Monday, May 2, 2016

Teacher Appreciation Sale on TpT!




Stop by my TpT store for a 20% off sale!

The sale runs from May 3rd-4th.

Check the main page on TpT to get a special code that will give you an additional 8% off.   Use the TpT bonus code to get a grand total of 28% off!

Here's hoping you find some things to brighten your day and make the end of the school year go more smoothly!



Sunday, May 1, 2016

Using Candy to Teach DNA

How to teach the structure and shape of DNA?  Why, with sweets, of course!  Specifically, Twizzlers and marshmallows.


First, we completed a color-by-number model of DNA.  You can learn more about how I use this sheet as a teaching tool by reading this post.




We talked about how the base pairs (A, T, C, G) match up and recreated that with our candy models.  The students made a key and decided what base pair each color of marshmallow would represent (see the toothpick flags in the pictures below).
















We talked about how the spiral shape is called a double helix, and part of their grade was to demonstrate that they had this knowledge.










There were some projects in which the students had to get creative with their supplies for one reason or another. Below are some examples. I think they did rather well!

If you don't have marshmallows, try gum drops or gummy bears. 





If you don't have Twizzlers, try straws. 




What do you do to make DNA more "concrete"?  I'd love to get some new ideas!



Sunday, April 24, 2016

Can't You Make Them Behave, King George?

Are you searching for a way to teach or review the conflict between King George and the American colonists?  Do you love it when Language Arts and History play well together?  If you answered yes to either of these questions, then this post is for you!

I'm always trying to find ways to incorporate reading into other subjects.  I especially like it as introduction to a concept or unit.  Jean Fritz's books are fantastic for this purpose in history!  I really love "Can't You Make Them Behave, King George?" for this purpose!




After using it for read-aloud for a couple of years, I knew I wanted to take it to the next level.  So, I created a comprehension sheet to go along with the reading.




There are a couple of different ways I've used this sheet:

Option 1: have students read the book.  I've used pairs/trios and independent, depending on the level of challenge the student needs.  After reading it all the way through, I have them go back and answer the questions in the packet together or independently.  

Option 2:  Work with your small reading groups to read the book together and answer the question packet.  Again, I've decided whether to have students answer the questions as a group or independently to differentiate instruction.

In addition to a reading comprehension tool, it also serves as a great review when placed in your Virginia Studies/ U.S. History binder.  It reviews the difficulty the American colonists had with coming to the decision to declare war on King George, including:
French and Indian War
~ Taxation without representation
~ Intolerable Acts
~ The Boston Tea Party

It also includes an answer key, so important to make the activity self-checking!




You can pick up a copy of my packet at my TpT store by clicking here.

Do you have any other great books to use for the American Revolution?  I'd love to hear about them!




Sunday, April 17, 2016

Top Netflix Shows for Educating Young Children

Not all TV shows are created equal. When it comes to letting my son have some screen time, I do try to be selective. So in that spirit, let me share the shows that both my preschooler and I can agree on.






1.  Bo on the Go: This show is just so neat!  The premise is that the main character, Bo, gets energy when the viewer participates in activities with her. These activities include things like running, jumping, and stretching. As an added bonus, viewers are asked to clear their "Bo Zone" (exercise area) of toys before beginning the show. What a cool idea to get kids moving! The addition of getting kids to clean up is just genius, too.

2.  Mother Goose Club: This one appeals more to my son's singing and dancing side. It's a combination of real people acting out Mother Goose rhymes and cartoons doing the same.  A little hint to make it more educational: Turn on the subtitles. Then you can read the songs and sing along. 

3.  Word World: This show is a neat mixture of visuals and words. All the animals are made of the word that spells their name. For example, the bear is literally made of the letters b-e-a-r, creatively stretched into the shape of a talking bear.  It teaches words and letters. 

4.  Super Why: The "Super Readers" in this show solve social problems, like not wanting to share, by reading fairy tales and fables. The characters apply the lessons from the stories to their situation and search for "super letters" to find an answer to their question/problem along the way. The super letters spell the answer. The show teaches letter, word, and sentence recognition.  

5.  Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood:  If you loved Mr. Roger's neighborhood as a kid, then you'll enjoy watching Daniel with your kids. It teaches the same social/ behavioral lessons, but from cartoon Daniel's perspective. I love discussing how the characters are feeling and what they should do to solve their problems with my son as we watch together. 

What are your go-to shows to teach educational and social lessons to preschoolers?  I'd love to get done more ideas for my Netflix que!



Sunday, April 10, 2016

DNA Color-By-Number

How do I teach that DNA is made of nucleotides and base pairs?  A coloring page, of course!  I mean, why not?  Everyone loves to color and having this page in my students' Interactive Notebooks serves as a reminder of the structure of DNA.


This Color-by-Number worksheet is meant to be an introduction into the nucleotides and bases that make up the structure of DNA.

I use this as an introductory activity, with no prior teaching. 

After it is colored, we talk about the matching patterns of the base pairs (A with T and C with G). 
I also explain to them that these pairs can happen in an infinite number of sequences, such as:
A-T, C-G, A-T, C-G
OR
C-G, C-G, G-C, A-T

I further explain that any mismatched pairing of bases, A-C or G-T for example, would result in a mutation of the gene.  This mutation could be inherited by the offspring of the organism.

Finally, we talk about how not all mutations are a bad thing because this is how evolution happens.

If you'd like to pick up a copy, click here.


How do you introduce the structure of DNA?  I'd love to hear about it!


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Patrick Henry Readers Theater

Are you teaching about the American Revolution and/or reviewing for your history SOL? Here's an activity that incorporates reading, cooperative learning, and Virginia Studies/U.S. History!

When I searched for readers theater for history, I found very little. So, I decided to make my own resource

This readers theater includes many of the famous founding fathers who wrote the declaration of independence, as well as key players.  It focuses on Patrick Henry's famous speech at St. John's Church in Richmond.


This Readers Theater will help students to:
~ Become familiar with Patrick Henry's famous speech at St. John's Church that called his countrymen to arms. 

It also reviews the difficulty George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had with coming to the decision to declare war on King George, including:
French and Indian War
~ Taxation without representation
~ Intolerable Acts
~ The Boston Tea Party
~ Bacon's Rebellion
~ Burgesses 

It works well as either an introduction or a review. 




You can pick up a copy by clicking here.


How do you teach/review the Revolutionary War?  I'd love to hear how!



Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Why Isn't There Candy in Your Easter Basket?!

I thought I'd take a break from my traditional posts to bring you a lighthearted and seasonally timely post.

First, I'd like to mention that I will not be putting candy in my son's basket.  Not because I don't believe in some good, old-fashioned sugar overload, but because I can promise you that he will be receiving an overdose of chocolaty goodness from many of the other adults in his life.  So, I'll be sticking to the playful gifts we can use for when he has reached his sugar peak and his ultimate sugar crash.




So, what will be in his soccer ball basket?
~Monkeys in a Barrel (Easter egg style, of course)!
~Pastel Play-Doh
~Easter Weeble Wabbles:  I was soooo excited when I found these.  I haven't seen Weebles in forever, and here I had found Easter Weebles!
~Easter Dominoes
~A rain stick (maybe not Easter specific, but it was a dollar and Easter colored, I guess)

What's in your Easter basket?  Don't be afraid to tell me it's candy.  There won't be any judging of hating on your for that, no way!  Just feel free to share!