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Early Childhood

Favorite Science Activities for First Grade

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Lauren Santiso Lauren Santiso 1430 Points

Hello, I was wondering if anyone could name some of their favorite science activities that I could use in my first grade classroom with my students? I want ideas that are fun and engaging for my students!

Victoria Tomik Victoria Tomik 225 Points

We recently in a simple chemical reaction activity in my classroom. It was with red cabbage juice and the effects of when you put ammonia or vinegar in it. We blew through a straw into it to release carbon dioxide. It was really interesting and fun but be careful of first graders inhaling rather than blowing through the straw! You can compare it to pollution in the ocean, as well!

Christina Hong Christina Hong 1110 Points

A lesson on the food chain could be a great idea. if you wanted to do something nature based, you could do a pond habitat unit where the kids could observe and explore the plants and animals of a pond and their food chain. If you wanted to do something on force, describe magnetism as a force you cannot see that acts upon objects, so they are aware that most magnets repel and attract which is why they can push and pull things. Just a few ideas!

Roxana Puga Roxana Puga 1380 Points

I did a fun experiment/activity with the pizza box oven to teach heat energy. I taught it to a first grade class and my students loved it! They were able to see that the sun is one source of heat energy and that heat energy can change the state of matter of certain things, in this case the Hershey kisses and a little of the marshmallows. I used this activity as my last activity of the week. During the week I used other resources of heat energy that we use in our daily life like a sandwich maker, rice maker, and curling iron.

Linda Ngo Linda Ngo 2775 Points

You can read a book about the clouds called "A Shape in the Sky" Then Discuss different types of clouds as a class and demonstrate how to make each cloud, which each students can only choose their most favorite types of cloud.. Once they are done, they will share it to their classmate and stick them on the poster.

Linda Ngo Linda Ngo 2775 Points

I think all the resources that is posted here is very interesting. My cooperating teacher had mention that the science activities are the funnest and I'm sure first grader would like to do the science project as well.

Wendy Goldfein Wendy Goldfein 2300 Points

Have you thought about doing some engineering activities? We do a fun one called "Save Fred" that the K's and 1's love. We have a version of it plus some other STEM activities on our website that have been big hits in our primary classes. Setting up engineering centers might be a great addition this spring. They could work on projects and then as they think of more ideas to solve the challenge, they could come back to it and work some more. Our K classes do that and it works well. Wendy

Peggy Ashbrook Margaret Ashbrook 10518 Points

I agree with Wendy that engineering is very engaging for young children. The Center for Early Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math has an activity that readily develops into an on-going inquiry into physical science and engineering concepts, Ramps and Pathways. See the attached article about using these materials in preschool-grade 2.

Joanne Harkness joanne harkness 435 Points

I think the younger kids would like floating objects, butterfly transformation, planting activity (apple seeds work well, radishes, grass). My daughter's class grew grass and put in spots where the grass was dying. I think it is great that you are getting your first graders involved in science.

Katelyn Pages Katelyn Pages 795 Points

I did an activity over the butterfly life, and the kids loved it. You also could have a butterfly and allow the kids to see how they change. Also this activity is for kindergarten thru 2nd grade.

Elianne Rojas Elianne Rojas 1270 Points

I find that teaching science in the primary grades is difficult yet one can get so creative with it. One of the best sources for teaching science to elementary grade students is I think this website has amazing idea for teaching science as well as some posts give a step by step of how to teach the science lesson. It also has great ideas for doing labs and project for students. Hope this helps. Thank you, Elianne Rojas

Vanessa Fonte Vanessa Fonte 625 Points

How does it rain? This is a cool activity for students to understand the process of rain. Supplies: glass jar (I used an empty jelly jar) - paper plate or bowl - ice - hot water I boiled water in the tea kettle then added 2-3 inches to the glass jar. we put the paper bowl on top of the hot water and let it sit for a few minutes. After a few minutes add ice to the paper bowl. Then let the students observe. Ask the students how does it rain? The plate seals in the warm air in the jar. Once the ice is added to the plate the cold temperature causes the moisture in the jar to condense and form water droplets. This is the same thing that happens in the atmosphere as warm, moist air rises and meets colder temperatures high in the atmosphere. Water vapor condenses and forms precipitation that falls to the Earth as rain, sleet, hail, or snow.

Betty Paulsell Betty Paulsell 48560 Points

Thank you for sharing this. It is the simplest way I have ever seen of showing this concept!!

Tammy Perez Tammy Perez 2195 Points

I did something similar with 4th graders talking about the water cycle. I used a 2 liter bottle with the top cut out, hot (almost boiling water - add blue food coloring), then fit a clear plastic cup inside the hole and fill with ice. I presented a PowerPoint about the water cycle then directed their attention back to the experiment. They were able to see that the water droplets that were forming on the bottom of the clear cup were blue. Then when you pick up the cup a little, they can see the blue "rain" falling back into the warmer water. My kids loved it!

