Thursday, July 10, 2014

Shake It Up!

Okay...  So 2 years ago, I tried to make these discovery bottles I came across on Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits, a wonderful blog with awesome ideas.  So I drained some water bottles and went to town.  I made them ALL!  I wanted to use them the first week of school to introduce my students to the idea of science being a discovery.  Well, as noted in the blog, the Vitamin Water-type bottles may have been a better idea.  I went to all that work, and my cheap, flimsy water bottles weren't very attractive after the first day!  They were filled with dents, wouldn't sit up straight, and I found out the kids enjoyed making them crack and pop more than discovering the explorations inside of them.  So I gave up and pitched them all in the trash!
That same year, my husband bought me a Find It! Beach-themed bottle for Christmas.  I took it to school and the kiddos loved shaking that one around to find the hidden beach items, but I'm not sure how much they were getting out of it educationally.
That brings me to this summer.  My son and I were at the grocery store when he asked for Cuties Juice.  If you haven't tried this stuff, it's delightful!  100% pure Cuties Juice - you know, those little, baby-sized tangerines that are easy to peel, but this is squeezed!  So we bought it and he drank it all in a couple of days.  Now it's empty, but I can't bring myself to throw out the adorable bottle it came in.  Now don't call "Hoarders," I don't think I have a REAL problem.  I know this is another garbage post, but bare with me...  I'm pretty sure all teachers have a little hoarder in them.  It's like our little gift, we see the potential in a piece of trash.  So I'm holding the bottle and wondering what I can do with it, when the discovery bottles come back to me.  But I'm in my guided reading mode at the moment, so I see word work bottles when I look at this gem.  I could fill these with synonyms, antonyms, idioms, you name it!  The possibilities seem endless and the bottle seems to be glowing!  But what to fill it with?  I think back to Beach bottle which is filled with little pieces of plastic.  Hmm...  Beads?  Too expensive.  Those Perler beads the kids melt together?  Still too expensive.  It's a big bottle.  Sparkly pom poms?  Probably would work, but I don't have any on hand here at my house, and I'm one of those
Rice drying on my patio
people who want it done NOW!  So I quickly peruse my pantry.  My eyes land on the rice.  It's cheap.  It's the right size, but it's boring.  So I grab my egg coloring supplies and get to work.  Seriously, once I got the plan in my head, it all fell together in less than 15 minutes - start to finish.  And I love how they turned out!  I grabbed 3 quart zip top bags, some neon food coloring, vinegar, and my rice.  Pour 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar into a bag.  Add 20-25 drops of food coloring to the vinegar and dump in enough rice to almost fill the bag.  Smoosh it all around until it's evenly colored and pour it out on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet.  I let it dry over night and then just squished it around to separate
Close up of rice
the grains in the morning.  And it looks great!  I filled the bottle with 1 half of each pair of synonyms and put the other half on an answer sheet for the kids to match them to.  I plan on making tons more of these as soon as I drink more juice!  And this is so adaptable to any subject/grade level.  Kindergarten/first could match upper and lower case letters, find sight/picture words, or match numerals to pictures.  Math could match equations to word problems, equivalent fractions, you name it!  Right now my mind is like that Energizer Bunny!  It keeps going, and going, and going...  You get the picture.  So go drink some juice and save your bottles, because as educators, we know that all garbage has potential.

Get your Synonym Shake Up download here.

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