Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Testing Testing 123...

Yahoo! Midterms are over and I'm finally done grading and logging all of the results.  Report card grades are done and the much awaited second semester is here!  To some extent I can't believe we are halfway through the year.  There are however other days (like today) that it feels like it should be spring already!  The midway point in the year is tough for my 11 year-old students.  They are faced with 4 exams covering all the content they have learned since September, (plus a whole skill set that they "should" have brought with them to 6th grade). During all the chaos and stress of midterms week I noticed that many of my students seem to struggle with using study strategies for test preparation.  I created this very simple study organizer (no is not very fancy) for them to use for any subject.  Since many of my students took more than one and then used them for multiple subjects, I thought it might get even more use if I posted it here for download.
I now keep a ready stock of these in my classroom (copied on card weight paper) for students to use as needed.  This is the generation of test..test... and test again, so I feel I owe it to my students to help them through the process if possible.  Now I'm off to hunt for more study organization sheets online that might help my kiddos prepare for the next big test....and the next.  

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Periodic Table Game Giveaway

In attempt to rescue my 6th grade students from yet another desk-bound activity during midterms week, I created this up and out of your seats Periodic Table game.  In "The Amazing Race: Periodic Table Edition" students work in 10 element teams to race through 80 clues.  It was such a hit, that I not only decided to post it in my TpT store, but also to give away up to 5 copies of this 25 plus page resource here on my blog.  Keep reading to find out how to get your free copy!

Download a preview here:

So, you have checked out the preview and you want dibs on a copy of the full game? Here's how to make it happen:  1) Join as a blog follower. 2) Leave a comment that includes your email address.  3) I'll send you the file!


If you would like to purchase this game, visit my TpT store:

Happy Teaching...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Element Videos and Freebie Worksheet

In this short (2:19) video, Oxygen tries to make it at ELEMENTary school! My students loved this video, which was a great springboard into our discussion about how elements bond together to form molecules and compounds.
Oxygen from Christopher Hendryx on Vimeo.
A catchy tune and some memorable examples make this video perfect for the middle school science student. Check it out!
They Might Be Giants - Meet the Elements from They Might Be Giants on Vimeo.

We watched this video just for fun in class and then I created this worksheet to extend the lesson for my tech-savy students.  Not all my students have internet access, so I didn't assign this for a required homework.  A few of my struggling students took interest and so I awarded them extra credit (which they really need) for correctly completing this follow-up worksheet at home or in the school library.
Click on the image below to download this worksheet!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

You are my density...

We wrapped up our density studies this week with this "Dunk'n for Density" lab from  It is a great way to assess whether students not only understand the meaning of mass, volume and density, but it also requires students to apply their knowledge!  If you haven't already tried this in your classroom, you should check it out!  It is one of the best 6th grade level density labs that I have seen.  Kudos to the folks at for this easy to implement idea!
Here is an example of the canisters once they have been modified to float, sink and suspend.  

The kids really enjoy this lab, although we kinda took the fun out of it by making it a density unit test!  (It is the only test that I could find that required real application.)     Along with my awesome colleagues, we set up 28 lab stations (1 per student) as pictured below.  If it were not a test, kids certainly could have worked in groups and shared materials, but I'm a big fan of very small groups or individual work on labs when possible.  
Note: Students were asked to bring a dish towel to work on, because as the containers are taken in and out of the tub the tables get soaking wet.  (The brown paper towels the school provides, just couldn't hack it.)

Off to plan some activities for elements and the periodic table...  

Happy Teaching!

Monday, January 7, 2013

What's ahead in 2013?

Out with the old and in with the new!  I'm new to Linky Parties, so I really hope that I'm doing this right!  I've decided to celebrate the new year along with Michelle at Making it as a Middle School Teacher and a long list of talented teacher bloggers.  Here it goes...

So here are my 13 thoughts for the new year...

Happy New Year to all of the bloggers that continue to inspire my blogging mojo!

Happy Teaching...

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Candy Bar Density Demo

My students loved this easy candy bar density demonstration using a Snickers and a 3 Musketeer bar.  The demonstration addresses a few target questions related to the study of density such as; How can we measure the volume of a rectangular prism?  How do we measure the mass of an object?  How can we calculate the density of a candy bar? How does density relate to sinking and floating?  What is the density of water?  Does an object's density change when it is cut in half?

The students LOVE that the Snickers sinks but the 3 Musketeers floats... Ah ha!

3 Musketeers
Metric Ruler
Triple Beam Balance or Scale
Clear tub of water
Student observation charts
  1.  Measure the length, width and height of each candy bar.  Use the formula V= l x w x h to determine the volume of each candy bar.
  2. Measure the mass of each candy bar using a triple beam balance or electronic scale.
  3. Use the formula D= m/v to determine the density of each candy bar. 
  4. Using the data gathered so far, ask students to predict if the candy bars will sink, float or suspend.  I had an extra candy bar cut in half for students to see the inside.  We talked about how density is how “tightly packed an object’s atoms are.”  Looking at the candy inside seemed to help my visual learners.
  5. Put the candy bars in water and observe!  Discuss the density of pure water (1 g/mL) in comparison to the densities you calculated for each candy.
  6. Ask the students to predict what will happen if the candy is cut in half.  (Some might say that the density will be less or cut in half and so they think that the snickers will float when cut.)
  7. Show students how cutting the candy bars does not impact their densities.  In our class we talked about how density is how packed the candy is inside. Cutting a snickers bar in half doesn’t impact what it is made of.  Each piece is still tightly packed with peanuts and caramel!
  8. Survey students:  Do you like a more dense candy (snickers) or a less dense candy (3 musketeers)?  Treat your super scientists to a candy snack of their choice!
Here is an example of what my students recorded in their science journals during the demonstration.

If you are teaching density, you might be interested in my SINK OR SWIM Density Review Game on TpT.  Check it out!

Thanks for stopping by Kate’s Classroom CafĂ©.  Happy Teaching!

Old Dresser TV Stand

On occasion, I'd like to blog about things completely unrelated to school.  In A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Anna Quindlen states "You cannot really be first-rate at your work if your work is all you are." (This short book is a must read for busy moms!)

So in 2013, I hope to blog a little more about life in a addition to all the work I love to do in my classroom.  On that note, here is one of the latest projects we completed around our house.  After looking at TV stands in the big box stores and being disappointed with their quality and construction, we decided to repurpose an old dresser.  We removed the top drawer, drilled a hole in the back for cords and then cut and stained a shelf to hold the cable box and DVD player.  It is the perfect size for our TV and the bottom two drawers hold all of our movies and games!


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