Saturday, April 5, 2014

Jack and the Beanstalk {Sand & Soil, Magic Beans and Measurement}

Welcome back to the Crazy Critter Café! I want to share some things we've been up to in science and math.
Lessons like this are why I love what I do. Of course I didn't completely get to what was in my planbook during this block of time, but the overall lesson was well worth the adjustment!
We started by reading a version of Jack and the Beanstalk {we read various versions of this story over several days and compared them} . We've been talking about characteristics of rocks, sand, and soil in science and working on nonstandard measurement for math. As I was thinking about all of the activities involved in these math and science units, I thought it would be so much easier {and FUN!} to integrate the subjects using the story about Jack and the Beanstalk.
It all started something like this....
(1) We observed sand and soil using a microscope. The kids also used magnifying glasses when observing at their tables.
(2) They glued sand and soil samples on an observation sheet.
{download a copy of the recording sheet HERE}.
(3) After reading a version of Jack and the Beanstalk, I showed the class some Magic Beans, and you would have thought they were REALLY magic by the looks on some of their faces. A bag of gold beans mysteriously appears after reading a fairy tale about a never ending beanstalk..... now I have their attention!
Magic beans were easy to make: northern beans, gold craft paint, sandwich bags, a stapler and the labels for bags {Download Jack's Magic Beans labels HERE}.
 (4) Since we've been talking about soil & sand and their properties, it was only fitting to try planting Jack's Magic Beans in a cup of soil and a cup of sand.
  I put 3 magic beans in each container and we gave each container the same amount of water and sunlight. Here's where the lesson took an unexpected turn.
When I watered the soil {all of this was taking place under the document camera so everyone could see}, we found an earthworm! And another. And another! 3 earthworms in one little cup of soil. I used my pencil at first to pick one up, then put it in my hand. That caused some excitement!
This was the perfect opportunity to reinforce the concept that earthworms help the soil, but are not found in the sand {linking back to what soil and sand are made of}.
(5) After the unexpected earthworm visit we got back on track and predicted which container - the soil or sand {or both} Jack's magic beans would grow. We voted to leave the earthworms in the container. Our question was: Will Jack's Magic Beans Grow in Both Soil and Sand? I used this question also as a graphing activity as students made their predictions.

We found that the beans could grow in both soil and sand. We concluded that since they both received equal amounts of sunlight and water, that helped support plant growth. We discussed how the soil had more nutrients, but there are plants by the ocean, so sand is also capable of supporting plant growth.
Next time I'll also try to plant the seed in a Ziploc bag with a paper towel and tape it to the window. I've had luck in the past growing beans in bags, so this should lead to some good discussion when comparing it to the soil and sand.

(6) Now..... moving along to the math integration.
We read another version of Jack and the Beanstalk. This time the kids found the Giant's footprints when they came back in the classroom from lunch. {download a template of the Giant's footprint here} We discussed the words longer and shorter. Their job was to walk around the room and find items that were either longer or shorter than the Giant's foot. I gave them 3 minutes to go explore.  They had so much fun with this! After their exploration time we came back together and shared our thoughts.

I told them they'd now be going back to compare the Giant's foot again, but this time they were going to record their findings. {download a copy of the recording sheet here}

We had so much fun with science and math using Jack and the Beanstalk. Now I have so many more ideas that keep coming to mind to use next year when teaching this again. I'd love to know how you've used Jack and the Beanstalk with your class ~ math, science, literature, etc.
Thanks for stopping by the Crazy Critter Café!  

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