Updated: Aug 20, 2019

Keep your class on task with these relevant and fun Life Science activities!

The problem...

Picture this: the bell rings and a swarm of students burst through the door. A student approaches wanting to ask you about their grade, your attendance must be submitted within the first few minutes of class, you want to look over your notes to switch gears from the last period, and you need to set up lab supplies. Does this scenario sound familiar? This scene use to happen to me every class period and I found myself frustrated before class had even begun! When I started to consider how much time was being wasted transitioning my students when they first walked in to class I became determined to do something differently.

If I could save 10 minutes of transition time for each class period, I would gain back more than 200 hours of instructional time for the year!

What are bell-ringers?

If you are unfamiliar with the term "bell-ringers," let me clarify. Bell-ringers are classroom activities that students can complete at the beginning of the class. Most teachers use bell-ringers to review important concepts with their students and provide a transitional activity to help focus the class quickly before instruction. I wanted to incorporate bell-ringers and transitional activities into my schedule but I came across two problems:

1) Most of the bell-ringers I came across were boring or busy work. I really wanted my students to be motivated to complete their bell-ringers because if I had to spend time telling my students to do their work it defeated the whole purpose of the bell-ringer!

2) The other problem I had was that some of the bell-ringers I came across were too general and irrelevant to the content I would be covering with my students that week. I know I hated busy work as a student so I really try to avoid giving busy work to my students.

Thus....the digital bell-ringers

That is what inspired me to create one of my favorite teaching resources of all time...digital bell-ringers! These bell-ringers save me so much time and keep my students on task while I take attendance and set up for the period. One of the things I love the most about using these bell-ringers is that the activities give students pertinent background knowledge about what we are going to talk about that day before I even introduce the concept.

I discovered that my students were much more confident about participating in class discussions after doing the bell-ringers.

Since the activities are geared to student interests I had really good participation, especially when it came to sharing personal experiences! (See one of our favorite bell-ringers below.)

Digital bell-ringers in the Google Classroom

Since the bell-ringers were made in Google slides they are super easy to add to your digital or Google classroom. The interactive slides can be added to your Google Drive and used year after year! Students keep the slides in edit mode and can add text, images, and drawings using the tools in Google slides. The slides can be used as a science center with students working together in small groups or if students are in a 1:1 environment they can have their own copy and work on it in a digital classroom like the Google Classroom. I actually scheduled out my bell-ringers in my Google classroom in advance (see below) and students would come to class and begin working on the bell-ringers on their own (can you believe it?!)

By giving each student their own copy of the bell-ringers, they also had their own reference of the material we discussed at the beginning of each class. The activities became a good replacement for having to stash interactive notebooks in the class or hope that students remembered to bring them. Another benefit to the digital activities is that students who were absent could complete the bell-ringers at home. I actually had students finish a bell-ringer or two early if they knew they were going to be absent in advance. (Gotta love those proactive students!)

Try a FREE sample!

These bell-ringers were definitely a labor of love! With 111 different kinds of activities including meme making, Instagram & Facebook posts, videos with response questions, comic strips, matching activities, group discussion questions, Twitter posts, word bubble activities and MUCH MORE....I was determined to keep the activities relevant to both me and my students.

Click here to try a sample bell-ringer for your class!

How do I get the full set?

If you do not have time to create your own complete set of digital bell-ringers you can check mine out by clicking the link below. There are 37 specific life science topics arranged by week for your convenience. Each topic includes 3 engagement activities that can be used as bell-ringers, exit slips, or other transitional time. You can also check out my full year of Chemistry bell-ringers by clicking here.

~Click here to get a full set of the digital bell-ringers for your class!~

  • Christi Moore

Using Literacy & Language Skills to Improve Science Comprehension

Many studies have been conducted to show the connection between teaching with a cross-curricular approach, that is, relating multiple subject disciplines within each class. These studies show that connecting content and skills from other subjects enhance the student's learning and improve their comprehension. It might not surprise you then to hear that reading and writing skills are closely linked to how well students can perform in science class. As students gain reading and writing strategies their ability to understand science content will improve as well. This is particularly important for our elementary and middle school students who are still building a foundation with their reading and writing skills.

I don't know about you but I have had a hard time finding good writing resources that provide plenty of practice and step-by-step instruction. I currently have two interactive writing lessons for elementary students including How to Summarize and How to Write a Paragraph. Be sure to snag my FREEBIE Parts of a Paragraph Game.

There is a science theme to most of the written paragraphs and sentences in these lessons to encourage an interdisciplinary approach so that students can learn scientific topics while practicing their writing skills. Teaching students to write can be a real challenge but these interactive lessons will make your job a whole lot easier!

In addition to these writing-focused activities, I have begun a line of science-themed lessons and activities that incorporate language arts practices. My most recent science resource covers 9 body systems and includes an interactive flip-book with writing prompts, 9 close-reading science sheets with comprehension and language skills practice, and a Taboo review game of the vocabulary terms covered in the unit.

With this particular resource, students will begin by reading a paragraph about a particular body system. Then they will be asked three questions. The language skills practiced on these sheets include vocabulary, fact vs opinion, main idea, parts of speech, comprehension, supporting sentences, and the parts of a paragraph.

