I am so excited to get these lesson plans rolling! Each week of your school year can now be stress free because I am going to be sharing my lesson plans with you for free every week!! This will be for elementary science grades 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th since those are the grades I have curriculum for. I don’t want you to miss out on a single free lesson plan, so make sure you sign up right now to get these sent straight to your inbox!!
Now, for the biggest week of the school year. Back to School! I like to start with community building and real learning right from day one. This first week of school is a great opportunity to introduce your students to science while introducing your new scientists to each other. Each day of this week has activities built-in for establishing procedures and routines, getting students set up in your classroom, getting to know each other activities, and nature of science learning. You can take a peek at this week lesson plan (click to download the pdf), and then read all about this first week of school.
Since this lesson is not based on a typical concept standard like the other weeks of the year, this lesson set is the only one that is a different weekly layout than the others. Every other week will follow a set flow of activities for each day. I like this system so my kids know what to expect each day, and it makes planning soooo much easier. Depending on your science block timeframe, you may decide to pick and choose activities from this lesson plan to better fit your schedule. You can also spread this out to cover 2-3 weeks if that is how your school’s scope and sequence is set up.
First day of school! This is an exciting day for everyone, and an important day. My top two biggest focuses on the first day (and first week) is to get everyone settled and make them feel like they belong here. As students walk in your classroom, stand at the doorway and find a fun way to greet each student. Some fun ways to greet kids as they enter your room are:
-waves (pandemic year approved)
-and, always add a big welcoming smile.
Have any easy way for students to find where to sit as they walk in. A name tag or name tent on their desk works well if you have their seating arrangement planned out already. Make a note on the board that says “1. Find your name tag and take a seat. 2. See if you can answer Monday’s question on your Science Starters paper.” Make sure to have the Science Starters sitting on their desks, or you can hand them out as they walk in. This establishes the routine of coming in and getting to work on Science Starters every day. You have very easily just set up your first expectation.
When everyone has had time to settle in and answer Monday’s question, welcome everyone to your class and let them know how excited you are to get to know them and share some fun Science with them this year. Let them know where they will store their Science Starters each day. Hand out any materials you have for them (including their interactive science notebooks). Let them know how these materials will be used and stored. Set the expectations for the year.
Now, it’s time to introduce some learning and show your students how fun Science can be! For this first Science lab demo of the year, I love to do glowing foam explosions. I enjoy watching them as an adult, and kids flip out to watch it. You can make this in a soda bottle or in a volcano (made from modeling clay). Either way is exciting to watch! I like to have a cookie tray under this to catch the foam. This is an elephant toothpaste style explosion, so it should not fly out. The liquid and tray can be hot after this demo, so be careful of that.
Now that we have some Science going, this is a great time to introduce the Word Wall Builder Chart. Talk to them about the process of how we will think about words before we learn them and work through the first column of your chart for the week. I love Word Wall Builder Charts because it guides students through using critical thinking for each word and gives them daily exposure to the words, making them stick better in their memory. The Word Wall Builder Chart can be an anchor chart or on a board in your classroom, but it can also be printed as a student sheet. Students can collect these in the back of their interactive notebook or in a folder. I added a pic of my chart below done on chart paper. I used sticky notes so I didn’t have to recreated the chart every week.
This will be the first of weekly informational texts you provide your students with this year. Because of this, I like to read the informational text as a class. Step one of a gradual release to students: Guide students through the process you would like them to use when reading. Think about how they will define the key words. Will they highlight them? Do you want them to define the words as they read, or after they read? Walk them through step by step. Think out loud for them. As you progress through the year, you may want to keep a group of students who need extra help for a longer scaffolding process.
I like to provide students with a way to process and use the information they read so they can better retain that information. I create a themed graphic organizer for each text that doubles as visual notetaking or note doodles or coloring notes. They use what they read or learned to complete the graphic organizer.
