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Two Things We Did to Make Studying the Ocean Fun

We studied the ocean recently and my students really enjoyed some activities I am going to share with you. We estimated and measured out the first ocean layer (600 feet) with a very long tape measure of 100 feet. After each 100 feet we made a mark with chalk so that we could see each distance. I put some children in charge of carrying chalk, yard sticks, and the measuring tape. When we weren’t on a hard surface anymore, we stuck a yardstick upright in the ground to hold our measurement mark. Measuring this ocean layer not only helped children with their understanding of measurement, they were able to relate the expanse of the sunlight layer to the size of their own small bodies.

Secondly, we built ocean layers in a bottle. The children LOVED this! There are many people who post about this activity on different websites. I will tell you how our worked. We made density predictions first. The bottom layer was the trenches. We used corn syrup here and we dyed it with red, green, and blue food coloring to make it brown. The next layer–the abyss–we used Dawn dish soap. This worked out okay since it was already blue. The midnight layer was water that we dyed blue. I’m not crazy about using water for this layer because it blended in with the soap and you couldn’t really distinguish much of a difference. At least the students knew there was another layer even though it blended. Next, the twilight layer was cooking oil. This easily worked, and I didn’t attempt to dye it since I knew the food coloring I had wouldn’t mix with oil. I kind of like that it vividly shows up as a different color though. Finally, we added the sunlight layer. This is a layer of alcohol. Make sure to get 90% isopropyl alcohol so it doesn’t mix. We added one drop of blue food coloring to a tablespoon of alcohol.

The problems and what I liked. The bottom three layers are dark and you really can’t tell the difference in them. I think it is good that we put the layers in there so students knew that there were three bottom layers. Know that it is hard to tell the difference in the bottom layers though.

Next, know that this is messy, and you will be having to wash materials. I had some small plastic cups available so children could mix the food coloring. I also had funnels available. Funnels are useful to minimize messes, and I had the children pour this over a paper plate. I had students work in partners and hold one another’s bottle while the other child held the funnel and poured. This worked well.

Originally, I thought I would have the children make the layers proportional to the size they really are in the ocean, but I realized after making a sample that it would be more reasonable for the activity to make all the layers one fourth of a cup except the top layer which was a tablespoon. I gave the children labels and had them write the name of each layer on them as you can see from the pictures. The whole activity took around 90 minutes after instructions were given. My students are well behaved, and I probably wouldn’t have done this if they hadn’t been. If you want to still do this with students who don’t follow directions well, I suggest only making the top three layers and using smaller containers. Happy “diving”!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Boost Morale Among Your Coworkers!

I just recently started a “Brag Book” I will call it. In this book I wrote something encouraging to one teacher and dated he entry. The teacher that the book was passed to will write something nice about another teacher and so on. At the end of the year, the book will be filled with kind words. Teachers are always beaten down by how they don’t measure up. As if they are the only ones who caused their students to not achieve. Teachers do have something to do with student growth, BUT there are many other factors involved. If a child doesn’t achieve it isn’t always because of the teacher! Teachers aren’t responsible for every aspect of a child’s life and will never be able to replace parents who raises their child with work ethic and values. Take a deep breath teachers! All you can do is your best. After that go home with the peace of mind that you did your best. 🙂

So to continue the story of the Brag Book, I had this idea for a while and only recently put it together. I just began passing it around. Here’s to a more encouraging school year where we lift one another up…it is so easy to tear people down with our words when we get frustrated with the demands of work.

Below you sill see some photos of the Brag Book. You are welcome to copy this idea to boost morale in your own building.

When I made this I was going for quick and easy. I used silver duct tape and some other washi type tape for color decoration. If I was to do it again, I wouldn’t use silver duct tape since I found out it shows fingerprints and smudges. Duct tape did work nicely to cover well. It WAS quick AND easy.

I got these inspirational stickers at Hobby Lobby to stick all over the book. I really like the phrases that were inn them.

I look forward by the end of the year to have lots of encouragement inside one book!

Don’t Throw Out a Broken Clock! You Can Do This

In the current school I work in, we had many broken clocks that wouldn’t keep time. When I discovered some of our smartest students couldn’t tell time, I had an idea! I thought I would use one of these old and broken clocks for a teaching tool. I took it home and broke the hard plastic off the front. Then I ruled off sections on the clock with lines and put circles around the numbers. Each number’s circle color matches the section behind it. The reason for this is to help children know that if they see the hour hand anywhere in the colored section that the hour belongs to the number with the same color. I had a little friend who was very interested in telling time.

If you like this idea for teaching children analog time, you will love the Telling Clock Time unit here! There are these ideas and more used to teach analog time.

