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4 Ways to Add Real-Life and Hands-On Experiences to your Science Curriculum

One of the pieces of feedback I often get is that teachers struggle to find meaningful ways to integrate hands-on or real-life experiences in their Science lessons.  Teachers say that they don't have the time to plan these experiences, or that they are too costly.  I'm going to dispel those ideas and have 4 easy ways for you to add hands-on to your next Science lesson regardless of your curricular content.

1) Make Theoretical Ideas Tangible

Often times, Science curriculum calls for teaching theoretical ideas.  These concepts are often perceived as complex and abstract, especially for children. It doesn't have to be difficult for students to grasp concepts such as the difference between rotate and revolve or how Bohr's Atomic Model works.  By creating moments where students can stimulate an interest they are more likely to engage and interact.  Hands-on models, foldables, or moveable diagrams are all ways to make theoretical ideas tangible for learners.

Here's a small sampling of my Atoms Lesson Plan Bundle for Grades 3 - 5:

2) Organize Laboratory Experiences

If we want more students headed toward science and technology careers (and we do!), then we need to get them hooked early on.  Labs are a great way to get students curious about the world around them.  Experimentation is a great way to learn anything.  I recommend teaching the scientific method in a guided fashion first, and then allowing students to move to a more individualized approach after some experience.  I've done all of the heavy-lifting for you, and have numerous ready to use, low-prep labs on many different topics.
Here's one of my favourite labs from my matter unit, Expanding Matter.


3) Allow For Inquiry

Personal inquiry (Passion Projects, Genius Hour...) and Science Fair are two ways to allow for individualized scientific inquiry in your classroom.  It's a wonderful opportunity for self directed study into an area they care about.  (How many times have you heard "why do we have to learn this?"). When incorporating personalized learning into your days, remember that students still require guidance through whole-class and one-to-one check-ins, opportunities for self-reflection, flexibility, and, above all else, purpose.

The image below shows just a few recent personalized scientific inquiries in my classroom:
  • Which glue makes the best slime?
  • How does weight affect aerodynamics?
  • What's the best way to ripen bananas?
  • How does sugar and sodium effect the evaporation rate of water?
  • Do essential oils improve or hinder memory recall?

4) Get Outdoors

Kids flourish when they are removed from a regular classroom setting and brought into an alternate environment.  Kids are naturally curious and enjoy a hands-on approach.  When you take learners outside to touch, feel, smell, and see the experiences stay in their mind a lot longer than if they read about it in a book.

In this image, we took students to a nearby lake to complete a pond study.  They (and their parents!) loved wading in the water, getting wet, and examining little creatures up close.  

Need more ideas?  How about...
  • Planting and growing seeds
  • Exploring a class pet (I've resources for leopard geckos and hermit crabs!)
  • Creating a seasonal sensory table (bring the outdoors in)
  • Zoom in - grab a magnifying glass, or if you're lucky enough to have access, a microscope and look at anything and everything up close
  • Create models of body parts out of modelling clay
  • Explore through STEM challenges

Looking to build your Science resources? Need a low-prep blackline for lab reports? Want a thorough way to assess student knowledge and skills? Get your copy of my two-page lab report and assessment rubric today. These resources will help to make your Science lessons a breeze from start to finish!


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