Teaching Vocabulary in Social Studies and Science Part 7

I know by now at least some of you are starting to wonder how long I can drag this series out. But to be honest, I feel that we can always work on vocabulary instruction and making sure we are teaching our students the vocabulary they are going to need.


All that being said, this is the last part of my suggestions for vocabulary instruction (For now!). Do you use hand signals or movement when teaching vocabulary? If not, you should. It is powerful!


Just like a music teacher using hand signals to direct a choir or even to teach tiny children the words (they cannot read in Pre-K most of the time…so motions it is!), teachers should use hand signals or motions whenever possible to teach vocabulary.

Teaching weathering, erosion, and deposition was never fun for my learners until I added hand motions and funny phrases to teach the words. Now I can simply sweep my hands across my body and say MOOOOVE IT! and my students will scream EROSION!!! 

Movement is a powerful tool that requires the brain to plug in more and tie connections to everything! Think about a dancer whom has rehearsed choreography until she dreams about it. When she hears the song years later, more than likely the movements begin to run through her brain (and possibly body) as if she had rehearsed yesterday.

I love when on a test I see students arms shoot up into an obtuse angle because they are remembering what it looks like and possibly sounds like (because I attempt to sound like an overweight gravelly man when we make an obtuse angle). Students are using what they remember about these vocabulary words with their entire bodies and it is helping them!


Physical and Chemical Changes

I LOVE this standard! Georgia has changed this standard slightly this school year, but for the most part it is still the same.

Day 1, I introduce the standard and talk about the achievement level descriptors so students know what they need to learn in order to get a 3 on the standard. Then I give them some vocabulary! The vocabulary packet I use can be found here. I also use Quizlet to help them study. This set of words can be found here. After that, I do a short activity with paper. I give each student a plan piece of white paper. I ask them to tell me the attributes, or characteristics of the paper. Then I ask them to cut the paper. We talk about what the substance is…it’s still paper. Then I have them tear the paper. What is it? Paper! I have them crumple the paper. Guess what it is still…PAPER. I think you get the point. We do a bunch of physical changes to the paper and talk about at the end of the day it is still paper.

On day 2, we do 4 rotations. I give five minutes per rotation. I have four different mixtures for the kids to sort. One bucket has toys (Lincoln Logs, LEGOS, and K’Nex), another has coloring supplies (markers, colored pencils, and crayons), the third has Chex Mix, and the last has baking soda mixed with iron filings.


At the baking soda and iron filings rotation, I give them magnet wands to help them sort after they suffer for thirty seconds trying to figure out what to do. TIP: put the magnet wands inside zip loc bags for easy clean up. Before each group moves to the next rotation they have to remix their mixtures! At the end of class I did pull out a fresh bag of Chex mix to snack on as a class (food makes everything more fun)!

Day 3 was a longer lesson. I normally only have 30 minutes for science, but we did an hour. I could have split the lesson, but chose not to because I knew I had a shorter math lesson that day. On day 3, we set up our states of matter bags! Groups got to pick a name and design their bag. Here is a picture of mine:


Then I put a cup of ice and they placed a thermometer in the bag. They zipped the bag mostly closed, blew some air in it to fill the bag, and then closed it up! After a few minutes they recorded observations, temperature readings, and the date and time on the table below:

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They continued to keep data into the next school day. On the third school day, I had placed the bags in front of a space heater. In a warmer season of the year, simply placing the bags outside in the sun would do the same thing. What you want students to connect is that with the change in the states of matter, the temperature changed also.

On the same day we set up the states of matter bags, we did a solution experiment. Now I must admit before moving any further that when I did this next activity last year it was a disaster. This year it was perfect though! I used a hot plate in the classroom to bring a pot of water to boiling (I did 200mL of water). Then I put about two tablespoons of table salt into the boiling water and stirred. I allowed the science groups to come observe throughout the dissolving and boiling. While doing this I showed a fun youtube video about how heat moves. I boiled all of the water out of the solution and am left with the salt.


I then take two petri dishes and put some salt that has not been boiled into a solution in one, and some salt from our solution in the other. We look at them under a microscope and talk about the differences, which one was a part of the solution, how can you tell, the uniformity


Next we started observing actual chemical changes. I found most of these activities on this website and modified them up for my students. This first one is a HUGE favorite because the kids think they know what is going to happen. It is vinegar in the graduated cylinder and baking soda in the balloon. Then you hold the balloon up so the baking soda drops down and you get see hear the fizz, see the bubbles, but also the balloons expands with the gas that is released!


We also watched a temperature change with some yeast and hydrogen peroxide. This one fascinated the kids and caused for some fun gasps in the classroom.


We also do elephant toothpaste and a color change, but I forgot to get pictures. Sorry 😦

Below is the table from my state of matter bag. The kids enjoyed this one and realized that as the temperature rose the state of matter changed. The especially liked the condensation at the top of the bag when the bags were hot (we used a space heater, but setting in the in the sunlight will do the same thing).


Some things I learned for next year:

  • Let them measure the ingredients that cannot hurt them. It gives them good practice and makes less prep work for me.
  • Print them a copy of all of the lab instructions. Even though I had them posted on the ActivBoard, it is good for them to have an up close copy and read, hold, check off. (I hope to get these prepped and in my TPT store soon)
  • It is okay to get messy! The kids loved it, and we had a blast! Keep doing the hands-on lessons.

