52 Science Journal Prompts to Integrate Writing in the Science Classroom! Updated for 2013-2014!!

Sometimes it feels that no matter how well I try to organize lessons, units, and long range plans, there never appears to be enough hours in the school day to cover all the curriculum expectations!  One of the best strategies that I have learned as a teacher is to take a cross-curricular approach when planning activities, lessons, and units.  A great way to cover many English Language Arts expectations is by integrating writing into the content areas; in this case, journal writing can be integrated into the science classroom.

We’ve created a student science journal with 52 prompts to help you integrate writing in your science classes.  The journal prompts are organized by week, so the entire 2013-2014 academic year is already planned out for you!  Each journal is labeled with the corresponding week of the year, provides a prompt and space for student responses.  You can either photocopy the entire bundle for your students at the beginning of the year and work through it each week or photocopy individual weeks as you progress through the year!

The writing prompts alternate between historical events, creative responses, opinion pieces, persuasive arguments, national awareness themes, and science process skills. A blank journal page is included for you to add your own ideas as needed.

We have updated the dates on the journal pages to correspond with the 2013-2014 academic year.  We also changed the order of a couple of journal topics to correspond with changes in dates (e.g. the full moon in October is earlier this year).

If you have purchased this product already, then simply log into your Teachers Pay Teaches account and download the updated version!

If you haven’t purchased this product already, then what are you waiting for?! Just click on the link below!

science journals

Sugar in our Drinks

My son recently asked what was healthier to drink.  It took us on a discovery mission about the sugar content in the drinks we have in our home and drinks we tend to sometimes consume.  As we were doing this, I thought to myself that this little discovery activity would be a great way for our students to develop an understanding about their diets and healthy living.  I searched the internet and there is a lot of information, but wanted something that impacted the viewer visually.  I have found two that stand out that I am writing about today.

The first one is an info graphic that clearly compares sugar content in different drinks.  Jamie Oliver, a famous chef and activist for eating healthy, has posted it.  I have found it as a great visual for my son to be able to compare the quantities of sugar. Click on the image below to be brought to the PDF version.


A great way for students to understand this content could be to create a comparison board about what they have learned.  Below, you’ll find an effective, yet, simple visual aid to help your students begin to understand what we are consuming. This image has been shared so many times over Facebook; however, the original source is not listed.  If you do know the original source, please leave us a comment!

Rethink your Drink

The Vancouver Island Health Authority actually has an entire activity centered on this topic!  Included in the FREE PDF is a lesson plan, activity, resources, and images to create your very own display!  Just click on the link above to be taken to the free resource.

If you and your students are really serious about making healthier drink choices, you can actually take the Rethink Your Drink Pledge! Be sure to check out this website for additional resources to help you and your students learn more about the hidden sugars in our drinks!

Hoping that this information helps you and your students.  If you do have your students create their own visuals, then please share as we would love to see what brilliance they come up with!


Of note:  1 tsp is approximately equal to 4.2     grams of sugar

Computer Coding: An Essential Skill

We all wonder what our students and children will face in the future.  How will they be successful, what kind of work will there be for them, what skills are necessary to be able to be successful?  These questions are at the heart of everything we do!  We know that students need to be creative, able to problem solve and think critically.  Also, we know that our curriculum and our classrooms should be inclusive of technology.  But what about understanding where it all stems from?  What are we doing about that?  We need to realize that computer software coding is an essential skill that will be necessary for success. We need to be able to address this in our classrooms.

Here is a link to a wonderful video, where world class athletes, musicians and great business people, discuss the importance to this very skill.

Well, what does that mean for us? Visit the website www.code.org and find out how students can learn to code in elementary schools, how they can develop their critical thinking skills and problem solving skills. Share with us what you think and what you have tried.  It is never too late for anyone to learn to code!


Focusing on the Eyes: Visual Skills Can Be Developed

Focusing on The EyesI read an article recently, which stated that vision is learned.  Being a mom of two, I knew that children develop their vision as they grow but I did not know that we can help develop and improve their visual skills.  Three essential skills that are important for children are eye focusing, eye calibration and eye tracking.  Students can practice these skills to improve overall vision skills.

Eye Focusing is the skill of being able to look at something that is near and then quickly and accurately switching to something that is far away.  Immediately I think of students referencing something on the board, or overhead with their notebook.  This skill can be practiced simply with a pencil and a calendar on the wall.  Standing about 10 feet away, have the students hold a pencil about a foot away from their eyes.  The students are to switch their focus between the pencil and the calendar.  Instruct students to not switch to the other item until the one they were looking at initially is in focus.   Repeat 10 times.

Eye Calibration is the ability to move the eyes inwards in order to focus on a very near object.  This mimics the same movement of the eyes when reading.  If students do not have this skill developed, then they will tire quickly after doing “close” work (reading a book, measuring, worksheets,  word searches are some examples).  To practice this skill all you need is a pencil and a partner.  Hold the pencil vertically about 16 inches away from the nose.   Have students focus on the eraser of the pencil and move the pencil slowly closer.  The partner is to watch the eyes and see when one of the eyes turns in or out.  Have the student note at what distance that is.  Then slowly move the pencil out/away from the nose.  The eyes are to both be staring at the pencil eventually.  When this occurs the partner is to note the distance.  Note that a student with normal eye calibration would be able to keep both eyes focused on the pencil until about 3 inches away from the bridge of the nose and can regain both eyes on the pencil at about 4 inches.  Repeat 5 times.

