Category Archives: It’s Not Science But…

Back to School Blog Hop with Kid Blogger Network and We Teach

We are honored to be a part of the Kid Blogger Network’s Back to School blog hop. It may not be all about science, but it is time to celebrate the return to the classroom and learning for the next nine months. This blog hop includes some of the top parenting bloggers sharing their tips and activities to get everyone back to school.
The Educators' Spin On It
All of this month, we are sharing our tips and a few blogger tips for returning to school. This week, we began with sharing some Back to School activities for teachers to engage and excite their new class about learning and shared Tips for Parents to Ease back into school.
We encourage you to take some time and visit the blogs and their posts listed below while you prep for getting your own kids back to school.


Easing Back to School Stress – Tips for Parents

By Blog Editor Susan Wells

The stress of back to school usually starts in our house as the end of July nears, and school supply lists arrive with registration packets. My kids start worrying about losing the later bedtimes, non-stop play dates and extra free time. Over the next three weeks, we will be sharing some tips and advice for easing the anxiety surrounding returning to the classroom.

Tips for parents to ease back to school stress & anxiety | Steve Spangler Science

  • Shop for school supplies early. In my children’s early school years, I’d procrastinate and wait until the first day of school started creeping up on us before I’d shop. I thought this would ease mine and my children’s anxiety by not acknowledging its inevitability until summer was almost over. Simple supplies like pencils, erasers, etc. were still available, but harder to find items like primary composition books were non-existant. I ended up running all over town and searching the Internet for those last few supplies. This caused more stress for all of us, as we spent additional time on search missions. Now, we shop in mid-to-late July and then stack it up in a corner until it’s needed in late August.

Back to School Parent Tips | Steve Spangler Science

  • Get the teacher contact information early and utilize it. Don’t wait until school starts or even those first conferences to express your concerns and challenges to the teacher. Send the teacher an email before school starts. Teachers must jump in with both feet and learn 20-30 kids’ names, learning styles, strengths, weaknesses and skill levels. When meeting with my school’s principal last year, she encouraged me to reach out to my child’s new teacher right away and share my concerns with her. Talking with the teacher before the insanity begins, gives the teacher a head start getting to know their students. Kristen Mason from Busy Kids = Happy Mom also agrees and shares her tips for connecting early…Easing back to school fears & anxiety - write to your child's teacher. | Steve Spangler Science
  • Set all family/homework rules and plans a week before school starts. Charts or posters that list when homework will be focused on, how much time screen time is allowed on school days, bedtimes, wake times and chores. Give your children the expectations in advance so they know what is expected during the week.

Tips for Parents in Easing Back to School Stress | Steve Spangler Science

  • Use a family calendar. Use whatever works best for you – wipe boards, planners, or apps like Cozi are all great ways to display a family calendar and keep everyone notified of the week by week schedule. Again, it is all about setting expectations and keeping everyone organized.Back to School Parent Tips | Steve Spangler Science
  • Take a practice run. If your child rides the bus, walk with your child to the bus stop and talk about what is acceptable and against the rules while waiting for and riding the bus. If your child will walk or ride a bike, take the route on a day before school. Discuss which routes are good to take and which ones aren’t. If you have friends’ homes along the way or “safe” houses, point them out so you child knows where to go if they need help along the way. Go over rules for getting to and from school – can they stop at a friend’s house or go straight home?
    Back to School Parent Tips | Steve Spangler Science
  • Visit the school. Many preschools, elementary schools, middle and high schools all offer visit days before the first day of school. Walk around, meet the teachers and get familiar with the new school to eliminate as many unknowns as possible. Blogger Laura Hutchinson also adds, “If a face-to-face visit with the teacher or school isn’t possible, photos of the school and/or teacher, a Skype interview, phone call, or even just an email or letter can be helpful.”

Tips for Parents in Easing Back to School Stress | Steve Spangler Science

  • Create a worry board. Kim Vij from The Educator’s Spin On It has her children write out their worries on a wipe board and categorize them by big worries and little worries. She also has them list their fears by Likely to Happen and Less Likely to Happen. After the fears are written down, she discusses them and helps the kids find strategies for working through them.
    Big Worries vs. Little Worries - Tips for Easing Back to School Fears from Educators' Spin On ItBig Worries vs. Little Worries - Tips for Easing Back to School Fears from Educators' Spin On It
  • Read books that take your child through the new grade and experience. Here’s a grade-specific reading list from Nyla’s Crafty Teaching. When my girls were in the younger grades, we always read “The Night Before…” books during the week before school started.

