Tech Tools to Use in the Classroom

Even though school is out, I have been busy attending conferences and prepping to present at one myself! The first conference I attended was an eLearning conference for our school district. This is the second time I’ve attended this conference. Both times, I’ve left with about 5 million ideas but an overwhelming sense of knowing there is no way I can implement them all!

After going through my notes, my goal is to take two or three of the ideas I found and try them this coming year. If I can do more, great! However, I would rather do a few things well then just try to cram everything in at once.

Here are the tech tools that made the top of my list! And I must mention that they are all free! I will definitely be trying these out once school starts again. Feel free to do the same!

Desmos and Desmos classroom 

I actually had previously stumbled upon this website during the semester and loved it. After hearing more about it at the conference, I know I will utilize it more in my math classes! Lessons are already prepared on the site and include a variety of topics. Students are able to work at their own pace through the lesson answering questions and completing tasks. Questions require students to think and respond with sentences as well, so you can see their thought process as well. Teachers are able to monitor each student’s progress as well! I loved the fact that I could see who was struggling or not staying on task right from my computer! Whether a student needs extra practice or enrichment, Desmos can help!

Sample question for inequalities lesson

Quizlet Live  

Maybe you, like me, had already heard of Quizlet. I’ve had students use this app for a few years as an option to study their vocabulary words in science class. Students type in words and definitions, then can play review games such as matching, guess the word, etc. I’ve noticed that those students that have used Quizlet typically end up performing better on any vocabulary assessments.

The people at Quizlet really amped it up for Quizlet Live and made it a whole classroom experience!  Students are randomly placed in groups and given an animal name. Why an animal? I have no idea, but being a Siberian Tiger or a Bald Eagle makes it that much more exciting! Each student must have a device within the group. The groups then must work together to find correct terms for the given definition. Since different terms are listed on different group member’s devices, everyone must participate in order for the group to finish first. What a great way to increase vocabulary proficiency!

Quizziz

This game is very similar to Kahoot  (which I have used many times and love!). The difference though, is that students can go at their own pace and do the questions by themselves. You do not need to project one question at a time on the screen. The students still can compete against each other and see their scores (which is what they love about Kahoot). You can use the quizzes that are already on the site, or you can make your own. Adapt the quiz for whatever subject you need and use it for review, pretesting or just for fun!

Start screen for Quizziz

Commonsense.org   

Students truly need to understand how to become responsible digital citizens. How do we teach this? First of all, make sure we as educators are being good role models. Sometimes we assume students know how to be responsible in this area simply because they know how to work the apps and tools. Commonsense.org has developed several lessons for the classroom that hit on many areas of digital citizenship for all grade levels including strategic searching, cyberbullying, and copyright issues. The lessons include videos and activity ideas that you can download as pdf files. There is even a “Digital Compass game where students choose what to do in a scenario and see the consequences of that choice. I have used bits and pieces of this in the past, but think I should do more with my middle schoolers.

 

So take a look! Maybe one of these will become your favorite tech tools this coming year too!

Toddler Travel Idea Roundup

Our first big plans for the summer involved taking a trip out east that would take 12 hours in the car… one way. Needless to say, doing this with a 2 ½ year old and a 7 month old is a big endeavor. My littlest is easy – eat, sleep, give her a toy or two and she will be fine. But my toddler??What were we thinking planning this?

So in preparation for the big “Toddler Travel” trip, I have rounded up many tips from other experts!

Let’s start with a packing list. I’m forever trying to remember everything that I need to remember! Whether it’s a two hour trip or a 12 hour trip, there are some essentials that need to be packed. This was helpful for me to remember those! TodaystheBestDay has many helpful tips on how to travel with a toddler. It also includes this awesome packing list that I used. Simple, but covers everything.

Packing List for A Toddler
Source: Todaysthebestday.com

 

Snacks

Pre-packing snacks on a road trip is a must for the children. And let’s be honest, even more important for myself! This idea helps make sure the car is well stocked with snacks. Prepping and sorting these healthy snacks into smaller bags prevents extra pit stops for junk food, keeps messes to a minimum and will reduce the risk of eating a whole bag of something because of boredom. (That’s my problem!) Cupcakeskissesncrumbs does a great job showing how to prep snacks for the week when you’re not traveling too!

