It’s hard to believe that it’s time to get back into the swing of things and start planning for the new school year. It’s always an exciting time of the year when you gain a new group of students. It’s also a fresh start and if you are like me, you have ideas in your head of how this year will be better than all the years past! Of course, no matter how hard I try, I always end up starting off with the scientific method…
Every year, without doubt, I always question how I should begin the year. Should I just jump right in after a few warm-up icebreakers, or should I spend the first week just reviewing and slowly moving into academics. With all the pressure to get so much covered in such little time, I usually jump into academics sooner than I’d really like.
One area that I know without a doubt how to start is science. I love science and could easily do it all day. To start the students off right, I always begin with introducing the scientific method and process skills. These are the foundations of science and what all content builds off of. For instance, you can’t truly explore electricity without going through the steps of the scientific method for experimenting or without using the process skills of observation and communication. In future science units, I spiral back to these foundational skills to remind students of their importance.
We begin by talking about what science is and what scientists do. Then we talk first about the process skills and practice each one. For observation, I like to place a picture up on the overhead and give them just a few seconds to look at it. Then I take it away and have them list as much as they can. It’s always fun to see how good they are at noticing the objects in the picture. We practice similar activities with the other five skills. Then after we have learned and practiced each one individually, we complete an M&M activity where students use all the process skills together. Finally, we create a flip booklet together practicing in centers using these skills.
After we have gotten down the process skills, then we move into the steps of the scientific method. I like to have students jump right in and get hands-on. We explore paper towels and create a hypothesis of which we think will soak up the most water- a fancy expensive brand, or an off-name brand. (The students always think the expensive brand will hold more!)
I love to use task cards in my classroom, so I place these in a center as a fun review activity and have students self-check when they are done.
I have some students work on a vocabulary center where they match the definition with the word and others complete a practice sheet that they’ll turn in.
As a review of our scientific method and process skills unit, I pass out my causation cards! I provide each student with a card (and any items the card requires- such as a piece of paper). I then read the first card and wait for the next student to go. Students have to listen carefully to the previous person and read their card (it states when they go based off the previous student’s statement.). Then they read their card to the class while performing the action on the card. This continues around the room until every card has been read and all the content has been reviewed. The kids just love this conclusion of the unit!
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