It’s no secret that children learn best when they are physically and mentally engaging with a task. While teaching through spoken word, presentations, and videos is the first step to teaching about any topic, a student has an opportunity to solidify their understanding when asked to apply their learnings.
From creative craft activities to quizzes, to role play, getting kids engaged in an activity will get their imagination going and test their ability to apply what they’re learned. This is paramount from an early age to help children take on classroom learning with ease. Here we cover some of the most common types of primary school children activities for your classroom.
Tips for Keeping Children Engaged in Primary School Learning Activities
1. Give children a choice of ways to learn
Children learn in a range of different ways. Some will take to visual learning more than others. Some will respond better to auditory learning, or practical tasks. Where you can offer children different ways to approach school learning activities, and help them to understand the problem or instructions through alternative methods to find a way that works for them.
2. Take regular breaks and incorporate movement
While you want students to stay focused on an activity, making them take short breaks could actually help them get through their work more quickly in the long run. Taking a 2-minute break after 15 minutes of work to do a burst of energetic activity will get their blood pumping and stimulate the flow of oxygen to the brain. This short exercise session will also help expel some energy and, after settling down once more, will promote a calm atmosphere while students finish their work.
Using props like different coloured bean bags can make a physical activity more fun whilst honing the childrens’ concentration. Try getting the children to throw and catch bean bags of only a certain colour that you call each time.
3. Incentivize finishing tasks early
Give students something to look forward to, to motivate them to manage their time and get through activities more quickly. Putting a reward system in place will give students a reason to want to finish their work in good time. That said, it’s also important the children understand that getting their work done correctly and thoroughly is the most important thing.
4. Make sure tasks are age-matched
Work that is too difficult will lower confidence and lead children to give up quickly, whereas easy tasks aren’t likely to grab their attention. Make sure all activities you plan are age-appropriate in difficulty, duration, tone, and style. An activity that ‘babys’ the students too much won’t do you any favours in convincing them they can handle more advanced work later on.
5. Play quickfire games to help with concentration
Children naturally learn by playing and you can monopolise on this by using quickfire primary school fun activities to jumpstart your students’ brains and get them ready to take on learning tasks.
Try simple games like the memory game (having children look at objects on a table, then cover, remove one and have them guess which), tongue twisters, or pattern games (for example, “I went to the shops and bought a __” with each student repeating the sentence and adding a word of their own remembering everyone else’s additions too). Encourage children to think and respond quickly, this will force them to focus on the task at hand and get them ready for real classwork.
6. Sweep the classroom for distractions
Don’t let your classroom let you down once you’ve got your students laser-focused on an activity. Before children enter the classroom for the day do a quick sweep to remove any distracting technology or gadgets from sight and make sure there aren’t any distractions within arms reach of tables and desks.
Seasonal Activities for Primary School Students
In primary school children might already be aware of some annual celebrations (Christmas, anyone?) from their family life, but there could be other seasonal holidays that they will become aware of and get excited about every year. Learning about national and seasonal celebrations not only teaches children about the other cultures they live alongside, and their friends in class, but about the history of our country and the world. These are guaranteed to make good activities for primary school.
Here are some seasonal celebrations and things to consider when planning activities for primary school kids.
- Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s day can be a tricky holiday as students get older. Making a Valentine’s Day card for a beloved parent or relative can be a fun activity for younger children, but you might want to forgo celebrating it all together in later years of primary school and let children do as they please.
- Pancake Day
You’ll be a favourite if you bring in some supplies to help your students make their own pancakes. Turn this into an activity by asking children to make a picture on their pancake using a selection of toppings you provide. You could link this with a topic currently being studied by asking them to follow a theme. For example, each child could use the different toppings to make a tiny spring garden on their pancake before rolling it up to eat.
- Chinese New Year
Some of your students might be fascinated to learn that, in China, the new year starts a month later than the Western new year. Celebrate Chinese New Year by showing children some videos or photos of how this is celebrated in China. This BBC Teach video explains Chinese New Year and its background well for KS2 students.
Relevant activities for children in the classroom could include decorating the classroom with their own handmade Chinese paper lanterns and making their own firework paintings by using pipe cleaners to create a stamp. Our Chinese New Year Activity Pack comes with a selection of fold-and-stand decorations that can be coloured in.
