Tag Archives: science

An Approach to Social Studies & Science: Building Excitement – Engaging Students

Social Studies & Science: Building Excitement – Engaging Students

If you were a fly on my classroom wall you would see that I do my best to ensure that my students are excited about learning. I want their experiences in the classroom to be dynamic, challenging, active and organic.
This week I have been thinking a lot about Social Studies & Science and what I do to try to ensure that my students are actively engaged in the learning process. I hope that after posting this others will also their ideas and experiences we the rest of us.


An Approach to Social Studies & Science: Building Excitement – Engaging Students

1. Begin by showing (e.g. visual displays) and talking to students about what they will know “at the end of the unit of study”. Give students time to process the information.

2. Start with a few short readings on the subject matter: picture books (fiction & nonfiction), magazines, websites (on SmartBoard), video clips, etc.

3. “Speed Dating with Books” – Place one book on each desk. Students are given a few minutes with each book. On your signal they switch to the next desk & book. Be certain to provide some follow-up discussion time.

4. Complete KWHL chart. I never do this until after we have discussed the subject matter, read books, watched videos etc. I find that they respond better when they have “an anchor” – a base from which to operate. Discover the following: What are they interested in? What are they passionate about? What do they want to learn about? Strike a balance between the program that you are required to deliver and their interests.

5. Find live, local experts: Canvas your class, your school, your friends and neighbours. Invite local experts/speakers into the classroom to share their knowledge & experiences.

6. Find in house experts. What are other teachers in “your world” (e.g. school, PLN, find LiveBinders, etc.) doing to make Social Studies engaging? Ask!

7. Use all media to engage learners – be a detective, ask around. There’s a lot out there!

8. Engage in collaborative projects.

9. Incorporate drama: Have students role-play. Write & act out skits based on the subject matter. Come to school dressed as characters or a people: play and perform. Schedule “special days”: e.g. “Ancient Egypt Day”: Students come in costume, bring traditional foods & rotate through centres. e.g. Set up a legislative debate in the classroom (http://www.assembly.ab.ca/visitor/teachers/Mock.htm).

10. Incorporate all subject areas: e.g. Math, Art, Drama, Gym, etc.

11. Take students on field trips – explore the world outside the four walls of the classroom.

12. Go on virtual field trips – e.g. http://www.theteachersguide.com/virtualtours.html –  Google Treks – http://t.co/YkhIRvQ

13. Conduct classroom experiments – students always love a hands-on approach (e.g. http://pbskids.org/zoom/activities/sci/)

14. Skype with other schools, countries, experts …

15. Create virtual timelines: e.g. Timetoast http://t.co/FtAmjIu

16. Explore Museum Box http://t.co/sO1N75P

17. Play games & watch videos on the Smartboard (e.g. BrainPop & StudyJam)

18. Be enthusiastic! Allow your excitement to be infectious! Get into it! Inspire & ignite!

Support Your Child’s Learning Over the Summer Months

Summer Learning Opportunities for Kids

This week I was approached by a mum who asked what she could do to support her child’s learning over the summer months. She wanted to build upon all of the incredible gains made by her daughter this year. Needless to say I was really excited to hear this. All I could think was that this mum clearly knows her child. She wants to support (not push) her learning. She wants to work as a team to help “Jaymie” develop her skills in safe, supportive environments.
… & so, if you had been a fly on my classroom wall you would have seen us discussing a number of summer learning activities and opportunities.
Here’s what we came up with! Hope you find some of what’s below helpful!

(A) Reading & Writing
  • Mail – Make plans to write and receive letters all summer long (… model this for your child as well!)
  • Read, Read, Read – continue to read and discuss books, comics, magazines, menus, etc. over the summer months (… model this for your child as well!)
  • Travels: When on vacation keep a diary/scrapbook of sorts
(B) Organization / Spatial Skills:
  • Create a summer scrapbook
  • Read, draw & create maps (e.g. of vacation spots, parks, gardens, rooms in the house, etc.)
  • Graphing: graph the weather (e.g. sunny, cloudy, etc.), daily temperature,  etc.
  • Grocery shopping – Read flyers & find specials. Estimate the cost of a trip to the grocery store. Calculate the savings if coupons are used.
(C) Following Directions:
  • Build a model
  • Bake cookies, cakes, squares, etc. (measurement & following directions)
  • Cook dinner … follow recipes closely
  • Grocery shopping : allow you child to take the lead when looking for the right aisles to go down and items
(D) Critical Thinking Skills:
  • Discuss books, newspaper & magazine articles, the news, movies, etc.
  • Evaluate nutritional values listed on food packaging
  • Teach your child to play chess, checkers, battleship, dominos, boggle, etc.

(E) Math

  • Add, subtract or multiply numbers on car license plates when on the road
  • Calculating mileage & ETA when heading out in the car
  • Garage Sale – organizing the event, as well as selling/making change
  • Lemonade stand – making change
  • Restaurant – estimate the bill & calculate tip
  • Walk : identify shapes and solids in the environment
  • Note: Sites for free math games to play on the computer:
  1. http://www.coolmath4kids.com
  2. http://www.coolmath-games.com
  3. http://www.mathplayground.com
(F) Science:
  • Go on an outdoor scavenger hunt
  • Engage in gardening activities
  • Note: Find fun, easy science experiments to do at home over the summer:
  1. http://www.sciencebob.com/experiments/index.php
  2. http://www.kids-science-experiments.com/
  3. http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/homeexpts/homeexpts.html