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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sweet Treats to Inspire Learning from Pre-K-12

It's that time of year when students are imagining sleeping in, no testing, and days spent with no agenda.  So, what do you do to keep things educational and fun at this time of year?  Why, you pull out the sweets, of course!

Here is a list of low-prep (or no-prep) end-of-year activities that will keep the kids learning and having fun that use candy.

State Testing


"Saving Sam": A team-building challenge to "save" a gummy worm from drowning
The end of the year is a great time to dust off those team-building exercises you used at the beginning of the year.

Growth Mindset

Edible Neurons 
This craftivity is so fun to show how you can strengthen your mind/memory.

Life Science/Biology:

Edible DNA Models

Gummy Bear Changes in Matter
This one was done by a Second Grade teacher, but it easily translates into 8th Grade science curriculum.

Gummy Bear Osmosis
I've done a similar experiment with my 7th-Graders.

Earth Science

Using chocolate chip cookies to "excavate" chocolate chip "fossils"
This one was written by a Preschool teacher, but you could easily make it appropriate for older students by having them count and graph the chips they found.  

Another great way to extend a unit on fossils/dinosaurs.  For older students, this can be tied into your evolution unit to show how we use fossils to prove change over time.

This was written by a Kindergarten teacher as part of her unit on the Moon, but Virginia students need to know the phases of the moon starting in 4th grade.  So go ahead and let those older kids play with cookies!

This was written by a 5th grade teacher.  What could be better, or more delicious, than Oreos, chocolate syrup, and M&Ms to demonstrate the layers of Earth?

Starting in 5th grade, Virginia students are required to know how each type of rock is made and the cycle it goes through to get there.  Here's a really cool way to have your learning and eat it, too!

Language Arts

This was written by a 2nd grade teacher, but ALL students could use practice with developing those words, phrases, and paragraphs that concisely and appropriately convey their opinion.

Even though this was written for 1st-2nd grade, I found that even 7th-graders need a reminder on how-to writing.  So, bust out those cookies for kids of all ages!

Even though this lesson was written by a primary teacher, I could totally see middle-schoolers getting into this!

Oreo Sight Word Recognition
Call out letters and have students cover them on their "bingo board" with cookies.  I would probably use a smaller print and different type of candy to make a true bingo board.


Sweet Fractions
Although this is a worksheet, you could recreate some of these sweet scenarios as a treat for completing the exercise.

Measure Oreos with Non-Traditional Sources of Measurement
For older students, Have them measure the Oreos in standard and metric.

The Great Cookie Election
Pick different types of cookies, let students vote on their favorites, and declare the winner.  Take it to the next level by having older students design their own poll, ballot, and graph to represent the results.

Oreo One-to-One Correspondance

Make Oreo Patterns

Social Studies

From dictatorships to democracy, this teacher had her students use gummy bears to represent the different types of government.  The picture below shows a "voting booth" for the democracy.  So clever!

Teaching Taxation Without Representation/Things That Led to the American Revolution

Another Alternative to Teaching the Causes of the American Revolution Using Smarties
This teacher gives ridiculous scenarios in which the King or Queen (of the classroom) would be allowed to tax the students.  Wearing white socks?  Fork over a Smartie!  So fun!

Not finding what you're looking for?  Check out this post by Carla at Comprehension Connection.  She shares a boatload of ideas across several subjects.  Happy hunting!

Any ideas you'd like to share about using sweets to teach at the end of the year?  I could use all the ideas I can get!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Virginia Studies and Grammar

Are you looking for some interdisciplinary end of year review activities involving writing and Virginia Studies?  Then this Virginia Studies grammar correction activity may be what you're looking for!

This activity uses the language of the SOLs and turns it into questions.  Each question has several grammar mistakes that need to be corrected.  There are a couple of different options for how to use this:

Option 1:  Have students rewrite the sentence/question correctly for a grammar/writing assessment.

Option 2:  Have students answer the question for a Virginia Studies assessment.

Either way, it gets them practicing and reviewing key concepts in both subjects.

It includes an answer key to make the activity self-checking, which is yet another way to have students practice with the information.

You can pick up a copy by clicking here.

Do you do any activities that help with the integration of Language Arts and Virginia Studies?  I'd love to hear about them!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Using Sweets to Teach Mitosis and Meiosis

What better way to teach a complicated concept like Mitosis than to use candy!  I find that students are naturally more receptive to anything that involves the use (and consumption) of sweets.  This is a no-brainer, right?

To demonstrate the stages of Mitosis in the Cell Cycle (Interphase, Prophase, Metaphase, Anaphase, Telophase, Cytokinesis), this group used gummy worms to represent the chromosomes.  As an added bonus, gummy worms are perfect for talking about genes (the stripes) and alleles (imaginary letters on the stripes).

Another group used Oreos to demonstrate the stages of Mitosis.

I had them watch this video, which helps a lot for replicating the stages on the Oreos.

Other groups used sugar cookies, icing, and sprinkles to demonstrate Mitosis.  This required two sheets of paper, as opposed to the one sheet used for the Oreos.

This group used jelly beans to show the stages of Meiosis (Interphase, PMAT twice, Cytokinesis).

Another student went all out and made a stop-motion video. So neat!

Do you have any activities involving sweets that teach Mitosis/Meiosis?  I'd love to hear about them!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Reading Comprehension Strategy: Determine Importance

We have been using the "Determine Importance of a Text" reading comprehension strategy.  I found that this was easier for students when the selection was nonfiction than it was for them with a fiction text.  So, we started by focusing on the nonfiction text features in our Science and Virginia Studies textbooks.

We focus on heading, bold/italic print, pictures/captions.  Then we turn the heading into a question:  What are the five regions of Virginia?  We use the nonfiction features to answer the question.

After we've practiced just finding the features, we start completing the graphic organizer for this strategy in our Reader's Response notebooks.  This is part of my "Determine Importance of Fiction and Nonfiction" packet.

Next, we dive into fiction texts.

I prefer to tackle this during read-aloud time with chapter books of different genres, but there are a number of great picture books that fit the bill as well.  Some of my favorites:

Tops and Bottoms


And of course...

The Important Book
This one is great to use at the end of the year as well.  I often have the students choose their favorite subject and write an "Important Book" of their own about that subject.  So fun!

While we are reading, we record what's important on the Determine Importance: Fiction Books organizer.

If you want to pick up the packet with more mentor text suggestions, click here.

This packet includes:
~Suggested uses and directions for the graphic organizers
~Suggested fiction and nonfiction mentor text suggestions
~One organizer for determining importance in nonfiction texts
~One organizer for determining importance in fiction texts

Do you have any go-to texts or organizers for determining importance in texts?  I'd love to hear your ideas!

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!