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How-To: Get Started

Energizing Your Classroom Julie Dermody

In many areas of the country, March can seem to stretch on forever before the first blooms of spring. If you’re looking for a way to rejuvenate yourself and your students, plan some outside activities. Your students may not only enjoy the change of pace, but also love these lessons!

For an exciting geometry lesson (and one your kids will remember) buy some inexpensive bubble containers at the dollar store and let your students blow bubbles. Challenge them to blow different size bubbles. After they’ve practiced, give them construction paper and have them “catch” their bubbles. This activity becomes the first step in the studying of circles. (If you’ve selected light colored paper, you may want them to trace their bubble circles with their pencils so the different shapes will be easy to see for the next day’s lesson.) The next day read Sir Cumference and the First Round Table: A Math Adventure by Cindy Neuschwander (ISBN 0-590-00215-5). Make transparencies ahead of time so the students can manipulate the shapes as you read the story. Conclude using the circle worksheet that asks the students to measure their bubble circles and to investigate why most manhole covers are round. (This and other great investigation activities are found at www.figurethis.org. If you want to continue the study of circles with an introduction to pi, read to the class the sequel to the first book, Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi: A Math Adventure by Cindy Nueschwander (ISBN0-439-18031-7)

Science is a natural for outdoor activities. Just having the students walk outside in old socks covering their shoes and then “planting” the socks will be a wonderful lesson in plant growth and how seeds spread. But for this spring, consider a lesson to tie into your animal unit by creating “Potato Prey.” Your students’ task will be to help their potato prey blend in with its environment (camouflage). After your students have created their potato prey and completed the Potato Prey sheet, go outside and have them “hide” their prey. Can the “guest predators” find them? First allow 30 seconds, then 45 seconds, then continue increasing the time until all potato prey are located. Discuss why the last ones found were so hard for the predators to find. (Your principal or science specialist would make an excellent predator!)

Let’s not forget the power of descriptive writing, when the students take the time to notice and describe sensory details. Have them each select one item and “show” it through their descriptions. Then see if the other students can identify the item.

Nothing like a “hands-on” archeological dig to excite your students and enhance the study of local history! Investigate areas within walking distance to see if there are any intriguing sites worth uncovering (with the owner’s permission of course!)

If nothing else, do your oral reading outside today! You and your students will be glad for the change of pace!


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