Posts Tagged ‘ activities for children ’
Since 1970, Earth Day has been raising public awareness of environmental issues. Today, our waterways are less polluted and our air is cleaner, yet there is still much work to be done before we can consider ourselves a sustainable society. This year, engage your students or children with one of these eco-friendly activities on Earth Day or the weeks leading up to it.
Activities for Children – Kindergarten to Grade 6
Plant a Tree
It may seem cliché, but planting a tree is a simple act that helps the environment and gets children outdoors enjoying the natural world on Earth Day. Coordinate with your school a place on the grounds where your class can plant a tree or check with your local conservation board for a public location. Apply for free trees through organizations like Trees for Schools (UK and Ireland only) and Trees for Wildlife or by having students write to local nurseries.
Raise a School Garden
April is National Garden Month, making Earth Day the perfect time to plant a school garden. Gardens are an excellent way to get kids moving, encourage healthy eating, and incorporate project-based learning into your curriculum. A school garden takes time and commitment, but in planning and raising a garden, you will sow seeds that will help your students reap a lifetime of rewards! Get started with these school gardening tips.
Don’t Put Out the Trash
During the week leading up to Earth Day, arrange with the custodian not to remove the trash and recycling from your classroom. On Earth Day, have your students weigh the trash and recycling they generated (weigh trash separately from recycling). Over the next week, challenge your students to toss and use less, plus recycle more. After a week, have students weigh the trash and recycling again and calculate the decrease (hopefully!) in trash weight and increase in recycling weight. Extend the lessen for older students and have them calculate percent increase and decrease as well. Get started by assigning the lessons Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and The Trash Patrol, then read our America Recycles Activity Guide for more ideas.
Walk to School
It is good for the environment and our children’s health. More and more schools are planning annual walk or bike to school days. Why not plan one for April 22 or use Earth Day to have your students start planning for National Walk to School Day in May? Visit the Walk & Bike to School website for more information on getting started.
Declare April 22 Waste-Free Lunch Day
With the help of your class and the EPA’s Pack A Waste-Free Lunch site, make Earth Day a school-wide commitment to reducing the mounds of garbage generated during a typical school lunch. Have your class coordinate with administrators and cafeteria workers and help spread the word to students and parents about what can be done to minimize lunch waste.
Get your students excited for Earth Day by engaging them with these interactive lessons on Climate Literacy and Environmentalism by PBS Learning Media and with Help Teaching’s self-paced science lessons.
Activities for Teens – Grades 7 to 12
Participate in a Citizen Science Project
Engage your children or students in authentic science by participating in an eco-themed crowd science collaboration. There are numerous projects running that allow students to participate with adult supervision, including the environmentally oriented: Forgotten Island, YardMap, The Lost Ladybug Project, and Globe at Night.
Take a Field Trip
What student doesn’t love a field trip? Plan an inexpensive day out by arranging tours of your local landfill, recycling center, wastewater treatment facility, and/or power plant (even better – visit a plant that uses renewable energy and one that uses a nonrenewable source). Yes, it will be dirty, hot, and smelly, but what better way for students to develop an understanding of where energy comes from and trash goes than to see it for themselves?
Host an Environmental Career Fair
Enlist your students in finding local professionals working in environmental careers to visit the school on Earth Day. Arrange for a career fair that allows students to hear about green jobs and discuss job duties with the professionals. Have students prepare questions ahead of time and write thank-you notes after.
Conduct a School Energy Audit
Challenge students to work in small groups to perform an energy audit of their school. Each group can audit energy use for a given building space like the classroom, cafeteria, gymnasium, or auditorium. Groups can share their results and compare their findings, then use the data to prepare an energy action plan to present to school administration. National Wildlife Federation and Green Education Foundation both offer resources for energy audit projects for students.
Build a Rube Goldberg Machine
Ask your students to bring in a variety of cleaned items from their home recycling containers during the week leading up to Earth Day. On April 22, divide your students into teams and task them with designing and building a machine that completes a simple eco-friendly task such as turning off the lights or watering a plant. Provide basic materials, like string and wine, to aid in construction. Be sure and have your students demonstrate their machines for an audience and see if their projects can be displayed in the school lobby or library.
