First 2 weeks of school

These first 2 weeks flew by! What we covered in class so far:

  • Day 1 & 2 – Introductions, Scavenger Hunt (blog link), & prep for our YMCA trip
  • Days 3-4 – YMCA overnight trip
  • Day 5 – Cup Stacking Challenge (blog link)
    • This was the first time I tried this activity, and I was really happy with how well it worked in the classroom. Students were engaged and worked as a team to complete each challenge. Due to time, most groups did not complete all 6 of the tasks, but that wasn’t my goal. Collaboration, Communication, and Perseverance were my objectives.
  • Day 6 – Nature of Science (Tangrams Activity) (link) & Intro to “I am a scientist” (blog link)
    • This was the first time I used this activity and it lead to a nice discussion about learning new things, being challenged, and persevering and how somethings seem really hard at first, but then once you master it, it becomes easier.
  • Day 7 – I am a scientist & Instagram (blog link)
    • I am in the process of collecting the Instagrams that the kids drew and they came out great! I will post some examples next week.
  • Day 8 – SpongeBob safety scenarios (blog link)
    • This was an updated version of an activity that I have done each year, and it was much more engaging for the students, they enjoyed the challenge of finding the broken rules. This also reinforced their reading comprehension, being able to use clues from the text, evaluating text, summarizing the safety rules into 2-3 words only, to name a few.

Some pictures from my 6th grade classroom:

Working as a team to complete a task
Working as a team to complete a task
Cup Stacking Challenge – Challenge #4
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Cup Stacking Challenge – trying to pick up a cup that fell over without using your hands
Tangram Challenge – How can we fit in the extra piece?
SpongeBob Safety Scenarios – finding the safety violations, identifying the rules, and summarizing them into 2-3 words – can you find all of them?

Cup Stacking Collaboration Challenge

Cup Stacking Challenge


  • Students will collaborate, problem solve, and persevere to accomplish each challenge

Materials – per group of 3-4 students

  • Task Cards – cut apart, laminate, and secure with a metal ring or brass brad
  • 6 cups
  • 1 rubber band
  • 4-6 pieces of string of equal length

This is one of the team building exercises I plan to use with my 6th graders during the first week of school. Many variations of this lesson can be found online. For this version, I created 6 different challenges for the students to tackle – each one increasing in difficulty. Not every group will get to complete all 6 challenges, and that is OK. The objective is to learn to work together as a team and not give up.

July 26, 2017 – One recommendation I have for this activity is placing the cups on the floor, when the cups fall off the table it makes it more difficult to complete the task in a timely manner.

Updated: Pictures September 2015

Working as a team to complete a task
Working as a team to complete a task
Trying to pick up a cup that fell over.
Trying to pick up a cup that fell over.
Almost done with Challenge #4!
Almost done with Challenge #4!

Discussion & Reflection

  1. Which challenge was the easiest for you group to complete? The most difficult? Why?
  2. Did your techniques change as you advanced to each challenge? Explain why or why not.
  3. Describe a technique that worked best within your group.
  4. Compare using two hands vs. one hand when holding the string to guide the cups. List advantages and disadvantages for each.
  5. Compare using verbal and nonverbal communication, what were some of the challenges your group faced?
  6. If you were to complete this activity again, what would your group do differently? What would you do the same?
  7. Why are collaboration and communication skills important characteristics for scientists to have?
  8. Did you feel like giving up at any point? How did you and your group deal with frustration?