Last week I was in the gym picking up my students and I was talking to the teacher. The students were playing a game similar to kickball, but instead of being done once they reached home, they were able to continually run from base to base. Seeing half of the class running constantly made me exhausted just looking at them. The teacher told me they are tricked into running by having fun and playing kickball. One of the boys in my class overhead this conversation and said, “You can’t trick me. I know I’m exercising.” I responded by saying that I’m going to try to trick him into learning this week by having so much fun, he wouldn’t even realize it. This was on Monday. On Tuesday, we played Scoot to reinforce Pronoun-Verb agreement. He came up to me and told me he knew I was trying to trick him, and while Scoot was fun, he still knew he was learning. I still had another trick up my sleeve…
On Wednesday, I wanted to use sand to help the students reinforce the concept of erosion before our test on Friday. We had just finished learning about landforms, weathering, and erosion, and erosion was a concept they just kept forgetting. So this is what we did:
I bought those aluminum pans from Walmart for about a dollar each and filled it with sand about 2 inches deep. I got the sand from Home Depot and it was $3 for the bag. The one bag was the perfect amount for the six groups. What made it even better is that it was outside and damp, so I didn’t need to have the students add water beforehand.
Once I passed out the pans with sand, I had the students work together to make a few landforms. Many students chose to make hills, mountains, volcanoes, and caves. These were the easiest to form in the sand.
Then, I had them tape a ruler near one end and a styrofoam cup on top of it. The students poked a hole in the cup with their pencil so that water could drip out onto the sand slowly. Then, they propped the pan up on one end with their science books. The pans came with plastic lids, so we put those under the pans, just incase the water overflowed. Then they used their water bottles to fill the cups.
The students sat and watched for a few minutes as water trickled out forming a “river” and finally collecting to form a bigger body of water. What I really liked was seeing the differences in the pans based on where they put their landforms and which landforms they used. One group had their water go straight down, under the sand, and formed a tunnel to the bottom. They loved that theirs created groundwater.
I allowed the students to rotate around the classroom to see each of the other pans and they were so excited to see what each of them looked like. Once they returned to their seats to finish their lab sheet, I walked up to that boy and asked, “So did I trick you into learning?” He looked at me and said, “Oh wow…you’re good!” 🙂 Mission accomplished!
This activity is also a part of a larger unit I have on Rocks and Minerals. Check out this video preview to see everything that’s included!