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Ms. K

Have You Been Using Flashcards Wrong?

I sat in on a parent conference this past year with a student and her teacher.  The child was having difficulty learning multiplication facts.  The teacher told the parent several things one of which was to use flashcards and put the ones she knew in one stack and the ones she didn’t in another stack.  In other words she was prompting the child to memorize the facts.

Of course you know I interjected how the child might learn better with the flashcards by layering the ones she knew with the ones she didn’t know.  For example, if she had learned all of her 2s, she could then place all of the corresponding 4s facts behind the 2s facts.  Then she could learn how to double her 2s facts to get her 4s facts.

When studying multiplication, it lends itself so well to student led discussion about patterns they notice among the facts.  For students to see these patterns it is essential for us to line the facts up in such a way that they can see the patterns. Normally, we hand students a HUGE multiplication chart and children see this and feel overwhelmed.

SEE OVERWHELMING CHART BELOW


Why not break this chart down so that students can see the patterns more readily.

If students only see part of the chart, then the patterns are more readily recognized and students are less overwhelmed.  Students may also benefit from seeing patterns on a table like the following in which the patterns are more explicitly explained at the top.  Could this be the reason students struggle with learning their facts?  They don’t see the patterns.  Doing something this simple could allow students to make sense of multiplication and find patterns in the numbers…especially those students who need extra support.

I have put together a packet that can help teachers (and possibly parents) use flashcards more efficiently with their students.  In this packet, patterns in multiplication are unveiled and explicitly explained so that teachers can teach their students with patterns–not just by memorization.

Ways to use patterns for all multiplication facts are explained in this packet.  There are teacher notes, flashcards, charts, and tables all organized by helping strategy.  One could even use the teacher notes as a guide to plan lessons when beginning to teach multiplication.  This pack would also be great for intervention with those students who just aren’t picking up the strategies to learn multiplication facts.

Take a moment to check out this product and consider teaching multiplication with patterns! 🙂

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Make sure you snatch up your favorite TPT items at the back to school sale 2017!  All items in my store will be 25% off August 1st-2nd!  Happy shopping!

Happy Independence Day!

You Can Use an American Flag to Teach Math! {Giveaway}

I am reposting this in honor of Independence Day tomorrow.  This is one of my favorite door decorations that really made the students think about the American flag.  They were trying to figure out the amount of stars and stripes due to the questions that I had printed on the door.  These printables are a free download available when you click here to view the original post.
GIVEAWAY DETAILS:  
 
Prize: $25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card
 
Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher)
 
 
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter.  Giveaway ends 7/10/17 and is open worldwide.
Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media? Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers! 

Can a Human Circuit Light an LED bulb?

This past year when we were building lemon batteries, students had many of their own investigative questions.  For one, students wondered if lemon juice would light an LED bulb.  As a result, we tested lemon juice, apple juice, salt water, and many other liquids.  Acting on their own questions fueled even more curiosity.

One student wondered if we could build a human circuit.  I didn’t think it would be possible to light an LED bulb with a human circuit.  I researched it on Google before I tried this activity with the students, and I found NOTHING about being able to light an LED with a human circuit.  I had the students predict whether they thought that we could accomplish the lighting of an LED.  Only about three out of ten students thought we could light the bulb.

Here is what we did:

  1. I had each student get one alligator clip wire to connect a pre-1982 penny and a zinc nail.  (Doing this will give you about two more wires than you need, but at least everyone is busy.)
  2. I had about 10 students stand in a circle.
  3. Then each student in the circle held one pre-1982 penny in one hand between two fingers and with the other hand held one zinc nail between two fingers.
  4. Between each of the sets of students in the circle, I had the students hold the wire of an LED bulb.  One student held one wire (positive) coming out of the bulb while another student held the other wire (negative).
  5. I made sure everyone was making a complete circuit for the electricity to pass through.

Then I heard the unthinkable.  “I saw it light up!”  one child exclaimed.

Now, I thought the students just saw a reflection, and it really wasn’t lighting up. Speaking to myself here—“Oh, ye of little faith.”  Children are so optimistic, and I was blatantly reminded of my pessimism at this moment.

I turned off the lights because I wanted to be sure they weren’t imagining this. Sure enough, the electrical current flowed through all of the kids to create a human battery and light up an LED!!!

Side note:  In case you aren’t having success with your human circuit.  Make sure each child is actually making connection with a penny and a nail.  There must be a penny, nail pattern in the circle.  Flip the LED bulb the opposite direction if it doesn’t work the first time since each of the wires/prongs coming out of the LED are either positive or negative.

