Digital Tools for Teaching Favorite PopEd Elementary Lessons Remotely

This is the first post in a three-part series on specific distance learning tools and strategies for some of Population Education’s most popular lesson plans. The series is divided by grade band, with this post focusing on elementary distance learning activities. Other posts focus on middle grades distance learning lessons and high school distance learning lessons.

Like educators everywhere, the team at Population Education spent this spring and summer rapidly adapting to our new virtual learning environments. Along the way, we’ve developed resources to support teaching some of our favorite activities online. We’re excited to share these resources with you!

Here are seven activities with tools, digital documents, and remote learning strategies to support PopEd activities in your virtual classroom. These distance learning tools and documents are pre-made and ready to use with students, and all are available in a sharable format compatible with Google Classroom, Canvas, or whatever CMS you’re using. Each lesson title below links to its respective online materials.

Lower Elementary Distance Learning Tools

  • Comparing Needs and Wants

The social studies lesson Comparing Needs and Wants helps young learners decide if common objects are wants or needs. In part 1, teachers can hold up household objects in front of the camera, and facilitate a discussion on what the item is, if it’s a need or want, and why. In part 2, students work in small groups to categorize their own list of provided items. Our Google Sheet or Slide has item images to categorize. In part 3, students independently create their own picture or collage offline with items representing their personal needs and wants.

  • Go Fish

In the lesson Go Fish, students model sharing a non-renewable resource. In a virtual platform, the teacher can have a bowl of crackers on camera. They can call on students to claim a certain number of crackers form the bowl, and remove the crackers themselves. Have students note their number in the chat bar. When the bowl is empty, ask students to show how they feel about the number of fish they received by showing a thumbs-up, thumbs-middle, or thumbs-down. Use the numbers in the chat to practice math skills, and decide on a more equal distribution of resources. For tech savvy young learners, teachers can also use a Google Slide to illustrate students taking fish out of a bowl.

  • Who Polluted the River?

Illustrate the impact that humans can have on a watershed over time. Who Polluted the River? is a classic PopEd activity that translates well to virtual platforms. Although students will not be able to add anything to the river themselves, the story is engaging and dramatic. If your clear bowl is close to your camera, students will see very last bit of the barnyard waste entering the river.

Upper Elementary Distance Learning Tools

  • How Many Fish in the Sea?

The lesson How Many Fish in the Sea? lets students practice estimation strategies as they attempt to determine a wild fish population in a model ocean. Use our Google Slide to practice eyeball estimates and sampling techniques.

  • Panther Hunt

Students pretend to be a panther hunting for prey in the activity Panther Hunt. Will you catch enough to survive the season? Explore carrying capacity with this real-time simulation using Google Slides.

  • People Count

People Count is a model census activity that is perfect for the year of the census! Students survey friends, family, neighbors, or each other to collect census data. Use our Google Sheet to collect census data in breakout groups. Either assign students to talk to others in their community, or have students make up data in small groups. As they tabulate the data, an age distribution graph automatically populates. Students can then analyze the graph to create a hypothetical business or service for their neighborhood.

  • What Would You Do?

In the lesson What Would You Do?, small groups of students discuss various scenarios in their lives that may have an impact on the environment. They decide as a group what action they will take in each situation. Divide students into breakout rooms, and copy and paste a scenario from our text document into each room’s chat bar. Or you can make up your own!

Get the Lesson Plans!

The lesson plans for these activities are from our elementary curriculum Counting on People. Purchase the curriculum for these and many more plans, or find a selection of the plans available for free download here on our program website under Classroom Resources.