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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Magic School Bus - Plant Lesson for K-Gr.2- Part 2 of 3

First I had to catch up the two students that had been absent on the first lesson. Then I asked kids to report on what homework they tried. Some of the students already had roots on their seedlings and their cuttings. [I asked them to bring them back for the family night, but no one did.]

I started the lesson by asking the kids if they knew what the word “cycle” meant. None of them did. I gave them the hint of the words bi-“cycle” and tri-“cycle”. Then they were able to make good educated guesses. We established that a cycle was something that goes around and around. [They enjoyed understanding where the words bicycle and tricycle come from.] Then we discussed the cycle of the seasons. [I was surprised at the number of kids at 6 and 7 who didn't know the order of the seasons, since I had taught this to my kids at three years of age, but I'm a science teacher.]

We went over the order several times to show how a cycle repeats itself. I had some kids draw seasons on the board in designated spots. Then I had other kids draw arrows to indicate the order. [This should have worked out well since I had eight kids, but one kindergarten was too shy to go to the board to even draw an arrow. I asked her to name someone to do it for her. When she refused to do even that I asked her to point to someone. She did that happily. I've been away from small kids a long time.]

Then we finished the Magic School Bus plant video. The video ended with a discussion of energy transfer so I built off of that, by introducing more related cycles.

In this Energy Cycle worksheet we discussed the three new words producer, consumer and decomposer, relating them to produce department [most of the kids didn't know that one], shopping consumer [the kids did know], and compost [the kids had an easy time with because of the bug on the banana peel.] I had the kids make a green arrow to show energy going from the producer to the consumer. A red arrow going from the consumer to the decomposer and a brown arrow to complete the cycle.

Then I introduced the Oxygen/Carbon Dioxide Cycle, discussing the need for clean air from plants even in houses and buildings. [The kids liked talking about the house plants in their homes.] I had the kids write O2 in the two clouds coming from the plants, explaining that O2 was just a short hand way to write oxygen because oxygen floated around with two atoms in each molecule. [I was able to build off of the 2nd grader who liked to throw the word molecule around even if he didn't use it correctly all the time.] Then the kids colored the arrows coming from the O2 clouds blue. Then I had the kids write CO2 in the one cloud coming from the person, explaining that it was a short had way of writing carbon dioxide since that molecule had one carbon and two oxygen atoms in it. [The kids liked knowing this and I mentioned that they may have heard people referring to water as H2O and explained that there were two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom in that. Knowing a little chemistry made them feel smart.] Then they colored the one arrow from the person red, completing the cycle.

Then we discussed Food Chains. I invited kids to come to the front of the room to demonstrate a Food Chain. The first kindergartner to volunteer brought her stuffed cow. So we decided that she would be grass for her cow to eat. I labeled her a producer and the cow a consumer. The next volunteer wanted to be an alligator. [The class laughed as he threatened to eat the stuffed cow. I was glad for the stuffed cow to keep Mrs. Grass from feeling threatened by Mr. Alligator.] I labeled Mr. Alligator as also a consumer, but Mrs. Cow was a primary consumer and Mr. Alligator was a secondary consumer. My last volunteer figured out that an alligator might be eaten by a T-Rex. [She was all too happy to copy the Mr. Alligator's threats to make the class laugh again. Fortunately Mr. Alligator was less easily threatened than Mrs. Grass, so the demo was a success. Yeah for small class sizes that allow stuffed cows to come to the rescue!] I labeled Mrs. T-Rex as also a consumer, but a tertiary consumer.

Then I gave the kids this food pyramid worksheet and had them draw lines from the plants to the producer levels, from the rabbit, bug and person to the primary consumer level, from the fox and person to the secondary consumer level and from the alligator to the tertiary consumer level. [Optional-The person could also have a line to the tertiary consumer level.] I considered having the kids make a live pyramid, but we didn't have a lot of room or any mats for safety. But I've kids up to 6 gr. do this outside in grass and it's very popular and leads to lots of giggling, but concretely demonstrates the loss of energy at each level and the need to have fewer members at each level than the one before.

Then we played the Photosynthesis Freeze Game from Lesson One that had been unfinished due to the fire drill.

You are welcome to use any of these ideas and worksheets that I made up for free. If you want copies, just leave a request in my comments and I can send you the jpeg file to download and print.

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