Five for Friday ~ Spring Break Version

It's Friday! Whew ! What a great week I have had!
First of all, I was off all week! Nuff said about that!
Let's recap by joining Kacey for:
Day 1 of Spring Break...
My To-Do List said "Clean out closet". That was before I walked out to the laundry room and found this:
A flexible hose on the hot water heater had ripped open and was spraying water everywhere. Not just a leak. It was spraying. Which meant that water inside the closet was on everything in the closet and had built up a layer on the floor as well. Many towels later I had it sopped up and hubs came to the rescue, turned off the water, and repaired the hose. I really need to learn how to turn off the water myself....
BTW, that is Luigi and Roo investigating the mess. Wookee was there, but didn't make the photo!

Day 2 of Spring Break....
I took off early to go to Hoover, about 90 minutes away. First I went to the fabulous Galleria and came away with this gorgeousness:
I normally do not spend a lot of money on clothes because I teach science all day and wear t-shirts and jeans. But I need something pretty for a summer travel thingie (like the TpT conference) so I grabbed these at J Jill. Trust me- they are just beautiful. You can find the pink stripe {HERE}, and the green tunic {HERE}, and the floral {HERE}.

I also went to my favorite store and found a pile of books!
Gotta love Second and Charles for marked down books. That pile was $43!
I was reading a book by Jason Motte called The Returned, but after 100 pages I put it in my give-away pile. Not holding my attention at all. So, I started the David Baldacci book! Super!

I also visited my daughter's first grade class to take them some lab coats and safety goggles! We had a little STEM challenge and they were precious. You can read about STEM with firsties right {HERE}

Day 3 of Spring Break....
Why, yes, those are papers for the IRS....
Ugh, Teachers Pay Teachers, I love you so much! You have made me a better teacher and changed a lot of things for us....
but it really hurts to send off that tax money.
On the other hand, it was such a relief. I sent 2014's estimated tax and also the first quarter of 2015. I think it is going to be really cool at the end of 2015 to send in the last quarter and not have the whole year hanging over my head.
(BTW, hubs is also self-employed and our taxes are just stupidly complicated, so we file an extension every year and do not finish the tax stuff until August.)
Just for your info, if you are a TpT seller, 
GET AN ACCOUNTANT to advise you on what to save and deduct. Mine answered a lot of questions I had!


Also, Day 3 of Spring Break...
I finally went back to cleaning out the closet....
This is a twice yearly thing for me. I actually have three closets....I know.
It's pretty weird. My regular closet is rather big, but I also have an off-season closet, and a totally extra stuff closet.
So, first I pulled out all the obviously winter clothing and took that to the off-season closet. The spring and summer stuff was moved to my main closet.
In the midst of all this, I GET RID OF STUFF.
I firmly believe that if I have not worn something in a while it is time to go. That huge pile in the floor is stuff that:
1. is ugly (and I cannot believe I bought it, much less ever wore it)
2. is worn out (which is pretty rare for me, but it happens when I really like something)
3. never did fit right, too sheer, too long, too short, too tight- or any of those other reasons that it was just plain uncomfortable
4. not age appropriate....this is sad, but I do occasionally have something that is just not right for my age- like ruffles. RUFFLES! I found at least 6 tops and one dress in my closet that had ruffles. Girls, I think there are two rules of fashion you need to always, ALWAYS follow:

NO ruffles after age 8
Leggings are not pants.

On a happy note, my spring closet is wonderful. Cleaned, vacuumed, and ready for warmer weather!

Day 4  of Spring Break....
I finally broke down and purchased a new microwave. Take a look at this:
Okay, stop laughing. That thing on my kitchen table is a microwave we have had since 1985!
1985, people.
Why is it so big?
And it took two of us to lift it out of the cabinet thingie and move it. Seriously, why is it so heavy? What were they made of 30 years ago? And the big question is why did it last so long, cause you know the new one will not!
One more thing. See those smaller pictures. Can you see those smudge looking things?
That is NOT dirt. It's where the button pad is worn by being used for THIRTY years.....
jeez....

Okay, join my science linky when you have time to blog about science in your classroom!
Click {HERE} to get to the post!

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What is Going on in Your Science Class? Same Materials & 2 Tasks Version!

Time to share your science happenings!
It's Linky Party #5 . Share a whole post devoted to your science class or just a giblet from a day. Super easy! Here's how:

1. Grab the button below to display on your post.
2. Please link the button back to this blog so our readers can see lots of science topics!
3. Link up at the bottom of my post!
So, I have to tell you about our latest and greatest adventure.
I had this HUGE Brain Pop one day about using the same supplies, but have the groups make something different.
My original thought was to have every group make a different item, but then I kept thinking and came up with this:

Same supplies.
Two different tasks.
But.....
the tasks connect in the end!
It never occurred to me how challenging this would be and how much COLLABORATION the two groups would need to have. Take a look and you will see what I mean.
STEM Challenge: Two groups with the same materials. Each makes a different item and in the end the two devices must fit together and work to solve the task! Fantastic collaboration opportunity!

