You can never have too many games, crafts, or experiments up your sleeve when it comes to teaching elementary school students. We've got creative activities to stimulate critical thinking skills, emotional development, collaboration, classroom discussion, and much more! From cool science experiments and anatomy lessons to bilingual lessons and cutesy crafts, your little learners will leave each interactive lesson with useful knowledge to take out into the world.
1. All About Me: Alphabet
Not only is this educational activity focused on social-emotional learning, but it is also a great vocabulary lesson for adjectives! Students can take time to fill out their sheet according to how they would describe themselves, then they can take turns sharing their lists in pairs or small groups to find similarities and differences.
Learn more: Brain Waves Instruction
2. Self-Collage Craft
For this crafty learning activity idea, you can provide a template for students to follow or you can give them total freedom in how they create their self-collage. If you want them to work on this project in class make sure to have a variety of magazines for them to pull inspiration from and cut out words and images that speak to them.
Learn more: The Pathway 2 Success
3. Respectfully Disagreeing
You can make your own starter cards with opinion questions on pieces of paper and pass them out to pairs of students. This can be a classroom icebreaker or incorporated into any lesson plan to help students learn how to communicate their ideas in an open and non-confrontational way.
Learn more: The Pathway 2 Success
4. Book to Discuss: Awareness, Differences, Respect
We are lucky to have so many pictures and storybooks available these days wrote to inspire critical thinking and positive child development. You can find stories that discuss important issues such as inequality, disability, and tolerance to hold honest conversations with your class.
Learn more: Nourishing My Scholar
5. Bridge-Building STEM Challenge
There are a variety of bridge challenges out there for you to try with your elementary students using different materials. See what you have in your supply corner and pull out some wood craft sticks and blocks for a critical thinking and engineering experiment!
Learn more: Frugal Fun 4 Boys
6. Play Dough Skeleton Molding
Looking for an interactive, tactile, and visual anatomy lesson for your students? Help them mold and form play dough into different muscles to cover toy skeletons. Once they've tried molding their skeleton as accurately as possible, you can play fun games like creating superhero figures or animals!
Learn more: Teach Everyday
7. Anatomy: DIY Lung Model
Who knew assembling a plastic bottle lung could teach students so much about lung health and the risks of tobacco? Kids are never too young to take control of their health and wellness choices, and we can inform them by showing how our lungs function with balloons, straws, tape, and plastic bottles.
Learn more: Surviving a Teacher's Salary
8. DIY Rainbow Board Game
Creating your own classroom board game can be a wonderful interactive activity for students to collaborate and decide on how many spaces, colors, rules, and details to include. Provide a topic for the game and give them freedom, or draw out a template for them to follow on their giant paper.
Learn more: Days with Grey
9. 3D Puzzle Globe
Here is an activity that uses cooperation skills, motor skills, and problem-solving to build a 3D globe using puzzle pieces. You can have students work together on a single globe or make it a race with different students working on other puzzles simultaneously with a time limit.
Learn more: Mama Smiles
10. Bilingual Vocabulary Scavenger Hunt
No matter the language or age, a scavenger hunt is a great activity to teach colors, sizes, and another beginner vocabulary. Have a list of descriptive words, split your students into teams, and see what items they find in the classroom that fit the label!
Learn more: Bilingual Balance
11. Staring Contest
Okay, now this activity may seem like an oversimplification, but research shows that kids and teens are having difficulty making and maintaining eye contact. You don't need any materials, just some willing students hoping to improve their social skills. Divide your class into pairs and facilitate 1-minute increments of unbroken eye contact then switch partners.
Learn more: Number Dyslexia
12. Play Pretend
Role-playing or pretending to be someone other than yourself can be a fun exercise in social awareness and reacting to various emotions. This can be a whole class interactive game where students take turns picking cards with descriptions on them and role-play a character.
Learn more: Positive Action
13. Semantic Maps
Looking to incorporate some language and vocabulary practice into your elementary lesson plans? Semantic maps are a great way to teach students new words and make connections between concepts, synonyms, and antonyms.