While reading, they defined the three key terms. These key terms give students a guide for writing a summary about what they have read. This is a second way they interact with the reading and process the information. Informational texts are not a tell-all of the concept because I want them to experience the standard to really learn it. The real learning will come through the other activities. Informational texts are there to give students a base knowledge to prep them for labs and activities.
Using their new knowledge of the key terms, you can complete column 2 “context clues “of the word wall chart. When stored in their notebooks or folders, Word Wall Builder Charts become a great reference point for homework help or studying.
Name Tents make the perfect community building activity to end the day. Students will fill out the 3 sides of the tent, assemble it, and then allow them to talk to classmates about what they put on their name tents. These can be used the rest of the week if students fold them and put them in a folder.
Today will be the first anchor chart of the year. Each regular week will have one anchor chart, but this week has three. Since this week covers the basics of science, these anchor charts will be a great reference for the rest of the year. Free classroom decor!! Anchor charts can be created on chart paper using the printable version as a guide. Have students follow along by creating their own or filling out a printable version in their interactive notebook. Anchor charts are the perfect student input for interactive science notebooks. I provide moveable pieces for each anchor chart that can be added to make these more fun and interactive for their notebooks. Today’s anchor chart will introduce Science Tools. This is the first activity for the interactive science notebook, so take your time to explain your expectations and procedures for their notebooks. Plan out your storage plan for the ISN ahead of time so they have a place to put them. I like to have a crate at the edge of each table with dividers for each class (if departmentalized). Here is a simple anchor chart I have drawn up for this day. If the thought of drawing stressed you out, use the printable versions and save yourself even more time.
I like to set up the notebooks so that the two activities are on opposite pages from each other. Both the input and the output can be seen together across from each other. This makes a great reference point for completing work, homework, or studying for tests. On the creative side of their notebook, they will add the toolbox pieces that can open to store the tool cards. Another option for this one is to have them complete the tool chart where they can add their own illustration for each tool. Having your science tools set up around the room for students to explore and see in person will make this even more meaningful.
To finish up the day, have students start working on the Back to School Scientist (All About Me Craft). This is a really fun way for students to think of themselves as a scientist and share more about themselves. They will work on these the rest of the week and you can display them in the hall or on the classroom wall so everyone can get to know each other better. This activity is sent to you when you sign up for my Elementary Science Newsletter of lesson plans and resources sent right to you!
Today will be the second anchor chart of the week: Science Safety Rules. This is extremely important to cover. If time didn’t allow for this whole week of learning for your class, today’s lesson would be the one to pick for the week. Science Safety may not sound like a huge deal for elementary science, but there are supplies we use that could cause harm if not handled properly. I always suggest doing a teacher demo for the labs that are too dangerous for this age group, such as boiling water or anything using a hot plate. Knowing how important science safety is will help them stay safe during these demos. Other times, there may be substances you don’t want them tasting, ingesting, or breathing in. Plus, it builds a respect for the science lab that will keep them safe in the upper grades. I have always found science safety rules to be a really simple behavior deterrent. Kids love labs. When I see behaviors in class that would not be good for a lab, I let them know that if they can’t follow rules in regular class times, then I cannot trust them to be safe in the lab later this week. It works every time!
For the anchor chart, you can create this in class with your students on chart paper and have them copy it in their notebook. To save on time, I always provide a printable version students can complete and glue in their notebook with an optional interactive overlay. The printable versions can be used by you to fill them out on a projector screen if you don’t want to make the large option every time.
With the anchor chart on the teacher input side of the interactive notebook, students can draw and label their safe science lab on the right side. I have a lab table image they can glue in to draw around, but a blank page works just as well.
Now that we have some science safety knowledge, its time to treat the class to a lab! The Water Absorption Lab is perfect for this. It works quickly enough to see results by the second day. I just grab the cheapest white flowers I can find in the garden department. We cut the roots off of one set, and leave the roots intact for the other. We add some water with food coloring to each and see how much roots affect water absorption. Friday will be focused on the Scientific Method, and this is a great start for working through that.
