1) Skits-many kids love to be the center of attention-put that to good use. You can use it to introduce research or give Halloween costumes some educational value. Here's one we did for Black History Month this year. Now they wrote it themselves, so I know there are a few discrepancies with actual history, but I do think they got the main idea. The one below is Halloween-they dress up as literary characters and talk from that character's perspective.
2) Photography. Kids love taking pictures! Give them an assignment to take pictures of something that inspires them on your campus and then write about it. Have them document 3 things they are thankful for at Thanksgiving and make a little photoessay (my favorite pic from this assignment was a grilled cheese sandwich). Disposable cameras are not very expensive-have the kids check one out for the night and rotate through your class. You can even get the very nice developers at Walgreen's to make them look more artsy and not develop the color part-so they come out in black and white (I just had to play the teacher card a little bit to make that happen! :)
3) Debate: Pit two characters from a story against each other and talk about who was wrong and who was right in the situation. This is such a valuable skill. I find myself having to try and convince people to come to my way of thinking all the time (ahem...conversations with my wonderful principal on the benefits of early childhood for example). The limit to most kids' arguments is: "because". They love the concept of ethics-it's never to early for them to be thinking in that mode of thought. It does backfire when they start making great arguments for why they should have recess, even on a very busy day, etc. :)
4) Commercials: they can make PSA's on why bullying is bad or why we should recycle. They can create an invention when you are studying technology and sell it to the audience. Again they are having to defend their side or their creation-great critical thinking skills at work there.
5) Art: I know, I know-for many people this is not a new kind of product. But in this test-prep world of education we live in art is falling by the wayside. Play a kind of music and have the kids paint what they see in their heads, recreate the techniques of famous artists and paintings. My all-time favorite idea and I wish I could give it credit-I don't know where I saw it-had an extremely brave Kinder teacher put butcher paper on the underside of the tables and the kids painted like Michelangelo did the Sistine Chapel. Could you imagine! I can tell you right now I have kids I taught in Kinder who are 4th graders now and still remember Starry, Starry Night-that was almost 5 years ago. I also very selfishly love doing art projects because each and every picture is different-I just adore seeing that creativity in action. Even if they don't speak the language very well, even if they don't speak much at all-put a paintbrush in their hands and away they go!
6) Sculpture-goes along with art-but give them a big idea that you have been studying like civil rights
or honesty. Have them represent that idea with a sculpture made out of clay. Talk about applying thinking skills! And they have an opportunity to get their hands dirty as well.
7) Interview: this can be a real interview-like asking Grandpa questions about the past for Grandparent's Day. Or assign kids in pairs-one is the interviewer, the other is a leprechaun or Dr. Seuss or a butterfly. Thinking of the questions you would ask this creature has a level of difficulty all it's own. Then the partner is answering from the perspective of that author or character. You can record them so easily today digitally and play it back for them, even maybe as something you invite parents to come listen to.
8) Use different kinds of media to showcase a project. I love using those green containers fruit comes in. We had a local market that used the wooden ones-I swear I bought so many cherry tomatoes one summer-just for the containers :). Make a triorama, use baby food jars or even the old-fashioned shoebox.
Their rainforest dioramas
Compare/contrast with 2 trioramas.
They are capable of applying their skills in so many different ways if we give them the opportunity!