attach weight and string to the turbines to be tested
    • straw
  • Elevated location next to the fan that allows the turbine's driveshaft to hold the string & weight  

Logistics of Power-Testing Apparatus

For those of you who are natural engineers and love to tinker, you may be able to skip this section. For those of us who are less comfortable with providing engineering experiences for kids, I want to describe the logistics behind the power-testing apparatus.  The idea here is that students bring their turbine, which includes a driveshaft attached to a hub that holds the blades (see my first post on Building Wind Turbines if you need more help with this) to the fan for testing.  Note that students don't build a vertical pole or a stand. They test their turbines by holding them next to the fan. Therefore, they can't be holding the driveshaft directly, it should slip into some sort of sleeve, like tubing or a straw. In our previous class session, students just held their turbines in front of the fan. However, now we want to know how much power their turbine has so we constructed (assembled is more like it) an apparatus.  

To test the power of the wind turbine, you want to hang weight on the end of the driveshaft to see how much weight it can lift. Correctly assembled, when the blades turn from the fan's wind, it turns the hub, which turns the driveshaft, which pulls the string. The string wraps around the driveshaft lifting the weight.  The videos below will help you see what I mean.       

Dixie cup pebble holder to test power on student-designed turbines:

Our weight holder (see photo above) was two small paper cups that we rigged with string so it would hold our pennies without tipping. Notice how our string makes an X shape to add stability. What you can't see in this photo is how the string is attached to the driveshaft. Remember, this contraption must be able to be removed from one student's driveshaft to be placed on another. The challenge is that the string must not slip when the driveshaft turns or the cup with weight will not be lifted. We overcame this challenge by attaching the string to a two inch piece of straw which then we slipped over the driveshaft and then taped to the driveshaft. This was strong enough to handle our testing yet we could easy remove the tape and slip the straw onto  the next turbine being tested.    

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Wormy Observations

In the development of our wormy experiments, we had some that didn't work so much as true scientific experiments (with something quantitative to measure), but were great at honing our observation skills and helped us to collect all kinds of qualitative data! 

Boy intently looking at his cut up worm:

Observing the Inside of a Worm Without Dissecting it!

You can place a worm between two pieces of glass and "see" all kinds of wonderful structures.  Initially I had hoped we would be able to see the pulse of blood moving through the heart or at least the dorsal vessel, but we couldn't see it. However, take a look at what we did see! See the silhouette? You can see the worm's digestive tract easily! We also got a good look at how the worms moves. As you can imagine, he wasn't so keen on being between glass, or held up to the light! 

Observing GI tract of Earthworm:

To do this all you need is two pieces of glass--ours came out of an old paned window--and some clay or playdough. The clay is to put in each of the four corners. This allows you to squeeze the two pieces of glass together without killing the worm. The photo below is us trying to slow down his heart rate by placing the glass over a bowl of ice water. 

Looking to see how worm is affected by cold temperatures:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Physical Activities - Wormy Style

I just love how some of the best ideas seem to come out of nowhere. (Note: I realize however, that ideas most likely come from the extensive research done to prepare a unit, and the hours scouring through Pinterest.) But I digress. The first physical wormy activity I want to share is one I developed  that allows kids to role-play an earthworm in its environment. 

Materials Needed for the Worm Game

  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Visual cues of any/all of the following
    • Sun
    • Rain 
    • Fisherman (I scanned a page out of the book Diary of a Worm)
    • Moon (ours was a  Moon Lamp)  
    • Bird
Use Visual Cues for Worm Game: Sun, Rain, Moon, Fisherman:
Here'a a look at our Earthworm Chalk Course. I drew the soil line, then "tunnels" with larger burrow areas. I also made tunnels fork off one another. You see the possibilities? So fun. My son added grass to the soil line to make it more realistic! 

Chalk Worm Game: overall view:

Directions to Play the Worm Game

One person is the "caller" and you can have as many "worm" participants as your drawing can hold. 

The caller is in charge of the cues. The caller holds up the cue cards and the "worms" must respond accordingly. 
  • Sun: Worms go into their tunnels and go to sleep
  • Moon: Worms come out of their tunnels to the surface and look for food (leaves)
  • Rain: Worms come out of their tunnels to the surface (they can't breathe in saturated soil)
  • Fisherman/birds: Worms go deeper into the tunnels to avoid being captured/eaten

Moon Cue cause worms to come out of their tunnels: Worm Game at

Friday, November 2, 2012

Can Worms See Color?

Do Worms See Color?  Kindergarten Wormy Experiment from

As we wind down our Kindergarten Worm Unit, we did two last experiments. One esting whether or not worms see color and the other to see if certain areas on their body are more sensitive to light. I created a science lab notebook for kids, which you can download in my introductory post, Observing Worms

Do Worms See Color?

Boy using flashlight in worm color experiment:

For our color experiment, I had Caleb predict which color he thought the worm would most react to, and circle it in his notebook. Because we were using a flashlight with all kinds of colored filters, he had a a lot of choices. He predicted red. I think he recalled that we used a red light at the beginning of our unit when we went worm hunting at night. But he didn't make the connection that we used red light so the worms wouldn't be disturbed. Oh well.  
Ways to Make Colored Lights for Experiments:

This experiment has the same set up as the Light/Dark Wormy Experiment. We got out our trusty red school cookie sheet, lined it with wet paper towels, covered one side so it would be shaded, and then found all sorts of transparent colored object through which we could shine a flashlight on the worms. I used colored light bulbs and Color Paddles for a Light and Color Lab that I did with my high school class. The plastic lids we had from the kitchen also worked nicely, as did the Magna-Tiles Clear Colors that we already had!  I'd love to be able to tell you that the magnets held the Magna-Tiles to the metal flashlight, but they didn't. Caleb preferred the paddles because of the handle.