First Grade Reading Crime Lab Day 2

Last week in First Grade Reading, we performed another series of Crime Lab tests designed to get us closer to discovering the culprit in our Pilfered Hippopotamus Mystery.

The first station required testing the white powder found on Danny.  At the station there was a cup of mystery white powder.  Was it powder used to make cookies, or powder used to make pie?  The kids used an eyedropper to add Iodine to the powder.  The station directions informed them that if the powder turned bright yellow, it was cookie powder.  If the powder turned purple or black, it was pie powder.  Who looked guilty based on the result of the test — who brought cookies and who brought pie?



Next, the students tested the melted ice cubes to determine if they contained a mystery substance.  The station directions informed them that if they dipped pH paper in the melted ice cubes and the paper stayed yellow, the ice cubes were simply water.  If the pH paper turned green, the ice cubes contained a mystery substance.


At the next station, we examined three cups.  One contained salt crystals, one contained sugar crystals, and one contained the “mystery crystals” found on Danny at the scene of the crime.


The kids looked closely at all of the crystals and tried to determine if the mystery crystals best matched the salt crystals (which were chunky) or the sugar crystals (which were smooth and shiny).


At the Footprints station, the kids examined the footprints left at the scene and compared them to the footprints of the five club members to determine who had made the tracks found at the scene.


Finally, we performed a tape lift to determine what particles were stuck to Danny.  We ripped off a small piece of tape and pressed it to Danny.


We then stuck the piece of tape to a white piece of paper to examine what we had removed.  Was it dog hair?  Grass?  And who looked guilty based on what we found?


We then sat down to take a long look at our Data Sheets and Clue Boards.  Who looked guilty based on the tests we had performed?  What did we think happened based on the evidence we had found?

I sent the Data Sheets and Clue Boards home so that the kids could use them to complete their homework assignment — writing a paragraph or two that explains their theory of what happened and their best guess as to who took Danny.

Throughout this unit, I have been impressed by the kids’ attention to detail and their ability to make appropriate inferences.  There are a lot of pieces to tie together here, and they have shown great facility at taking information obtained in one way and applying it somewhere else.  Most of them have been careful not to jump to conclusions, and to modify their theories when the evidence contradicts them.  If I needed a group of detectives, I would hire them for sure!  If I needed a group of first graders who could pay attention to a text, make inferences about it, and connect it to other texts and situations, well, I’d hire them for that, too!

Welcome to Kindergarten Math! Week of 11/16/15

I met with kindergarten math groups for the first time this week. You’ll know if your child will be coming for enrichment math if s/he brought home a letter from me today.

To begin, I explained that they would be coming to see me once each week for enrichment math. I told the kids that the math they do with me is supposed to be hard, and that if they don’t get it right away, that’s okay. Their job is to try their hardest and listen the best that they can.

We then took our first Five Minute Challenge — trying to correctly complete 100 addition problems in five minutes. No one completed all 100, nor did I expect them to. We noted the starting scores and the kids will try to beat their scores in the coming weeks.

We then spent some time talking about even and odd numbers. We talked about how even numbers end in 0, 2, 4, 6, or 8, and odd numbers end in 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9. I told the kids that even numbers have best friends and can be divided into pairs so that everyone has a “BFF.” Odd numbers don’t all have best friends and there is always one left without a BFF. Or, as a kindergarten student explained, there’s always “an odd man out.”

The kids learned how to recognize an even or odd number, no matter how big the number is.  Let them demonstrate this party trick for you!

Homework this week is an even and odd worksheet. It should be easy for your child to complete.  Homework is always due one week after it is assigned. Your child can give the homework to his or her classroom teacher and it will find its way to me.

First Grade CSI: Reading Crime Lab

This week in first grade reading, we set out to do some tests to help determine exactly what happened to Danny.  The cloffice was divided into five stations, and the kids rotated among the stations to perform the tests.

At the far corner of the room, we had the Mystery Stain station.  A paper towel with a mysterious brown stain was found at the scene.  Some of the club members had brought brown markers to the club meeting, and one had brought brown dye.  Was the stain made with marker or dye?  The kids took a strip of the paper towel and dipped the bottom of the paper in water.  The water then spread up the paper towel and through the stain.  If the stain stayed brown (just a lighter brown), the kids knew it had been made by a marker.  If the stain separated into component colors red and green, the kids new it had been made by brown dye mixed from red and green.  The kids recorded their results on their data sheets.


The next station was the Juice Test station.  The juice found at the scene seemed a little suspicious.  Had something been added to it?  The children used Ph paper to test the acidity of the juice.  They dipped a strip of paper in the juice, knowing that if the paper turned green, it meant that some kind of powder had been put in the juice, but if it stayed yellow, nothing had been added to the juice.

At the Fingerprints station, the kids looked at a picture of the cup found at the scene.  Three fingerprints were found on the cup.  The kids matched the fingerprints to their owners, using a chart of the fingerprints of the five club members.   IMG_8291 IMG_8292

At the next station, we examined three types of thread — cotton thread, wool thread, and the mystery threads found at the scene of the crime.  Were the mystery threads smoother and tighter, like the cotton threads?  Or were they wiry and loose, like the wool thread?  Who was wearing cotton and who was wearing wool?

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Finally, there was the Smells station.  When Danny was found at the scene of the crime, he had a distinctive smell.  Brandon and Julia had both just washed their hair.  Did Danny smell like their shampoo?  And if so, which one?  The kids endeavored to find out.

First, the students smelled Danny.  Then, they smelled Brandon’s shampoo, and then Julia’s shampoo.  The kids decided which smell they thought matched Danny, and they recorded this information on their data sheets.

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Ask your child about the results!  Do the clues point to a particular club member as the culprit?  Or does it seem like more than one person looks guilty?  Next week we will have Crime Lab Part Two, and thereafter we will solve the mystery.

There is no homework this week!