As computers become more accessible to younger students, teacher need to find appropriate lessons to further educate students about computer programs. Many elementary and middle school students can use Excel spreadsheets in a variety of ways to create graphs of data and reinforce materials learned. Some activities are best in a computer lab environment where students can concentrate on using Excel and not just seeing a demonstration.
Elementary Excel Activities
Elementary students can get accustomed to typing in a spreadsheet using simple fact-checking problems. For math problems, set up a spreadsheet to check addition facts or multiplication facts. In the column next to the problem, students can type in their answer. They then click on the next column to check their answer. They instantly know which problems they got right and which problems to do over.
For geography, students can identify continents, oceans, countries or states using an excel spreadsheet. Just import a picture of a map with a number on each item the students should identify. Students can enter the correct data for each number required and instantly check their answers.
By learning copying and pasting skills, students can start creating their own graphs. Import a picture to represent each type of data that students should copy onto their graph. For example, for graphing the class' favorite animals choose seven animals for the class to pick from. After the data is collected, let the students create a bar graph by copying and pasting as many of each animal needed to represent how popular it was with the class.
Upper Elementary Excel Activities
Upper elementary students in 3rd to 5th grades can start learning how to make time lines using Excel spreadsheets. After studying biographies of famous Americans, students can use two or three classes making a time line of the important events in that person's life. To introduce the concept of a time line, students can first make an autobiographical time line showing the major events that has happened in their life.
Students can create a food diary and analyze their eating habits compared to the USDA recommendation of a balanced diet. Calories and nutritional information can also be entered as students keep up with their eating habits over a period of time. Students should have daily access to their computers to enter the data onto a excel spreadsheet, and after a period of time should make conclusions based on that data.
Middle School Excel Activities
In an early introduction to statistics, middle school students can chart probabilities experiments. This also gives them experience creating formulas for excel spreadsheets. As they collect and enter their data, they can see their results updated regularly. Using a two coin toss experiment, let every student or team do 50 trials to collect data on the probability of what combination of heads and tails will happen. As students enter the data, they can start to predict outcomes. After all the data has been collected and entered, allow students to customize their graphs by choosing fonts, colors, size, and so on.
To learn social awareness, students can track reasons adults do or do not participate in voting in local, state and national elections. Students should be divided into teams and interview a set number of adults in different age brackets about their voting habits. Students should learn to make hypothesis of why people vote, and create materials to persuade young people to exercise their right to vote.
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