Urban Source

Some of the students were asking me where I get all the interesting things for the imagination station.  The containers, boxes, and some paper scraps come from my home and from families who send them in (thank you!)  The other items, like shiny papers, lids, linoleum scraps, cut outs, etc, come from a store called Urban Source in Vancouver.

I once described Urban Source to my fiancé as “a store that sells stuff from places.”  Not exactly descriptive, but if you’ve been, you know what I mean.  Urban Source collects off-cuts and discards from various companies, so not only are you buying interesting odds and ends, you are saving the planet so these discards don’t end up in the garbage.

It is a great place to visit on a rainy afternoon.  Choose the size of bag you want, fill it up from the bins, then head home and start creating!  Happy imagining!


Last Thursday we had two guests in class: Mr. and Mrs. Collins.  My mom and dad came to share a story and do some science.  The kids were very excited!

Mr. Collins read “Bartholomew and the Oobleck” by Dr. Seuss.  It’s a story about a king who is tired of sun, fog, rain and snow, so he orders his magicians to create a new kind of weather.  They create Oobleck, which falls from the sky as sticky green blobs.  The king is fascinated at first, until everything and everyone in his kingdom is covered in the stuff.  Bartholomew helps the king to see his mistake, and when the king says “I’m sorry” the Oobleck melts away.

After listening to the story, Mrs. Collins explained how to make Oobleck.  We mixed 1 cup of cornstarch with 1/2 cup of coloured water.  The students worked in pairs to stir their Oobleck, taking turns holding the container and stirring.  The result was goopy and sticky, but we couldn’t decide if it was a solid or a liquid.  You can roll it into a ball, but if you stop rolling it oozes through your fingers.

After lots of exploring, and a little mess, we came back together to talk about what we discovered.  We learned that Oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid; it isn’t really a solid or a liquid.  When you apply pressure to it by rolling or squeezing, it feels like a solid.  When there is no pressure it acts like a liquid, dripping through fingers and taking the shape of its container.  Then we watched a video of dancing Oobleck.  The sound waves from a speaker make the Oobleck dance.

I loved having my parents visit, and they like coming since they are both retired teachers.  Plus the kids got to be messy and do science.  It was a really fun afternoon!

Click here to find out more about Oobleck and non-Newtonian fluids

Nobody Notices Minerva

Yesterday we read this book about a little girl who is having a bad day.  She wakes up grumpy and feels like her family isn’t paying any attention to her.  She decides to do things like pulling the stuffing out of Dad’s chair, poking her brother, and writing on the wall.  Turns out her dad was paying attention all along, and he convinces her to be noticed for good things instead of bad.  The students made lots of connections to this story.  Some students said they sometimes feel like no one notices them, another said he could relate to feeling grumpy in the morning, and lots of students were reminded of building their own forts out of couch cushions when Minerva made a fort to hide inside.

I am I

Today we read “I am I” by Marie Louise-Fitzpatrick.  It is about two boys who discover the power of words.  When they start fighting, their words turn into a dragon which destroys the land around them.  Once they apologize, the two boys discover how kind words help heal, as flowers begin to grow again.  The book is mostly pictures with very few words, so we used our reading power of inferencing.  We used the pictures to make inferences about what the two boys were feeling why the land was being destroyed.  We decided the author’s message was that we should get along and not fight – a good message for Remembrance Day!

Mad Science Workshop

On Friday we had Mary come from Mad Science with her cooler full of dry ice.  We had already learned about solids, liquids, and gases, and had talked about how when solids changed to liquids we call it melting, and when a liquid changes to a gas it evaporates.  Mary taught us a new word: sublimate.  That describes what happens when matter changes straight from a solid to a gas.  We had lots of fun watching her experiments, including blowing up a balloon with carbon dioxide, and hearing a warm spoon screech when it was held against the block of dry ice.  The highlight was the dry ice shower!  Each person got to catch a bubble filled with carbon dioxide, so much fun!

Here's mary with the block of dry ice. It's -79º C
Dry ice sublimating to carbon dioxide in warm water
Looks like a witch's cauldron! Dry ice is how they used to make fog for movies.