Science Notebook Wrap-Up

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SWBAT be able to state how keeping notes is helpful to scientists.

Big Idea

Our science notebooks have been an integral part of our science the entire year. How was it helpful? How can notebooks help real scientists? Let's use our own science notebooks to find out.

Teacher Notes

Activity Description

The children will use their table of contents in their science notebooks to answer questions and find information learned in previous lessons throughout the year.  Then we re-cap our entire scientific year by taking a "tour" of our science notebooks.  To end, the children make connections as to how they have created their science notebook and relate that how a real scientist would use notes to guide and help them in their work.

NGSS/Common Core Connections

In the NGSS the students need to unify ideas made throughout the year.  As part of the science practices, they also need to communicate information or solutions in the form of drawings and writings, which is part of our science notebooks.  In the common core, the children also need to know how to navigate using text features, such as a table of contents, which they will be using in this wrap-up lesson.


science notebooks that we have spent the entire year filling with lots of good stuff!


5 minutes

We have spent all year creating a masterpiece--science notebook!  Now what do we do?  There is so much learning wrapped up in one small package that I just couldn't send our cool looking notebooks home for the summer without a little recognition!

I begin the lesson by asking the children a few questions to get them thinking.

How is your science notebooks helpful to you?

 The girl in this video clip shares her thoughts on how science notebooks can be helpful.  Here is another video clip of one of my sweeties answering that some of us might become scientists one day.

Explore: The Notebook Game

20 minutes

Kids love games. It's a proven fact!  So why not play a game and learn at the same time?  

I have the children play a "game" with their science notebooks.  The main idea of the game is to unify the concepts that we have learned this year and get a feel of all of the important knowledge that we have gained.  Sometimes, it's good just to take a look at your learning to help you realize how far you have come and how much you have learned.  This particular group has come so far and accomplished so much.  Part of the enjoyment is realizing where you have started and all of the things you have done to get you to where you are at in this point of time.  Even young children are able to see their growth and feel this accomplishment.

For the game, I ask questions that can be answered by looking through their notebooks.  The goal is to get to the answer the fastest.  Of course, using their table of contents is an advantage, but I did not let them in on this little secret.  It won't take long for them to discover it, but discovering it on their own is priceless.  Here is a video clip of a boy explaining how the table of contents are very helpful when trying to find answers.

There are only a few rules for the game.   I want them to be using their science notebooks as a resource so they must find physical proof of their answer, they cannot just tell me the answers.  When they find an answer, they must raise their hand.  That's it, simple as pie.  It can go for as short or as long as you want it to be.

Here are some of the questions that I ask and the link to the original lesson it pertains to.  If there is a video clip of the kiddos flipping for answers, I have linked that, too (the question will be in blue).


Sample Game Questions:


1.  What is a mammal? video clip 

Lesson: Classifying Animals  

2.  What are some animals you can find in the rain forest?  

Lesson: The Wonders of the Rain Forest 

3.  What is a Mountain? video clip   

Lesson: Presenting and Learning From Media

4.  How does a glacier change the shape of the land?  

Lesson: How Do Glaciers Change the Shape of the Land?

5.  Which is smaller, a river or a stream?   

Lesson: Scientists Share Information

6.  What are the layers of the Earth?  

Lesson: Make a Mini Earth Model

7.  What is the largest magnitude of earthquake that happened on April 18, 2015?  Lesson: How Do Scientists Measure Earthquakes?





Explanation--Recap of the Year!

15 minutes

Then I quickly go back through the year and review what we have learned.  Our year has been a great year of learning, and the children need reminders of how our year began and then progressed.

Think back to our first introductory unit on science.  We learned what science was all about. Who remembers what we learned about scientists? 

The children answer that we learned that scientists make observations, they draw diagrams, they investigate to find answers, they communicate and share their information, they ask questions, and they do a variety of jobs that help people.

I want the children to reflect even more on their learning past our basic scientific skills.  So I continue asking questions that are based on the main goal of each of the units.

Next we learned about the engineering design process.  Remember how we tried to foil those darn squirrels?  Can you tell me the steps in the design process?

The children break into song to tell me each of the steps.

Our next unit was about pollination and seed dispersal.  What did you learn about pollination?  Remember how we were scientists out in the field?  We wanted to know more about the amount of bees that visited our gardens.  How did we set up our experiment?  At the end of the unit you were able to design your own pollinators.  Why do you think we did that?  What engineering processes did you learn about?

I notice the kids start to follow along in the notebooks.

Our fourth unit was about the biodiversity of life.  We first learned how scientists put animals that are alike into groups.  What do we call that? (classifying)  Why is classification helpful?  We learned how different animals and plants live in different places.  Why did we use gems to help us understand about biodiversity?  You also learned how to make a claim and compose an argument to defend your claim.  

The following unit was so much fun!  We learned all about building towers and the used the engineering design process to help build our own.  What did you learn about building?  Why do you think I had you make a Gami? (to communicate ideas)

Learning about water and landforms was a very interesting unit.  You were able to obtain and communicate lots of information.  How did we obtain and communicate our information?  (researched land and water forms, made a booklet about forms of water and made a YAKiT).  We also made a model.  Why do people use models?

Learning about our Earth and its changes proved to be very interesting.  I bet you all remember the layers of the Earth.

The class breaks out into song again.  They absolutely love the layers of the Earth song and will sing it at any given opportunity.

What are some of the the slow changes that we learned about?  What are some of the quick changes?  After making claims, what do we do next?

Wrapping Up and Making Connections

10 minutes

By playing the game using their science notebooks and then taking a "tour", they were able to visually see and interpret all of the things that we have learned this year.  Now I want them to make the BIG IDEA connection as to how they have created and used their science notebook and relate that how a real scientist would use notes to guide and help them in their work.  They've already figured out that this science notebook is "golden", but I want to make the connection to the real world as explicit as possible.  So we have a whole class discussion about these topics.

Think about how your notebook helpful to you.  How do you think a notebook would help a scientist?

My kiddos have great answers.  Having them use their own notebooks first really helped them put it into perspective.  They realize that if a notebook can help us remember things that we have done, notebooks can also help a real scientist in the real world (see notebooks help scientists remember things).  I love the way the boy in this video clip voiced that notebooks also help you organize information.  The boy in this video clip makes a great connection when he tells us how notebooks can help a scientist make comparisons and help keep records.

I end the lesson by summing up their answers.

So science notebooks can help scientists remember things, organize information, make comparisons over time and keep records.  You have made a wonderful masterpiece this year--your science notebook.  It can help you with all of these things.  Keep it as a wonderful reminder of all of the things we have done.  Keep it so you remember HOW we learned so you can apply it to something new in your life!