This could be an amazing team building experience with your students at the beginning of the year!

Cheap Mystery Experiments with Solids {Giveaway}

Originally I had planned for students to do the mystery liquids and mystery solids lessons together, but once students were doing their experiments, I realized we needed another class period to do the solids. This allows time for at least 15 minutes of rich discussion at the end. During the discussion time students tell what they think each solid is by defending it with their experiment data. Now, for each group of four students I made cups like the ones you see pictured. I collected seven substances that were white and powdery. Numbered cups help children determine which substance they are using and also help if they use the numbered plates I mentioned in the previous post. The substances can come from your kitchen cabinet or bathroom. These are the seven I used.

  1. Table salt
  2. Baking powder
  3. Baking soda
  4. Borax
  5. Powdered sugar
  6. Granulated sugar
  7. White Flour

Before allowing them to experiment, I asked them to discuss some of the ways that we could test these substances to see what they were. They mentioned the senses. At this point I tell them that we will absolutely NOT be tasting them, even though it would work in some cases, I let them know that these are NOT all edible. Further, I demonstrate how to use your hand to fan the scent of an item to smell it. Before I mentioned this, some students had sucked some of the substance up their nose by accident, and I didn’t want to repeat this problem. 🙂 Other ways to test that were mentioned were pH indicators, comparisons to other substances, and chemical reactions. Students had gathered significant data about these substances with pH indicators and chemical reactions in previous lessons.

Concerning materials management, I will be honest. I wasn’t brave enough to allow free access to  substances for them to freely gather to do chemical tests. I dispensed these as needed.

All in all, the kids enjoyed being scientists, mixing substances to see the reactions, and creating new substances. This lesson needs at least an hour and maybe longer for students who take longer. Some of my classes took more than one  class period, but most students needed just one.

Further, chemical reaction experiments are great to do before summer break because students will be inspired to do something besides sit in front of a  screen during the summer.  They might turn into real chemical engineers one day just by exploring their kitchen cabinets. (I always remind them to ask parental permission before exploring substances at home.) Now for a giveaway!

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Prize: $25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card
 
Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher)
 
 
 
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter.  Giveaway ends 6/12/17 and is open worldwide.
 
Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers! 

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Mystery Liquids

If you have already allowed children to experience chemical reactions, they will be sure to enjoy figuring out which liquids these are.  Now this experiment would go nicely with a CSI unit, if you tell children that these substances were found at a crime scene.  Then tell them that they have to figure out which substances were left at the crime scene.

Now, for the practical matters of this experiment.  First, I gathered five clear containers for each group and picked five mostly clear liquids.  You can use whichever liquids you would like, but I chose

*water

*vinegar,  

*very watered down dish soap,

*Sprite, and

*rubbing alcohol.  

I colored every substance with food coloring except for the Sprite to make everything more mysterious.  Also, just an FYI:  I watered down the dish soap to the point where bubbles were almost undetectable, so it would be harder to figure out.  I gave students small plastic spoons like the taste test spoons at an ice cream store to dip out the liquids.  I also gave them wax paper because the surface tension of the water on wax paper is so evident compared to other liquids.  Further, if they have a sheet of wax paper as opposed to a plate they waste less. Just have paper towels readily available.

Before I let the students have the materials, I made them tell what they could do to each substance to test it before they received the liquids.  These are some of the things they told me.

  1. We can smell them.
  2. We can look at them.
  3. We can touch them.
  4. We can taste them.  (at which point, I say absolutely not :))
  5. We can look at our old notes and test them with pH strips to see if the results match.
  6. We can do chemical reaction experiments.
  7. We can compare them to the substances that are available ( I had some liquids available).

During experimentation, I had several things available in extra supply for experimentation:

  • extra solids available in small cups
  • extra liquids available in small cups
  • pH strips (I dispensed as needed)
  • cabbage juice (I dispensed as needed)

(these were set up similar to the chemical reactions lesson I already shared)

I left time at the end of our class for the students to discuss which liquids they were and to support their conclusions.  Most students were able to figure out all of the liquids except the water.  Some students asked me if I had duplicated any of the liquids, and I did not.  However, mwah ha ha, mwah ha ha (evil laughter), I did think about having two jars filled with water of different colors and having them figure this out.

 

Student Led Science with Chemical Reactions

As a precursor to chemical reactions, allow students some time to experiment with pH indicators, discuss the periodic table and chemical formulas, and take some time to do at least one teacher led chemical reaction such as a baking soda and vinegar explosion in a ziplock bag.  Also, discuss the differences between a chemical and physical reaction.

