Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Worry Stones | Science+Stress Free Students

Winter break is so close I can almost taste it.  I finally feel like I'm to the point this year where I can work ahead, so I've been prepping my January materials for a stress-free return.

This time of year can be anything but stress-free for teachers and students.  I'm trying to wrap up our units and possibly squeeze in a few final assessments, while my students are counting down the days to ripping open their presents.  It can be stressful.  For all of us.

During our matter unit this year, I decided to incorporate a little science/art/social-emotional lesson and create worry stones as a class.  I'm always on the look out for new approaches to use with my high anxiety kiddos, and so I thought we'd try this activity this year.  {Shout out to this post at Creative Elementary School Counselor for inspiring this concept for my classroom!}

Our science lessons are always guided by a "big question".  Our big question of the day was:
"Does the shape of a solid change it's mass?"

First we had to figure out if clay was a solid.  Because we had done so much work on classifying matter, this was a pretty short discussion.

We drew our table in our science journals, and included shapes such as "ball #1", "log", "pancake", and "ball #2".  Each group started with a ball of clay, which they weighed and recorded the initial weight ("ball #1").   After they had the weight recorded, they estimated the weight in grams of each clay shape.  Then they proceeded to make each shape and weigh it to see the exact weight.

Imagine their surprise when all the weights were the same!  Once our measurements were completed, we wrote a reflection journal entry answering our "big question".

The next day, I brought in colored clay for us to mold into little worry stones.  We reviewed what we know about the properties of a solid, and how clay fits those properties.  We made our stones {check out this post for instructions}, and I told students I was going to add heat to them by baking them at home.  We made predictions in our science journals about what would happen.  From what we knew, adding heat would melt a solid.

I baked our stones that evening and brought them in the next day, and we wrote our observations in out notebook.  Our observations led to a new discussion- why didn't the clay melt like an ice cube would melt?  I absolutely loved how these activities guided us to authentic conversations and questions about the states of matter.

Now my students and I have our worry stone at our desk every day.  Sometimes they float into our hand when we are talking or working on something.  I love how easy they are to keep in our desk and incorporate as one way to keep our hands busy and help relieve stress.  Plus, if anyone asks about it, my students make me proud and start teaching about solids.

Don't let the stress get to you these last few days before break!  Power through!


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