Launch a Project-Based Learning Unit
Spring has sprung and students are anxious to get outside, making Earth Day is the perfect time to embark on an environmentally focused project-based learning (PBL) initiative. BIE.org offers extensive PBL resources for teachers and students – start by using their search tool for project ideas.
If you’re a math teacher, every day is a reason to celebrate math, but did you know that there are also a multitude of “holidays” centered around math? Using a math holiday as an angle to get students excited about math adds up to a whole lot of fun! We hope this list will inspire and energize your math teaching throughout the year.
1. e Day
If you teach any high school students with irrational math fears, then help them transcend their fears on February 7. Euler’s number, e, which is both irrational and transcendental, rounds to 2.7, thus we have e Day on 2/7. Show students the practical use of Euler’s number by introducing them to continuous compounding interest. A little lesson in financial literacy is always valuable!
2. 100th Day of School
The number of creative ways to celebrate this day is certainly not limited to 100! Ask students to bring in containers of 100 small objects and display them around the school. Have students create a list of 100 reasons why they love their school or community. Explore what life was like 100 years ago. Collect 100 food items and donate them to your local food pantry. Visit Help Teaching to use our 100 charts and lessons, as well as all of our counting worksheets.
3. Pi Day
Pi may be infinite, but Pi Day is not. Celebrate Pi Day on March 14 in recognition of its common abbreviation, 3.14. Plan a party with your students, but wait to sound the party horns until exactly 1:59 in the afternoon (3.14159)! Double the fun and make it a party for Albert Einstein, whose birthday is also on March 14. Be sure to check out Help Teaching’s worksheets featuring the number pi. Pi Day also kicks off World Math Week.
4. Mathematics & Statistics Awareness Month
Use all 1 + 4 + 9 + 16 days of April to celebrate the beauty and fun of mathematics. Focus on bringing math alive by making math relevant for students and connecting math and statistics to real-world problems. Elementary students can record daily weather data throughout April, then graph and analyze their results. Middle school students are at an age where decision making becomes more independent. Connect daily decisions making to probability with the game-based activity SKUNK. High school students have enough mathematical background to develop statistical questions on topics of personal interest, then collect, interpret, and present their data. Get started with this collection of statistics worksheets.
5. Square Root Day
The only thing square about Square Root Day is the date. When the day and the month are both the square root of the last two digits of the year, we have a Square Root Day. April 4, 2016 (4/4/16) was a Square Root Day, but the next one won’t be until May 5, 2025 (5/5/25)! Get radical and make these special days square-themed.
6. Palindrome Days
Palindrome days aren’t just for students named Bob or Hannah. Palindrome days fall on any dates where the numbers of the month, day, and year are the same both forward and backwards. For example, June 10, 2016 was a Palindrome Day (6/10/16), but only in countries where dates are written month/day! Challenge your students to formulate lists of future Palindrome dates. Start with five-digit Palindrome dates (M/DD/YY) and work up to eight-digit dates (MM/DD/YYYY).
7. Pythagorean Theorem Day
As proof that the squares don’t have a monopoly on the math holidays, Pythagorean Theorem Day comes around periodically. Also known as Right Triangle Day, recognize Pythagorean Theorem Day whenever the sums of the squares of the month and day equals the square of the last two digits of the year. August 15, 2017 (8/15/17) and December 16, 2020 (12/16/20) are both Pythagorean Theorem Days. Make sure to check out our self-paced lesson on Solving Right Triangles.
8. Math Storytelling Day
No need to divide your instructional time between math and ELA on September 25 (9/25), it’s Math Storytelling Day! There are many ways to teach math through storytelling. Start the day by reading Math Curse, The Grapes of Math, or Sir Cumference or any math story to your students. Try a math story lesson like The General Sherman Tree or Let’s Go to the Zoo. Then, provide a writing prompt and ask students to write and share their own math stories.
9. Powers of Ten Day
Although 10/10/10 has passed, each October 10 can still be used to illustrate the powers of tens. Show your students the power of magnitude by screening the classic film Powers of TenTM. Spend at least one-tenth of your class time this day doing hands-on decimal or base ten exponent activities.