The Night Before First Grade - Books to read to ease Back to School fears

  • A visit from the Back to School Fairy. Twas the night before the first day of school and all through the house everyone is sleeping…..or maybe not!  If your child is is a little anxious or dreading the return of school, have the fairy visit them over night. Busy Kids = Happy Mom has a fun printable and explains this activity on her blog. What a great idea. I needed this a few years ago.

Easing back to school fears & anxiety - the Back to School Fairy from Busy Kids = Happy Mom

What are your family traditions or tips to help get your kids back to school while easing the stress?

Best Science and Educational YouTube Channels

Steve Spangler Science has an incredible following on our three YouTube channels – The Spangler Effect, Sick Science! Experiments and Spangler Science TV. Our video team is dedicated to bring the best experiments and science programming to our viewers. They work hard every week setting off Mentos Soda Geysers in the parking lot, popsicle sticks in the studio and researching all of the science behind everything we do.

  • The Spangler Effect is our weekly online science show that goes in-depth on some of the most popular and new experiments from Steve Spangler.
  • Sick Science! features easy to do experiments and activities you can do at home or in the classroom.
  • Spangler Science TV offers videos and experiments from all of Steve Spangler’s television appearances.


We also enjoy watching and following all of the amazing work that is shared on YouTube education channels everyday. So much so that we thought we’d share some of our favorites for kids, parents and teachers. All offer something different and educational. This is what we watch at the Steve Spangler Labs –

Science Giants


Independent Science

  • Minute Physics – Science questions answered and broken down quickly and thoroughly with drawings to illustrate.
  • ASAP Science – Similar to Minute Physics – mini science lessons illustrated through wipe board drawings.
  • The Slow Mo Guys – 2 guys run video experiments and slow them down to investigate what really happens.
  • Smarter Every Day – science videos exploring the world and answering the question of why.
  • Vsauce – answers to ordinary and astounding science questions, and mind-blowing facts.
  • Sci Show – discussions and questions on science news today.


Education and Lifelong Learning

  • Soulpancake – a huge variety of videos and programming to make you open your heart and your mind, including the very popular Kid President.
  • Crash Course – Six courses to learn from – US History, Chemistry, World History, Biology, Literature, and Ecology.
  • Google in Education – News, tips, stories and more
  • PBS – Programming, children’s videos and more
  • Edutopia – for tech-savvy teachers, promoting online learning.
  • TED Talks – lectures, demonstrations and lessons in 18 minutes from icons and geniuses.  incredible lectures, demonstrations and performances spanning every discipline imaginable.
  • Learning Channel – Lessons for grades 7 through 12.
  • Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls – Exploring cultures and the world along with advice from Amy Poehler



  • Karen Mensing – 2nd grade teacher, YouTube Teacher Star, Arizona’s Gifted Teacher of the Year 2011, Teacher of the Year 2012.
  • WowMath – Mr. Robb’s math lectures on Algebra and Calculus.




  • Teach Mama – Tips and advice for parents to help navigate learning everyday with your child. 
  • Inspiration Labs – Encouraging learning through creativity and play. Activities and science experiments.
  • Emma Vanstone – Fun loving mum of three.
  • Play Learn Grow – “A Place for Moms of all ages, nations, Teachers and Children to Play, Learn and Grow together.”

Want even more YouTube education channels? Check out 100 Incredibly Useful YouTube Channels for Teachers and Edudemic’s Best Video Sites for Teachers.


What have we missed? What are your favorite YouTube Channels? Leave us a comment below with a link and we will consider adding it to our list.

Texas High School Student Gives His History Teacher a Lesson

A video of Duncanville High School student Jeff Bliss has gone viral after a classmate recorded his rant in the classroom last week. Bliss is an 18-year-old sophomore who returned to 10th grade after dropping out. He says he realized the importance of an education for his future. He now takes his education and the learning of others very seriously.

Bliss had questioned why the teacher didn’t give the students more time to prepare for a test. She asked him to leave the classroom and he began sharing his opinions of why students were not reaching their true potential. He claimed the teacher only passed out worksheets and packets instead of creating lively and engaging discussions.

In Bliss’ opinion, the classroom time was a waste and challenged the teacher to get the students excited about learning. He also felt teachers must reach out and touch the hearts of their students to truly engage them.

“Just as much as the students need to give an effort, the teachers need to give an effort too.” said Jeff Bliss.

A local television station reached out the school district for comment. The district said they want both students and teachers to be engaging in the classroom but believe Bliss could have expressed his concern in a better way.

