Monday, July 24, 2017

Simple experiments for the Pre-K - 2nd grade classroom

Simple Science Experiments for PreK-2 classrooms

Experiments in the classroom can be awesome for some and scary for others.  I love doing various experiments with my students.  Just like cooking, there is so much you can tie in to make is cross-curricular.  To give you some ideas of what you can do in your room, my boys and I did some experiments together.  Their ages are 8 and 5 and they loved all of the activities we did!!


We explored density by adding 3 liquids to a mason jar.  We used maple syrup, water (we used food coloring to make it blue) and vegetable oil.  The kids took turns adding the liquids (we started with the syrup, then the water, and lastly the oil).  When adding each liquid we predicted what would happen.  We then experimented with density by dropping various items and seeing where they would settle.  This was a huge hit!!  They dropped all kinds of stuff into the jar:  paper clips, chocolate chips, crackers, toothpicks, a penny, animals crackers, and cheese.  It was so neat to see where each item settled.  In the classroom, you could make a prediction sheet for this and have the kids record what they think will happen and what really does happen.
Explore density with this simple science experiment

Marshmallow Structures (STEM)

The last activity we did involved using marshmallows and spaghetti noodles.  We used these to build structures.  My husband walked in just as we were starting so he jumped in on the action.  It was neat to see how each kid put the structure together.  The ultimate goal was to have the structure support something, but we never got that far. 

Using marshmallows to make supporting structures

Scented Playdough (Recipe included!)

The first thing we made was peppermint scented playdough.  This was super easy and came out great! The kids helped measure, mix, and add ingredients.  Afterwards, they played with it and it kept well in a plastic bag.   I typed up the recipe for you and you can get it by click here!

With this activity you can talk about what happens as you add each ingredient, why might the water need to be hot, etc.  For ideas on what you can do with the playdough, check out this previous post

Make scented playdough to use in the classroom


Slime is the new hit thing right now.  We actually made two different kinds.  The first was a kit that B insisted I get from Michael's. ( I am sure by looking at the picture of the box, you can see why B wanted it.  Oh, boys!)  At first, it seemed too gooey, but after sitting overnight it was perfect.  The 2nd was a recipe from a book that we borrowed from the library.  This one did not turn out well. I am not sure if we messed up or the recipe was bad.  It was way too watery!!  Last time we used this recipe from PBS kids and it came out much better.

I have used the slime recipes when talking about solids and liquids.  The kids think it is cool how using the school glue goes to a solid glob.

Making slime/putty

Easy science experiments for the pre-k through 2nd grade classroom

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Cooking in ECSE and K-2 classroom

I love working on cooking skills in the classroom.  I am sure you are wondering.... What can you do with these little ones?  So much!!

Besides teaching basic life skills that our students will need for the rest of their lives, this is also a perfect opportunity to teach new vocabulary (ingredients, slice, mash, stir, etc.).  In addition, you can work on kitchen safety and health skills such as washing hands and proper use of a knife.  My students also use this opportunity to work on social skills as we often share our creations with school staff in the building.

 Here are just a few of the various activities you can do with your students.

This is a great activity to start with because it does not involve anything hot.  Just lots of stirring and mashing!  We use instant pudding, chocolate cookies (usually Oreos or a knock off of Oreos), milk, and gummy worms.  If you have never made dirt before, check out this post for directions and how we did this in a K-2 room.  I have also made dirt with my preschoolers, you can see some of that by clicking here!

During ESY, we like to make sand instead of dirt.  This is an easy spin on the dirt activity using vanilla pudding, vanilla wafers cookies, and a beach umbrella.  You could also add gummy fish aka Sweedish fish.
Making Lemonade
Another simple starter activity is making lemonade.  With this activity, we work on measurement, pouring, and stirring.  If you would like to see more pictures of this activity in action check out this post. 

Making kabobs is a great way to also work on patterns and counting.   I like to use fruit for this activity because it is generally easier to put on sticks and kids usually like it.  I often use bananas and strawberries.  The kids need to peel the banana and cut it up.  I also have them take the stem/leaves off of the strawberries.  Depending on the group we will also cut up the strawberries.  Next, the kids count out how many of each fruit they need and make a pattern on their stick.  To see more of this activity, click here.

