Making Slushies!

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One thing we have plenty of right now in Michigan is SNOW! We have tons of clean, white, cold, fluffy snow. The kids love to play in it, build forts, and throw it on the slide to help them slide faster. This week we decided to use what nature gave us to make some yummy juice slushies. First the students poured juice into a small zipper top bag, and sealed it closed. In a larger zipper top bag they scooped snow (about two or three cups) and then added a tablespoon or two of rock salt. The sealed juice bag was placed inside the large bag, and the large bag was zipped close. The students then squished and squeezed the snowy mixture around the juice bag. They discovered that the bag got pretty cold, use of mittens was encouraged. After a few minutes, the students began to see and feel the changes. The juice began to turn into slush. When at their preferred slushie consistency, they discarded the outer bag, and using a straw and spoon, enjoyed the delicious slushie.

To learn more about the science behind making slushies or ice cream using, watch this Discovery Education Video Clip on Making Ice Cream. You can find a recipe for homemade ice cream here, and a recipe for Slushies here.

States of Matter – Making SLIME

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2nd graders have been exploring the states of matter. They used Elmer’s white glue, water, Borax, and food coloring to create Slime, which is a Polymer. The Slime is unique in that it behaves like a solid and a liquid. You can pick it up and hold it in your hand like a solid, but is also acts like a liquid by taking the shape of its containers. The kids had a great time adding the ingredients and watching the liquid glue clump up into a big glob of slime! They played with it, stretching it, breaking it, rolling it and putting it all back into a big glob. To learn more about the properties of Slime check out this Discovery Education video clip on Polymers . You can find the recipe for SLIME on Steve Spangler’s or Science Bob’s websites.

What’s in the Box?


Inspired by DEN STAR Kim Miller, I checked out STEMbites on Youtube. I was excited to find these short, informative STEM videos. We are learning about shapes and the STEMbites: Shapes and Their Attributes was the perfect fit.

After watching the video I passed out 6 index cards and a length of masking tape to each child. I asked them to create their own box, or rectangular prism as it is called. I played the video a few more times while they worked. Many of the children decided to decorate the index cards before putting their box together. The children were given one index card cut the size of one square end and most had no trouble cutting the second one and putting the box together. The part that surprised me was as soon as the children made the box, they began to talk about what they were going to put in the box. I hadn’t thought of this, but what a creative extension to the lesson! A few students went one step further and added latches or locks to their boxes. These were created with the leftover index card pieces and tape.

This information is also posted on the Class Create Website.

What’s in the Bag?

Embracing the Maker Movement and encouraging Creativity, I have created a Website, to share projects and other ideas. Our first idea, “What’s in the Bag?” gave students a brown bag with an assortment of items. They were tasked with creating something with the items in the bag (and the bag could be used as well) and three additional items from home. They were to bring the creation back to school to share with the class. The creations were amazing and all very different. I was thrilled and amazed with what the children came up with. I can’t wait to try this again!

This was cross posted on

Marshmallow Toothpick Towers – STEM

I wanted to integrate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)  activities into my classroom. I knew my limitations and if it was going to be too complicated, well it most likely wouldn’t happen! I realized that STEM activities do NOT need to be complicated and really the best part is that you provide the students with the tools and then step back and watch them go.

I chose to start with Tower building using Toothpicks and Marshmallows. I thought this would be a pretty easy activity, but was surprised at how hard it was. First the children needed to work in groups – some groups were beautiful, some had a few struggles.  The had difficulty figuring out how to use the marshmallows and toothpicks correctly. One group was spearing the marshmallows like a shish kabob. They needed to understand that the tower needs to go UP and stand on its own. The kids had a great time building that first day and I knew we needed to repeat this activity (more than once) to continue to learn.

Here are some pictures from our first day of Tower Building.


Before our second attempt,  we watchedThe Magic School Bus Under Construction (DE Streaming) and  I read aloud Iggy Peck Architect.  We talked about buScreen Shot 2014-06-30 at 2.03.51 PMilding structure, design, and shapes they noticed and what they might do differently this time. .They used their first tower as a guide and tried to build better and higher with interesting results. Final photos are posted below.

We followed this up with another tower building activity using index cards and masking tape. This time I worked with the 3rd grade teacher and we mixed up our classes. In that challenge the children were given specific directions. The tower must be at least 15 inches high and must support a small stuffed animal for 10 seconds. In the end only two groups had a successful tower, but they had a wonderful time building. The combining of the two grades was magical and it was great to see how the different personalities all worked together.








Both of these tower building activities use easy to find, inexpensive supplies and can be ready at any time. I know I need to have more of these items around just to let the kids explore with. What if I made the supplies available and didn’t give them directions on what to build? What would they come up with ? In addition to exploring STEM activities I have been learning about the Maker Movement. It will be fun to see where the combination of these two ideas intersect and what that will look like in the classroom.