Now this is how I allowed students to do their own chemical reactions…

*Students were able to choose what substances they wanted to mix.

*They were able to choose five reactions to perform.

*Students worked in groups of two.  If they couldn’t settle on what to mix, I told them that they could choose two and their partner could choose two reactions.  The last reaction they could do all alone.

*Students predicted what would happen in each reaction, and then recorded the results.

*I posed this question to the students before they began, “Will acids and bases always create a chemical reaction when mixed?”

Students were able to choose from the following substances to do their reactions:

  1. cream of tarter
  2. borax
  3. baking soda
  4. vinegar
  5. Sprite
  6. dishwashing liquid (watered down a bit)
  7. lemon juice

I used these little artist’s palettes with circular indentations in them for students to mix substances. These palettes were numbered so that substances could be numbered.  I also had these little medicine cups that came with a science kit.  The cups hold about one ounce.  I had the different substances already poured out for students to use.  Students could only get one cup of each substance, and if they were using the same substance for more than one experiment, they had to use that one cup for both experiments.  The little spoons you see worked out very well.  A colleague was getting rid of them, and I gladly took them off her hands.

This is further how I organized the materials at the supply table below.  Again, this is not a beautiful blog picture, but it is real life after several classes had experienced this activity.  I had different pieces of paper to organize the substances with the name on them.  I told students they had to manage how to organize them at their own desk.  In the picture above you can see that these students were very organized when they got to their table.  They labeled their cups on notebook paper.

 

After students experimented many of them wanted to further mix what was already on their experimenting plate.  I allowed this, but required them to write down what they had mixed.

In closing discussion, we talked about what happened when different students mixed different substances.  We talked about whether these substances created chemical reactions, and students had to give evidence for a reaction being a chemical reaction.  For example, did the substances produce gas, change temperature, or did they turn into completely different substances?

The students really enjoyed this learning experience, and this spurred them on to experiment at home on their own.  I encouraged them to experiment over the summer especially because most of these substances can be found in the kitchen cabinet.

Use Chemical Reactions to Introduce Financial Literacy

Now, if you have already collected a bunch of pennies for the previous lemon battery experiment, you might as well do this experiment too.  This experiment will make pennies look new, but you can make them extra dirty–or oxidized before you make them shiny.  This experiment is quick and easy and has high impact.

First, to make your pennies oxidize or turn green, put your pennies in a shallow plate (see below) somewhere on a paper towel.  Pour just enough white vinegar to let the pennies sit in the vinegar.  You don’t want the vinegar to cover the pennies because you want the oxygen to reach them.  You could turn the pennies over after they touch the vinegar so that both sides are able to touch the liquid.  The combination of vinegar and oxygen will make them green.  I have only done this when leaving the pennies for several hours or overnight, but the reaction will still happen with less time.   The oxidation just won’t be as noticeable if done for an hour or two.

Note:  I only used pre-1982 pennies which are mostly copper as opposed to new pennies which are filled with zinc and only coated in copper.  This reaction I believe will still work with new pennies because the copper is on the outside.

Here is the end result below…they are all dried off.  When doing this with children make sure you let them know that the pennies are not “rusting”, but that this is a chemical reaction between the oxygen and the vinegar called oxidation.

 

Now this is what I did in my lesson.  I gave the kids an old green penny and a new penny (made 1982 and after).  I told them to drop each penny on the table and listen to the difference in sound.  Allow the kids to describe the differences in the pennies.

Next, I handed each child a small cup–in this case they are those little medicine cups.  I had each child drop their old green penny in a cup and walked by to pour lemon juice just barely over the top of the penny.  Then I had the children slide the cup from side to side to wash it in the lemon juice.  I bought my lemon juice at Wal-Mart for about $2.  If you have the leftover lemons from the lemon batteries, that juice will work too, but it is just easier to buy the lemon juice already made.

What is interesting is that the oxidation washes off in the cup and the lemon juice turns green.  This is a great time to bring in the social studies aspect of the Statue of Liberty turning green from the oxidation.

I took this science experiment a step further and discussed inflation with the students by showing them a a video like this one about penny hoarders.  We further discussed how the prices of goods and services are rising.  Next, I give the students a chart and have them find the purchasing power of a dollar over time.  We use this website to calculate the purchasing power of a dollar.  They watch inflation from 1913 to the current year.  This is very astonishing to them, and will organically lead to great discussion.  Further, I give them a long term homework assignment and tell them that they are to pick one grocery store item and watch the price over time (this could take years).  They are to see if the price of their item goes up or down and keep a record of this.

I hope you can enjoy using science to teach financial literacy in your classroom, too.

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