Showing posts with label science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label science. Show all posts

We've talked a lot about the science of reading around here the last few years.  And, specifically about small group instruction that aligns with the science of reading.

We've chatted about why we should use decodables in the classroom, how to use decodables, and how to assess your kids' decoding needs for small group instruction.

But what about non-fiction texts?  Is there a world where a good, non-fiction science text can be a decodable text?

YES!  Let's chat about decodable science readers and how to use them in the classroom!

What Are Decodable Science Readers?

Decodable science readers are exactly what they sound like.  A science passage or booklet that is also decodable.

The difference is that science readers often have academic vocabulary words like force or amphibians and those may not be decodable for the level of kids we are working with!

So, decodable science readers include vocabulary words instead of high-frequency words that show up in the text.  And each set of decodables comes with a vocab word list to practice reading before starting a text.

Decodable science readers are great for integrating literacy into science...especially during small groups!

Each set of science decodables focuses on a topic from the Next Gen Science standards for K-2.  And whichever grade level the topic is for, the decodable words are written for that end of year level.  For example, the Force and Motion set of decodables are written on an end of year kindergarten decoding level because the Force and Motion science standards are part of the kindergarten Next Gen Science standards.

Routines for Decodable Science Readers

Once we have learned our science vocabulary, we are ready to tackle the science passages or science readers.

For kids who struggled with the vocabulary words, I would use the passages with picture clues first.  These are made to give extra support for reading the vocabulary words.

They have simple pictures or symbols above the academic vocabulary words to help support reading fluency.  

The kids who are doing well with the vocabulary words can use the passages without vocab picture clues or the science readers.  In these passages and booklets, the science vocab words are bolded and underlined when they first appear... just like in a science textbook.

After we have read the text in our small group (or as a whole group!), we work on the comprehension questions.  These questions are not necessarily decodable, but intended to do as a teacher-led discussion!

Each set of these science of reading aligned decodables includes multiple books and passages on the same strand of Next Gen Science Standards.  Each book has a matching passage with and without vocabulary symbols. 

You can find the Force and Motion set shown in this post here.  And the full, K-2 bundle here.

 I love a good, corny joke.  That's what of the main reasons I love teaching matter.

What's the matter with you?

Science matters.

Does it matter?

I'm here all day, ya'll!  But seriously, I do love teaching matter during our 2nd grade homeschool time... and not just because of the corny jokes.  There's a lot of opportunity for hands-on science labs about the states of matter and matter properties.  Let's take a look at a couple of my favorite labs for the states of matter and their properties!

States of Matter

We started off this unit with the book, What is the World Made Of? I love this book because it's written in a kid-friendly, easy to understand way and it's easy for kids to connect to!

(affiliate link)

As we read, we stopped after each state and charted it.  Once the book finished talking about gases, we stopped reading.  We will read the 2nd half of the book when we start talking about changes in matter.

Once we finished charting the states, we sorted objects into their states.

The next day, we learned that all matter is built with atoms.  And the arrangement of the atoms matters.  Get it?  Okay, okay, I'm done with the corny jokes.  Maybe! :)

We watched a video about atoms and then built a solid, liquid and gas with "atoms."  And we ate a few along the way...

Properties of Matter

Once we had a good understanding of the states of matter, we were ready to observe some objects and talk about their properties.

This was also a good chance to review our recent work with sensory details and not just writing that an object feels "good." 

Oobleck Lab

We ended the week with Oobleck, can you learn about matter and NOT make oobleck?  We read Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss.  Then we made oobleck and played with it observed its properties.

We recorded our observations, and he made a hypothesis about what oobleck is... a "soliquid." LOL! :)

After we watched a video explaining oobleck we made our conclusion!

All of the labs, plans and paper materials are in this 2nd grade Next Gen Matter Unit!

The first school I taught at was an IB (International Baccalaureate) School.  The primary IB program is big about asking questions to guide the students learning.  In my first grade classroom, we used an "I Wonder" Wall to ask and answer questions about the content we were learning.  This is the perfect place to help little ones understand what a question is and practice asking, writing, and answer questions. 

Here's a look at the routines for our first grade Wonder Wall.

Question Words

At the beginning of the year, we talk about our attitude words and what good learners do (Read about that here.)  When we talk about being curious, or an inquirer, we brainstorm question words.

I don't have a picture of my original anchor chart, but basically, I have a poster size question mark and I add these question word cards to the question.  There are some years that I just add the question cards around the I Wonder Wall bulletin board.

We spend some time asking questions and writing questions using these question words.  Then, the cards stay up all year on this bulletin board to help kids brainstorm questions they are wondering about our learning.

Key Concepts

In the IB curriculum, key concepts are attached to the content units you teach.  For example, when we taught weather, one of our key concepts was causation.  Many of our essential questions were causation questions.

