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Pat Roller, Children's Science Teacher for children ages 4-12.
Greetings from Pat Roller, Children's Science Teacher for children ages 4-12.

African teacher friends who are improving math and science curriculum in impoverished isolated village schools may look at this plan for managing and getting materials and say, "There is no way, we can nevr get all this stuff.  We have to teach everything not just math and science."

To this I say, read through this and get what you can now.  Then as you sell produce from the "Children's Garden" you may have a few dollars to spend on adding some of this stuff for your children.  Over time, you may have more than you ever imagined.  

Organizing your stuff and your kids is key to success although you may have little but what is in nature to teach with.  There is a lot of good stuff in nature that is free!  Your first job after reading this is to begin to figure out what you can do to improvise to reuse, recycle, common things around your village which may be thrown away. That is the kind of problem solving you will teach your kids.

For example, Teacher Philip in Bakura, Kenya, knows how to make good soccer balls from a small balloon and plastic bags!  He knows how to make musical instruments from natural materials in his village.  He knows how to help kids create, fly, and experiment with kites. He knows that in doing so he is teaching about wind energy, aerodynamics and physics! His email address is: philshitote@yahoo.com.

Here are the most important web pages on my website for the beginning teacher of the new math-science curriculum.
1. Classroom Management
2. First Lessons in Math and Science
3. The Children's Garden
4. Making Kites, and Kite Experiments 
5. Chemistry : Part 1 Chemistry, Part 2 - Chemistry and Part 3-Chemistry

When you and your children have mastered everything on those web pages they will be ready for success in any high school!  Share what you learn with other teachers.  Together we can bring excellence to African education!

Thank you Philip, Benard, and Zedekiah, of Bakura, Kenya.  You are leading the way.  You are a source of light.


Early in my career teaching "hands-on creative problem-solvingscience to 200 children a DAY, I had reached 'burn-out'. Nothing in college had prepared me for this. One Saturday, a week before school began, I attended an eight hour seminar presented by Dr. Harry Wong on "CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT FOR  CHILDREN'S SCIENCE."  

I worked day and night implementing what he had taught me. I was ready, on the first day of school,  " to be an effective teacher." I was" "organized for success!" I became a "highly successful children's science teacher" as well as facilitator for other teachers. I could handle six classes a day, with up to 40 children per class, in grades 2-5 as well as gades 6-7. I rarely had any assistance other than my students. Now 25 years later, I meet my students who became doctors, research scientists, nurses, engineers, college professors, classroom teachers, and community leaders in the areas of energy and environment. 

Why did so many of my students go into these fields for their life's work? I believe it was because of the ground-work we laid in elementary school in all the areas of science, including chemistry and math. The kids were not afraid to take the harder courses in high school and then in college. They knew, by their former experience, they could do it, and they did! 

If you would like to be this kind of teacher, then stay with me and I will outline for how to "organize for success"  which includes: 1. Collecting basic materials and how to get them cheaply if not free., 2. Storage, 3.Organizing the Classroom, 4. Getting to "know your students QUICKLY." 5. help kids organize binders, 6. "Teaching the Scientific Method" through practice," song, rap, poetry, and experiments,"teaching "kids to work cooperatively in groups" and much more.


Tree Frog Visits Classroom



BE WELCOMING - -Each day I met my students at the door welcoming them into the science laboratory. When they were seated I said, "Today we are going to learn a little more about "how our planet works." 


When I, Pat Roller, taught kid's science I did not purchase the expensive kits. I had learned that the plastic contents would break easily; and often a kit which cost up to $250 taught only one unit of science to one grade level of children. Instead, I organized my classroom using free and inexpensive multi-use materials. My students learned it was good to reduce, reuse and recycle everything.

I could equip a classroom for a year of science for the cost of one expensive kit. The next year I would continue to build my lab by using last year’s stuff and adding to it. I wrote grant proposals to the local education association in order to get funds to "
develop the Outdoor Classroom," and to buy some sturdy, kid-friendly microscopes, some pan scales, some centimeter cubes, and some slightly heavier weights. One cubic centimeter cube weighs one gram.


