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First Day of School Science Activities
What is your favorite first day of school science activity/demonstration? I will have my own classroom here soon, and am looking for awesome ways to capture my students' curiosity and imagination with science!!
Future Biology Teacher
90 Activity Points
The school that I student teach at, they have a science as one of their outclass to attend. I observed there and the 1st graders were discussing about which animal lives in waters, forest, jungles, and so forth. The science teacher give each student the animal, but they could not show it to others, so their hand is closed tight. The the teacher asked to stand for those who think they live in the jungle. Then after standing up, the students can show the whole class their animal whether if they were correct or incorrect.
2735 Activity Points
I think an awesome way to capture your students attention is to make them choose their own inquiry science activities. In order to accomplish this, you should make a spinning wheel with an arrow that show cases 4-5 topics that you already created a lesson plan and hands-on activity for. The class should elect one person a week to spin the wheel; whichever activity the arrow lands on, they will have to complete it. Once that lesson is chosen and completed, that lesson should be taken off the wheel and another lesson should be added in its place. This method allows the students to be a participant in choosing the concepts they want to learn in a fun and interactive way. This also adds a surprise factor to your class which will always keep your students on their toes.
3660 Activity Points
You can use a science lesson to create your seating arrangements. Pass out a picture of an animal to each student. Make sure no animals are duplicated. Let students share their animal with the rest of the class. Discuss what all of the animals have in common and what makes them different. Have the students group themselves based on their animals' similarities (i.e. classify the animals). Then group their desks to match the groups they've created. This doesn't have to be a permanent seating arrangement, but it's a fun lesson that allows the students to be (or appear to be ;)) in control.
315 Activity Points
My favorite activity to do on day 1 is an activity I call Where Did the Water Go? It is very easy to do- it is a discrepant event that is sure to get the kids excited about coming to school the next day. The materials you will need - 3 styrofoam cups, water, chemical called (sodium polyacrelate- go to Flinn Scientific to order). Once you order this chemical you will have enough for YEARS of demonstrating. Prior to the activity put a small amount of chemical in one cup (enough to cover the bottom of the cup).
Once kids come in tell them you have 3 empty cups and show them from the front of the room (they will not notice the chemical because it is white and is camouflaged into the cup from their seats.) Pour water into one of the empty cups and tell students you want them to watch the water and try to keep up with where it is in the demonstration. Pour the water from one of the empty cups to another, switch them around (do not pour into the cup with the sodium polyacrelate until you are ready for demo to be over). Finally when you have done this for awhile and you are ready for some talk and excitement pour the water in the cup with powder. The sodium polyacrelate will absorb and gel and get stuck into the cup. I then flip each cup upside down and ask where did the water go? It appears to have disappeared. I ask students to write down their observations (note booking). i ask students to write down questions that they have-(engaging in science practice standard 1, I ask kids to think of some variables we could test (changing cups, liquid, etc). Tell them the next day you reveal the secret...they can't wait to come back for more. Sodium Polyacrelate is a polymer that is used in baby diapers...THEY WILL LOVE IT!
985 Activity Points
We have a discussion about science and scientists and the fold origami talking puppets that the students decorate as a particular kind of scientist. Then they use their talking puppets to explain who they are, what science they study, and some of the tools they use.
3345 Activity Points
It was a lake trip, our professor take us to a lake, and we observed water and recorded the data
3165 Activity Points
I have always enjoyed a "Statue" activity for a beginning class, for any subject, but you can do the questions related to science. The students will then form a statue related to the answers to the questions. Everyone will then guess what everyone's statue is. Questions could be like, What is your favorite food? to What do you think an atom is? It is a great way to get the class loosen up and ready to learn about science.
3819 Activity Points
Hello Lauren, A good beginning of the school year activity would be one that gets students thinking about the scientific progress to set the standard for the labs that would come for the rest of the year. Some ways to do this are setting up different stations that could be good for observation like, the characteristics of a flower, or even the way worms interact. You can have students make hypothesis based on their conceptions of the different stations. You can also do another exercise that can be done in perspective lab groups as a team building exercise. This consists of giving each group a handful of marshmallows and spaghetti sticks. They have to building a tower with the materials and see who's stands up the longest. Its quite a fun first day activity. Hope this helps!
415 Activity Points
For one of my science classes in college the teacher started the first day of class outside and had everyone build paper rockets and launched them. He gave them several different design options, but he really let everyone do their own thing, which engaged each person's creativity!
4195 Activity Points
Hi there! I am currently in your situation, thinking ahead (even though I still need to student teach) on what can I do to draw my students in close on the first day of school. Pending on your grade, on thing that always drew my attention in the upper level sciences were things that exploded. This is something that we know all students think of when they think of science and giving them the chance to experience it right away will get them excited for class. A volcano or something along these lines was something I always looked forward to in class.
Best of Luck!
4598 Activity Points
I think a great activity to do the first day of class is to emphasize the fact that they are all scientists. I am currently taking a Science in Elementary course in college. My professor had us think about what it meant to be a scientist. We discussed our answers and then looked up the definition on Google. We were all amazed to learn that we were all technically scientists. I think this is a great way to start off the school year. Students will feel a sense of pride in the science classroom.
