I’m sharing 7 of my best tips for teaching science in upper elementary. Whether you are a brand new teacher, new to teaching science, or have been a science teacher for years, this list is for YOU!
Don’t miss the FREE science teacher toolkit to get and keep your classroom and students organized (hint: it’s at the bottom of this post)
Tips for Teaching Science in Upper Elementary
- Find a partner. Seriously, find a mentor or partner teacher. Having another teacher to help with planning and prepping (hello labs) means less work for you. And that means less time spent working during evenings and weekends. If you are the only science teacher in your grade level, reach out to other campuses. Chances are that your invitation will be welcomed with open arms and maybe even a return invitation to do that collaborative planning at Starbucks…. win/win.
- Look before you create. Google is your best friend here. Do you need ideas for teaching electricity and circuits? Google can help you with that. Why make your own printables, slideshows, or lesson plans if someone else has already done the hard work for you?
- You do, then they do (the labs). I’ve made the mistake (more than once) of not completing a lab before assigning it to my students. This can be a hit or miss mistake. Maybe you’ll be lucky and the lab will go exactly as you expected. Or maybe you will be like me and end up with a bunch of dead batteries for your circuits lab 😨
- Model organization for your students. Students in upper elementary NEED help with organizing their materials. They will not learn how to do this on their own unless it is modeled over and over by their teachers. A great place to start with this is by creating and maintaining your own SCIENCE interactive notebook. This is great for modeling organization and it gives you the perfect support for students who are absent for a lesson (they can copy yours). Get started on your own notebook with these FREE 5th grade science notebook dividers.
More Tips for Teaching Science in Upper Elementary
- Have a plan for when your lesson ends early. Even with the best planning, sometimes your lesson takes less time than anticipated. It is such a bummer to have 5 minutes left at the end of class with nothing to do. I love keeping task cards on hand for times like this. It is easy to grab one and use as a whole class discussion starter or even to guide peer discussions. Task cards even make great exit ticket questions. No need to ever have spare time at the end of class again.
- Follow other science educators on social media. Find other people who have the same educational values as you and follow them on social media. There are so many science teachers, curriculum developers, and writers who love to interact with other teachers online. You can get ideas, tips, and advice from people who know it best. “Two people that have the same wants are two people that should be friends.” ― Shannon L. Alder
- Plan ahead for when you need a sub. Oh goodness, do I wish I had done this earlier in my teaching career. Nothing is worse than being sick and having to come up with meaningful activities that students can do with a sub. I love these 5th Grade Science Comprehension Units because they have everything a sub will need to teach a science concept. No more losing instructional time just because there is a sub!
Bonus Tip for Teaching Science!
- Go OUTSIDE! When students seem a bit sluggish or you just need to mix things up… go outside. You do not have to save the outdoor lessons for observing evidence of weathering or identifying parts of a food chain. Let students take notes outside or collaborate on a project while sitting in the grass. New life will breathe into your students just from moving from their desk to out in the open air.