I engage the kids in at the beginning of this lesson to review what we remember about the properties of paper, especially construction paper from our first lesson in this unit, We're Going on a Paper Hunt. This gets the kids focused on the object and sets the scene for the lesson.
I call one table at a time to sit on the floor. I ask the kids to think silently to themselves about what we've learned about paper in previous lessons. I set the timer for 30 seconds. Once the timer goes off, I have them turn to their floor partner. Each student is given 20 seconds to share what they remember from earlier paper lessons.
I call on three random students to share with the whole class what they talked about with their floor partner by pulling name sticks from a name stick can. Before the first student shares, I put out the paper properties chart paper poster that we created in an earlier lesson. I review the poster with the kids as they reflect on what they remember. As each student shares, I point to it on the chart paper and write a small check mark next to it so we can keep track of what we've said. Anything not shared or forgotten is addresses once the last speaker shares.
Preparing by engaging:
I then ask the kids this question, "What are some things we can do to make paper stronger?"
I call on random volunteers that raise their hands nicely. As they share their ideas, I record the information on the poster by adding a new section to the bottom of the poster.
Based on their experience with making wood stronger, one of the kids states that we could glue layers of paper together. Another students says that we can fold it. A third says that we can just stack it in a pile.
I tell the kids that today we are going to see what happens when we weave paper together. I then ask if anyone can tell us what it means to weave something and two volunteers share. One says, "My mom weaves my hair." The other says, "I weaved an Easter basket in daycare. It means like to braid something."
That's a close enough approximation for a kindergarten and we move into the exploration.
Preparing the exploration:
The directions for the exploration are giving while the kids remain sitting on the floor. I show them a plain piece of blue construction paper and I put a full soda bottle on it. The soda bottle is unstable and wiggles and tumbles off. The kids are shocked and I promise not to open so it won't spray them.
I tell them that we are going to weave strips of paper through some blue construction paper just like that piece and see what happens. I show them that the paper they will be using already has slits cut into it and the strips of paper are already measured and cut for them. I pack the bags the night before the lesson is taught.
I ask the kids, "What do you think is going to happen to the paper when we weave it? What do you think is going to happen to the soda bottle if we try to sit it on the weaved paper?"
I call on a few kids to share their thoughts. One student states that the paper won't work anymore and the bottle won't be able to sit on it at all. It will just fall through the cracks. Another says that the bottle of soda will only be able to lay on its side if we use weaved paper because the weaved pieces will wiggle and move. A third student says that soda bottle will stay for a little bit, but will fall off like it did when I showed them the plain blue paper because weaving paper doesn't do anything because it's still all paper.
I tell the kids that this exploration will be guided. That means they need to watch me and only do what I show them to do when I show them.
I call on team at a time to go sit at the tables where there is a tub with a bag of supplies for each student. The glue is always in the table baskets. We go over the supplies that are in the bags - one large piece of blue construction paper with slits cut in it and strips of construction paper in a variety of color. I hold up my blue paper and demonstrate very slowly how to weave one step at a time. The kids are asked to glue the beginning and the end of the weaved in piece of paper. We do the first three weaves together so they can have a firm understanding of how to do it. I roam the room as they weave to assist as needed.
I have the kids complete the rest of the weaving on their own as I roam, monitor and assist. Once they are finished weaving, I call them one table at a time to come sit on the floor while their weaving mats are left on the table to dry.
While our mats are drying, I ask the kids to tell me what they've experienced so far. Several kids volunteer their thoughts. One says it was "tight" to weave the paper. Another said it was hard to go top, bottom, top, bottom. Another said that he had a hard time fitting all the strips of paper in the slits and his tore a little in one spot.
After the volunteers have shared out their thoughts, I take a paper weaving that I made the night before and I ask them, "Do you want to see what happens when we put the full soda bottle on it?" Of course they get excited and yell, "Yeah!"
Thinking like a scientist:
I take the sample and I put the soda bottle on it. The soda bottle wiggles less and stays on the weaved mat. The kids look like they are seeing magic! One student says, "How come it stays there now?"
That's just the question I wanted someone to ask! I want them thinking about the how's and the why's of properties of paper. I turn it back to the class, "Why do you think it stays? What do you think is happening that the bottle is sitting on the weaved paper better than the plain construction paper?"
I call on volunteers to share their ideas. One states that the glue makes the paper harder and stronger like the wood we glued together. Another says that when we weave the paper, maybe we make it thicker and it gets stronger. A third says it's because we make it like a "hanging bed." I ask her to explain the "hanging bed." She says her grandpa takes a nap in one in his backyard. I say, "Oh! You mean a hammock! Those are kind of weaved aren't they?!" I think to myself how kids never stop amazing me with the connections they can make!
I have the kids go back to their tables one team at a time to get their weaved mats and come back to the floor with them. I remind them to make sure their name is on it.
Once they are all back on the floor with their mats, I have the kids examine their own and then compare theirs to their floor partner; there may be some minor differences between and I want them to recognize this because even though there may be some minor differences, they still have the same results.
As they look at their mats, I explain to them how the glue assisted in making the paper stronger by bonding more than one piece of paper together with another. I also explain the "hammock" idea - the weaving creates a means for the soda bottle nestle or rest into the mat because there's just a little bit of space in between the slits of paper to where they move just a tiny bit. This lets the paper give a little room to balance the soda bottle.
I ask the kids to show the weaved mats to their families and see what they can put on it and hold. I ask them to think of something that they are going to try to put on it when they get home. I tell them to turn to their floor partner and tell them. There is only one rule: It can NOT be made out of glass and it has to be their own object like a toy or stuffed animal. One student asks if a cup of water is okay to try. I tell her yes as long as the cup is not glass and they try it outside.
The evaluation of this lesson is done in the science journals. I demonstrate the expectations to the kids:
I have the kids help me make a quick word bank on the board that they can refer to when writing in their journal.
I show them how I would draw my picture and I write, "Today we weaved paper mats. My mat is stronger from glue and more paper. My mat might hold a cup of water."
After the demonstration, I have the table leaders come up and get the science journals for each person at their table. I dismiss one team at a time from the carpet to the table at a time. I roam the room to ask kids to explain to me what they are writing about and to clarify any misunderstandings. I also assist with sounding out unknown words and point out needed words on the word bank.
Words they came up with:
I set the timer for seven minutes, the time that is left for the lesson. At the end of the seven minutes I have the kids quickly come back to the floor one table at a time to share their work with their floor partner. I roam through the sea of kids to overhear their discussions. I do this so they all have a chance to share and all feel validated.
Any kids who did not have enough time to finish their journal entry will have time to finish during our writing time.