Elementary Science

Fun Science Lessons

What are some of the most fun and/or engaging science lessons/experiments you've done in your classroom? What subjects do you think students are most excited to learn, and reversely, are least excited to learn and need a little push with engagement?

Mary Bunker
Mary Bunker
180 Activity Points

Hi Mary, I am currently studying to be an Elementary School Teacher. I have gotten the opportunity to observe many Science lessons and teach lessons myself, as well. Through my experience, I have noticed that students are most interested in inquiry-based lessons. Students tend to be very hands-on learners and critical thinkers. Lessons that are more student-centered give students the most opportunity to share their ideas and knowledge on the subject matter. However, student-centered does not mean the teacher sits back and do nothing. It is important for the teacher to still be very much involved in the lesson as a facilitator. They can help clear any students' misconceptions, guide conversation toward the right direction, ask higher-order thinking questions, and assess students' knowledge. I recently taught a lesson where students were able to observe the growth of a seed into a plant over a weeks time. Students were so excited to see their plants grow and to see whose plants grew more. This activity also taught students to take care of a plant by giving plants their basic needs, such as water and sunlight. This could be a good activity to engage students in a lesson about plants.

Sophia Fernandez
Sophia Fernandez
3385 Activity Points

Hello, I am currently student teaching in a first grade classroom. For my science class at my university, we were required to plan and teach a 5E science lesson to our students. My lesson was over water. For my engagement, I had a tabletop waterfall and the students loved it! I think it is really important to have concrete objects to use as an engagement because if the students can actually see or touch it, they will be more engaged. The best part of the lesson was the elaboration. I placed different pictures of bodies of water at the students' tables. The students were then asked to recreate the body of water on a paper plate using play-doh. Kids LOVE play-doh so I knew they would be excited. At first I was a little nervous that it would be a complete mess but, they ended up doing SO well!

Danielle Cavazos
Danielle Cavazos
450 Activity Points

Hi Mary! I am currently a pre-service elementary education teacher. at the University of Northern Iowa! One of the big things we've talked about it incorporating play into the classroom. A lot of classroom have taken that aspect out, when in reality they shouldn't. Kids learn through play! They learn what works and what doesn't. Play is a necessity break in the day for optimizing a child’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development! Children are more creative and understand the concept being taught, when they are allowed to explore and “do it” themselves. When I think back to my Kindergarten classroom, it was set up to maximize play. I didn’t realize this, about my own Kindergarten room, until we got to visit a classroom, on the UNI campus, that was set up like an actual and ideal classroom. In Kindergarten we had a water/sand table, blocks, kitchen you can actually cook in, and a worm habitat. I wish every child had that opportunity that I had, so it’s my goal, as a preservice teacher, to learn as much as I can about how to incorporate play into teaching. I attached an article, it says “Being able to tie the word scientist to a particular person may also help children understand the work of scientists. Invite a scientist into the classroom for a “play date.”” I had never thought of that idea before! I thought that was really interesting advice and wanted to share that with you and others reading this! A couple ideas to teach life science are, having a worm habitat or having caterpillars and watch them turn into butterflies (I did that as a 3rd grader and LOVED it!). Also if you are teaching about light/reflection/shadows, you can use light brights, light tables, and shadow puppets. Regarding water, water tables are a great thing to use that is fun for kids. Students can make simple machines to move the water from one place to another. I've also attached a lesson plan that is a fun activity for kids to learn about making clean water! A fun activity is learning about why things float and sink like, raisins in water vs. soda water, why certain materials float and other doesn't (have them predicts what items they think will float and which ones won't ones float Also, having a cooking unit/lesson is a great way to teach about what happens when things are combined, changing states, ect. Good food choices to make are pancakes, corn bread muffins, ice cream, and scrambled eggs!

Attachments

The Dirt on Worms (Journal Article)

Simply Butterflies (Journal Article)

Simple Machines in the Community (Journal Article)

Keaton Despard
Keaton Despard
3800 Activity Points

I believe that students learn by playing in the classrooms and by having hands on activities where they can explore their options. there are also some articles that I have attached to some activities that you can try with your children.
http://static.nsta.org/files/sc0909_54.pdf
http://static.nsta.org/files/ss1009_10.pdf

Katelyn Shultz
Katelyn Shultz
3430 Activity Points

Hello Mary, I am currently studying to be an Elementary teacher so I have observed different science teachers from different grade levels.I have noticed that students have the most fun or are most engaged in science lessons that include hands-on activities. This means that students are discovering and exploring science concepts by themselves and the teacher acts like a facilitator and guides students' thinking. One activity I thought was great for the lower grades is teaching the life cycle of a butterfly using real caterpillars. This low cost activity gets the student all excited because they actually get to see how the life cycle of a butterfly works. You can also search for fun science activities/experiments on the NSTA website; they have great ones! Overall, I noticed that as long as you include hands-on activities, you could make all subjects exhilarating.

Gisselle Medal
Gisselle Medal
3165 Activity Points

Hello Mary! I am currently a student teacher in a second grade classroom. My science professor had us create a science 5E lesson plan and record ourselves teaching it to the students. My lesson was “the student will distinguish the differences between natural resources and manmade resources”. The students favorite part was the explore section. I had 7 stations (strawberries, tortillas, soil, grass, erasers, yarn, water) for the students to be able to feel and some stations eat to detrmine. I had the students in groups of 6 and 2 minutes at each station. Before the started the activity, I gave the students the safety rules. While the students were working in groups, I would walk around to hear their conversations and see what they know from their prior knowledge. I have many ELL students , so having this hands on activity help them understand what they are doing and hear what other students are saying.

