Friday, August 30, 2013

Paper Airplane Contest! Teaching Variables

It has been a fantastic two weeks. What a great way to start the year! We have already dove right into experimenting almost daily. Our class wiki is already filled with fun stuff {click here to check it out}. Parent Night was a success. And now for a three day weekend. Woo hoo!

I wanted to share a fun experiment that I found to teach students all about variables. Before sharing this - let me just say that I always start the year with my Marshmallow Challenge, followed by a few simple experiments to get the ball rolling. {I have a packet of the experiments that I do on my TpT site - click here to check that out - it's only $3.00!!} Then, to introduce variables - I let students participate in a very unfair rubber band shooting contest. I announce the contest, then pass out all different sizes of rubber bands. Then I let them shoot the rubber bands from wherever they are standing (all while wearing safety goggles, of course) and then I announce whom I think is the winner, based on what I simply observe. It's very unfair and students immediately give me feedback letting me know! Then we have a discussion about what we would need to do to make the contest fair. We come up with things such as:

  • We need to know what the purpose of the contest is, ie. how to we determine a winner? {distance}
  • Everyone needs to have the same type of rubber band
  • We need to use the same type of measurement to measure the distance traveled for each person
  • Everyone needs to shoot the rubber band the same way{we aren't measuring what technique shoots the rubber band the farthest, we are measuring who shoots the rubber band the farthest}
Viola! We've learned about variables! Then I go into a discussion about controlled, independent, and dependent variables. They love it and they get it after experiencing the unfair contest. We then discuss how this is all related to science. {I actually had one student say, "What does this have to do with science?!"}

After we know all about variables, we had a paper airplane contest. We wanted to see which airplane design {independent variable} flew the farthest distance {dependent variable}. Some of the controlled variables that we came up with included:

  • Using the same unit of measurement to measure the distance flown
  • Everyone must hold the plane the same way when throwing the airplane
  • We need to have a large space with no wind {because the wind might have an effect on how far the planes are thrown.}
I found this experiment on this website. It's fantastic! It even has the airplane folding instructions. It also has a worksheet that accompanies the experiment, though I recreated it to meet my needs. Click here to download my version of the worksheet for free. You may make changes as necessary to better fit your needs!

This experiment is perfect to start off the year because it incorporates following instructions, working together, and the importance of understanding math in science. {I had students measure the distance flown in inches and then we converted that to feet.} Plus, who wouldn't want to fly paper airplanes in class?! 

Having a blast so far in fifth grade science. I hope your school year got off to a great start as well!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Welcome Back! And a Room Peek.

It's officially here! Back to school is in full swing and I am PLUM worn out. Good Lord I totally do not know how I did this last year PREGNANT. Whew! It's going to be a great year and I'm so excited to share some of the new things that we'll be doing.

I wanted to share some pics of my room to get this school year's posts kicked off. I love my room this year. I bought a bunch of faux flowers from the dollar store and it makes a huge difference! I made my FOCUS wall and used my fun science chevron labels and banner to spruce up the place, too. I kept my Wizard Challenge {click here to read all about that} but I had to improvise with my Scientific Method bulletin board. I lost a bulletin board (boo) but gained a whiteboard (yay!) when I moved rooms this summer, so my scientific method stuff is now on a wall in a smaller space. But it works! I also put tons of pics of my little cutie everywhere. Here's one so you can see how cute she is:

She's basically the cutest baby ever.

Anyway - here are some pics of my science room:

I'm so happy with the way it looks and it feels good to have a nice little space that's organized and fun. After all it is my home away from home. I hope everyone had a fantastic first day back. I'm so excited about this school year!!!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Congrats to the following ladies! Cindy and Karen, please visit my TpT shop, pick out $25 worth of goodies and email me your list! I'll send your products to you once I receive your emails. Please use

Thanks to everyone that entered my contest! 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me SALE!

In honor of my big ole' Birthday today - I am hosting a SALE on EVERYTHING in my TpT shop!
Take 20% off of every single thing in that little store. Enjoy! Sale ends 8/7/2013. {Side note: I tried to have the sale last all week - since I celebrate my birthday all week, but alas, I digress. Not allowed per TpT.}

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Science Book LINKY PARTY!

Never had a linky party! And I have to be honest, it's because I'm terrified that no one will join it. {Sad face. Poor me.} So - please, please, please - I'm begging you! Join me!

Recently, my school was so very fortunate to have the Reading and Writing Project team come on down to good ole' Alabama and host a week-long training conference. My school is officially a Home Grown Institute! So proud to work for Mountain Brook City. And I am SO GLAD that I attended this fantastic workshop. Even though I teach science, I still gained a TON of insight about the workshop approach and my goal this year is to use some of the strategies that I learned about in my science classroom, even if it's as simple as reading aloud and conducting "turn and talks".

I was so inspired by the workshop, that I started really digging to find science-related fiction novels or books to use in my fifth grade classroom. Turns out - THIS IS REALLY DIFFICULT!! I did find {and read} a few...but I am really curious to see what else is out there. So, let's play! Share with me any science-related fiction OR non-fiction texts that you use in your classroom.

Here are the ones that I found that I think would be good. These are all fiction books.

Jake Drake, Know-It-All by Andrew Clements
I just really liked the story of this one. It's cute, easy to read, doesn't take long to get through, and offers a ton of insight to the scientific method. I think this would get kids really excited about coming up with their own experiments and projects.

Mind Games by Jeanne Marie Grunwell
This one is definitely too advanced for early elementary kiddos, but might be OK for fifth grade, depending on the maturity level of the class. It's a great book to get students to start thinking about the possibilities of science experiments.


The Robin Makes a Laughing Sound by Sally Wolf
I liked this one - but more for just structure of journaling. It shows students that journals don't have to be perfect and can include notes, poems, ideas, and thoughts. 

Dr. Xargle's Book of Earthlets by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross
This one was perfect for younger students. It would be a good one that would lend itself to making inferences and demonstrating that. It's KINDA sciency - in that it's space related. It's just a cute fun book. Plus it deals with babies - and since I just had a baby...well, I'm still in baby mode. Definitely for younger students.

Runt by Marion Dane Bauer
This one is a good one to read during an Ecosystem study. Very cute, but the underlying message deals with how wolves relate to one another as well as other species in the wild. 


I've found a few more, but haven't read them yet. Even if you don't have any science-related books, I'd still love for you to link up and nonfiction texts that you use in your reading workshop. And I'd love to hear your strategies! Please, please link up!

Make sure when you link up that you include the link to your post and please also include a link back to this linky party somewhere on your post.

Don't forget about my GIVEAWAY that's ending on Wednesday! Link up here, then go enter! Thanks a bazillion!!