I hope some of this has helped you! My kiddos loved this unit and want to do more of these chemical reaction lessons after state testing!

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OMG…What Happened?

August is gone and I’ll be honest…I don’t even know what happend. I had a plan. I was going to share a new item from Teachers Pay Teachers every day and then…POOF! The month is gone and I am on the ground, face up, breathing deeply, wondering how I made it to September.

On the bright side, I am alive! I do have thirty new items in my TPT store! And I LOVE my new students!

I hope to start posting again soon, but until I can scrape myself off of the floor, I must ask you all to hold tight!


Vocabulary is HUGE

Over the years, vocabulary has been what has complicated social studies and science! The kids would understand that metal was a good conductor, but then they wouldn’t select copper as a good conductor on the test. They didn’t know that copper was a metal. Life experience hadn’t taught them that yet…so I have been working on my vocabulary packets this summer and they are FINISHED…for now!

Turn of the Century

Teaching about the Turn of the Century is always fun! You get to dress up like a cowboy, ride a stick pony around the classroom, imagine what it would be like if we said “Ahoy” when we answered the phone instead of “hello” and so much more! This packet includes posters, activities, interactive notebook pieces, and quizzes. Go get this Turn of the Century Vocabulary Packet here. Then check out more great products in my TpT Store.

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Getting Ready

I have been working like crazy to get ready for my month of TPT additions! I have 14 new products made (a few FREEBIES in there) and only need (31-14=17) 17 more to make!!! I hope to be finished making them by July 15th so I can be uploading them towards the end of July and blogging about each one has August begins!!! So much fun!!!

Social Studies and Vocabulary

For many years I have found that students struggle most with vocabulary. Especially in science and social studies. I have found that talking about words, using words, study words, and writing with words helps students the most in conquering this vocabulary divide!

I just added several vocabulary packets to my TpT store for social studies and cannot wait for you all to check them out! Each packet includes a interactive notebook entry as well as vocabulary quiz. Sometimes I use the interactive notebook pieces as flashcards (fold them the other way) or a matching game (cut them completely apart).

The Civil War

The Reconstruction Era

Westward Expansion and the Turn of the Century

World War I and the Roaring Twenties

The Great Depression

The packets also have BONUSES!!!!! They include a standard poster, essential question poster, and achievement descriptors poster!

Time to Move On

It has been awhile. I know. There are reasons that I will be sharing soon, but not here. I am leaving Shining the Light in Third Grade and moving to a new blog! It’s a Ruff Life can be found here. I would love to have you all join me in my new journey with this new blog. Please come check it out and follow me!

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Compassion International Adoption

The Compassion International trailer was in our town last week. This trailer allows people to experience being in another country without leaving the country. You are able to walk through the lives of two students that have been sponsored by Compassion International donations. 

Kyle took some of the students from our youth group and adopted one of the students from Africa. His name is Nardos. I spent some time today making posters, prayer cards, and reminders to pray for Nardos. 

We are going to give one of these to each of our students to take home as a reminder to pray for Nardos. 

I made one of these for each Sunday school room. On the back is some personal information about Nardos. 

This will help our teachers make Nardos real to the students. 

I also made posters for our youth center and hangout room. We will be able to add the letters that Nardos writes to us and have a drop off basket for our students to leave letters to send to Nardos. 

I can’t wait to get these back to curve and set up. I’m so excited to see our students take on the task of funding Nardos through Compassion International and encouraging him through letters and pictures. 


Our students took the Georgia Milestones Assessment System (GMAS) last April. Most people would think that we would get their scores back within a month of taking the assessment, BUT that was not the case this year. After the test this past April we were told October would be when our scores would be released. October turned into January. Then, all of the sudden I receive an email in early November that my GMAS scores are in.

The results are ugly! I am used to 100% of my students passing the CRCT Mathematics portion. (the CRCT is what Georgia used to give as a standardized assessment). I knew the GMAS was going to be more difficult and I had been given a warning that the state was predicting that less than half of the students would pass the assessment the first year. Well, the state wasn’t lying.

I am not going to give my scores out because I have not been cleared to do so. I must say that although I am unhappy with the percentage of my students who passed, I had a higher percentage in my classes pass than the CES grade level average or state average.

I obviously need to make some adjustments to my teaching, start going deeper into their understand, and evaluate what I am doing as a professional. But I am proud of how hard most of my students worked on the GMAS. The next few months are going to be a lot of work as I reflect on how I teach, what I teach, and why my students did not perform as highly as I would have liked for them to.

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Don’t Read This if You Want to Feel Comfortable

Cherry Drop Princess you hit the nail on the head! Now let’s get out in the world and do something about it.

Cherry Drop Princess

You see that same woman standing there,outside theshopping centre,handing out her old fashioned bible tracts. You cringe. What is she thinking? This isn’t the way you share the message in this day and age.

There’s that man who standsnear the train station, yelling and shouting about the riches of heaven, working up sucha frenzy. people walk past and laugh. Is this what they think of Christians? They must think we’re nuts.

If only there were more nutters out there. More people who weren’t worried about making a fool of themselves for Christ.

People who will go out there, instead of sittling inside discussing stratergy.

People who don’t mind getting laughed at and mocked.

Yes, there isa time for being gentle about our faith. Butis that justan excuse for never really sharing it? Meeting friends for coffee with the intention of talking about the real things, “One day I’ll tell them…

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