I have other posts about cooking that you can find by clicking on the cooking tag on the left  Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook also as I often post pictures, but may not do a blog post!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Summer fun!

Wow, I can not believe it is the end of the school year already! We have 7 days left with students after today and then 1 work day before officially beginning summer break.

One of my main goals for my students during the summer is to try to prevent regression of skills. A study done by Harris Cooper, a psychology professor at Duke University, showed that children lose about a month of their academic achievement over the summer. For students in special education (and really all students) this is HUGE!

Packet of Fun!

Every school year I send home a packet of activities and games that the kids can use over the summer.  I essentially work on this all year, as whenever I have an extra copy of an activity sheet I throw it in this pink basket and then at the end of the year I sort the papers and divide them among my different students depending on needs.  I also include copies of games we have played during the year.

Fun Stuff At Home

This post includes ideas for preventing summer slide. Check out these simple suggestions anyone can do
A few years ago I created a calendar to give to my students that will provide a prompt for a skill to work on each day of summer vacation. This could be something as simple as a question to discuss, reciting the alphabet, going on a number hunt etc. My hope is that this will help my students retain some of the skills that they have worked so hard on all year. There is a great post on this on a blog called Kindergarten Nana where she shares what she does with her students at the end of the year and what she sends home.

Summer is also a great time for students to get their creative juices flowing. As we know, kids love to get dirty! A favorite summer experiment in my house is making flubber, seeing reactions when combining baking soda & vinegar, and. Last year, my husband has introduced my boys to Steve Spangler. I see lots of experiments in our summer and lots of video watching so I can find some great new ideas to implement next year.

Keep them writing! 

One last thing I like to give my students are a few postcards or envelopes stamped and addressed to me so that they can write to me about their summer happenings. When students write to me, I always write them back. If you are not comfortable with students having your home address you can give your email or address the envelopes to reach you at school.
This post includes ideas for preventing summer slide. Check out these simple suggestions anyone can do.

How do you encourage your students to keep their skills fresh in the summer? Please share your ideas in the comments below and have a great end of the year.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Sort Tasks

Happy  March!!

We do a lot of sorting in my classroom.  We sort colors, shapes, letters, words, pictures, and the list goes on.  I just wanted to share a few of our favorite tasks.

I found these containers at Rite Aide in the dollar section and the eggs at the Dollar store in the spring.  They are an easy task and i can vary it between two or three colors or even just make it into a put in task.  After the kiddos sort I usually also have them put the lid on the container. 

This is a re-do of a shape sorter.  Our shape sorter was too difficult for my students one year so we just took a box, covered it and cut out the shapes.  The kids now just sort the shapes into the box and do not have to worry about rotating to all of the sides of a shape sorter. 

This is a simple color sorting task with pompoms and a muffin tin.  I put stickers for each color in the muffin tins so the kids know what color goes where. 

This task is simply small and big paper clips that are sorted onto the appropriate index card.  To make it a little more fine motor heavy students could attach the paper clip to the index card. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Intervention Binders

Last year I bought a Math intervention binder off of TpT.  While it is totally awesome, it did not suit all of my needs or my students' needs.  So, I came up with my own.  These were super easy to put together once I came up with what I was going to do.  I simply decide on the topic of the binder, then add various practice sheets and games about that topic.

I have several binders set up: alphabet, shapes, math, numbers, comprehension, number tracing, and letter tracing.  You have seen pictures of the number and letter binders before when I talked about my inclusion box.  Some pages I have made myself (such as the letter and number tracing pages), but  I use a lot of pages by the Moffat Girls and then other various sheets I have.  I like the Moffat girls because it is more than just tracing or writing.  Annie Moffat includes a lot of games and activities in her No Prep packs.  I put each sheet in a page protector so the sheets can be re-used.  Each binder is organized a bit differently.  The alphabet binder is more of a mix, where the shapes binder is organized by shape.  I also add a zipper pouch or resealable bag (just put duct tape on the edge to make it durable before you hole punch it) to the front that I can store dry erase markers, an eraser, dice for games, game markers, etc in.

 Now, we just grab a binder and use it to practice these skill at any time.  I find this great for when we have an extra 5 minutes or I end up with an extra person that can work with someone individually.   The kids think it is neat because they can write on the page protector and it just wipes off.

