Posts Tagged ‘ activities for children ’
Every day, stories about bad guys fill the news, but it’s the stories of kindness that really stand out. Whether it’s a fast food employee helping a customer or a group of students checking on a Grandma in the Window, these stories show the importance of being kind. Unfortunately, especially when people are stressed or tensions are high, showing kindness isn’t the norm. Harvard’s Making Caring Common project found that 80 percent of middle and high school students thought achievement and happiness were more important than caring for others. Still, teachers and parents can help turn those numbers around by teaching kids to be kind.
The first step in teaching kids to be kind is to model kindness. That means it’s time to end the “Mommy Wars”, set aside the political differences, stop pointing out what everyone else is doing wrong, and start focusing on what they’re doing right. You can model kindness by:
- Saying please and thank you
- Regularly telling others what you appreciate about them
- Speaking to others in a pleasant tone, even if they upset you
- Treating others, including children, with respect
- Pitching in when you see a need (without complaining)
- Giving random compliments to others
- Keeping your negative thoughts to yourself
- Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you
Kids tend to model the behaviors of the adults around them. If they see you regularly being kind, they will begin to exhibit kindness in their own lives. Of course, no one’s perfect. There will be moments when you tell someone off, hurt someone’s feelings, or fail to help someone in need. Taking the time to apologize when you were less than kind can also help kids learn a lesson about the importance of kindness.
Offering Positive Praise
Just like adults, kids need validation. They want to know that they’re appreciated and that they’re doing the right things. According to Greater Good in Action, kids actually have a propensity towards being kind. Parents and teachers can encourage kids to act on that propensity. Instead of focusing on what kids are always doing wrong, take some time to focus on what they’re doing right, particularly when it comes to kindness. Say things like:
- “You are a very helpful person.”
- “I appreciated it when you said ‘Please’ before you asked me for…”
- “It was a great idea to…”
- “Thanks. That was very kind of you.”
- “I like the way that you thought about others.”
Don’t praise kids every time they act kindly, otherwise they are likely to act a certain way just to receive the praise. Instead, try to point out a few positive moments every week to let kids know you appreciate how kind and helpful they are.
When kids decide not to act kindly, focus more on how it made the other person feel rather than criticizing or punishing the kids. For example, “Did you notice that James looked sad when you called him a name?” or “When you ask me for something without saying please, it makes me feel unimportant.”
Thinking about Kindness
While many kids are born with an innate desire to be kind, parents and teachers still need to plant seeds of kindness in their minds. Talk to kids about what they think it means to be kind. Ask them to share memories of acts of kindness. You can open the conversation with these writing prompts, which also make great discussion questions.
- What is Kindness?
- Being Kind to Someone I Don’t Like
- It is Better to Give than to Receive
- The Ripple Effect
Providing Opportunities to Be Kind
Of course the greatest way to teach kids to be kind is to give them plenty of opportunities to show kindness. These can be big acts of kindness, such as collecting money for charity or taking bags of food to a food pantry, or smaller acts of kindness, such as picking up trash on the playground or giving a friend a hug when they are sad.
Some ways kids can show kindness every day include:
- Holding the door open for strangers
- Smiling at people who make eye contact with them
- Keeping a gratitude journal and regularly writing what they are thankful for
- Writing thank you notes to others
- Complimenting others
- Waving hello when they see someone they know
- Calling family members they do not see often
- Writing notes or drawing pictures for family and friends
- Asking if they can help when they see someone tackling a big job
- Offering to let a classmate go first
- Saying please and thank you
- Doing their chores without being asked
- Doing things they see that need done without being asked
- Throwing away trash they find on the ground
- Saying “I love you”
- Taking some time to pet and talk to their pets
- Check on elderly neighbors
Some big ways to encourage kids to be kind include:
- Donating some of their clothes or toys to charity
- Serving a meal at a homeless shelter
- Visiting a nursing home or sending cards and flowers to the residents
- Using allowance money to buy something for someone in need
- Paying for someone’s meal at a restaurant (with allowance money or your help)
- Offering to do chores or yard work for an elderly or disabled neighbor
- Donating books to a preschool or library
- Cleaning up litter in the park or around the school
- Sending cards and care packages to deployed servicemen and women
- Collecting money for a favorite charity
- Donating food or toys to a local animal shelter
- Participating in a 5K run or walk for charity
- Speaking out against bullying as part of an anti-bullying campaign
- Volunteering to tutor another student
- Making your neighbors gifts for the holidays or on their birthdays
If you encourage kids to show kindness when they are young, they are more likely to grow up to be kind adults. If you want to take the conversation on kindness a step further, check out Edutopia’s Eight Steps Toward a Kinder World. Remember, kindness matters.