Check Out These Fun Fall Activities!

Did you know Super Teacher Worksheets has fun fall puzzles and activities? Check them out!

5 Things I Wish I Had Known as a New Teacher Part 2

6. Do you stay late at school trying to make sure your lessons are engaging and that everything is ready. Almost EVERYONE is not working as hard as you. Go home. Keep things simple.

7. Pick one day and go home at contract hours. You may think this is hurting your students, but actually you will be more refreshed if you take some time to take care of your life and yourself. Your body and mind being refreshed will bring enthusiasm to your teaching because you are refreshed.

8. In my many years of teaching I can only remember my lesson plans being requested four times. That is it! Did you fret because you didn’t write the perfect lesson plan? Why? No one will be looking…in fact even if you don’t have one, no one will know but you. Now, I don’t recommend not having plans!! However, if something came up, and you didn’t have time to write one you will be okay. As long as you have an idea of what you are teaching, you will be fine. (Now the only exception to this may be if you are in a high needs school that is being looked at with a fine toothed comb.)

9. Even the nicest parent at the beginning of the year, can turn on you and go crazy at the end because of something that happened right before summer break. Having about one parent do this at the end is normal–most likely it wasn’t something you did.

10. Don’t depend on your school’s retirement plan as your only income when you retire. Put money into other investment opportunities such as a Roth IRA or maybe even rental property. Vanguard funds are great for both long and short term savings I learned about them from another teacher.

5 Things I wish I Had Known as a New Teacher Part 1

1. I wish I had known not to work so hard. It took COVID for me to see that I had let my job absorb nearly my whole life. Taking a step back with the ups and downs of the 2020-2021 school year made it evident that there is more to life than work. I now have an alarm set on my phone so that I am more aware that I need to go home and take care of myself.

2. Look at the pay scale from the bottom. An old wise teacher once told me this. I wish I had done this. Now that I am at the bottom of the scale, of course I am looking at this, but as a new teacher I always looked at the top few levels. This is especially true if you don’t want to move around and work at different school districts.

3. Build up some sick leave, but once you have it built up, if your district offers no incentive, MAKE SURE YOU TAKE SOME TIME OFF FOR YOURSELF! When you are gone you will be replaced easily. For your family you are not easily replaced! Stress is the root of disease in most cases, so love yourself.

4. Every school building has a cow who wears a bell. I have worked in many schools, and most of them had a cow with a bell. The cow makes him or herself valuable. This is the person who helps the administrator out thereby escaping administrative criticism. This person carries influence. Be friendly to the cow even if you don’t like him or her.

5. Your boss has a shiny nickel–the thing that makes him or her say “WOW”. At one of my first jobs the shiny nickel was a pretty bulletin board. To my advantage, I liked making a pretty bulletin board, so I had the shiny nickel and was favored for this and several other reasons. Find out what your principal’s shiny nickel is–ask veteran teachers at your school.

Set Up Your Cooperative Groups by Doing This

Each time I begin a year, we practice these expectations.

Number 1. We talk about how sharing materials could go badly–scattering materials, sharing germs, not everyone’s hand can fit in the container, etc.

Number 2. We practice saying all of these rules several times so that students get accustomed to saying these words and have this tool in their tool chest of ways to interact with peers.

Number 3. I let the students discuss how they will settle a disagreement. Most students arrive at Rock Paper Scissors as being the best way to solve disagreements. Students also say things like that they could talk out whose ideas was the best. I also mention who has the birthday closest to today, who is closer to the floor (shorter), closest to the ceiling (taller).

After we have talked over all of these rules, we practice saying them first thing in class for several class periods. Before long there are very few disagreements or problems among students.

I hope this helps your cooperative groups run more smoothly, too!

Who Doesn’t Love Giveaways?

I’m really looking forward to a new school year in which the restrictions are lessened! I think it will bring new joy to learning! In celebration of this new school year, let’s take part in a giveaway!


Prize: $100 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher)

Co-hosts:  An Apple for the TeacherMrs. Wennings ClasroomChocolate 4 TeachersSimone,   TheBeezyTeacherAngelica’s ResourcesThe Homeschool Style-Katie RingStar Kids , Mickey’s PlaceThe Froggy FactoryJackie CrewsTeaching Where You’re CalledKamp Kindergarten,  Mrs Hansens HelpfulsTeaching Ideas for Those Who Love TeachingIn the Land of TeachingMs. KTried and True Teaching ToolsTeach Me T, and A Plus Kids.

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter.  Giveaway ends 8/13/21 and is open worldwide.

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