Ideas For 1st Grade

1. Leaf Collection.

The goal of the project is to explain the concept of biodiversity, and find out how many different species of trees and bushes grow in your backyard (your street, neighborhood, nearest forest). Next time you go for a walk with kids carefully collect few leaves from each different tree you find in the investigated area.

When you back home it's time to do some sorting. Arrange all the leaves on the tabletop. See how different they are!

Collected leaves can be sorted in number of different ways: by shape, by size, by leaf venation and leaf type. It's also good time to tell children about this differences and why they are important.

Now you can count how much unique leaves and therefore tree species you have in the backyard.

Collected leaves can be turned into a herbarium, labeled and used in a science fair display or presented to the class.

You can go further and find the scientific name for each species. Another possible extension of this project is to collect leaves of all kinds of plants in the investigated area. Then you can find how many grassy plants vs trees are there.

2. Fossils.

It's hard to imagine that millions of years ago this animal imprinted in stone was alive. It was crawling the bottom of shallow sea among other similar creatures. Then something happened and it was buried in the fine sand which become hard rock few millions years later. Until someone found it.

There are many ways to collect fossils. The most exciting way is to dig them up and kids most likely would enjoy it but perhaps it makes sense to do such project in some higher grade.

The simplest way to make a fossil collection is to buy them online. There are many sites dedicated to fossils. Most of them sell pretty expensive specimens for serious collectors but there are some companies that sell small collections of common species. The specimens belong to the different periods of Earth history.

When you have your collection check which geologic time it belongs to. You can find what kind of other animals lived at the same time. What kind of animal or plant become the fossil? Was it predator or prey? In which environment it used to live?

At this age going through the full earth geology timeline may be boring even though some children do get it very well and remember the names of the eras and periods better than grown ups.

So how fossils were formed? To explain this process better you could do a fake fossil project.

3. Model of the Earth - Moon System.

This is primer on astronomy. The goal of it is to explain how Moon rotates around the Earth and how moon phases and eclipses are working.

For this model you'll need

  • Straw or bamboo skewers.
  • Apple
  • Walnut.
  • Flashlight.
  • Little bit of plasticine or Blu-Tac.
  • Thread

You can eat some parts of this model after you're done with the science.

First of all you should explain that Earth and Moon is the planet and satellite pair. Moon is called a satellite because it rotates around the Earth. There is a reason for that - Moon's mass is only 0.0123 of Earth's mass!

Compare weight of the apple and the walnut. The walnut is going to be Moon and the apple will be Earth.

Tie apple to one side of the skewer and walnut to the other side of it. Tie another thread to skewer above the apple. It's good idea to connect walnut to the stick with two threads so that it would not be able to rotate. This is the way our Moon behaves - it always turned to Earth with one side. Adjust the connection point so that the whole system would be in equilibrium (see reference picture). Hang it to the ceiling or any other convenient place.

Now we have our Earth - Moon system ready for some experiments.

With and without flashlight you can demonstrate:

  • Rotation of Earth around it's axis.
  • Rotation of the whole system.
  • Moon phases.
  • Lunar and solar eclipses.

4. Model Fossil.

For this project you'll need couple of leaves, glue, plaster, some plasticine and water, medium size stone with one flat surface.

How to make "fossil"

  • Glue leaves to the stone's flat surface.
  • Wait till glue will be completely dry.
  • Build a plasticine border around the leaves. The height of the border should be 1-2 cm (~1inch). Make sure there are no holes in this border.
  • Mix plaster with water (adding plaster to water) until you get creamy texture.
  • Pour plaster mixture on the leaves until they are covered.
  • Wait till plaster dries (~24 hours).
  • Remove the plasticine border and separate rock and plaster layer.

Leaf print on the plaster should look similar to the fossil prints on the limestone.

5. Mentos & Cola experiment.

This experiment is very impressive but make sure you're not wearing new expensive clothes!

You'll need:

  • Bottle(s) of Cola or Pepsi, or any fizzy drik.
  • Pack of Mentos.

This experiment is pretty messy and should be performed outside! It'll spray cola in the radius of few meters.

  • Carefully open the bottle.
  • Put the bottle on the flat horizontal surface.
  • Drop few menthos tablets in the bottle.
  • Quickly run away!

And yes you can be very creative too!

5. Cornstarch and water (non newtonial liquids).

This experiment is very impressive but make sure you're not wearing new expensive clothes!

You are probably not going to do such a massive experiment like walking on water as in this video.

However you still can experiment with some cornstarch and water solution properties at the smaller scale.

5. Need more ideas?

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