Did you know that experts estimate there will be 1.4 million computing jobs open in 2020 and only 400,000 students to fill them? Since 2013, Computer Science Education Week has been held during the second week of December. This week is designed to make students and teachers more aware of computer science and the importance of building computing skills at early age. While enrolling all students in regular coding and other computer science classes may be the ideal solution, you can still take small steps to encourage students to take notice of computer science and help them discover how much fun it can be.
Participate in an Hour of Code
In 2014, the Hour of Code gained a lot of publicity when President Obama sat down to join students as part of the event. This year, and all year long, you can also participate in an hour of code. Organize your own Hour of Code event at your school or join up with an existing group. If you’re not sure of what you’re doing, search for local volunteers to come work with your students during the event. For a less formal option, simply have your students complete one of the coding tutorials available through Code.org where they code with popular characters from Star Wars, Minecraft, or even Anna and Elsa from Frozen.
Don’t be afraid to go beyond an Hour of Code either. Many different apps and websites offer a series of lessons designed to teach students how to code or to think in ways that are related to the language of coding. A few of them to try in your classroom include:
- Kodable – a fun app that comes with an extensive coding curriculum
- ScratchJr – a free app that teaches kids to think like a coder while completing fun tasks
- Tynker – another provider of an Hour of Code resources featuring brands and characters kids love
- Hopscotch – an app that allows kids to make and publish their own games
- CodeCombat – an online, multiplayer game that requires kids to write code to play
- Kodu Game Lab – a visual programming tool that kids can download to create games
Hold a Computer Science Career Day
Students often hear that there are tons of job in the tech industry, but do they know what those jobs look like? Invite parents and other community members to your school for a Computer Science Career Day. Your speakers can rotate among classes to share what their jobs are like or they can set up tables in booths and talk to students as they approach them. If you can’t find individuals to come to school, then have students research different tech jobs or companies and share their findings with the class.
Show a Video
Take some time to show kids a video related to computer science. There are tons of Ted Talks related to technology that could inspire kids to consider a career in computer science. A few videos you might want to use include:
- The Math Behind Basketball’s Wildest Moves
- The First Secret of Design is Noticing
- Toy Tiles that Talk to Each Other
- The Future of Flying Robots
- How a Driverless Car Sees the Road
- New Bionics that Let Us Run, Climb, and Dance
- A 12-Year-Old App Developer
Have Fun with a MaKey MaKey Kit
While a MaKey MaKey kit does not involve a lot of coding, it does encourage kids to think outside of the box and imagine the cool things they can do when they combine computers with everyday objects. You can turn students’ experiments with the kit into writing assignments, science experiments, marketing proposals, and other educational activities.
Connect Computer Science to Students’ Interests
Your students may not be interested in computer science, but they may be interested in playing football, playing with their toys, or drawing and coloring. Chances are they don’t realize how much computer science can play a role in these activities. For example, it takes a lot of technology to take video of a football game, freeze it, and move it around on the screen. Give students the task of researching how technology plays a role in their favorite hobbies. They may discover that coders help create 3D models of their favorite toys or that they can create some amazing art with lines of code.
Get Away from the Computer
While learning how to code can benefit students, thinking in the language of coding is even more important. By promoting logic and creative thinking skills, you can give students the mental skills they’ll need to be successful in a computer science field. CS Unplugged offers a large selection of activities designed to help kids develop these critical thinking skills. These include tasks such as learning about The Turing Test and discovering how difficult it is for computers to draw lines and circles.