1. STUDENT TUBS AND STORAGE - The Dollar Store usually has dishpan like tubs for $1.00 each. Buy enough for a tub for each group of 4 to 5 students and 6 extras for you. Put I.D. on each tub to denote which student group uses that tub. Sometimes all my classes of students used the same tubs of supplies. Other times I had to set up tubs for separate grade levels as the  needed contents were different.
Purchase a few larger plastic storage bins with lids that are at least 12-18 inches deep. If you can't, then buy a few boxes about that size. Collect and save shoe boxes with lids. With proper I.D. they are great for storage and stack easily. You can store lightweight things in these.

2. HAND LENS - It would be great if you had at least 40. Each one should have a string around it which fits around a child's neck. This frees the child’s hands and keeps the hand lens from being lost when working with them outdoors. Store each hand lens (magnifying glass) in a small ziploc bag so it won’t get scratched.

3. PLASTIC MEASURING CUPS - Buy one set, various sizes of metric measuring cups. They may also show measures in ounces as well as parts of a cup in English measure and milliliters (ml). These serve as your standard. Get everyone to save the cups which come in detergent and oxiclean as well as the tiny cups which come with cough syrup and such. These are easy to mark with a permanent magic marker. Also collect about 200 baby food jars with lids. All these things have many different uses in the classroom. Use your standard metric measuring cups to make sets of cups for your students from these free containers. Put a set of measuring cups in a plastic bag in each tub.

4. METRIC RULERS - You need at least 3 for each tub. (WARNING - kids tend to abuse and break these.) They hit other students with them. So don't put them in the tubs until the kids have learned how to use them responsibly. Demonstrate how to measure and how to care for the rulers. Immediately remove rulers when you see signs of abuse. They are great for making charts to record data as well as for measuring. It is important kids learn to use them responsibly. It may be best to have a student go get the rulers when they are needed and return them immediately after use.

5. MAGIC MARKERS, CRAYONS. PAPER, LARGE SQUARES GRAPH PAPER - You can print copies of large squares graph paper. Often half a page will often be enough per group. Reading graphs is a form of technical reading. When kids make them, they learn how to read them meaningfully. Often their experiments will call for a graph to show results.

6. PAPER CUTTER AND HOLE PUNCHER KIDS CAN USE - If this is not possible purchase at least one pair of scissors and 1 hole puncher per student group.

7. MEDICINE DROPPERS - You need at least 40. See if you can get the droppers with bottles from your local pharmacist free or very cheap. You can also order longer plastic ones, which are easier for small hands to use.

8. 3 RING BINDERS WITH MEDIUM SIZE RINGS, 5 DIVIDERS, AND ABOUT 30 SHEETS OF NOTEBOOK PAPER TO BEGIN - This notebook is just for SCIENCE. Be sure to add it to the supplies list before the parents get them. Every student needs his own notebook decorated with science things on the front so it is easy to grab for science days.

PROBLEM- Some kids cannot afford these. You will need to appeal to your Sunday School Class, to Business Leaders who use them in their business, to Walmart, etc.. You will need at least 36 extra for a student load of 200 children. I ask kids to bring in old notebooks from home to be used again - "reduce, reuse, recycle."
I deal with poverty by going to every trashcan at school on the last day of school and rescuing all usable notebooks. I put colored paper on the front and back, cut up old folders for dividers and have these ready so everyone can have a science notebook. I emphasize the importance to reuse, and recycle everything we can as a part of caring for our planet.

AT LEAST ONE COMPUTER WITH INTERNET CONNECTION AND A PRINTER, and several reams of copy paper. Most children do not have good science books. It does not matter as long as you teach the children how to do research with Google and get the facts they need when they are experimenting. This improves computer skills, reading, and thinking skills. When you Google the facts that are needed, you can write them on the board for the kids to copy in their binders. Usually one paragraph is enough.

10. This summer as you travel make some collections of rocks (sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous, plus some common minerals.) Collect enough so that you can chip pieces off the rocks and test fresh surfaces with nails and vinegar. See my website for good rock studies to see how children learn rocks are made of minerals; and soil is made from broken down rocks and other materials.  Also collect shells and get several of each kind with different shapes and patterns on them. Collect seeds, and seed- pods as these are great for classifying as well as variety and similarity. (See SPICE activities on this website.)

