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10 empowering back to school activities for science teachers

As the summer break ends, we as teachers, prepare for a great year ahead. 

Getting back into school mode, planning back to school activities, and leaving the summer vacation fun behind can be daunting for students but as teachers, we can start the new academic year off the right foot to make everyone feel welcome, especially the new students.  

In order to help you get started in creating a positive learning environment for science, we have compiled a list of 10 fun activities in this blog post that will engage the whole class and help the teachers in creating a positive classroom community. 

Let’s get these students all excited about science at the start of a new school year, shall we?

Activity 1: Classroom Scavenger Hunt

Science + Hunting equals Science Scavenger Hunt. Need we say more?

Yes! The top of our “first day of school activities” is Scavenger Hunt – a fantastic way to promote logical and critical thinking skills among students and enhance social-emotional learning in them. 


A scavenger hunt is a great activity to engage the students and make them learn about science in a fun way. 

Although this activity would require a little bit of extra preparation from your side, we can guarantee that everyone in the classroom will have an exciting time. It’s a fun game for everyone, no matter what grade level they’re in. 

Back to school activities classroom scavenger hunt. Science + hunting equals science scavenger hunt. Image of a group of students with clipboards.

How to Plan

Create a list of science-related items such as :

  • Names of famous scientists/their discoveries
  • Weather instruments (like the barometer, thermometer, etc)
  • Animal or plant species
  • Elements of the periodic table 
  • Layers of the atmosphere
  • Or any topic that’s relevant to the class you’re teaching

Once you have chosen your favorite science topic, create clues for each of them. 

Here’s an example. 

Clue: “Submerged in his bathtub, the revelation became clear to him, and thus he exclaimed “Eureka!” 

Correct Answer: Archimedes’ Principle

So in this case, the students will find the Archimedes’ Principle chapter in their textbooks.  

How to Play

1. Divide the class into small teams of about 4-5 members each. This is a great way for the students to get to know each other better, bond, and learn during school time. 

2. Explain the instructions for the game to the students and encourage them to work as a team with good communication.  

3. Provide each team with the list of clues that you have prepared for this fun activity and emphasize the importance of teamwork, discipline, and maintaining the classroom rules. 
(We don’t really want to disturb the other classes at the beginning of the school year!) 

4. Observe and facilitate the team’s progress during the course of the game, and provide assistance as and when needed. It’s also a good idea to conduct a debriefing session with the class once the game is over. 
Encourage the students to really get involved and list out the challenges they faced during this game. 

Activity 2: Ice Breaker


The first day of school is tough on everybody, not just for the new students but for new teachers as well. And if you’re the new science teacher in school, here’s an easy way to get well-adjusted in the new classroom. 

It’s an excellent way to build a positive classroom environment, and you don’t even have to dedicate an entire class to this; just 10-15 minutes would do the trick.

Wanna know a secret? It’s one of the best ways to remember students’ names. We’ll tell you how! 

Back to school activities - classroom icebreaker. An excellent way to build positive classroom environment and you don't even have to dedicate an entire class to this. Just 10-15 minutes would do the trick.

How to Plan

You don’t really need to prepare anything for this session. 

How to Play:

1. Start by calling out a random name from the attendance sheet. 

2. The person whose name is called out must introduce their name and list an interesting fact about their favorite scientist or their discoveries. 

3. Now, this person has to nominate one of their classmates and the cycle continues. 

Students are bound to have a good time as they learn not only about these scientists but about their new classmates as well. 

Pro Tip! We have a FREE Science Candy Game & video training. This free resource serves as an awesome icebreaker activity, and we’ve done the prep for you! This game comes in the form of customized graphic organizers that walk students through each part of the game, step-by-step.

Image of a back to school activities science candy game.

Activity 3: Bulletin Board


Feeling a little creative today? Well, here’s the perfect way to fuse knowledge and creativity. 

It’s a visually interactive activity that engages all students and enhances their information about science.

Here’s a better way to plan this fun activity. 

How to Plan

1. Preselect a few topics that align with your lesson plans and subject areas. For example, you could focus on the solar system, laws of gravitational force, or volcanoes if you will. 

