Project Ideas For Teachers
Christmas Lesson Plan Ideas
Here are some great ways to incorporate Christmas in your class.
- Write Santa Claus or close friend.
- Design a Christmas list / budget.
- Follow the pace of a snoflake.
- December holiday geography.
- Make the strongest Christmas Ornament.
- Where do Christmas trees come from?
- Christmas wish tree with handprints.
- The UGLY gift thank you exchange.
- Map Santas route.
- School work Christmas carols.
Winter Season Classroom Activities
Here are some great ways to incorporate Christmas in your class.
- Do a tilting Earth project.
- Read and make pictures books of the animals in winter.
- Build a snowman calculate the amount of water and write a story.
- Make snowflakes.
- Make cold weather survival kits.
- Let's Warm Up or Let's Go! Investigate how animals keep warm in winter?
- Find out why they salt the roads.
- Do season word associations.
- Learn how a thermometer works.
- How to get a day off from school! Discover what makes wind, snow, and ice.
December Holiday Lesson Plan Ideas
Here are some great projects and ideas for your December classroom.
- A gift or reward exchange.
- Map holidays around the world.
- A cookie contest.
- Make a family recipe book.
- Hold a multicultural holiday festival.
- Decorate your room.
- Holiday greeting country match.
- Have student find out how and where their gifts are made.
- Graph holiday sales.
The Ultimate Thanksgiving Lesson Plan
Our entire staff sat down for this one. Over 500 years of teaching experience! The goal was to create the components of a thanksgiving feast lesson that reinforces as many core curriculum areas as possible. Of course, it has to be a fun and engaging activity for students.
November Teaching Ideas For K-12 Teachers
November is month to World Kindness Week. How about universal "Thank You" notes?
November is Aviation History Month. Why not have the kids create their own airline. Make it a complete interdisciplinary unit with other teachers involved.
November is Good Nutrition Month. Plan a feast! When you have students plan every little detail you would be surprised at what they will learn. We have 25 people coming, how many pounds of potatoes do we need. Thanksgiving is a fraction experts dream come true!
"Why Am I?"
"For years, I had students write plain old biographies for years. There was very little critical thinking involved. They would pick a name and write away.
I devised a new method to make it more fun and challenge students. At the beginning of the project, I give students a picture of the person they will write the biography on. I also include to lesser-known facts about this person.
Students then have to construct a survey and have them administer it to people of different backgrounds, cultures, and academic levels. The survey simply asks, "Who is this person?" Based on their survey results, students compile a list of 5 people they suspect it must be. Students must then present evidence that they know who this person is.
In the second part of the project, they are given two lesser-known facts about their subject. They then must compose a conclusive evidence-based essay revealing the identity of their subject.
I do this project early in the course. Later in the year, I do a follow-up project where students set up the same project for students who will be taking the course next semester. I credit each student for compiling this information and it becomes a real competition."
"Rather than having students raise their hands and wait for me to call upon them to see what they want, I use a different approach. If a student raises one finger, we both know he/she wants to sharpen a pencil. Two fingers means he/she wants to turn in a paper. A teacher can come up with his/her own ideas for more signals."
"Icing Sugar For Decorating Cakes"
Ingredients: Icing sugar mix, Water, Food Coloring
Method: Mix icing sugar with a little bit of water to form a running substance, not too runny though. Add food coloring to suit. To harden put in the fridge to cool.
"Let's make playdough!"
This is the very, very best recipe for play dough that I have ever found! I hope you love it as much as my children and I do.
Ingredients: 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of salt, 1 tablespoon of oil, 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar food coloring
Method: Mix it all up in a saucepan. Heat and stir over a hot plate until the playdough has thickened and leaves the side of the saucepan. Turn out onto a bread board to cool.
Preserving: Place into a plastic lunch bag and store in the fridge. If you do this, it will increase the life of the playdough dramatically.