Next, students complete a portion of their flip-book. The flip-book includes a coloring page and three writing prompts for each body system. Students will practice writing complete sentences that demonstrate their knowledge of each particular body system. The book can be printed front to back to save on printing and the reading sheets are also the same size as the flip-book pages so they can be added to the end of the book. The books are a great tool for teachers to have for parent-teacher conferences or open house!

Lastly, students can play a review Taboo game with the vocabulary terms they learned from this unit. If you are unfamiliar with Taboo, the goal of the game is to get students to describe the vocabulary term without saying any of the words listed below the term. Taboo is a great way to get students to practice using their oral speech and descriptive language while having fun!

I plan to create more science themed resources that incorporate language arts and would love to hear from you about what kinds of topics would be most helpful in your classroom! Comment below for suggestions and don't forget to subscribe to my newsletter for access to all my freebies!

  • Christi Moore

Updated: Feb 27, 2019

This post may include affiliate links to products I used during this activity.

Every year I direct a science fair for our 3rd-12th grade science students. Since the science fair is such a massive undertaking we like to celebrate with a science party day after all the projects have been completed. This year, I decided to try something new by throwing what I am calling, a "Glowmistry Party." What is Glowmistry? It is a glowing science experience students will never forget as they review the scientific method and practices! Students practice making observations, writing predictions, constructing scientific claims, and deepening their understanding of all things that glow! Since my school has adopted the Next Generation Science Standards I wanted to integrate some of the practices into the experience without totally leaving out the scientific method.

The Set-Up

Since this was my first time throwing a Glowmistry party I decided to do most of the setup the night before so I could experiment with how I wanted the class to look and operate during the activities. Here are the items I used to set up:

-Black lights (I set mine directly on the tables. They got a little messy but were easy to wipe clean.)

-Glow paint

-Tonic water

-Neon or fluorescent duct tape


-Black butcher paper

I set my tables up close together to minimize the clean-up and stuck a black light on each table. This really helped direct the black light to specific areas since I was working in a large room. I also added black butcher paper to the tables and outlined them with the neon duct tape for effect. I'm so glad I added the paper to the tables because it really cut down on the cleanup process when we were all done. I rotated sixty 3rd-12th grade students through the activities and that butcher paper was a life saver!

In addition, I added signs and tags for the students and teachers to wear with their glow-sticks. The white and neon signage really popped under the black lights! And can I just say....all the teachers that rotated through my room for this activity wanted the glow-stick with the "Glow Master" tag! (Teachers love glow-sticks too!)

Next I placed tonic water into some cool Chemistry glassware and stuck these right next to the black lights. Tonic glows a bright blue when placed near black lights. (The science behind each of the activities is included in my Glowmistry resource.) We used the tonic water to make glowing oobleck as one of our activities but the tonic water adds such a brilliant glow I just left it on the table the whole time!

Get Ready to Glow!

After my room was all set up we were ready to glow! I led the students through 4 hands-on glow activities and loved watching their eyes light up with each experiment! Here are the activities I did with my students:

Bright Blobs

In this activity the students explored the topics of density and polarity as they observe glowing fluorescent blobs sink through another liquid. (See video below) To get this affect I added some water to fluorescent glow paint and had students use pipettes to add drops to clear baby oil. I did not tell students what the two liquids were until after they had made several observations, written questions, and made predictions about the two liquids.

After each activity students would complete a corresponding Glowmistry card (see above image) which contained various scientific practices (ie. making predictions, writing claims, asking questions). At the end of the day the students each received a glow-stick with an "I passed Glowmistry" tag. I think my kids were more excited about the tags (bragging rights you know) than the glow-sticks!

Glow-Stick Science

Next, I had students test the affect of temperature on their glow-sticks by submerging them in hot/cold water. Students had to write scientific claims supported by observational evidence from this activity. This was a great activity to connect our NGSS practices and have students think about what was happening on a molecular level with their glow-stick.

Glowing Oobleck

Next, my students finally got to play with that mysteriously blue glowing liquid (tonic water). They made a simple mixture of the tonic water and corn starch to create a non-Newtonian fluid. Then students played with the oobleck and made observations about how the fluid was behaving.

Bioluminescent Beauties

Our last hands-on activity took inspiration from a documentary we watched first about bioluminescent organisms. Students watched half the documentary (while I cleaned up) and took Cornell notes in my prefilled document. Then students took a break from the video, and began designing their own bioluminescent organisms using recyclable materials. I was amazed at all their creativity! The real magic happened when we turned the black lights back on and students began to paint their creatures with glow paint. Their creations were stunning!

After students finished painting their creatures we finished our documentary and discussed what we had learned throughout the day about the science of glowing! Each student was given a glow-stick with a Glowmistry tag. (See image below.)

Hands down this was one of my favorite activities I have done with my students! It was so memorable and fun and I felt really good about the fact that we actually learned some new content and reviewed scientific practices! I have bundled all four activities with the corresponding student worksheets, classroom signage, glow-stick tags, Cornell notes with the video link, answer keys, and some personal tips for running your own Glowmistry Party here. Click here to check it out!

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© 2017 by Christi Moore  GimmeMooreScience