If you’re planning your back-to-school lessons, consider inviting students to share how they are experts on a chosen topic.
Your students will discover that each of their peers has something unique to contribute to the classroom. They will show off their expertise, learn about their classmates’ special skills, and find out how different traits and abilities combined equals wondrous accomplishments throughout the school year! Plus, you can wow your students with a science demonstration.
I’m an Expert At …
Get students acquainted by having them go on a scavenger hunt to discover all of the talents in the classroom (which will result in the wall display shown above). Staple the expert sheets together (shown below). Click here for a printable.
The children first sign the box that contains an image of what each of them is an expert at. There is a blank box that says “something else.” The various options will hopefully get students inspired to come up with unique answers. In the blank box, each student draws a picture of and writes his or her individual skill. (For example, a student might be an expert stamp collector.) Next, students walk around the room, visiting each peer. Their peers sign their names in the box that indicates their expertise.
Once everyone has walked the room, they are given a person template. Students can draw on it by hand or digitally, whatever they prefer. They create themselves showing their expertise. Then, they fill out the Expert card and write why they are an expert at the subject matter they chose. Click here for a PDF: Experts (includes person template and expert card).
Now, hang up their drawings next to their cards in the hallway, so everyone can see all the different experts you have in your classroom! Students hold on to their expert packet with their peers’ names. They can refer to it throughout the school year. If they need help with a subject they are not very strong at, they can ask an expert!
Paper Chain Gang
Students are given five strips of paper (various colors). They write things that they are really good at, as well as adjectives that describe their personality (nice, funny, optimistic) on each of their strips. They link their strips together to create a small paper chain. Then, they measure it.
As a class, they help link all the chains together. Use blank strips of paper in between each child’s chain. Have kids estimate the length of the giant chain. Then, as a class, measure it. Did anyone come close to guessing the actual length of the chain?!
Discussion: Look at the variety of talents in the room. Compare the length of their chains to the giant class chain. If we all work together, we can accomplish anything! Hang the chain somewhere in the room to display the variety of skills the children possess.
Come Together Science Demonstration
What you need:
4 colors of food coloring
Deep dish or pie tin
What you do:
First, pour whole milk into a dish.
Introduction – “We all have different likes, interests and skills.”
Add one drop of each food coloring near the center of the dish—but they should not touch one another.
Middle – “If we unite and work together …”
Dip a Q-tip into dishwashing liquid and stick it in the milk, in between the colors.
(The colors will swirl and dance around in the milk.)
Ending – “We can accomplish wondrous things!”
Dip a fresh Q-tip with dish soap in the milk. The colors will continue to swirl!
Finale – “If we are not nice to one another and don’t treat one another with respect …”
Take the Q-tip and stir the milk really fast.
(It will become muddy looking and you will no longer be able to make colorful swirls).
“… we won’t be able to explore, create or accomplish anything.”
Click here for Steve Spangler’s Color Changing Milk Experiment for detailed instructions for this experiment.
Erin Bittman is a student at the University of Cincinnati. She will be a student teacher in a multi-grade classroom in the fall (second and third grades). Check out her blog E Is for Explore!