My little students have been showing some responsibility with using materials as well as taking care of them, so I thought I would try something that I know they would find super exciting. A book, a black light, a chameleon, and some fun glow in the dark/black light reactive activities for the win! We started out by reading the story Neon Leon by Jane Clarke. This is such a fun story about a chameleon trying to fit in despite being so bright. The students were fascinated by the black light ("but Mrs. Wood, why is the black light purple?") and how their clothes changed color when they were by the light.
After reading the story, the first thing we did was a little scavenger hunt. I gave each student a chameleon card and asked them to walk around the room holding their chameleon up to different things in the room. Our chameleons blended in to everything! To make the chameleon for students to explore their surroundings with, I found an image of a chameleon on The Noun Project (my go-to for simple images!). I then made a template using Cricut Design Space to cut out the rectangles and chameleons. With a quick lamination and cut, they were ready to go!
After our little scavenger hunt, student made a necklace that had neon beads as well as UV reactive beads. These beads were just like chameleons - they change based on the lighting around them! This was a great fine motor activity for the students and they had something to walk away with to share with their parents at home.
As I am still learning about this group of young students, I am trying to incorporate some free play time at the end of all of our activities. This allows them to use the materials we had as part of our lesson in a way that is meaningful and creative in their own way. This also gives them opportunities to communicate and collaborate together to build new things. For the free play time this week, I wanted to introduce some resources that interact with the black light. The kiddos had a blast!
These blocks are not the traditional wooden SumBlox. I have some and students really like them, but often are frustrated with the number 4 in particular. I looked on Thingiverse and actually found some Stacking Numbers, resized them so they are a bit larger (for the little hands and big thinkers!) and could work interchangeably (for the most part) with the wooden numbers. I love how these numbers help students make visual connections between numbers! These can be downloaded from Thingiverse if you would like to print your own!
Last week I used the Magnet Tiles with this group of students and to say they enjoyed them would be an understatement. I only have a small set of the glow in the dark Magnet Tiles, but know what a hit they are for students (especially under the lights) makes me want to get a few more sets so more students can experience them.
I have seen the amazing wooden Flockmen before and love the open-ended play that they provide. I do not have any of the wooden ones, but found the dimensions on their website, so I 3D printed some. I opted to print them in glow in the dark or neon filament so that they can be used in regular classroom lighting as well as Glow Days. Are they perfect? No. Did the students love them? Yes! These can be downloaded from Thingiverse if you would like to print your own!
Towards the end of the summer, I received a promotional email from Wikki Stix about their National Unplugged Play Day on September 29. They were offering a kit of Wikki Stix and activities for only $5 with free shipping - I was sold! I have Wikki Stix as part of my STEAM resources collection, but I feel I can never have enough. Students use them in a variety of ways for creating where some can be reused and others, well, they end up as smooth balls of waxy yarn.
I decided to take advantage of the National Unplugged Day to work in a Learning Landscape. I knew this was going to be a bit of stretch in thinking for the students, but knew they were up for a good challenge! The teacher I was working with told me they were reviewing multiplication and factors, so I decided to work in my new Sum Blox with the Wikki Stix.
I started out by reading the story, Unplugged by Steve Anthony as a way to introduce National Unplugged Day. I love a good picture book and even though I was reading this to 4th graders, they still loved it! Our activity was going to be that the students had to select a number (between 4-20) and then determine all of the factors/fact families for that number. Once they determined the factors, they had to use those numbers to design a piece of playground equipment using the Sum Blox (of their determined factors) and the Wikki Stix. I feel like I had a lot of blank eyes staring at me when I explained this (to be expected!), but then I showed them how the Sum Blox "worked" and I think the pieces started fitting together.
I intentionally did not want to show them what I had created, as then I knew I would see every group using the number 10 and building slides. I did this activity with 2 classes on the same day, and I only felt that I had to show one group my example (as they were struggling a bit more with the concept).
My focus for this activity (other than the content aspect of multiplication factors) was for students to be placed into a situation where they had to really collaborate to make one piece of playground equipment. Working together in groups can be difficult at any age, but I feel it is especially important for younger students to learn how to share their ideas, listen, and create with others. I felt that this would be a good activity for them to really dig deep into not only what they know, but how they can work with one another to produce something greater than what they could on their own.
Student Playground Equipment Creations
I saw so many great creations from this mini Learning Landscape EDU project! There were swings, monkey bars, gaga ball pits, slides, zip lines, and so many other creations that I didn't get a chance to get pictures of because I was caught up in building and sharing! Some groups put some great details into their creations beyond the basic playground equipment - people, balls, and other action pieces.
The final part of this activity was a gallery walk where each group had the opportunity to share what they created. I received a microphone as part of a Donors Choose project, and it was amazing how one of the classes had such confidence in sharing what they created with the microphone. The gallery walk also gave students the chance to be proud of what they created and show off their hard work.
For Next Time
I knew this was going to be a hard activity for students to grasp. Taking something they are familiar with (multiplication factors) and then putting a completely different spin on it and turning it into playground equipment was a tall order. Some things I would do differently next time:
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