## Cheap and Quick STEM Lesson Your Kids will Love #2

This STEM lesson was more fun than I had anticipated.  We picked up ice cubes with a piece of string.  There are few materials needed.  The materials are cheap and it doesn’t take long to carry out the lesson in the classroom.

You will need:

• an ice chest or freezer
• ice cubes (the kind you freeze in ice trays) make about 5 per student to make sure you have enough
• string (like the kind you fly kites with)
• styrofoam bowls
• table salt (one container should be enough for a class of about 20)
• small cups or containers to distribute the salt
• paper towels
• water

First, we watched a video about how salting roads helps salt trucks melt ice and snow on roadways here:

Then I explained to the students that we were going to make a string stick to an ice cube and that they would be able to pick it up.  I had the students predict how long they thought that it would take to attach the string to the ice.  I realized mid lesson that the kids thought I wanted them to literally tie a string around the ice cube.  I had to clarify that we were not lassoing the ice cube, but that the salt would make it stick if they were patient (insert lesson about perseverance and patience here, wink wink).

These are the student directions in order.

• In your bowl of water put 1 ice cube (I passed these out when I was ready for them to begin).
• Put a pinch of salt on top of the ice cube
• Lay the string on top of the ice cube
• One team mate needs to watch time (I had this on smart board). The other team mate needs to watch the ice cube and pull on the string when the predicted time is up.
• If your string doesn’t stick, make a new prediction and try again. Switch partners.

I had a sheet in which the students predicted, and I also took some of their predictions and wrote them on the board.  Some students predicted up to 30 minutes.  Eventually, I reeled this in and said it wouldn’t take 30 minutes.  In honesty it takes somewhere between 30 seconds and a minute.  Also, I reminded students that they would only need a pinch or so of salt on the ice cube.  Some students think that the more salt they use the better the string will stick and end up using WAY TOO MUCH!  The important part of this experiment is the waiting.  I told students that if they added salt that they would need to add it a pinch at a time.

For those students who are successful, I challenge them to make more than one ice cube stick and predict how long it will take for more than once ice cube.  I walk around with a ziplock full of ice cubes during this time.  When students get more than one ice cube to stick it becomes a contest about who can get the most ice cubes to stick at one time.  The most I had students able to stick was 5 ice cubes.  Not many kids were able to do this.

After this experiment, it is fun to discuss more of the science behind why this activity works.  Because I did this during a 30 minute slot at a summer camp, we didn’t really have time to talk much.

I hope you can enjoy this experiment with your students, too!

Tell everyone you know about this great new free animated website iknowit.com that helps elementary kids practice math skills by playing games.  This site will remain FREE for at least the next year while improvements and more lessons are added.  Iknowit was built by the makers of Super Teacher Worksheets and Modern Chalkboard, a SMART board lesson site.

The lessons give children immediate feedback so that they know if they have answered each question correctly or incorrectly.  There are drill lessons for basic math facts–addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  These lessons are timed.   Then there are lessons based on progress in which students answer a certain amount of questions.  Right now the lesson topics include addition, multiplication, division, time, money, fractions, and there are many more to come!

In the future as a teacher, you can log in and set up a class roster.  You will be able to assign lessons, monitor student scores, and track their progress.  You will also be able to adjust the number of hints children are allowed to have on each problem.  Teachers will be able to set the amount of time students practice drills and set the number of questions a student must answer for a lesson.

Because this small business was set up by teachers, they value teacher’s and student’s constructive feedback as they venture forward with improvements to this site.  You can follow them on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to give your input.  Just imagine a website built with your feedback in mind

## How to Use Clocks to Teach Fractions

I just recently revisited one of my favorite lessons due to teacher request.  I used to teach in a Title I school last year, but now teach in a more affluent area.  I found myself teaching differently with the new set of students.  Still, this lesson is one of my favorites, and helped 100% of students answer one of our practice standardized test questions (we are taking the ACT Aspire this year).  First, I copy clocks on three different colors of paper for the students.  Students get 3 different colored clocks each.