540 Activity Points
Science Room scavenger hunt- you can adjust to guide students to things you want them to check out (and things you don't) this is great not just for the nuts and bolts of where things are (which is especially helpful to new students) but you can also generate some curiosity and excitement about what is to come this year in science. Maybe there is a new classroom animal. For example, we have guppies as a 4th grade water quality project, but this summer I took them home because of a long commute to school. The students are used to seeing the guppies in the tank. They won't be returning to school until we are ready for the project. At the end of the summer I put a horseshoe crab, coral and a sea sponge in the empty, dry aquarium...it generated a lot of excitement and questions at the beginning of the year. Maybe you want to get them excited about tools they might use in the upcoming year, so the scavenger hunt might guide them to microscopes, a weather station or something like that. You don't have to have a dedicated science classroom to make this work, it is also a great way to point out all the science in a general classroom too!
1740 Activity Points
i like the idea of a scavenger hunt, i believe its great for a first day of school activity
720 Activity Points
I love this idea. It will help my students become better associated with the science materials and their location in my room.
845 Activity Points
What an awesome idea and a great way to get the students excited and comfortable with the classroom!!
1280 Activity Points
I absolutely love the idea of a scavenger hunt of the science room on the first day of school. This will definitely peak the interest of the students and get them interested in science. I love it!
595 Activity Points
This is an awesome first day idea. I love the idea of having students use tools they may need later in the year, like microscopes. It's also a great way to familiarize younger students with their new surroundings. It could also be used to get have students think scientifically by posing clues for them solve to find different things in the room or throughout the school. In one school I helped in, they got the entire school involved and had students go into different classrooms and parts of the building.
595 Activity Points
wow! what a great way to do engage students on the materials that will be using throughout the year. Maybe with older students you can make the clues into a riddle question.
805 Activity Points
Thank you for your post Sarah. I am really interested in activities that I can do with my future students in the classroom especially in the first day of school and you gave me great ideas.
915 Activity Points
Awesome idea! I am a few months away from becoming a teacher and this is definitely something I will consider doing. I love reading all these great ideas teachers have.
Brenda Del Valle
1215 Activity Points
Wow this was great! I'm going to be a teacher soon and I think this post was pretty useful! I've also, always been curious about class pets. I would love to get one if they're allowed where I'll be working.
1260 Activity Points
What a fun and engaging way to include all students at any level of understanding! Also, it may provide an opportunity to introduce new concepts in a fun way!
3922 Activity Points
This is a great idea and i love it because you can adjust for your classroom and your students. The first day of school can always be stressful so having a fun but educational activity is always a positive. This is also nice because like said you can point out and find all the science in the general classroom.
3754 Activity Points
I am new to NSTA and am checking out all the great resources. I found your first day of school scavenger hunt idea and love it! Such a great way to familiarize students with the tools and concepts.
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What do you do in the water quality project that incorporates the guppies?
The scavenger hunt sounds like a wonderful activity to do during the first few days of school.
606 Activity Points
This is a great first day activity to do with the students! Especially now since science is not always implemented into the classroom, or if it is, it seems to be very minimal lately. Like you stated, this is a great tool to show the students around the different objects/tools that are used in science instruction and that they might be using in a lesson someday. It allows for the students to also explore the classroom and the objects and to get just a little bit more comfortable with the classroom space and the science tools. Side note - I also think it is great for classrooms to have a "classroom pet" as it was called when I was in elementary school. It is a great resource for students to learn not only about these certain animals and what they need to survive, but it allows for the students to have a chance to take care of the animals and learn about responsibility, too. Thanks for your post, I will for sure be taking this idea into my future classroom!
4510 Activity Points
I did a Volcano activity for a demonstration. I did not do it on the first day of school but I think it would be a fun demonstration to show the students. They will be able to come up and look at the lava and volcano up close table by table. My students got a really kick out of the volcano. I made it look very realitstic.
1735 Activity Points
A volcano demonstration would be a really great to get the kids excited for science on the first day of school. Great idea!
4685 Activity Points
Using the Volcano for an activity would be perfect to get the students excited, and motivated in the lesson. I have not personally attempted this in the classroom but I would love to learn how, because I think it would be awesome for the kids to see. Thanks for sharing!
975 Activity Points
I did a space demonstration showing the distance the planets are from the moon and had the students physically moving to show how far away they were and included a solar system skit, where each child was a planet and had to act their part. It was a different way of showing the solar system and was actually a lot of fun.
I think doing anything interactive to get students going will start the year off really well and will have the students excited as well!
1190 Activity Points
This sounds like a fun idea! I like the idea of having students act out the different planets because it gets them moving and involved. I think any activity thats allows students to move around and be hand on is great.
330 Activity Points
This is a great idea! I had never thought about using theater/drama in the science curriculum! This would also be a great ice breaker activity, because the students will have to work together and let their guard down a little, to act silly and fun. I love it!
825 Activity Points
Thanks for sharing this idea! I would love to incorporate this into my lessons about the Earth and its Moon because I enjoy activities that get students up and moving.What grade would you suggest doing this type of activity with? Is there a website I could learn more about this activity?
600 Activity Points
That sounds so awesome. It sounds like a great way to get the students who might not initially be interested in the planets engaged in learning about them and build up their interest.
825 Activity Points
Hello! This sounds like a really fun and interactive way to get students engaged into learning! I am a pre-service teacher and am wondering what kind of formative assessment was used after this fun activity! Thanks in advance.
190 Activity Points
I love this idea, do you have more details posted somewhere or have any links to the skit?
