General Science and Teaching

lesson suggestions for Elementary school students

To current or past teachers or anyone with experience in the science classroom setting, what are some great general lessons or topics that you think Elementary school students would be interested in? From your experience or knowledge, do you think students prefer a particular topic over another, if so, which topics or units? 

LATTECIA KIRKLAND
LATTECIA KIRKLAND
2905 Activity Points

Hello Lattecia, From my experience students seem to be curious throughout most science lessons. One of the science lessons that I have seen most of the students engaged was during one of my observations in a Kindergarten or first grade classroom during student teaching. The students were learning about the life cycle of the plant. Each student started off with a bean, a zip-lock bag, and a wet paper towel. The students and the teacher discussed what they thought was going to happen after they place the bags with the bean by the window. The teacher also asked the student to make an educated guess over what they thought was going to happen if they leave a bean without light or water. The students were excited to see their bean turn into a plant within the next week or so!

Gladys Gonzalez
Gladys Gonzalez
460 Activity Points

Hi Lattecia! Like Gladys, I have used seeds in the classroom with great success. I put a little twist on the bean seed experiment by bringing in Norway Spruce cones and asked the kids if they knew what they are. I had the kids put their name on a plastic cup and then we put the cones upside down in a plastic cup. I introduced the scientific method by having the kids make an observation. I did journaling with the kids, as well, with the kids starting a journal and each day put down their observations. Soon the cones dried out, expanded, and the seed dropped out. We then planted our seeds in another cup and within a week had little pine trees. If you do this in January or February, by Arbor Day, you have little trees to plant. We even got the National Arbor Day Foundation involved, got certificates for the kids, and even went to Nebraska one year, after the kids won an award. Another need twist is to do the Seeds in Space project where you get free seeds - one exposed to space on the International Space Station and one control batch and you can do an experiment to see the effects of space on germination and growth. With the kids interested in space and NASA and colonization of the Moon and Mars, the kids really got into it. We did tomato seeds last time but I think they also did basil seeds a while back.

James Johnson
James Johnson
93810 Activity Points

Elementary students are very curious and they want to know more. Students at this age like hands on activities that allows them to explore on their own. In my experience, students in my class have enjoyed learning about magnets. Another topic that really interest my students, was when we talked about different animals and insects. They thought it was fascinating how there are so many different types of animals of all sizes and colors. You can also teach about states of matter and do hands on activities for them to do along with the lesson. I hope this help you consider teaching about these topics.

Katherine Lazo
Katherine Lazo
350 Activity Points

In my first grade class they are curious about everything when it comes to science. If it's hands-on, the better! They thoroughly enjoyed learning about magnets because of all of the different types of magnets they got to explore. They enjoyed learning about the different states of matter through the simple investigations they have done. They had fun with force and motion. Now, we are currently exploring different types of soil. All of these topics that we've explored were hands-on, so they were very engaging. Elementary school students love science no matter the topic but it depends on how you teach it. So, it's best to keep in mind that if it's hands-on, they'll have more fun learning and being engage in their learning.

Chenda Chab
Chenda Chab
605 Activity Points

Hello Lattecia,
I agree with Chenda! I think the sad thing is that students love all science because of their innate curiosity but, as Carl Sagan put it, we choke it out of them. Hands-on, inquiry-based activities that don't box in students' thinking should be what we're after. If I were to pin-point specific topics/activities I would rank astronomy, animals and building things among the top!

Astronomy:
Try to arrange an evening family star party. Ask a local astronomy group to bring some of their equipment or find a parent/volunteer who has a telescope or two. Binoculars are great astronomy tools. (Where I'm from, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada has chapters in all the major cities and public education is a big part of their work. Not sure who would be near to where you live.)

Animals:
I just posted a long answer on another thread about live animals in the classroom: http://learningcenter.nsta.org/discuss/default.aspx?tid=mKMWu1JS/Us_E#87520

Building things:
There are a lot of good STEM activities that you can do with this! I have attached some links that will lead you to some sites that can help you with this.

Hope this helps,
Gabe Kraljevic

Attachments

Gabe Kraljevic
Gabe Kraljevic
1985 Activity Points

[color=#575655][size=2][font="Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]Hi Lattecia![/font][/size][/color] [color=#575655][font=Helvetica Neue, Helvetica, Roboto, Arial, sans-serif][size=2]I am currently a nanny, a substitute teacher and studying elementary education, and through my experiences with [/size][size=2]children, the older they get, the more they seem to pick up non-fiction and science-based books in the library without being prompted to by a teacher or an assignment. With this, I have also noticed a lot of attention leans toward animals and the animal kingdom, as well as bugs/insects, and plants. I have also seen a lot of students flip through books about airplanes (flight/wind relations) and space/planets. Some students also seem to enjoy books about sports, which could be integrated into a lesson about the body, muscles, life science or even physics.[/size][/font][/color] [color=#575655][font=Helvetica Neue, Helvetica, Roboto, Arial, sans-serif][size=2]Although I do not have any specific lessons to recommend, I do have a couple of suggestions for deciding on a lesson or unit. First, I think it would be a great idea to take notes on what books you see your students picking up, lingering on and checking out from the library, and building ideas for lessons based on that; I think this would keep students engaged because the lesson/unit is centered around things they are interested in. [/size][/font][/color][color=#575655][size=2][font="Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Roboto, Arial, sans-serif]Another suggestion I have is to make as many lessons as you can interactive. Personally, I always found science lessons to be more exciting when my teachers planned hands-on activities. The students I have observed in my time in classrooms have seemed to reiterate this feeling in their reactions to the lesson beginning and ending. Getting students involved and engaged in the lesson helps them to better retain the information presented. [/font][/size][/color]

Amanda Mifflin
Amanda Mifflin
290 Activity Points

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