Bottle Flipping Our Way Into Summer

ALMOST DONE!!!! Oh man, it has been a long road to get here but we officially only have 2 1/2 days left of school. I am so excited!! For the last week of school I want to do some different and fun activities to keep them motivated to finish the week out strong. Yesterday I did one of my absolute favorite activities that involves the scientific method, a little STEM, and some water bottle flipping!

I found this AMAZING activity on TPT from the shop Carly and Adam. The activity is officially called End of the Year STEM Water Bottle Flip. When my kiddos heard “water bottle flipping” they lost their minds!

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The resource comes with enough pages to create 3 different packets worth of testing. You can either test different bottle sizes, different bottle shapes, or how full the bottle is to see which has the best flipping result. We did our experiment on how full the bottle is (so I only had to buy 1 pack of 24 bottles and not multiple packs.) No matter what experiment you choose, the first page in the packet is their prediction page. They form a hypothesis on which will have the best result and why. Once they make their predictions, it’s time for their favorite part.

The second part of the experiment is obviously to test and see which has the best result. For our experiment they had a recording sheet (the one below) to fill out as they went. They had to flip the bottle 20 times at each level and record if the bottle landed horizontal or vertical. After they tested the 4 levels they could easily see which had the best result.

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They LOVED this part. I took them outside (because the water bottles will bust open and it saves a lot of time cleaning up) and let them go at it. They thought it was so fun and cool that they got to flip bottles in school as part of a science experiment. I also had lots of fun too, taking pictures and slow motion videos to show parents and to put in our end of the year slideshow.

When the flipping was done we came back inside to record our results. Most had vastly different results (because of all of the different variables, like how they each flipped the bottle) but it was a great discussion piece on why we had different results. They filled out their final report page and then was able to finish off the water they had left (if there was any left.)

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It was such a fun activity and one of my all time favorites! I did this last year with my 4th graders and they had just as much fun. It’s an easy twist on something they love to do so they don’t really know they’re learning.

Summer is almost here and I am just hanging on. I love my kiddos but I am ready for the nice summer break. We have many activities coming up in the next couple of days that hopefully will help the days fly even more. Happy June!

 

For more day to day activities and lessons (and summer fun) go follow my instagram @lifeoftherookieteacher!

Reading Cafe Open for Business

We are getting closer and closer to the end of the year and those school days left are decreasing fast (but not always fast enough.) At this point of the year, I am officially done with all of my required curriculum materials (expect for one more math test) so I am pulling out any and all activities I can.

One activity that I found and purchased on Teachers Pay Teachers was a Book Tasting Kit. I have seen this idea on Pinterest and through different teacher’s instagram accounts and I wanted to try it so bad. The one I bought was from Staying Cool in the Library‘s page. I think this kit is great because it has two separate kits inside of one so that it can be leveled to a specific grade level. There is an upper elementary version and a primary version. I used the primary version for my kiddos because I wanted it to be fun and easy with limited writing. I wanted the major focus to be on the books.

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What I did was I printed out the “menu” pages found in the kit and made each student in my class their own menu to use. Inside each menu I included 5 “review” pages that they used when they found a book.

I set up 5 different stations of genres in my room and placed many of those types of books at each table. The genres I pulled out to use for my kids were historical fiction books, realistic fiction books, mystery books, fantasy books, and biographies/autobiographies. At each table, they had to pick one book they thought looked interesting and filled out the form in their menu. They read a page or 2 from each book and decided if the pages were easy or hard to read. They then described the cover and any other pictures that might have been in the book. They finally rated their book out of 5 stars. Once they finished with their one book that was recorded in their menus, they had a few extra minutes to look through other books and discuss the ones they found with the others in their group.

I gave each round/station about 8 minutes at each table/genre. Overall, it took us a little over 40 minutes total to get through all tables. Most of my kiddos had a really good time and really took their time looking into different types of books and genres they aren’t used to. When my students entered 3rd grade, hardly any of my students wanted to read chapter books. As the year went on, they started to get into the Dogman series, The Bad Guys series, and of course, the Junie B. Jones. books. As great as it was that they were starting to read chapter books, they didn’t really extend their reading any farther. Most of them stuck with these books throughout the year. My goal with the book tasting was to show them that there are plenty of other amazing books out there. I wanted them to walk away with a list of new books to read over the summer or next year when they walk into 4th grade.

Of course, I had that handful who couldn’t handle it. I decided to put my struggling kiddos in the same group for this activity so they wouldn’t disrupt anyone else and take away from their learning. It was great for the other 4 groups at the other 4 stations but that one group was very difficult. I had my sister come volunteer in my classroom just to keep those kiddos on task. (That still didn’t work too well.)

Overall, my kids had fun and found a ton of new books they are eager to read. It was a lot of prep work getting everything printed and put together but it was worth it. I recommend trying this out (but maybe not at the end of the year because the energy level is WAY higher than normal!)

Side Note: If you want to add some more flare, have some instrumental French music playing in the background. It sets the mood pretty well and who doesn’t want to pretend they’re in a French cafe?