10. Mole Day
No, this day doesn’t pay homage to the subterranean dwellers. Rather, it is a special day for anyone with an interest in math or chemistry. If you remember Avogadro’s number, then you may guess the date of this math day! Mole Day takes place on October 23 each year between 6:02 a.m. and 6:02 p.m. (6.02 x 10^23) during National Chemistry Week. Use Help Teaching’s Chemistry Lessons and this TedEd video to introduce students to mathematical moles.
11. Fibonacci Day
Quick, what number comes next: 0 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 3 + ___? If you said five, then embrace your inner math geek and celebrate Fibonacci Day with your students on November 23 (11/23). Take this day to let your students explore the Fibonacci sequence and the Golden Ratio in nature. Mensa for Kids offers a nice selection of activities perfect for introducing students to the elegance of Fibonacci.
During spring break, many families try to squeeze in a getaway. One way to have a fun family adventure is to incorporate education into your trips. There are so many places across America that offer a terrific spring or summer-like atmosphere, while opening your children’s eyes to the history of this country and other learning opportunities.
Numerous museums across the country offer overnight excursions inside of their buildings! What better way to become acquainted with different aspects of culture and history than to sleep next to exhibits and artifacts?
Three different Smithsonian affiliated museums in the Washington D.C. area offer sleepovers, with dates scheduled through the end of August. The American History Museum, Natural History Museum, and the Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center all offer overnight stays that includes tours, games, crafts, and more.
For families in the Northeast, head over to Pier 86 on the west side of Manhattan and spend the night on the Intrepid! The Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum offers fun activities, including a ride in a flight simulator!
The Field Museum in Chicago hosts “Dozin’ with the Dinos”, a nighttime exploration with museum scientists that make the exhibits come alive!
Living History Museums
There may be no better way to understand what bygone eras were like than to actually experience them. These attractions bring history to life by showing what daily life and major events were like in a specific period.
One of the best known of these types of attractions is the world’s largest living history museum, Colonial Wiliamsburg. It features hundreds of reconstructed and historically furnished buildings, with costumed guides who tell stories of the people who lived there in the 1700s.
Columbia State Historical Park is a living gold rush era town. It contains “residents” in 1850s attire, and tons of exhibits, activities, and experiences you would find in a gold rush museum.
Connor Prairie Interactive History Park in Fishers, IN recreates life on a rural community in the 19th century. This attraction also offers a look at Native American life at this time. Kids will love the interactive nature of life on a prairie, as they can work like a farmhand, become a craftsman, or ride in a helium filled balloon high overhead.
We’ve seen them on television, we’ve always meant to go there, but many Americans have not seen some of our most famous landmarks. The stories and the history behind these places and modern marvels are well worth the trip.
The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, MO is a magnificent architectural creation that also serves as a monument to Thomas Jefferson’s plans for American expansion and the role of St. Louis as a gateway to the west.
Mount Rushmore in Keystone, SD offers so much more than the breathtaking mountain sculpture of four of America’s presidents. Vacationers can learn about the natural history of the surrounding area, as well as methods used to sculpt the chief executives. There is also ample information available on the Native American tribes who called this area home.
It’s never too late to enjoy the summertime, and it’s never too early to refocus on education and learning. Make a last ditch effort to get away and take advantage of all of the creative educational – and fun – opportunities our country has to offer.
Let’s face it, learning can be overwhelming. With so much information coming in at once, sometimes students just need a break. That’s where brain breaks come in. Brain breaks are short, focused activities designed to help students recharge and refocus. Although typically used with preschool and elementary grades, brain breaks can be used with students of all ages.
Why Brain Breaks?
Brain breaks have found their way into thousands of classrooms around the world, and it’s not just because they’re fun. Research involving children’s brains shows that movement and exercise can improve behavior and academic performance in the classroom. That’s why you’ll often see preschoolers spinning in circles, climbing around, and touching things with their hands as part of their learning process. Other types of brain breaks, such as breathing exercises, also have benefits backed by research. For example, deep breathing exercises can help decrease the symptoms of ADHD and anxiety in children.
