If you teach any students in middle school, then you know all too well how fast these kids can lose interest in classroom activities if they’re not engaged.
It’s important to remember that, as much as middle school students want to be high schoolers and be treated like mini-adults, they’re still kids.
Kids need fun and engaging activities that pair entertainment with learning rather than just being spoken at for an entire day.
Of course, you’re never going to be able to make every single lesson in a day super fun and interesting; however, you can always try to incorporate a couple of fun activities every so often to keep your kids engaged.
So, let’s get on with it! Here are our eight favorite super cool classroom activities for middle school students.
1. Science Experiments
Getting your kids involved with hands-on learning is one of the best ways to keep them engaged.
If they’re able to see and feel their way through an activity, they’re much more likely to keep them interested and on task.
Introduce them to some cool and easy science experiments that they can complete either at their own desks or in groups around larger tables.
This could include Elephant’s Toothpaste (best completed outside), baking soda volcanoes, or making slime if your kids are on the younger side of middle school.
For older kids, you can introduce them to invisible ink and lemon juice or use cabbage as a PH indicator.
These kinds of experiments are fantastic for introducing your students to different scientific concepts without boring them.
If you want to make sure that the students have understood the concepts shown to them, you can have them create a fact sheet or poster relating to the experiment you just did.
2. Literary Escape Rooms
If you have the time to come up with several book-related questions and maybe create a few props, then you could delight your students with a book-related escape room that they can work through.
You don’t have to make an actual escape room out of the classroom; in fact, you’ll find it much easier to control if you set up the escape room to be text-based instead.
Create a series of clues and puzzles revolving around whatever book you’re studying, and let your students work their way through it during your lesson.
Not only is this a more interesting way for them to test their comprehension, but it also lets you see how much they’ve understood and paid attention to the reading.
3. Debate Clubs
If you’ve spent any time around pre-teens and young teenagers, then you know that they love almost nothing as much as they love arguing and contradicting you.
So why not channel that into something productive and engaging?
Incorporating debate sessions into your classroom can be a great way to get kids to discuss certain topics whilst also teaching them the art of debate.
They need to engage in reasonable arguments and be able to come up with counter-points and interesting points.
Separate your class into two teams, and give them a topic and a stance. They should be allowed a set amount of time to come up with their arguments and do the research that they think is necessary.
These debates don’t only have to be social studies related but could be utilized during history, geography, English, as well as other classes.
If you think that there are two opposing arguments to be made about a topic that you’re studying, then set up a debate session to get your kids involved in it.
4. Creative Writing Workshop
If you know that you have a lot of creative kids in your class, then introducing them to creative writing workshops could be an activity that really engages them.
You could discuss as a class how to get yourself into a creative mindset and different ways that we could use language to create meaning and art.
If you have the opportunity, let your kids create whatever they want to with writing, be it a poem, a short story, a newspaper article, or a blog post.
Have them think about what kind of language they should use depending on what medium of writing they are using.
Even if you have kids in the class who abhor the idea of creative writing, you could challenge them to dissect a piece of writing. For example, give them a copy of a text you’ve been studying or encourage them to bring in their favorite book or magazine.
Then, provide them with different colored pens to highlight the different sentence structures, word types, metaphors, etc.
This way, you can keep all your students engaged, even if they’re not interested in creative writing.
5. Historical Hot-Seating
Want a way to let your theater kids show off their acting whilst also checking how well your class has been listening to your history lessons? Then you should try some historical hot-seating.
Hot-seating is a theater trick that involves one student sitting on the “hot seat” and pretending to be a certain figure from history.
Then, the other students are tasked with asking relevant questions to the historical figure to learn more about them.
Your students can take turns playing different “characters” and even let them interact with each other whilst in character.
6. Coding And Robotics
Coding and robotics have never been more relevant and important to daily life, and introducing these concepts to your students early can be a great step up for their future.
Using super cool software like “Scratch” and “Lego Mindstorms”, you can teach them how to code and show them some real-life applications of these skills.
Not only does this kind of activity teach them more about a very modern skill, but it also boosts their confidence in using computers and teaches them more about how the technology that they use every day works.
7. Class Art Gallery
If you have some budding artists in your class, you could set up your class as an art gallery.
Set your kids off creating some art based around a topic or theme, and see what they come up with. Encourage them to use different materials and think outside the box when developing their art.
Then, you can get them to create a description and artist’s statement regarding their work.
Once you have the art and the statements, you can display them around the classroom, have your students explore the different kinds of work that they have all made, and discuss how the art reflects the artist’s statements.
Some kids probably won’t take it seriously, but that doesn’t mean that their work won’t still be worth discussing and celebrating.
8. Getting Outdoors
One fantastic way to get middle schoolers engaged with your lesson is to set it outside. Just being in a new environment can refresh your kids and bring something fun and engaging to them.
You could try having any number of regular classes outside, particularly if it’s a mild day; however, if you can arrange a “great outdoors” session, even better.
Encourage your students to explore their surroundings, create scavenger hunts or treasure maps to get them thinking, or even teach basic survival skills like rope-tying or edible plant identification.
Letting your kids blow off steam outside of the classroom can be a great way to re-engage and reset them.
Middle school kids can be incredibly difficult to keep interested and engaged in class, which is why it is so important to find tasks and activities that are going to get them paying attention.
Whether you need to create debate clubs, art galleries, or science experiments, hopefully, this list has given you a few ideas of super cool classroom activities that you can arrange to get your middle school students engaged with your lessons.
Further reading: STEM activities for middle school kids.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Engage Middle School Students?
One of the sure-fire ways that you can engage most middle school students is by getting them moving.
At this age, kids are usually brimming with an energy that likes to come out at inappropriate times. Your best chance is to channel that energy into some physical activities that get them up and moving.
What Are The Five Learning Activities?
In the classroom, a common theory is that there are five different types of learning. These are:
- Content Focus
- Interactivity Focus
- Critical Thinking
If you are able to combine these different types of activities into your classroom and lesson plans, then you’re more likely to be successful in managing your classroom because you’re going to be engaging every part of your student’s brains and challenging them in a healthy way.
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