Source: Cupcakesncrumbs.blogspot.com

 

Activities

Since school just let out, I have not had time to properly prep extra activities. If I had a couple more days to prep, I would make a few more of these fantastic busy bags from HandsOnAsWeGrow. There is a great explanation of what makes a busy bag and SO many ideas.

Even though I don’t have much time to create kits, I will be doing some of these activity ideas! Tunemyheartblog contains a few fantastic ideas for toddlers. There is a link to free printables that can be used with dot stickers. I will raid my teacher closet for a binder with page protectors and complete an awesome letter book! Hopefully that can keep my busy boy entertained for more than a few minutes! 

Purchasing a new cookie sheet from the dollar store also has been added to list of things to do before leaving. I’ll put some magnets we already own in a bag and boom! He can play with his letters! It can be used as a table for eating, coloring, or book reading too. Playdatecrashers lists a few other great ideas for the cookie sheet! 

And lastly, I found this brilliant idea. Whoever came up with this is a genius!! I know my toddler will think a bucket pulley system is the coolest! It will also prevent me from spending half the car ride facing backwards and getting car sick… maybe. Now I’ll just have to make sure to rig it up right! I do teach science, so I should be able to figure it out… Thanks Kidsactivitiesblog.com!

I know at least a few of these ideas will keep our “big” kid entertained for awhile. And our little one will then hopefully be entertained by the big kid! We will just take it one mile at a time and remember that seeing family will make it all worth it!

School’s Out!

Happy Memorial Day Everyone!

School’s out! We had our last day of school on Friday, and this is our first official day off.

So let the summer begin!

Ignore all the things left undone in your classroom. Don’t think about the ever lengthening list of things you must do before the next school year begins. No worrying about new standards, new procedures, new student right now.

Enjoy this.

Another year has wrapped up. You have taught those students for 180 days (give or take if your school isn’t as strict about that as ours!). You have poured into each learner. Invested time, money and extra hours into the lessons. You most likely have graded hundreds of assignments and papers, written many difficult parent emails, and had some tough conversations with staff, students and parents.

Rest now.

I know there are classes to take, licenses to renew and certifications to update. Seminars and conferences already are speckled throughout your June and July calendar. You will go above and beyond to challenge yourself to be a better teacher next year.

Take a break.

Summer is that time to recharge, renew and relax. And you should do that. Spend extra time with your family, especially those kiddos. Take a step back from your classroom. Don’t check your school email for a week (or more!). The next time you are on Pinterest, avoid looking for pins on first day of school activities.

The first days of summer are always the sweetest. Drink them in.

In a blink, the first day of school will be upon us again. A new group of students will need your time, your attention and your love. But that day is not today.

School’s out!

Happy Summer!

Rock or Mineral… Candy Style!

Rocks and minerals are not my favorite topics to teach in middle school. However, it seems like every year, students are enthralled with this subject area! Maybe it is the way certain rocks shine or the texture of some minerals. They constantly want to touch, look and compare my rock and mineral samples.

Doing labs for this unit is a must. Almost everyday, I have students comparing and identifying different minerals and rocks. However, students were having difficulty knowing whether their sample was a rock or a mineral.

As a class, we discussed the requirements of a mineral:

  1. Naturally formed solid from inorganic material
  2. The chemical composition does not vary
  3. 3D structure

And we discussed how rocks are different:

  1. Made up of one or more minerals
  2. Naturally formed solid from inorganic OR organic material
  3. The chemical composition CAN vary
  4. Structure can vary – not necessarily 3D

Yet, these rules were still a little vague and unclear to the students. So I found a way to practice applying the rules with… candy of course!

I did find the original idea online, but I now cannot find the source or website.

The basic idea of the lab is to give students several different samples of candy. Students must analyze each type by looking at the outside, and possibly even taking a small bite to see the inside! Then they decide whether the candy sample is more rock-like or mineral-like. They must provide a clear reason why they chose what they did from one of the requirements of rocks and minerals we had previously discussed.

I’ve listed some of the candies that I have used in the past and what most students have said they were. The great thing about this is that sometimes students have very good arguments for one side or another. A few times, I have thought one sample would for sure be a rock, but students gave an equally valid reason for it qualifying as a mineral! I try then to make the candy samples very clear cut as to not cause more confusion!

