To begin this lesson, I call the kids one table at a time to come sit on the floor like scientists. This means that they are sitting quietly with their hands in their laps ready to listen and learn.
Since we live in a desert, I begin by asking the kids how it feels outside today. Of course they say, “HOT!”
I agree with them and then ask them what they think makes it so hot outside all the time. I tell them that my friend lives in Alaska and she rarely tells me it’s hot so I wonder why we feel hot so often.
I tell the kids to silently think about that for 20 seconds and then I have them turn to their floor partner to share their thoughts. This requires every child to participate and allows every student to be heard while respecting class time.
Once the kids have shared with their floor partners, I pull three names from the name stick can and ask those kids to share their ideas with the whole class. As the kids share, I record their ideas on chart paper, all ideas are accepted without criticism as at this age they are expressing creative ideas and things they’ve been told.
The kids remain seated on the floor while I explain to them about the little “field trip” we will take outside.
I explain to the kids that we are going outside to find out where all that hotness comes from. I tell them that we are going to cook eggs on the sidewalk! This gives the kids an original experience with heat that they can relate to. They’ve all seen eggs fried in a pan, and they know the pan gets hot, but yet it’s not outside. Now they will see an egg cook on a sidewalk without a pan. It stirs their curiosity.
If it does not get hot enough to cook an egg on a sidewalk where you live, you can use more simple means to demonstrate the concept like watching solid butter melt or watching the frosting of a cupcake melt off.
I hold up an egg and dismiss the kids to line up at the door one table team at a time. I take them outside to sit on the ground just outside of my classroom, which has no covering or awning. I ask the kids to close their eyes and tell me how it feels.
I call on volunteers to tell the class how it feels outside to them. They use words like “burny,” hot, and melting.
I take the egg and break it on the sidewalk. I place a chair with a “do not disturb” sign over the egg. I tell the kids that we are going to go back inside for about 10 minutes to read a book about heat.
The kids enter the room and sit in their squares on the carpet. We pre-read the book, The Sun: Our Nearest Star, written by Franklyn M. Branley by taking a picture walk and having a discussion about things we see. This helps the kids learn to interpret information presented as images (visual literacy) and prepares their minds for receiving the science behind the heat.
After we take our picture walk, I go back to the front cover and read the title along with the author’s name. I begin reading the text “slowly” and deliberately. I do this so that the kids have time to process the information being presented.
I stop reading at predetermined spots in the book so the kids can think-pair-share what they’ve learned. I predetermine the pages by pre-reading the book at home and placing sticky notes on pages of strong science content and interest.
It looks like:
This requires all students to participate, yet respects class time by having only a sampling of the kids share with the whole group which is how real science is done anyway. Large numbers of a test maybe done, but samplings are taken and reported.
After completing the text and discussion, I have the kids line up at the door to go outside and check on our egg.
We make a circle around the chair with our egg under it. Once the kids are quiet and ready, I move the chair to reveal a cooked egg where the gooey raw one once laid. The kids get so excited they start “squealing.”
I pick up the egg with a spatula and place it on a dark colored plate so the egg is in stark contrast from the plate and the kids can see it clearly.
We take the egg back inside and sit on the floor. I ask the kids what could have provided the heat that could cook an egg on a sidewalk. I follow the same think-pair-share procedure as earlier. The kids determine it is the sun that provided the heat.
I then have the kids view the following video:
After the video, they once again think-pair-share what they’ve learned about the sun and its ability to create heat on the earth’s surface. This sets up for kids to support each other’s learning of science concepts. They hear how each other interpret presented information and allows them to share their ideas and learn from each other.
I then ask the kids what kind of things on the earth would need heat from the sun to survive. I list them on the board as volunteers share.
I introduce the evaluative activity to the kids by demonstrating what I want them to do. They are to cut and sort pictures into two categories, needs heat/sun or does not need heat/sun.
I demonstrate only three or four items before calling the table leaders up for the number of pages needed for the people who sit at their table. I then dismiss one table team at a time to go complete their task on their own.
I roam the room as the kids work to ask them to explain their thinking as they place items in the columns. I also assist as needed. This allows me the opportunity to impromptu assess learning with individual students. Some I have already interpreted the level of learning based on the information they shared during our whole group discussions, so I target kids who did not get a chance to share out. I have a pretty good memory for that kind of embedded assessing. If this concept is new to you, you can create a student grid with one student name in each box and record your observations as kids share out or as you roam and interact with them.
I extend the lesson into a home-school connection through a mini-reader. We gather on the floor and learn the book together. I incorporate many repeated high frequency words to mimic our core reading program and to support ELA learning.
By the time the kids have heard and read the mini-book four times, they are prepared to take them home and read them with their families.