- Mother’s Day and Father’s Day
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are two good opportunities to talk about family and have give your students creative, fun primary school activities like making a card for their parent. However, it’s important to be sensitive to the situation of each individual child. Remember that you do not always know what home life is like for every child and might not ask the children to celebrate Mother’s Day or Father’s day in school.
Like Pancake Day, the first thing children will think of on Easter is delicious treats. You might want to cover the religious meaning and history behind the occasion to give your students context, as well as the celebration of springtime, new life, and of course, chocolate! BBC Teach covers the Christian Story of Easter well for primary school children with a short animation.
Easter primary school activities could be as simple as bringing in some hollowed-out eggs for the children to paint, or providing each child with an egg-shaped colouring sheet to decorate. Our Tactile Easter Eggs pk 30 is a good option for letting children decorate their own eggs. It includes 30 sturdy egg templates with decorative strips the children can use for decorating. Here are 40 Easter activities for primary school-aged children.
- Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr
You may want to start teaching the students about Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr at the beginning of Ramadan. This will give students time to learn about the religious holiday of Eid and get excited about it over the 30 days before Eid. Activities in primary school to celebrate EID could involve holding a special party in class and bringing in some traditional dishes that are eaten during Eid. Here is a list of ten dishes for Eid from around the world.
This BBC Teach video explains what people do to celebrate Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr. Our Ramadan & Eid Activity Pack includes an information booklet and creative colouring and decorating activities to help your students understand Ramadan and celebrate Eid in the classroom.
Halloween can open you up to a whole range of fun creative and educational activities for primary school. Check this long list of Halloween activity ideas from arts and craft projects like creating a spooky Halloween scene to science experiments like creating fizzing eyeballs out of baking soda and vinegar.
- Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day marks an important part of history not only in Britain but all other countries that fought during WWI and WWII. Keep alive the memory of the brave people that fought and served during these times by educating your students on why and how we mark Remembrance Day. The British Legion website is full of resources to help you teach students split up by Key Stage including videos, photos, activities and poetry. Perhaps you could ask the children to write a poem of their own about how they feel about the World Wars.
At Diwali, you might want to opt for primary school activities ideas that will decorate the classroom with colours and lights to celebrate with your children. Get some ideas from this list of 23 Diwali craft ideas to help your children make decorations. You could also organise the children into groups and give them each a challenge to come up with a decoration of their own made using a string of fairy lights each.
Help the children to understand why and how Diwali is celebrated with this BBC Teach video on the festival of Diwali. Once the children have watched the video use a pack like this Diwali RE Resource Pack to take the children through some activities about the celebration.
The nearer the Christmas holidays get the more excited your students become until it’s almost the only thing they can think about. At the very end of term when you need some fun activities for primary school students to keep them occupied it’s useful to have some games or printed activity sheets handy.
This downloadable Christmas worksheet explains how children can get into small groups and make up a festive story in stages using the roll of a die to determine what happens. Find more school activities for children at Christmas, including dot-to-dot pictures and word searches, in this online Education library. Or use a creative pack like our Christmas Cutout Cards pack of 54 to give children an easy creative task that doesn’t require too much planning from you.
BBC Teach offers a useful animated video on Judaism and Hannukah which explains the history behind the celebration of Hannukah and what the occasion involves. On the Teacher Planet website, teachers can find a long list of activities, worksheets, resources, and lesson plans that help to explain Hannukah to primary school children.
Activities primary school children might enjoy include instructions on how to make a paper Menorah; how to make a Dreidel decoration; information on nutrition at Hannukah; and crosswords, word searches, and creative writing tasks. Support learning about Hannukah with a Hanukkah Activity Pack like this one which includes colouring and decorating activities and supplies.
End of Term Primary School Classroom Activities
At the end of term or the end of the year, teachers will be hard-pressed to hang on to the attention of their students who couldn’t be more excited about 3:30 rolling around. It might also be the case that all work for the school year or term has been wrapped up and you need to think up some classroom activities for primary students to get on with before the end of the day.
