Guide Use by Elementary Teachers

See What GEMS Guides Teachers in the Elementary Cohort Have Used in Their Classrooms and Their Feedback:

Penguins and Their Young
“My students were so excited about all the ice experiments.  They ask daily if we have another science experiment that day.”  -Fountain Elementary, Kindergarten

“My Head Start children were able to grasp the concept of the size of the penguin with the full size poster.  They were into naming the different types of penguins and showing where they lived on the world map that was laid on the floor.  The children took home this information and taught their families about where penguins live.  (It did help that we had snow this week.)  The lesson on dressing up as a penguin and walking with the egg on their feet was one that lasted all week.  They took the materials to other centers in the room and were helping each other dress up.  (This was not only a great science unit but it encouraged friendship skills and self-help skills.)  -Macomb County Head Start, Pre-K

“The kids loved playing with the ice.  They also really enjoyed looking at the big penguin poster.”  -Stepanski ECC, Preschool

“The children really enjoyed the penguin unit.  All week long, the parents would come in with their children telling us how the children talked about what they had been doing in school during the week.  They especially enjoyed becoming ‘penguin parents.’  Each student had their own penguin egg (plastic Easter eggs) that they practiced holding on their feet.  When we put frozen ice blocks in the water table with the polar animals, that center was always full.  They couldn’t wait their turn.  This is definitely a unit that I will do each year!!!  -L’Anse Creuse Childcare Center, Preschool

Frog Math: Predict, Ponder, Play
“It is just amazing what four-year-old children are capable of doing!  All the children were able to roll the dice, count to six, and move the frogs in ‘Hop to the Pond.’  Six of the children were able to use two dice, add them, and move on the small 1-12 board.  None were able to realize that the number one would never come up on the two dice game.  I did not use the dice probability game with them.  I will be using the frog games throughout the remainder of the year along with the graphing and sorting.  Great unit!”  -L’Anse Creuse Childcare Center, Preschool

Group Solutions, Too!:  More Cooperative Logic Activities for Grades K-4
“My class really enjoyed the ‘making pizza’ (Hexagon Haven) activity.  It stimulated a lot of math dialog, using correct math terms, and was a great cooperative group activity.”  -Nottawa Community School, 1st grade

Sifting Through Science
“We’ve only been able to use the magnet part of the guide so far.  On the first day, we tested to see if things would stick to the magnet and then made a chart.  The other days, I sat out the things of sand and items for them to explore on their own.  It was interesting to hear why they thought things were sticking to the magnet.”  -Stepanski ECC, Preschool

Tree Homes
“My classes really enjoyed learning more about trees and the animals that inhabit them.  We went from the angle of animals getting ready for winter.  The day we started the unit, it was a rainy day so we didn’t get a chance to really look at the outside trees until the following class time.  When we did go out, they were really looking at the tree in our backyard play area with a lot more interest.  They were looking for signs of animals that had visited there, where branches had fallen off, and where new holes were forming.  We also have a stump in our play area where they recently cut an ash tree down.  The children were interested in that now too.  I have several finger puppets that the children were able to use with our ‘tree.’  That was a big hit.  We will revisit this unit a few more times this year as the seasons change.  Next year, I intend to use this near the beginning of the school year.  Because it is already almost winter here in Michigan, we did not make any leaves to put on our trees to reflect what we can see out our windows now.  Next year, we’ll be able to show more of the season changes by starting earlier.  Another thing that we added in to the unit was more about squirrels.  While owls and bears are animals you can see north of here, squirrels are all over the place here all year long.  As a whole, the children really enjoyed what we did and so did I.  When the teacher can get excited about what they are trying to teach, it really translates to the students.  I am looking forward to doing more units.  I think this is just what I was looking for!”  -L’Anse Creuse Childcare Center, Preschool

“I did this guide in the span of one month with my first year students.  I incorporated this guide into my unit on habitats and biomes.  Obviously the students loved constructing the tree and I witnessed a lot of teamwork and collaboration going on during this time.  I even had one student, who typically has a difficult time staying on task, becoming a leader of sorts and was able to participate in every part of these lessons with no disruptions.  The one thing I would recommend when attempting to do this guide with first year students is to devise supplemental activities and incorporate more information on each animal and habitat.  What is included is great, but not quite enough for first year students.  Overall, I was very pleased with the guide and the students seemed to gain a good understanding of the various animal habitats that a tree provides.”  -Saginaw Chippewa Academy, 1st-3rd grades

Liquid Explorations
“During my unit on Weather/Water Cycle/Path of Rainwater/States of Matter/Scientific Process, I took one Thursday afternoon and did the Liquid Classification Game out of the ‘Liquid Explorations’ guide.  My students were absolutely enthralled with this lab and seemed to gain a lot from it, especially in terms of observation skills.  This lab was especially effective with my multi-age group because it could be molded/adapted to fit every level.  Furthermore, my students really became engaged when they had an opportunity to play ‘teacher’ by making up rules (classifying) and calling on their peers to figure them out.  In reflecting on this lab/lesson, I would have done more with grading the liquids as opposed to just classifying them in groups by attributes.”  -Saginaw Chippewa Academy, 1st-3rd grades

“I set up bottles of liquids on a table in the middle of my room before any students had arrived for the day.  Upon their arrival, they ALL went straight for the table and began predicting what the bottles might be for.  I encouraged them to look, but not touch.  During the morning, the students nearly drove themselves crazy trying to predict what we’d be doing with them later in the day.  Right before lunch, I told the children that we were going to play a little game.  I sorted bottles according to color, then by the thickness of the liquid, and again by simply how full the bottles were.  The children were the quietest I had heard them all year!  They were totally engaged and could not wait for the afternoon when they would have a chance to make up a rule.  After lunch, I made up one more rule, and then I turned the game over to the students.  The students making up the rules did a fantastic job and nobody chose a rule that had previously been used.  I did notice that we need to work on the language that we are using for science.  The children had a hard time describing the attributes of the bottles.  Therefore, I will be keeping this activity out for a while and we will use it to describe vocabulary such as consistency, flow, light, medium, dark, transparent, opaque, etc.  Overall, this lesson was fantastic and my students LOVED it!!!”  -Saginaw Chippewa Academy, 1st-3rd grades

Hide A Butterfly
“The children really learned a lot about meadows, butterflies, symmetry and camouflage during this unit.  I always do a unit on butterflies, but this year, because of the guides I have already used, I was able to incorporate them with Hide a Butterfly. We used the tree and animal puppets we made for the Trees guide. The children painted flowers for a meadow and also decorated a meadow using silk flowers and placed them around the room for the butterflies to rest in, sip nectar from, and hide in. We ordered painted lady caterpillars and the children are observing the changes that they go through before turning into butterflies.  There are so many extensions that can be used with this guide!  Thank you for the opportunity to provide such valuable experiences to my students.”  -L’Anse Creuse Childcare Center, Preschool