My website is:
www.free-energy-env-exp4kids.com.  My blog site is: www.free-energy-env-exp4kids-blog.com

AQUARIUM- which can be used for water organisms as well as for animal visits. Torn up newspaper is O.K. for putting in the bottom of animal homes.  I covered these with pieces of bent hardware cloth to keep the animals inside. It is good to have some kind of light to warm them as needed. The glass sides are good for student observations. Check out the thrift stores, yard sales, and parents who want to get rid of one or two.  For water aquariums be sure they don't leak and you will need a filter. I did not keep animals in the classroom long. We would observe, study, and then release them. We preferred to study them in their natural settings outdoors.

12. PLASTIC SODA STRAWS - The best ones are those that come with your soda. Collect them, clean them, they have many uses. Fast food stores will give them to you.

13. SOILS - Use cloth bags or 2 gallon ziploc bags to collect different kinds of soils: sandy, sandy loam, clay, clay loam, and humus (decayed plant materials).  Since there are living organisms in the soil don't seal the plastic bags tightly. These organisms need oxygen. Which soil is best for growing plants? What  is soil made of? How do plants use soil? Could we smash up some sedimentary rocks and make soil? Would plants grow in our soil? What would we need to add to the smashed up rocks?

14.RESEARCH - Study my website and blogs for ideas and for experiments. There are other websites as well. Look for free "hands-on" science activities and experiments for kids, on Google.  My website: www.free-energy-env-exp4kids.com.  Look on my website for "KID'S CHEMISTRY." Winter is a good time for chemistry. Find out what you need to teach for the tests, then branch out and get more experiments, which help our children learn how our planet works as they develop problem-solving skills.

15. RESEARCH: There are many businesses and groups, which provide free supplies and materials for kids. Some of my favorites are: The American Dairy Council, and the U.S. Wildlife, Game, and Fisheries Agency. There are numerous energy and environmental conservation groups, which also provide free materials. Each state has a branch office. Google the free resources and see what comes up for your kids.

16. OUTDOOR CLASSROOM - My kids and I developed an Outdoor Classroom with a Wildlife Refuge in each school I taught in. This one resource can be used to teach just about everything a child needs to learn about how our planet works. Master Gardeners, County Extension Agents, Conservation Groups, Parents, Grandparents, and others stand by to help as asked. See my website "Outdoor Lab Kids" for a plan.

To start out small get an old wheelbarrow, punch a few drainage holes in the bottom, cover the bottom with a bit of gravel, then, top it off with good garden soil. Plant a salad garden. It will come up in about a week or ten days and you can begin to thin the tiny seedlings and eat them.  As the garden grows, keep thinning and eating. Kids love this little garden and they will eat what they grow. See my website for lots of help with this. Site: www.free-energy-env-exp4kids.com.

17. OTHER BASIC MATERIALS - broom, mop, dustpan, rags, two buckets, cleaning supplies (Hands-0n science is messy.)

18. SOME GOOD STUFF TO ADD AS YOU GO ALONG - Our planet is magnetic. To help kids learn about this aspect of our planet home, collect some magnets, electrical wire (thin), some flashlight bulbs and light up the bulbs. Wherever there is magnetism there is electricity. Google the Magnetic North Pole.

Get a few bottles of food coloring and a bit of poster board. How about adding a few prisms to change sunlight into its colors (Roy G. Biv)? How do plants use sunlight? How is fluorescent (man-made) light different than sunlight? What does the prism show you about fluorescent light? How do plants use sunlight to make food? Prisms are inexpensive.


1. MAKING SURE EVERYONE KNOWS EVERYONE - Organize the classroom to match your seating chart. Use letters to denote rows, and numbers to denote individual desks.Tape these to the desks.Prepare a "Getting To Know You" seating chart for you to use on the overhead projector for each class of students you will teach. Print a copy of this seating chart, punch holes in it for filing, and place a copy on each desk before the students arrive. Here you are teaching math on your first day of science!  What do the kids think about this?

Greet your students at the door with a hi and a welcome! Be invitational. After all the students have seated themselves, go to the overhead projector where your chart is. Ask each student to put his/her name at the top of his seating chart with the Class Period.

Starting with Row A - Desk 1, ask the student to rise and give his name. Write this name neatly in the box on the overhead seating chart. Ask each student to do the same with his/her seating chart. Continue this procedure until each student is named on your chart and all their charts as well. (Your students never expected you to be teaching math and science on the first day of school. They will be impressed and they will know that you know who each one is - sad for those who would misbehave.) Adapt this to whatever your classroom situation is.