Candy Sample Ideas:

  • Bite-sized Snickers (Rock because it has several “minerals” or ingredients inside)
  • Marshmallows (Mineral because it has a set chemical composition.)
  • Hershey Kiss (Mineral because it has a “3D Kiss” shape and a set chemical composition)
  • Crispy M&M – I like to use crispy or pretzel rather than peanut because of possible allergies. Some classrooms are not allowed to have any nuts whatsoever! (Rock because it is made up of different “minerals” and can vary in composition)
  • Kit Kat Bar (or piece) – This is one that could go either way, but I like the reasons behind it. Some students say a rock because it has several “minerals” inside. Others say mineral, since it has a set chemical composition and layering (and since we talk about mineral fracture, it makes sense!)
  • Jelly Bean (Mineral because it has a set chemical composition)

You can really use any types of candy or snacks you might have around. Kids love it!

We ended the lab with students looking at actual samples and they had to determine whether each sample was a rock or a mineral. I picked rocks and minerals that followed the rules so as not to trick or confuse the students, and they aced it!

I think it is safe to say that this activity “rocked”!

Food Web Diagrams

  This is a lesson that, I admit, turned into something way better than I had planned. I needed a time filler activity but I also wanted students to put the concepts we had been discussing into practice. After a quick Pinterest search (obviously) on food webs and food chain activities. I stumbled ond this post from STEMmom.org. There are awesome ideas with free cards available to do sorting and organizing activities for several grade levels. I  saw terms like primary consumer, secondary consumer etc. and I immediately knew I wanted to use them! Though the post had several great ideas, I decided to take this cards and have students make their own food webs. I grabbed sheets of bulletin board paper to lay out the cards. Rather than drawing arrows, I thought using string might be fun too!

Materials.
  • 1 set of these cards per group
  • Large pieces of paper or poster board (I used sheets of bulletin board paper)
  • String/Yarn

I gave each group one set of cards and told them to make a food web with the pictures, string and labels. I didn’t really know exactly how the students would do this (and that was part of the greatness of it!) but they even better than I expected!

Immediately groups got to work cutting out the pictures, arranging them on their papers and labeling the different categories of organisms. Without any additional prompting from me, students were having in depth conversations about where to put the plants. Some questioned what they should do with the decomposers. They debated with each other how to tie in the picture of the sun when it was the source of all the energy, but not really part of the food web. As I was walking around, I hardly had to do anything but listen to their conversations and encourage them to do what they thought was best. They students were using the terms and applying our food web concepts and even self correcting among themselves! A teacher’s dream.

They ended up getting so wrapped up in the activity, this 15 minute filler turned into almost a whole class period. But it was so worth it! Because students could arrange and rearrange the different organisms, I could see they were truly understanding how food webs worked.

Once all the webs were completed, we did a “gallery walk”. Each group spent 1-2 minutes looking at each web. It was interesting to see how each web turned out differently, yet they were still correct in their thinking processes. I overheard one group say “This is the best poster. It’s messy like ours!” That particular poster and strings connecting here, there, and everywhere!

Thanks STEMmom.org for the cards and inspiration! This quick time filler activity turned into something I will definitely do again in future years!

Dissection Week!

This week was a big one for Mrs. O’s science classes. We had experiments and tons of science-y stuff going on in every corner. This made for many happy students and one tired teacher, but an overall productive and successful week.

Owl Pellets

Every year, my 6th grade class dissects owl pellets. This activity occurs after several lessons on adaptations, ecosystems and food chains. We talk specifically about owls and their adaptations and then I introduce the owl pellet. I always have to clear up some misconceptions: owl pellets are not poop! This great video shows that first hand. What a cute baby owl… until… the pellet is released! It gets them every time! 

The students spend time separating the fur from the bones, then sorting the bones that they find, and finally placing them and gluing
them on black paper. At first, students are completely grossed out by the pellet and are mortified that I won’t let them use gloves. After a few minutes of seeing what cool bones are inside though, most students are totally into the activity! They can’t wait to see if they have a mouse, a shrew or even a bird skeleton within their pellets.

Frog Dissection

In addition to teeny bones sitting all over my counters, this week was frog dissection week. This is one of the highlights of the year for my 7th grade students. We spend months studying cells and the human body, and our frog dissection is the grand finale to the unit!

The students look like little surgeons!

We spend a few classes preparing by briefly learning about frogs and their adaptations and reviewing some of the body systems. I have a coloring diagram of the frogs that students use to help them identify the parts of the frog ahead of time. We discuss the process and the tools, and then the frog day arrives!