"Recipes Are Not Just for Cooking"
There are a number of things you can accomplish by using recipes. Kids could learn about foods from all over the world and gain an appreciation for different customs and traditions. Skills such as measuring quantities or amounts of ingredients, the mixing of ingredients and chemical changes that occur, or the content of food and the caloric index. Kids love to eat what they prepare. It is easy enough to obtain a cooking element to heat food or you can prepare the food ahead of time and tell the students what you had to do to get to that final product that they can enjoy eating.
"Valentine's Day Science Skills"
"This time of year is a great time to review some inquiry skills that we have learned. I bring in heart shaped boxes for my students and fill them with those little candy hearts. Once they receive the box they have to estimate how many hearts are in the box, count the hearts, and find the difference. Then have the students develop a classification key for group the hearts. They usually group them by color, words, or size. I pair 4 students together and have them estimate how many hearts it would take to reach end to end on the meter stick. We do this lengthwise and height-wise. Again, I have the students count and determine the difference (actual vs. estimated). I usually finish off by having them graph the actual and estimated outcomes. Overall, the students really enjoy it."
This is one of those great cooking activities you can give to your young ones. My 3 and 4 year olds love to make patty cakes as do the older ones. When the patty cakes have cooled they usually make and add icing to them for color. They might need a little help with the oven though.
Ingredients: 1 vanilla cake packet mix, 1 egg, 2/3 cup of milk, Patty cake paper holders
Method: Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Place cake mix into a bowl with egg and 2/3 cup of milk and mix thoroughly. Scoop mixture into little patty cake holders and place in oven for about 10 - 15 minutes. Pull out when slightly browned and leave to cool.
"Walking Into The City"
"I live in Adelaide, Australia and we are concerned about the fitness of the children in our care. We live about 6 kilometers from the centre of the city, so one day I challenged my year 4/5 class.(9 to 10 year olds).
I asked them, "Who would like to walk into the city?" At first, they seemed horrified about walking that distance, but after we had discussed training and backup from parents, the idea turned into the challenge that I wanted.
We started walking around the school as part of our training. Everyday we would venture out further. We would estimate the distance on maps that the children were given and then we estimated how long it would take us to walk the next training session (Great Maths lesson). I wrote to the parents and got their support. We managed to get enough parents who were free during the day to come and pick us up at the end of the walk. We even planned our goal to be a great playground in the city so the children (who had the energy could play while waiting for the parents to turn up.) The children started walking to home as part of Homework. Parents walked with them so there was a positive spinoff.
The day arrive and we stretched before starting our walk. It turned out to be a huge success with more parents turning up on the day to clap the walkers achieving their goal. Every time the children drive into the city they will remember the walk into the city.
Follow up activities were:
- writing about their achievement (in catchy slogans) on the steps of the school administration building.
- drawing their shoes in pencil and writing the slogan "these shoes are made for walking" underneath. painting on the soles of their shoes (with luminous colours)and then printing out their footprints on paper. (made a great display across the ceiling of our classroom)
Overall it was a great activity which covered the subjects of Fitness, Maths and Art."
"For ease in assigning classroom jobs, I use a different folded pieces of construction paper for each job. Each job gets 2 pieces of the same color; one for new jobs and one for old. To each folded piece of paper, I attach a letter size envelope. Both the construction paper along with the attached envelope is stapled onto a small bulletin board. At the beginning of the year, each student has his/her name in the new envelopes. As each job is assigned weekly, I put the student's name who had the job in the old envelope, then pull a new students' name from the new envelope. When all my students have had a particular job, I take all the old names out, put them in the new envelope, and start over. It is visible for students and if they forget who has a particular job, all they have to do is look over at the board."
