Learning Gems

My husband said yesterday that I am OCD, and I suppose it's true but the object of my obsession changes on a regular basis. This year's obsession seems to be "going green," especially in my classroom. Every plastic container is now a possible learning manipulative, every small cereal or snack box is a possible storage container, and don't even ask me why I am sticking straws in my purse after we leave a restaurant. Oh, and by the way, I need EVERYONE reading this to hold on to their bottle caps. I have some really fun (for me and my students, at least) activities to use with them and Avery labels, and I'll be sharing soon!

Today, I'm going to share a station activity I came up with just by rummaging through junk in my house. I call it "Learning Gems." First, I found an old Christmas tin (we all have those!) and covered the Santa on top with a label (I'm a Spanish immersion teacher by the way).

Then I filled the inside with shredded paper from my husband's office.

I found some of those "decorative gems" and came up with my idea. I printed out our Science Inquiry vocabulary words in very small, tiny print (like 6-8 size font). I cut out each of the words. Then I glued the FRONT of each word with transparent stick glue and stuck them to the BACK of each gem. Here's an example.

The gem actually magnifies the word to where it's legible (And I teach light, so this will correlate with that unit of study, too.).

Then I hid all eleven vocabulary gems in the box. And now we're ready to play! Here's how the game goes.

1) Students play in small groups.
2) They take turns trying to find and pull out a gem. If even ONE piece of shredded paper falls out, they lose their turn, and the next person goes (This helps keep things clean, too!)
3) Once a gem is pulled out, all the students copy it in their science journals. They could even write what they think the word means, so that will get them thinking about the vocabulary.
4) Students try to pull out and copy all 11 gems before the rotation time is up. You will know if they did it or not if they have all of the words written down.

It's kind of a weird game, but the students really enjoyed it. It was a good introduction to the key vocabulary, and they were so proud when they found all 11 words. And they were quiet! I had five students in each group.

So, that's my post. I'm off to see what else I have lying around that could be a fun teaching tool. And don't forget - SAVE YOUR BOTTLE CAPS! I hope to share what I'm doing with them very soon!


  1. Oh... you are something!! :-) that sounds so much fun, what a marvelous idea Mrs. Green ;-)

  2. Thanks ;). Hope to get your MagnetMat out to you soon!

  3. I have nominated your blog as one of my Top Blogs. The post will appear today(9/13/11)at: http://gofigurewithscipi.blogspot.com/
    Read about the award and get a button to display on your blog here: http://www.teachingblogaddict.com/2011/05/top-10.html

    Scipi at: http://gofigurewithscipi.blogspot.com/

  4. Thank you! I just gave you a shout out here! Thanks so much for the pat on the back!

  5. I love this idea! I'm going to make matching gems with subject pronouns and verbs in Spanish.

  6. I'm also working on making "vocabulators" out of empty pop bottles and filling with the plain gems and 10 or so gems with words on them. I'm trying out using Avery 3/4 round stickers and putting the stickers back to back and then glue sticking them as you said. Then the students will turn the bottle to reveal the gems with the words. I'm thinking of doing them with a sheet of translations that they'll circle as they find ...the sheet will have many false possibilities so they won't know which ones they'll find in the container.

  7. That sounds great, Senorita Graham! Thanks so much for your ideas! I would love to see how your vocabulator works out! I have a "Green Classroom" blog and that sounds like a great idea to put on there!

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