Each of the key concepts are copied onto color card stock and put on the Wonder Wall.  Here is the original board from years ago so you can see the layout.  Ignore the "outdatedness" of it! :)

I Am An Inquirer

When we talk about being an inquirer at the beginning of the year, each kid makes a kid diecut to match them.  I add them to the Wonder Wall with a speech bubble around the bulletin board.

This is each child's space to add questions.  When they have a question about what we are learning, this is where it goes.

If we are learning the content whole group and they have an unanswered question, they can ask it and I will write it on a sticky note with the class and we will stick it on that persons bubble.

If students think of questions during other times of the day, they can write it on the sticky note themselves.  I let them do this if they finish work early, or if they go to our Big Idea station (where they are reading books about our content topic.)

Wondering Wednesday

I try to keep an eye on our questions and we look over them as we study our big idea.  Sometimes I might add a lesson or book in to answer a particular question that I think is important for the whole group.

Other times we take a "Wondering Wednesday" and google answers to our unanswered questions.  This is usually what we do with the left over questions at the end of the unit.

As questions are answered, we talk about what kind of question it is.  This is so we can sort the question under the key concept it matches.  Depending on our content topic, some key concepts will be fuller than others.  For example, in our weather unit, most of the questions will be causation questions because that just naturally goes with the topic.

We record the answer to the question together on a light bulb and a move the question and answer under the appropriate key concept.  Depending on your kids, and definitely for older kids, this is something they could research and answer on their own during a "Wondering Wednesday."

All of the materials you need for you own I Wonder Wall bulletin board can be found here.

I love giving primary kids a chance to explore science on their own!  Many of my Next Gen Science units have exploration stations built in because of this teaching core belief of mine.  Here's a look at the hands on Force exploration stations for kindergartners!


This can be as simple as using dry erase boards as ramps for cars, balls, or blocks.  Put all of these materials at this station and have students explore how the objects move the same or differently on the ramp.

My kiddo tried this angle first.  He just let the car go without pushing it.

Then, he decided to make it steeper to go farther.

But the table stopped the motion of the car because of the steep change in angles.  This was definitely not what he expected!

So then, he made the angle less steep.  And the car rolled the farthest at this angle!

Questions to explore at this station are...

How can we make the objects move down the ramp faster?


Which objects go down the ramp the fastest? Why?


Use recycled and empty water bottles and a foam ball to set up a simple bowling station.  Students will explore what causes the bottles to fall down.

Questions to explore at this station are...

What force makes the water bottles fall?

How can I make more bottles fall?


At this station, students will use (their own!) straw to try to blow cotton balls across the desk or table!

We discovered two straws were better than one! #thatface

Questions to explore at this station are...

What force makes the cotton ball move?

How can I make the cotton ball move slower?


Chair Pulleys

I love this station because when done right, it really causes kids to think!  Tie a rope around two chairs facing back to back with a bucket hanging from the rope.

Students must try to move the bucket around the chairs without actually touching the bucket!

Questions to explore...

What force is causing the bucket to move?

Why does this work without me touching it?

How can I move the bucket faster?



This is a popular one for boys!  Who knew boys were exploring force when they are role playing at their play work tables/construction zones!

Questions to explore with tools....

How can I force the nail/screws in?

How can I make them come out?

You can find these exploration stations and more force activities in this unit!
Food always make learning better!  And food is the perfect medium for learning about matter.

My kiddo and I had a blast learning about the states of matter and enjoying a root beer float!  Here's a look at this engaging, Next Gen Science aligned experiment.

What You'll Need

For this states of matter science lab, you'll need...
*clear plastic cups
*clear spoons
*root beer (these small mini-cans would be perfect for parters or individual kiddos to share!)
*vanilla ice-cream
*ice-cream scoop

Science Lab Steps

Before this experiment, we front loaded our knowledge of the states of matter ome pebblego articles, and through sorting and observing properties of matter.  We also sorted objects by their state of matter.

On science lab day, we set out all of our materials and talked about which were solids, liquids and gases.  We recorded our ideas on our lab sheet.  Then, we predicted whether the root beer and ice cream would change.  We wrote our predictions.

Then, it was time to cook up the float.  You will want to do these steps altogether so that partners don't work ahead and ruin the fun for someone else close by.  So, everyone makes the float together.

We added the ice-cream and observed any changes....and then licked the scoop! :)

No changes...yet.

Then, we added the root beer and observed any changes.

BAM! Changes!  We loved seeing the liquid fizz up into a gas!  We recorded our results in the root beer column.

Then, we let the float sit for about an hour.  While we were waiting, we drew and labeled the float.

Then we observed the changes in the ice-cream!

Oh yeah, and while we waited on the ice-cream to melt we made our own floats to eat!

If you are doing this in the classroom, just save your ice cream float for an hour and let the kids eat theirs!  You can all observe the extra float after an hour.

You can find this experiment and tons more activities in this Next Gen Science Matter unit.
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