Thursday, September 28, 2017

Creating Simple Machines with Candy

When I find that hands-on application activity that can allow students to demonstrate everything we've just learned, I feel like I've hit the jackpot! This activity is EXACTLY that! At the end of our simple machines unit, my students were given the task of creating as many simple machines as they can using a few simple materials.


  • 2 Oreos
  • 1 Life Saver Mint
  • A Few Pretzel Sticks
  • 2 Graham Crackers
  • 1 Twizzlers
  • 2-4 Fruit Slice Candies

The students had a handout where they sketched their design and wrote what type of simple machine they created so that they stayed on track during the activity and I could assess their work ( you know...I couldn't see all in the moment)!

The students were SO engaged and they never stopped creating. I love seeing my students work so hard and love what they're working on so much that they just keep thinking of new ways to design things.  I also challenged them to create compound machines at the end.

Of course, after the lesson, they were able to eat the treats and that made the activity infinitely better on their part. 

Take a look at some of the simple machines they created below and grab the handout freebie at the end of this blog post!

(excuse the awkward logo placement that's covering a student's name)

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A quick, differentiated homework solution!

Homework always seems to be a hot topic among educators. Whether you love it or hate it, some teachers are required to administer homework. Some parents just want homework. Heck, some kids even beg for homework!

Something I noticed is that the further I got into the school year, the more I dreaded putting together homework. PLUS, I always hated how many pages of copies those homework packets required. I desperately wanted a way to save the trees, save my time, and save my sanity while providing consistent homework for my students and their families.

This is how my homework choice board bundle was created! 

5th grade homework

I haven't created a full year of boards quite yet but they are IN PROGRESS and the price will go up as soon as it is complete! We do a few different projects throughout the year (science fair projects, JA BizTown, etc) that shortened my personal choice board creating requirements so I am working on adding in the final choice boards to make this a complete set!

My students LOVED this homework last year! All boards have been tried out by fifth graders and are student and parent approved. The boards contain a healthy mix of activities for all student preferences and learning levels. 

5th grade homework

Currently, the Homework Choice Boards contain questions pertaining to:
-Visualizing while Reading
-Writing with Colorful Language
-Narrative Writing
-Opinion Writing
-Persuasive Writing
-Multiplying by Powers of 10
-Adding Fractions
-Subtracting Fractions
-Native American Cultural Regions
-Early Explorers
-States of Matter
-Forces and Motion

5th grade homework

Some ideas for implementation:
  1. Suggest that parents get to pick one square and the student picks the rest. This will help with students avoiding their areas of need.
  2. Preselect the one required square yourself for students. This can be done on a student-by-student basis or all students can have the same requirement.
  3. Have students use their own paper at home to decrease paper usage at school.
  4. Have students type their work, scan images, etc. and submit their work digitally. 

5th grade homework

These choice boards totally saved my sanity last year and I hope they are also helpful for you as you embark on a new school year! Please feel free to leave feedback on the product below or ask me any questions!