Monday, June 30, 2014

Elephant Toothpaste Experiment: Chemical Reactions

One of my favorite units to teach during the year is our chemical reaction unit. There are so many nifty experiments the students can participate in. It really gets them excited and engaged in the concept. They LOVED the elephant toothpaste experiment. It's an exciting science experiment that allows for great discussions on chemical reactions. You can do this as a demonstration or turn it into a science experiment. I decided that with this experiment, I would do it and my students would observe and discuss in their groups what was happening. I didn't want them handling the hydrogen peroxide (the experiment uses a strong peroxide). Once the foam began to come out of the bottle I  allowed a few students to touch the bottle to feel the warmth created by the chemical reaction that took place in the bottle.
What you will need:

  • clean 16 ounce plastic bottle
  • 1/2 cup 20 volume hydrogen peroxide liquid (20 volume is a 6% solution, you will need to purchase it from a beauty supply store)  Do not use anything higher than a 6% solution either.{It is important to use 6%, the 3% peroxide from the grocery store will NOT work as well}
  • 1 tablespoon (one packet) of dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons of warm water
  • liquid dish soap
  • food coloring
  • tray (for easy clean up)
  • funnel
  • small bowl/cup
  • safety goggles
What you will do:

  1. Add 5-6 drops of food coloring into the bottle.
  2. Add about 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap into the bottle and wish the bottle around to mix it.
  3. In a separate small cup/bowl, combine the warm water and the yeast (the yeast will speed up the reaction) together and mix for about 30 seconds.
  4. Now pour the yeast water mixture into the bottle (use a funnel) and watch the foaming action begin!
  5. Make sure you stand away from the bottle (not directly above it) the foam forms quickly and can shoot quite high out of the bottle.

What's happening?
Hydrogen peroxide naturally breaks down into water and oxygen. Each foam bubble is filled with oxygen. The yeast speeds up the reaction. The yeast acted as catalyst to remove the oxygen from the hydrogen peroxide. Since it did this very fast, it created lots and lots of bubbles.Dish soap catches the oxygen and makes bigger bubbles and the food coloring makes it look cool.  The bottle gets warm because it created a reaction called an exothermic reaction. That means it not only created foam, but it created heat too. The foam produced is just water, soap, and oxygen so you can clean it up with a sponge and pour any liquid left in the bottle down the drain.

Questions for our experiment

In their science journals, my students discussed and answered the following questions:

  1. Does the amount of yeast change the amount of foam produced?
  2. Does the experiment work as well if you add the dry yeast without mixing it with water?
  3. Does the size of the bottle affect the amount of foam produced?
In their groups the students discussed what they thought would happen. Wrote their thoughts in their journals and observed me as we made the changes. It was a lot of fun!

The questions came from  Science Bob. I love his website, lots of fun experiments and he has some great videos on his site. Another great site filled with experiments is Steve Spangler Science.

Check out the video below for an awesome video of the elephant toothpaste in action! Now his elephant toothpaste was done at an extreme level (not to be done at home or in the classroom).

Our foam came out slowly for some reason the first time. Once it slowed way down, I had a couple students feel the bottle to feel the warmth that was created.

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Waking Up Our Sentences: NonFiction Writing

Writing has been a struggle for my 5th graders this year.  They have made a lot of progress since day one. It's pretty amazing to compare their writing samples from the first month to right now.  Many of them were unable to write a five paragraph writing piece at the beginning of the school year. Now that we have climbed that hurdle, it is time to jazz up our writing and make it more interesting.

I love these two books written by book by Joann Portalupi and Ralph Fletcher:

Nonfiction Craft Lessons, Teaching Informational Writing K-8

Craft Lessons, Teaching Writing K-8

My students were working on their nonfiction research essays. I decided to give them some autonomy and choice in their topics. I find that too many times as teachers, we give them the topic they will research. They LOVED being able to choose a topic on anything in the whole wide world that interested them. Of course they had to run it by me first. It was fantastic! My kids were interested in so many diverse topics and allows me to read many different papers instead of the same research topic 30 times. 

I taught a quick mini lesson that focused on making their sentences lively while writing a nonfiction piece. My students struggle with making their nonfiction writing informational, yet entertaining and not dry. They tend to all start off with the same topic sentences and so forth. Ralph Fletcher has a great lesson in which students explore and ponder an example of a terrific piece of nonfiction writing before they attempt to create their own. 

