Friday, September 17, 2010

Fraction Collage

This great activity helps kids to better understand the concept of fractions by visually and tactilely practicing them.

Construction paper in a variety of colors, black marker, scissors, ruler, pencil, and glue stick

1.  Choose a simple fraction to begin with.
2.  Have your students write this fraction on a sheet of construction paper with the black marker. Have them show you the numerator (top number) and the denominator (bottom number).
3.  In the beginning, a rectangle will be the easiest shape for the collage.  Later on you can try this with a circle using wedges, or triangles linked to each other in a row.  Have them draw a rectangle on another color of construction paper using the pencil and ruler.  You may need to show them an example first.   Make sure the dimensions of the shape are in whole inches, ideally in a multiple of the denominator so the shape will be easy to cut up. For example, if your fraction is 2/3, you could make a rectangle that is 6" long, since 6 is a multiple of 3.
4.  Then using the ruler, divide this rectangle up into equal segments based on the denominator.  In this example from number 3 you would divide the rectangle into 3, 2" segments.
5.  Have them cut out the whole shape from the construction paper and glue it onto the construction paper where you wrote the fraction, but on the other side.  This way they can test themselves later on as a reviewing technique.
6.  Now have them choose a third sheet of construction paper in a different color than the shape. Using the   same measurements you used in step 4, draw a number of rectangular segments equal to the numerator of the    fraction. Using the same example again, you would cut two, 2" wide segments so they fit into the segments of the whole rectangle.
7.  Cut out these pieces and glue them consecutively on the shape within segments drawn.  Now your first fraction collage has been created!
8.  You can then move on to other more difficult fractions and shapes or try this link for Additional Web Practice Using Fraction Collages

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Make a Balloon Stick to the Wall

Students are amazed when seeing this trick for the first time.  This is a lesson in physical science about static electricity from negatively charged electrons.  When the students rub the balloon against their hair, they are giving the balloon a negative charge, which is known as static electricity.  If the negative charge is strong enough the balloon will stick to neutrally charges surfaces, such as a wall.  It will attract the positive charges from the wall, thus pulling the two surfaces together.  Since the balloon is a light object, it will be able to stick to the wall until the negative charges disperse.  You can also have the children hold their balloons together at the negatively charged area to see how two negatively charged surfaces repel.  Watch a Video

Supplies: balloons

1.  Have your students blow up their balloons and tie a knot at the end.
2.  Get your children to charge their balloons with static electricity (negative electrons) by gently rubbing         against their hair.
3.  Ask them to stick the charged side of the balloon against the wall or other vertical surfaces.  Did they stick?
4.  Now have them stick it against anther student’s balloon in the spot that has been charged. Did they repel?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Carnivorous Plant Terrarium Project

This is an exciting activity for students learning about plants, habitats, carnivores, or omnivores.  Carnivorous plants are usually found in nutrient-poor soil areas such as bogs.  This creates the need to trap and digest live prey, usually small insects or arthropods.  The Venus Flytrap is the most commonly known out of these species and would be a great one to include in this project as most students will already be familiar with this plant.  There are many you can select from and mix together to make beautiful and educational terrariums.  
Supplies:  Glass jar with a wide mouth,  sphagum peat moss mixed some with vermiculite as the soil base, a towel, rainwater, fresh fruit in order to attract the prey, and a variety of small carnivorous plants.
Order Plants

Getting Started:
1.  Lay the jar on its side and place on a towel.
2.  Pour a small amount of the soil mixture into the jar. Keep this leveled below the mouth of the jar.
3.  Have your students transplant the plants to the terrarium or their individual terrariums.
4.  Mist with rainwater.
5.  Find a place with the appropriate sun for your plants. Outside is best where bugs are more plentiful.
6.  Secure the jar so it doesn't roll.
7.  Put ripe fruit inside the mouth of the jar to attract bugs.
8.  Mist with rainwater when dry and continue to add ripe fruit often to attract prey.