Happy spring fellow educators! I hope everyone is doing well as we begin to enter the final lap for 2017-2018. It’s common knowledge that hands-on activities are the way to go for teaching; anything that can get a student creatively thinking and actively engaged is a win-win for everyone in the classroom. However, while that sounds great on paper, it doesn’t always pan out for the bank account. So, here are six easy, stress-free ideas for hands-on activities on the cheap.
- Having trouble getting the idea of density across to your young ones? Go to your closest grocery market and start looking at the sugar content for juices. The more sugar that’s in a drink, the denser it will be. Buy a few varieties of juice, a few plastic cups (the taller and skinnier, the better) and have your kids create their own density drink! The pouring will be much easier if you use a large dropper or turkey baster.
- What list of cheap experiments would be complete without mentioning Oobleck? Ooblecks are an easy to make non-Newtonian fluid that are perfect for a fun lesson plan. All you need is one cup of water and 2-ish cups of corn starch, and you have yourself a lesson in physics! Just be prepared for an extremely messy classroom.
- Give your kids a quick lesson in cloud formation with a cloud-in-a-bottle experiment. Most versions of this experiment require the use of a foot pump, but there is a much easier method. Simply take a glass jar and fill it with warm water. Then, drop a lit match inside, close the jar, and put some ice cubes on top. The contrast in temperatures from both ends of the jar will cause the water vapor to form clouds around the smoke given off by the match. And the best part: opening the jar and releasing the clouds!
- Taking a page from Discovery World’s playbook, playdough is an excellent way to introduce kids to electrical circuits. All it takes are some LED lights, 9V batteries, and some conductive playdough. The kids can make some weird and wacky creations while you explain the concept of electricity and circuits.
- If you’re ever talking about the five senses, then having your students try some Mystery Drink is an excellent way to talk about how the senses work. Just take some clear flavored liquid and dye the drink a purposefully misleading color. For example, dye your grape drink an orange color, or your berry drink a bright yellow. Just make sure the kids don’t smell the drink!
- For animal traits and characteristics, Wigglers are a great way to have your kids try their hand at insulating themselves for the winter. Have each group fill up a film canister with jello, and give them all the materials you want. Feathers, cotton balls, paper, anything you can find on the cheap rack. Then, have them stuff a plastic bag full of it, put their “Wiggler” inside, and stick it in the freezer for a few hours. If their jello is still liquid, they’ve successfully hibernated through the winter!