When I was in second grade I have a wonderful teacher that inspired my love of learning. She always had way to make learning fun, meaningful, and engaging. She inspired me to be a teacher, as I wanted to provide knowledge and a love of learning to other children. Science happens to be a personal favorite of mine. Learning about the human body, outer space, and how everything around us works is quite fascinating to me. One way my second grade teacher broadened my love of all things science was encouraging us to turn into scientist during our science lessons. Allowing children to use a bit imagination can inspire them to enjoy the subject matter while learning. As educators we want to build our students writing skills, which will help with reading skills and content knowledge. How can you incorporate writing in your science lessons? Easy, let them “play make-believe”, use their imaginations, let them be a scientist during your lesson. Put yourself in a child’s shoes and think about you would enjoy learning about science. How can you inspire your students to possibly become a Doctor, an Astronomer, an Archeologist, or other types of scientists? I will share with you some helpful tips to make science fun and engaging while working on those writing skills.
Science Journals and Lab Reports. With any grade level you teach, having students keep a science journal or interactive notebook will provide a way to imbed writing into science lessons. I like to call it their “Scientist Journal” so my students feel they hold responsibility of the Scientist job. Students can maintain a notebook and keep track of observations, experiments, and results. You can also have students write lab reports. Even in first grade we use a basic observation task sheet and take what was learned during the science lesson to create simple lab reports.
Science Picture of the Day. A simple task to engage students in science writing is by using a picture of the day. The activity can be used as a warm-up or wrap-up task. Provide each student with a regular, real-life picture, and they have to list all the things they observe in it. Students will us science processing skills along with noting key details. Then students list any questions they have and things they infer, and any science they see in the picture. Students begin to notice the science that is around them in their everyday lives, all while thinking critically while using reading skills and writing skills.
Use special props or apparel. This is wonderful tool to use in any grade level. My first graders particularly love being able to turn into scientist for our lessons. As I prepare my science units, I think about clothing or props students can use to turn into a scientist. I ask parents to send is some suggested scientist related apparel that students will use each day during our science lessons. A few examples include: Human Body Unit- a white shirt to make a “lab coat”, Rocks and Minerals Unit and The Study of Earth Unit- Brown/tan shirt and hat, Animal Habitat Unity- green shirt and hat, Outerspace Unit-black shirt. Other props students could bring in are goggles, pretend glasses, stethoscopes, magnifying glass, binoculars, or any prop that relates to your unit of study. I also make Scientist Name Tags for each student to wear. Students enjoy being given a job, so the apparel makes them feel more like real Scientists and enjoy recording information in their notebooks.
Expose your students to other great scientist. Before we begin a new science unit, I use books and videos to introduce scientists related to our current unit of study. This brings our science units to life and students can really get into character. When we read a book or watch a video about a scientists, students should make observations and record details about the scientist and the material those scientists study.
Projects, Presentations, and written tasks. Science units are presented in a variety of ways. Students may take notes in their science journals, complete graphic organizers or observation sheets, and topics are assigned to students to become an expert on that will be shared with the class. For example, during our Animal Habitat Unit students are given a habitat and they then select and animal from that habitat. Students research and complete the guided report sheet to ensure the correct information has been found. Students then create a diorama of their habitat and students present their projects in habitat teams. During our Human Body Unit, each student is assigned and body system. Students are then required to complete a written assignment. They can choose to write a letter to someone, design a flyer, or create a brochure describing how that body system works and how to keep that system functions properly. All assignments are presented to the class but I usually put students in teams to presents their projects.
You know your students well and what learning style is best for each child. Try to relate to your students and make writing a part of learning, not just a subject that has to be taught. Writing can be integrated in all subjects and science has many wonderful topics that lends itself to practicing those writing skills while learning science content.