Just an extra note that the Learning Ahoy caddy next to all the binders holds clipboards, extra markers, erasers, etc.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Alphabet Fun!: Part 2

I am knee deep in the alphabet right now and I wanted to share some of the activities that we are working on.  My students have moved on from learning the uppercase letters to now focusing on the lowercase letters and matching upper to lowercase letters.

Letter Match:

I introduced this activity last week and my student caught on really well.  I start by only giving him 3 choices.  As students become more confident I give more choices.  I put the cards that need to do cards in one basket and as the student matches the letter they then move to the card to the other basket.   To make this activity I made the board out of cardboard, styrofoam containers, and Velcro.  I then printed out and laminated the cards and then added velcro.   You can find a few more details and the cards (a freebie) for this activity by going to this blog post.

Alphabet Sensory Bag:

I made this bag using my Food Saver, hair gel, food coloring, and letter beads (You can find out more about how I make these in my  I put one of each letter in the bag.  The student then needs to find a letter and color in the matching letter (upper or lowercase) in the same color as the letter is (if they are ready for this, otherwise, they just color the letter).  I use various sheets for the matching part that I get from Make Learning Fun.  

Erasers and the Alphabet:

This activity I learned about from one of my fabulous co-teachers.  To play, use seasonal or fun erasers (in this picture we are using snowflakes) and then a fun alphabet board.  Again, I get these from Make Learning Fun.  I vary the board by time of year, do upper or lowercase, and change the order the letters are in.  The teacher can call out a letter, letter sound, or show a letter and students have to find the matching letter.  Students can also play this in pairs.  My students love to be the "teacher" during this activity.     

Trace Letters:

I shared in my inclusion box post about my binder and dry erase markers that students use to practice tracing letters.  This is great to work on proper pencil grasp, letter formation, and fine motor skills.  I printed out the letters one to page and then put them in page protectors.  I then just use a zipper pouch in the front to add a few markers to choose from and an eraser. 

You can find other alphabet ideas by checking out all of my blog posts about the ABCs or checking out my Alphabet Activities Pinterest board.  

Friday, January 6, 2017

Inclusion Box

I have talked before about what I carry around in my inclusion bag, but I also keep an inclusion box in some of the classrooms I work in.  This box is usually for students who are working below grade level, have 1:1 adult support, and in larger districts may be in a self-contained classroom.

The contents of the box are various activities that the student can work on while in the inclusion classroom,  when the work being done by the class may be too much or when the class has some free choice or independent centers.  The items are often review and activities that I have already provided direct instruction with.  The box I currently have set up is for a Kindergarten student so that activities I am going to share are based around that particular students needs.

The Essentials:

The first thing I always include is a pencil box (or a zipper pouch) with dry erase markers, an eraser, a die, and sometimes pencils/crayons. I also may include fun erasers or counters.   I try to make sure that everything needed to complete the tasks is in the box.   This makes it easier for the adult working with the student and the student to stay on task.

Math activities:

The first thing I have is a number puzzle.  This is just a basic puzzle that I bought at the dollar store.  Sometimes my student does this for fun, sometimes to practice their number identification. 

The next activity is self-correcting puzzles that I found on the giveaway table a few year ago.  The student has to count the dots and match with the correct number.  At this time, we do hand over hand to help the student count the dots. 

Another number activity is simply the numbers 1 - 10 that can be traced with dry erase markers.  The numbers are printed 1 to a page and put into sleeve protectors.  I then put all of the pages into a binder. 

Other times during the year I may include shapes, count a clip cards, and simple addition activities.

Language Arts Activities: 

This particular student is still working on letter recognition so they have a letter puzzle, again from the dollar store. 

There is also 2 sets of uppercase letter cards that allow the student to match letter to letter. 

Another activity is the prewriting pages.  I have various levels of difficulty of these and I have ones for different themes and times of the year.  

The last thing includes is another binder.  This one has all of the letters of the alphabet for the student to practice tracing.


I also include a folder that has simple worksheets in it that can be used as needed.  These include tracing practice, cutting practice, number identification, letter identification or anything else that I may add in there. 

Do you keep anything particular in classes where your students are in the inclusion setting?