Fletcher's craft lessons are specific to topic and use resources such as picture books or excerpts of text (located in the appendix). For this lesson I copied the excerpt "Predator!" We discussed that it's not enough to teach and give information to the reader...we need to give our writing some oomph! We discussed how sometimes we write sentences that are boring and put us to sleep...thus we need to wake them up! 

My students closely read the expert first for the flow. Then they read it again silently and made annotations in regards to what made the writing interesting. As a class we discussed their findings and charted it (they copied it down in their writer's notebooks). 

I then had my students go back and read their drafts of their nonfiction writing. They were to go back and think about how they can change their sentences and wake them up! 

It was a great activity, they really seemed to grasp the idea. The revisions they came up with in their own writing showed that. 

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Saturday Snapshots: Ireland Take Two!

It's Saturday and you know what that means?!?! Time to link up with Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera! Last week I shared some photos of the trip to Ireland I took during December/January. A two week road trip packed with adventure! This week I am sharing a few more photos from that trip (and the following Saturday will be my last installment of Ireland photos...I wasn't kidding when I said I had a lot!), we saw so much amazingness (is that even a real word?) that I want to share with you all. If you missed last weeks snapshots, click here and you can view some more nifty Ireland shots....Cliff's of Mohr anyone?

Trinity Library, Dublin
I was really looking forward to visiting Trinity Library and it almost didn't happen. We decided to visit the library on our last day of our trip. Unfortunately, when we arrived they had the place closed down. I guess there was an issue with the power and none of the lights worked. Our flight took off the next morning at 11am and the library opened at 9:30am. We hopped on some public transit and made the trip again and it was THE MOST AMAZING thing I've ever seen. I love history and books...I was in heaven. If only they'd let me touch and leaf through the books!

Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin
Kilmainham Gaol is a former prison that held many Irish patriots and revolutionaries. It was very eerie, especially when the wind would blow through the jail and make ghostly noises. It was also pretty somber to stand in the jail yard where the leaders of the 1916 Rising were executed. It was built between 1792-1795.

Got some shots without tourists...a bit tricky but I waited patiently!

Not as eerie with all the tourists!

The oldest part of the jail. You were able to see inscriptions on the walls from the past prisoners.

The jail yard.

I absolutely loved this town! Which is why road trips are the best! This town wasn't on our list of sites to see, but we drove through town and stopped. So glad we did.

Check out those thatched roofs!

We ate lunch here at Aunty Lena's and is was so delicious!

This sweet bird was resting outside of the home we stayed at.

Belfast, Northern Ireland
Now for some grit! Welcome to Belfast! The "Troubles" of the past are seen all around Belfast. Especially within the Catholic and Protestant communities. Walking around the area where the Unionist and Nationalist Murals are and coming face to face with the Peace Wall and a few of the other gates and walls to keep the sides separate was unreal.

The view looking into the Protestant side of Belfast. Back in the day during the Troubles, those gates were closed. A lady we stayed with told us stories of how dangerous it was and how heavily guarded the gates were during that time.

This is the Peace Wall which is a series of border barriers that separate Irish nationalist and unionist neighborhoods. The purpose was to minimize inter-communal violence between Catholics (nationalists who self identify as Irish) and Protestants (unionists who self identify ad British). The first cement wall was 20 feet high. It was later extended another 10 feet by a solid metal addition, and then another 15 feet with a metal screen.

Belfast Castle
Our view from the apartment we stayed in.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Revolutionary War: Observation Charts

Before I start a unit (especially social studies or science) I always use an observation chart to get my students thinking, brainstorming, and discussing. It is a great way to get my students focused and motivated. The observation chart is a GLAD (Guided Language Acquisition Design) strategy.

An observation chart is a type of inquiry chart that stimulates a student's curiosity, builds background information while providing the teacher with a diagnostic tool, it also provides opportunity for language support from peers.