This is a good day to complete the final two columns of the Word Wall Builder Chart. Give students the actual definition (which can always be found on the Vocabulary Activity Pages).
Close today by working on the All About Me Scientist Craft, if time allows.
The Scientific Method anchor chart will finish up our intro to science week. Like with the other anchor charts this week, there are a couple options in the lesson set to choose from. Either will get the concept covered. For the student output of this interactive science notebook activity, students will plan their own experiment! They will have fun with this, and you can just let them see what they come up with. I like to give them a notebook sized lab report that is set up for them to fill in the blanks.
And, then its time for part 2 of the lab! Students will observe and record the results of their experiment. This is the first lab of the year, so work through the conclusion portion of the lab with the class. Model your thoughts to show them your expectations for a conclusion in a lab report. Extending this out to check again after the weekend, would give a new look on roots. This is where you will see the plant with no roots start to wilt and maybe even die. This would show that although plants can absorb water without roots, it is not enough to sustain it over a longer period of time.
If time allows, students can complete the vocabulary activity pages. These could be given earlier in the week or for homework. Each week’s lesson will always include these vocabulary activities, so students can process each word in a variety of ways.
Finish up the week by completing and sharing the All About Me Scientist Craft. Post these around the room or in the hall so everyone can get to know each other.
Last step: Go home and relax, you deserve it!! It’s Friday and I already have your next week planned for you, too. 😉
Lesson Plan Q&A
Q: Where can I find all of the activities and printables?
A: All activites and printables for this week of learning (except the All About Me Scientist Craft)can be found in the Nature of Science Complete Lesson Set. Detailed Instructions and Lesson Plans are also included in the complete lessons set.
Q: Can this be purchased with a school purchase order?
Yes. I have these posted in my Teachers Pay Teachers store which is set up for using a purchase order as a form of payment.
Q: Is there a way to buy the full year of the complete weeks of learning in a bundle and save?
A: The Mega Bundles include the full year of learning PLUS extra resources for adding more literacy into your science block, test prep, and more! The EVERYTHING 4th Grade MEGA Bundle and the EVERYTHING 5th Grade MEGA Bundle both have everything you need for a year of learning. They are also updated as needed to meet changing standards and new research in teaching methods.
Q: What standards do the Complete Lesson Sets and Mega Bundles cover?
A: Each lesson is written to cover both the TEKS and the NGSS standards when applicable. Some lessons may be solely TEKS or NGSS when they don’t match up for a grade level. Most of the time TEKS have a few more standards in a year than the NGSS.
I hope this gives you some good ideas for the first week of school. My goal is to provide you with engaging lessons that are ready to go each week so you can spend far less time planning and prepping, and far more time spoiling yourself **because you deserve it!**
Recommended Resources for Teaching Science
To make your teacher life even easier, I have put my lesson activities and materials into easy to use files. This saves all the time we spend scrolling and collecting lesson resources. Just print and add simple lab supplies! Or, go digital for NO PREP! No making copies, and the lab is virtual – Talk about saving your sanity.
A week of introducing Science Basics and building a classroom community.
NO PREP week of introducing Science Basics.
Everything you need to teach a whole year of Science. Just add simple lab supplies. Each week of learning is provided, including the digital version. All extra activities and resources that apply to 4th grade science are included in this bundle, too!
- Highly Rated by Districts and Teachers
- (5 Star Rating)
Everything you need to teach a whole year of Science. Just add simple lab supplies. Each week of learning is provided, including the digital version. All extra activities and resources that apply to 5th grade science are included in this bundle, too! My original year of lesson sets is included PLUS my New & Improved year of lesson sets. This is great for added tutoring materials, additional learning activities, or differentiating instruction.
- Highly Rated by Districts and Teachers
- (5 Star Rating)
Here is the lesson plan link again. And, don’t forget to join the Science Newsletter so you never miss a planned week of learning!