Not All Wood is Created Equal

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SWBAT explain how types of wood are alike and different by comparing a variety of wood blocks.

Big Idea

Kids learn that not all wood is the same and that different wood had different uses.

Explore and Elicit

15 minutes

I call the kids one table at a time to come sit on the floor so I can give them the expectations and procedures for the exploration.

First I show the kids the materials that we will be using:

  • 4 different type of wood blocks, one per student
  • paper plate marked with four numbered quadrants to hold the blocks, one per student
  • magnifying glasses, one per student

I explain to the kids that we will be using the magnifying glasses to examine the wood and that we will be looking at one specific piece of wood at a time. 

I find it to be helpful to label the wood pieces, 1-4 for quick identification. Unfortunately, the science kit that I am provided with does not allow me to do that, but if you can it would be to your benefit. I use plates marked with quadrants and place the wood pieces in specific spots for easy identification since I cannot write on them. 

Handing out materials:

As the kids sit on the floor, I ask them to play a game with their floor partner while I put the materials on the tables. They are to turn to their floor partner and take turns naming things made of wood. They cannot repeat each other and they can only say one item each turn. I demonstrate very quickly with a student before I begin passing out materials.

Exploring wood:

I call one team at a time to go sit at the tables with their hands in their laps. They are not allowed to touch anything until they are asked.

Once everyone is seated, I ask the kids to pick up their magnifying glass and the wood that has been placed in quadrant 1. I give the kids one full minute to examine the wood sample by setting a timer. After the timer goes off, I call on random students by pulling name sticks from a name stick can to share observations - one per person. I record the observations on chart paper in a branch map until the kids run out of contributions. I have the kids put the wood pieces back in the quadrants they came from as we go along.

After we have examined all the wood samples, I share with the kids the name of each type of wood by crossing out quadrant names on the branch map and replacing them with the actual name of the wood.




10 minutes

I call one table team at a time to sit on the floor to sit like scientists. This means they are sitting crisscross apple sauce, hands in the lap, mouths closed, eyes, ears and brain ready to learn. 

I read a book called, Wood and Paper. I stop at the at pages of interest to the students to discuss the information presented. I know when they are interested by how they react to the text and illustrations. I also stop for discussion when they have questions.

I do this so the kids can see the many used of different types of wood. I stress to the kids what woods are used for what purposes, e.g. pine and oak for furniture, balsa for wood planes/gliders

As we read through the text, I show examples of objects made from different types of wood:

  • wood glider
  • mini totem pole
  • pine car
  • oak jewelry box

Doing this brings the concept "alive" for the kids. They can see the objects rather than just hear about them.

We then discuss ideas of why the kids think someone might want to use one type of wood over another. I call on volunteers to share their ideas.


10 minutes

We continue to sit on the floor and I name objects made of wood. I ask the kids if I was to make the object, if I would want to use a hard strong wood, or a soft weaker wood. 

I inquire about:

  • carving (softer)
  • dresser (harder)
  • jewelry (softer)
  • boat     (harder)
  • remote control plane (softer)
  • dining room table (harder)

I do this so the kids get the idea that there are different uses for different types and qualities of wood.


10 minutes

To evaluate the level of learning from this lesson, I have the kids consider something that they would want to make out of a very hard wood and I ask them to draw it and write about it in their science journal. 

I roam the room and ask each student what they are drawing and writing about. If the object is not appropriate to be made from a hard wood, I ask them clarifying questions with the goal of getting them to realize on their own that the wood type they've chosen and the object they've drawn don't match. For instance, if a student chooses to write about a remote control airplane but chooses a hard heavy wood to make it out of, I ask them if hard wood is heavy or  light. I then ask which would be easier to fly, heavy or light. I might ask the student which one would be easier to cut the model pieces from. My goal is to get them to come to their own conclusion based on evidence.

To close out this lesson, I have the kids come back to the floor with their science journals by calling one table at a time. The kids are asked to turn to their floor partner and share their work with them by explaining what they drew, what kind of wood they would use, and why.

I then pull 4 name sticks from the name stick can to present and explain their work to the entire class. I have them tell the class what they drew and what type of wood they would use to make it and why. The other kids are encouraged to ask clarifying questions if they do not clearly understand what the presenters are explaining.

Once the fore kids have shared, I have the table leaders of the day collect the science journals from each person who sits at their table and place them back in the science journal tub.