Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bulletin Boards and Tennis Ball Towers!

This is going to be a very random post with just some quick, but fabulous updates!

First up... my latest bulletin board.
There was this little board last week:

If you missed the step-by-step on that board click {HERE}
and I mentioned on that post that I had a second board to do...just look at this deliciousness:

 How awesome is that! That space is 7 feet in length so the butterfly by itself is about 4 feet wide. I drew one side free-hand and then folded it and cut it out so the sides would somewhat match. The inside is all drawn by hand (while looking at a butterfly photo). I outlined it all in sharpie and then the black is all a black  marker. The color is colored chalk that is smeared with tissue. The title I wrote by looking at it printed on paper. You might recognize that font! I wrote it in pencil and then went over it with a black paintbrush and craft paint.

Ok, y'all, my third graders are studying about the rock cycle in their classrooms. I decided to have them make a 3-D model of the rock cycle......

I am still trying to decide if I like this activity or not. You look at these photos and help me!
The group in the above photo spent time making water animals  and gave little thought to the rock cycle.

This group above placed stones in the water to represent sediment and their river connects to the ocean water. They used greenery around the river.

The group above had elaborate use of beads- no wonder I ran out of red and orange beads. Also, when they explained the cycle to me they used the beads and simulated lava flowing and rain falling.

The one above it not 3-D. They made it all flat and then held the tray up so I could take the photo.

Pipe cleaner river.

Love the green grass and the water!

All in all, I like this concept, but definitely need to rethink the materials available. I made a list of all the supplies they could use (which was about 20 things) and they chose what they wanted.
The success for me was what happened when the models were finished. Each group had to use their model and explain the rock cycle. This was really cool! The explanations were interesting, but the use of their models was priceless. 
My problem with the activity is:
1. Too many supplies.
2. Too much waste of supplies.
3. Too messy. I am not a fan of all the tape showing in the models.

These were third graders. I taught this grade for 18 years- I should have known!  I will re-work this project with revised supplies and constraints! 

Fourth Grade
Tennis Ball Tower Time 
My students love to build towers. We
have tried so many versions. 
This week I tried one with tennis balls!

Kids had a small amount of supplies- with the task rules to build a tower that would support a tennis ball. The ball had to be 10 cm off the table.
The BIG rule: Use ALL the supplies!
Wow, did that throw a monkey wrench in the designing. They came up with some really clever ways to use supplies as decor. Here's a few towers:

The group in the above photo found a way to use the string to help hold the structure up. Most groups just draped the string around the final tower.
This challenge was very challenging. Over and over again I had groups that started over and started over. When it was all finished we had some great discussions about perseverance. We were very proud of solving this challenge!

We loved this activity!
Basically, we love any STEM Challenge!

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. I'm doing rocks and minerals now. The 3D rock cycle sounds good, but after making pipe cleaner wetus (wigwams) (I'll never do that project again), I would be hesitant to do your project. I did go to Revere Beach (the first public beach in America!) and picked up some great rocks over the weekend. My favorite part about rocks is how many there are everywhere! Enough rambling, have a fantastic Friday!

  2. I love your 3-D rock cycles. I would share that with my classroom teachers or even add it to my earth materials FOSS unit. I agree it takes a lot of supplies and you don't want to anything from school or the dollar store "rocks". It makes them think though. Love your bulletin board! Again! What supplies did you use for the STEM challenge? I just did two with my third graders. They loved noodles (20), marshmellow on top (live load), and 1 meter each of string and tape.

    I have a daughter with a Christmas birthday...I think we did well by her. We stop Christmas after Birthday Brunch and the rest of the day is hers. Birthday/Christmas bingo has always been a highlight.

    Renee at The Science School Yard

  3. Can I please get a list of the supplies used to make the tennis ball holding towers?

    1. Thanks so much for your interest! The tennis ball challenge is actually available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. You can find it right here:

  4. Hello, I too, would love the list of supplies for the tennis ball holding towers. I teach grades 2/3 and am always looking for STEAM activities. Any suggestions for resources? Thank-you in advance for your reply.

    1. Thanks so much for your interest! The tennis ball challenge is actually available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. You can find it right here:

  5. I would love a list of supplies for the tennis ball towers too. I am an Advisor to a HS Robotics team and we host a STEM camp for our elementary school students to encourage them to explore STEM. Thanks in advance!

    1. Thanks so much for your interest! The tennis ball challenge is actually available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. You can find it right here:


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