915 Activity Points
I showed my students condensation by using a cold cup of water and ice and asked the students how did the water get on the outside. A lot of the students said that the water leaked through the cup, but then I showed them a cold coke can and asked why water leaked through the can when their isn't water in the can. I thought it was a great way to make them really think.
1185 Activity Points
I really like this demo as it brings me back to my middle school days in science. It really poses a lot of thought and inquiry for the class to discuss as a group with important key terms along with the activity.
John Ryan Nunez
615 Activity Points
What a great way to spark a debate and have students question reasoning about how this phenomena happened.
85619 Activity Points
I am currently in student teaching 3rd grade. I am placed in Reading ELA split class so I have not got to experience science in the class room, This post was very interesting and I cant wait to experience science in elementary school next semester.
1200 Activity Points
I did this activity with the students on melting chocolate. At what temperature does chocolate go from a solid to a liquid? Is it different for white and dark chocolate?
• Put one piece of chocolate on a paper plate and put it outside in the shade.
• Record how long it took for the chocolate to melt or if it wasn't hot enough to melt then record how soft it was after 10 minutes.
• Repeat the process with a piece of chocolate on a plate that you put outside in the sun. Record your results in the same way.
• Find more interesting locations to test how long it takes for the chocolate pieces to melt. You could try your school bag, hot water or even your own mouth.
• Compare your results, in what conditions did the chocolate melt? You might also like to record the temperatures of the locations you used using a thermometer so you can think about what temperature chocolate melts at
The students had fun and they learned.
1670 Activity Points
This is a great idea! Students love chocolate, so they would be engaged in learning about it melting and at what temperatures. Thanks for the idea.
1185 Activity Points
What grade was this?
360 Activity Points
This seems like a fantastic student activity, that really could capture their attention. Especially since it's using candy because I don't know what student doesn't like candy.
I would love to know the range of grades that you could use this activity for? Like how young could you go? If you go younger, what are some modifications that you could do in order to make sure it's a safe experiment but still fun? I only ask because I'd like to teach 2nd grade (currently student teaching) and would love to know if you think this would be appropriate for 2nd graders!
This would be fun to do around Valentine's Day or on Valentine's Day as well. Fun!
460 Activity Points
You could make s'mores with the chocolate and eat your science experiment at the end of the activity.
This is a great idea to work with temperature and tools. Easy and Fun! thank you for sharing it.
1066 Activity Points
I'm student teaching and today I watched a great "turn and talk" with my kindergarten class. We read a book called "The sun, the wind and the rain" It discussed the rock cycle in a very friendly child manner. It was also nice to hear what different information the students got from different parts of the book.
1500 Activity Points
I just came across this "evolution puzzle" activity while searching for stuff on evolution. It seems like it would be a great activity to just introduce science in general.
Science_Puzzle.doc (0.04 Mb)
3820 Activity Points
Love this! Thank you for the share.
815 Activity Points
I think it's awesome that you're already starting to think of science activities you can incorporate in your future classroom. I recently learned about the following website: http://99centscience.blogspot.com/
The women who started this blog are experienced science educators who know how to create cheap science activities that are fun, explorative, and provide students with explanation. I think this website would have tons of ideas for you to do a short activity with your students the first day of school. AND the materials for each activity are affordable, too!
Hope it helps.
425 Activity Points
I followed the link to the 99 Cent Science bloodspot. The first image that popped up was the cookies made from science lab cookie cutters. Kinder and first grade could mix icing and natural food coloring to decorate the cookies.
7245 Activity Points
I like the idea of doing something science related on the first day and some of the activities people have already mentioned seem like they would be a good fit! This got me thinking about how I would incorporate it into the busy first day and I think that a science activity would be a good way for a teacher to model several different instructional routines like gathering materials, working in a group, putting things away, etc. and then have the students practice them. Since teaching routines is such a huge part of the first few weeks this would be a way to help the students practice them in an engaging and fun way!
625 Activity Points
For young children, we decorated rocket ships using paper towel tubes and we tied a string at a diagonal from one end of the class to the others to get the rocket ships to go from Earth to the moon. Just make sure if you make a pointed top that it has an opening for the string to go through. Let the kids get creative, some of my kids made wings on the rocket ships and tied strings to the end so that it would have a nice effect and the kids had so much fun with this.
700 Activity Points
Here is an idea:
960 Activity Points
Thanks for the site. Great ideas!
995 Activity Points
I never thought something as simple as creating an interactive anchor chart that could be used on that first day of school could be so helpful! Now that I am thinking about it, this seems like such a great idea to bring in their prior knowledge on subjects and get them thinking about what they'd like to know more of or clarification on. This was great, I definitely will use it. The better part is, it doesn't even have to only pertain to science on the first day. This could be a really simple interactive for many different subjects on the first day.
I really like this idea because the teacher will get to know what the students would like to learn in science for the year. Also this activity can be done at the beginning of a new lesson or unit. Students can write what they already know about the topic on a sticky note. The teacher will know students' prior knowledge on the new topic. By knowing some of the things students already know, the teacher can spend less time on that content.
3192 Activity Points
What a great idea! First day back can be an exciting and scary time for students and new teachers like me. I think incorporating a science project will help the students be engaged and have a memorable experience. thank you
325 Activity Points
I always begin the first day with the students doing some real science. I have them observe an unknown substance , usually cornstarch and water. They determine the properties of this unknown substance. The next day, they observe regular ice and dry ice, and we begin GEMS Dry Ice Investigations. I also make sure that safety is always addressed for each activity. Doing science on the first day sets the tone for the rest of the year. On the first day, all the other teachers are going over rules, talking a lot. Students appreciate not having one of their 7 classes doing something fun and doing science.
