Sometimes a teacher can feel overwhelmed with keeping students engaged and excited about learning. After all, gifted students have so much to offer, so typical classroom activities may fall flat.
Internet Exploratory Activities
Coming up with activities for gifted students in elementary school is easier than it sounds, especially if you understand what makes these types of students tick. In today's world, one of the best tools that gifted students should become proficient using is the Internet. You can show students how to search online, how to choose which sites are of the highest quality, and how to find sites that actually address the issues that they would like to research. Then, let them do additional research about a topic that interests them.
For example, if you are learning about Ancient Rome, some students might like to do Internet research on what people wore in Ancient Rome, while others might like to read about what a kid's life was like in Ancient Rome. Some may even be curious about the weapons used in Ancient Roman warfare. Let them explore the topic that most interests them and encourage them to give a short written or oral presentation to share what they have learned with the rest of the class.
Many gifted students, especially kinesthetic learners, learn best when they are able to work with something tangible. Therefore, try to think of activities that will enable them to get "down and dirty" with the material. Examples might include any of the following:
- Creating a go-cart or similar vehicle from recycled materials
- Building bridges from spaghetti or other substances
- Creating animals from craft supplies based on a given genetic makeup
- Comparing two different items by looking at them under a microscope
- Building a 3-D map of an area out of clay using a topographical map as a guide
Creating a physical model of a DNA molecule
Many advanced students show incredible creativity, and you can build on that strength by giving them activities that bring out their creative sides. Here are some ideas you could try:
- Rewriting the ending of a book that students have read
- Writing a historical fiction story that takes place in a time period that they have just learned about
- Creating art that mirrors famous pieces of art in the period of history they are learning about
- Building a totem pole or a coat of arms that students believe could represent themselves or the whole class (after learning about Native Americans or the Middle Ages)
- Writing songs to review the material that they have learned
Real World Activities
Some advanced learning activities seem like busywork, but you can help your gifted elementary students see the use in what they are creating if you focus these activities towards real life situations. Here are some ways that you can make students feel that they are doing something practical that could actually be helpful to the rest of the world:
- Writing a letter to the editor of a local paper responding to an issue in the community or in the paper itself -- and actually sending it
- Designing an invention that will actually help people and figuring out how they might apply for a patent on it
- Making their own meal plans, calculating how many calories are in various types of food, as well as which foods contain essential nutrients
- Organizing a fundraising event to raise money for a cause, and working with all of the math (money), writing (advertisements), and other skills that go into it
These elementary level activities will help your gifted students recognize how the information that they have learned can be helpful for them outside of the classroom as well. You may even find that students begin creating their own "real world activities" based on other information that they have learned.