I pose questions to get the students to think about how we would cut the clocks into halves, fourths, and thirds.  I found with the new group of students they had more intuition to think about how to divide the clock–reasoning about a clock face containing 60 minutes.  Next, I questioned them about how we could divide the clocks into halves.  This was easy for students.  They knew we could split the clock into 30 minutes for each half.

Because halves relate well to fourths, through discussion I had students break their next clock into fourths.  Sometimes there is a misconception when students break a clock into quarters or fourths because there are four quarters in a dollar.  Students want to start their sections dividing on the four.  This didn’t happen in this case however.  Students knew that they could split the circle on the 3, 6, 9, and 12.

Next, I had students divide a clock to make thirds.  This is always more of a challenge to students because thirds are not multiples of twos.  I allow students to have a little group discussion at this point among themselves because they are unsure of how to divide the clock into thirds.  When I remind them that the clock face contains 60 minutes, suddenly, they realize that they can divide the 60 minutes on the clock face into three parts on the clock face into equal 20 minute sections.  Some also realize that they can take the 12 numbers and divide them into 3 equal parts which places four number sections in each part. The kids say, “Oh! It’s like a peace sign!”

From here, I have students  do a worksheet which asks them questions about fractional parts of a clock.  For example, what is 2/4 of an hour? ¾ of an hour? ⅔?  And we explore how the size of the whole affects the size of the fraction when times smaller than a whole are used.  Read here if you want to know more about this lesson.

If you want materials for this lesson, go here:

Oh, my gosh!! I have wanted to post about this forever, but when I taught the lesson, I didn’t think to take pictures.  Well, here arose the opportunity when a 5th grade teacher wanted me to do this lesson with her class.

First it was all out WAR with the copy machine when I shrunk a larger clock face to smaller clocks to make this original.  I wanted to have smaller faces so I could give them several and not waste paper.  Plus I wanted to use colored paper.  I shrunk the larger face to about 60% on the copier.  Fifty percent was too small.  I wanted the faces to be large enough for the kids to still be able to easily see the tiny marks around the sides of the clock.

I copied a class set of these on 3 different colors of paper.

First we discussed how many minutes were included in one hour on the clock face…Sixty of course.  Then I had the kids tell me how many minutes were in half of a clock face or half an hour…too easy…30 minutes!  Each time we found a fraction on the clock face, I had students label it with the fraction and with the amount of time.

Next, I asked them how many minutes were in a fourth of a clock face.  To see what kids knew, I didn’t allow them to raise their hand or blurt out.  I really wanted to know what each child thought.  I had them write the minutes they thought were in a fourth on the back of the clock face and then cover it with their hand–so no cheating ;).  This gave me a quick assessment of the class.  Before students drew lines on the clock face for fourths, we discussed where to draw these lines so there were equal pieces.  Fifteen minutes are in ¼ so students drew a line from the center to the 12,3,6, and 9.  Then they snip, snip, snipped on the lines to make pull apart fraction pieces.

Now, for one that doesn’t work out quite so nicely–thirds.  How can you split up 60minutes into 3 even sections?Hmmm…students gave me answers ranging from 10 to 60 when they did secret answers on the back of the pink clock face.  I wrote down the ranges of answers that students gave me on the board.  We weeded out the wrong answers as a class by justifying why the wrong answers couldn’t be right–this way the mathematical practices were involved.  Several students, however, were easily able to tell me 20 minutes and reasoned that 3 sections of 20 minutes would be able to fit in the clock face.  We discussed again where to cut the clock face so that the sections would be equal.

Below are all of the clock faces together….I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE colored paper

Then I started posing problems to the kids, so they could use their clock pieces as manipulatives.  The picture below shows what the kids had on their desk when I asked them to show me how many minutes 2/4 of an hour was–EASY 30 minutes.

How many minutes is ¾ of an hour?  Just look at the clock pieces to see how many.  Below is a simple sheet I gave students to do as guided practice to make sure they were following along while we discussed their clock faces.

