Builds memory and observation skills
Collect a variety of items and put them in a box decorated with the words MEMORY BOX.
For first and second graders, you might start with 6 to 8 items. For third and fourth graders, you might put about a dozen items in the box...
One at a time, remove the items from the box, show them to students, name them, and place them on a table or desk. Let the students study the items on the table for one minute, then return them to the Memory Box. Provide students with a sheet of paper. See how many items they can remember and write down. Set a time limit (for example, 2 minutes). Then students can exchange papers with a classmate. Once again, remove the items from the box one at a time. As you remove them this time, the students can make a checkmark next to the items their classmates have written. Which student remembered the most items?
Think of the Pasta-bilities!
Builds handwriting skills
If you know you will have five minutes between the time students return from art class and the bell rings for lunch, boil up a pot of pasta (thin spaghetti or vermicelli will work best) before students return to class. Drain the pasta but do not run water over it. (Keep in the sticky starch!) Let students write their names with wet pasta on a sheet of black paper. Younger students form print letters, while older students will "write" in cursive. Have students put their pasta-names on a counter in the sun so they dry. Cursive names might dry in one solid piece. Printed names can be glued to paper once they dry. Display the students' pasta handwriting!
Builds observation skills
Take five minutes today to introduce a simple experiment. You will need to purchase seedless grapes, enough so there are at least a couple grapes for each student. Place a handful of the grapes (washed and de-stemmed) on a number of different paper plates. Cover the grapes with cheesecloth and place them on a windowsill -- in direct sunlight -- in the classroom. Provide students with a "raisin log" work sheet. Have them record next to today's date what was done. For each of the next four or five days, give students five minutes to write their observations about the grapes. What is happening to them? At the end of five days, invite students to share their grape logs. What happened to the grapes? Why? Where did the liquid inside them go? What is left now? (raisins) Now each student can munch on a couple raisins!
Anagrams are a terrific tool for stimulating students to think critically. Write the four phrases below on a board or chart. The letters in each phrase can be rearranged to spell a word. The words all have something in common. Challenge students to figure out the four words and what the words have in common.
Adapt the activity for younger students: To make the activity easier, tell students what the words have in common or arrange students in pairs to solve the anagram puzzles.
Answers: frost, sleet, temperature, and snowstorm are all words related to weather
Article by Gary Hopkins
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