In science, we are doing a mini-unit on volcanoes.
One of my favorite strategies to activate students' background knowledge is with a K-W-L chart, like mine on volcanoes:
The K is for what students think they already know about the topic.
The W is for what students want to know about the topic.
The L is for what they learn about the topic (either in class or while researching).
We are going over the structure of volcanoes, classifying them and then going to one of my favorite free online tools, Discovery Kid's volcano builder!
Once inside, we get to review layers of the earth:
Tectonic plates and the ring of fire:
Go inside a volcano:
We go through the scientific method with the students, only changing one variable at a time. For volcanoes, the variables are the viscosity and gas levels within the volcano.