For more resources to help you bring Computer Science into the classroom, check out Code.org and the Computer Science Education Week website. If you use some of these activities in your classroom, share them to Facebook or Twitter with the hashtags #CSEdWeek and #HourOfCode.
For kids who dislike ghosts, ghouls, and skeletons, Halloween can be a rough season. It’s hard to know what’s lurking around the corner at pumpkin patches, corn mazes, trunk or treats, and even the local grocery store. Still, that doesn’t mean you have to skip Halloween altogether. There are plenty of ways to celebrate Halloween without bringing in the darker side of the season.
1. Paint pumpkins
For some kids, carving pumpkins can be too spooky, especially with their crazy faces, but what’s stopping you from painting a pumpkin? Choose some bright colors and focus on funny faces or cute patterns, such as dots and stripes.
2. Bob for apples
If you’re having a Halloween party, throw in a traditional bobbing for apples game. While it may not be the most hygienic, kids will have fun trying to capture the apples with their mouths.
3. Watch a pet parade
Check your local newspaper or activity guide for a pet costume parade. These parades are usually free from spooky costumes and, instead, focus on adorable animals in silly costumes.
4. Head to a fall festival
Many fall festivals are held during the day and focus on the fun side of the season. To ensure the festival will be free from spookiness, consider attending one sponsored by a church where it’s less likely that ghosts, skeletons, guts, and gore will make an appearance.
5. Read a cute Halloween story
Read a story such as The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin which focuses more on accepting your differences and fitting in than trying to scare kids on Halloween. Another cute Halloween book is Pumpkin Cat by Anne Mortimer.
6. Hold a non-spooky costume party
Invite some friends over for a costume party where only fun, happy costumes are allowed. Consider coming up with a theme, such as favorite cartoon characters or storybook characters.
7. Trick or treat with friends and family
Rather than going trick or treating around your neighborhood, set up a time where you can trick or treat at the homes of different friends and family members. Do it during the day so you won’t see any scary masks or other costumed people out and about.
8. Have Halloween craft time
Rather than making a spooky bat, Frankenstein, or other scary craft, just pull out some orange and black paint and construction paper, along with some glue and googly eyes, and let kids come up with their own creations.
9. Make silly monsters
Monsters don’t have to be scary. Focus on crafting monsters with silly faces rather than scary ones. You can give them cute names too.
10. Create leaf art
Go outside and gather some leaves. Make leaf creatures by adding eyes, noses, arms, and legs or use the leaves to make collages and other fun pictures.
11. Paint with a pumpkin
Cut out different shapes from a pumpkin and use those shapes as stamps. Dip them in paint and press them on paper to create unique works of art.
12. Make slime
Slime is often associated with Halloween, but that doesn’t mean it has to be spooky. Make or buy some slime and have fun getting your hands messy.
13. Play in a sensory bin
Slowly introduce kids to some of the spookier aspects of Halloween through a themed sensory bin. You can throw in a few small plastic bats, ghosts, or spiders if your child can handle them in small doses. You may also want to add plastic pumpkins, some dirt, or black beans. For extra texture, add some orange or black water beads.
14. Go on a candy hunt
One of the best parts of Halloween is getting to trick or treat, but you don’t have to find candy in traditional ways. Hide candy around your house or in your yard and send kids on a fun scavenger hunt to find it or set up different trick or treat stations in each room of your house.
15. Focus on educational activities
Try Help Teaching’s 100 Educational Pumpkin Activities to bring math, science, and literacy practice to the holiday.
If you do decide to head out to some more traditional Halloween events, be sure to call beforehand to see if there will be any spooky elements there and walk ahead of your child in any corn mazes or on any paths so you can be prepared to turn around if any scary elements appear. You may also want to bring along some head phones or a pair of sunglasses to help your child tune out the spooky sights and sounds.
Do you have any favorite non-spooky activities for Halloween? If so, share them for others to enjoy!