  • I find real photos in color (if possible) on the Internet, magazines, and books that pertain to the topic of study. 
  • I then glue the photos on a large piece of construction paper. Usually no more than five on one page. I laminate the charts so I can use them year after year.
  • I attach a white piece of paper on the chart for students to write their observation, question, or comment.
  • I have my students work in groups to discuss the pictures. Once they have finished their discussion they choose to write down: an observation, a question, or a comment on the white paper. Each group has a specific color marker (this allows me to visually see what the groups are coming up with and make sure each group is represented on the charts).
The charts allow me to assess the background knowledge they are coming to the lesson with and what their interests are in regards to the topic. I keep the charts posted throughout the unit and we constantly revisit the charts to monitor growth.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Reading in the Wild Book Study: Workshop

Linking up for week two with Catherine from The Brown Bag Teacher for the Reading in the Wild book study! This week we are continuing on with Chapter 1, "Wild Readers Dedicate Time to Read." At the end of the chapter Donalyn Miller sets a section aside to focus on creating a workshop schedule that works for you.

This weeks link up is being hosted by Jivey from Ideas By Jivey and Flip-Floppin' Through 3rd Grade.

Miller starts the section off with the questions she asks herself every year when she is getting her workshop schedule together: How much class time do I have? Which instructional components am I required to include? What components would I like to include? What can I change to carve out time for independent reading? Remember the rule of thirds. She gives examples of her weekly reading workshop and weekly writing workshop schedule. I like how she set up her schedule and will use it to rethink / revise how I create my workshop schedule.

I follow a balanced literacy approach to reading and writing in my classroom.  My lessons are designed around a theme and genre. My mini-lessons focus on the reading and writing skills that my students need in order to become successful readers and writers. This year I really focused on having my students read and write everyday...and they did! At my school we create our own literacy units (we don't use a specific curriculum) that encompass word study, skill based mini-lessons, read aloud, shared reading, guided reading, and writing. The process at my school site is different than any other school site I have taught at. It is a lot of work gathering the resources and materials, but I saw so much growth with my students this year in comparison to previous years.

Workshop time has always been a bit of a struggle for me...implementation, planning, time, etc. This year I had an amazing group of students and was able to get through workshop better than I have in the past. I'm definitely looking forward to reading up on every one's great ideas for how they implement their workshop time. Workshop is definitely one thing I want to improve upon!
I will leave you with this quote I pulled from this section:
"Are we creating a place where reading a lot, writing a lot, and thinking a lot happen in our classrooms?"
~Donalyn Miller

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Saturday Snapshots: Ireland!

I'm SO excited that Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera is starting her Saturday Snapshot linkup! I'm just a tad late, but hey better late than never...right?! I loved participating in it last year. Basically, Saturday Snapshots is all about remembering moments in your life. Check out her blog for more information on this fun linky.

Here is the first glimpse of images from a trip to Ireland I took with my husband. It was amazing! We started in Dublin and road tripped it to Wicklow, Ring of Kerry, Dingle Peninsula, Galway, Belfast, Antrim Coast, and back to Dublin. Ireland is beyond beautiful. We went during December/January and new the weather wouldn't be the best. But that just adds to the adventure! We had some stormy days and some beautiful days. We did encounter a pretty hardcore storm...crazy winds that were moving our car, rain, thunder, lightning, and no power. Again, you can be upset or take the storm and run with it. We weren't going to let a little rain and wind ruin our trip!

Here are some of my favorite moments from that trip:

Wicklow Mountains
On our second day in Ireland and I got to drive on the left hand side through the Wicklow Mountains, encountering some black ice along the way. It was SO beautiful, words and pictures can't describe what my eyes saw.

This shot wasn't taken by me, but I love it! My husband has a good eye! 

 Glendalough must be one of the most beautiful corners of our world. It was breathtaking to be standing among an ancient monastic settlement founded by St. Kevin in the 5th century!

Cliffs of Moher
The day we visited the Cliffs of Moher it was quite wet. I was afraid they'd shut it down. They've been known to do so when the wind picks up. We were lucky and even in the rain it was a beautiful site. A bit dangerous though...when you get to a certain point there isn't a wall which I think is amazing (the walls obstruct the beauty, but I totally get why they are there), you continue on at your own risk. I will admit I was a bit afraid we'd slip and slide down the cliffs. 

Dingle Pennisula

Dunbeg Fort

Beehive Huts

Ring of Kerry

Staigue Fort


Poulnabrone Dolmen

The Burren

I can't wait to check out everyone's photos!

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