665 Activity Points
You might look into doing several biology discrepant events just to get your students thinking. Another idea is to do an engineering design challenge like Save, Fred or build the biggest tower. It's a great way to have student thinking scientifically even if the activities are not directly related to biology.
I also suggest having student set up their lab notebooks on the first day of class.
58320 Activity Points
I am jumping into this to make sure I don't miss out on any future posts. Thanks for the great ideas!
1500 Activity Points
The First Day of School is a nerve-racking experience for many students because they do not know what to expect from classes and teachers. Therefore, I find it important to give students a snapshot of how the class works. For teachers implementing inquiry-based learning practices, they need to demonstrate to students that they will never know what to expect in class, because they are in control of their own learning outcomes. Teachers could create a framework for a problem or project, allow students to work collaboratively, and bring students back together for a discussion on what they learned. The majority of suggestions for middle and high school science first day of school demonstrations are student-centered approaches where students are introduced to the scientific process.Teachers could provide guidelines to inquiry that help students think metacognitively and diverse assessments that analyze student's understanding.
140 Activity Points
I really like your idea of group work and discussion in the classroom. This form of teaching should be implemented in every grade level. It is a positive way where students can learn from one another as they are collaborating together on a group project. Different roles are divided between the students in each group allowing students to depend on one another. Discussion, in my opinion, allows students to reflect on what they learned that day, provide opinions about the assignment, and possibly suggest what they want to learn more about. This process makes students become active learners! I can see my future classroom using these learning strategies.
753 Activity Points
These are awesome! Definitely looking at this for the next school year. Thank you for everyone who posted.
1780 Activity Points
A good first day of school activity could be reading Hurricane City by Sarah Weeks. This books is a really funny and covers storm names for every letter of the alphabet. This book teaches children about how hurricanes names are alphabetize and switch from girl boy order. After explaining this and reading the book. You could have the students put their names in alphabetic order and also in a girl boy pattern. This will not only teach them about the hurricane name list, but it can also help them learn the names for their classmates.
1175 Activity Points
I really like the idea as I am always looking for ways to integrate different subjects such as reading and science together. Also, hurricanes are such a fun and interesting topic to have with the students. Thanks for sharing!
865 Activity Points
Wow this is such a good idea! It is so important for the students to learn each other's names, as well as us as the teacher to learn their names as soon as possible and I think this activity will do the trick! I also like that it's not too difficult of an activity to scare them out of wanting to participate on the first day of class and that it can be used for pretty much any grade!
I really like the idea of having a science experiment on the first day of school. I think this will help students get excited for school and give them an idea of the type of science they will be learning throughout the year. Good idea!
475 Activity Points
As a pre-service teacher I am able to express lessons which have been successful with students who I have recently met and have taught a lesson to. I usually begin lessons with an exciting set or demonstration. Usually as an introduction a very cool demonstration is exceptionally effective for engaging the students into science. Making sure that the school year is started on a positive note is an important thing to keep in mind. Depending on the age of the students I would begin with some type of hands on experiment, something as casual as making silly putty or planting plants.
2240 Activity Points
Scavenger hunts have been the most engaging for students, especially for the first day of school/week. You can use this to tap into student's prior knowledge and find out what needs to be taught or retaught.
375 Activity Points
Scavenger hunts sound great, especially the diagnostic aspect! I am wondering what type of scavenger hunt one might do to get a grasp of what students know and what students need to learn.
55 Activity Points
It’s so nice to be able to help our fellow teachers out–especially new ones. Check out this great resource for assignment help online.
10 Activity Points
I really liked the Scavenger Hunt idea, but it would be good to get an idea of what the kids know or maybe forgot. This will help you have an idea of what their prior knowledge is.
1075 Activity Points
Try giving your students the opportunity to choose from pile of animals. Have the student draw the animal or maybe have them draw their favorite animal and describe what that animals needs to survive.
750 Activity Points
I love how interactive this could be but also how simple it can be because I know as a student teacher, that first day (coming soon) will be scary and like it could all end in a disaster... with activities like this one, I think the students will be in love and also not even think it's an assignment but more of a little fun activity. It can be a Segway into different lessons about animals and it's a great idea!
Hello, here is the link to a YouTube channel I have been developing called FunScienceDemos. It has over a hundred video demonstrations that cover a wide array of topics that young learners should know. These videos are completely free and NGSS aligned. If you check out the channel and want to subscribe, we regularly release new videos and in the coming year we will be creating worksheets and complimentary materials to go with the videos. I hope this helps
Dr. George Mehler Ed.D.,
725 Activity Points
That link didn't work for me but this one should: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xd1vKJCmjHo
4800 Activity Points
I just recently discovered these videos while teaching science summer camp. They are fantastic. Thanks for the great work and resource.
In my science content class at my university, we read the book "Bartholomew and the Oobleck" and kinda played with it.
We also tried to figure out if the oobleck was solid or liquid. It was fun, and I think you can have this activity in your class.
Oobleck is mixture of corn starch and water.