Yes, I do quick smileys (although usually with a pen) on every single one students get right as I walk around the room.  I do this for two reasons.  1.  It gives students a boost if I ask them to fix something.  They don’t feel defeated because they got so many right and only a few were wrong.  2.  This saves me time from grading papers later because I can tell which ones I have already checked.

To make students think outside the box, I also changed the size of the whole.  For example, students had to find ⅔ of 45 minutes.  This tripped up most students who were used to figuring out ⅔ of 60 minutes/the whole circle.  Hmmm…if I think about 45 minutes in thirds, I can use three of the fourths pieces.  Now these fourths pieces turn into thirds because three of them now make the whole of 45 minutes.  If two of them are chosen then that makes ⅔.

Finally, students will tuck their fraction clock pieces away behind fraction notes in their journals for safe keeping.  We taped envelopes down in journals for this.  Most kids are able to do this on their own, however, some are not as self sufficient as one would hope in 5th grade.

A little more about this lesson… I gave each student a large white sheet with the three clocks (my original copy shown way above) for them to figure out other fractions of a clock such as twelfths or fifths.  Students also did two word problems following the easy guided practice sheet.  Those are not pictured.  Here is the FractionClockConversions guided practice sheet shown above.

Updated 2-19-2016:  Here are the detailed lessons for sale on TPT for \$3.  These include lesson plans, small printable clock faces, worksheet practice, and word problem practice.

## I Must Confess…

I have been less than focused during this Christmas break.  In fact I’m just now going to wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I’m just now hearing the latest edition of The Bachelor is coming on–2 hour special–whaaaaaat?!  🙂 –so easily distracted!  I hate to admit my addiction, but I can’t stop myself from watching!!  Then back to work tomorrow…bye, bye rest and relaxation.  I really enjoyed your visit.

Now onto something more productive and helpful…

I meant to share this a lot earlier, but like I said…I haven’t exactly been focused…

In case you are teaching clock time soon, I wanted to share this fun idea you can do daily, and it doesn’t take a lot of your class time.  First,  hand out different times on cards to your students that are in 5-minute intervals starting out with when students are in class.  Leave out any times that students are out of the classroom like lunchtime and recess.  For example, if students arrive at school at 8:00, begin writing times on your cards like 8:05, 8:10, 8:15, 8:20, etc.  Then give one card out to each student.  Instruct your students to yell the time out when the clock hands are on the card’s time no matter what is happening in the class.  The student can interrupt anything while yelling out the time.  While this sounds disruptive, it surprisingly isn’t.  Students are so proud to tell the time and end up watching the clock all day.   If sitting in cooperative groups, students watch for the times of the other kids in their group, too, giving them extra practice.  I used to do this with simple index cards and wrote the times on them with a marker.

Since then, I have made them prettier and they are for sale on TPT in my time unit.  One of  the teachers at school who printed these put them on colored card stock, colored the border with marker, and hot glued them to a popsicle stick.  Whether the cards are pretty or whether they aren’t, the kids love this activity.  This can be repeated for several days if you just pass the cards around to different students so that students get practice with a different time.  You can also differentiate by giving the easier o’clock and half past times to your struggling learners.

I hope you can have fun with this in your class like I have mine :

## Would This Help Students Learn A.M. and P.M.?

I was in a meeting one day and snapped a picture of this wall clock.  I thought labeling a clock like this would make a great addition to teaching about A.M. and P.M. because the kids can actually see the A.M./P.M. hours on the clock just like military time.  I haven’t tried this.  What do you think?

## What Hour is the Hour Hand REALLY showing?

When students learn about time on an analog clock, I can predict what they will confuse every year–I can predict it better than the Farmer’s Almanac predicts a cold winter.

Problem Number 1.  They will mix up the hour and minute hand.