THIRD GRADE
The task for my littles was one group making a bridge and the second group making the tower to place on the bridge.
STEM Challenge: Two groups with the same materials. Each makes a different item and in the end the two devices must fit together and work to solve the task! In this one one team makes the bridge and the second makes the tower for the bridge!

STEM Challenge: Two groups with the same materials. Each makes a different item and in the end the two devices must fit together and work to solve the task! In this one one team makes the bridge and the second makes the tower for the bridge!


Very quickly the kids discovered if the bridge group did not follow the task rules then the tower would not fit. And the tower group found they would need to consider how heavy their tower was if the bridge was flimsy. It was the ultimate in team work.
Read on!

FOURTH GRADE
The task for my middle kids was to build a launching device and the target to hit. Okay, well they loved the whole scenario of this because we had a great talk about a certain game that involves knocking down structures with some very mad birds. However, the target building group had the task of building a target that could NOT be knocked down.
Take a look:
STEM Challenge: Two groups with the same materials. Each makes a different item and in the end the two devices must fit together and work to solve the task! In this one one team makes the launcher and the second makes the target to fire at!

STEM Challenge: Two groups with the same materials. Each makes a different item and in the end the two devices must fit together and work to solve the task! In this one one team makes the launcher and the second makes the target to fire at!

STEM Challenge: Two groups with the same materials. Each makes a different item and in the end the two devices must fit together and work to solve the task! In this one one team makes the launcher and the second makes the target to fire at!

This one was great fun and became very competitive. We hit a lot of targets and did not knock down any. We also learned that a launching device is hard to make and aim! The two groups had to work together to make the target the right height for the way the shooter was working.
There's more!

FIFTH GRADE
I'd have to say this was my favorite because of the genius ideas the kids came up with. Probably 'cause they are fifth graders, but anyway I loved the results!
Take a look:
STEM Challenge: Two groups with the same materials. Each makes a different item and in the end the two devices must fit together and work to solve the task! In this one one team makes carrier and the second makes the winding device!

STEM Challenge: Two groups with the same materials. Each makes a different item and in the end the two devices must fit together and work to solve the task! In this one one team makes carrier and the second makes the winding device!

STEM Challenge: Two groups with the same materials. Each makes a different item and in the end the two devices must fit together and work to solve the task! In this one one team makes carrier and the second makes the winding device!

Their task was to design a rescue device and a rescue container. The rule for the rescue device was that it had to mounted on the side of a "cliff" and able to be operated by someone standing on the cliff. Do you see those genius cranking systems the kids made? These two groups had to work together to be able to attach the rescue containers to the cranking system and not make it too heavy. Awesomeness, indeed!
Well, there you have it! Our latest designing projects.

Now it's your turn!
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Five for Friday! Book to Share for March

Subtitle: It's all about Reading!
Mostly....
I tried to find a theme for today cause that's what I like to do.
Finally, I thought about this.
Next week is my Spring Break.
I plan to read about four thousand books.
Maybe you would like some recommendations. You have come to the right place!
I keep a book list by title and I also have a book journal. Sometimes I write my opinion and a brief summary of books I read. But, only the really good ones that I actually finish and don't skim the last 75 pages. So if you are not a reader then just go to #5 at the bottom for the latest Brain Pop I had in the STEM lab....and a cute bulletin board!

Let's join the Five for Friday link with Kacey and talk about Books!
SB Reason #1
  Have you read this? You should! I bought it because it was compared to The Help which I loved. This book is similar. It's a story set in in the 1830's about a family that owns slaves. The chapters alternate between telling the story of Sarah and her personal slave, Hetty. It is heartbreaking  and beautifully written.
Have you read this? You should!
I bought it because it was compared to The Help which I loved. This book is similar. It's a story set in in the 1830's about a family that owns slaves. The chapters alternate between telling the story of Sarah and her personal slave, Hetty. It is heartbreaking  and beautifully written. It's a long book- 400+ pages, but a fast read. You will find yourself re-reading parts just for the beauty of the words.


SB Reason #2
  What a delicious book this was! It is set in Australia and the focus is three moms. All have very young children. Boy, does the gossip fly in this little community. You know rather quickly that someone might end up dead, but the book is filled with humor.
What a delicious book this was!
It is set in Australia and the focus is three moms. All have very young children. Boy, does the gossip fly in this little community. You know rather quickly that someone might end up dead, but the book is filled with humor. I enjoyed it immensely!

