4 Elementary Enrichment Activities for Advanced Learners
Picture this: you’re a first-year teacher, and you have just finished teaching a lesson on area and perimeter and have moved on to small groups. You’re working with a few students who are below grade level, so all of your attention is on them, helping them understand the topic at hand. Suddenly, a loud crash echoes through your classroom (creating around a dozen elementary-sized screams), and you look up to see one of your students, frozen with his hands still in the air. You follow his line of sight to see that a basketball has crashed into the lamp on your desk, causing it to fall over. It's moments like these that you realize enrichment isn't just an “I’ll get to it if I have time” sort of thing. It is something that is very much needed to keep ALL of one’s learners engaged (and not throwing basketballs in the classroom in the middle of learning centers).
No matter if you’re a first-year teacher or a veteran teacher in his or her 15th year in the classroom, enrichment can be a tricky thing to tackle. However, armed with the right resources, adding enrichment to your routine can become second nature instead of something that’s put on the backburner during planning time. Read on for four of my favorite easy enrichment activities for your elementary classroom!
1. Teacher for the Day:
A fan favorite way to keep advanced students engaged is to “recruit” them as a teacher assistant for the day. Having students who’ve mastered the day’s topic go teach their peers who were still grasping the concept not only gives students in need of assistance extra attention, but it also allows them to deepen their understanding of the skill. Being able to complete a word problem or understand a concept is one thing, but to teach it step by step to another person is a whole other level of understanding.
2. Independent Study Contract:
It's common to find students who fall into the gifted category appreciate being able to pick a topic to learn more about. With an independent study contract, students can pick a topic of interest, and in any instance that they master the day’s lessons early or more quickly than their classmates, they can transition to working on their specific project. Having a “contract” with their teacher still keeps them responsible for completing some sort of “proof” of their studies and also allows them the freedom to choose what they were learning about and how they will show their understanding.
3. Cross-Curricular Activities:
It’s no secret that students usually have a favorite subject, so having students in need of enrichment incorporate that subject into their other studies is a great option for continuing their engagement. A few great examples are: a math sketchbook in which students can use math concepts to create drawings or explore math in art, writing a play that focuses on a particular science concept, a book club with books that focus on art history, science experiments, or even an era the class is studying in social studies! The list could go on and on!
4. Tiered Assignments:
While using varied levels of tasks isn’t the most exciting and unique option for enrichment, it’s still a great way to keep your students who master content easily from becoming bored or off task. Challenging students to complete more complex assignments (high-level math problems, more complex vocabulary, more challenging texts, etc.) not only keeps them engaged but also prepares them for the content they’ll be accountable for in the future. Many students will take pride in the fact that they can complete assignments meant for middle and high schoolers, so it also acts as a confidence booster!
These four examples are just the tip of the iceberg of all of the enrichment opportunities that are readily available for your elementary learners. Interested in learning more about enrichment strategies? Check out this blog on classroom strategies to support advanced learners at all grade levels.