Problem Number 1 Solution:  Once a child told me how he thought about the hands on a clock .  What he told me is better than anything I have told kids.  He said that the long hand is long because it is trying to reach the marks on the edge of the clock–therefore it tells the minutes.  The short hand is shorter because it is only trying to reach the numbers and they are much closer.  Now that I learned this from a 3rd grader I tell students this every year.–If what a kid said ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

What this 3rd grader said made better sense than any little ditty rhyme I have told kids, such as the “Short hand has all the power.  That is why it tells the hour.”  This little rhyme is great fun to say, however because short doesn’t rhyme with anything, I could just as easily confuse the long hand in this rhyme.

Problem Number 2.  They will think the hour hand goes to the next hour when it gets close to the next number.

Problem Number 2 Solution:  After much frustration with students thinking 7:50 was 8:50 and so on, I came up with this idea.  I had them color their paper plate clocks in sections and color the number before the same color.  Then I explained how all of the same color belongs to the same hour number.  Below is a student clock sample of this. (I wrote over the child’s numbers with a sharpie so that you could see them in the photo.)

I further explained that as long as the tip of the hour hand is in a section, it belongs to that color and the matching colored number before that section.  The numbers have property and their property is behind the number with the matching color.  In the example above, the hour hand is closer to the 8 but belongs to the 7 because its tip is still in the yellow and the number 7 is also yellow–so the time is 7:55 and not 8:55.

Side note:  I prefer that kids color their clocks with more than two colors because I think it causes less confusion to the eyes.  I believe 3 -4 colors are best.  (This teacher chose to just use 2 crayons with her class.)

More lessons on how to effectively teach time with as few misconceptions as possible (including instructions on how to make this clock above) are included here in Telling Clock Time Lesson Plans and Activities on TPT.

Come back soon for more about teaching time!

## Save Time Teaching Time! (and two freebies!)

I have to share what I have been working on with you all!  I have been working at home on this for months.  I finally finished my Telling Clock Time Lesson Plans and Activities Unit!  I’ve been putting together all of the lessons I have used to teach time that have been tried by the fire of struggling learners.  I will have to say by far it is the best thing I have posted on Teachers Pay Teachers yet!  This is definitely the product for you if you are busy and teaching 2nd or 3rd graders about time.

Many of the lessons have links to videos or book suggestions…

There are 3 differentiated levels of small time booklets for students to fill out.  There are lots of other differentiated lessons, too!

To teach elapsed time, there are directions for building a linear clock.  You can read more about the linear clock here.

There are card sorts, games, and center activities.  This card sort is a freebie!

AM PM Sort Blog Freebie

There are suggestions of ways to teach that will help steer students away from misconceptions about clock time.

And there are clock labels for your classroom clock…

Clock Labels Freebie

And so much more!

And that’s not even all that’s included!

You can find out more about the time unit here.

I am putting this unit on sale for two days–Monday, November 11th through Tuesday, November 12th–at half price…so scoop it up while the sale lasts!

## Are Your Students Mixing Up the Hour When Telling Time? Try This

Yesterday, I modeled a lesson in a second grade classroom for students who were struggling with telling time to the nearest 5 minute intervals.  Students had the classic problem with telling time.  When the hour hand was close to the next hour students mistakenly wrote the hour an hour ahead.  For example, when students read the time 8:55, they would write 9:55 instead because the hour hand nearly touched the 9.  To alleviate this confusion I used and adapted the idea from the free Georgia Curriculum resources (page 57).  Unlike the clock instructions in the Georgia resources,  I used sentence strips which I cut up, and paper clips which I threaded through the holes.  I ran out of brads, so I used what was available.

To begin my lesson on time, I stretched out the clock on sentence strips in a linear fashion.  Then I held my hour hand clock arrow under the numbers and moved it along and asked students what hour it was.  I explained to students that until the arrow point was directly on  the next number AND in this case color, that the previous number still remained the hour.  Students proved to be more successful in telling time on an analog clock after this discussion.

Then after the discussion with the linear clock  using the hour hand, I had several student helpers  hold the clock in a circle so that they could see how the linear clock compared to the round clock on the wall.  I repeated my questioning holding the hour hand  in between the numbers and asking them what hour was being shown.