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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Materials, Objects, and Structures, oh my!

This is my third year teaching the first grade and I love the curriculum!  However, there are two units that I was very apprehensive about during my first year - Energy and Materials, Objects, and Structures.  Part of my apprehension was the fact that at least 80% of our students are English language learners (ELLs).  Some units they can relate to, like healthy food, rules, responsibilities, and relationships, and community helpers.  They get a lot of exposure to the vocabulary from television if not from discussion at home or in Kindergarten.  These two units, not as much.

Mr. Collins website with science resources for the Ontario science curriculum was a great help in addition to resources from colleagues.  What was missing for me was visuals.  Concrete materials were also essential.  Children are familiar with describing the properties of objects, those descriptions are often just limited to colour or size.  This unit is great in expanding their vocabulary and view of everyday objects. 

This year, my student teacher taught the unit while I advised.  To begin our discussion of materials, we let them know where materials come from (e.g., glass comes from sand, metal comes from rocks and minerals, paper from wood, etc.)  They are always amazed by this!  I would recommend finding books and videos that demonstrate the manufacturing process.

A colleague scoured her house for materials that her students could sort.  We used the objects and my kids loved the activity.  We also found objects that could be sorted in a sorting tray.








 

A simple sewing kit contains a great variety of fasteners!
A few years ago, I got another idea from a friend about the suitability of materials in making objects.  We gave the kids some "What if?" scenarios which they thought were funny and really got them thinking.

To support our unit, we asked the kids to bring in "junk" or recyclable material from home.  You can get a copy of that letter {here}.  (Border by Graphics from the Pond and fonts by Khrys Bosland.)  The kids had a lot of fun building structures using those materials.
For a group project, we asked kids to act as the third little pig and build a house that the big bad wolf couldn't blow down.  We used two desk fans to act as the wolf.  Some houses stood fast while others blew off the table.  Little did we know that the fallen houses would lead to tears!!  Oops!


Below are some more structures that we made with construction toys and recyclable materials.





I created a resource to support this unit which is available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  If you don't have an account there, it is also available on Teacher's Notebook.





What fun activities do you do to support this unit?