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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Circles Craft

How can a stack of paper plates make reviewing circles more fun? I gave each student a paper plate and displayed these definitions on the board:
  • center - middle of circle
  • radius - line segment from center to side
  • diameter - line segment from side to side through center
  • cord - line segment from side to side not through center
  • circumference - distance around

When they finished labeling, we used the other side to display measurement of the paper plate. (The plate was just over nine inches; we rounded this number to make it easier for fourth graders to handle.) From the diameter, they were able to calculate the radius, and they were excited because I "let them" use formulas, calculators, and the almighty pi to compute area and circumference. I displayed the formulas, and away they went!
  • d = 2r
  • C = π d  or  C = 2 π r
  • A = π r 2


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Branches of Government Mobile

Here's a nifty craft idea to teach your students about the branches of government. The photos feature the Indiana state government, but the activity can be easily altered for any three-branch government. A template for the United States federal government can be downloaded below.

For each mobile, you will need a paper plate, twelve paper clips, three large shapes to display the names of the branches, three medium-sized shapes for the positions, and six small shapes for the duties. You'll also need a paper punch and string. You may use a template (as shown below) and ask students to cut and paste, or simply ask them to write the information on the pieces.

Have students punch three holes along the side of the paper plate. In addition, they should punch one hole at the top and bottom of the large piece, one hole at the top and two holes at the bottom of each middle-sized piece, and one hole at the top of each small piece.

Now they can cut and paste (or write) the names of the branches, positions, and duties on the pieces. (Click here for a template for the United States federal government.)

I've found that using paper clips to attach the pieces is much easier than string. Students tend to make errors connecting the correct branch, positions, and duties. When they use paper clips, the pieces slip off easily to be rearranged.

Finally, they tie string to the holes and tie at the top. And voila! You have a fun and easy branches of government craft.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Science Is for the Birds!

In celebration of International Migratory Bird Day, let's take a look at some awesome freebies for your classroom. Resources for teaching about birds abound, and birds are everywhere!

an egret spotted in the wetland behind my house

One of my favorite sites is Project Beak. The portion of their website labeled Adaptations provides online text, graphics, and video on birds' feathers, wings, beaks, feet, skeletal system, internal organs, senses, communication, reproduction, and migration. Kids can even build a bird! They choose the bird's wings, head, feet, and habitat. The site then explains the advantages of each of its adaptations and calculates its chance of survival in the chosen habitat.

Project Beak also offers information about birds and people, Nebraska habitats, rare birds, and birding basics.

The Cornell Lab of Orinthology site hosts Live Bird Cameras. My students were mesmerized by the barred owls cam yesterday! They have also posted some great videos to help kids identify birds:

Finally, try Bird Sleuth, K-12 for kits, free resources, workshops, and webinars.

Would you like crafts and activities related to birds? Why Birds Matter: Educational Activities from Environment for the Americas has dozens of great finds. You'll find New World Vultures activity book, Predator-Prey Game, coloring pages, and much more.

Before I sign off, I can't resist posting one more picture from my back yard. Yes! The ice is off the wetland, and the swans are back!

Happy International Migratory Bird Day!