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October 31, 2016

Halloween Activities {Pumpkin Plants, Catapults, and Ghost Rockets}

Oh, Halloween... how I really don't like you...  Halloween on a Monday this year just about killed me.  It is already my least favorite holiday, but I try to still have fun in the classroom.  I've not into the whole scary thing, never have been, so in class I more focus on spiders, bats, owls, and pumpkins. 

early stages of sprouts

 We had a pumpkin that we were gifted from the school's Fall Festival, so this year I decided to cut the top off and dump in some dirt.  That's it - I didn't stir or anything, just stuck it outside on our portable's porch, and the kids took turns dumping their water bottles in it to water.  Within 10 days it sported a bunch of sprouts emerging from the top and a colorful array of mold on the outside.  We transferred it to a planter (since the bottom was rotting), and now it's a full on plant, and you can't tell it was once a pumpkin... but the kids know and tell all our visitors.  

In class for Halloween, I wanted to focus on STEM activities, and since I was having parent help I decided to go big.  I found an idea to make Ghost Rockets and quickly ordered the film canisters from Amazon (thank you Amazon Prime).  It was super easy - the kids added a little bit of corn starch to the canister, then filled it with a little bit of water, stirred it with a popsicle stick, added an Alkaseltzer tab, put the lid on, and then stepped back.  We did this station outside, and those canisters flew as high as our two story buildings.  There was good discussions about the pressure inside the canisters.  

An inside station was building catapults to launch different materials.  We watched a youtube video (there are plenty to choose from) to make a simple catapult.  At home for prep, my husband took our heavy kitchen scissors and cut notches in large popsicle sticks, then at school the kids took 8 small sticks and stacked them.  They took rubber bands to secure the large sticks with the small ones.  I added some measurement activities to the station, and taped some long tape measures to the ground so they could record their distances.  They tested out the pumpkin candies, giant fluff balls, candy corns, etc.  It was such a fun activity, and the kids were able to bring their own catapult home as a souvenir.  The kids were able to handle creating it themselves with some adult guidance, will definitely do this again.  

The last station was actually a game.  I couldn't find the eye ball ping pong balls, but that didn't stop the kids from having fun.  Each kid had their own spoon to place the handle in their mouth, and they needed to transfer as many of the ping pong balls as possible from bowl to bowl.  It became a competition.  When they were done, they had a chance to complete their spider web art projects.  It was a headache free day, and was fun too.  :)  

October 24, 2016

Mindware is Awesome!

Mindware is AWESOME!  They contacted me about trying out a set of KEVA blocks in my classroom, and I jumped at the chance.  I am always looking for ways to bring more STEM activities to my students, and these require NO PREP! 

I wanted to show off some of the creations my students have built. 

Some of the creations were built using their imaginations, others were built using the cards provided. Yep, the Brain Builders sets have engineering cards that give challenges!

I love these wooden blocks! They remind me of the Lincoln logs that I used growing up.  

I can't say enough wonderful things about this system!  I appreciate Mindware's generosity in providing these resources for my students in exchange for a blog post.  :)