Sunday, October 27, 2013

The S.T.E.A.M. Lab Pumpkin Patch

I submitted a proposal to the PTO a few weeks ago for Pumpkin Week in the S.T.E.A.M. Lab. 

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They provided the funding to allow me to purchase two pumpkins for each of my 18 classes. (I wrote about my wonderful husband’s buying adventures here.)

Thanks to a few additional pumpkin donations, we decorated about 45 pumpkins in three days. Each class had one 50 minute class period to complete two pumpkins. I’m still recovering from the craziness of it all!

I’d planned to do a little more on the math and science components, but because I was at the math conference last week and my pumpkin deadline, it didn’t happen to the extent that I’d hoped for this year. That aside, I’m calling it a success! I’ll make changes for next year.

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We auctioned off the pumpkins at the school Halloween Howl Friday night. I haven’t seen the final figures, but two of the live auction pumpkins went for $50 each, so it should be a nice ending figure. The rest of the pumpkins were part of a silent auction.

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I’m really proud of my students. I figured out that tissue paper was the best way to “paint” the pumpkins. I coated the pumpkin with a glue/water mix using a foam brush and then the students all got to place and flatten a piece of tissue paper on the pumpkin. This way everyone got to take part and the end result was a pumpkin that looked (nearly) perfectly painted.

I took pictures of most of the pumpkins. My own two little ones arrived for the carnival at about the same time I got my pumpkins put out, so I missed a few.

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I let the 4th and 5th grade carve pumpkins with varying degrees of independence. 

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So there you have it! Pumpkin Week in the S.T.E.A.M. Lab. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pumpkin Week

My husband is amazing. Last night he went to Walmart to buy pumpkins for Pumpkin Week in the STEAM Lab.


Not only did he get them for cheaper than expected, but he managed to load 36 pumpkins into our minivan. Impressive!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Math and Mickey

I found out last month that I would be presenting at the FCTM conference in Orlando. I was going to be the only one from my school going, so I suggested to my husband that he and the kids come along. The hotel is right next to Sea World, so I thought they could spend the day at the park while I was at the math conference.

Then we got a letter in the mail from Disney. We could upgrade the tickets we had from this summer to season passes for about $100 a person. My little guy is still free, so for $300 we could have passes good until June. The offer was too good to pass up. Sea World was out, Disney was in.

The plan was to leave right after work on Wednesday. My daughter was so excited she couldn’t sleep on Tuesday. After finally getting her to sleep, I was up until 2am packing/prepping. Then Wednesday the Irishman and I both ended up working later than planned. By the time we got on the road it was 8:00pm. When we got to Orlando just before midnight, the kids were suddenly wide awake. It was 1am before we got to bed.

My little guy woke up at 5:50am. We were exhausted. The kids were wired. I got them dressed, packed, and ready for the 7:30 bus. Unfortunately that meant that I threw on clothes to check in for the conference and attend the opening session.

I headed back to the room after that for a nice shower and to make the finishing touches on my presentation. I ate lunch and headed to my session.

I was worried that no one would show up. The presentation started at 12:45. By 12:30 it was standing room only. I was so nervous.

I am not a fan of session where you have to get up and move around. I don’t particularly like to chat with my neighbor. I teach that way in my classroom with my students, but it is not my thing at a conference. I decided to try having people backchannel using Todays Meet. It worked! In hindsight I wish I’d have stopped to talk about the comments in the middle, but live and learn. People actually logged in and took part in the discussion.

I am really happy with how the whole thing went. I titled my session “New Ideas in Technology for the Elementary Math Classroom.” I did finish a little early, but then again it started a little early due to the full room, so one seemed to mind. I’ve met some lovely people and had nice comments from others who were in my presentation. All in all, I’m considering it a success!

While I was presenting, my husband sent me this picture:


When the kids got back we had dinner in the room (we brought food) and explored the playground/mini golf. The room only has a shower, so we decided a quick swim in the pool and showering off there would work. (Don’t judge – you wouldn’t want to manage a 2 year old and a 3 year old in the shower here!)

As a special treat, we used the projector I brought along for the presentation to show the kids a movie.


They lasted about 15 minutes before falling asleep.


After getting about 5 hours of sleep the night before and then spending the day at Disney, they slept solidly. I can’t remember the last time we all slept to 7:30!

Today was another day of conference for me and Disney for them. I picked up a few new ideas I’ll be trying out soon. It looks like our old Wii may be coming to school with me for some golf subtraction fun! The Irishman and the kids aren’t back yet, but from the pictures I got I’d say it was a good day today, too.



I’m excited to get to join them at the park tomorrow after a couple of morning sessions. I’ve questioned our sanity a few times this trip, but in the end it has worked out really well!


I wrote this on Friday, but the hotel Wi-Fi wasn’t working and this is the first time I’ve had a chance to get online. We had a great time at the park on Saturday and a lazy day around the house today. I was all set for a productive teacher work day tomorrow, but it looks like I will have my little guy with me. It wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t also plan to purchase 18-36 pumpkins tomorrow for pumpkin week in the STEAM Lab. This could be interesting!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Math Monday: The Pumpkin Project

I’m linking up with A Burst of First for the first Math Monday. I recently downloaded old pictures from my iPad and realized that I never blogged about my favorite math/science activity.

My first year teaching I was introduced to a pumpkin packet of math and science activities. The pages were hand written, but the content was fantastic. My third grade partner had been doing the project for years and she had it down to an art. Students were estimating and measuring height, circumference, and mass with/without the guts.  My students sliced the pumpkins with a ruler while I was out of the room and then tried to attack my teaching assistant. I’ve learned a lot since then!

For years I’ve had each student send in a pumpkin. (Here is a rough idea of the form I send home) I also have parent volunteers come in to help gut the pumpkins. This is the type of project that parents at my school love. I typically start the students whole group. Each student names his/her pumpkin. We find the mass of all the pumpkins and record the information on a table and then a graph.

From here each group works on a different part of the packet. I usually stay inside and help with height, circumference, vertical lines, and classifying/ordering the pumpkins.


I send my fantastic parent volunteers outside. They do the sink/float test before gutting the pumpkins. We don’t carve – just gut them in the name of science. It is amazing to me how many third graders have never seen the inside of a pumpkin.


We find the mass of the gutted pumpkins and record all the data. As you might imagine, I’ve updated the old pumpkin packet. It includes pumpkin life cycle, physical properties, and all the measurements mentioned above.


The packet is available in my TpT store. It really is one of my all time favorite projects. I am still trying to figure out how to adapt the idea in my new role. We’ll see how that goes!

I’m going to leave you with some pumpkin love. Click the picture below to download these fun free pumpkin note cards.
Pumpkin Notes
I’m also going to e-mail a free copy of my Pumpkin Packet to anyone who can correctly guess how many pumpkins my little family of four has purchased so far this year.  This offer is good through Sunday, October 20, 2013.


For more fun Math ideas, check out Math Monday:

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Five for Friday: The one with the hashtags

One of the blogs I used to read, back when I had time to read blogs, did a Five for Friday five word hashtag thing. I don’t remember who it was, but I’m going to borrow the idea this week.


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This one takes more than 5 words! TeachersPayTeachers is having a FLASH SALE and giving 10% off all purchases if you use the code fb100k.  I am joining in and holding my own 20% off sale in my store.  That means you get a combined savings of 28%. Enjoy!


Got any hashtag comments for me?