I love being creative! Crafting is an outlet for me and is one of my passions (other than science). Put those two together and boom- I’m in heaven! My daughter has always been into melty beads (just feel around the rug and you will find a whole colony of colored beads living deep in the depths of the rug or ask my vacuum cleaner that has become accustomed to eating them). One of the things I love to do is to combine science into her crafts, so we made a melty bead beaker and flask. It’s a very easy way to sneak in science and to have a casual learning experience outside of the classroom.
To make the science flask and beaker, you just need a square peg board (any size depending on how large you want them to be). I used a 15×15 peg square for the beaker and a 21×21 peg square for the flask. The pattern is pretty simple on both items, just use clear melty beads for the glass and whatever color you want for the liquid. You can also put clear beads in the liquid portion to represent bubbles. When you are done, just iron, and Voila! I say it like it’s that easy, but ironing is something that I still don’t have down. (It’s either a complete melted mush of beads, or slightly melted and when I pull it off the peg board, beads start to pop off.) One of these days I’ll figure out the perfect amount of heat and pressure. I’m going to stick a magnet on the back and use it as a magnet on my dry-erase board. This could also be a fun afterschool activity for your students or a fun camp activity. You can let your students use their imagination to see what science-themed model they can come up with!
Spring time is great for so many reasons. There is something about the combination of the cool air and the warmth of the sun that is so invigorating to me. One of my favorite things to do is to sit on a restaurant patio, bask in the sunlight and enjoy a relaxed, slow-paced lunch (preferably tacos or crawfish). Everything outdoors starts blooming, the sun shines a little brighter, and oh yeah… most importantly- Spring Break. Are your students going bonkers, and you don’t think you will make it until Spring Break? I’ve got 5 ways to celebrate Spring in your classroom that will keep your students engaged (all the way until you chauffer your students to the bus ramp, bag on shoulder and car keys in hand).
1. St. Patrick’s Day Cupcake Dichotomous Key
If your unlucky and St. Patrick’s Day does not fall during your Spring Break (seriously- middle schoolers make the holiday so annoying), then your students can have fun celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with a dichotomous key activity. Students will enjoy naming these St. Patrick’s Day Cupcakes. There are 13 St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes to discover with clever pun names like “Irish You Were Here” “Get Clover It” and “Shamrock and Roll”. (Psst… they don’t even know they are doing science) You can get the St. Patrick’s Day Cupcake Dichotomous Key here. Your students may also enjoy this St. Patrick’s Day I Spy and this free St. Patrick’s Day Coloring Sheet. (Keep your students’ hands coloring instead of pinching…)
2. Spring time Escape Room
Want to tame all that extra student energy? Have your students work together against the clock to make an escape from this Springtime Escape Room. It spirals science topics and is the perfect activity to do before Spring Break. (cause let’s be honest… no one wants to work the last day before Spring Break- but they do want to play!) Get theSpringtime Escape Room here.
3. Easter Cupcake Dichotomous Key
Y’all, if you have done any of my holiday cupcake dichotomous keys, you know I’m all about that pun. Puns are how eye roll (…. Get it!) Students will love discovering these Easter Cupcakes names like “For Peeps Sake” , “No Eggs-cuses” and “Chick Magnet” with this Easter Dichotomous Key. You can get the Easter Cupcake Dichotomous Key here and can see the complete list of Holiday Cupcake Dichotomous Keys here. Here’s a free Easter Color Sheet too.
4. Spring fun puzzler bundle
Fun Puzzlers are a great thing to have handy just in case (cause you know there is a lot that can happen). These Spring themed puzzlers offer something for everyone and are great for early finishers. Get the Spring Fun Puzzler Bundle here.
5. Enjoy the Outdoors
Take the kids outside! You know you want to. When it’s a gorgeous day, you simply cannot waste it inside your classroom. One of my favorite things to do outside with my students is to draw models or examples of what we are learning with sidewalk chalk. Tell your students what you want them to draw, or you can choose from over 15 topics of premade drawing task cards. You can see the complete list of Chalk Talk Task Cards here.
You can do this! You got this! Find engaging activities for your students so that they continue to learn, even when your students (and sometimes you) want to give up and just be done. Take care of yourself on your well-deserved break. Wake up late. Sit out on a patio and enjoy your favorite food (and beverage)! Enjoy the sunshine, and just do whatever you feel like doing (even if its nothing)- guilt free.
Raise your hand if you hate student presentations. Every year, at the beginning of the year- I’m right there with you, with my hand raised up high in the air, as if it were a white flag, surrendering my time and sanity. Sitting through a middle school presentation is torture. To many, they are completely pointless…. who’s getting anything out of this? The presenters literally have their backs turned to the audience and are reading word for word off a PowerPoint slideshow (you know what I’m talking about) and the audience members are completely unengaged thinking about their own projects. But in their defense, students are mostly just expected to know what to do. They aren’t taught how to give a proper presentation. More and more teachers are forgoing classroom presentations because it’s just an overall awful experience (Maybe I’m being a bit overly dramatic…), but the lack of presentations is actually the problem. Every teacher knows the value of this skill and how important it is to be able to effectively communicate thoughts and ideas. Communication is a skill that needs to be practiced, and practice makes perfect. If they aren’t practicing, it’s no surprise why your students may be terrible at presenting.
Here are 5 keys to get your students to give the perfect presentation. I go through all these before our first couple of presentations. (Remember… they have to be taught these things!) It is great if you can model a good version vs bad version for students to see, hear and experience.
1. Set Expectations for the Presenters
Presenters should be facing the audience and speak in a loud tone so their voices reach the back of the room. They should speak slowly and clearly so that the audience can understand them. They should engage audience members with their eyes by making eye contact. Presenters in a group should know when it is their turn to speak.
Some things to consider… Is it a requirement that everyone has a speaking role? Can they read off a paper, notecard, or do they need to have it memorized?
2. Set Expectations for the Audience
Audience members should be actively listening to the presenters and not cause a disruption to the presenting group by making any unnecessary sounds or movements. There should be no items around them to distract them. Audience members should be thinking about questions they may have for the presenters to be asked at the end of the presentation.
3. Give Students an Opportunity to Rehearse
Give your students time to do a run though with their group members. Although they may practice at home, it is important to get the order and flow down prior to getting in front of the class. This is also an opportunity for presenters to get some last-minute feedback from their group. Remind students this is not the time to be working on their project, but running through their presentation.
4. Use Sentence Starters
Sometimes when students don’t know what to say, sentence starters can be a great tool in assisting students to a great presentation. Here is an example of a way to start and end a presentation.
“Hello, my name is _______, _________, and ________. Today we are going to present ___________(topic). We chose this topic because _____________.”
“Thank you for listening to our presentation. We hope you enjoyed it. Are there any questions we can answer for you?”
5. Give Affirmations and Feedback to Groups
Presentation skills cannot improve without feedback. Just telling a group “Good job” and having a round of applause will not make a good presenter. You can write feedback on a sheet to give to the group/ individual and shout out all the positive things you see in a presentation. At the end of all the presentations, ask the class what were some great things and some things the class as a whole still need to work on.
Practice makes progress, and consistency is key! If you keep at it, your students will be a pro at presenting, and that will go a long way, not only in your classroom, but in the real world and workforce.