Earth Science Week is October 13-19, and it is the perfect time to show our appreciation for our home planet! Each day of the week focuses on specific geoscience-themed celebrations. To help you and your students partake in this year’s events, we have put together a list of activities for each day of Earth Science Week.
STEM contests and competitions are a fun way to engage students in learning. The American Geosciences Institute offers several contests as part of Earth Science Week. Students in kindergarten through fifth grade may enter a visual arts contest, while an essay contest is open to students in sixth through ninth grade, and a photography contest and a video contest are open to all ages.
International EarthCache Day – Sunday
What better way to kick of Earth Science Week than with a scavenger hunt? EarthCaching is geocaching with a geoscience twist. Gather the kids, their phones or any portable devise with GPS technology, and head outdoors to find some educational treasures.
EarthCaching – An Educator’s Guide
The EarthCaching Educator’s Guide, put out by the Geological Society of America, provides all the background information, tips, and lesson plans required for parents and teachers to get their students started with earthcaching.
Ready to find an earthcache? Consult this searchable list to locate a nearby earthcache.
Earth Science Literacy Day – Monday
Earth Science Literacy Day focuses on the “Big Ideas” that we should all understand about earth science. Start by watching the Big Idea videos by the American Geosciences Institute. Then, why not take the opportunity to hook children on learning about our planet through reading? Below are a few of our favorite fiction books that feature geoscience themes. Most of these books complement Big Idea 6: Life Evolves on Earth and Big Idea 8: Natural Hazards Affect Humans!
Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp by Carol Diggory Shields
Young children will enjoy the creative rhyming and variety of dinosaurs dancing it up at the dinosaur stomp. Adults will enjoy the way geologic time is interwoven throughout this rollicking story.
Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne
The beloved Magic Tree House series begins in the prehistoric past with Dinosaurs Before Dark. Early readers that have already started the series can skip the later geo-themed books, Vacation Under the Volcano or Earthquake in the Early Morning.
I Survived the Destruction of Pompeii, AD 79 by Lauren Tarshis
Older elementary students who are fans of adventure and historical fiction will flip through the pages of this story about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Related books in this series include, I Survived the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 and I Survived the Joplin Tornado, 2011.
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
What better way to appreciate what the earth’s surface offers us than to take it away? Middle school readers will want to keep the lights on and find out what happens when the power goes out in the underground city of Ember.
Ashfall by Mike Mullin
High school students who enjoy disaster fiction will be drawn into the post-apocalyptic world of Ashfall. However, in this novel, the force that destroys the earth as we know isn’t aliens or governments, it’s our very own Yellowstone supervolcano.
No Child Left Inside Day – Tuesday
Time to go outside! Geoscience happens outdoors, so take advantage of this day and get your students and children outside with these activities.
Every Kid in a Park
If you teach or know any fourth grade students, take this day to get them signed up for the Every Kid in a Park program. The pass allows all U.S. fourth grade and home-school equivalent students and their families to visit hundreds of national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges for free. Bonus, the pass is good through the end of August, making it the perfect motivational tool for getting outside all year long!
Earth Observation Day – Tuesday
Take advantage of Earth Observation Day by engaging your students in practical applications of Earth Science data. Introduce your students to remote sensing with one of these lessons or activities or connect with a remote sensing scientist. Visit the Earth Observation Day website to get started!
National Fossil Day – Wednesday
If you are fortunate enough to have fossils on-hand for students to examine, then today is the day to do so! If not, don’t worry, students can still participate in National Fossil Day with these activities.
Online Fossil Activities
Take students on an interactive adventure to the past without leaving the classroom with the Fossil Mysteries interactive. View fossils on exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History with the NMNH virtual tour. Explore online paleontology games and activities from the American Museum of Natural History. Try our free Fossils online lesson too.
Art and Photography Contest
Get creative by entering the National Fossil Day Art Content. The winning submission for each age group will be featured on the official National Fossil Day website.
