Sunday, January 17, 2016

Ice, Ice, Baby!

I love, love, love 1st grade after Christmas! I love it before, too, but after Christmas, magic happens. If you teach 1st grade, you know what I mean. The kiddos really start "getting it" and it is so fun to watch their excitement in learning new things. They explode with learning and wanting to learn. We can do so much more and stretch their brains in so many new ways.

We hit the ground running our first few days back, but they had no idea because it was so fun! We did a hibernating/arctic unit. WE did experiments just about every day and they LOVE experiments!

We did some activities that I have done in the past, but we also did something new that I really loved.

We started off the week learning about hibernation. We read my hibernating comprehension sheet from my January Printables packet.
They love these comprehension passages because they are learning all kinds of new things. I love it because they are reading, learning new vocabulary, pulling out key points, tearing apart text, answering questions and so much more.

We read many books on the subject, including Bear Snores On and Bear Wants More to compare winter and spring bears.

Then we did an experiment to see what happens to bears if they don't hibernate.
 I put a pat of butter in water inside the baby food jar. The hibernating bear sits there sleeping away like he is supposed to. The awake bear decided not to go to sleep for the winter and he gallivants around exploring and playing during the winter.
 We pass the awake bear around telling what he is doing and shaking the jar.
 By the end, the kids are tired, just like the bear. The butter has broken up. I relate it to the fat of the bear. If he is up and moving around then he loses his stored fat much more quickly. He gets tired and hungry and might not make it through the winter. The hibernating bear stays warm and cozy because his stored fat breaks down slowly and lasts all winter. The kids LOVE this and really understand.

We also did our melting ice experiment. When we talk about polar bears, we also talk about how the ice is melting in the arctic. This is due in large part to pollution so we talk about the importance of picking up our trash and never throwing trash out the window, etc.
I freeze two big blocks of ice. I put on block in a container of plain water. In teh other one, I pour lots of salt into the water. This year, our classroom must have been extra warm. The fresh water ice block melted in 2 and a half hours and the salt water ice block melted in 3 and half hours. That's the fastest yet!

The next experiment came from Kristin Smith at A Day in First Grade. We had been talking about the arctic region. We watched the video about how igloos are built. Then I gave each child their supplies (paper plate, small cup, spoon, marshmallows, and frosting) and told them to create their own igloo. I didn't give them any instructions. I wanted to see what they would come up with on their own.Some of them started out just like I would by covering the cup with frosting and sticking the marshmallows on. Others, tried not to use the cup and tried stacking the marshmallows. Others put the frosting directly ont he marshmallow. Some didn't know how to start and had to look to friends for help. Others got frustrated because I didn't tell them how. It was a good learning experience and helped them to think outside the box and use their own brains instead of mine. :)

And their very favorite! Our classroom snowman!
 He also melted very quickly, in about 4 hours. They thought he was awesome, and wanted me to bring him back every day. This one is easy peasy. Just freeze water in balloons, making sure you have a small, medium, and large. When you are ready to build him, just pull off the balloon and you have 3 snowballs. Use a little salt to help stick the balls together. I used construction paper for his pieces. That worked just fine. Then set him in a container and watch what happens.
We loved the last 2 weeks. I can't wait for the rest of the year!

Be fun and fabulous!

~Mrs. Sweeney

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