Thursday, April 3, 2014

Jelly Bean Dichotomous Key

I loved teaching science last year, and I have REALLLLLLY missed it this year, but I have found ways to work it in!  I have been creating my own close reading articles and pulling out science ideas that I know students need to know.  These articles have really been pretty easy to put together-- just search "articles for kids about ____" and you'll usually get a wide spread of articles.  You can also use Google to search by readability level, but I haven't had as much luck with that. 

Today's activity centered on Jelly Belly jelly beans and dichotomous keys.  Since Monday, my students have been reading a pretty tough article I wove together about how dichotomous keys work.  The final paragraph introduces them to the activity of naming jelly beans using a dichotomous key.  After going through all the steps of close reading, and having a day-long field trip to the University of Arkansas on Wednesday, my students finally got to work with the jelly beans today.  They were so incredibly excited to do this, and the engagement factor was probably 110%.  This was NOT a quiet activity whatsoever.  And I was completely okay with that!
I borrowed a posted jelly bean dichotomous from here, and edited it to fit on just a front and back paper.  Then, I explained directions to small groups at a time before turning them loose with a bowl of 10 different beans.  They basically had to describe the bean, write down all of the numbers they went through on the key, find the name of the bean, then break it in half and let each partner taste it.  Then they had to decide if they had followed the correct steps and found the right name for the flavor.
I had students finish identifying their 10 jelly beans and ask for more!  Some students worked through 20 jelly beans!  They definitely know how to use a dichotomous key now!  And trying to hold back my laughter as students tried Sizzling Cinnamon, Black Licorice, and Buttered Popcorn added to my enjoyment of the lesson!

I am not posting the materials I used on TPT, since I didn't really make them, but I will post them on my Google Drive.  Here is the link if you want to access these pages for free!