Science Teaching Tips

Weather Lesson Plan Ideas

Here are some great ways to incorporate weather in your class. Play the Video

1. Create weather flip books.

2. Track a storm and follow it from start to finish.

3. Make predictions about storms and compare it to what actually happens.

4. Precipitation graphs for your area.

5. Make windy things- windsocks, pinwheels, weather vanes.

6. Check out a cloud cam live.

7. Create a weather station.

8. Moods with weather- track and graph.

9. Get a barometer.

10. Should your school get a lightning rod?

Teaching Idea

"Biology Careers"
Maryanne Porter, Science Teacher

"My tenth graders are required to research a career that depends on the knowledge of their different subject area classes. I had them read the Sunday Job section of our area newspaper to identify the jobs they could check. Many of them had never read this section and needed instruction relating to the phrases and symbols used in the paper. It also helped point out possibilities because many firms use a single large ad to list all of their positions. We talked about why the companies might be interested in accountants who had a good background in science even though the accountants are not responsible for "doing" scientific work."

Teaching Idea

Semantic Mapping to Teach a Concept
Paul, 3rd Grade Teacher: San Jose, CA

"Semantic mapping can be used for teaching a new concept or for reviewing a chapter in a science textbook. Select a chapter and makes notes on the major topics and points including vocabulary terms to be learned. Place the chapter topic in the central box that begins the map and draw lines to represent the main topics or key concepts to be covered. You can also add details about each topic and vocabulary terms. Use this to introduce topic to your class or to review the important topics. You can use this over and over again when teaching any topics that will come up year after year. Works great for science when trying to develop hard concepts. Also helps you to internalize the knowledge more effectively."

Teaching Idea

Always Build Scientific Attitudes
Kerri, 5th Grade Teacher: Seattle, Washington

"The key to learning science is not only having a positive attitude toward science, but to develop a sound scientific attitude toward the discipline. Characteristics include objectivity, willingness to suspend judgment, skepticism, respect for the environment, and a positive approach toward failure. The best way to develop these characteristics in children is to model them as teachers. With every science activity you assign, you should model the behaviors you would expect your students to demonstrate by participating in group experiments or asking questions that probe more investigation, or discussing why something did not work according to plan. The most important thing is to always be the role model and share your own enthusiasm for science as a discipline."

Teaching Idea

Use Discovery to Teach Concepts
Kathleen, Primary Grade Teacher: Denver, Colorado

"A discovery approach to science is more interesting and meaningful to young chidden. A great activity that works with young children is discovering if ice cubes melt at the same rate in hot and cold water. They can do this with slight variations like the amount of water, size of containers used, if stirring the water makes a difference, the number of ice cubes in the water, etc. Just think of how many skills are being developed: observation, comparison, classification, prediction, and interpretation. Kids love it because they are so familiar with ice cubes!"

Teaching Idea

Using the Real Thing
Brianne, Elementary School Teacher: Rhinebeck, NY

"Get permission to take your students on a walking field trip to an area near to your school that has fields where various plants grow. Identify the plants that the students may dig up and allow them to dig the plants and place them into a plastic bag (make sure they dig up the root systems.) Once you get back to the class room, ask the students to place the plant on a sheet of paper and trace it as best they can. Provide a variety of resources showing different plants with labeled parts. Instruct them to label the parts of the plant that they traced. They can also see if they can identify the name of the plant by finding it in the resources that you provide."

Teaching Idea

"Closepin Muscles"
Mary Kingsly, Science Teacher

"I have a fun method for teaching about muscle fatigue. I give each student a close pin. You want to use closepins that have a decent amount of tension when opening. Each student creates a data table displaying 5 trials and number of times the closepin was opened.

I demonstrate how to completely open the closepin. Students must touch the ends of the closepin together in order to completely open the closepins.

I partner students together. One student opens the closepin and the other student counts the number of times the closepin was opened.

I then instruct one partner to open their closepin as many times as possible in sixty-seconds. We repeat this four times. At the end of each trial, the students record how many times they opened their closepin. When one partner completes all five trials, the partners switch places. We repeat this another five trials for the other partner.