Geoscience for Everyone Day – Thursday
How do we manage our mineral resources? Can we predict natural hazards? Could we survive on Mars? These are all issues geoscientists grapple with on a daily basis. Geoscience for Everyone Day is set aside for students to learn about geoscience careers.
Allow your student to explore future career paths today. Science Buddies offers a great collection of job overviews and education and training information for those interested in Earth and Environmental Science careers. PBS’ Dragonfly TV features videos about Real Scientists, including an ocean scientist, meteorologist, marine geologist, and paleontologist.
Geologic Map Day – Friday
Geologic Map Day is dedicated to the important role geologic mapping plays in society. Geologic maps tell us much more than the location of roads and landmarks. Instead, they tell us about the history of the earth below our feet – the types of rocks and their ages, fault lines, and folds, all essential information for land-use planning.
Learn About Geologic Maps
For those unfamiliar with geologic maps, a primer is in order. Start by reading the Geologic Maps site by the US Geological Survey and the National Parks Service, then, explore the One Geology Portal.
Interpret a Geologic Map
Get hands-on and try interpreting a geologic map. Okay, it’s not quite that simple, but there are some excellent tools and lessons available. Start with the Visible Geology interactive, What’s Under My Feet, Geologic Maps and Groundwater, or Geologic Maps & Earthquakes.
International Archaeology Day – Saturday
Earth Science Week wraps up with International Archaeology Day, the perfect opportunity for families to experience the real-world intersection of geoscience and history.
Attend an Archaeology Day Event
The Archaeological Institute of America’s website has an interactive map and searchable database of Archaeology Day events happening around the world. Chances are there is a family-friendly tour, open house, fair, or exhibit near you.
Join a Dig!
Some archaeological sites allow volunteers to join in the dig free of charge. Search for potential volunteer opportunities here. If you and your students can’t participate in a dig, then go virtual with InteractiveDigs.com.
The words “fall” or “autumn” may bring visions of colorful leaves, falling temperatures, and apple picking, but many students are still lamenting the loss of summer and the beginning of the school year. The fall season is perfect for getting students out of the back-to-school slump and engaging them in themed learning activities that span the curriculum. Whether you are a teacher looking to enliven your fall curriculum or a parent wanting to spend quality time with your children, these activities will help you and your students celebrate the season and hopefully learn something new along the way.
Language Arts Activities
1. Write about Fall. Writing about fall is a great way for students to get back in the habit of writing every day while developing sensory writing skills. Take your students outside and encourage them to write about the sounds and sights of fall. Challenge them to describe the tastes and smells of their favorite fall foods. Use our fall writing prompts, fall haiku, or autumn acrostic to get started.
2. Fall into Reading. Summer reading has passed, but that doesn’t mean that students shouldn’t continue to read throughout fall! Younger students will enjoy autumn-themed picture books like Fall is Not Easy, Leaf Man, and The Little Yellow Leaf. Students of all ages should read at least one piece of literature honoring Hispanic Heritage Month which begins on September 15. Help Teaching offers fall reading resources including this rebus story and fall reading comprehension passages.
Social Studies Activities
3. Recognize Constitution and Citizen Day. The United States Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787. Use this important date in history to discuss civics and citizenship with your students. Get started with these activities for Constitution and Citizen Day.
4. Contemplate Columbus Day. Columbus Day is a federal holiday that doesn’t come without controversy. Take the opportunity to broaden your students’ knowledge of the holiday beyond the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria with one of these Columbus Day activities.
5. Be a Historical Detective. Autumn is harvest time. What better way to celebrate the harvest, than to step back in time and learn about what happened during the first Thanksgiving with this historical interactive by Plimoth Plantation.
6. Measure Earth’s Tilt. The Earth’s 23.5o tilt is largely responsible for the changing seasons and offers a perfect opportunity to connect geometry and measurement concepts with real-world learning. Elementary students can first learn about measuring angles with protractors then use their new skills to measure shadows on the fall equinox with this lesson. Middle and high school students can further investigate the impacts of Earth’s angular tilt on the seasons with the PBS LearningMedia lesson, Seasons on Earth.
