Monday, February 3, 2014

Chemicals AND What I have Learned from TPT!

So, I was scanning over that list of posts that pops up when you go to your blogger opening page, 
you know what I mean,
and noticed that almost every post of mine is tied to a linkie of some sort. Well, that is not a bad thing. I mean I have met some great blog friends that way and get tons of teaching ideas and hints, but, well anyway....this post is going to be 

a loner
a selfie

but very informative.

The subtitle should be:
"What I Have Learned from TPT"
Wait I already put that in the title......

So, anyway, I decided to jump into TPT. Before I did I blogged for about a year, studied other blogs, went to TPT, bought things, practiced designing pages, bought some more things, blogged some more, and then in the fall last year decided to try it.

One of my first products was this:

I know, it's a little busy, but maybe cute. Maybe a little too green. Maybe a lot too busy....
And it has been update many times! Look at it now:
Wow, right!

So, what's inside??
Well, glad you asked! It's an exploration plan I put together that has kids observing, reading, building vocabulary, investigating, and synthesizing to bring all that learning together. I call it ORBITS! Pretty cool, huh!?

Well, here's the next thing. Over the last few years the teaching world has pretty much exploded with interactive note-booking. TPT is covered up with it- as are most  of the blogs I follow. Not to be outdone I decided to add note-booking to my science class (a few years back).

We bought those gridded notebooks. I found some that are the size of a regular notebook, not a composition notebook. We jumped right into it. We made a table of contents and sectioned the last 20 pages or so and made a glossary. We added words as we used them. We did all the cute foldables and drew charts and graphs and everything. It worked for the most part.

Fast forward to this school year. I no longer have a regular classroom. I am the STEM lab teacher now. I see every class in the school once each week for 45 minutes. Soooooo, does notebooking work......


Taking the time to cut and glue, draw and invent charts, draw data tables, cut and glue some more.....

just doesn't work. 
We don't have the spare minutes in the short class time. So, I am in the process of revising a lot of things and adding pre-made lab sheets to lessons and activities.

Anyway, the Physical and Chemical Changes package I made has notebooking, but it also has lab sheets- in case you prefer one over the other!

Here's the first activity:

Kids observe vinegar and baking soda and then combine them in an empty bottle:
Physical and Chemical Changes: Can you sort the cards into those two categories. Some of them are tricky!

For this task the first version of this package had a teacher page that looked like this:

That is just a mess for an organized here's the new version:

Okay, better, right... little labeled boxes for prep and materials, procedure, and science explanation.

The first version had the kids complete an accordion foldable for this task. The accordion folding thingie is cute and fun and folds right up. But, I promise, it takes 75 years for third graders to cut it out and glue it right. The new version of this package has a lab sheet.
And it works very well! Kids were able to complete the fun little task and did a great job on the lab sheet. Personally I think they like the fact that it is called a lab sheet! It sounds cool!

Well, that , plus they get to wear cool little lab coats and safety goggles:
Chemical and Physical Changes: This is the most fun ever! Lab coats for kids. These are so easy to make. Just buy large white t-shirts and cut them down the middle of the front and you have lab coats!

NEXT, there is a non-fiction reading selection about Chemical and Physical Changes. We read that and then tested a tray of chemical powders with vinegar.
Chemical Reactions in STEM Class: Use your pipette to drop liquids on several mystery powders to see what happens!

One of those powders is baking soda and it fizzes- which reinforces the first task we completed and further cements the changing aspect of chemical changes. This is followed by a sorting activity. It's the Vocabulary Building part of the package!

Now, for the most spectacular part:


With a few simple ingredients:

Chemical and physical changes in STEM class: Making elephant toothpaste is one of the culminating activity of this fabulous unit!

The original version had a post-it note foldable for this task. The new version has a terrific lab sheet with plenty of space to draw and write. There's another sorting activity after the elephant toothpaste and a writing task!

The sorting strips (that you can see in one of the photos above) have situations on them that describe a chemical or physical change. After sorting the kids have to write situations of their own. By far, the wackiest one I have heard was this: "You leave your dog outside in the cold overnight and he freezes. Is this a chemical or physical change?"

I don't even know the answer to the that one. There were some very well written sentences, though!

AND FINALLY: the best ever, most amazing, grand-prize winning task:


Chemical and physical changes in STEM class: Using Inst-Snow is one of the culminating activity of this fabulous unit!

This culminating activity is splendid as it makes the kids think and WRITE about why the last task is a chemical change or a physical change.

So, you ask, what have I learned from TPT?

Teacher-made products are great and SAVE so much time for busy teachers. I hope, sincerely, that my customers find useful items that provide a thorough explanation and all the parts they need to make it work.

I constantly take a second look at all my things and revise them when it is needed. Especially since I use all my products I go back and add more details when I learn something new!

Thanks for reading through this loooonggg post. Perhaps it will be helpful!



  1. So do you do all of these activities in one 45 minute block? I'm curious how you manage your time?

    Keep Calm and Hoot On

  2. Thanks for visiting! Time Management is a HUGE issue with me. The Chemical and Physical Changes activities of this post took four sessions with third graders. It is taking me 4-8 weeks to work through an entire topic. For example- fifth grade just finished an Engineering Design topic that took from mid November to mid- January. Occasionally we complete a one day design challenge,but for the most part everything has been a long term project. It's hard to explain in the comment forum. I guess I need to devote a blog post to how the lab is working! Thanks again!

  3. Love the experiments! Cannot wait to try some with my Kinders. They will love it!!!!
    Mrs. Spriggs’ Kindergarten Pond


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