Types of Brain Breaks
The goal of brain breaks is to get students to step back, clear their heads, and give them a couple minutes to recharge. This can be done in multiple ways. Some common forms of brain breaks include:
- Physical movement
- Calming exercises
- Creative activities
- Engaging media
- Social interaction
While physical movement is the most common type of brain break used in the classroom, teachers can incorporate different types of brain breaks based on factors such as the time of day, the time of year, and their individual students’ needs.
Research shows that students need to move throughout the day. Physical brain breaks get students out of their seats and give them a chance to get in a bit of exercise. Examples of physical brain breaks include:
- Singing a song with motions
- Reading a movement story
- Moving like animals
- Dancing to music
- Jogging in place
- Jumping jacks
- Play a game such as the Pirate Ship Game
Learning can be stressful, especially during testing season. Calming exercises help students release any anxiety and tension they have built up inside. They also teach students techniques for handling stressful scenarios in other settings. Examples of calming brain breaks include:
- Breathing exercises
- Guided imagery
- Listening to calming music
- Sitting in silence
- Yoga poses
Creative activities give students the opportunity to exercise a different part of the brain. A lot of learning involves logic and reasoning. Bringing creative activities into the classroom can help students connect the two sides of their brain. Examples of creative brain breaks include:
- Drawing a picture
- Answering a creative prompt
- Completing a role play activity
- Playing with clay
- Making music
Students love the Internet and one particular activity they enjoy is watching videos. Sites like YouTube are full of short, highly entertaining videos. Since brain breaks are all about getting students to relax and refocus, showing a funny video or playing a popular song can be an effective way to get students, particularly those at the secondary level, to recharge in the middle of a class.
Similarly, giving students, particularly those at the secondary level, a chance to simply sit and talk to one another can be exactly the break they need. Give students 2-3 minutes where they can talk about whatever they want without the stress of having to have all the right answers. To keep conversations from getting out of hand, consider choosing a random question for students to discuss with one another. You can also play a game such as “Would You Rather?” or “Two Truths and Lie” to give students something to talk about.
Resources for Incorporating Brain Breaks in the Classroom
Lots of teachers and educational organizations use brain breaks on a daily basis. Here are some resources you can use to find brain breaks to incorporate into your own classroom:
20 Three-Minute Brain Breaks from Minds in Bloom includes activities that range from physical to social. Our favorite is 5-4-3-2-1 which has students do five different movements in descending order. Example: Five jumping jacks, four arms up and down, etc.
20 Brain Breaks from Beg, Borrow, and Teach are organized by time-limit. The site suggests writing the ideas on color-coded popsicle sticks and choosing one every time you need a brain break for the classroom.
12 of the Funniest YouTube Videos for Kids from Cool Mom Tech is a great list of videos to use as brain breaks. We think the Mr. Raisin Toast series is a great pick!
How to Do Yoga in Your Classroom is a nice how-to guide from Kids Yoga Stories and includes a list of other calming activities for kids.
20 Themed Brain Break Ideas from Pink Oatmeal includes over 20 activities involving yoga, dinosaurs, and an alphabet theme.
67 Kid-Friendly Brain Break Songs and Musicians from Really Good Stuff is a great list of songs to play when you want to encourage kids to get up and dance for a few minutes during the day.
Brain Breaks Guide is full of different activities to use with kids in elementary and middle school.
GoNoodle is a site that provides tons of brain break activities for teachers. Sign up for a free account, and then set up a class to get activities organized by grade-level.
Do Nothing for Two Minutes is a two-minute timer with relaxing images and background music. If two minutes seems like a long time, work up to it. Start with 30 second, then a minute, and then two minutes.
HelpTeaching’s Physical Education Worksheets offers free games and other activities to get students moving in the classroom.
Whatever brain breaks you choose, there are few things to keep in mind:
- Keep the brain breaks short. 2-3 minutes is enough to get students ready to learn again.
- Explain to students the purpose of brain breaks. This will help main control in the classroom and may get more students involved.