7. Tell a Math Story. Once upon a time there was a lonely even prime number named Two. Math Storytelling Day falls each fall on September 25 and is a great way to combine math and literacy skills. Read a math-themed story to your students or have them write and share their own stories. Find more ideas for Math Storytelling Day in this article on celebrating math holidays.
8. Collect Fall Data. From kindergarten on, today’s math students must learn how to collect, represent, and interpret data. Take advantage the autumn’s offerings and have your students work with real data that comes with the season. Count and graph the number of acorns that fall off an oak tree each week. Plot and track hurricane paths. Measure morning air temperature at the same time each day and calculated changes in temperature over the season. Estimate then measure pumpkin weights. Ask your students to brainstorm ideas of fall data they would like to collect, represent, and interpret!
9. Dispel Student Misconceptions. The seasons are caused by the changing distance of the Earth from the sun. It is the same season everywhere on Earth. These are a couple common misconceptions about the seasons. Take a few minutes to watch ‘Tis the Season for a Reason by the Smithsonian Science Education Center to learn more on student misconceptions about the changing seasons and tips on improving instruction.
10. Learn about the Autumnal Equinox. The official first day of any season is an astronomical event. The autumnal equinox falls around September 22-23 each year and is one of two days a year with almost equal amounts of daylight and darkness. Assign students this self-paced lesson on Solstices and Equinoxes so they can explore the astronomical science behind the changing seasons.
11. Keep a Weather Journal. Recognizing patterns in the natural world is an essential skill for today’s science student. Young students can keep a daily weather journal by drawing pictures of the weather they see each day. Have elementary students make qualitative observations in weather patterns during the fall and draw connections between daily and seasonal changes in temperature. Try our printable on investigating daily temperature changes. Middle school students can take quantitative weather measurements and analyze patterns in data.
12. Observe the Night Sky. Clear, cool fall nights are ideal for getting children outside to observe the sky. Folklore names each full moon, so make an effort to get out and see the Harvest Moon, the full moon closest to fall equinox. Students can learn about the moon’s surface features before going out, then try to locate maria, highlands, and craters. Be sure to also encourage students to watch one of the fall meteor showers.
13. Compose a Fall Song. What sounds do you associate with fall? Maybe you think of rustling leaves, rumbling harvesting machinery, or honking geese migrating. Challenge your students to work in groups to compose original songs featuring the sounds of fall. Encourage them to use not only instruments, but also leaves, acorns, and other natural materials of the season. Use this lesson on parts of a song to help get students started.
14. Go to a Fair. Each fall, farmers and artisans gather at traditional fairs to display their best produce, animals, and creations and to participate in good-natured competition. Take your children and see how large a pumpkin really can grow, watch a livestock show, and see modern and antique agricultural machinery in action. Kick off your trip by having your child complete this lesson on fair vocabulary words.
15. Get Crafty with Nature. Mother nature supplies an abundance of nature materials to create with in the fall. Try one of these nature crafts using pinecones, apples, leaves and other fall finds. Explore our Ultimate Guide to Crafts for Kids for more crafty ideas.
What are your favorite fall learning activities enjoyed by your students and children? Share them in the comments! Be sure to visit Help Teaching and check our library of seasons worksheets.
Learning can take place anywhere, not just in the classroom. Summertime offers many opportunities for kids to gain knowledge.You can help them learn by introducing them to three simple tools designed to get them interested in learning, even if they don’t realize that’s what they’re doing.
1. Ask Questions
Sometime during the toddler years, kids go through a “why” phase. They use the question “Why?” to help them figure out the world and everything in it. Unfortunately, many kids quickly grow out of that stage. To help kids learn over the summer, re-introduce them to the art of asking questions. It may seem annoying to have a child who is constantly asking how and why things happen, but when you realize those questions help them learn, it’s much easier to handle.