Back to school activities bulletin board. A visually interactive activity that engages all students and enhances their information about science.

How to Play

1. Divide the class into smaller groups and assign these topics to the teams and set a time limit to complete the activity for each team. 

2. The students have to spend some time learning, discussing, and planning about the topic they’re given, and then create a bulletin board with sticky notes, images, drawings, or any school supplies they can find on the given topic.  

3. Reward the teams that have demonstrated their topic with an artistic yet resourceful method. 

4. Remember, the common goal here is to promote group work, communication, and learning. 

5. Set aside some time to reflect on each of the bulletin boards created by the students to make everyone included. 

Back to school activities image of Science chalk talk resource.

In Lit Science’s Science Chalk Talk, students answer the question, “What would make this the best science class you’ve ever had?” And answer in the form of a silent discussion.

This resource is differentiated and scaffolded for access to students learning English.

Activity 4: Word Search


Can you guess the two topics that teachers can’t get enough of, and students, well, they seem to run away from? It’s vocabulary and science.

And we have devised a perfect kids’ activity for that. Introducing Science Word Search. 

How to Plan

It requires a little bit of planning from the teacher’s end, but it’s one of the easiest ways to get everyone interested in science, even the naughty ones 😉 

You will have to either download a science word puzzle grid or make one of your own, depending on your class curriculum. 

Word Search is a great resource to plan this fun thing for everybody. Once you finalize the grid, print a few copies of it and bring it to the class. 

Image of the word stem in block letters. Back to school activities - word search. Students find hidden words to activate prior knowledge of science vocabulary.

How to Play

1. Distribute the printed sheet of paper to the students. You could either give one to each or distribute it as teams – we’ll leave that up to you. 

2. Next, explain to the kids that they need to find the hidden science words within the grid, and highlight them in the sheet. 

3. End the game with an interactive discussion and find out which team got the highest score. 

Activity 5: Time Capsule


Here’s a futuristic activity that students will absolutely love. It’ll allow their imaginations to soar and think about the future. 

It’s never too early to ask yourself “What will you leave behind for the future after you’re long gone!” We would recommend it for middle schoolers as well as high schoolers. 

Let’s channel their imagination into a fun little game with this one. 

How to Plan

1. This is an open discussion, and the teachers do not have to come prepared with anything. 

2. You could dedicate an entire class to this activity or maybe the last 15-20 minutes. 

3. Divide the class into smaller teams and explain the rules of the activity to the class

Image of people sitting in a group talking. Time capsule - "What would you leave behind for the future generations to learn?"

How to Play

1. The students have to create their own time capsule of the things that they would like to show to future people about what life was like now. 

2. Ask questions such as, “What are the items that the future people will find buried in the ground that will help them understand our lifestyle?”

3. Encourage students to also add their own personal items to their time capsule such as their favorite toys or electronic gadgets, comics, and so on. 

4. Use any cardboard box (or even a shoe box) to create your own time capsule. 

5. At the end of the activity, review each time box and interact with the students about the things they put in there and understand the reason. 

We bet you too would be surprised to see what kids come up with!

Activity 6: Science Puzzle Pieces


Puzzles are an engaging option when it comes to listing out some of the great activities for students of all ages. Who doesn’t like to scratch their heads once in a while?

And the best thing about this fun yet educational activity is that it won’t require much preparation from your end. And the students will definitely end up having an amazing time. 

How to Plan

Find science puzzles and riddles online and select the one that fits best for your class. You could also randomly select a few from different resources and mix them up! 

A young girl playing with a puzzle. Puzzles are an engaging option when it comes to listing out some of the great activities for students of all ages.

How to Play

1. Divide the class into teams and distribute the puzzle pieces to them. The objective here is to not only promote learning but also collaboration. 

2. Instruct the students about the theme of the puzzle and allocate time to complete the puzzle. 

3. We would suggest really having different levels of difficulty – some the students can solve immediately and others where they really have to think hard. 

Activity 7: DIY Ball of Yarn


And now time for some science crafts! We understand the importance of teaching from textbooks and sticking to the lesson plans, but let’s admit it, it’s not much fun! 

So, introducing fun science craft activities like these will not only make for an interactive day at school but also can prove to be a calming activity for kids.