Tiffany Williams Tiffany Williams 1665 Points

One thing I did with fifth graders when studying the tectonic plates was graham cracker and chocolate chip cookies to represent the plates and chocolate icing to represent the magma in the crust. I also used this to show the difference between divergent and convergent plate boundaries. It was really fun!!!

Tiffany Williams Tiffany Williams 1665 Points

One thing I did with fifth graders when studying the tectonic plates was graham cracker and chocolate chip cookies to represent the plates and chocolate icing to represent the magma in the crust. I also used this to show the difference between divergent and convergent plate boundaries. It was really fun!!!

Amber Culpepper Amber Culpepper 4355 Points

I love these ideas!

Naomi Beverly Naomi Beverly 19130 Points

Lauren- My son's first grade teacher is letting the GATE/TAG do independent studies within the confines of life science this quarter. So, he and others are studying typhoons, tropical storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes, and have to create a Powerpoint presentation and a simulation of a hurricane. Maybe some of your kids would like that, as well. It's really easy to find activities on how to simulate storms. All the best, Naomi Beverly

Brittany Carpenter Brittany Carpenter 1875 Points

I agree with the previous poster that recommended as a resource. There are so many links to great teaching blogs with thousands of hands on, inquiry-based ideas for all grade levels. I just did a quick search for "first grade science" and got everything from activity ideas, to actual lesson plans aligned with common core, to week-long units. Pinterest is a wonderful tool that can be greatly beneficial for your classroom. Good luck!

Peggy Ashbrook Margaret Ashbrook 10518 Points

I love it that Pinterest pinners go beyond posting only activities and expand into on-going inquiry! My favorite resource for understanding science inquiry in early childhood is Worms, Shadows and Whirlpools by Karen Worth and Sharon Grollman.

Lolita Benitez Lolita Benitez 1580 Points

It is hard to find good hands on lessons for younger students, but these are all good ideas!

Peggy Ashbrook Margaret Ashbrook 10518 Points

Looking for a source of valuable information and guidance for teaching science and engineering in grades preschool-grade two? See the NSTA position statement on early childhood science education. We can use it to evaluate our own lesson plans, and those that are shared with us, to see how to strengthen them.

Kathy Renfrew Kathleen Renfrew 37138 Points

Thank you Peggy for re-posting this white paper for early childhood. it is a very important document that all teachers should read so they have a better understanding of what is appropriate for science instruction with young children. I know it helped me. Kathy

Kathy Renfrew Kathleen Renfrew 37138 Points

Looking for science instruction for Grade 1. Consider viewing this web seminar archive

Teaching NGSS in Grade One

Here is a collection of resources I put together to support the work we shared in the web seminar Grade 1 NGSS Collection

Something else to consider : NSTA Virtual Conference. I am planning on attending. It helps me connect to the classroom just by listening to it many times.

Virtual Conference


Guadalupe Soto Guadalupe Soto 1385 Points

One lesson I have noticed several students really enjoyed was a lesson on adaptations. There were different things laid out at different tables in the classroom such as snake skin, feathers, fur, pictures of claws, wings. The students went around observing the different things at the table. they then had to discuss what that certain feature is and what it is used for.

Peggy Ashbrook Margaret Ashbrook 10518 Points

Guadalupe, some books that might go along with the exploration you describe are: Whose Skin Is This? by by Lisa Morris Kee What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins

Paige Tietz Paige Tietz 2615 Points

These are great activities!

Stephanie Portillo Stephanie Portillo 1225 Points

I was thinking of a science lesson since kids love to see science demonstrations. Science demonstrations from the teacher look like magic for students. You can demonstrate the ocean in a bottle Step 1: Fill your bottle 3/4 of the way with water and add food coloring. Step 2: Add Vegetable Oil. Step 3: Have the student observe what happens when you shake the bottle. All you will need is water, blue dye, vegetable oil, and an empty water bottle. You can use this to teach the different zones in the ocean or to teach about waves in the ocean. The following day you could also bring a live creature to have them explore the physical properties of that creature. You can have the students create a way with the whole classroom by having them hold hands. Hope this helps.

Jill Dimitriou Jill Dimitriou 445 Points

I saw a planting activity online where the teacher got plastic cups and glued their students faces on the front, then had grass growing out of the top (like their hair). On the picture of it online I saw, a lot of students made funny faces on the picture. Then you could have students track the growth and such. It would also look great in a classroom, assuming there is room in an area that gets sunlight.


grass.jpg (0.05 Mb)

Vivian Vega Vivian Vega 1215 Points

In my cooperating teacher's classroom, we taught a lesson on producers, consumers, and decomposers and we had some of each category printed on index cards with magnets on the back and the students had to discuss with their tables and then had to go around and try to figure out in which category they were gonna stick them in. I think that having movement in the classroom is fun and engaging because then they don't have to sit there quietly the whole time.

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