It takes two class periods to do justice to the frog. I have the students look at the outside parts including the legs, toes, and special eyelids. Students check out the muscle layer, then open up the abdominal cavity to see the organs inside. It is so fun to see how excited they get when they are able to identify some of the organs. I see dots connecting when they observe the different system present in the frog and how similar they are to the human body!

To be honest, these activities take a lot of prep work and several classes. It isn’t easy. But these are the kinds of activities that students will remember for years to come. These are the lessons that bring science to life and teach more than I could in two weeks of taking notes. The students will discover first hand how the world works and will be inspired by God’s awesome creation. The looks of excitement (and horror) on their faces when they start opening up their pellet or cutting through the frog’s skin make those preps worth it.

You can order both the owl pellets and the frogs online. I order mine through Carolina Biological and always seem to get quality products for a decent price. And no, they did not pay me to say that, although that would be nice!

It was a busy week, but it was one full of learning and excitement for science.

Bubblicious Bubbles: An Inquiry Activity

The weather outside has been absolutely beautiful here the last few days. Trees are blooming with flowers, the sun has been shining brightly, and temperatures sit comfortably in the 70s. Playing outside in the grass, riding tricycles and going for walks are currently parts of our evening routine. It makes me anxious for summer break to come soon!

One of my son’s current obsessions is bubbles. He seems to always want to blow bubbles (and do it himself which means he is a sticky mess by the end). But I love them too. There’s just something about the colorful spheres, floating and bobbing through the air that make you happy! After watching my son one afternoon, I remembered an activity that I had done several years ago that I wanted to bring back and do with my students!

Apparently, middle schoolers absolutely love bubbles too. As soon as they saw bubble wands on my side counter, they were getting excited! “Are we going to get to blow bubbles?” Will we be outside today?” “Can we make bubbles this class period?” etc.

I wanted the kids to not only blow bubbles, but to investigate a little further on what makes a good bubble. In this case, we needed to figure out what types of solutions made the longest lasting bubbles.

Making bubble solution is relatively easy. It takes 3 ingredients: water, dish soap, and gylcerin (which you can find in first aid sections at stores or order online). I recently heard that light corn syrup can also be used in place of glycerin. I had never tried that before, so I decided to this year, and have the students test it for me!

Bubbles Recipe

  • ½  cup water
  • 1 tablespoon dish soap
  • ½ tablespoon glycerin (or corn syrup)

Other materials needed:

  • Beakers or cups
  • Canisters (optional)
  • Bubble wands (I had collected a few from empty bubble containers over the years)
  • Stopwatch

Student were placed into groups of two and three, and first decided which bubble solutions that they would like to test and compare. They could either choose to use two different types of soap in their recipes, or compare using glycerin with corn syrup. I had about 4 different dish soaps available that were a variety of brands and
colors (and scents!). If they choose to compare the corn syrup and glycerin bubble solutions, they had to choose one type of soap to use for both mixtures. We emphasized how we only wanted to change ONE variable to make sure we had fair tests!

Next, they followed the recipe to mix up their own bubble solutions, making sure to change that one thing for each recipe. Students put their solution
s into canisters (with lids!) to easily take their solutions outside. If it wasn’t clear which solution was which from the color, students labeled the canisters.

Once outside, a few sample bubbles were blown, just to make sure they could actually blow the bubbles! Then, they started timing. Students blew a bubble, and timed how long it lasted before popping. They did at least three bubbles with each solution, then found the average.

They were having a great time chasing their bubbles around the soccer field!

Results

Once data was   collected, they worked in their groups and analyzed their results. During our discussion, we found that the glycerin seemed to work better than the corn syrup. They hypothesized this was because the corn syrup made the bubbles slightly more dense. Students also found that certain soaps did work better than others, but weren’t sure why this might be.

Overall, the bubbles were a success. Students played outside, but were still learning and investigating! I feel like I could take this activity and go even further with doing more tests, graphing more results and having students make their perfect bubble solution!

Feel free to use this idea in your own classroom, or just make your own bubble solution at home with the kids. I do have a worksheet that I made up to go along with the activity, so leave a comment below if you would like it!

 

Foil and Pipe Cleaners – Get Creative!

What do you do when you find out last minute that your guest teacher can’t come teach your STEM class? Look to Pinterest, obviously. I found out last minute I had to teach a class and only had about 20 minutes to come up with and prepare an activity for that period. Luckily, all you Pinterest people and your great ideas came to the rescue. I found a great last minute activity here and immediately knew I had to do this. I planned, prepped and prepared for the class in less than 10 minutes! Win!

