Back-to-School Elementary Activities

August 23, 2017

Get Back-to-School Elementary Activities for Grades Pre-K-5 Science and Social Studies!

As you gear up for heading back to school, we’ve put together activities for your Pre-K-12 classrooms. In this blog, explore science and social studies activities for grades Pre-K-2 and 3-5. From Johnny Appleseed to the water cycle...we’ve got you covered with classroom strategies, activities, resources, and graphic organizers.

Looking for higher level back-to-school activities? Click the links below:

Middle School Science: Exploring Cells

Middle School Social Studies: Ancient Rome

High School Science: Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gases

High School Social Studies: The Formation of NATO

In each activity, I share suggested resources from Britannica’s newest classroom tools, LaunchPacks: Science and LaunchPacks: Social Studies. You can get free 30-day access to these tools now by taking a Packs: Science free trial or Packs: Social Studies free trial, or you can use the activities, questions, and free, downloadable graphic organizers with your own classroom resources.


Grades PreK-2 Science Activity: Cellular Vocabulary

Overview: Students will compare and contrast attributes of the four seasons to gain an understanding of their shared and unique physical conditions.

Suggested Resources:

• LaunchPacks: Science The Seasons for Grades Pre-K-2

• Graphic Organizer: 2 Circle Venn Diagram

Graphic Organizer: 3 Circle Venn Diagram

Strategy: Compare and Contrast

Activity: Ask students to choose two seasons to compare. At the beginning of the school year, you may want to choose summer and fall because of the timing of the lesson. Students will read text, interpret images, and view videos within the pack and, using Graphic Organizer: 2 Circle Venn Diagram, indicate the similarities and differences between each season.

Suggested Questions:

• What do you see in the summer/fall?

• What do you hear in the summer/fall?

• What things do you taste in the summer/fall?

Possible Extension: Using Graphic Organizer: 3 Circle Venn Diagram, have students identify attributes that are unique to each season, intersect with another season, and are present in all seasons.

Grades 3-5 Science Activity: Understanding the Water Cycle

Overview: Students will gain an understanding of the water cycle by using the KWL comprehension strategy.

Suggested Resources:

• LaunchPacks: Science The Water Cycle for Grades 3-5

• Graphic Organizer: KWL

Strategy: KWL

Activity: Using Graphic Organizer: KWL, ask students to use the content in the pack to work through the suggested questions. Students may want to use the annotation tools to respond to questions and develop questions while using the resource text.

Suggested Questions:

Before using the resource:

• What do you already know about this topic?

• What questions do you have about the topic?

• What adjective would you use to describe this topic?

While using the resource:

• What additional questions did you think of?

• What words in the resource helped you understand the topic better?

• What words in the resource caused you to think of more questions?

After using the resource:

• What did you learn about the topic?

• What words in the resource best connect to the topic? Why?

• What new or remaining questions do you have about this topic? Where might you find answers to these questions?

• How does this activity help your understanding?

Possible Extension:  Have the students create pictures of the water cycle. Be sure to have the students label the four main stages: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection. Students should also include arrows to show the direction the water travels in.


Grades Pre-K-2 Social Studies Activity: Johnny Appleseed

Overview: Students will make predictions about the text from the images, title, and other visual cues in the pack.

Suggested Resources:

• LaunchPacks: Social Studies Johnny Appleseed for Grades Pre-K-2

• Graphic Organizer: Making Predictions

Strategy: Making Predictions

Activity: Before reading: Have students preview the titles, headings, and images in the pack. Ask them to make a prediction about what they will learn. Have students record or dictate their responses on Graphic Organizer: Making Predictions.

Suggested Questions:

After reading:  

• How correct was your prediction?

• What information did you learn that surprised you?

• Creative Writing Prompt: Johnny Appleseed helped farmers grow apple orchards all over the country. What would you like to plant all over the country? Why? How would it help?

Possible Extension: Make your own applesauce!

Grades 3-5 Social Studies Activity: Cause and Effects of the Great Depression

Overview: Students will identify events from the pack and determine what caused the event to happen.

Suggested Resources:

• LaunchPacks: Social Studies Great Depression for Grades 3-5

• Graphic Organizer: Cause and Effect

• Graphic Organizer: Timeline

Strategy: Cause and Effect

Activity: Using Graphic Organizer: Cause and Effect, ask students to use the content in the pack to identify events and their causes. Using the suggested questions, help guide students. Students may want to use the annotation tools to identify both the cause and effect throughout the text.

Suggested Questions:

• What main event is described here?

• What caused this event to happen?

• What are two more important events described here and the cause of each?

• Use Graphic Organizer: Timeline to list the events in the order in which they happened. (If possible, provide dates for each event.)

Possible Extension: Have students develop a classroom timeline with events, images, and dates to post around the room. Divide the class into groups of two-three. Hand out a card with the event/image to each group. Ask students to work together to build a timeline with each of the event cards in order. Students will need to communicate with other groups and refer to the content from the pack to determine the correct order.