One of Steve Spangler’s mottos is to “get it to the dinner table.” Lessons should be so engaging and exciting that the kids can’t wait to share it at the dinner table. Packets and worksheets should support the lessons but not be the entire lesson. No one has ever gotten inspired over doing a worksheet.

So many teachers are inspiring and engaging but some fall short. Teaching shouldn’t be constantly entertaining, but it should spark and excite the students’ interest in learning. Students must meet the teachers halfway. Education is a collaboration.

Where do you land on this issue? Has the teacher been given a fair chance? Did Bliss unfairly rant about his teacher or did he have a point? He obviously touched a nerve, because his rant went viral.

Teaching Then and Now – How Have Things Changed?

By Blog Editor Susan Wells

I recently discovered a fun downloadable from the very popular Teachers Pay Teachers site. This printable listed the rules for school marms or teachers in 1872. Educator and blogger Barbara Evans from It’s About Time Teachers, put the download together, however, it has been printed and shared in newspapers, books, museums and all over the Internet for over 50 years.

1. Teachers each day will fill lamps, clean chimneys.

2. Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day’s session.

3. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils.

4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.

5. After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.

6. Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.

7. Every teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society.

8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honesty.

9. The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty-five cents per week in his pay, providing the Board of Education approves.

I checked for the accuracy and legitimacy in this list of rules. They have it listed as a Legend, saying they cannot confirm the origins. Snopes also notes that this list was probably originally shared and continues to be shared to this day to demonstrate how much better off we are from almost 130 years ago. There is also another list of similar rules from 1915 that also circulates.

Whether or not this list is completely accurate and legitimate from that time period, I thought it would be fun to compare the rules to today’s expectations.

Obviously the old list is outdated. We are better off today than we were in 1872. Right? But then I began to really look at the list and and compare it to today’s teachers. By switching out a few materials and old fashioned political views, this list really hasn’t changed all that much…

1. Teachers arrive at school before their students. They ensure their classroom is organized, clean and ready for students every morning.

2. No scuttle of coal, but teachers purchase a lot of classroom materials and supplies out of their own pockets. Teachers pay for 77% of the supplies needed to keep their classroom full of educational materials for their students. That amounts to about $356 per teacher per year or $1.3 3 billion out of pocket. And that is just for basic classroom supplies. Teachers are also known to purchase snacks, lunches, school supplies and personal hygiene products and cover the cost of field trips for students whose parents are unable to cover these costs.

3. Today’s teachers can skip the whittling of nibs, but do keep a supply of pencils, scissors and paper for their students. Even if the students now take on the responsibility of sharpening their own pencils.

4. Teachers are no longer given time to court, but must work hard to squeeze in a personal life. They have meetings to attend before and after school, classes of their own to attend and don’t forget grading all of those papers. It is funny how students are shocked to discover their teachers actually shop at the same grocery stores and malls as they do. Aren’t teachers only found in schools?

5. Classroom teachers spend a lot of time and long days at school. They spend 6-7 hours in the classroom and then spend time in meetings, grading and planning. A teacher’s day does not end at 3:00 p.m. Many grade late into the night. And don’t forget teachers must continue to learn. By keeping up teaching certificates, they take hours of coursework every school year.

6. Women teachers not only marry these days, but also work incredibly hard to balance raising their own children with educating ours. Teachers miss their own children’s Halloween parades and Valentine exchanges. They aren’t there at the end of the day to meet their kids at the bus stop. These educators and disciplinarians, try as they might, use up their patience and energy during the school day. Their kids tend to get the short end and temper after 20-30 other kids burned out their parent. Teachers do  tend to be volunteered for Girl Scout leaders, enrichment clubs and other extra-curricular activities because they are good with children and love working with them. I enjoy my job too, but the last thing I want to do is go home and do it in my free time.

7. Teachers must set budgets and plan financially. Salaries aren’t through the roof, and many have experienced cuts and scaled back benefits. Teaching jobs are at a premium and many are not permanently employed, even if they are lucky enough to currently hold down a teaching job. These teachers must look every year for a new school or sub job. Tenure isn’t handed out as easily anymore. Permanent jobs are hard to find.

8. Today’s teacher behavior and rules aren’t spelled out as clearly as those from 1872, but teachers must work to maintain integrity and lead by example. Although their private lives may not be held under a microscope, certain behaviors or language can be terms for dismissal.

9. Let’s hope that teachers are receiving more than a 25 cent raise every five years (although it may feel like it.) It’s not the easiest thing to secure a permanent teaching position these days.

To help a classroom teacher with expenses, check out Adopt-a-Classroom so teachers and students can get what they need to succeed in school.