870 Activity Points
For an introduction to Science, I did what seemed like a spontaneous picnic outdoors. We sat around outside with our journals, ate a snack, and observed intently to everything around us. The students used most of their 5 senses to write descriptive words and phrases to jot down all that they observed outside. I added a competing factor to this as well. I told the students that the person with the best, most detailed observations would get a prize in the end. They were all very engaged, focused, and driven to tune themselves into nature! I hope this inspires some ideas of your own!
1080 Activity Points
Not sure what grade level you are looking for, but for the younger students this is always a fun science experiment ! :)
995 Activity Points
Some activities that would be fun to teach students on the first days of school would be to state of change in matter. Bring an ice cube or a cup that is full of Ice and have students observe what happens as the day goes on. A good lesson to teach students about liquid and solid. Anything like that students enjoy if it's hands on or they can see the object.
495 Activity Points
My students enjoyed doing the lava lamp activity. This was a simple but fun experiment! It gets students interested in science.
2565 Activity Points
I am trying to remember fun science activities I did when I was in elementary school. One activity I remember is when I grew my own plant. I was 5th grade, and we had to grow our own plants. This activity was very fun and interesting. I learn so much from this activity. I learned how to grow a plant and how often to water the plant. I think this will be a great activity for students to learn about science!
265 Activity Points
marshmallows and toothpicks, have a competition to see who can build the tallest tower!
880 Activity Points
The past two years, I have done an inquiry activity on the first day since they really struggle from transitioning from the cookbook labs of middle school to the inquiry labs of high school. Last year, I did the inquiry cubes and this year I did the black box activity. Both were activities where the kids were somewhat controlled (not all over the classroom) but were able to work in groups. These allowed them to realize that some activities would not have one "correct" answer and experience a simple inquiry based activity. These activities also let me see/assess their processing skills and critical thinking abilities.
There are lots of links if you google "black box inquiry activity" or "inquiry cubes activity" but here are two good links :)
945 Activity Points
I like the idea of introducing non-traditional pets such as mealworms which turn into beetles. Doing this at the beginning of the year allows students to watch the science happen before their eyes without even knowing it. It may not be a first day activity but maybe you can schedule it to a time frame in which you will be teaching life cycles. Hope this idea helps some!
845 Activity Points
I do an activity to reinforce the use of natural resources. I put students in groups with envelopes and they each have the same task but each has something wrong with the materials in their envelope of resources. It may be that their pencil isn't sharpened or their scissors are taped together. Whatever the problem they can't complete the task because their resources are mistreated or depleted. We then equate it not just to how we use the supplies in the room for the year but how we treat the resources in our world.
5520 Activity Points
I love this Kate! I'm always frustrated by how students don't understand taking care of supplies or how they don't get my goal of using our materials wisely. This will really help start that out from the beginning in a way that highlights what we don't want to be the end product. I was thinking about doing a starting lesson on resources just because it normally gets pushed to the end/not done. This will really put it where it belongs: in the forefront of our minds. I can also use this as a connection/lead in to the Hippocratic Oath and how, as learners of nature, we are to do no harm to living things. Thank you!
Inherited Traits/Learned Behaviors Scavenger hunt - I had my students complete a scavenger hunt around the room. They had a chart that listed different traits/behaviors and had to find students that could do the behavior or had the trait. This was more of an opener for a lesson regarding Learned Behaviors but it could be tweaked to use for students in your room and first day activities!
975 Activity Points
I have my students do this Science Inquiry Puzzle every year on the first day. (I have mostly 9th graders) I printed the squares on different colored neon cardstock and laminated them and keep them stored in zip lock bags. I keep the small square in a separate bag so each student gets 4 pieces to start out with. After 3 years they are still looking great! It is a great introduction to the nature of science and getting students to be active in their learning. Also, I like seeing the students get frustrated when they can't easily solve the second puzzle. It helps you to see who are your students who are willing to persevere versus the students that give up easily. You learn a lot about your classes from this simple activity and get to have a great discussion about science!
515 Activity Points
Also does it depend on the grade level too, I want to teach third grade and need ideas for first day math and science, which I would like to intergrate.
1075 Activity Points
A fun activity would be a science scavenger hunt. This way the students are up and having fun meeting and interacting with their peers. It also serves you, as the teacher, for a chance to observe and get to know your students. Observing them during the scavenger hunt, you will learn the ones that follow the rules, the ones that keep to themselves, and the ones that don't like to participate. These are things you need to keep in mind when creating lesson plans or seating arrangements.
435 Activity Points
I teach only science, so for me, I get the kids for a short time and I am looking to make it pop. In elementary classes, I start with procedures or expectations but I weave that into an inquiry/discovery lesson. Mostly I use units from the Picture Perfect Science books by Karen Ansberry & Emily Morgan. They include lessons on discrepant events like the jumping beans for 4-5th biology (where students learn that not everything is as it seems at a glance) or "Earthlets" where students learn the value of piecing together all the information that they discover. I've used their lesson on the learn'd astronomer or Rachel Carson, "a sense of wonder" in both cases to introduce in a soft-start way that science is more than "doing". It includes pondering, wondering, ruminating over how amazing creation is...and helping students to place themselves inside that story as active participants in the science journey.
4800 Activity Points
Building off the idea of the scavenger hunt, I think it would a good cycle to then have the students create their own scavenger hunt later in the year. Based on their interests or a research project, they could create their own scavenger hunt for the other students in the class. Each week could have a different scavenger hunt presented for the rest of the class (and teacher) to work on. (Also a good way to make Mondays more appealing.) They would have prior experience and they would be having fun as it is based on student interest.
