EducationWorld is pleased to feature this lesson adapted from School Volunteer Handbook: A Simple Guide for K-6 Teachers and Parents, by Yael Calhoun and Elizabeth Q. Finlinson (Lila Press, 2011).
The lesson, shared with the permission of the authors, is a great example of a short activity with simple instructions that appeals to a diverse group of parent interests and teacher needs. The activity is an ideal one for implementation by classroom volunteers.
In the coming months, be sure to visit EducationWorld for more activities from School Volunteer Handbook. The book (including two CDs, one of all the handouts and one of the GreenTREE Yoga 5-minute classroom yoga breaks) contains more than 50 activities and lessons, retails for $25 (with free shipping) and is available at www.lilapress.com (visit site for free downloads).
About the authors
Yael Calhoun, MA, MS, RYT, is an author and educator who has taught preschool through college. She also has worked as an environmental planner and has written over a dozen books. Currently, she is a cofounder and the Executive Director of GreenTREE Yoga, a nonprofit committed to bringing the benefits of yoga to diverse populations.
Elizabeth Q. Finlinson, LCSW, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has worked as a school therapist, volunteer coordinator, and as a private practitioner specializing in children and families. She teaches character education and physical education and is an active school volunteer.
Students learn about and celebrate curiosity and the process of discovery and invention.
Time: Once for three minutes; once a week for three minutes, or 30 minutes to set up a learning center.
Science is about using your senses to observe and then asking questions. Inventors have shown us that letting your mind wander can be a marvelous thing. Did you know that the person who invented the Nike waffle-sole sneaker got the idea as he was eating…a waffle? The man who invented Velcro got the idea by observing burrs sticking to fabric while he was taking a walk. A 12-year-old boy invented the Popsicle when he unintentionally left a can of soda outside with a stick in it.
Sharing the stories of a few inventions never fails to capture the imagination of all ages. For example, when you ask a group how many people know someone who has diabetes, a surprising number of hands may go up. Proceed to tell them the idea that led to the discovery of insulin came from a graduate student in Germany in the early 1900s. He was cleaning up after a dog who had been the subject of a lab experiment involving the pancreas. He noticed the dog urine smelled very sweet. From that simple observation and his curiosity evolved an understanding of insulin and diabetes.
Option 1: The Three-Minute Story
Read or tell one story before every science lesson, or one morning per week.
For Younger Grades
For Older Grades
Option 2: Learning Center
Make an “Imagine That” learning center. Each week, change the half-page story copied from a book. Have the story in an envelope decorated with pictures of inventions. Have a chart in the learning center listing student names so they can check when they have completed it. There could be several questions to answer and put in a box to extend the activity.
Option 3: Read All About It!
For younger students, dedicate a story time to reading a picture book about inventions. For older students, read aloud from some chapter books on inventions or inventors. (See story suggestions above.)
Extend the Lesson
Just for Fun
Plan an “Inventor Party” for which students dress up as an inventor and discuss their inventions with each other. If wearing costumes is not a possibility, students can design a paper stating who they are and what they invented and wear it on their shirts. Perhaps include the boy who invented Popsicles and serve some. You could also make a game by having students wear clues as to their identity on the fronts of their shirts.
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