Begin to practice together getting to know each other. Ask students to take the charts home and study them. Have those who brought notebooks file the seating chart in their notebook.

Have extra charts for those who will lose these loose sheets. This will help make more sense to them when you demand that all science papers be filed in the notebook later.  During the first few science days, take 5 minutes and have everyone tell the class who sits in their row, who sits in front of them, and who sits in back of them. Getting to know each other quickly is very important for group work later.

ASK ALL STUDENTS WHO CAN, TO BRING THEIR SCIENCE NOTEBOOKS TO CLASS EACH SCIENCE DAY. Give them a couple of weeks, then provide notebooks for those who cannot afford them. See MATERIALS - 3 ring binders. REMIND EVERYONE That he/she WILL NEED 5 DIVIDERS AND ABOUT 35 PAGES OF NOTEBOOK PAPER in the notebooks.

2. FOCUS ON SUCCESS (Play detective now.) - Now that you have their names, go to the student files and learn the talents and troubles of each student. Go to their former teachers for help as well. Before you ever form groups, find your trouble makers, your leaders, your peacemakers, and kids who have trouble reading and writing.

For the first 10 days, study your students carefully, then USE YOUR KNOWLEDGE TO FORM GROUPS WITH 4-5 STUDENTS PER GROUP.
Make up a group list for each class. Each group needs a leader, a recorder, a gofer person, a clean-up person. Write in who is to do what. DO NOT POST YOUR LISTS OR TELL THE KIDS ABOUT WHO IS IN WHICH GROUP YET. (At the end of this webpage you will find group and job assignments for each person in each cooperative learning group.)

IN THE FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL YOU ALL WORK TOGETHER IN ONE LARGE CLASS GROUP. GROUP WORK DOES NOT BEGIN UNTIL THE KIDS KNOW HOW TO USE THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD. Explain to your students that they will work as real grown-up scientists work. With second graders simplify - third grade and older can do it all.

When small group work does begin, post the lists, and tell the kids the jobs will be as needed in the small groups in the early day. Tell them the jobs will be rotated over time so others get to do other jobs. Observe carefully and  train them in their jobs. 

3. CREATING THE CLASSROOM ATMOSPHERE - Together make a few class rules.Six should be plenty. Be sure to include positive behaviors: cooperation, kindness, caring, focusing on the task, and doing their best every day. Have kids copy the class rules and file them. Assign them for homework. Practice them. These behaviors are essential for small group work. OF GREATEST IMPORTANCE IS THE BEHAVIOR OF THE TEACHER: firm, fair, consistent, optimistic, supportive, encouraging, enthusiastic.

4. HELPING KIDS ORGANIZE SCIENCE NOTEBOOKS - Learning to use these notebooks will make science easy and fun and will help these children all their lives as so much on our planet in the education and business world is based on the use of 3 ring binders (notebooks.)

Decorate the fronts of the notebooks to denote something about science and how our planet works. Put titles on the 5 dividers as follows: 1. Homework and Notes to Parents, 2. Experiments, 3. Vocabulary and notes, 4. Test Reviews and Tests, 5. Projects.

Tell the students you will take up the notebooks and grade them. If they keep their work neatly filed, they can earn lots of grade points. In the first 6 weeks of school, check out the kids to see how they are doing. Help those who are tangled up, or get a student who knows to help. Encourage and support them. Practice patience. Don't give up.

Keep a supply of reinforcements for torn page holes. Provide hole punchers for handouts unless you have pre-punched them. If they do it, show them how to measure to do it well. Actually I preferred to pre-punch everything in advance.

WORK WITH YOUR STUDENTS UNTIL MOST ARE EASILY FILING EVERY PAPER YOU DO NOT TAKE UP TO GRADE. Have them put their name and period on every page. When you return papers, have students file them appropriately.

5. BEFORE SCHOOL BEGINS SET UP AN ISOLATION AREA - Carels are great for this, but you may have to settle for a classroom area with a small screen and a few desks. Make a folder for each student, get a few science books, and make up some question and answer sheets. For kids who are not ready to work in groups, put them to work on these materials and give them credit for their work. Make sure they can hear what is happening in the groups. Tell them you would love for them to be able to join a group. Post the behavior rules so they can see them all the time. Be supportive, optimistic, and encouraging. Some of these kids are starved for attention. Give them a bit of positive attention.  Most will grow to join the groups.