Whether you’re taking the opportunity to re-visit subjects covered throughout the year or term, or you want fun activities for primary school that’ll have children practising skills they’ve picked up recently, here are some failsafe options:
- Watch a film. The classic option, usually in the afternoon after lunch. Give the children some options and cast a vote for which film to watch.
- Clean out drawers and throw away old exercise books. Help yourself and a lot of parents at home by asking children to sort through their old exercise books and projects and choose five things they want to keep, then ask them to sort the rest of their old materials into the recycling.
- Make a time capsule. Further to sorting through all old school work, ask the students to select one piece of work they’d like to include in a time capsule. You could also ask them to bring in an object and write a letter to be read by children in the future. You could bury the time capsule on the last day of school.
- Put on a talent show. Ask children in advance to prepare a talent for a mini talent show on the last day. This could be anything from performing a dance to reading out a poem they wrote during the school year.
- Make a list of tips for next year’s class. Call on students to think back over the year and how they have grown. Ask the students to think about important advice they could give to the next class replacing them next year. Examples could be ‘listen to instructions carefully’ or ‘help classmates when they find things hard’.
- Recap on what you’ve learned that term by drawing a spider diagram on the board with different topics branching out, get students to add things they can remember.
Reading Activities for Children in Primary School
A reading corner is an essential component of any classroom, giving students the inspiration and headspace to get into a story and explore their reading skills. You might also want to introduce the students to the library with some primary school library activities that will give them the tools they need to do their own research. The School Run website lists a number of creative reading challenges and literacy learning activities primary school children can take on to build their reading skills. Reading can be a long task and when the end isn’t in sight it can be difficult to keep children focused on completing a book. Giving children an end goal with reading will help them stay in the zone. Activities for primary school children are split up into EYFS, KS1, and KS2, and include:
- Find a book with no words and make up a story that goes with the pictures
- Listen to an audiobook
- Read a book to your pet or a toy
- Read a book by an author who has the same initials as you
- Draw a picture of a character from a book you like
- Read a newspaper
- Choose a word in a book and use a thesaurus to find alternative words that could have been used
As these are challenges, completing each one should result in a reward. Keep track of smaller challenges using these Motivational Bookmarks where the student will receive a new sticker for each challenge completed.
Circle time is also an important part of the day or week for younger children in primary school. This is a time when children can be together to participate in group discussions or activities. Make sure your classroom has a mat or carpet that is comfy and big enough for all the children to feel involved in circle time. Here are some circle time learning activities for primary school students that promote group work.
Morning, Afternoon, and End of Day Primary Classroom Activities
No matter what age students are, routine in the classroom is paramount. Keeping children organised, focused and happy can be facilitated by a structured routine of what to expect each day. So what are the best primary school teaching activities to plan throughout the day to get the most out of your students, and to help your students get the most out of their lessons?
Writing a message on the whiteboard gets students off to a good start. Not only does this help them with reading and cognitive skills but it gives you an opportunity to get them in a positive mood. You could write the date and schedule for the day or something less formal like a joke. Wait until all the students have come in to ask if any of them know the punchline.
You might go a bit further than writing the morning schedule on the board by having a morning meeting. In the meeting, all the children could sit on the mat and you could discuss what they have planned for the day and any questions or concerns they might have.
Help students to calm down after lunch and get into learning mode again by leading a short breathing exercise. This will help them to slow their heart rate back down and supply their brain with a boost of oxygen.
Plan a storytime session after lunch during which students can sit on the mat and listen to a story. Letting them use their imagination while keeping still and calm will help switch their minds into thinking and out of physical activties.
End of the Day
Wrapping up at the end of the day can be hectic as you try to fit the last of your lesson in. Make the most of the end of the day by concluding on a quick recap activity. Call on students to say something they learned about that day. Or alternatively, ask students to write a summary of the day in a journal. This will help to solidify any learnings or progress that was made.
Listen to a podcast, audiobook, or story on YouTube. This will help keep students calm in the last minutes before the end of the day.Find out about other teaching activities and teaching resources here on our Springboard Supplies blog. We cover some of the best places online to find high-quality material that can help supercharge your lessons, no matter what you’re teaching.