To help kids learn to ask questions, start by asking questions yourself. For example, if you’re at the zoo and see a zookeeper standing by an animal cage, take the time to ask the zookeeper a question. You don’t have to be at a zoo or museum to ask a question either. Ask questions of people all around you – your mechanic, the teller at the bank, the person stocking shelves in the grocery store. Even if you already know the answer to some of the questions you ask, you’ll show your children how easy it is to ask questions on their own. They’ll also discover that people are usually more than willing to answer the questions they ask.
2. Introduce them to Experts
When it comes to asking questions, one of the best places to find an answer is an expert on the topic of the question. The summer is a great time to help kids gain access to experts in many different career fields, not only to ask questions, but also to observe them as they work. Since
kids aren’t in school all day, they have more time to see how different adults spend their time. While many jobs don’t aren’t ideal for having a kid underfoot, some workplaces may allow children to shadow
a family member or close family friend for a day. Spending a day on the job can help kids learn more than simply reading a book or watching a video. It also gives them access to multiple experts in an industry and many of them will be ready to teach kids what they know.
When it comes to introducing kids to experts, think beyond careers and focus on interests and hobbies, too. For example, if your child is interested in the Civil War, see if you can set up an interview with a local Civil War reenactor. If your child wants to become a stronger swimmer, contact the swim team of a local college and see if a student would be willing to sit down with your child and give him some advice. Many adults who have hobbies would be more than happy to
take some time to sit down with your child and share about their interests.
Don’t forget about classes either. Many groups hold special classes during the summer. If your child is interested in cooking, for example, you may find a cooking class taught by a local chef. If your child likes sports, look for a sports camp that features a professional athlete or coach. These classes often cost money, but the cost is worth it if your child gets to interact
with someone at the top of their field.
3. Watch Videos
Of course sometimes your local area won’t offer special summer classes or experts that are of interest to your child. Thankfully, kids have the internet. Online they can find tons of videos related to their interests, many of them featuring some of the top people in the field. For example, TED Talks and Big Think have been known to feature some of the world’s greatest scientists and thinkers. Websites such as Top Documentary Films also can help kids learn by allowing them to access documentaries for free.
Since it’s summer, you may not want your kids sitting in front of the computer or TV screen all day. That’s where videos from sites like YouTube come in handy. Many YouTube channels (such as these channels for social studies) contain short videos designed to help kids get snippets of knowledge. A simple search for how-to videos can also help kids pick up a new skill by watching short videos. Maybe this summer they’ll learn to play the guitar, take ballroom dancing lessons, or discover how to make homemade ice cream. With millions of how-to videos on YouTube, kids can learn almost anything.
Sure, you want your kids to relax during the summer, but you don’t want them to stop learning. By connecting these tools with other summer learning activities you can ensure kids are being filled with knowledge over the summer.
For more resources to get kids learning on their own this summer, share our Ultimate Guide to Free Online Self-Learning for Kids, which is full of free videos, courses, and other materials to help kids explore their interests and find answers to their most pressing questions.
What tools do you use to help kids learn over the summer? We’d love to hear your ideas!
Science surrounds us and summer offers the perfect time for families to explore science in action. Avoid the summer slump and try some of these suggestions for summer science adventures with your child. Most of these activities are low-cost or free, but be sure to check with your local library before heading out to learn about free and discount passes to museums and other local attractions.
1. Participate in a Citizen Science Project
Science is collaborate by nature, so join in and lend a hand by participating in a citizen science project. Project participants support scientific research by:
- Classifying the shapes of galaxies (see Galaxy Zoo),
- Extracting weather data from old whaling logbooks (see Old Weather – Whaling),
- Collecting ants (see School of Ants),
- Monitoring monarch larva populations (see Monarch Larva Monitoring Project).
These are just a few of citizen science projects looking for volunteers and many welcome help from children working with the guidance of an adult. Search for other citizen science projects at Zooniverse and SciStarter.
2. Become a National Park Service Junior Ranger
With parks from Maine to California and everywhere in-between, the National Park Service offers an affordable option for hands-on summer science fun. Fourth grade students qualify for free annual park passes through the Every Kid in a Park program. The Junior Rangers Program gives kids the opportunity to explore nature, attend ranger guided programs, and complete activities for each park. If your budding park ranger completes a Junior Ranger Program, each park offers a patch or badge and a certificate of completion. Can’t visit a particular park? Visit the NPS’s on-line WebRangers page.