SB# 3
  I know you have heard of Where the Red Fern Grows. If not, you should also read that book. This book was written by the same author. He only wrote two books in his lifetime and both are based on his boyhood adventures. This one involves trying to catch about 30 monkeys that escaped from a circus. There is a big reward for catching the monkeys and Jay Berry sets out with his dog, Rowdy, to get them. Their adventures are purely hilarious!
I know you have heard of Where the Red Fern Grows. If not, you should also read that book. This book was written by the same author. He only wrote two books in his lifetime and both are based on his boyhood adventures. This one involves trying to catch about 30 monkeys that escaped from a circus. There is a big reward for catching the monkeys and Jay Berry sets out with his dog, Rowdy, to get them. Their adventures are purely hilarious! I read this book aloud to so many classes and we always rolled in the floor laughing at the things those monkeys did. Our favorite chapter was the one where Jay Berry and Rowdy discover the monkeys drinking sour mash at an old whiskey still back in the woods. After Jay Berry and Rowdy both drink a little too much, the boy awakens to find the monkeys have stolen his pants! There is also a very sweet side story about Jay Berry's sister. She needs an expensive surgical procedure. I promise you, cross my heart, you will sob all the way through the ending of this book. 
Read it!
By the way I own a copy of a video showing a presentation that Wilson Rawls did in an elementary classroom. He talked quite a bit about his boyhood and how he came to be a writer. He grew up very poor and didn't have writing paper so they wrote on the backs of envelopes. When he went away as a young man to work in Mexico he wrote on paper sacks and envelopes and rolled the writings into tubes. He saved them for years and one day just threw all those stories away. After getting married his wife encouraged him to write again and she actually edited his work. His is the voice you hear on the original Red Fern movie. When that movie was being produced he was asked to be a consultant and be the narrator. His two books are just priceless!


SB#4: 
This one is also going to pull on your heartstrings. It's the story of Ha, a refugee from Vietnam. Her trials with learning the English language and fitting in with a new community in the United States will make you angry. The book, however, is breathtaking. It is written in poem form and contains the most amazing passages.
This one is also going to pull on your heartstrings. It's the story of Ha, a refugee from Vietnam. Her trials with learning the English language and fitting in with a new community in the United States will make you angry. The book, however, is breathtaking. It is written in poem form and contains the most amazing passages.
"Dinnertime, I help my mother
peel sweet potatoes
to stretch the rice.
I start to chop off
a potato's end
as wide as
a thumbnail, then decide
to slice off only a sliver.
I am proud
of my ability to save
until I see
tears
in Mother's deep eyes-
She says, "You deserve to
grow up
where you don't worry about
saving half a bite of a sweet potato."

This was a Newbery Honor book a year or so back and you will understand why when you read it. I think it would make a great read aloud for older students. 

BRAIN POP!
My latest and greatest of all time!
So I was thinking about the fact that we use a lot of the same supplies in the lab all the time. This came about after a student commented about all the straws we use. That made me start thinking about having the kids use the same supplies but design different structures.
Then I had the AMAZING BRAIN POP!
What if two groups had the same supplies and each built something different
and
then
they have to combine their structures!
I will devote a whole blog post to this idea one of these days, but for right now here's a teaser photo:
One team built the cranking device and the other built the carrier- using the same supplies. The scenario was about rescuing someone that has fallen over a cliff.
Let me just tell you this:
The two groups had to COLLABORATE big time to make this work!
It was spectacular!
 Speaking of spectacular, look at this cute bulletin board I just did:
All the seaweed pieces have events on them that are coming soon at my school!

Also, coming soon....

My Spring Break!

Have a great weekend and week ahead. I will be reading four thousand books...

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Five for Friday ~ March 13!

It has been an AMAZING week!
First of all we actually made it school everyday!
That's something!
Then we had all kinds of successes or just really nice things happening and that is always a good thing. So read on and find my Five Amazing Things!

Ah-May-Zing # 1
It was all about pipelines in my fifth grade groups. I told them the story of the pipelines in Panama and then talked about how those water pipelines are built and how unreliable they are. I challenged them to build a pipeline model and of course it would be made of something wacko.
Yep, Paper.
They told me it was hard and I am guessing it was because I required that the pipeline have two 90 degree turns in it and be at least 5 feet long. It had to transport a ping pong ball!

They came up with some pretty genius ways to connect the pipeline pieces!
It was a great experience in creating a template for a real device! They also learned that Panama is NOT in Florida!

Ah-May-Zing # 2
I was following a thread in the Seller's Forum at TPT in which the July conference was being discussed. Then someone mentioned needing business cards.
Well, I need that....don't I?
I think so! 
So, I tried to make my own and then just gave up because I was not loving it and then I found this store at TpT:

Laine has beautiful backgrounds and clipart and guess what? She also designs business cards! Go to her Blog and find out more! Here's the one she made for me!