Learn more: Upper Elementary Snapshots
This party game can be used in the classroom as a fun and engaging way to grasp new vocabulary, concepts, and associations in a hands-on and creative game. Student teams can choose from categories that correspond with topics you are currently covering in class or ones you want to review.
Learn more: Mom Junction
15. DIY Worm Puppet Craft
This craft idea needs a few supplies and has tons of uses in learning activities and puppet games. You can thread some string through colorful pom poms, attach the string to a craft stick, glue on some googly eyes, and get wiggling!
Learn more: One Little Project
16. Recycled Cardboard Robots!
Whether you're celebrating Earth Day, teaching about recycling, or want to play some fun games with robot puppets, this craft is perfect for your classroom! Have your students bring in some cardboard from home and help them cut and glue together their own unique robot designs.
Learn more: Artful Parent
17. DIY Bracelets from Craft Sticks
These homemade bracelets are unique and your students will love decorating theirs in a special way. To bend the craft sticks you need to put them in boiling water for 15 minutes, then mold them around a cup until they are the right size to fit on a little wrist. Then decorate with names, inspirational words, paint, and glitter!
Learn more: Inspiration Made Simple
18. Team Building: Make A Movie!
Looking for a bonding activity for your students to collaborate and create something? Split your class into teams and give them time to write, prepare, and arrange a mini-movie. Students will have to work together and agree upon a synopsis, create characters, choose costumes and props, and write lines to act out in front of the class.
Learn more: Book Widgets
19. Math Baseball Game
Looking for an interactive game your students will ask to play all the time? This baseball-themed math challenge splits students into two teams who take turns answering math questions to score "runs". The questions vary in difficulty to demonstrate the bases, and if a team gets three questions wrong their turn is over and the other team gets to try.
Learn more: Prodigy Game
20. Beach Ball Activity Icebreaker
Looking to learn a little more about your students and "break the ice" so they feel more relaxed and willing to participate in class? Purchase a beach ball and write a bunch of "get to know you" questions on it. Have your students stand in a circle and toss the ball around, so when each student catches the ball they can pick a question and share their answer.
Learn more: Teachers Pay Teachers
21. The Boat is Sinking: Language Learning Game
Looking for a game to get your language class up and moving with TPR learning? Typically, the boat is sinking and uses names or numbers to group students, but incorporating target vocabulary from a foreign language your students are learning can bump this game to the next level!
Learn more: Starclastar
22. Newspaper Collage Animal Craft
How cool are these collage posters? Bring in some old newspapers for your students to cut and create their own animal characters with individual flair and creativity.
Learn more: Austin Artists Market
23. Plant Cell Model
Here is a messy and magical science project to try in a biology lesson about plant cells. You can ask your students to bring in some snack foods and other small items to use as the components of a plant cell. Print out little labels and place them in the different pieces with toothpicks.
Learn more: Research Parent
24. Photosynthesis Experiment
This link provides the details of a complete lesson plan to test how manipulating a plant's light source can affect its health. You can leave your small plants by a window in the class and use foil or cardboard to cover parts of the leaves in geometrical shapes.
Learn more: Reach Out Michigan
25. Shoebox Animal Habitat
When science projects combine creativity, collaboration, and art, learning truly comes to life! This awesome craft is a perfect review activity after your class has covered animal habitats and what each group needs to survive. They can choose a species that lives in the desert, ocean, rainforest, or arctic!
Learn more: Science Buddies
26. Structure and Community-Building Activities
At the beginning of the school year, breaking the ice and fostering a safe and collaborative classroom environment are key to student engagement and confidence. Building/engineering challenges are a great way for students to work together and create something special. This website shares ideas for a giant cup pyramid, and a toothpick/marshmallow challenge!
Learn more: Proud to be Primary
27. Balloon and Bottle Cars
Teach your elementary students about Newton's law of motion and potential and kinetic energy by showing them how to build a bottle car using recycled materials. Students can group up to assemble their cars and race each other once everyone has finished building.
Learn more: Science Buddies
28. Hand-Written Books by Students
There may be a future famous author in your elementary class who has a story to tell! Some students won't need prompts to think of a story, but you can provide suggestions and inspiration to help others bring their inner writing genius to the page.
Learn more: Reading Eggs