Super Job Chart
"On a piece of blue posterboard, I measured out 24 lines fitted side-by-side, 12 in each column. I leave about 3" for the heading: "Classroom Job Chart." The rows are set up with leftover pieces of clear laminate (from the 12" of waste that comes off of the machine when you start it. Or, you can use clear cellophane. I cut strips 1" wide x 9" long (half of a posterboard held horizontally is 14"). With 1/2" for the edge, I tape the 1" strip of plastic to form a top-loading pocket. I then make a 3" long strip in the same manner to fit on the same row. Into each of these 9" strips, I slide a job description such as: pass out paper, collect paper, messenger, water plants, erase board, daily calendar numbers, weather chart, fill in test calendar, sweep floors, etc. The students' names were put onto the 3" strips and slid into the pockets. Each week, I simply take out the names, one by one and put them into the next job slot so that each week they have a different job. I have 21 students and each has a job. We even have a person to close the closet doors and to clean up after science labs. To make the chart easier for me to read, the letters are all 3/4" tall and the boys have light blue const. paper, the girls are on pink paper. If you laminate or cover both sides with clear plastic shelf liner(in any discount dept. store,) the names will last the entire school year."
Materials: Leaves, Paper, Pencils or crayons
Method: Place a leaf under a piece of paper. Rub or color crayon over the top of the paper. An imprint of the leaf should form.
"I used the famous head project this year with great success. It can be applied to just about any grade level and/or subject area. The basic premise of the project is that students go on the Internet or other media source to find pictures of famous people included in their studies. Students then cover the picture with a piece of colored construction paper. On the construction paper, the students write at least 5 items that describe the importance of this person. The heads are then passed around the room and other students have to guess who the famous person is. This was a great hit with my students. We used it for review at the end of year as well."
"My seventh graders did not have much ambition about others and trying to change things. So I asked my principal if we could create a bimonthly newsletter. She agreed. My kids took it from one page the first month to seven pages by the fourth newsletter. They loved it! They worked on it once a week and interviewed others. They found out important events and dates that students had to remember. It was a great success. It boosted their morale and made them stars in our school.
Try it. It really makes them care about their environment and others."
Invent Something For Me!
"I always hold onto this lesson for my rainy days. I arrange students into groups of 3. I give each group a bag of unusual objects and some standard classroom supplies. The students then have to create a craft or an invention of some type that uses all of the items in the bag.
I usually require students to also make a poster and a presentation on the value and use of their inventions."
"The Classroom Pumpkin"
"In October, I always bring in a classroom pumpkin. I center most of my lessons on the pumpkin. Here is a list of some of the activities that involve the pumpkin:
- An adjective activity that requires students to describe the pumpkin.
- An estimation unit where students estimate the weight and circumference of the pumpkin.
- A five senses activity. Students describe how the pumpkin feels, looks, and smells.
- We compare the pumpkin to various fruits and vegetables.
- We make pictures with pumpkin seeds.
- We estimate the number of seeds the pumpkin has and we graph the estimates versus the actual number of seeds."
"The Thankful Turkey"
"Find a large outline of a turkey. You can find tons of outlines of turkeys on the Internet. I then photocopy the outline. I make sure to have one copy for each of my students and ten copies as backup, in case a student has trouble.
Have students cut out the outline. Give your students construction paper. Ask students to trace the outline on to the construction paper. Students then cut out the construction paper turkey.
Have students brainstorm and write ten things/people/reasons they are thankful for. I usually explain to students the ten reasons I am thankful. I also share thankful turkeys from my past year's class. This really helps students understand the thought of mine they need to achieve.
Students then add their ten things/people/reasons to their thankful turkey. At the end of the activity, I collect all of the thankful turkeys and then pass out the turkeys to random students. Students then read the turkeys and try to guess which student's turkey they have. This is a great activity. I look forward to it every year."
"Friday's a tough at the end of the day. This year I put together a year long activity that really keeps them with me. For the last fifteen minutes of every Friday, my class reflects on the week. I have students decide as a class to answer the following questions:
1. What did we learn this week.
2. What did we do that was fun.
3. What was the funniest thing that happened this week.
4. What are we doing next week.
A different student records this each week. At the end of every marking period, we reflect on this by making a class timeline. We also use the timelines as data for other activities such as graphing."
"Going to the store"
"Looking for a simple and innovative field trip? Try breaking your students into groups of four. Each group should be assigned a cooking recipes. I like to give my groups a series of recipes to choose from.