This activity is pretty open ended, which I loved for my students. I had the materials available in my classroom too, so all I had to do was pull them out, and I was ready to go!

Simple Materials:

  • 1 Large sheet of foil per group
  • Several pipe cleaners per group (I gave them up to 7, but you can choose the amount!)
  • Scissors, glue sticks (I allowed students to use these, but you don’t have to!)

Task:

Make the best creation you can with the materials given to you

Putting it all together:

Students immediately began asking if there were any other requirements or tasks. I told them, they needed to think about what being the “best” meant. Does that mean having a really useful purpose? Or maybe just the coolest looking piece? Or maybe something that would be super fun to play with. They didn’t have to use all the materials, but couldn’t use any additional materials in their creation, besides scissors and glue.

At first, students didn’t know what to think, but once I paired them up and they started discussing with their partners, I heard ideas flying.

I gave students a few minutes to plan, then handed out materials. Groups had 15 minutes to create something with their pipe cleaners and foil. Walking around, listening to their ideas, I was astonished at their creativity! Most ideas were very different from each other as well, which I loved.

Once the 15 minutes of work time was up, student groups had one minute to share why they thought their design was the best… give a sort of promo for their product. This really helped some groups demo their designs, or make a funny comment that helped the rest of the class see more of the group’s creativity and thought that went into their product.

After all the presentations, I handed students a slip of paper and told them to write down their #1 and #2 choice on which was “best” and they could NOT vote for their own.

Results:

In our class, a dinosaur hat for a child received the most votes, which a recreation of a scene from Star Wars received second place (a type of glider was close behind in third!).

I was extremely pleased with the way the activity turned out and would definitely do this again with a different class. I did it with middle school kids, but I could see any grade level enjoying it.

Let the creative juices flow!

CupBrookies: The Ultimate Treat Mash-up!

I often bake treats to bring into work. Sometimes it is for the teachers – we take snacks very seriously as a staff. Every week, someone is assigned to bring in a treat to share! Other times, I bake treats for the kiddos in my classroom. We have parties, I love food demonstrations and lessons, but sometimes, the students earn their treat. My math classes receive rewards for turning in continuous homework. You can see my post about how that works here.

Recently, one of my classes won a treat day. I asked the students what they would like me to bring in for their reward. Earlier in the year, I had made them “Brookies” which combine chocolate chip cookies and brownies into something rich and delicious. So this time, some students called out “More brookies!” Others shouted “Cupcakes!” We took a vote. The class was split. Since we were at a stalemate, I told the students I would check the ingredients I had at home, and that would ultimately determine the final decision.


Looking in my pantry, I saw I had plenty of cupcake liners, as well as a brownie mix. Why not bake brownies in cupcake liners? This would mean brownie lovers would be happy, and it would mean no cutting and serving brownies (which I always make a total mess of!). I figured I could top the brownies with a type of frosting… and what better flavor to add to this mix than cookie dough! I searched Pinterest, and to my surprise, there were several cookie dough frosting recipes! Win!

Brownie Recipe  

I typically use a box mix because it is super fast and follow the directions for “more cake like brownies”. This usually means adding an egg to the original recipe. However, you can use whatever brownie recipe you choose!    

Rather than putting the brownies in a pan, grab a muffin tin and prepare the cupcake liners inside. Scoop the brownie batter into the cupcake liners. I fill them about half way, making sure to leave extra room for more frosting. After all, these are brownies, not cupcakes, so they are not meant to bake all the way to the top of the liner! While the brownies are baking, make the frosting.

Cookie dough frosting

I found the recipe of this frosting at If You Give A Blonde A Kitchen which is a great site full of other awesome recipes. I haven’t tried the cupcake recipe with the frosting, but I’m sure that would be fantastic as well!