It’s a great opportunity for the students to develop creative skills as well as have a hands-on learning experience. 

Image of balls of yarn. DIY Ball of Yarn. Science craft activities like these will not only make for an interactive day at school, but also can prove to be a calming activity for kids.

How to Plan

This activity would require the students to come with a few basic supplies: 

  • Yarn of their choice – preferably in different colors.
  • A Ball (about the size of a tennis ball)
  • Water
  • Glue
  • A plastic container (rectangular shaped would be ideal)
  • A pair of scissors

How to Play

1. As the students come prepared with their supplies, let the fun begin.

2. Start by asking the students to mix water and glue together in a plastic container but make sure that the mixture is not too runny. We want to have a thick consistency. 

3. Cut the yarn into smaller strands and dip them in the solution. If you’re conducting this session for elementary students, make sure to help them with the scissors. 

4. Cover these glue-dipped strands to the ball until the entire ball has been covered. The students can get really creative here and use different colors of yarn to create unique patterns and textures. 

5. End the activity by displaying some of the best yarn balls to the entire class and holding a discussion about the importance of the textile industry in our lives. 

If you’re looking for more detailed steps, be sure to check out this blog

Activity 8: Name Tags


There can’t be a better activity than “Back-To-School Science Name Tags” in the first few weeks of school. It’s a popular activity that has also been published on the website “For the Love of Teachers.”

You could know a lot about students through this activity including their names, favorite things they like to do, or even their favorite books.

It’s never a bad idea to dive right into STEM right at the beginning of the year, am I right?

Image of hands holding a name tag. Name tags: You could know a lot about students through this activity including their names, favorite things they like to do, or even their favorite book.

How to Plan

Inform the students about a few basic supplies that they would need to bring for this activity, which include:

  • A piece of paper (could be colorful and sturdy like a cardstock) to create the name tag
  • Markers, Crayons, Pencils
  • Ruler
  • Decorative Stickers

How to Play

1. Design the criteria for this fun activity and explain it to the class. 

2. Here’s a suggestion, but feel free to whatever comes to your mind:

Each student has to create a 6-inch-long name tag which should be sturdy enough to stand up on its own. It should have the student’s name on it followed by two classroom procedures they’d like to change if given a chance. 

3. Allot a time limit for this activity and closely monitor students on how they’re going about it. 

We promise you, that you will end up learning a lot more about the students than just their names. This is a fun way to assess them while they’re busy working. 🙂 

Want to get to know students on a deeper level? Check out Lit Science’s Science Superhero Project. This project is differentiated and scaffolded for access for English learners.

Activity 9: Science Alphabet Soup


Here’s another simple yet educational STEM activity ideal for middle school students. I’m sure they would have enjoyed this activity back in elementary school, but now they have to play this with a science twist. 

It’s like a regular word game, but we have further enhanced it to make it more educational and interactive for students.

How to Plan

1. Arrange alphabet tiles and a big glass bowl or paper bag. 

2. Then, come up with a theme for this activity. For example, it could be “Organs of the Body”

3. For each alphabet, write a short hint for the students to take a guess. For instance, if a student picks out the letter ‘S’, the hint that the team would get is “The largest organ in the body”. 

And the correct answer, as you already know is “Skin.” 

Image of alphabet soup. Science alphabet soup. It's like a regular word game but we have further enhanced it to make it more educational and interactive for students.

How to Play

1. Divide the students into two teams and quickly have them decide the name of their respective teams. 

2. One person from the team would come up and draw out the alphabet tile from the glass. 

3. After the student picks up the tile and you have given the hint, the team would have only 30 seconds to come up with the answer. 

4. If they get it right, they get a point. If not the other team gets a chance to make a guess. 

5. Alternate this between the teams and keep scores. 

6. Tally the scores at the end and announce the winner.  

Activity 10 Virtual Expedition


We’re talking about science activities and haven’t even added any sci-fi element to the list yet! How about we take the students on a Mars Expedition? 

Seriously! Here’s an immersive activity for students that they’re going to remember not just till the end of the year but for a very long time.

