Category: 5th Grade

5th Grade Midwest Region Math

Fifth graders at Laburnum Elementary have been exploring the midwest region of the United States in Social Studies, and they have been learning about perimeter and area in Math (SOL5.8). So today, students in Ms. Hall’s class used My Google Maps to find the perimeter and area of a midwestern state and create a brief state report. First, we reviewed the states in the midwest region: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The students chose one they found interesting and researched it online to make sure it was the state they wanted to do. Next, we went to My Google Maps and clicked “Create a New Map.” We changed the title to the name of our chosen state. Then I showed them how to use the drawing tool to draw an outline of the state. I also showed them how to customize the line thickness and the fill color (after you save the shape, click the paint bucket tool). One of the cool features of My Google Maps is that it shows you the perimeter and the area of any shape you draw. So the students typed the perimeter and area of their state in the pop-up information box, with the correct units: miles and square miles. They also added some of the facts about their state that they discovered in their research. We clicked the camera icon to add a few photos of our state. Finally, with the extra time we had at the end, I demonstrated how they could search for their school and put a pin on it. The pin can be customized, as well, by clicking the paint bucket tool. We shared our maps so anyone with the link could view them, and we pasted the links in Schoology. You can see some of their projects here.

5th Grade Light & Sound Animations

Fifth graders at Laburnum Elementary have been studying light (SOL5.6) and sound (SOL5.5) and their various wave frequencies, so today students in Ms. Johnson’s class showed what they have learned by making animations. First we reviewed light and sound waves and their appearance so we could illustrate them correctly. We looked at a virtual oscilloscope, generated our own wave frequencies with Wave on a String, and explored different visualizations with Seeing Music. We even explored a 3-D model of the human ear to see how we hear sound waves. Although we didn’t get to explore light (a good site for experimenting with the light spectrum is Physics Classroom), I did remind them that colors on the red end of the spectrum have lower frequencies, and colors on the violet side of the spectrum have higher frequencies. It was now time to create our animations. We went to BrushNinja, and the students drew a creature or an object that made sound. Then they decided if it produced low frequency or high frequency sounds, and they illustrated the sound waves. If they had time, they illustrated the light waves as well. Some students even identified the angles in their drawing as acute, right or obtuse since they are learning about angles in Math (SOL5.12). They downloaded their animations as GIF files and posted them to Schoology with a description. You can check out some of their animations and descriptions here.

5th Grade Coding Figurative Language

Fifth graders at Trevvett Elementary have been learning about figurative language (SOL5.4d) in English, so today students in Mr. Golden’s class used Scratch and coding to create interactive posters with figurative language. First, we reviewed different examples of figurative language: simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole, and alliteration. Then we logged into Scratch, and the students chose a background and a character (sprite). They also created two buttons and wrote a type of figurative language on each. In the code for each button, they used the “Broadcast Message” block so that when the button is clicked, it would send a message to the character. Next, they created three costumes for their character. One costume would give the directions and the other costumes would give examples of figurative language that related to the character, background, and situation. Finally, the students added code to the character so that when it received a message from a buttons, it would say the correct thing. So if the user clicked “Metaphor,” it would give an example of a metaphor. You can try out some student examples here.


5th Grade Anti-Bullying Video

A group of fifth grade girls at Varina Elementary asked me to help them make an anti-bullying video for their school. They had written their own song and even choreographed some dance moves to go along with it! They just needed some tools for creating the beats and recording the video. I showed them ButtonBass for making the beats. You can click different cubes at the top of the webpage for different genres. Then click different squares on the cube to add in beats, synthesizers, and even vocal samples. It’s easy to use and no login is required. Other great websites for making music and beats are: Incredibox, Chrome Music Lab, TypeDrummer, and SuperLooper. Next, for recording the video we used Pixect because it has special effects you can add to your video. If you don’t need special effects, another easy-to-use site that let you record video from a webcam is Their video turned out great, as you can see here. UPDATE: I included their project, along with another group’s project in my workshop on Creativity.


5th Grade Geometry with Scratch

Fifth graders at Trevvett Elementary have been studying angles (SOL5.12) and triangles (SOL5.13) in Math, so today students in Ms. Capano’s class created Scratch activities to review these concepts. First I showed them a sample using the new text-to-speech feature. I explained that there were several different voices they could choose from. Mine uses the Spanish female voice. I pointed out that they could click the “See Inside” button on my sample if they needed help with their code. Next the students logged into their Scratch accounts and chose a background and a sprite, or character. On the background, the students drew their angle or triangle with the drawing tools. They also used the drawing tools to create three costumes for the character: a neutral one for asking the question, an excited one for the right answer, and a sad one for the wrong answer. Then we started working on our code. I taught them how to turn on the text-to-speech feature by clicking the “Add Extension” button on the bottom left. The students added code to ask the user’s name and save it as a variable so they could include it in their responses. Variables are another concept fifth graders learn about in Math (SOL5.19). We also added an “If-Then” code so that if the answer was right, it would change costumes and give an excited response, but if it was wrong, the costume would change to the sad one and give an encouraging response to keep trying. You can take a look at some of their projects here. Be sure to turn up your volume because they do have voices!