Once a group receives their recipe. They must prepare to purchase the ingredients. We have students comparison shop using the local newspaper flyers. If you do this activity around the holidays, most baking ingredients are listed as being on sale. Students will list the top two stores in the area that have all of their ingredients for the lowest price. We then as a class choose one store to purchase the items from and we take a trip their to purchase the ingredients.
If you call ahead, most store managers will arrange a tour of the departments for your students. Students get to see how bakery, meat, produce, and seafood products are prepared for customers. The seafood department is always a big hit with the kids!
When we return, each group prepares their dish for our holiday celebration. We also finish the activity with several writing activities."
This year all of the grade 7 teachers, at my school, completed an interdisciplinary thematic unit on kites. I have to report it was a huge success, so I thought I would share it with you.
Each content teacher devoted about fifteen minutes of each class period for the first four days of the unit. The first two days were devoted to mostly background knowledge and general administrative procedures to prepare for Friday. Wednesday and Thursday were set aside for preparation for Friday's task. On Friday, students actually built, sold, and flew kites.
Content Area Breakdown
Language Arts: Students composed advertisements and brochures to sell the kites they made. The proceeds were donated to charity.
Math: Students learned how to calculate the height of the kite from the ground with a protractor tool they built into their kites. We had a contest to see who could maintain the greater distance average for ten minutes. The top three students received trophies.
Science: Students learned about wind sheer and drag. Students built kites in Science to combat these variables.
Social Studies: Students organized an auction and demonstration of the kites they built to parents and faculty. Students also organized the donation of all proceeds to a local charity.
Student Performance Graphs
I have a very good way to reinforce graphing skills and motivate kids to do better all in one! I usually give out four criteria for grades: Homework, Quizzes, Projects, and Tests. Every month, I take 20 minutes with my class to create a line graphs of these four variables. They graph their score and compare all of the previous graphs.
Students also make a journal entry at the conclusion. If their journal entry interpretation is supported by their data, I give them a few points on a test. It's a good review, but most of all kids get motivated when they analyze their own personal data.
Here is my quick recipe for creating slime. Make sure to read the warning labels and try not to get any in your hair or fabric.
- 2 cups of white glue (water soluble)
- 2 cups of water
- Food coloring
- 1 teaspoon of Borax
Mix 1 and 1/2 cups of water with glue and food coloring. In a separate container, dissolve the Borax in 1/2 cup of water. Add the two mixtures. Knead the mixture.
If you want it to be more slimy, add more water.
Play Dough Recipe
Here is a great recipe for play dough. It is really easy to make
- 4 cups of flour
- 4 cups of water
- 1 cup of salt
- 1/2 cup of cream of tartar
- 4 tablespoons of cooking oil
Mix all materials in a saucepan. Cook and stir on low heat until play dough is no longer sticky. Allow it to cool. You can store it in zip lock bags or any air tight container.
Materials: Construction paper, writing paper, popsicle stick or flag stick, crayons, markers, glue, pencils.
Ask students to create mini flags for all themes being studied. Then have the students attach their flags to the book. I like to have them make individual flags for each character in the book we are reading at the time. On the back of the flag, I ask them to write an acrostic poem about character. They love it!
Snowflake of Thoughts
"About two weeks before our winter break, I introduce the Snowflake of Thoughts project. I photocopy a six-sided snow flake. Students cut out ten of these for themselves.
Each day I have them write words or phrases that identify how they feel about something. The text is added on to each arm of the snowflake. In the center of each snowflake they identify the topic that is reflected on each arm of the snowflake.
Before we leave for break, we hang the snow flakes around the room."
Marshmallow the Snowmen
"This is a neat project for the younger students. I provided students with a variety of marshmallows. I then have them build snow with chocolate chips for eyes and candy corn for a nose. I let the kids eat their snowman. I then collect all of the left over materials and we make a mega-sized snowman. Each day I then use the snowman as a topic for our writing for the day. Students find it very enjoyable. At the end we create a play about the snowman's life for parents to come in and see."