Ah-May-Zing # 3
I have seen pins on Pinterest about 4 hundred times showing students solving perimeter and area problems by using the tiles on the floor. So, this week I taped off some shapes and we tried it!


It was amazing! The kids loved it. They walked around and around the shapes to count the sections and find the perimeter. I also had them draw the shapes on graph paper and that was interesting. So many of them told me they had fun!
FUNNY MOMENT: One kid noticed that a few of the shapes I made looked a little like an outline of a body.....you know, like in a crime scene. First thing I knew there were kids laying down on the floor trying to form the shape of the dead bodies.....

Ah-May-Zing # 4
Book of the Week:
   
The movie for this is out right now and Julianne Moore won the Oscar for it. I have not seen the movie. (Yet!)
But, y'all you should read this book. The main character finds out she has early onset Alzheimer's and the book is spectacular in presenting her progression with the disease. If you have elderly parents or you are my age, you need to read this. It will really enlighten you.


Ah-May-Zing # 5
Okay, now back to the bestest thing ever and that is the TpT conference in July! Are you going?
Yeah, I know that doesn't look like Vegas! It's actually Red Rock Canyon which is close by. I have been there and this year we are going to drive to Grand Canyon National Park after the conference is over!
The first session I have signed up for at the conference is called "Fix Your Brand and Take Your Store to the Next Level"! How cool does that sound?
Anyway, if you are going and if you are in that session then we need to meet!

Have a great weekend! Hope it's Ah-may-zing!


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What is Going on in Your Science Class? ~ It's All Mazes!

So, what have you been doing in your science class? Join me and link up your blog post! It will be up for two weeks! Look for the next one on March 25th!

Here's what you do:
1. Grab the button below to display on your post.
2. Please link the button back to this blog so our readers can see lots of science topics!
3. Link up at the bottom of my post!


What have we worked on?
MAZES!
STEM Challenge: Engineer a maze with boxes  and paper, and see if your marble will follow the path!

These are oldies, but goodies, a blast from the past!
We have completed two different versions of mazes and both have been spectacular.
I just realized the other day that I have barely mentioned these on this little blog of mine!
So, here ya go!!

Mazes # 1
Our first maze challenge included using boxes, cardboard, paper, and tape. Kids had to draw a blueprint for the maze first! For some of them this was tedious!
STEM Engineering Challenge: Design your maze on paper and then transfer your idea to a real maze made of paper or straws!

They wanted the drawing to be perfect! I did not expect this, but on the other hand, it is not surprising! Isn't this exactly what an engineer would do!

The next step was to create the mazes. I gave the kids gift boxes to use as their base- simply because I had tons of these at home!
They bent cardboard and paper and used tape to make the paths of their mazes. 
STEM Engineering Challenge: PLacing those maze walls carefully to make the best path for the marble that runs through!

This ended up being quite an exercise in trial and error as they would make the paths too narrow or the walls too short. Many of them wanted to make the boxes more decorative so I let them use construction paper to line the boxes.
STEM Engineering Challenge: Decorate your maze with a theme and be creative with it!

Then the most amazing thing happened!
I had one group ask if their maze could have a theme and that idea just took off. Soon we had all kinds of decorated and themed mazes. The one in the above picture had a volcano and trees!
I had not planned on this feature, but it gave the kids an opportunity to be even more creative. The best part was that some kids kept working on the actual maze while others in the group began to work on the decorative parts. It was a true team effort!
STEM Engineering Challenge: Decorate your maze with a theme and be creative with it!

STEM Engineering Challenge: Samples of several of the marble mazes we built! Fabulous STEM event!

The group in the picture above wanted two boxes because their maze just got so big. Can you see in the center how they joined the two boxes together?
Ah-may-zing!

Mazes # 2
So, we tried a different kind of maze one day.
For some reason kids love mazes. I once had a third grader that would sit all day and just draw mazes on paper. He'd bring them to me to solve.
I would have preferred he, like, maybe, do his school work.....just sayin'

Anyway, the next maze challenge was to use only two supplies!
Straws and tape! This time I gave them a flat piece of heavy weight poster board and the kids actually drew their mazes on the board rather than graph paper.
STEM Engineering Challenge: This is a quick challenge with a minimum of materials and directions. Kids designs their maze and make the paths with straws!

You can see their pathways in the photos. The biggest problem we had with these was, again, that the kids would make the paths too narrow. We also found that sometimes the marble would jump over the walls of the maze.

In both events the part we liked best was.....
trading mazes with other groups and trying them!
Have you ever tried a maze with your class?    

If you'd like more activities for force and motion you may want to take a look here:



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