645 Activity Points
I've doe the time capsule in the past and it is so much fun. We turn empty Pringles cans or paper towel tubes into miniature time capsules. Ask each child to create a time capsule that includes such items as a handwriting sample, a hand tracing, a self portrait, and so on. At the end of the school year, compare samples from the beginning of the year with new samples. It is great to see the changes at the end of the year.
490 Activity Points
I love the time capsule idea and may try to implement this into my high school classes and the students' current skills set. Thanks!
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These are all great ideas to incorporate in a science classroom. Thank you so much! I am excited to one day use these activities in my future classroom.
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I really like the idea of doing a more hands on activity for the first day of school. The first day is such a nerve racking experience for young students sometimes, and doing something that could serve as an ice breaker and an educational moment at the same time would be beneficial. One activity that could be done is teaching about spider webs and how they are made. This process can be done by having a student hold a ball of yarn and say a fun fact about themselves, then they can throw the ball across the circle to another student while still holding their ball of yarn. This would be a fun way for the students to get to know one another while learning about spiders and their webs.
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If you have new students you can do a scavenger hunt around the science room. I've done this and the kids love it. It also helps to introduce them to any important safety items, and even things that end up being super helpful to you later, like the trash can, sink and pencil sharpener. You can also put out some things that will peak their interest as they wander around the room.
The first week of school is always hectic for me because of all the important things that we have to get done. During the first week, the students are doing most of the talking because I want them to get to know one another and etc. In science, I informed them about lab safety. On Friday, the students explored many types of lab safety hands-on activity. Doing this helped them see the importance of lab safety. It also helped them remember the lab safety. For an example, I put a cup of blue water (food coloring) while I had my lab coat and goggles on. Some students went ahead and picked the cup up. They smelled it without my instructions as well. Some students caught on and said that they were not supposed to touch anything as well. As the closure, I asked the students why I included that activity. From that day on, they did not pick up anything without my instructions. Hope this helped!
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I am going to share you an idea that I see online. The activity is called Windbag Wonders Team Building. The goal is really quite simple… blow up the Windbag as fast as you can. There is just one little hitch. The bag is 8 feet long! So, how many breaths does it take to inflate an 8 foot long bag? It seems impossible, doesn’t it? After you uncover a little secret called Bernoulli’s Principle, you can inflate the entire bag with just one breath of air. Give each child two or three Windbags and have them inflate each bag. Divide the students into groups of 3 to 5 students. Have the students work together to build a free standing structure. The highest structure wins the challenge.
CHIEN HUI CHEN
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I checked this out on Steve Spangler's website. Cool!
The First Day of School Science Activities I would like to do five sense. I will encourage students use their five sense to observe the school.
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Thank you for all these great ideas! My cooperating teacher began the first day of school with a safety video that was appealing to the students because it was a song. I am in a second grade class and have learned that no matter the age, children love songs! I would add a game board on lab safety to support this topic because we played it in our science class and it was so much fun!
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I think a scavenger hunt will be a fun first day of school activity for science, where students are able to work together as teams and communicate with one another. Students can work together to find different objects from newspaper ads or magazines and then have them paste it on one sheet of paper with different categories.
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I think that just taking the students outside to observe the nature that surrounds the school would be a great first day of school activity for science. It is laid back, and it is student led so you can see what your students are interested in. It also allows for the teacher to float around and talk to the students about what they are seeing and observe their prior knowledge about science topics. Along with this, students will get to collaborate with peers and build a sense of community on the first day. I strongly support inquiry-based learning, and introducing the students to the idea of guiding and building their own knowledge from scratch will be helpful in the long run!
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That is such a great idea, I want to try this!
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I will definitely take these activities into consideration!
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I really love the idea of incorporating a scavenger hunt on the first day of school. Whether it is science related or not, I believe it's a great way to introduce students to the layout of the classroom, different materials, and where they are located. It is also a great way to get students out of their shells, help them feel more comfortable, and get them up and moving!
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I CT had students shake their first day "jitters" into a jar! The jitters were represented with fireflies and by the end of all the jitters being shaken out, there was a jar of "fireflies". From there the conversation went to bugs and insects and we started a lesson on them! It was such a smooth transition :) Great method to use!
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These are all such great ways in introducing kids to science! I really like the "spin-the-wheel" activity where the teacher plans a lesson/activity, and the students spin the wheel to complete it. That makes it fun and somewhat competitive! Thanks, guys!
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My favorite first day of school science activity is a paper airplane contest. Separate the class into groups of 2-4 and give every group one piece of copy paper. The students are supposed to work together to make the paper airplane that will go the furthest. Although this activity relates directly with Physics, it is an activity that any science class can do the first day of school because it shows how one has to think through what they will do and how to improve a science experiment/scientific inquiry. It also helps students be more comfortable with each other and forces them to work together.
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I absolutely LOVE this activity! Not only is this a much better ice breaker than "Three truths and a lie," but it also fosters immediate collaboration amongst your students! Another fun spin-off of this activity would be for them to use this later in the year with content. Students could be provided a prompt such as, "List what you know about force and motion." Students would then list everything they know about force and motion. Once everyone was finished, students would send their paper airplanes across the room. Each student would pick up a paper airplane that landed near them. They would then send these airplanes across the room. Students would pick up new airplanes and launch them one last time. Students would then pick up their last and final airplane, read them, and discuss them with their group members. Once this is completed, students will come together for a whole-group discussion about force and motion.