Eye Tracking is the skill that allows students to read sentences without losing their place or reversing the order of letters.  Furthermore, this skill is part of hand and eye co-ordination (playing sports).  Eye tracking allows students to follow a moving target smoothly.  If they do not have this skill developed, then students could have jerky eye movements, overshoot or undershoot targets or lastly could move their head side to side when reading instead of using their eyes.  Using a string and ball (and a partner) can develop this skill.  Attach the ball to the string and put a sticker on it so the student can focus on the item.  Three different activities can be done:

1) Swing the ball back and forth and have the student follow;

2) The partner is to swing the ball side to side.  The student should follow the ball without moving his/her head;

3) Have one student lie on the floor (on their back).  Have the partner swing the ball in a large circular motion.  The student on the floor is to follow the ball circulating until it comes to a complete stop.  Again, instruct students to follow with their eyes and not their head.

I hope this helps students and you recognize that their vision skills are essential and need to be practiced.

Bullying: Reporting vs. Telling

With all eyes and ears on bullying and anti bullying initiatives, we are also facing the same challenges in keeping our ears to the ground so to speak.  We cannot be in every place for every situation but yet we need to address them.  What we need to understand is that every time someone is being bullied there is always someone else that is present.  We do not want to imply that they are culpable, but when they just stand around and observe or watch, they help perpetuate the bullying behavior.  One of our greatest assets in diminishing and preventing bullying is the help of other students.  But, what I have found is that other students do not understand they have the power to be or to make that difference.  They believe they cannot make a difference and sometimes do not possess the strategies necessary to make that difference.  We have to help them identify these strategies and understand that the safety of others is of essence and they are responsible for their own and others well being.  One key factor is having students understand the difference between telling and reporting.

Telling: When a student is telling a person of authority about an action or situation, in order to get the other student(s) in trouble when there is no safety concern for self or for others.

Reporting: When a student tells a person of authority about an action or situation in order to prevent the emotional and/or physical safety of others.

Students need practice through demonstrations to be able to understand the difference.  They need to be able to identify situations and how to address them.  That is, if they speak to a person of authority about that situation, would it be telling or reporting?

Below you will find a link to a presentation (5 slides) that can be used as a short handout, or worked through as a group.   Don’t get fooled though, a lot of discussion will be generated!

To begin students will be able to identify who the trusted adults in their surroundings are and who will be able to help.  The presentation stresses personal safety and the safety of others as paramount.  After identifying the adults who could help, students will brainstorm the difference between telling and reporting.  Lastly, 3 different scenarios are provided for group discussion.  At the end of the presentation, it is time to proceed to different teaching strategies.

Some strategies to help students further understand that they cannot just stand by and watch unsafe situations happen are as follows:

1)   Have students role – play different scenarios (student developed) as a great way to recognize their actions and how to act appropriately.

2)   Another way is to build understanding through visuals. Students can create posters for a variety of audiences.

3)   Get technology involved! Students can create digital presentations (Powerpoint or Prezi are fantastic tools)

4)   Students can get even more creative by developing songs, videos, news/podcasts, or commercial.

Reporting vs Telling Presentation

We hope that starting off with small steps will begin to make a difference in your schools.

Understanding our Students

Have you noticed that your students are coming to school all stressed?  How about sleepy?  On edge? Cannot concentrate?

Understanding what our students go through when they are not with us at school is just as important as what happens when they are with us.  Some students have pressures to perform, and attend extra curricular activities outside of the school environment.  Others have responsibilities of caring for siblings (including cooking and putting them to bed), while others don’t get back to their home base until late at night.  Further to situations like this, we have students who stay up late watching television, or are on the Internet.  If that is not the case, then we have students who spend their evenings chatting on their phones or texting.  No matter what the situation, students have little quality personal time.  They do not have the opportunity to allow their brain to process all the situations that have occurred.  Even when they do go to sleep, it is not enough.  They come into the classroom exhausted and unmotivated.  Some even sleep at their desk.  They face many challenges and often do not respond well to them because of not being able to address these situations appropriately.

We are faced with many challenges.  Aiding students in understanding that their mind and body need to be healthy for them to be successful and productive is not an easy task.  Now we could tell them about what they should be doing and how they should be taking care of their bodies but most of the time, students say yes they understand but do not actually do anything about it.  As educators and as leaders, we need to take these situations and demonstrate to our students what is essential for their well – being.  What ideas are out there to help our students?

Here are a few:

1)   Quiet time: Give students the opportunity for even 5 minutes to be quiet and silent, without distractions or noise.  Just some quiet time to put everything aside and have that personal time they really need.

2)   Exercise:  Many schools have adopted a Daily Physical Activity plan.  Utilize this time to have students do a bunch of different heart pumping exercises.  This will help them alleviate stress and improve their mood.  Don’t stick to the classroom, go outside, run around, do line sprints.  So much can be done for 10-15 minutes.

3)   Have a laugh session: Did you know that laughing reduces tension, improves blood flow, and improves the health of the heart.  As weird as this sounds, just start laughing.  Students will definitely think you are crazy, hence start laughing at you! It doesn’t matter, in the end you have them laughing!

4)   Musical Interlude: Find classical pieces of music at walking tempo (60 beats per minute). Have students listen to the music, this will have their hearts slow down to the rhythm of the music and dissolve anxiety.

5)   Relaxation Techniques/Mediation: This one should be used maybe once a week and at lunchtime.  Students will feel awake but very relaxed at the end of the session.  This gives students the opportunity to relieve themselves from stressors and anxiety they are feeling.  You as a teacher will read a script with a calm, soft voice. Students will sit or lay down in a quiet, reduced light environment.  I have seen this technique allow students to relax and actually fall asleep, but awaken refreshed and ready to go.  What is essential here is the fact that not only will the stress and anxiety be relieved but also will give students the opportunity to learn how to feel and deal with stressors in their lives. Go to this link for free relaxation scripts:


Have you used any of these techniques?  Have you seen an improvement?  Let us all know what you do to help student with their stress and anxiety.