Heat is a long-time favorite science activity for elementary kids. It is a form of energy where the faster molecules move, the more heat is created. Or, think about it like this: the higher the heat, the quicker molecules move. Heat includes conduction, convection, radiation, and insulation. Read on for fun elementary ideas!
1. KWL chart
Use a KWL chart to find out what your students know, want to know, and afterward, what they learned! This website gains deeper knowledge of how to use a KWL chart in the classroom.
Learn more: Lucid Chart
2. Question Tree
Using a picture of a tree on the trunk, write “heat.” Students do a Turn and Talk with their neighbors to share questions they have about the heat. Then students share their questions with the whole group. The teacher writes on each branch the students’ questions. This website looks into types of questions and how to develop questions for elementary students!
Learn more: Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning
3. Anchor Chart
Make an anchor chart for each major element of heat: convection, conduction, radiation, heat travel, insulation, and lastly, heat itself. Look at this website for information on creating an anchor chart students will use!
4. Form Connections
Create a class brainstorming list of Things That Produce Heat. The students brainstorm anything they can think of that produces heat! Take a look at this website for more information on how to do a brainstorming session.
Learn more: Northern Illinois University
5. Web Diagram
Place the word Heat in the middle circle, then have students Turn and Talk to discuss what they know about heat. Look at this website for more information on how to use this resource!
Learn more: Classroom
6. Vocabulary BINGO
Make up or print out bingo cards featuring Heat vocabulary terms. The caller says a definition, and the students must find the term on their cards! Alternatives: if you have older students, have a list of all the vocabulary words they learned. The students use the list to write the words on their boards in their chosen spots. Use this website for more fun ideas!
Learn more: Lucky Little Learners
7. Spinner activity
This spinner idea from Pinterest has kids play in small groups. Students take turns spinning the spinner; they choose a vocabulary term and have to do whatever the spinner lands on. The other teammates have to guess what the vocabulary term is! Alternatives: instead of playing “hangman,” play “snowman” or “scarecrow.” As sad as this is, for students who have a connection to suicide (themselves, friends, or family members), Hangman may be a trigger.
Learn more: Teacher’s Notebook
8. Draw a word
Students draw each vocabulary term! Visit this website for more fun ideas.
Learn more: Lucky Little Learners
9. Guess My Word
A student receives a sticky note containing one of the vocabulary terms. The sticky note should be placed in a location they won’t be able to see, such as their forehead or back. The classmates give the students clues about what their word is. Also known as Heads Up, this website gives detailed information on how to play.
Learn more: Vocabulary Luau
10. Semantic Map
Kind of like a web diagram, this is more intricate and allows students to see ideas in a new way. Look at this website for a delayed How-To on how to draw a semantic map!
Learn more: Reading Rockets
11. I have…Who has…
Here is a great website that explains how to play with the whole class! Give each student 1-3 cards. The first player reads the card saying, “I have ______ (heat vocabulary term), who has ______ (a different vocabulary term’s definition).” The student who has that vocabulary term on their card reads, “I have _____ (vocabulary term), who has _____ (a different vocabulary term’s definition).” Play continues with this pattern until all the cards have been read.
Learn more: Little Learning Corner
A fun center or small group activity. Create cards displaying the vocabulary terms on one set and their corresponding definitions on the other. Students flip over all of the cards so they cannot see what is written on each one. Students take turns flipping over 2 cards. If they don’t match, the student flips the cards back over, and gameplay goes to the next student. If they do match, the student keeps those cards and goes again. After the 2nd turn, gameplay goes on to the next student. Keep playing until all of the cards are matched! This website offers official rules.
Learn more: Help My Kid Learn
Experiment and Question
This experiment tests the sun’s ability to heat sand. Place sand in 3 different buckets. Place one bucket in direct heat, another in indirect heat, and the third in the shade. Periodically test the sand to see how it heats up. This experiment answers the question: how does the sun heat up sand?
Learn more: Resource Center
Different types of spoons are placed in hot water with butter on the tip. The heat from the water conducts into certain spoons, making the butter melt faster! This experiment answers the question: How does heat transfer from one object to another? What materials conduct heat?
Learn more: Hungry SciANNtist
Roll different materials over or around water bottles containing hot water. Test the water temperature to see what happens. This experiment answers the question: What materials make the best insulator? What materials do not insulate?
Learn more: The Good and the Beautiful Homeschool Science
All you need for this experiment is a big jar or vase full of cool water, a small glass full of hot, but not boiling, water, and food coloring in hot water. Carefully place the hot water glass into the cool water glass and observe what happens! This experiment allows students to see how heat transfers allowing cold water to turn into hot water.
Learn more: Science Sparks
Create this solar oven experiment by using a pizza box, tin foil, and more! The experiment shows students the power of the sun’s radiation to build an oven.
Learn more: Science Buddies
Almost like 16, this fun experiment uses ice cubes and food coloring to show how heat transfers using convection. Pour water and a small drop of food coloring into an ice cube tray. Place the tray in the freezer to freeze. Pour water into a glass before placing the colored ice into the water. Is there a difference in the reactions for the two experiments? Watch to see what happens!
Learn more: The Homeschool Scientist
Ever wonder how Arctic animals live in such cold water? Well, this demonstration analyzes just that! Using clear plastic bags and a secret ingredient, see how he can keep his hand in the ice-cold water pain-free. This experiment answers the question: How do animals live in cold water? How do they keep their bodies warm? How can humans keep their bodies warm?
Learn more: How Cast
This experiment explores the question: How does the sun heat water? Will different jars (white vs. black vs. clear) create a different occurrence? Fill different types of jars with water. Leave them out in the sun to see what happens.
Learn more: Sciencing
This experiment allows students to discover how to keep jars of hot water warm in the cold! This demonstration uses glass mason jars and is perfect for an insulation demonstration outdoors in the cold.
Learn more: Royal Botanical Gardens
Show what you Know
Create your own game board OR use factile, a website that allows teachers to make a jeopardy style board.
Learn more: Factile
23. 3D Performance Task
The Wisconsin Science and STEM Education initiative give a broad outline of how to create a task-oriented assessment. It will also help you develop a rubric to have a solid, data-driven way to assess knowledge.
Learn more: Wisconsin Science and STEM Education
Students can make a medium, large, or 3 fold poster. Creating a poster allows students to research more information, write or type their information and draw or print pictures. They can do any combination!
Learn more: Classroom
Students can make a video showing what they know about the heat on Animoto. This fun idea can be done individually or in small groups, they can make a script, write notecards or create a storyboard to help plan their thinking.
Learn more: Animoto
26. Heat Transfer Poster
Students can show what they know about heat transfer using this handy poster from Pinterest! Really more of a graphic organizer, which allows students to organize their ideas about heat concepts. Students could fill this out first and then use the information to create a poster, presentation, or video!
Learn more: Teachers Pay Teachers
27. Slideshow presentation
Students can make a slideshow depicting facts, pictures, and even videos about the heat! They can use the graphic organizer above to plan their ideas and research!
Learn more: The Edu Blogger
28. Artistic Medium
This activity depicts types of heat and heat transfer through artistic mediums. Media could include drawings, paintings, collages, sculptures, photography, poetry, song, pottery, or mosaic! This website may give you an idea of how to use artistic mediums as an assessment tool.
Learn more: Arts Impact