Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bombastic Bubbles and a Giveaway!

May is crazy.  Every weekday (and most weekends) of my calendar is booked with something.  Week of the Arts, Field Day, statewide testing and a Scholastic warehouse book sale top this week's agenda. I've been wanting to add more information and pictures from my Bubbles unit but couldn't find the time last week.

Bubbles! is a super fun, amazingly engaging, inquiry based science unit centered around soap bubbles.  We focused on questioning, making observations and informational writing.

{Creating our KWL chart and our finished version}
We had a lot of background knowledge about bubbles, but creating questions was difficult.  Many students just restated things they knew.  We worked on creating questions throughout the unit.  They got much better at it.  Yea!

 {How to Blow Bubbles}
Our first experiment was to learn how to blow the best bubbles.  Although our state science standards do not require first graders to use the scientific method, I did introduce them to it because creating questions or "want to know" topics was difficult for most of my students.  For this first lesson, I gave each student a mini bottle of bubbles.  They were 6 for $1 in the wedding section of Dollar Tree.  They were perfect for learning to blow bubbles.  We also learned that if you shake the bubble solution, you can't blow bubbles with foam...because foam is little bubbles.  No one made that mistake again.

 {Testing bubble solutions}
I used a lot of information from this blog post.  Talk about love!  We tested 5 different solutions: dish soap (experts say Joy and Dawn are best, plain soap, not additives and not antibacterial...and use distilled water), dish soap + corn syrup, + glycerin, + molasses, and + sugar.  I found a bucket of 27 bubble wands in the toy section of Wal*Mart.  Steve Spangler says plastic pipettes are simple, cheap bubble blowers.  I found this out too late, couldn't find them locally, but found 100 for about $6 on Amazon.  Maybe next year.  For this experiment I made sure all the wands had circles to blow through as to not taint upcoming experiments.

 I poured a little solution (one at a time) into plastic plates, one plate per group. (The center photo on the bottom row shows what each group had on their desks after all 5 solutions were tested.  Each plate has a different mixture.  Then we tested the solution and recorded our observations.  For our observations we looked for amount of bubbles (none, a few or a lot) and size of the bubbles.  I encouraged kids to also note other observations.  We learned that the solution of corn syrup or glycerin makes bubbles very strong.  So strong they bounce!  Also, the bubbles landed on dry objects and didn't pop.  What?!?

We agreed on a signal to stop testing, "Wands down, hands up!"  I set a timer and let kids share and experiment for 2 minutes.  It was enough time to get a good feel for the solution and try a couple ideas that popped into their heads, but not too long to get crazy.  After each test we talked about the bubbles each solution made, recorded our observations and made an opinion on the quality (happy face, straight face or sad face).

During this experiment some kids really let their inner scientist loose!  It happened all through the unit, but especially in this lesson.  Kids that don't like anything, like this.  Kids that never volunteered information were dying to share cool stuff they observed. My little heart grew three sizes that day.

We turned our observation notes into an opinion writing piece about the best bubbles solution.

 {Unpopable Bubbles!}
How do you follow up a bonanza of bubble solutions?  Why, with unpopable bubbles of course!  We used one of the best solutions distilled water, dish soap and glycerin, plastic plates and drinking straws.  This was a general bubble fun day.  Anything they could think of and try was fair game, as long as they shared interesting things with the group.  We learned that bubbles have flat sides where they touch, you can blow a really big bubble, or a bunch of little ones and if the straw is wet, you can reinsert it in the bubble and make it bigger.  They also learned that if they blew a bubble inside the bubble the new bubble would move outside the bubble.  

 {Bubbles inside bubbles and holding a bubble}
We watched a video of how to touch a bubble without popping it.  Then we tried it!  The kids also blew a bubble, caught it on the wand, then used the straw to blow a bubble inside that bubble.  They liked watching the inside bubble get absorbed by the wand bubble making it bigger.  

Once they blew bubbles and caught them in their (wet) wands, someone tried to catch 2 bubbles, but guess what.  They could make the bubbles bounce off each other and a new game was invented!

 Of course it wasn't all fun and games.  We had to do real scientist writing papers about our experiment results.  The students ended up with a great informational book about bubbles which included a how to, the opinion piece and several information pieces about their bubble knowledge.

For an amazing workshop I attended the presenters taught us about text mapping.  It is when a book is copied into scroll form so students can see all the pieces at a glance (or walk across the classroom).  We marked it all up with Common Core goodness-text features, vocabulary, questions and answers, etc.

{Bubble Brains: a craftivity for bulletin board display}
We finished up our unit with a craft.  Each student made him or herself into a bubble blower and wrote a fact on a construction paper bubble.  I wrapped the bubble in plastic food wrap to make it shiny, then hung all the bubbles and bubble brainiac on our bulletin board.  I didn't get a picture, but I'll try to add one soon.

Bubbles! was by far the BEST unit I've taught.  The kids were genuinely engaged in learning how to be a good, questioning, experimenting, communicating scientist!  They devoured the non-fiction and fiction books about bubbles.  Every day they asked if we were doing another experiment.  So many of them told me about conversations they had with friends, siblings and their parents about bubbles.  Are you kidding me?  These kids were loving science and I love it right back!

Bubbles! is a great end-of-the-year set of activities for kids.  They can show off their science, reading and writing skills while still learning, work together and have fun!

OK, if you've made it to the end of this crazy-long post leave a comment to be entered to win your own copy of the unit!  Get 3 entries by:
  1. Leave a comment (easy-peasy)
  2. Follow my TpT store or this blog (leave a comment to let me know you did it)
  3. Post about the giveaway (blog, Facebook, Twitter, whatever...either copy to web address or just tell me you did it...I trust you.)
I'll randomly select a winner Friday afternoon!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bubbles! An Inquiry Based Informational Reading and Writing Unit

I just uploaded my newest unit and it is by far my favorite thing we've done all year!  I created it for a set of workshops I attended.  My students LOVED doing the bubble experiments, reading informational text, expository, informational and opinion writing.  I have a lot more to post about this unit, but wanted to get this up now.
It's a great unit for end-of-the-year learning fun!