Most students don’t get to experience the excitement of choosing their own classes until late in their academic careers. However, middle school is the perfect time to open students’ eyes to a world of passions and hobbies. Check out these fun and unique middle school electives that students love taking—and teachers love teaching!
This elective combines the principles of science with the fun of cooking! Middle school science teacher Carol B. says that kitchen science was the most fun elective she ever taught as she explored “types of sugars, types of oils, metals that make the best cookware, and nutrition”—all while making yummy treats!
This is a class every young adult wishes they had in middle school: Life Skills aka Adulting 101. Teacher Jessica T. says that her middle school’s life skills course teaches “career skills, CPR, babysitting, budgeting, and keyboarding.” Life Skills is also a great opportunity for student choice; teachers can give surveys to their students asking what they would like to learn over the course of the year and what topics excite them.
Not only does sewing allow students to walk away with a piece of clothing they made themselves, but it also touches on many academic subjects! Teacher Chaney M. ties algebra and history into her sewing lessons, and the many connections “always surprise” her students. Check out our sewing books and activities.
This may seem silly at first glance, but board games are a fun way to teach students many necessary life skills. Board games develop social-emotional traits such as collaboration, self-awareness, empathy, and self-motivation. Games like Risk, Spades, and Mancala, teach strategic thinking, and middle school teacher Mary R. says using board games “could even get into a bit of mathematical game theory.”
History of Rock & Roll
In the age of TikTok and pop music, the wailing guitars and cheering crowds of the 1950s and 60s have begun to fade. However, Rock & Roll was so much more than just the music on the radio and vinyl records. The history of Rock & Roll is a great way to teach the timeline of the mid to late 1900s while encompassing politics, the history of social justice, music and so much more.
Music of some caliber is required in most modern middle schools, but hand drumming is not usually a choice on the popular menu of band, choir, or strings. Middle school art teacher Michelle N. says hand drumming is especially positive for middle schoolers, explaining, “kids like to tap their pencils, shake their knees, and tap their feet to a beat. They just need a physical release and drumming offers one that actually produces a zen-like calm.”
Yoga & Mindfulness
Expectations ramp up in middle school, causing many students to experience stress and anxiety as their homework load and after-school activities pile up. Yoga and mindfulness give students a time in which they can take a step back from their busy day, relax and reflect. Teacher Maria B. refers to her middle school’s mindfulness course as “How to Unplug.”
Out of all of the unique middle school electives, this one is probably the most common. However, many schools do not begin their theatre programs until high school, even though middle school is the perfect time to get students on the stage. Acting can inspire confidence in kids and allow collaboration and communication between groups of students. Students can practice scenes from well-known plays, work on improvisation activities, and even put on a play of their own for the school or greater community.
Teacher Katelyn G. reflected on her own middle school days, sharing that the class that challenged her mentally and academically was engineering, “We designed bridges, did woodworking, and designed buildings! It was outside of my comfort zone but quickly became one of my favorite classes!”. Engineering is also a great opportunity to use your school’s maker hub or laptops for some hands-on activities.
Agriculture & Farming
It is important for our students to know where the food they are eating comes from, so why not teach it to them? Science teacher Erica T. used to teach a class called Egg-cellent Adventures, “It was a sustainable agriculture course where we incubated, hatched, and raised chickens. In class, the kids worked to build the coop and even raised beds to plant an edible garden to supplement the chicken’s feed.” An agriculture class allows for students to study nutrition while exploring their local community’s crops and growing patterns. The kids can even give back by creating a community garden or chicken coop, like Erica’s 6th graders!
A Guide to Academic Excellence
What better way to make students feel comfortable in the classroom than to help them with the learning process itself? Best geared towards 5th or 6th graders, this class walks students through daily academic strategies such as note-taking, time management, backpack organization, and test-taking. These skills will be not only useful in middle school, but also in high school and beyond.
What are some unique middle school electives you’ve seen offered to students? Share in the comments below!
For some tips and tricks about teaching middle school, check out these posts on managing 6th and 7th grade classrooms.