Unique Ways to Start Your Science Class

Starting your science classes on an engaging note not only sets the tone for the rest of the period but also fosters excitement and curiosity among students. Having a plan for what students do when they enter your science classroom will help with classroom management!  It’s also a great way to introduce or review key topics contained within your science unit. Here are some innovative ways to start your science class, ensuring that students are primed for learning and exploration.

Vocabulary Practice

No matter what grade level you teach, understanding the key vocabulary terms pertaining to your science curriculum is essential for building good scientific knowledge and grasping complex concepts. Incorporating vocabulary practice at the beginning of class not only reinforces key terms but also makes learning fun. As a middle school science teacher, I’ve found the vocabulary activities I incorporate into science lessons are some of my students favorite things we do. Here are a few of my personal favorite science vocabulary activities: 

​If you want to make sure your whole class knows each vocabulary word, try playing a game! I don’t care how old your stuents are, everyone enjoys a good game! It’s a BONUS when this fun activity doubles as productive study time. Here are two of my favorite digital formats for vocabulary games: 

  • Blooket: Blooket turns vocabulary review into a competitive game, where students race against each other to answer questions correctly. It adds an element of excitement and encourages active participation.
  • Quizlet: With its flashcards and quizzes, Quizlet offers versatile ways to practice vocabulary. Students can study independently or compete in groups, making it an adaptable tool for diverse learning styles.

​Whether you are introducing a new concept or reviewing important science topics at the end of a unit, word puzzles are a fun and easy option! These word searches and color by number vocabulary activities can be completed independently OR you could allow students to work together in cooperative groups. 

  • Word Searches: Word searches provide a hands-on approach to learning vocabulary. Students can search for terms related to the day’s lesson, reinforcing their understanding in a tactile way.
  • Color By Number: This creative twist on traditional coloring activities requires students to match colors with specific vocabulary terms, reinforcing their association with visual cues.
  • Crossword Puzzles: These activities require students to build a knowledge of key vocabulary terms.

If you’re a lover of the Interactive Student Notebook (I sure am!!) using reflection exercises are a great way to begin your science class. Think about it…encouraging students to reflect on previous lessons promotes metacognitive skills and deepens understanding. By posing thought-provoking questions, teachers can prompt critical thinking and foster connections between concepts. It’ simple: Have your daily reflection question posted to the board when students enter your room with the direction to take out their handy science notebooks and write (or draw) their response. You’ll be able to review these responses at the end of the week when students submit their notebooks for review, OR you could have them take a photo and post to Google Classroom as an exit ticket. 

CNN 10 

Integrating current events into the curriculum enhances relevance and expands students’ awareness of the world around them. CNN 10 is a daily news show designed for students over age 13 (calling all middle and high school science teachers!) This program provides bite-sized news segments that can spark discussions and inspire curiosity about science in action. If you are looking for unique ways to start your science class, have your students watch an episode of CNN10! Extension Idea: Write 5 sentences detailing key facts they learned from the news report. 

Scientist of the Day

As a middle school science teacher, incorporating “Scientists of the Day” into your classroom routine can spark curiosity and engagement from the moment your students walk in. By highlighting the work of diverse scientists, past and present, you not only provide a glimpse into the fascinating world of science but also inspire your students to see themselves as future contributors to the field. Whether it’s Marie Curie’s groundbreaking research in radioactivity or the innovative work of contemporary scientists like Jane Goodall or Neil deGrasse Tyson, each spotlighted figure offers a gateway to explore various scientific disciplines and career paths. This daily ritual not only sets a positive tone for the class but also fosters a sense of wonder and possibility, igniting a passion for discovery that can last a lifetime.

Standardized Test Questions

Preparing students for standardized assessments is essential, but it doesn’t have to be dull. Integrating test-style questions into daily warm-ups familiarizes students with the format and reinforces key concepts in a low-stakes environment. These questions serve as valuable checkpoints, helping you gauge students’ understanding and identify areas for further review or clarification. Moreover, regular practice instills confidence in students, alleviating test anxiety and empowering them to approach assessments with a sense of readiness and competence. By weaving standardized test questions into your daily instruction, you’re equipping your students with the tools they need to excel academically and thrive as scientifically literate individuals.

Themed Days

Who says you have to do the same activity every day?! (Hint: Nobody does!) Feel free to choose different science activities for each day of the week. In fact, injecting variety into the routine keeps students engaged and adds an element of anticipation to each class period. Sure, you could plan each class warmup activity one day at a time…OR you could use themed days to make the planning a little easier. Here are a few examples: 

  • Mystery Monday
  • Trivia Tuesday 
  • Word Practice Wednesday 
  • Today in Science Thursday
  • Famous Scientist Friday 

There are many different ways to start your science class. Incorporating diverse strategies to kick off each class period not only sets a positive tone but also maximizes engagement and learning. By harnessing the power of games, reflection, current events, and themed activities, teachers can create dynamic learning environments where curiosity thrives and students are motivated to explore the wonders of science.

How will YOU be starting your science classes this week? Leave a comment and let me know! 

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