Decorate the Cultural Turkey
"Around Thanksgiving time I always photocopy the outline of a turkey. I send the turkey home with students. I then challenge students to talk to their parents about their cultural background and dress the turkey in a traditional outfit representing their cultural background.
A great way to stir some inspiration is to share turkeys that I have created to represent my cultural background. The project makes for great fun for all!"
For years, I have been using postcards as a learning tool. In the past I just used them in certain units, but now I use them to introduce just about every social studies unit I do. I found a few Internet postcard exchanges with other classrooms throughout the world as well. This summer I sent about forty different postcards to myself and I even use electronic postcards too.
I have a postcard display in my room and once we receive a postcard, students do research to learn about person who wrote it and their homeland. I always write culture specific words and phrases in the messages that are sent. Students have a great deal of fun uncovering what is being communicated.
I find using postcards to be a vital part to my classroom. I would encourage other teachers to give it a try.
"C a R d B o A r D Slippers"
-Cut out two long oval pieces of card long enough and wide enough for a child's foot.
-Cut out two rectangles to fold over near the top ends.
-Staple rectangle underneath on one side and again over and under the other side. So the rectangle goes over the oval shape.
-Decorate to suit.
"Research Scavenger Hunt"
"This is great for the end of the school year (especially if your media center is air-conditioned and your classroom isn't). Using the research worksheets provided on this site, I had the students work in teams of three to find the necessary information. They could use the Internet, reference books, and other sources, as well. They loved doing it, and it was a great way to keep cool while letting them out of the classroom."
"Objective: The learner's will observe the effects of temperature and torsion on the visible configuration of certain groups of molecules by using the metric system to prepare four homemade candy canes.
- 156 grams Sugar, 9 grams creme of tartar, 43 grams corn starch, 59 mL water, and 15 mL vanilla into a pot. Mix well and then heat to 128 degree Celsius. DO NOT MIX WHEN HEATING!
- Once at temperature, add 5 mL peppermint and mix gently with Silicone spatula.
- Pour half out on buttered wax paper (newspaper under that).
- Add 3 drops red food coloring to the other half and mix gently.
- Pour other half out and let cool for a minute.
- IMMEDIATELY fill pan with water and place candy in them. Use the spatula in water to help boil off candy (easy clean up if done correctly).
- Get hands lathered with butter and begin folding candy. When cooled enough, form into four strands of white (honey color due to vanilla) and four stands of red (roughly 3 inches long). Curl the cane if you'd like and let cool completely!
- Enjoy a handmade treat!
A great lab for the holidays while adding metric measurements and a taste of chemistry! "
"Making Invisible Ink"
Making invisible ink is relatively easy. All you need is milk or lemon juice as "ink," paper and something to write with such as a small brush, an old but clean fountain pen, or even just a Q-Tip. Providing that the paper is white, and providing you use your "ink" sparingly, the message is pretty much invisible to the eye. Be sparing in your use, though. Too much "ink" will cause the paper to buckle up a bit and the writing will show. And be sure that your writing implement is very clean and doesn't leave traces of some old ink or paint.
Now take the paper and carefully heat it up over a burner on the stove. Obviously, don't let the paper catch fire.... pretty soon the message will turn up as brown writing.
How it works is really quite simple. There are chemical compounds in the milk and lemon juice that have a low burning point. These are carbon compounds such as those that make caramel. When you hold the paper over heat, these compounds scorch and turn brown before the paper does, so they leave their mark and reveal the writing.
At least 5 different kinds of the invisible ink can be made, using white wine, vinegar, lemon juice, apple juice, milk, iced tea, and orange juice. And if you have time, see if other types of acidic fruit juices also work. Have fun!
"This week I planned a great activity that ties in Veterans Day. I'm having students imagine they are away at war. They are writing a fictional letter back home. They are to tell their friends and family what the conditions are like and what they miss most. Some students really got into and made fully 5-page stories. To prepare for this activity, I had students do a web quest on the conditions of war time."