- Choose activities that benefit students. You may like yoga, but your students might think it’s crazy. If you can’t get them engaged in activity, it won’t benefit them.
Don’t let your students experience the brain breaks alone either. Adults need brain breaks too, so jump right in and enjoy them with your students.
Do you use brain breaks with your students? If so, we’d love to hear some of your favorite activities and resources.
Engineering is a key component of many STEM classes, but it can be an intimidating subject to teach for parents and teachers not primarily trained in the field. The good news is kids are often drawn to building and taking things apart, skills that can be nurtured with simple engineering activities. We’ve gathered a list of 101 of our favorite hands-on activities that will get kids excited about the engineering design process. With some basic materials, and a bit of curiosity, kids will be designing, creating, testing, and improving solutions to engineering problems in no time!
Whether your kids like boats that float or cars that go, these building activities will surely be a hit with those fascinated by forms of transportation.
Storytime STEAM with Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Preschool Steam
How to Make a Recycled Balloon Car Left Brain Craft Brain
Square Wheels Exploratorium
Rubber Band Car DIY Figment Creative Labs
Absorb the Shock! Scientific American
Propeller-Powered Zipline Racers Instructables
Straw Boats: Engineering Challenge for Kids The Science Kiddo
Making Simple Boats that Float Teach Preschool
Build a Paddle Boat Rookie Parenting
Cork Raft Building Challenge for Kids Kitchen Counter Chronicles
Simple Cardboard Airplane Craft for Kids Hands On: As We Grow
Egg Crate Airplane Engineering Project Schooling Active Monkeys
Design a Submarine Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
From marshmallows to spaghetti, using food can make for affordable and fun engineering projects.
One Minute Marshmallow Engineering Challenge Steam Powered Family
Family Movie Night & S’mores STEM Challenge No Time For Flash Cards
Leaning Tower of Pasta TeachEngineering
How Strong is Spaghetti? Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls
Candy House – Making a Stable Structure Science Sparks
Design Challenge with Sticks, Clay, and a Mandarin TinkerLab
Engineering with Food: Preschool STEM My Mundane & Miraculous Life
Engineer a Gumdrop Structure Creative Child
Edible Rovers eGFI
Back to Nature
Get kids out of the house or classroom and into nature with these activities perfectly suited for the outdoors.
Outdoor Engineering: Building Stick Forts Little Bins Little Hands
Playground Sized DIY Marble Run Babble Dabble Do
Log Pile House Building Challenge Inspiration Laboratories
How to Make a Homemade Water Wall for Kids Happy Hooligans
Mudbrick Houses Imagine Childhood
Speedy Shelter PBS Kids Design Squad Global
Build a Shelter from the Sun and Test it with UV-Sensitive Beads Buggy and Buddy
Design A Seed Engineering Challenge Share it! Science News
Backyard Pulley an Engineering Challenge for Kids Kids STEAM Lab
DIY Solar Oven The Craft Train
Backyard Railroad Engineering: Outdoor STEM Challenge for Kids Adventure in a Box
Be sure to ask kids what problems their robots will solve before they design, build, and test these marvelous bots.
Build Your Own Robot Arm TryEngineering
Robo Arm PBS Kids Design Squad Global
Squishy Circuit Robot: Electrical Engineering Design Challenge Lemon Lime Adventures
Homemade Spinning Brushbot Research Parent
Upcycled Toy Car Marker Bots Left Brain Craft Brain
How to Make a Minion Scribble Bot Science Sparks
Drawing Robot: Learn How to Create Robot Art Rosie Research
Build Your Own Underwater Robot Science Buddies
Engineer a Bee eGFI
Sometimes the simplest things can make for the best engineering projects. Challenge kids to design and build with simple materials ranging from cups to straws to newspapers.