How to Plan

All you have to do in order to plan this activity is download the free Google Expeditions app on your phone. This app offers more than 500 FREE Expeditions to explore in virtual reality that you can lead as a teacher. 

Select your favorite topic and read an overview of how you can lead an expedition on their website. 

You can also get the Google Cardboard headsets for the best experience. They’re inexpensive and easily available on Amazon. Check if the school already has that. 

Picture of a students with a device over his eyes. Virtual Exploration - Here's an immersive activity for students that they're going to remember not just till the end of the year, but for a very long time.

How to Play

1. Surprize the students by placing the Google headsets on their desks and introduce them to the theme of the expedition they’re about to embark on. 

2. Lead the expedition and add your own insights to the virtual journey as you begin playing it out. 

3. End the class with a discussion session and encourage students to ask questions and list out the fun facts they learned on this virtual trip.

Scaffolding back to school activities

Here at Lit Science, we are all about accessible, grade-level content for English learners. Back to school activities are no exception.

While your English learners have the potential to engage in every single one of the above mentioned activities, they may need scaffolding and support to access the activity. Here are ways to scaffold your back to school activities for your English learners.

1. Leverage students’ prior knowledge: ALL students enter our classrooms with prior knowledge and experiences. Building upon students’ prior knowledge as well as experience from their own lives is a powerful scaffold through which students can more effectively attach new knowledge.

According to EDweek.org, When we activate and build students’ background knowledge:

  • Students see the connection between previous and current learning
  • We establish a set of conceptual “hooks” on which students can “hang” new learning.
  • Students get on the same page with us.
  • We receive formative-assessment data we can use throughout the learning experience.

2. Use of graphic organizers: Graphic organizers are visual aids that help students organize their thoughts and ideas. Examples can include but are not limited to, t-charts, Venn diagrams, concept maps, and word webs. Here at Lit Science, we strongly believe the best graphic organizers are customized to the learning and specific activities and tasks of a lesson. 

A group of diverse learners working together in a classroom.

3. Modeling: Essentially, modeling is when a teacher demonstrates how to complete a task or solve a problem, showing students step-by-step what they should do. This is a powerful scaffold that is easy to implement. Not only does it help students to complete a related assignment either with their peers or on their own, but it also sets the expectation for the quality of work the teacher expects. 

4. Chunking: One of my favorite times to use chunking is when teaching students how to read complex texts. For English Learners and students currently reading below grade level, multiple pages of long, dense text can be overwhelming. This overwhelm can manifest as shutting down and checking out or behavior issues. 

An image of a scaffolded text about cell organelles. Title -Chunking. An example of chunking: Placing questions directly after a chunk of text.

Chunking involves breaking text, activities, and/or new content into smaller chunks that are more manageable for students. When chunking a text, I like to place text-dependent questions at the end of the chunk rather than at the end of the entire reading. 

5. Differentiation: Different students need different things. Therefore, differentiation and scaffolding go hand in hand. Teachers tailor instruction to the needs of individual students, providing additional support for those who need it and challenging those who are ready for more advanced work.

6. Cooperative learning: Encouraging students to work together in pairs or small groups provides opportunities for peer support and collaboration. For English Learners and students developing their academic vocabulary, collaboration allows students to practice and apply their new learning in a low-stakes way before having to demonstrate mastery in a high-stakes format, such as a summative assessment. 

7. Use of Home Language: If grouped with other students who speak the same home language, students should be encouraged to use their home language during discussions and practice their new learning. While it’s okay to expect students to write their answers or present them in English, research shows that the use of home language actually strengthens students’ English. 

Image of a notebook surrounded by markers. The word thank you is written in many different languages on the page of the notebook.

8. Sentence starters and frames: Providing sentence starters or frames can help English Learners and developing writers express their ideas in writing or in oral discussions. This can lead to enhanced participation.

9. Visual aids: English Learners may struggle to understand new concepts presented in English. Using visual aids such as pictures, diagrams, or videos can help ELs better understand the content.


And that’s a wrap. We hope that you found this list helpful and will find more innovative ways to bond with students.

If you’re looking for back to school, Lit Science has got you covered! Shop our beginning of the year activities in our Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Image of beginning of the year activities Lit Science bundles.

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