First-graders are old enough to explore individual and group projects to enhance their understanding of academic concepts and start practicing their presentation skills. Teachers should incorporate technology into some assignments to help first-graders learn how to use computer programs. Science projects help young students learn the value of experimentation. As a teacher, consider school projects that involve the community, so your first-graders learn the importance of sharing, giving and contributing.
Have your first-graders develop elementary-level science projects that involve experimentation, data recording and short presentations. Students can work on their science projects at home or at school, whichever you prefer. For in-school assignments, give students two or three science projects to choose from to avoid having to provide a wide range of supplies. For example, students might do leaf rubbings to examine the size and shape of leaves, connect two plastic cups with string to study the speed of sound or examine their own fingerprints, according to the Education website. Help students learn how to make educated guesses, record their findings and explain their conclusions with posters or other visual aids.
Zoo Animal Presentations
Pretend that your school is building a zoo next door and each first-grader must create a presentation showing why her animal should be part of the zoo, suggests Lincoln Elementary School in Elmhurst, Illinois. Help your students learn how to create computerized presentations that include headings, bullet points and pictures. If you don't have computers for every student, divide the class and allow some to work on computer presentations while others create posters about their animals. Rotate groups so everyone has the opportunity to do both. Have students present their ideas to the class. You can modify the activity to fit other scenarios -- say, a new library for which students must choose a book or a new grocery store that students must stock with a favorite food.
Family Trees and Self-Portraits
Ask your students to work on projects about themselves and their families, such as family trees and self-portraits. Provide a family tree template and have students fill in information about their families; parent involvement is required for this exercise. Encourage students to provide a significant detail about each person in the family so they learn about their family history. Have students make self-portraits using computer software, such as Kid Pix, Pixie or Tux Paint. Self-portraits help students explore their artistic side while examining their own characteristics. Students can also design their self-portraits on paper using paint, crayons or markers. Display the artwork in your classroom or in the hallway.
Involve your first-graders in school projects that tie into the community. For example, you might host a food drive and take your class to deliver the food to a food bank or a soup kitchen. Ask students to donate holiday gifts for less fortunate children, or work with a nursing home and have your class become pen pals with residents. Students can learn how philanthropic organizations operate while learning the importance of contributing to the community.
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