Frosting

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • Mini chocolate chips or Chocolate shavings

Directions

  • In a large mixing bowl, whip the butter (it’s much easier with a stand mixer or electric hand mixer) until fluffy, about 5 minutes. I find that sometimes I need to stop the mixer to scrape the butter down to make sure all the butter is being whipped!
  • On low speed, add the brown sugar and powdered sugar and combine completely, then add the flour.
  • Turn the mixer to medium speed and add the vanilla and salt and until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Add the milk a little at a time until it is frosting consistency. I found that you may not need to use all the milk.
  • Stir in some of the chocolate chips or shavings. (I usually do not have mini chocolate chips and the regular ones are too big for this frosting. So what I usually do is take regular chocolate chips and chop them up into smaller pieces! A little rustic, but that is ok!)
  • Use a spatula to put the frosting in a pastry bag (or if you are not fancy, like me, use a regular Ziploc bag).
  • I typically chill the frosting in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so before frosting, until the brownies have cooled completely.
  • Frost each brownie. It helps to have the little extra liner so you can really load up on the frosting.Sprinkle the top with mini chocolate chips or shavings.
  • These can be stored in an airtight container for a few days, but I actually like to keep them in the fridge to make sure the frosting stays the right consistency. My students actually said they are better cold too!

I actually did not have a name for these little wonders at first, but after serving them to my students, came up with the mash up name. One stated that the desserts were like brookies, but better – Cupcake Brookies – and the name “CupBrookies” came to be.

So the next time you can’t decide between cookies, brownies or cupcakes, don’t! Bake up a batch of these and everyone wins!

 

Teddy Graham Natural Selection – A “Beary” Fun Science Activity

    In one week, I did at least 5 different activities involving food or candy. No wonder I’m not any closer to my pre-baby weight! However, out of all the delicious demos this week, the Teddy Graham Natural Selection takes the cake… or the cracker?

I originally found the idea for this activity when I was student teaching and trying to come up with a creative way to teach adaptations and natural selection to a bunch of 7th grade students.I found a lesson here that I absolutely LOVED and adapted it for my younger crew. My cooperating teacher at the time thought the lesson went wonderfully and told me she planned to use it in future years. I have used it every year since.

The lesson addresses concepts of adaptations, natural selection or “survival of the fittest.” In sixth grade, we spend time discussing adaptations and how they help organisms survive, so that is when the Teddy Grahams make an appearance.

Teddy Graham Natural Selection

Have you ever noticed that there are two shapes of Teddy Grahams? One type keeps its hands up high and the other down low. Two shapes represent our two
adaptations!

Materials needed:
  • Teddy Grahams – You need about 20-25 for each student. For my class of 24 students, this took about 2 boxes
  • Cups – One for Each Student
  • Lab Activity Sheet (comment if interested in receiving this!)
Directions:
  1. Describe to students the situation, which goes something like this:
  2. You are bear eating monsters, but they only like certain bears. There are two kinds of bears that live in the forest — Happy bears and Sad bears. Happy bears love to frolic in the woods, eat sweet honey and dance to the music of the trees. Because of this, happy bears taste sweet and delicious. They also are easy to catch! Sad bears tend to keep to themselves, feed on roots and bugs, and sneak around quietly. They are much harder to track down, and leave a bitter taste in your mouth that you do not enjoy! Hence, your diet consists of happy bears only. Every year, new bears are born in the forest.

  3. Students predict what will happen to each bear population over time.
  4. Next, students start by blindly taking out 5 bears from your cup
  5. They record how many happy and how many sad bears are there out of the 5 on their activity sheet
  6. Students then may eat the happy bears!
  7. For every sad bear left in their pile, they may pull out a new bear. For example, if three sad bears were left, they blindly pull out three new bears, making the total 6 bears.
  8. Again, students record the happy and sad, eat the happy, and for every sad bear left, a new bear is taken from the cup. Note that these new bears can be happy or sad bears – whatever happens to be pulled out.
  9. Depending on the amount of happy bears in each “generation”, students may go through this process between 3 and 6 times before their bears run out!

After there are no more bears in the cup, students calculate percentages for each generation. To do this, they take the number of happy bears and divide by the total number of bears for THAT round. They repeat this with the sad bears. Finally, students make a double line graph, recording the percentages for each bear. All of this is included on the activity sheet.

Once everyone has eaten the happy bears, we discuss which bears had the adaptation that helped them survive. Students understand that even though both were bears, the sad bears’ behavior helped them to survive. In fact, you could take it a step further and discuss what might happen to them as bear eating monsters if the happy bears died out. Would the bear eating monsters that can handle bitter tastes (and could eat the sad bears) be better equipped to survive?

By the end of the lesson, I always get one or two students asking me if the sad bears really taste bad… too funny! Your class will never look at Teddy Grahams the same way again! Have a “beary” fun time with this one!