1. This introductory work is done in a whole class group with the teacher at the overhead projector or chalkboard as the leader. She calls on individual students to help her.  She asks questions. Students make predictions etc,.

2. Before the lesson, collect several magnetic and non-magnetic materials, and a magnet.

3. Tell the students you will conduct an experiment using the Scientific Method as adult scientists do. Tell them they will learn how to experiment in their small groups using this method, often. 

4. Step 1 - PROBLEM - It tells what we want to learn. (Example) Which of these materials will stick to a magnet? (are magnetic) Write this down.
   Step 2 - HYPOTHESIS - It is a prediction which tells what we think will happen in the experiment. (Example: I predict the ___________, _______________, will     stick to the magnet and the ______________, _________________ will not. (write it down.)
   Step 3 - MATERIALS - Make a list of the materials to be used in the experiment. Write it down. 
   Step 4 - PROCEDURE - Here you tell, step by step, what you did in the experiment. Write it down. (What did you do in the magnet experiment?)
   Step 5 - RESULT - What happened in the experiment? Write it down.
   Step 6 - CONCLUSION - This states, "My hypothesis was (true) or (false). Look back at your hypothesis (your prediction), this will help you see if you predicted corretly.
   Step 7 - WHAT I LEARNED - Briefly write down what you learned. (I learned _____________, _____________ were magnetic and _______________, __________, were not.


Make a pre-punched  handout of the Scientific Method and the meanings and give one to each child to study as homework. Encourage them to use rap, music,songs, poetry, whatever creative method they can think of to help them remember the order of the steps, the steps, and the meaning of each part of The Scientific Method.  This will let you know if you have students in each group who can follow the method.

When students return to class ask if some would like to share their creativity ways of teaching themselves.This provides fun and more practice for all. Students need to know this before they begin to experiment in small groups using it. Give a little test. This will help you learn if some students in each group know how to follow the Scientific Method in experimenting. The same is true of metric measurement. Students need to practice reading the rulers, and measuring liquids.

5. ASSIGNING GROUPS - It is now time to post your lists, get the kids in groups, emphasize what each person's job means (let them tell what they think), and begin to conduct experiments using The Scientific Method of exploration.

Find the groups which are doing really well and call attention to them, repeating what makes groups work well: cooperation, caring, helping each other, focusing on the task, doing each job well and reaching for a good grade for everyone in the group.

CONCLUSION - ORGANIZATION IS THE KEY. This work of organizing your materials, organizing the classroom, helping the students organize themselves, helping students learn how to use The Scientific Method, and helping them learn responsible behaviors lays the groundwork for a great year of kids building their creative problem-solving skills while beginning to learn how our planet works. On this foundation success will be there for you and every one of your students. 

Remember on every science day begin with: "Today we will learn a little more about how our wonderful planet Earth works. This is good to know since everything, including us, is made from our planet's materials." Children will be able, with your help, to link everything in science with how our planet works. Foundations will be laid such that children are not afraid of the high school science subjects. They will be ready and you will have made it happen for these children and for your country.

HAVE QUESTIONS?  NEED HELP?  Contact me at my email: pjr500@gmail.com or my cell phone: 405  397-7621. Congratulations on sticking with me this far. What I have told you works. I know because I worked it for 25 years with thousands of children in grades 2-7.


GOAL:   The activity will be completed in such a manner that everyone in the group will have a chance to 
                participate, to share, and to learn.



 (1) Team Safety,

 (2) Following activity procedures in sequence. 
 ( 3) Involving everyone in the group.

 (4) Completing the tasks.

 (5) Asking facilitator for help as needed.



(1) Gathering experimental data from group members.
(2) Doing necessary math,

(3) Reporting the results when requested. 



(1) Picking up needed material for the group,

(2) Disbursing materials properly to group members.
(3) Returning materials at the end of the activity.



(1) Cleaning up lab/act area as needed.

(2) Assisting materials manager as needed.



(1) Checking to see how well each team member participated.

(2) Giving an overview of how well the activity was conducted in terms of following
     directions, recording data, finishing the task, and working cooperatively in group

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