Carolina Olvera
Carolina Olvera
415 Activity Points

Hi Mary! I am currently a junior studying at the University of Northern Iowa. Although I don't have my own classroom, I have experienced teaching science lessons. The most recent science lesson that I taught, was centered around students observing erosion. This lesson was very hands on, and I think that's what kept the students engaged! For this lesson, my teaching partner and I gave each group a tub of sand and water. One side was a shore made out of sand and the other side was the water, so it represented a beach. The students then moved the tub back and forth to create waves. This activity represented how wind and water can change the land. The students enjoyed being able to play with the sand and create their shores, before we started in on the investigation. Giving the students time to play, was key for this lesson. However, it is important with lessons like this to remember classroom management. The students really enjoyed learning about the Earth through a hands on activity, instead of sitting at their desks reading out of the textbook. I think it's safe to say, that students will enjoy learning about a topic if they are able to get up, move around, and create.

Tera Porter
Tera Porter
2225 Activity Points

Hi Mary, I have seen that the most engaging activities are the ones that students do themselves. Although the outcome is not always the "coolest", students enjoy hands on activities. I have tried where students walk on eggs, they are so convinced the eggs are going to crack under pressure and to see their faces when they don't is priceless! Also the experiment where students grow their own crystals with salt, they enjoy watching them grow and compare their own against their classmates. Now, teaching lessons about rocks does need some creativity. YouTube and even Pintrest offer a lot of ideas, you just have to look around for things that would be most appropriate for the age of the students you are teaching. To make sure the students stay engaged I try to do the experiments beforehand so that I can take the necessary safety precautions and make any adjustments to make the experiment work. Finally, I really try to sell it by showing enthusiasm when conducting an experiment, or giving instructions. Students can really tell when you're excited about something, and they will be more likely to participate and be active in the learning process. Good Luck!

Claudia Quiroz
Claudia Duca
780 Activity Points

Hello Mary, I am a student teacher at my Elementary School. My mentor teacher actually taught a lesson that I though she did an amazing job in making it fun, engaging, relevant, and educational. The lesson was going to be about Genetics being passed on from parents and family members. Her engagement was she put students with a partner. Then the partners played papers, scissors, rock. She told students to record who won, lost, and tied for six rounds. Then at the end of the engagement, she asked students, could you predict who was going to win? All of the students said no. After that, the teacher asked a guided question,"In science what are some things we can predict?". Students then started saying, weather, day/night, life cycles, and many more. The teacher then had them thinking, and asked them, "are there any similarities between you and your parents" after that, the teacher took off and dived in into the lesson. I thought she did a great job in capturing their attention, and they had an amazing time, and learned a lot.

Henry Campos
Henry Campos
695 Activity Points

Mary, I have noticed that students are most engaged in Inquiry-based lessons, not direct instruction ones. The ones that follow the 5E model are the best! I am currently a student teacher and I taking a Science methods Class based around the 5E model. My Science teacher uses the 5E model when teaching us, and all of us are engaged completely, and we are college kids! Whether the students are in elementary or in college, Inquiry-based is the way to go. I feel I am actually learning Science and retaining the knowledge instead of simply memorizing. Also, students are usually most interested in science lesson plans where they can be hands-on as much as possible. Lecturing and power points, although needed, should come later in the lesson as a supplement or tying everything that was covered or explored in place. I recently taught my 3rd graders on the order of the solar system. I had them mess around with different sized-balls which represent the planets, had planet descriptors to match those balls to place in order. I had them think and visualize they were in space and had them think and share of where they would fly or go or what they see. This tells you, the teacher, a lot about the prior knowledge your students have. I also had them complete 2 page flip book to place in their science journals, which helped them remember the order, and to create a solar system with their group. Ideally, I would have had them create a solar system using 3D models, but I'm a student, the school I student teach at doesn't have much resources, so I opted for black poster boards. It took an 1hr and a half, but it was worth it. Don't teach the whole science lesson in a day, but spread out the 5 Es over the week. This way, your students will look forward to each and every day when it comes to Science period. Again, have students engaged from the start. Do not cover any content in the beginning! Let them think, question, and all that good stuff!

Hussein Pacha
Hussein Pacha
795 Activity Points

I really like hands-on activities with students. The classic earth science experiment with coal and crystals is great. Coal can be used to create amazing gems. In this earth science activity, the students will use chemicals to create crystals from coal. The students will also learn about geologic concepts.

Vivian Del Cid
Vivian Del Cid
3265 Activity Points

Right now I'm doing a weather unit. For our section on clouds, we study clouds and then go outside and observe what they see. We do this for 3 days in a row and chart the changes..etc. We also do a cloud experiment where we make a cloud in a jar using ice, hot water, and hair spray. It's always a lot fun. It's a cool to listen to the students when they are outside for recess etc and say.. Look, that's a cirrus cloud.. or wow we are covered in stratus clouds. I'm also having them do a group project on "strange weather phenomenon." This always intrigues them. Their favorite to study are always the lenticular clouds, fire whirls, the Brocken Spectrum, Morning Glory clouds, Super Cells, and Tornadoes.

Brenda Velasco Mizenko
Brenda Velasco
2695 Activity Points

Hi Mary!

I think kids will get excited over any science lesson that has them working with objects instead of just hearing about it. Being in a Kindergarten classroom as a student teacher it has really helped me in trying to make everything engaging to them as it is how they learn best.

I taught a science lesson about parts of a plant and incorporated them exploring the plants, had a song and different movements in my explanation, and brought in vegetables to show that they eat different parts of plants through them.

They had a blast and at the end of the day ended up learning all the different parts of the plants. Kids will be engaged in anything as long as there are different activities to do throughout it.

Good luck!

Brenda Rivera
Brenda Rivera
605 Activity Points

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