3. Visit a Science Center
There are many fabulous science museums that offer kids access to interactive learning opportunities. For those fortunate enough to be within driving distance to a NASA center, consider a visit. Learn about space exploration, aeronautics, and ongoing missions and discoveries. Many of the centers, including Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, welcome visitors and offer tours. If you can’t travel to a visitor center, then be sure to visit NASA Wavelength and explore the vast collection of educational resources NASA has to offer.
With centers across the nation, the Audubon Society provides outdoor adventure for all ages. Visit a sanctuary, go on a hike, and explore the local lands and wildlife. Many centers offer nature themed programs designed exclusively for children and families as well as summer camps. Centers are open to the public, but those with memberships may visit for free and receive discounts on programs and camps. Find an Audubon Center near you.
4. Try Hands-On Science Activities
Hands-on science activities at home are a great way to have some summer fun, spend family time together, and even learn a little something new. Science at home is affordable and typically can be conducted with household objects and resources. Follow your child’s lead and try experiments related to his or her interests. Get started with these science activities for kids or browse this collection of home science activities from Scientific American.
5. Star Watch
Grab a blanket and the bug spray and head outside for some star gazing. If possible, get away from light pollution, you will be amazed at what you can see once your eyes adjust to the dark on a clear night. Bring a star chart and try to locate a few stars, planets, constellations, and galaxies. Use binoculars to identify surface features of the moon. If that isn’t spectacular enough for your aspiring astronomer, try counting the number of “shooting stars” during a meteor shower. August’s Perseids meteor shower is a great one to enjoy on a warm summer evening. Check out this year’s not-to-miss celestial events to watch with kids.
Looking for more ideas for summer fun with your children? Be sure to read 100 Summer Activities for Kids!
World Oceans Day is June 8th and there is still time to celebrate! Put on a blue shirt and forge ahead with these ten fun ways to celebrate World Oceans Day with your class or family.
1. Skipper your crew to a World Oceans Day event in your area. From art contests to film festivals to hands-on exhibits, there are ocean activities taking place around the world.
2. Navigate your way to the World Oceans Day website and check out their last minute celebration ideas. Find ways to help keep plastic out of oceans and landfills with your students or family.
3. Google is charting new territory with its Oceans Street View images. Allow students to explore this stunning collection.
4. Set course to Adrift.org and challenge students to predict the path of floating pollution before they try this engaging interactive.
5. The Smithsonian has made great headway in compiling this diverse collection of ocean-related lesson plans for educators.
6. For landlubbers who can’t venture out to sea, dive into an ocean-themed book for a reading adventure worthy of the high seas. Get started with one of these nautical tales.
Nautical Novels and Seaworthy Stories
The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
Swimmy by Leo Lionni
Flotsam by David Wiesner
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater (Worksheet)
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (Worksheet)
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Billy Budd by Herman Melville
The Pearl by John Steinbeck (Worksheet)
Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
The Odyssey by Homer (Worksheet)
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
7. Ahoy! Teachers, students, and families can join an Ocean Guardian Program and plan a school or community conservation project, submit ocean-themed artwork, stories, or poetry, and even become involved in diving!
8. If you are swamped with lesson planning, check out Help Teaching’s collection of pre-made, ocean-themed worksheets. Or, have your students try our online lessons on Ocean Vocabulary Words, Ocean Zones, Tsunamis, or Tides.
9. Set your bearings to your local aquarium. Students of all ages will enjoy viewing and interacting with the amazing variety of sea life on display.
10. Head to the beach! What better way to celebrate World Oceans Day than by digging in the sand, discovering tide pools, and surfing the waves?
Have other suggestions for celebrating World Oceans Day with students and children? Share them in the comments! Read The Ultimate Guide to Teaching Science for more ways to invigorate your science curriculum and teaching.
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.