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For the first day of school I like to get the students excited about learning science. The first thing I do is talk to students about all the fun science activities we will do during the year and show them work from prior students.
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I enjoyed reading many different methods you all have come up with for first day activities. As a teacher I believe it is imperative to make an attempt at simultaneously breaking the ice so that students are comfortable with each other while at the same time subtly getting a feel for particular students that may have to make accommodations or adaptations for. Every student has various methods that can be utilized to best articulate lesson plans and assess their comprehension of it.
Michael Van Ossenbruggen
490 Activity Points
On the first day of school science activities, it is better if you do not start with the subject. You can have some activities related to science like come up with some species picture and let students guess what these are and ask them to tell their features or you can try science word search. On the second day of Science subject you can start with what the syllabus is all about and what is expected. http://ukessaywriters.blogspot.com/
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I feel this topic does not have a bright enough light shined on it. I never thought of doing a science activity on the first day! What a great way to start the year engaging and having fun. It would be way better than the first day coloring sheets they have the students do! I would work with starting to grow something and tying it into how the students minds will grow with science this year!
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Wow!! There are so many Great ideas in here that will be useful once I am in the classroom!! I cannot wait to try them out, thanks to everyone for sharing their AWESOME ideas for kids learning Science!
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I can't wait til student teaching so that I can learn some first day activities, the only guide I have is Pinterest. I think I will write down some of these activities I'm reading on these posts.
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One of the most memorable science demonstrations that I recall was in my chemistry class, where on the first day, my teacher showed the burning of different substances to get the flame to show different colors, such as purple or green. This was a great way to capture the students attention and get them interested in the subject.
Another suggestions is to do activities that will both get students engaged and interacting with their peers. I have found this happens best when activities include a bit of competition between groups. Of course, when competition is an element in the classroom it is important to monitor students for any rising conflicts.
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The first day of school is always so exciting and the kids are eager to explore their new surroundings. An interesting activity that one can do for science is to do a scavenger hunt. This usually can takes place during any of the class period than can help students become familiar with their new classroom, satisfy their curiosities, and burn off some of that energy.
While the students are completing the scavenger hunt, it really gives me a glimpse into the dynamics of each class. Some students like to work alone, some like to work with a partner, some are super focused and task driven, some students prioritize what they want to find first and make a plan, some students are more relaxed and let the answers find them as they walk around making quiet observations, some students pair up and find half of the items and share their information, some will trade answers for things they can’t find. It is really interesting to watch it unfold.
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Maybe doing an activity to what science means to them. Then they can share in a table group. In a classroom we drew what scientist looked like, and it was a fun activity. Everyone practically drew Einstein, and there was a handful of women or children scientist so the discussion opened up that everyone is a scientist.
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I currently teach middle school science and I use the first week of school to introduce students to the common skills and strategies that they will require in science. I try to have students engage in collaborative activities: work in small groups to build a geometric structure ( using triangles, squares, pentagons and hexagons shapes) from toothpicks and marshmallows, or using index cards and paper clips to build a platform for a book. In addition, I will have the students take a learning style inventory to identify their learning styles. Most students are a combination of learning styles. When they take the inventory, they discover their best learning styles and I have them represent it in a ways that reflects their personal style ( draw a picture or write a short summary about their style). I also am an AVID teacher, so I will start teaching them how to take Cornell Notes.
After completing the Webinar about Engineering Design today, I would modify these first week activities. I would introduce the Engineering process using the information from today. Then I would have the students develop their first engineering project after they understand the process. They would use engineering workbooks, to brain storm, sketch designs before they actually began building their projects.
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Working on planning for the start of the year and was just reading through all of the posts here. I had already thought of the Scavenger hunt and also connecting it to safety in the classroom. I saw in one of the earlier posts the idea about the "Shared Resources" where one item in each envelope can't be used as is. I had a lot of issues last year with mistreatment of resources so I think I will incorporate this in some manner. Thanks for all the sharing.
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I love to set-up a lab safety scavenger hunt where I hide clues throughout the classroom space. Students read a riddle on a strip of paper and need to locate the next piece of safety equipment to continue the process. It is a really engaging and hands-on way to get students to review lab safety procedures.
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I like that idea - do you have some examples of your riddles?
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This is a great idea, Steven. Would you mind sharing some of the riddles that you use with your students?
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Yes, Ruth, I would be more than happy to. Let me get them converted to a doc and I will link them here.
Great! Thanks so much, Steven.
Several years ago, I had one of my advanced classes create lab safety videos for my beginning science classes. It was a nice project for them. However, I have not repeated it because it took them so much time editing the final copy of their videos.
What about others reading this thread? Like what does your first day with students look?
The standard safety videos, including the one put out by the ACS, need some updating. We also have had students create short videos that each focus on one concept. I think students are more open to hearing about safety from their peers. I works well
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My school requires me to go over class expectations but I'm going to get my students moving around the room while doing this instead of just standing there and telling them! i found a game called Scoot online. Every student is given a gameboard with 20 squares - you can use this same gameboard for any topic. You write questions on index cards or sticky notes around the room, these are numbered 1-20 also. Students start at whatever desk they are at and answer that question and put the answer in the corresponding box on their gameboard. Since I am using this to tell them my class expectations I am going to have 2 cards at each desk, the 1st card will tell them an expectation and the 2nd card will be a question about that expectation.
after a minute or so you say "SCOOT" and students need to move to the next desk, if they started at 19 they go to 20 next...then 1...etc. You need to give students time to read and answer the question,but the game should be fast moving.
