Explore Center

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SWBAT connect their science standards to reading and writing.

Big Idea

Reinforce your science topics and allow for more time spent on exploration and inquiry with this center!

Why This Center?

1 minutes

Explore center is the place where students are able to integrate science and social studies into their reading and writing.  This center is a place where students review skills while exploring, inquiring and gaining information about different science and social studies topics.  This is a very fun and informative center because it allows students to experience facets of science projects and/or social studies research they may not have time to delve into throughout the regular day.  Cross-curricular connections between reading and science and social studies are imperative- they show our students just how important reading is to all areas of learning and how everything can be integrated!

How Do I Set Up?

10 minutes

What I use:
Science or social studies related informational text(s)
A science or social studies activity that relates reading to exploring
Extra science activities and magnifying glasses, microscopes, etc.
Extra social studies activities and compasses, maps, etc.

This center may sound difficult, but it isn’t as complicated as it seems. 
I tend to read a story or cover a specific science or social studies topic in whole group. 
After that, I will create a related activity for this center.
*I make sure to read the story covered by this center in the whole group setting because I want students to have gotten the best and most complete version of the information.  I think it is crucial that students be able to complete their centers independently; in order for that to happen, I want to read the story to my students to help set them up for success.

What I do to set up the center:
- I put a copy of a related text in the bucket. 
- I make sure all of the materials needed are in the bucket.
- I make sure the science or social studies activity is related to a story we have read about a specific topic (and is one students have a good background knowledge of).
- I include additional science and social studies activities for extra practice for students who finish early and want to explore even more! (The extra science and social studies activities I provide are things like pictures of fruits and vegetables to sort, diagrams of the pieces of flowers to put together, a map, a globe, a puzzle to solve, etc.)

How Does This Center Change to Meet Students' Needs Throughout the Year?

10 minutes

*For the first round of centers in the year, I let students copy my example that is available in the bucket.  I do this so they will know from the beginning what my expectations will be for completing a science or social studies themed activity.  Typically, I will leave a little of the first assignment blank so they can complete it; however, I like to provide guidance.  Here is a great activity that I like to have students complete at the beginning of our centers, during our Apples unit!
        -I read a book about apples and the parts of apples.  Students then go to this center and copy my large diagram and Label the Parts of an Apple.  Then, they look at their lists of Apple Adjectives and write them on the back of their apple!  That way, they get all of the correct information from my diagram and copied it onto theirs, but also they write their own describing words to complete the assignment!

*I tend to have students do science, then social studies activities, every other round.  I like to alternate so we can cover more topics in each subject area.

*As the year goes on, I make sure that the activities in this center are aligned with what our current science or social studies skill might be. 
For example: we may be reading about maps, so students will create maps, like a zoo map at this center.  Or, we may be working on seasons, so students will create images, in order, of trees changing through the seasons. We may be learning about Thanksgiving, so students will create Pilgrim or Native American outfits.

*This center is really easy to mold to the topics and themes we are covering.

The Process Students Typically Follow

40 minutes

- Students look over and read or re-tell the text or topic starter with their partner.
   (This will connect back to their prior knowledge from the whole group read-aloud or discussion.  When completing this activity, students will show their comprehension and/or understanding of certain material we have covered.)

- Students complete their science or social studies activity.
   (Students will typically be using some tools that are connected to science or social studies, whenever possible.  I like to include magnifying glasses, microscopes, goggles, globes, maps, etc. *Students know not to use science or social studies tools as toys- those expectations are set very early in the year.)

- Students check their work with their partner and they turn it in.
   (This is an important step that teaches students responsibility and self-management.)

- Students get another science or social studies activity to work on as a review.
   (It is important that students always have something to do in this center that is connected to science or social studies!  I make sure to keep my center bucket stocked with related activities so students can be involved in the important material the whole time.)

In the end, students will end up showing me what they know from an informational text and will show me the knowledge they have gained.  Also, students will be able to connect to science or social studies and will make cross-curricular connections while working.  I will assess students'

Examples of this Center

1 minutes

Below, I have attached some examples of this center. 

Example-  Here is a main activity for my Explore Center:
I read a book about Pandas in whole group.  Students reviewed an informational text about pandas.  They then labeled the parts of a panda.  After that, they wrote their own text-based sentence about pandas.  Here are examples of a Panda Personal Response sheet and a panda labeling sheet!

This particular activity addresses the following standards:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.K.7 With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the text in which they appear (e.g., what person, place, thing, or idea in the text an illustration depicts).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.1 Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print.
This also really helps prepare students for:
Know and use various text features (e.g., headings, tables of contents, glossaries, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or information in a text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.1a Print many upper- and lowercase letters.


Example- Here is an extra worksheet for my Explore Center:
An additional or supplementary activity that I like students to complete after one such as the activity shown above is called Write the Room!  This is one thing I love to include in my explore center when possible- it encourages students to finish the bulk of their work so they can move on to this activity!  With write the room, I allow students to walk around the room and find words that are related to our science or social studies theme.  (Most of the time, students use magnifying glasses to find tiny words or they have to search for camouflaged words to connect even more to science!) When students find the words, they then write them in the correct places.  When they are done, students write a few sentences on the back of their paper to connect some of the words. 
Here is an example of a Write the Room Activity for Winter and some January Vocabulary Words to hang for Write the Room.

This particular activity addresses the following standards:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.5c Identify real-life connections between words and their use (e.g., note places at school that are colorful).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.5a Sort common objects into categories (e.g., shapes, foods) to gain a sense of the concepts the categories represent.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.1a Print many upper- and lowercase letters.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.1b Use frequently occurring nouns and verbs.