Newspaper Engineering Challenge for Kids The Educators’ Spin On It
100 Cup Challenge Busy Kids Happy Mom
Building With Straws: A STEM Activity Kids Activities Blog
Straw Geodesic Dome Babble Dabble Do
Building a Straw House Deceptively Educational
Fun and Easy Straw Rocket STEM Activity for Toddlers Engineering Emily
DIY Magnetic Marble Run for the Fridge Door Go Science Girls
How to Make an Indoor Boomerang What We Do All Day
Indoor Snowball Structures: Engineering for Little Hands One Time Through
How to Make a Bubble Blower Machine Teach Beside Me
Balancing Dinosaur STEAM Activity for Kids Rainy Day Mum
DIY Marble Mazes for Preschool Kids Coffee Cups and Crayons
Build a Cardboard Scissor Lift Scientific American
C is for Catapult! Go Science Girls
How to Build the Eiffel Tower: An Engineering Project for Kids KC Edventures
How to Make Homemade Fidget Spinner STEM Little Explorers
3D Shapes and Shapes Out of Straws and Pipe Cleaners Meaningful Mama
Spider Web Construction Rainy Day Mum
Building Toothpick Bridges Eva Varga
Teaching Tip: Turn a simple engineering activity into a lesson plan by having students follow the engineering design process. Ask students to:
- Define the problem
- Do background research
- Brainstorm and select a potential solution
- Create a prototype
- Test and evaluate the prototype
- Improve upon the prototype
- Communicate the results
Get started with this engineering design challenge printable.
Holiday and Seasonal
Incorporate engineering into your lessons with these activities themed around holidays and the seasons.
Christmas Engineering Activity for Kids Fun-A-Day
Gingerbread Steam Project The Homeschool Scientist
Candy Can Construction Bridge Preschool Powol Packets
Build a Cornstarch Block Christmas Tree Gift of Curiosity
Paper Circuit Snowman Rosie Research
Sugar Cube Igloo Project The Crafty Classroom
November STEM: Giant Balloons, Thanksgiving Parades, & Engineering Get Caught Engineering
Halloween Robot Spider Craft Inspiration Laboratories
Candy Heart Catapult Stir the Wonder
Easter Catapult STEM Activity and Easter Science for Kids Little Bins Little Hands
PEEPS Parachute STEAM Challenge in Early Childhood The Preschool Toolbox
Engineering STEAM Activity: Build a Leprechaun Trap Kids STEAM Lab
If your kids are constantly taking things apart, reverse engineering may be just the thing for them!
Reverse Engineer a Solar Toy From Engineer to Stay at Home Mom
Reverse Engineering a Fidget Spinner From Engineer to Stay at Home Mom
Recycled Toy Robot Project with Reverse Engineered Toys Brain Power Boy
Reverse Engineering Project: Disassemble, Sketch & Recap TeachEngineering
Disassemble a Click Pen TeachEngineering
Tinkering for Kids – Waffle Iron Confidence Meets Parenting
STEM Tinkering Activity: Taking Apart an Old Toy Little Worlds Big Adventures
Toy Take Apart Exploratorium
Your Kids Should Be Taking Apart Electronics! There’s Just One Mommy
Making the World a Better Place
Engineering projects should solve problems using design solutions. These activities will allow kids to explore how they can improve people’s lives in meaningful ways.
Earthquake Rollers Scientific American
Convenient Carrier PBS Kids Designer Squad Global
Articulated Grabber Engineering Project for Kids Instructables
Build a Lung Model US Patent and Trademark Office
Make Your Own Water Filters TeachEngineering
Solving a ‘Windy’ Problem Science Buddies
How to Make an Articulated Hand Go Science Girls
Building for Hurricanes eGFI
Tornado Tower Made for STEAM
Just for Fun
These engineering activities don’t fall into one of the above categories, but they do make for great learning opportunities for kids!
Engineering Kids | Rube Goldberg Machine TinkerLab
Using Pool Noodles to Build a Playhouse From ABCs to ACTs
PVC Pipe House Building Project Engineering STEM Activity Little Bins Little Hands
STEAM Challenge: Build a structure you can balance on one finger (or your nose!) Gift of Curiosity
Build a Satellite NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
How to Make Projector Using Smartphone and Magnifying Glass STEM Little Explorers
Pneumatic Machine Made for STEAM
Cardboard Automata Exploratorium
How to Make a Water Wheel Home Science Tools
Global Cardboard Challenge Imagination.org