For example: #1a - Before doing any lab or activity you must always read all procedures and safety precautions. #1b What 2 things must you always do before starting a lab?
When students have completed all of the boxes they will have all of my class expectations written on their gameboard, but they didn't just have to sit there and listen to me!
Lots of SCOOT games on Pinterest
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Wonderful idea to turn this into an activity to have students move.
Students need to understand safety procedures in labs so anyway to engage them is a good idea!
You might want to reinforce safety by having students in each lab group go over procedures before each lab too
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
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The dry chemical mentioned in the "Where Did the Water Go" can be easily obtained from opening up a diaper and taking out the powder contained in it. It has the same effect as the chemical powder you could purchase from a science supply and it is much cheaper!!!
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Our campus has a first 3 days of high engagement policy. We spend time presenting build challenges, group activities to get to know each each other, and a mystery safety accident. Students are not in seats, moving around the room, interacting with fellow students and myself (the teacher). My favorite activity is a team building exercise "Lost at Sea." Teams are on a sinking ship and only have time to grab a few items, they must rank the items in importance to survival. Students have a great time completing the activity before I show them how the U.S. Coast Guard ranks them! As the teacher I quickly learn the personalities of my students.
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I have several observation/inquiry activities I do. A lot of them are like the campfire games you might play such as "Both up, 1 up 1 down, both down" which refers to the speakers hand positioning. I also use what are called inquiry cubes, where the students are observing a cube with different items drawn on each side. They record their observations, ask questions (inquiry) and share information with those that cannot see their side. They then try to figure out what is on the bottom of the cube.
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This was a super fun discussion to read through! I am a practicum student this year so it is super fun to hear all of the fun ideas of incorporating science into the first day of school! I remember back in grade school walking around outside the school my first day with my new classmates and we collected all sorts of materials from the outside world around us. We then talked about each item we found as a class and talked about the importance of the item to the earth and the people that live in it. This activity has stuck with me a lot longer than most other first day activities and this makes it even more special.
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I think the first day of school sets the tone for the rest of the school year. As a future teacher, I want my students to be engaged and focused during science. I love all of the shared ideas throughout this post and I am looking forward to implementing them in my future classroom.
I want to promote discussion, problem solving, hands-on activities, and inquiry in my classroom from the very beginning.
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I would agree. The first day of school does set the tone of your classroom for the rest of the entire school year.
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The first day of school sets the tone of your classroom for the rest of the school year. You want to get off on the right foot with your students and the first day of school needs to be an engaging day for the students.
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A great activity to do on the first day of school is to have kids categorizing. Students will be handed a container of random items. They will sort the items into various groups and explain why each item were placed in the groups (common characteristics). Discussions can focus on similarities and differences. Activity can be tied into the kingdoms of life.
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Randy, I like your idea. Students can categorize by attributes, and then share their data with the class. This also seems like a great icebreaker.
Going to the nature preserve on our college campus and observing all of the natural wildlife would have to be mine. Such an enlightening experience!
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Everyone has such great ideas on first day Science activities! I know that I always loved doing things outdoors, so maybe incorporating nature and the outdoors would be a great introduction to your new students.
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This is a great first day activity to do with the students! Especially now since science is not always implemented into the classroom, or if it is, it seems to be very minimal lately. They could use these tools in future lessons, or even maybe later in their everyday life. This is a time for the students to explore and ask questions about their everyday surroundings. Thanks for the post!
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A great first day science activity for students can be a sink or float activity. Where the students simply come to the front of the room and determine whether or not if a object will float or sink.
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Wow! So many great ideas. For a first day activity, I would have students do a turn and talk, and discuss what they think a scientist is. This can be a simple but affective ice breaker. After a 2 minutes, the teacher can have students share their ideas. The teacher can create an anchor chart by writing students' ideas and then post on the bulletin board. Students' ideas will be shared and acknowledge and they will feel like they have contributed to the class.
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I am a student teacher so I do not have my classroom yet, however, find this post very helpful because it gives me great ideas of how to capture students interest in science from day one. I feel that this is important because it will make students to enjoy science and look forward to learn about the subject. I like the idea of sharing their ideas about what they think a scientist is, is a good way to start brainstorming and all come up with good ideas. It also encourages students to participate and share their previous knowledge with the rest of the class
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In one of my semesters of students teaching I was in a kindergarten classroom and even though it wasn't used for a "first day of school" activity I think this could be used as one that the students with love! it is called STEM bins. She just had them in a set of pull-out drawers and each student would be assigned a specific bin or drawer that day and they would pull-out their drawer and then choose a spot in the room they liked best and they would do whatever STEM activity was in their bin. Activities such as toothpicks and play dough to make geometric figures using provided task cards,geoboards and rubber bands with shape task cards, legos, foam blocks, straws, and cups.
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I feel like the most important aspects of a "first day of school" activity are that they get students engaged and excited to learn and that they allow students to become comfortable with the classroom. A scavenger hunt is a great idea because it allows the students to become familiar with the resources available in the classroom, as well as where they can find everything. I also think that scavenger hunts are a great way to introduce any equipment and lab materials that may be used in the class, and allowing the students to become comfortable navigating a new classroom on the first day is a great way to start off the school year.
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