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It's Snow Much Fun To Make Crystal Snowflakes!

Hello everyone!  I'm linking up with some of my blogging buddies for a Snow Much Fun Blog Hop, so I thought I'd do a post about snowflakes.  What can be more fun than snowflakes? 

I love teaching about anything having to do with snow.  I guess part of the reason I enjoy it so much is because as a child growing up in Florida it NEVER snowed. I wanted to see snow so badly.  When we moved to Montgomery, Alabama, I saw light snow flurries a couple of times, but it wasn't until my junior year in college, that I saw a real snow.  I was so excited.  I built my first snowman, and some friends and I got trays from the dining hall and had a blast sitting on them and sliding down hills on campus.

In honor of all things snowy, I thought I'd share with you how to make crystal snowflakes.  Kids love to make these, and besides that, they're quick and easy to make in the classroom, and they require very few ingredients.  So let's get started!

You will need:

a wide mouthed glass jar
Borax crystals - you can find these in the laundry section of the grocery story
white pipe cleaners
a pencil or wooden dowel
measuring cup
measuring spoon
blue food coloring (optional)
boiling pan
wooden spoon


Step 1: Cut your pipe cleaner into three equal pieces.  Connect them by overlapping and twisting them in the center.  Don't worry if they're not exactly perfect, because they're not always perfect in nature!  Attach a string to the tip of one of the arms. Tie the string to a wooden dowel or pencil.   
Step 2:  Boil enough water to fill the jar.  Next, pour 2-3 cups of boiling water into your jar.  The amount of water you use will depend on the size of your jar.   Add 3 tablespoons of Borax per cup of boiling water.  Add one tablespoon at a time and stir to dissolve the Borax with each tablespoon you add.  You can also add one drop of blue food coloring to each cup of water.
Step 3:  Hang the snowflake in the middle of the jar.  The pencil will rest across the top of the jar.  You can turn the pencil to adjust the length of the string.  You need to make sure the snowflake is fully covered by the Borax solution, but you do not want your snowflake to touch the sides or bottom of the jar!  If you do this experiment first thing in the morning, your crystal snowflakes will have formed by the end of the school day.  If you do it in the afternoon, leave your snowflake in the Borax solution overnight.  You will be surprised by a beautiful crystal snowflake the next morning!
Of course, while snowflakes are fun to make.  It's important that we teach the students how snowflakes are formed in nature.  I have a fun FREE  PowerPoint that your students will love! It is written in simple language even first graders can understand. 
Just click on the image to download your free copy! 
The Birth of a Snowflake

That's all I have to share with you today!  Your next stop is  Emily Nolan at Munchkins Inc.
Click on her button below to go to her post!
Munchkins Inc
Enjoy the hop! I hope you have Snow Much Fun!

How To Use Humor To Keep Your Students Engaged

Several years ago, I read the book The Highly Engaged Classroom by Robert J. Marzano and Debra J. Pickering.    I absolutely love this book!  It is filled will tons of strategies to keep your students engaged in your lessons.  One of the strategies they talk about is the use of humor and unusual information to pique your students' interest.

I have used humor in my classroom for years.  It has always been a way to help my students retain information.  If you look, there are hundreds of books and videos which incorporate humor to make the content more memorable for students.  When teaching social studies, one of my favorite resources to use is the Horrible Histories materials.
Your students will have a blast exploring this website!  There are fun games and activities, horrible jokes, and quizzes and printables.  There are over 20 Horrible Histories books now in print.  One of my favorite ones is The Awful Egyptians.  Ancient Egypt is a unit I have taught for over 20 years to my gifted students, and I have had several editions of this book.  It's always a favorite with the kiddos.  They love all the disgusting facts about everyday life in ancient Egypt, especially the information about the mummification process. 

There are several Horrible History videos on YouTube.  One of my favorites from the Groovy Greeks book is the Spartan Parent Teacher ConferenceI like to have my students create their own Horrible History videos in class.  This is one of their favorite activities because they get to select unusual, gross and gruesome facts from a culture or historical period and present them in a humorous way.

You can also use humor in your science and language arts classes.  I especially like to add humor when we are studying animals.  Two fun books I used when learning about animal adaptations were What If You Had Animal Teeth?  and What If You Had Animal Hair?  The follow up activities the students can do after reading these two books are fabulous!

Yolanda, over at Oceans of First Grade Fun has created some adorable activities to use with the What If You Had Animal Teeth book.  Click here  or the picture to go to the post!
Nancy over at First Grade Wow! has also created some great activities to go with the book.  Click here  or the picture to check out the post!
Groundhog Day is February 2nd, and I thought it was a great holiday to celebrate and to incorporate a little humor.  Thus, Welcome to Groundhog Academy was born.  This product includes a slide show which you show to your students to build background knowledge and get them excited about groundhogs, and a packet of activities for your students to complete.  I love the slide show because it incorporates humor to keep the students engaged.  Chuck, a groundhog, is hidden and asleep on every page, and the kiddos have a great time finding him.  Chuck finally wakes up in time to take his final exam and graduate from Groundhog Academy.  Here are a couple of the slides to give you an idea of how the slide show is set up. Click on the Welcome to Groundhog Academy picture to view the unit on my Teachers Pay Teachers page.


I've also included a number of fun activities to accompany the slideshow.  Here is a sampling.
There are activities for students to read informational texts about skunks and porcupines and complete a checklist to see if they are eligible to attend Groundhog Academy.  They can also complete a Groundhog Facts book and complete a survey of the predictions of the class to see how many classmates think the groundhog will see his shadow.
Other activities include a Fact and Opinion sort, a Do You Think a Groundhog Would Make a Good Pet? survey, creative writing activities, a Design Your Own Burrow activity and a fun Groundhog Craftivity where students complete an I Am Poem about the groundhog.
Click on the Groundhog Craftivity below to get a FREE copy of the craftivity directions and patterns.
Groundhog Craftivity FREEBIE
 Click here to see the unit at my Teachers Pay Teachers store and be sure to check out the preview to see even more of the activities and slides in this unit!
That's all I have time for today!  I hope you got some fun ideas on ways to incorporate humor into your lessons.  Remember to always... Keep 'em Thinking!