Welcoming the class back with an attractive and interesting science bulletin board can spark interest and help get students involved in learning from day one. There are so many interesting science topics, it is impossible to exhaust the possibilities. Keeping a few rules in mind will make the job easier and more efficient.
Coordinate the bulletin board with the first unit of study for the class. Choose one aspect of study and center the board around that, with opportunities for the students to further explore the ideas. A learning center placed near the bulletin board with manipulatives, suggestions for simple experiments, or materials for the children to add to the board can further draw students in to learning about the topic.
Keep the age and academic level of the class in mind when designing a bulletin board. Younger children will enjoy a bulletin board that lets them add pictures. For example, a rainforest bulletin board with appropriate tree showing the canopy, the ground, and the sky above could be accompanied by pictures of animals to place in their appropriate habitat. Place a table near the bulletin board with the pictures, plus books that show where the animals live.
For older children, post a brain teaser or two and let them puzzle over it. Once the brain teaser is solved, it can be taken down and placed in a folder at the bottom of the bulletin board. A new teaser can then be posted. See how many brain teasers the class can solve together in a month.
For ease in changing the bulletin board, try using a fabric background. Fabric does not fade like paper, and will last much longer. It doesn’t tear or show pin marks the way paper does. When the time comes to create a new bulletin board, place the pictures and lettering in an oversize folder, clearly labeled, with notes about the unit it was used for and how well it worked. This will give you a head start for the following year.
Call attention to your bulletin board by using it in lessons and classroom learning games. You can gradually add new things to keep up interest, and remove older items to keep the bulletin board from becoming too cluttered.
When you move on to a new unit, simply remove the items for this unit, store them, and replace them with things that coordinate with what the class is currently studying.
Cooking or Baking
There’s a lot of science involved in cooking, and particularly in baking. Younger children can study the different vegetables and fruits, learn to make salads, use frozen peas for snacks. use manipulatives for counting and measuring (math, but closely related to science), categorize foods, and try simple recipes with adult help. Older children might enjoy learning how bread rises, why a cake might fall, and how altitude effects the cooking processes.
With the current emphasis on better nutrition in school cafeterias, this is a good opportunity to learn about how foods effect body function. Teaching how to choose a healthful and delicious snack, and how to figure out appropriate portions will help students form better habits they can carry forward throughout their lives.
Young children love animal bulletin boards, especially ones that let them add pictures and move them around. They can practice categorizing (farm or zoo animals; those with two legs, four legs or no legs; animals with fur, feathers, or scales; animals that live in burrows, in trees or other places.) Older children can get into more sophisticated aspects of zoology, study endangered animals and how they can be helped to survive, learn about the difference between factory farms and family run farms.
Habitat and Ecosystems
These can be as simple or as elaborate as the class shows readiness to profit from. When studying a particular habitat, for example the ocean, displaying a table nearby with books about the ocean and perhaps an aquarium will add a lot of interest. Children can benefit greatly from taking responsibility to care for the animals that are kept in the classroom. As new habitats are studied, new animals could be brought in for study and to take care of.
Stars and Planets
A black background with colorful planets in orbit can make a very attractive board. Try starting out with just the sun and one planet, then adding others as you move through the unit. You’ll need a LOT of room to keep this in perspective.
Atoms and Molecules
One of the most fascinating ideas I remember from elementary school science was that atoms and molecules are always moving; that what appears to be solid is really composed of moving particles. Atoms and molecules can make for fascinating study, once children are ready for this.
Other topics to consider are food chains, body parts, cells and photosynthesis, fossils and dinosaurs, simple machines, the water cycle, weather, and global warming. One bulletin board that should go up around Halloween time is the skeleton. You might try taking the skeleton apart and having students add to it as you study, beginning with the skull.
Whatever bulletin board you choose for welcoming students back to school, try to make it fit with the interests of your students and what they will be studying at the time. Make it fun and interactive as well as decorative.
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