I then have students graph their individual results. We share all of the student's data on the black board and average each trial. I then have students graph the class's data. As a class we discuss the results. It works great as an introductory activity. Students enjoy it!"

Teaching Idea

"Make A Twister"
John Sealis, Science Teacher

"My Physical Science class does a great activity to allow students to get up close and personal with the concept of a tornado. Here is how we make our classroom twisters:


Water, Vinegar, 8-10 oz. can/jar with lid (small coffee cans work well.), clear liquid dish soap, and Glitter.


1. Fill the can/jar 2/3 full with water.
2. Place one teaspoon of liquid soap and vinegar in can/jar.
3. Sprinkle in a pinch of glitter.
4. Close the lid of the can/jar and twist to see tornado vortex."

Teaching Idea

"Animals of the world."
Nikki, Elementary Teacher

"One concept that is hard for young children is the geographic location of animals in the wild. I take a map of the world and enlarged it twenty-fold using our school photocopier. After I piece together the map on the board, I add a grid using a meter stick. I grid it out so that the map contains 36 boxes (6 rows, 6 columns). I also cut bright neon note cards to the exact shape of one of the boxes. I then take pictures of various animals and glue them to oversized note cards. Remember that if you laminate everything, you will have for future classes. I add Velcro strips to all materials.

I make certain that I have at least one animal per student. I give each student a note card. I share a story with them about each animal. We then take turns placing the cards on the map as a class. When the class decides where it goes, I have individual students attach the Velcro. I then Velcro the neon note cards to the exact locations of the most prevalent locations of the animal population in the wild. If the class is within 2 boxes of one of the locations, the class receives a point. I then give the class rewards based on their final score.

Students have a really good time with this activity and they tend to hold on to the knowledge."

Teaching Idea

"Measurement Scavenger Hunt"
Wendy, Elementary Teacher

"I kick off my measurement unit by having students doing a scavenger hunt. I pair students together. I give each group the following equipment: a ruler, a meter stick, a thermometer, a measuring cup, and a scale.

I then provide each group with a scavenger hunt list of at list ten measurements. Students scour the room to find out which item/material corresponds to the measurement on their list. Easy items include books, student folders, and chalk. More difficult items include the student chairs, chalkboard height from the floor, and floor tiles.

I found the best thing to do is to provide multiple versions of the scavenger hunt list. Another thing that I learned is that you should make sure to choose measures of items that do not degrade or gain weight. Students have fun with this activity and it really gets them motivated to do the unit."

Teaching Idea

"Volcano Model"
Bob Laflor, Science Teacher

The model of a volcano is always a big hit with kids. Here is the way I make my model:

Materials Needed: white vinegar (brand names work better), baking soda, single paper plate, funnel, newspaper, water, sand, black/gray/brown paint, paint brush, 2 plastic containers, casting plaster.

Preparing Volcano: Cover the work area with newspaper. Add water to the sand and make a cone shape with the sand. Mix the casting plaster with water and pour it over the sand cone. Smooth out the plaster with a brush. Make a one inch hole in the top of the cone. Allow the plaster to completely dry. Remove the sand from the plaster. Put the dry plaster volcano on the paper plate. Mix more plaster with water and cover all of the edges of the volcano with plaster. Allow the plaster to completely dry. Mix more plaster with water and fill the volcano with the plaster; so that 2 inches remain between the plaster and the top hole of the volcano. Allow the plaster to completely dry. Paint the volcano your desired color. Allow the paint to completely dry.

Activating Volcano: Place the volcano on a dry covered surface. Using the funnel, place a generous amount of baking soda in the top of the volcano. Prepare a mixture of the white vinegar and red food coloring in a container. When you are ready to erupt the volcano, add this mixture to the baking soda and stand back.

Teaching Idea

"Dino Eggs"
Walt H., Reading Teacher

"We usually start our dinosaur unit by making dinosaur eggs and referring back to them through out the unit. To make a dinosaur egg, take a large balloon and wrap it in five pieces of newspaper. Paper mache the balloon. Allow it to dry overnight. We like to color the eggs with paint and then cut a small hole into the egg. We place a small dinosaur toy inside of it."

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