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Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites: Strategy 7

Hi Y'all!  I'm back to talk with you about Strategy 7: Manipulatives, Experiments, Labs & Models.
Even though this section of the book was only four pages long, I want to make sure that I cover everything so I've broken my blog post into two sections; Math & Science.

I'm not sure if you've noticed but a lot of the math programs that our schools give us to use don't provide a lot of opportunities for the students to spend a great deal of time working at the concrete level by using manipulatives.  Most of the lessons just jump right into paper/pencil tasks.  
If we want our students to be able to dig deep and understand the math concepts we're teaching we MUST give them the opportunities to work with manipulatives.   
"Student's understandings of mathematical ideas is broadened when concrete representations are used.  (Coggins, Kravin, Coates & Carrol, 2007)

Dog Gone Subtraction Game
Students use bones to solve subtraction problems.  

Ten frame math using candies.

Making sets and writing the corresponding number

Comparing two numbers by building towers

Making sums of ten

Science Experiments & Models

Sailing Ships Science Experiment
First we wanted to find out what would happen if we dropped a ball of clay in water.
After we found out that it sank I challenged them to build a boat that could float.
I didn't give them any directions other than that.
The kids each had their own ball of clay and there was a small tub of water for every two or three students to share.  They kept trying out their boats until they made one that could float.
After we were finished we talked about what we found out.
We found out that the student's boats that had higher sides and a hollowed out shell  floated better.  
So we added what we learned to our chart.  

What colors make up the color black?
Record everyone's hypothesis and then conduct the experiment.
Use a Crayola marker to make a black dot on a coffee filter or a strip of paper towel.
let it absorb some water and then watch the bands of color separate.
What do you notice?

Trusty Troll Construction Company
Building Bridges

After reading, The Three Billy Goats Gruff we went online and studied bridges.
What did we notice? Are there any shapes that you see that are consistent?
Can you build a bridge?

Followed by How To Writing

Owl pellet dissection
After learning all about owls we dissected owl pellets.
The students first talked about the different types of animal remains we might find in the pellets.
After dissecting the pellets the students were able to identify the different types of bones on the bone chart.  Then, they were able to identify the owl's prey.

"When learning is active and hands-on, the formation of neural connections is facilitated and information is much more readily remembered than information learned from an abstract viewpoint, where the teacher is doing the work while the students watch."  (Gregory & Parry, 2006)

The person doing the work is the person that's doing the learning!

Check out the schedule for the rest of the book study!
The First Grade Parade  Chapter 8 (March 31st)
In April, you will be visiting these girls for the remainder of the study:
Mrs. Ehle’s Kindergarten Chapter 9 &10 (April 4th)
What The Teacher Wants Chapter 11 (April 7th)
First Grader At Last Chapter 12 (April 11th)
Erica’s Ed Ventures  Chapter 13 (April 14th)
KinderGals Chapter 14 &15 (April 18th)
A Rocky Top Teacher Chapter 16 (April 21st)
The Inspired Apple Chapter 17 (April 25th)
Little Warriors Chapter 18 (April 28th)
Falling Into First Chapter 19 (May 2nd)
Kickin’ it in Kindergarten Chapter 20 (May 5th)

So what's your big take away?  What are some things that you are already doing?
Things you'd like to try?  Link up or comment below!


  1. Thanks so much for hosting! I love your quote about "the person doing the work does the learning". So true! When we approach teaching this way our kiddos benefit so much! I love the tower idea for comparing numbers... we're working on this and I can't wait to use it with my Firsties! Thanks so much!

  2. I agree with JD on your quote about who's doing the learning. Really letting our students get in there and try different things themselves is what leads to deeper understanding and to learning that can be extended to other areas. Sometimes it's hard (for me, at least) to get beyond the water sloshing on the floor and the clay smooshing into the carpet, but you gave some great reminders to help keep the focus on the bigger picture.
    Thanks for hosting!
    Primary Inspiration

  3. We are doing your bridge activity and writing on Tuesday....I can't wait! As always, you have the best experiments! You could have written this chapter :)

  4. Hi Deanna! Thanks for hosting! :) I am with you on your big takeaway... Getting beyond the paper/pencil and having students use their hands creates for much more powerful learning. It was so helpful to see all the examples and ideas happening in your classroom!
    Once Upon a Classroom: A Teacher's Tales

    1. Hi,
      I appreciate your spreading the word about learning is doing or doing is learning. Montessorian's have practiced this since the beginning of the method. I hope more teachers take advantage of this method. Thanks for posting.

  5. I love using mainipulatives in the classroom. When I was younger, I taught in a school with very few resources and very little money and I used Workjobs 1 and 2 by Mary Baratta-Lorton as my guide. I posted in the linky above a post I did for my blog last September on how I use these homemade manipulatives in my classroom.
    Thanks for sharing all of your great ideas.
    Sandra's Savvy Teaching Tips

  6. Love all of your different experiments! They look like so much fun and I am sure the kids have a blast doing them! I love your picture of your kids using candy for math manipulatives. I posted a few pictures of the different "edible manipulatives" that we use in my post for this chapter! Have a great weekend and thanks for hosting this chapter!!


  7. That's my goal too - to leave the manipulatives out so that they just become a part of who we are and what we do....

    Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade



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