Saturday, October 29, 2011

Don't Forget to "Squarea" the Area

When teaching my students area, I sing a little chant: "Don't forget to 'squarea' the area, or your teacher will pull out all her hair-ea!" After that we find the hAREA, I mean area of some large squares. I hit my local salon up for some old hairstyle magazines, cut some 1 inch squares out of card-stock, and put kids into teams of two. If you don't have hairstyle magazines, no sweat, any magazine will do. Animal magazines work very well, too. I tell the kids they may use pictures of fur or hair. Then students scour the magazines, and when they find some hair they use their template to trace and cut out. Finally they glue their hair squares to the large square until it is completely cover. All that's left is for them to find the area or hArea of their large square. I can't take all the credit for this idea. My sister and best friend,Victoria Jones, came up with this idea for her students in Virgina. This lesson is one that really sticks and helps them remember the difference between area and perimeter. It also helps them remember that you have to label square units when finding area and that is truly Classroom Magic!

Teaching Idea of the Week:

If you have tile floors use masking tape to outline some irregular shapes. Have students find the perimeter and area of each one. I put a number label in the corner of each and have them fill in a worksheet for all the floor shapes. I make them physically walk the perimeter. I deliberately make the perimeter the same on all the shapes. It's a real eye opener for them to discover that shapes can have the same perimeter but be a different shape and have different areas. The pictured irregular shape has a perimeter  of 16 feet and area of 8 square feet. I always include one regular rectangle, too.

Anchor Chart of the Week:
This weeks anchor chart is from the above activity. I attached some of the student's work and added the chant.

Question of the Week:
I would love to hear about your ideas. What activities do you use to teach area?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Spooktacular Science

     One of my favorite classroom celebrations is Halloween. I usually plan a full day of educational fun around the Halloween theme. I don't care how old you are Dry Ice is just plain cool to play with, and it is relatively inexpensive.  I help the kids make mini smoke ring launchers. It's pretty simple just a plastic cup with a hole, large baggie, rubber band, WARM water, and a small piece of Dry Ice. Just make sure you are the one to add the Dry Ice. It's totally safe as long as they don't come into contact with the Dry Ice. Then just have the kids gently tap on the end and let the fun begin!
     While I've got the Dry Ice out I put on a little science show for the kids. Add warm water and Dry Ice to a few graduated cylinders and you've got yourself a production. Put in some color tabs to change the color of water or just drop in a light stick and wait for the oohs and aahs. If you really want to get them excited just add a smidgen of dish washing soap. I like to pour it on the kids hands.  I'm a Steve Spangler wanna be so for the grand finale I bring out the Boo Bubbles. You can purchase the equipment from his website for under $30. It makes gas filled bubbles.  Drop a few of these in the kids hands and you've got Classroom Magic!