Teachable Moments with the Static Snowstorm


by Priscilla Robinson

What can a teacher do when the season’s cold, wet, or snowy weather makes curious and rambunctious children go stir crazy?  This was exactly the predicament I found myself in with my five-year-old grandson last year.  After sledding and playing in the snow, Henry and I looked for something else to do.  I reached deep into my Nana brain and unlocked my inner teacher.  “What’s your teachable moment today, Nana?” I murmured.

Teachable Moments with the Static Snowstorm - Educational Innovations BlogAll weekend long, we had been experiencing the crackle and pop of static electricity as a result of the house’s warm, dry air.  Henry himself had been zapped a half dozen times.  Petting the family dog, he marveled as her hair stood on end.  He was curious:  what was this invisible power?

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Join Our Elementary Science Club Today!


Tami O'Connorby Tami G. O’Connor

As elementary school teachers, we are expected to help our students become scientifically literate (among many other things), but let’s face it:  too often we have limited time for science instruction during the school day.  Still, we know that kids just love science!  They’re always eager to learn more about the world around them, especially when the material is taught in fun and creative ways.

But what can we do when our science teaching time is so limited in school?  How do you get students involved in scientific discovery outside the classroom?  Sure, you can give them homework, but many kids find simply reading about science unappealing.  You want your students to LOVE learning more about science… not dread it.

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Using the ZigZag Density Tumbler In (and Out) of the Classroom


by Linda Dunnavant

The ZigZag Density Tumbler is an elegant desk “toy” and much more.  Turn the tumbler over and watch two different colors of droplets float down in a relaxing zigzag pattern.  I like to keep mine on my desk so that I can pick it up and watch it while I clear my head.  In addition to being a soothing, relaxing activity for busy adults, it provides myriad possibilities for calming, inspiring, and teaching students. Read the rest of this entry »


First Graders and the Drinking Bird: A Love Story


First Graders & the Drinking Bird: A Love Story - Educational Innovations Blogby John Frassinelli

Having first seen a “drinking bird” in elementary school myself, I had never forgotten it.  Our teacher, I think, had placed one on the windowsill.  We had no air conditioning in those days, and the windows actually opened!  Air circulated through the room, and that probably influenced the bird.  I think it’s too bad that many classrooms are hermetically sealed these days, but we do what we can.

Recently I decided to introduce my first graders to my old friend, the Drinking Bird.   I bought a few birds and fooled around with them, making sure each one would “drink” as it was supposed to.  I learned that some birds need a bit of adjustment—their centers of mass might be too high or too low.  But this is easily remedied by gently twisting the bird’s body and raising (or lowering) it on its metal clasp.

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Forces and Motion Lesson


Lesson - Educational Innovations Blog

Through the years, we’ve seen teaching trends come and go… but one thing hasn’t changed: students LOVE anything related to balloons and rockets.  (So do we.)  And when you’re talking about rockets, you’re talking about forces and motion!

Take a look at this free lesson on forces and motion.  We’re using balloons as our rocket “engines” to power these simple cars.  The activity is basic enough to work with younger students, and can easily be augmented for a more advanced group.  This lesson invites all kinds of variations.  You might say the sky’s the limit!

Click on the image below for a full-size, full-color PDF of this easy-to-implement forces and motion lesson.  Enjoy!

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