5th Grade Angles & Variables

Fifth graders at Laburnum Elementary have been studying angles (SOL5.12) and variables (SOL5.19), so today students in Ms. Burgess’s class used Scratch to review both of these concepts. First we signed into Scratch and clicked “Create” to start a new project. I showed them how to delete the cat and choose a new sprite, or character, from the library. Next, we clicked on the background tab, and I instructed them to draw an angle using the line tool. Our plan was for the character to ask a question about the angle, and if the answer is correct, the character will get happy, but if the answer is wrong, the character will be sad. I explained how to click the Costumes tab and design three costumes for their character: normal, happy, and sad. We also changed the names of each costume at the top so that we could identify them in our code. Now it was time for coding! We programmed the character to ask the user’s name, save their name in a variable, and use their name later in the responses. You can see some student projects here (and if you click “See Inside” you can look at the code they used).


5th Grade Vertebrates and Invertebrates Videos

Fifth graders at Holladay Elementary have been studying vertebrates and invertebrates in Science (SOL5.5), and they have been learning how to conduct research (SOL5.9), so today, students in Ms. Haislip’s class chose an animal to research and made movies about their animal using Adobe Spark. First, we brainstormed many different types of vertebrates and invertebrates, including insects and ocean creatures. Then I encouraged students go beyond the first few animals they recalled. I demonstrated how to use the internet to find unique animals that they had never heard of before. They could ask Google, “What are the most interesting animals?” or “What are the most poisonous animals?” or “What animals have superpowers?” After about five minutes of research, the students chose their animals and jotted down a few facts. They also downloaded one or two photos of their animal. Next, we went to Adobe Spark to start creating our videos. The students made a title screen and then recorded themselves introducing their animal. I explained that they need to speak with enthusiasm, like their favorite YouTuber. Then they added the photos and recorded a voiceover to give facts about their animal. Finally we added music, adjusted the volume so it wasn’t too loud, and published our videos. Students shared their videos with each other on Schoology, and you can see some of them here. (As you can see, they discovered some very unique creatures!)


5th Grade Variables with Scratch

Fifth graders at Laburnum Elementary have been learning about variables in Math (SOL5.19). Today, students in Ms. Hall’s class used variables and code to create mini math games using Scratch. I started out explaining the idea behind the math game: a character would ask for the players’ name, it would calculate the number of letters in the name, then create a multiplication problem with that number and a random number between 1 and 12. The player would try to solve the problem, and the character would let them know if they were right or wrong. Students could use their own creativity to modify the game however they wished. First, we selected a background and a character (called a sprite) in Scratch. Then, we went into the sprite’s costumes and used the paint tools to make a happy costume for the correct answer and a sad costume for the wrong answer. Now it was time to build the code with variables. I pointed out that a variable is just something that can change. So the player’s name is a variable, the number of letters in the name is a variable, the random number is a variable, and the player’s answer to the multiplication problem is a variable. In Scratch, you define variables using a piece of code that basically says, “Set (variable) to (whatever you define it as).” The variables are displayed in the top corner of the game to keep track of them, but you can delete those if you want. After defining the variables, the students added some “if-then-else” code so that if the answer is correct it would display the happy costume, otherwise it would display the sad costume. The character could also make a statement, if they wished. Finally, we shared our links on Schoology and tested each others’ games. You can see all their Scratch creations here (just click on their names under each picture). Be sure to click the “See Inside” button to view their code.

5th Grade Tree Diagram Comics

Fifth graders at Laburnum Elementary have been learning about probability (SOL5.15), and one strategy they use for figuring out all the possible outcomes is to make a tree diagram. So today, students in Ms. Burgess’ class created tree diagram comics with StoryboardThat. First, they logged into the site with their Google accounts and added a Scene to the first panel. Then they imagined different combinations of objects that would fit that scene (like foods at a restaurant or outfits at a party). They added some Characters and objects that matched their scenario. In the center panel, they constructed their tree diagram using Textables and Lines. We used Textables instead of Shapes so we could easily type inside of them. They started with one category (2 meats or 3 shirts, for example) and added additional categories to their tree. Two or three different categories are all that can fit in the panel space. To save time, I showed them how to copy and paste elements with the “Duplicate” button (it looks like two pieces of paper). Finally, in the last panel, they used the tree diagram or the Fundamental Counting Principle (multiplying by all the amounts in each category like 2 shirts x 2 pants x 3 shoes) to figure out the total possible outcomes. You can see a couple of sample projects here.


5th Grade Plant Cell Videos

Fifth graders at Varina Elementary have been learning about plant and animal cells in Science (SOL5.5), so today, students in Ms. Gallahan’s class created cell videos with Adobe Spark. Adobe Spark is a great tool for creating short videos that look and sound amazing. First, we reviewed the different parts of the cells and their functions. I challenged the students to practice what they have learned about figurative language (SOL5.4d) and compare the cell parts to something else that serves a similar purpose. Now that we had some ideas, it was time to get started on our videos. We signed into Adobe Spark with our Google accounts and created a new video project from scratch. On the title page, students typed a creative title and added a background image using the built-in photo search (click “Find free photos”). One of the things I really like about Adobe Spark is their fantastic library of high-quality stock images that students can use in projects. We continued using those images in our subsequent video frames where students also added sentences comparing the cell parts to other objects. Then we recorded voice-over narrations for our videos. Recording a voice-over is a simple as pressing the big red microphone button. Finally, utilizing another cool feature in Adobe Spark, we added a soundtrack from the built-in music library. We published our videos and shared the links with our classmates on Schoology. You can see them all here.