 

We only have 8 school days to go!!!!! We are so close people!!!!

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For more day to day activities and lessons, go follow my class instagram account @lifeoftherookieteacher!! With the end of the year, I have many fun projects coming up. I will also be sharing some fun summer activities and you don’t want to miss that!

14 School Days and Counting!

We’re almost there!! One of my coworkers has a countdown on her door and, as of today, we are down to 14 (school) days. Today in Minnesota, it is a beautiful 80 degree sunny day! It’s days like this that make me want summer even more. Beautifully warm days like today can be rare here, especially in May and June, so it’s nice to enjoy it while it lasts.

With the summer feelings sinking in, I wanted to do a summer craftivity with my kiddos today to get us in the mood. What I decided to do was decorate flip flops that show what our favorite activities to do in the summer are. At the beginning of the year, we made jerseys to put on everyone’s locker. The jerseys had to somehow represent them. The flip flops were a similar project but centered around summer likes rather than their everyday likes.

I found this activity in a summer activity pack I bought on TPT last year for my fourth graders. The pack is called End of the Year Activities and Printables. It was from TheHappyTeacher‘s shop and was $4.25. It is TOTALLY worth the price because it comes with a ton of fun end of the year activities (and time fillers.) I’ll be sharing different activities we’ll be doing from the pack over the next few weeks.

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In the pack, it has a “design a flip flop challenge” coloring page. The page says to make it a contest to see who can make the best flip flop in the class. I added the part about making it about themselves so they would put more effort into them. I put my own example on the board and set them loose.

They all turned out super cute and definitely matched their personal styles. We hung them in the hall to add some “summer flare” to the school.

I am SO ready for warm summer days lounging on the beach reading a good book but I have to remind myself that we still have 3 full weeks of school left to get through before those wonderful days are here.

 

For more day to day activities (especially as the year is winding down and more fun things are to come) go follow me on instagram @lifeoftherookieteacher!!

 

Yoga Calm in the Classroom

Oh man it’s been awhile. I didn’t realize how crazy busy I’ve been until I realized I haven’t written anything in weeks. A lot has happened since Lorax Day at school. With the end of the year here, my students are insane (like most students are at this time) and I needed a way to calm my students down.

My class is a mix of really great and sweet kids but their emotional needs are VERY high!! I have 5 girls who are all working in social groups because of anxiety and social needs and then I have a handful of boys who are off the charts hyperactive. I love them all but the last few weeks, it’s like all of their issues have been worsening by 200%. Because most of my girls work with the same social worker, she knows my class pretty well. She has spent a good chunk of time in my classroom this year helping my girlies and helping with the needs of all of my students.

She knows how hyper and emotional my class is so we’ve been brainstorming ways to help all of them at the same time while helping my mental sanity as well.

Another social worker in our district started working with a program called Yoga Calm. Our social worker heard how amazing it was doing in our middle school and thought that it would be a great thing for my class. I’m super open to anything and I was desperate for a change so we decided to give it a try.

Our plan was to start each day with a 10 minute “yoga calm” activity. The social worker would come into our room and we would have the students move the tables in my room to the back to create more space, turn off the lights, turn down the shades, and then they would lay in their own spot on the floor. It was a great plan in theory but the first day we tried this, it did NOT go quite as calmly as planned.

We started to try this on Monday of this week. I explained to my students what would be happening before the social worker joined us, so they weren’t completely thrown off with the change. When she came into our room (I’ll admit here, I was NOT thinking) I told my students to move the tables to the back of the room (yes, that was the only set of directions I gave them at the time.) Let’s just say, it was not a calm affair.

Once everything was set, we all came to the front to sit in a circle. They were very antsy and crazy already so it made me very nervous they weren’t going to calm down. We did a few calming activities and then a group activity. Most of the kiddos did really well (some could not take this very seriously on day 1) but it took us about 30 minutes to do a 10 minute activity.

Luckily, days 2, 3, and 4 went so much smoother. We have a pretty solid routine. When they see the social worker enter our room they calmly set everything up the way we originally had planned. They find their own quiet spot on the floor and they start to breath. Honestly, I’m still shocked with how calm they get. After our 4th day, ALL of my kids are able to “meditate” their own way on the floor. After some meditation, we go over some yoga poses and then we do a group tree pose together while talking about ignoring distractions.

Once our yoga calm is over, we start our day and holy cow they are seriously ready to learn!! It’s unbelievable to me how calm they are once we finish and how set they are on having a good day. Even my high energy students are set to go better than they have all year.

I am seriously so grateful for this program. We’ve only been working on it for the past 4 days but it has been my life saver! I highly recommend looking into it. It only takes 10 minutes every morning and it saves a ton of wasted time during the day that is usually spent trying to get students back on track. It’s so amazing.

As of today we only have 20 more school days to go until it’s officially summer. It’s seems so close yet so far away. If you are needed some help with the behaviors of your students (knowing summer is fast approaching) this is the ideal answer!

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